Apr 28, 2016

Joshua 10 and NASA

I personally believe that something miraculous happened in Joshua 10:12-14. But I think it is past time that we stop referring to the old urban legend about NASA calculating and finding the missing day. You can read more about it here.

Apr 27, 2016

Seven Pieces of Advice for an Academic Job Interview

Although I have only been an interviewee rather than an interviewer, Michael Kruger seems to have some really sound advice here on how to handle an academic interview at a confessional institution .

Apr 26, 2016

John Piper on Cremation

John Piper has a good word and modest proposal on the cremation versus burial debate here.

Apr 25, 2016

Review of 40 Questions about the Historical Jesus

C. Marvin Pate, 40 Questions about the Historical Jesus (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2015).

That Jesus of Nazareth continues to be a person of much interest after nearly 2000 years is encouraging. But examining his incomparable person and life can present significant challenges for the serious student. On the one hand, there are apologetic approaches that tend to smooth over, flatten, or ignore tensions in the data when approaching the life of Jesus historically. On the other hand, others investigate the subject with an extreme skepticism and tend to present their conclusions in an unnecessarily provocative way. In some ways, Pate’s volume tries to steer a via media between these approaches.

As the title of the book implies, this 408 page work is centered on asking and answering forty questions related to the study of the historical Jesus. The forty questions are divided fairly equally into four parts. In part one, Pate interacts with eleven background-related questions. Part two addresses eight questions about Jesus’ birth and childhood. For part three, thirteen questions examine Jesus’ life and teaching. Finally, part four covers Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.

Overall, this is a decent introductory resource that is conservative in its approach and honors the veracity of the biblical material. Some might argue that Pate’s conclusions are too conservative (perhaps bordering on apologetic) and that many of the tools or criteria that have been developed to explore the issue of the historical Jesus when properly used should reveal a bit more chaff among the wheat than he sees. This issue is one that I wish the author would have addressed. Namely, can or how can one use the tools of critical scholarship designed to identify authentic material from inauthentic material if one holds a high view of Scripture that does not allow for inauthentic material. I think devoting one of the forty questions to this issue could have been immensely helpful. This leads to another point that merits clarification. This book is not predominantly about the quests for the historical Jesus and the criteria used to pursue them. This is really more of a life of Christ or study of the Gospels. These are worthy areas of study, but I wonder whether the “historical” part might be (mis)understood in two different ways. That being said, I agree with Pate’s overall affirmation of the historical veracity of the biblical material.

This work is easy to read and packed with information. There are a number of helpful tables and the reflection questions at the end of the chapter could prove useful for those who want to use this work in a small group study or classroom environment. One might wish for more discussion here or there. For example, in the
section on archaeology, Pate does not mention significant evidence related to personages connected to Jesus in the Gospels. Absent is any reference to the coinage of Herod the Great and Pilate and inscriptions such as the Pontius Pilate inscription discovered at Caesarea Maritima or the ossuary of Caiaphas. But overall I think there was a nice balance in the coverage of the topics related to the questions that were raised.

I would recommend this book as more of a primer to the life of Jesus and Gospel studies more generally. You will get a good presentation and defense of the “historical” Jesus. But, if one is looking for a good introduction to the critical quests for the “historical” Jesus and the criteria and principles that have guided it, then this volume is probably going to leave the reader wanting more. 

You can read an excerpt here.

Thanks to the kind folks at Kregel for providing the copy used in this review.

Apr 24, 2016

The Theology of the Book of Lamentations

Erik Raymond has a good post on the challenging theology of Lamentations here.

Apr 23, 2016

Some Online Resources for the Book of Daniel

Rob Bradshaw has a list of some online resources available for the book of Daniel here.

Apr 22, 2016

A Guide to Biblical Commentaries and Reference Works

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0310520967/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0310520967&linkCode=as2&tag=bix0d-20&linkId=4757D7H76VXUYV3I">A Guide to Biblical Commentaries and Reference Works: 10th Edition</a><img src="http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=bix0d-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0310520967" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" target="_blank="I recently received John F. Evans' A Guide to Biblical Commentaries and Reference Works in the mail. This looks like a very helpful resource. One will not agree with every evaluation but so far everything I have read has been balanced and fair. I need to read more but this may be the best such resource available right now.

Apr 21, 2016

The Pastor’s Week

Paul Lamey has some good thoughts on "The Pastor’s ‘Typical’ Week" here. I particularly enjoyed this point, "My Week Reflects My Theology."

Apr 20, 2016

Podcasts on Preaching and Preachers

Dr. Jason K. Allen, the president of Midwestern Seminary, is producing a series of free podcasts on preaching and preachers.You can check it out here.

HT: Rodrick Sweet

Apr 18, 2016

Making the Most of Your Last Class Session

For you teachers and professors out there, this is a good article on getting the most from your last class session.

HT: George Hillman

Apr 17, 2016

Michael Gorman on "Reading John Missionally"

You can access free audio of Michael Gorman's lecture "Reading John Missionally" here.

Apr 16, 2016

The Bible, Taxes, and Urine?

The Bible contains a number of "tax" related passages including Matthew 22:16-22 in which Jesus referred to a denarius and famously said, "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." One can be thankful that our Lord used a coin and not some other things that have been taxed throughout history, including urine. See this article in National Geographic.

Apr 15, 2016

Responding to Less than Spectacular Sermons or Lessons

Many of us have been there. Chuck Lawless has some good advice here on how to respond to less than spectacular sermons or lessons.

HT: Trevin Wax

Apr 14, 2016

Apocalypse: The Perfume?

Someone has tried to replicate the smells of the book of Revelation. According to this article, the creators worked with "perfumer Euan McCall to translate the burnt flesh, blood, and sea creatures of biblical end times into chemistry and producing a surprisingly not unpleasant scent." Surely there is a sermon illustration here.

Apr 13, 2016

Spirit-Intended Applications?

Walt Russell has a very good discussion on what I would call a hermeneutics of application here.

Apr 12, 2016

Literacy Study and the Composition of the Hebrew Bible

A number of news outlets (e.g., ABC News, New York Times, Haaretz) are reporting on a study published this Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study was based on a trove of about 100 letters inscribed in ink on pieces of pottery, known as ostracons, that were unearthed near the Dead Sea in an excavation of the Arad fort decades ago and dated from about 600 B.C. That was shortly before Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah, and the exile of its elite to Babylon — and before many scholars believe the major part of the biblical texts, including the five books of Moses, also known as the Pentateuch, were written down in any cohesive form.
While these ostracon do provide data supporting a more widespread literacy than some have held, they really do not have much to say about when the Hebrew Bible was written. So the headlines about providing evidence for when the Bible was written is misleading at best. I am glad that some are now suggesting an earlier date of composition that is often posited but the implied dating in the study is not nearly early enough.

Apr 11, 2016

Philo as Biblical Commentator: Leviticus

I recently picked up a copy of Torah from Alexandria: Philo as Biblical Commentator, Volume III: Leviticus. According to the publisher's description, "Rabbi Michael Leo Samuel has meticulously culled from all of Philo’s exegetical comments, and arranged them according to the biblical verses. He provides extensive parallels from rabbinic literature, Greek philosophy, and Christian theology, to present Philo’s writing in the context of his time, while also demonstrating Philo’s unique method of interpretation."

If anyone knows anything more about this volume, I would be very interested in hearing them.

Apr 8, 2016

Interesting Book?

Chanan Tigay's book, The Lost Book of Moses: The Hunt for the World's Oldest Bible sounds interesting. I am not sure my book list can stand another offering but you may have more time than me. You can read about it here.

Apr 7, 2016

Early New Testament Textual Recensions?

Larry Hurtado asserts that, "The continued claim that there was a datable “recension” of NT writings sometimes resembles the stubborn rear-guard action of a retreating force that’s been beaten in battle but won’t surrender." Read his explanation here

Apr 6, 2016

Translating Porneia

Dr. David Hutchison, Associate Professor of New Testament at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Houston campus recently gave a presentation related to a paper that he had presented at the 2015 Evangelical Theological Society meeting entitled, “Translating Porneia: Implications for Divorce, Pornography, and Homosexuality.”

The presentation surveyed the uses of porneia in the New Testament, Septuagint, Apocrypha, Deas Sea Scrolls, and Pseudepigrapha. These references suggest that porneia and its cognates should be understood as referring to all unlawful sexual intercourse or immoral sex but not more broadly to all forms of sexual immorality (e.g., lust). Or in other words, porneia is a smaller subset of sexual immorality.

A number of English translations were also examined. Hutchison noted that, “English translations from Tyndale to the 1901 ASV regularly translated porneia “fornication. In the 20th century, translations began to render the term more diversely, frequently using the broader concept of “sexual immorality.”

It was a helpful presentation and I hope that it will be published in some format in the near future.

Apr 5, 2016

Dating Revelation

Phillip Long has a brief but good discussion of the dating of Revelation here.