Sep 2, 2015

Free Logos Book for September: Amos by Gary Smith

The free Logos Book for September is Gary V. Smith’s commentary on Amos in the Mentor Commentary series. You can also purchase Joel and Obadiah in the same series for $1.99 and enter to win the entire sixteen-volume Mentor commentary series. Go the Logos' Free Book of Month page here to enter and download your free book today!

Sep 1, 2015

The Unity of the Bible and Expository Preaching

“Perhaps no single factor is more detrimental to Biblical exposition in our day than a widespread failure to recognize that the Bible is a unity and in order to be adequately interpreted must be treated as such. In many circles this unity is lost sight of in a tendency to emphasize the diversity of the content of the Bible.

“In other circles the Old Testament and New Testament are studies apart from one another, with little or no attention paid to their close interrelation. Their theologies are frequently treated separated and in many instances the New Testament is refused its legitimate role as a commentary on the Old Testament. Schools and theological seminaries customarily allocate the Old and New Testament into different departments, a practice doubtless necessary, but fraught with the gravest peril to expository preaching, when the essential unity of the Bible is not kept constantly in mind” (Merrill F. Unger, Principles of Expository Preaching [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1955], 156).
I might add that one of the values of having a Bible Exposition department in a Bible college or seminary is the cross-Testament, cross-disciplinary nature of the department. One reason that I chose Bible Exposition as a discipline was its crossroads-like nature where Old and New Testaments, preaching/teaching, and biblical theology intersect.

Aug 28, 2015

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.

Adesola Joan Akala
The Son-Father Relationship and Christological Symbolism in the Gospel of John
Reviewed by Sherri Brown

Eve-Marie Becker and Anders Runesson, eds.
Mark and Matthew II: Comparative Readings: Reception History, Cultural Hermeneutics, and Theology
Reviewed by Craig A. Evans

Eberhard Bons, Ralph Brucker, and Jan Joosten, eds.
The Reception of Septuagint Words in Jewish-Hellenistic and Christian Literature
Reviewed by Randall X. Gauthier

Paul J. Brown
Bodily Resurrection and Ethics in 1 Cor 15: Connecting Faith and Morality in the Context of Greco-Roman Mythology
Reviewed by Matthew R. Malcolm

Teresa J. Calpino
Women, Work and Leadership in Acts
Reviewed by Deborah Thompson Prince

James H. Charlesworth, ed.
Jesus and Temple: Textual and Archaeological Explorations
Reviewed by S. Aaron Son

E. Anne Clements
Mothers on the Margin? The Significance of the Women in Matthew’s Genealogy
Reviewed by Erin K. Vearncombe

Lynn H. Cohick
Ephesians: A New Covenant Commentary
Reviewed by Brian C. Small

F. Stanley Jones, ed.
The Rediscovery of Jewish Christianity: From Toland to Baur
Reviewed by Edwin Broadhead

Jennifer L. Koosed, ed.
The Bible and Posthumanism
Reviewed by Norman Habel
Reviewed by Trevor W. Thompson

Jan Krans, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, Peter-Ben Smit, and Arie Zwiep, eds.
Paul, John, and Apocalyptic Eschatology: Studies in Honour of Martinus C. de Boer
Reviewed by S. Michael Ahn

Carol Meyers
Rediscovering Eve: Ancient Israelite Women in Context
Reviewed by Linda S. Schearing

Merrill Morse
Isaiah Speaks: A Voice from the Past for the Present
Reviewed by Hélène Dallaire

Carl P. E. Springer
Sedulius, The Paschal Song and Hymns
Reviewed by Jade Weimer

David I. Starling
UnCorinthian Leadership: Thematic Reflections on 1 Corinthians
Reviewed by J. Brian Tucker

Aug 25, 2015

The Preacher and His Books

After unpacking boxes and boxes of books in a recent move, I wondered whether I had too many. My wife certainly thinks so! But books are important tools for those in ministry. This post by Steve Weaver makes a case for the importance of books for the ministry of the preacher.

Aug 24, 2015

The Gospel of Jesus' Wife Fragment

Andrew Bernhard has a guest post on Mark Goodacre's blog here that pretty convincingly demonstrates that the so-called "Gospel of Jesus" and its related documents are a fraud. 

Aug 21, 2015

Larry Hurtado Podcasts

Larry Hurtado provides links to two interview podcasts featuring himself here.

Aug 20, 2015

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.

Katherine Bain
Women’s Socioeconomic Status and Religious Leadership in Asia Minor: In the First Two Centuries C.E.
Reviewed by Shelly Matthews

René Bloch
Jüdische Drehbühnen: Biblische Variationen im antiken Judentum
Reviewed by Michael S. Moore

George Brooke
Reading the Dead Sea Scrolls: Essays in Method
Reviewed by Carol A. Newsom

Walter Brueggemann and William H. Bellenger
Reviewed by Gert T. M. Prinsloo
Reviewed by Beat Weber

Corrine L. Carvalho, ed.
Pastoral Essays in Honor of Lawrence Boadt, CSP: Reading the Old Testament
Reviewed by Deena Grant

Carl S. Ehrlich, Anders Runesson, and Eileen Schuller, eds.
Purity, Holiness, and Identity in Judaism and Christianity: Essays in Memory of Susan Haber
Reviewed by John C. Poirier

Laszlo Gallusz
The Throne Motif in the Book of Revelation
Reviewed by Andrew R. Guffey

Yung Suk Kim
Biblical Interpretation: Theory, Process, and Criteria
Reviewed by Valeriy A. Alikin

Jonathan S. Linebaugh
God, Grace, and Righteousness in Wisdom of Solomon and Paul’s Letter to the Romans: Texts in Conversation
Reviewed by Daniele Pevarello

Timothy Luckritz Marquis
Transient Apostle: Paul, Travel, and the Rhetoric of Empire
Reviewed by Brian C. Small

Isaac K. Mbabazi
The Significance of Interpersonal Forgiveness in the Gospel of Matthew
Reviewed by Dion Forster

Emanuel Pfoh and Keith W. Whitelam, eds.
The Politics of Israel’s Past: The Bible, Archaeology and Nation-Building
Reviewed by Mark Leuchter

Jörg Rüpke and Greg Woolf, eds.
Religious Dimensions of the Self in the Second Century CE
Reviewed by Clayton N. Jefford

Alistair C. Stewart
The Original Bishops: Office and Order in the First Christian Communities
Reviewed by Judith M. Lieu

J. Brian Tucker and Coleman A. Baker, eds.
T&T Clark Handbook to Social Identity in the New Testament
Reviewed by Jacobus (Kobus) Kok

W. Dennis Tucker Jr.
Constructing and Deconstructing Power in Psalms 107–150
Reviewed by Erhard S. Gerstenberger

Pauline A. Viviano
Jeremiah, Baruch
Reviewed by Matthias Henze

Catrin H. Williams and Christopher Rowland, eds.
John’s Gospel and Intimations of Apocalyptic
Reviewed by Laura C. S. Holmes

Carol B. Wilson
For I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food: Pragmatics of Food Access in the Gospel of Matthew
Reviewed by Craig S. Keener

Ways to Get People Engaged with Scripture

Leadership Journal has an interesting article related to different approaches to getting people engaged with Scripture here.

Aug 18, 2015

Preaching with PowerPoint?

I have and will preach with or without PowerPoint. If given the choice I normally use it. Craig Schill gives four reasons to use it here. I do think that media software can become a crutch and I have seen some PowerPoint presentations that seemed to serve little purpose other than to have it. I suspect that in most cases this has more to do with the preacher than the technology.  As one of my preaching friends has said, "If you can't preach without it, then you can't preach with it." One other minor point, I think that the article is mistitled. This article actually has very little to say about whether Jesus would use PowerPoint.

Aug 17, 2015

Excerpt of Longenecker's Forthcoming Romans Commentary

Richard Longenecker's Romans NIGTC commentary is not yet available but you can access a 12-page excerpt here. I would have liked a little more of a sneak peak, especially of the commentary proper, but I suppose that something is better than nothing.

Aug 14, 2015

F. F. Bruce on Commentaries in Acts

I found the following comments from a 1989 article by F. F. Bruce on Acts commentaries interesting. Two points were of particular interest. First, I appreciated Bruce's positive affirmation of the commentary by Kirsopp Lake and Henry J. Cadbury. Second, it is interesting to note that Bruce saw this commentary as an end of an era where commentaries. It struck me, that the tides may have shifted somewhat since Bruce wrote this. It seems to me that a number of recent commentaries (e.g., Bock, Keener) take a more positive approach to the historicity of Acts, or at least a more nuanced approach than a wholesale skepticism of Acts' historicity. In any case, here are the paragraphs that caught my attention.
Let us begin with the appearance in 1933 of the great commentary by Kirsopp Lake and Henry J. Cadbury, based on a fresh English translation of the Greek text. This formed Volume IV of the encyclopaedic work on The Beginnings of Christianity, edited by F. J. Foakes Jackson and Kirsopp Lake and published by Macmillan. Part of this enterprise, which ran to five volumes (1920-33), covered the Acts of the Apostles, but no further part was published. Volume V was a companion volume to the commentary; it contained Additional Notes which could not be conveniently accommodated in the commentary proper. VoIumes I–III had dealt with prolegomena to the study of Acts.

It was claimed at the time, certainly with justice, that no book of the Bible had been subjected to so exhaustive a treatment in a single work as Acts received in these five volumes. While the editors probably thought of their work as launching a new era in the study or Acts, it may more truly be viewed as marking the end of an era. But while it is inevitably dated, it cannot be neglected by the student of Acts, and this is specially true of the commentary volume. This volume expounds Acts in the light of practically everything that could be said of the book at that time from the viewpoints of historical, literary and textual criticism. On the historical side, a sequel was provided by Cadbury in his Lowell Lectures on The Book of Acts in History (New York: Harper, 1955). In these he illustrated the narrative of Acts from each of the overlapping cultural contexts in which the book is set.

The main reason for viewing The Beginnings of Christianity as marking the end of an era is that the perspective from which it was compiled has been replaced by one which treats Acts as being basically the work of a theologian who subordinated historical fact to theological appropriateness. Another factor tending to play down the former concentration on arguments for or against the historicity of Acts was the new emphasis on form criticism or ‘style criticism.’  

Commentaries or other studies in Acts since the 1930s have been influenced, positively or otherwise, by the work of Martin Dibelius. This influence was intensified with the publication of his posthumously collected Studies in the Acts of the Apostles; the German text of this collection (1951) was followed in 1956 by an English translation, published by the SCM Press. Dibelius insisted on the primary importance of the ‘style criticism’ of the book. Attention should be paid, he held, to Luke’s literary creativity rather than to the story he told.

F. F. Bruce, "Commentaries on Acts," Bible Translator 40 (1989): 315.

Aug 12, 2015

The Importance of Sound Exegesis and Preaching

Here is another great quote from Stephen Farris.

“It is not that it is impossible to preach a good sermon without sound exegesis. It is, however, hard to imagine preaching a good sermon regularly without such a discipline.

Stephen Farris, Preaching That Matters: The Bible and Our Lives (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1998), 41.

Aug 11, 2015

Three Dangers Associated with Studying Backgrounds

Duvall and Hays, in their book Grasping God’s Word, identify three dangers associated with studying backgrounds as part of the interpretive process.[1]

1. Use inaccurate background information.
2. Elevating the background of the text above the meaning of the text.
3. Letting yourself evolve into nothing more than a walking database of ancient facts.

This caution is not meant to devalue the study of backgrounds but I believe that Duvall and Hays are right to point out potential pitfalls. I have often witnessed the misuse and misapplication of background material. And this misuse and misapplication is often accompanied with an arrogant spirit of claiming to really know what a given text means.

[1] J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 123–24.

Aug 10, 2015

Are You Widely-Read of Well-Read?

I was recently looking back through Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren's excellent work, How to Read a Book. This book is chock-full of insights but one in particular struck me as especially appropriate for those of us involved in the academic side of ministry, namely, the difference between being widely-read and well-read. There is too much in their discussion to reproduce here, but I do offer a little snippet to either introduce or remind you about this literary gem. 

There have always been literate ignoramuses who have read too widely and not well. The Greeks had a name for such a mixture of learning and folly which might be applied to the bookish but poorly read of all ages. They are all sophomores.

To avoid this error–the error of assuming that to be widely read and to be well-read are the same thing–we must consider a certain distinction in types of learning. Thais distinction has a significant bearing on the whole business of reading and its relation to education generally.

Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading, revised and updated ed. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1972), 12.

Aug 7, 2015

Preaching from 1 Peter

Scott Tatum's article on preaching from 1 Peter might be a bit difficult to find but it is worth checking out. Here is the opening paragraph.

"Preaching from I Peter affords a wide variety of possibilities for both the traditional and contemporary models of expository preaching. Among these is the direct biblical sermon presenting an exposition of truths specifically taught in that passage of scripture. This should be the kind of sermon most often preached to offer the most wholesome pulpit ministry for the people. But variety is the spice of life! Consider also thematic preaching from I Peter. A topical or thematic sermon is expository preaching too, if indeed it presents an exposition of biblical truth with hermeneutical accuracy. Other forms include the biographical sermon, the life-situation sermon, the homily, or the multiple-passage sermon." 

Scott L. Tatum, "Preaching from I Peter," Southwestern Journal of Theology 25 (1982): 46.

Aug 6, 2015

F. F. Bruce Audio

Readers interested in some free F. F. Bruce audio can go here.

Aug 5, 2015

Solving Two Common Preaching Problems

"There is nothing more practical for the preacher than the thorough study of the biblical text. A constant complaint of weak preachers is 'What am I going to preach on next Sunday?' The complaint of the parishioners is different; they know what the pastor will preach on–some variation of ‘the same old thing every Sunday.’ The preacher who studies the scripture regularly and faithfully does not have the first complaint, and it is far less likely that the parishioners will have the second. Preachers who get in the habit of good exegesis will indeed have a problem. They will have so much homiletical material that it will be difficult to know what to leave out!"

Stephen Farris, Preaching That Matters: The Bible and Our Lives (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1998), 40

Aug 4, 2015

Free PDF of William G. T. Shedd's Romans Commentary

Yesterday, I provided an excerpt from William G. T. Shedd's Romans commentary. What I failed to not was that this out-of-copyright work can be downloaded as a free PDF here.

Aug 3, 2015

The Purpose of Commentaries and the Book of Romans

Students of the Bible sometimes misuse commentaries in two ways. 

First, some allow commentaries to replace their own careful study of the text. Rather, commentaries should serve as a dialogue partner between the student and the text. It is never a replacement. 

A second problem is that commentaries are often used like a dictionary. Some look up comments on passages like one looks up a definition of a word, a word here and a word there. The problem is that most commentaries do not trace the flow of a text's thought in its individual comments. To understand the commentator's understanding of the flow of the book's argument, one will often have to read more than just the specific comments on that passage. Better yet is to read the entire commentary itself. 

Now I realize that many in ministry are pressed for time and on occasion one might resort to the misuses above. However, one should avoid its habitual practice. It is like eating a candy bar in place of a well-rounded meal. One might do it on occasion to get by but doing it as a matter of practice is unhealthy.

By the way, these thoughts were spurred on by William G.T. Shedd's remarks from his commentary on Romans. Not the italicized sections that I added. 

"In short, the endeavor of the author has been, to furnish the theological student with an aid to his own conscientious examination of the original text of the Epistle to the Romans, and thereby to the formation of an independent judgment and opinion which he will be ready to announce and maintain. It will be reward enough, if this commentary shall be the means of stimulating any to the close and lifelong study of the most important document in the New Testament, after the Gospels. Demosthenes read Thucydides over and over, seven times, for the sake of forming that concise and energetic style which has been the admiration and the despair of orators. Whoever reads St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans over and over, not seven times only, but seventy times seven, will feel an influence as distinct and definite as that of a Leyden jar. But the study of St. Paul, like that of the speeches in Thucydides, must be patient analysis. The great characteristic of this Epistle is the closeness of the reasoning. The line of remark is a concatenation like that of chain-armor, of which each link hooks directly into the next, without intervening matter. The process of an exegete must, consequently, be somewhat similar to that by which a blind man gets a knowledge of a chain. He must do it by the sense of touch. He must handle each link separately, and actually feel the point of contact with the preceding link, and the succeeding."

William G. T. Shedd, A Critical and Doctrinal Commentary on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1879), vii-viii.

Aug 2, 2015

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.

Eve-Marie Becker, Troels Engberg-Pedersen, and Mogens Muller, eds.
Mark and Paul: Comparative Essays Part II For and Against Pauline Influence on Mark
Reviewed by Thomas P. Nelligan

Shaye J. D. Cohen
From the Maccabees to the Mishnah
Reviewed by John J. Collins

Jerome N. Douglas
A Polemical Preacher of Joy: An Anti-apocalpytic Genre for Qoheleth’s Message of Joy
Reviewed by Mark Sneed

Peter Frick
Paul in the Grip of the Philosophers: The Apostle and Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Reviewed by Mark Elliott
Reviewed by Jay Twomey

Jione Havea, David J. Neville, and Elaine M. Wainwright, eds.
Bible, Borders, Belonging(s): Engaging Readings from Oceania
Reviewed by Yak-Hwee Tan

Marietta Horster and Anja Klöckner, eds.
Cities and Priests: Cult Personnel in Asia Minor and the Aegean Islands from the Hellenistic to the Imperial Period
Reviewed by John S. Kloppenborg

James A. Kelhoffer
Conceptions of “Gospel” and Legitimacy in Early Christianity
Reviewed by Albert Lukaszewski

Simon Mainwaring
Mark, Mutuality, and Mental Health: Encounters with Jesus
Reviewed by Edwin K. Broadhead

Christoph Markschies
Hellenisierung des Christentums: Sinn und Unsinn einer historischen Deutungskategorie
Reviewed by Harold W. Attridge

Jeffrey Jay Niehaus
Biblical Theology, Volume 1: The Common Grace Covenants
Reviewed by Jens Bruun Kofoed

Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer and Hans M. Barstad, eds.
Continuity and Discontinuity: Chronological and Thematic Development in Isaiah 40–66
Reviewed by Marvin A. Sweeney

Philip L. Tite
The Apocryphal Epistle to the Laodiceans: An Epistolary and Rhetorical Analysis
Reviewed by Christopher R. Matthews

Craig W. Tyson
The Ammonites: Elites, Empires, and Sociopolitical Change (1000–500 BCE)
Reviewed by Aren M. Maeir

Herman C. Waetjen
The Letter to the Romans: Salvation as Justice and the Deconstruction of Law
Reviewed by M. Eugene Boring

Aug 1, 2015

Free Logos Book for August: Acts by Mikeal Parsons

The free Logos Book for August is Mikeal Parson’s commentary on Acts in the Paideia Commentary series. You can also purchase Ephesians and Colossians by Charles Talbert in the same series for $1.99. You can also enter to win the entire twelve-volume Paideia Commentary series. Go the Logos' Free Book of Month page here to enter and download your free book today!