Apr 24, 2014

Christ in Proverbs: Online Resources

David Murray has created another helpful collation of online resources. See here for his listing of online resources for how one can see and communicate Christ in Proverbs.

Interview with Dr. Abraham Kuruvilla

Recently I introduced Genesis: A Theological Commentary for Preachers. Today I want to share an interview with the book’s author, Dr. Abraham Kuruvilla. Abe is Associate Professor of Pastoral Ministries, at Dallas Theological Seminary and has a particular passion for the art and science of preaching. He has served as the President of the Evangelical Homiletics Society and as interim preacher of a number of different churches. Abe blogs regularly at www.homiletix.com. He has also written a commentary on Mark which you can access here and for a more formal statement of Abe’s hermeneutic check out his book Privilege the Text! here.

Question: How did Genesis: A Theological Commentary for Preachers come about?

Well, I’m on a crusade! I have been engaged in laying out a somewhat new hermeneutic for approaching the biblical text, from a preacher’s point of view. Or maybe I should say, from an application point of view. Language philosophy has now bloomed in the last decade or so and we have come to see better how language and communication—of any sort—should be understood. Biblical authors, like any other authors, do things with what they say. They have an agenda. And it is only by catching the agenda of the author that valid application can be made. The field that looks at what authors do is called pragmatics. And my crusade is to apply pragmatics to biblical texts in order to arrive at valid application.

For instance, when A tells B, “Hey, you are standing on my foot!” the semantic meaning (what the author is saying) asserts the spatial location of B upon the lower limb of A, while the pragmatic meaning (what the author is doing with what he is saying) attempts to get B to relocate from that traumatic situation upon A’s anatomy. 

Now if that statement by A to B (“Hey, you are standing on my foot!”) were an inspired utterance, the preacher expositing that “text” on Sunday morning would conceivably expatiate on the derivation of the word “foot” from the Old English fot from the Latin pes from the Greek pos. He might discourse upon the foot’s kinesiology (26 bones, 33 joints, over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments), its hematology (blood vessels and vasculature), and its neurology (nerve supply). The preacher would, no doubt, wax eloquent about the pathology of that extremity (the various abnormalities: club foot, flat foot, athlete’s foot, skew foot, rheumatoid foot, …); and so on, focusing on all the “ologies,” but completely missing the intended valid application of that original utterance: “Take your foot off mine." 

In other words, unless one catches what A is doing with what he is saying (the pragmatics of the utterance), valid application of A’s utterance is impossible. Of course, all this is critical for the preacher, the one whose goal as intermediary between God’s word and God’s people is, by the power of the Spirit, to provide application possibilities for listeners from Scripture.
So, my crusade, in short, is go through every pericope of every book of the Bible, demonstrating, with a close look at the text, what the author is doing with what he is saying in that pericope.

Sixty-two more books left. Another 124 years and I’ll be done!

Question: Although the subtitle for your book (A Theological Commentary for Preachers) suggests that preachers are your intended audience, who else might benefit from reading this book and why?

Preachers, as I mentioned, have the primary task of bringing application to their listeners, and so this (and the others in the series) are written with the preacher in mind. But in actuality, such a hermeneutic, and such a reading of the biblical text, is critical not only preachers, but for anyone who seeks to apply Scripture to life.

And, since it all hinges on a close reading of the text in the original languages, some knowledge of Hebrew (and Greek for the NT commentaries) is helpful for using my commentaries, even though I have transliterated and translated every foreign language term that I use.

Question: What do you hope to accomplish through this book?

Traction for the crusade and getting more students of the Bible (and that includes preachers as well as lay people) to appreciate what the biblical authors are doing. This I think is key if believers are to apply Scripture. If I can get people thinking about looking at the text this way, I’ll label my crusade a success.

Frequently, especially for narrative, we view the text as a plain glass window through which we look to see what really happened. I am claiming that “what really happened” is not inspired and profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction …. Rather what is inspired is the Holy Spirit’s account of what happened. In other words, this theological hermeneutic that I propound calls for readers not to see the text as a plain glass window through which they look, but as a stained glass window at which they look. The colors, shapes, lead, mercury, etc., are doing something—they are telling a story. So also the text: its literary properties must be appreciated, its structure must be respected—the text itself must be privileged.

Question: As you know there is considerable discussion today related to creation and Genesis 1–2. Could you offer a few suggestions on how preachers might best navigate these texts?

My recommendation would be to look at the text (any text of the Bible) not as a manual of information but as a guide for transformation—of our lives and the lives of all believers. That being said, because of the controversies related to Gen 1-3, I have several excursuses related to the key issues therein, that I think might be useful to readers. And I have listed some outside resources in those sections.

Question: Other than your book, what are some other resources that might help those who are interested in preaching or teaching Genesis?

The ones I interacted the most with are commentaries on Genesis by Cassuto, Cotter, Fokkelman, Hamilton, Kass, Mathews, Waltke, Walton, and Wenham. Great stuff! I stand on their shoulders with humility and gratitude.

Apr 23, 2014

The Psalms: Language for All Seasons of the Soul: A Review

Schmutzer, Andrew J., and David M. Howard Jr., eds. The Psalms: Language for All Seasons of the Soul. Chicago: Moody, 2013. 
This work is an interesting collection of essays and sermons on the Psalms divided into five categories: Part 1: Psalms Studies in the 21st Century: Where We Have Been and Where We are Going; Part 2: Psalms of Praise: Expressing Our Joys; Part 3: Psalms of Lament: Expressing Our Sorrows and Pain; Part 4: Considering the Canon: Psalter as a Book; and Part 5: Communicating the Psalms: Bringing the Psalms into the Present Day. Most of the essays were originally presented in the Psalms and Hebrew Poetry consultation/section of the Evangelical Theological Society and include 18 contributors, including well known evangelicals such as Bruce K. Waltke, Willem A. VanGemeren, Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., and John Piper.

These diverse essays are well chosen and helpful. Three will be noted here. I remember sitting in on Waltke’s presentation at ETS and I looked forward to revisiting presentation in print form. I suspect that not everyone will appreciate the anecdotal approach to “Biblical Theology of the Psalms Today: A Personal Perspective,” but I enjoyed it. It is a great reminder of how Scripture takes us on a lifetime journey of understanding and appreciation. Although not as personally satisfying, Willem VanGemeren’s “Entering the Textual World of the Psalms: Literary Analysis” is a very nice summary of recent academic studies in the Psalms. This is a good essay to assign as reading for introductory courses on the Old Testament or the Psalms. An essay that I found spiritually edifying was “The Transformation of Pain into Praise in the Individual Lament Psalms by Daniel Estes. This work highlights the importance of meditating on the Lord as demonstrated through the psalmists.

The Psalms: Language for All Seasons of the Soul is better suited for academic than lay study. A number of the essays require at least a basic knowledge of Hebrew and it is unlikely that those who lack at least some seminary-level training will be able to profit from a few of the essays. That being said, those with academic experience can profit much from the work here.

Much thanks to the folks at Moody for providing the volume used in this unbiased review.

Apr 22, 2014

Themelios 39.1

The latest edition of Themelios is out and available here. The main articles include:

D. A. Carson | EDITORIAL: Do the Work of an Evangelist

Michael J. Ovey | OFF THE RECORD: The Covert Thrill of Violence? Reading the Bible in Disbelief

Brian J. Tabb | Editor's Note

Thomas R. Schreiner | A Biblical Theologian Reviews Gerald Bray's Systematic Theology (with a response from Gerald Bray)

Gerald Bray | A Systematician Reviews Tom Schreiner's Biblical Theology (with a response from Thomas R. Schreiner)

Collin Hansen | Revival Defined and Defended: How the New Lights Tried and Failed to Use America's First Religious Periodical to Quiet Critics and Quell Radicals

Robert W. Yarbrough | Should Evangelicals Embrace Historical Criticism? The Hays-Ansberry Proposal

Ray Van Neste | PASTORAL PENSÉES: The Care of Souls: The Heart of the Reformation

Apr 21, 2014

Top Ten Preaching Books

David Murray has presented his top ten books on preaching here. Make sure to check out his honorable mentions as well and vote on your favorite as well. I am a bit surprised that Haddon Robinson's Biblical Preaching (now in a 3rd ed.) did not make the top ten or honorable mention lists but I guess this is one thing that makes these kinds of posts interesting.

Apr 20, 2014

A Resurrection Reader

This might be a tad bit late, but Brian Renshaw has created a nifty PDF for reading the resurrection accounts in all four Gospels. You can check it out here.

Apr 19, 2014

Preaching the Farewell Discourse

The B&H blog has a nice interview with L. Scott Kellum related to his book, Preaching the Farewell Discourse. You can access the interview here and get a 12-page PDF of a semantic structural analysis of the passage here.

Apr 18, 2014

Free Theology Books for Kindle

Matt Capps has a helpful list of free theology books that are available for Kindle. You can see Matt's post here.

Apr 17, 2014

Latest Issue of Review of Biblical Literature

The latest issue of Review of Biblical Literature is out. Reviews can be accessed by clicking the links below. 

Rainer Albertz and Rüdiger Schmitt
Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant
Reviewed by Raz Kletter

James Bollhagen
Reviewed by Bálint Károly Zabán

Peter W. Flint, Jean Duhaime, and Kyung S. Baek, eds.
Celebrating the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Canadian Collection
Reviewed by David M. Maas

Edith M. Humphrey
Scripture and Tradition: What the Bible Really Says
Reviewed by Nijay Gupta

Didier Lafleur
La Famille 13 dans l’evangile de Marc
Reviewed by Thomas J. Kraus

Mark Leuchter and Jeremy M. Hutton, eds.
Levites and Priests in Biblical History and Tradition
Reviewed by Ralph K. Hawkins

Ellen A. Robbins
The Storyteller and the Garden of Eden
Reviewed by Gert T. M. Prinsloo

Gunnar Samuelsson
Crucifixion in Antiquity: An Inquiry into the Background and Significance of the New Testament Terminology of Crucifixion
Reviewed by John Granger Cook

Zoltán S. Schwáb
Toward an Interpretation of the Book of Proverbs: Selfishness and Secularity Reconsidered
Reviewed by David Penchansky

Jakob Wöhrle
Fremdlinge im eigenen Land: Zur Entstehung und Intention der priesterlichen Passagen der Vätergeschichte
Reviewed by Marc Vervenne

Apr 16, 2014

10 Kinds of Pastors to Be Concerned About

Scott Postma has some challenging but insightful words in his post: "10 Pastors I'm Concerned About." You can read it here.

Apr 15, 2014

A Training Manual for Demons

Jared Moore has a Screwtape Letters-like post that is worth reading here. In the post, Jared mentions 20 ways to lead God's people astray. One might not agree with all 20 points but I think Jared nails it more often than not. In any case, here is his list but you really must read the entire post.

1. Christianize popular ideas.
2. Put heresy in a Christian song with Christian lingo and a good beat.
3. Appeal to adolescence.
4. Put heresy in a song with some sentimentality.
5. Create an atmosphere that makes people feel good.
6. Appeal to the sinful nature.
7. Tell amazing stories.
8. Appeal to the idolatry of your hearers.
9. Speak in non-absolutes.
10. Dress it up in new clothes.
11. Major on specific Bible verses while intentionally ignoring those that contradict your interpretation.
12. Change definitions.
13. Accustom your hearers to statements you tout as facts that cannot be proven.
14. Appear cool, sweet, hip, or simply different from other pastors.
15. Pray like you’re a priest in the pulpit.
16. Get everyone to like your personality.
17. Create a CANON within the Canon.
18. Grow the crowd numerically.
19. Speak of previous heretics as martyrs.
20. Increase giving and baptisms.

Apr 13, 2014

Starting a Mid-Week Sermon Feedback Meeting

Eric McKiddie argues that pastors really should consider starting a mid-week sermon feedback meeting. You can read his thoughts here.

Apr 12, 2014

Journal for the Study of the New Testament 36:3

The latest issue of the Journal for the Study of the New Testament is out. Here is a list of the articles and links to abstracts.

Tyrant or Servant? Roman Political Ideology and Mark 10.42-45
Adam Winn

The Eschatological Conversion of ‘All the Nations’ in Matthew 28.19-20: (Mis)reading Matthew through Paul
Benjamin L. White

Jesus as 'The One who Entered his Rest': The Christological Reading of Hebrews 4.10
Nicholas J. Moore

Fashions, Fallacies and Future Prospects in New Testament Studies
Larry W. Hurtado

Happy Blogiversary

This blog has now completed six years with my first post being on this day in 2008. In 2008, the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII, Bill Gates stepped down as Chairman of Microsoft Corporation, and Barack Obama became the first African-American to be elected President of the United States. While the start of this blog does not compare in significance to these events, it has been a blessing to me and I hope of some benefit to the body of Christ.

Apr 8, 2014

2013 Preaching Survey of the Year’s Best Books for Preachers

See the article in Preaching magazine entitled, "The 2013 Preaching Survey of the Year’s Best Books for Preachers" here.

Apr 7, 2014

Genesis: A Theological Commentary for Preachers

Dr. Abraham Kuruvilla's new commentary on Genesis is now out. Check out this link at the author's own website devoted to preaching: Homiletix. You can download a chapter and there are links to purchase the book. You might also want to check out the author's commentary on the Gospel of Mark here. I hope to feature Dr. Kuruvilla in an interview soon.

Apr 4, 2014

Latest Issue of Review of Biblical Literature

The latest issue of Review of Biblical Literature is out. Reviews can be accessed by clicking the links below. 

Angelika Berlejung and Michael P. Streck, eds.
Arameans, Chaldeans, and Arabs in Babylonia and Palestine in the First Millennium B.C.
Reviewed by John MacGinnis

David Alan Black
Paul, Apostle of Weakness: Astheneia and Its Cognates in the Pauline Literature
Reviewed by H. H. Drake Williams III

James M. Bos
Reconsidering the Date and Provenance of the Book of Hosea: The Case for Persian-Period Yehud
Reviewed by Pamela J. Scalise

J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays
Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible
Reviewed by Frank England

Sebastian Fuhrmann and Regina Grundmann, eds.
Martyriumsvorstellungen in Antike und Mittelalter: Leben oder sterben für Gott?
Reviewed by Thomas J. Kraus

Mercedes L. García Bachmann
Women at Work in the Deuteronomistic History
Reviewed by Ralph K. Hawkins

Joel B. Green, ed.
Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics
Reviewed by Kevin Jung

Kyoung-Shik Kim
God Will Judge Each One according to Works: Judgment according to Works and Psalm 62 in Early Judaism and the New Testament
Reviewed by Travis B. Williams

Dominik Markl, ed.
The Decalogue and Its Cultural Influence
Reviewed by Bernhard Lang

David T. Runia and Gregory E. Sterling, eds.
Studia Philonica Annual: Studies in Hellenistic Judaism, Volume XXII, 2010
Reviewed by John Martens

Apr 3, 2014

Herod Agrippa I at the Eretz Israel Museum

A few days ago, I posted about a Sidonian coin that was on display at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv. Today, I will post about another item at the museum. It is a bust of King Herod Agrippa I. This sculpted head was prepared by the Israel Museum Restoration Laboratories in which a three dimensional head was created from a coin containing Agrippa's likeness. Among other things, King Agrippa I (AD 41-44) was the notorious king who put the apostle James to death and had Peter imprisoned (Acts 12:1-4).