Feb 28, 2015

Reminders for Preachers

Nathan Busenitz has 10 reminders for preachers here.

Feb 27, 2015

Favorite Seminary Classes

Trevin Wax shares his five favorite seminary classes from his MDiv here. Feel free to identify your favorites in the comments.

Feb 26, 2015

Preaching Different Genres

One of the challenges of having a preaching schedule that goes through different books of the Bible consecutively is what Peter Mead calls genre shock. That is, when you finish a series on a book in one genre and then begin a new series with a book in another genre there can be a certain hermeneutical disorientation that takes place in both the preacher and the audience. To address this problem, Mead has some helpful suggestions on how to minimize this genre shock here. By the way, the answer is not to avoid preaching books of the Bible. In fact, the problem is even more acute in topical preaching since you are more likely to preach texts from different genres more frequently.

Feb 25, 2015

Why Song of Solomon Probably Doesn’t Tell a Single Love Story

Gordon Johnston gives 14 reasons here why he does not believe that Song of Solomon tells a single love story. I realize that the chronological view is currently popular and to some degree persuasive, but Dr. Johnston's arguments at least should be considered. 

Feb 24, 2015

The Function of Gates

Haaretz has a pretty good article here on the function of gates in ancient times. Note: I was able to access the full article but it may be restricted for some.

Samuel and Kings in Eight Words

Matthew Malcolm has summarized 1–2 Samuel and 1–2 Kings in eight words here.

Feb 23, 2015

Review of Keller's Romans 8–16 For You

Romans 8–16 For You claims that it is not a commentary but rather an expository guide (p. 9). But many (including myself) would probably slot this as a devotional commentary although it is more textually detailed than many commentaries in this category. The author, Timothy Keller is a popular author and Senior Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.

The book consists of twelve chapters, a glossary, appendices, and a bibliography. Each chapter consists of introductory remarks, exposition of the text at hand, and questions for reflection. The language is simple and more technical terms are marked in gray and all such words defined in the glossary.

The commentary itself takes a fairly traditional evangelical approach to Romans. Keller sees the book as “the most sustained explanation of the heart of the gospel, and the most thrilling exposition of how the gospel goes to work in our hearts” (p. 7). He suggests that chapter 8–16 continues to answer the question, “How does faith in the gospel of Christ actually lead to change in real life?” (p. 7).

By way of commendation, one might begin with the clarity of the prose. This is a real strength. One might disagree with a statement but it is unlikely that one will misunderstand it. Would it be that more commentaries be exemplified by such clarity. Another positive for a devotional commentary like this is that Keller often steers clear of the technical minutia and myriad of interpretive views that can characterize a study of Romans. More often than not, the author simply states his understanding of the text and moves on. The two appendices are also a plus. The first consists of an outline of sorts that traces the flow of thought of Romans 8–16. I would recommend that readers photocopy this “outline” and have it available as one goes through the chapters. The second is devoted to a discussion of election. Here, Keller takes a standard Calvinistic approach to the issue.

By way of critique, three points would be noted. First, one of the real benefits of devotional-type commentaries is the devotional content (e.g., introductions, illustrations, etc.). The preacher or teacher looking for such material will not find much help here. Second, this work is surprisingly devoid of true applications. Issues in the text are raised but are rarely pressed home. Maybe Keller believes that raising the issue is applying it. But it is likely that many who would turn to a work like this might need help in moving from theological proposition to principle and from principle to application. Time and again, I reached the end of the chapter and wondered, okay, what must or should I do now. The reflection questions are not much help here either. Third, I have already noted my appreciation for the “outline” in the appendix but it would be really helpful if there was more explicit parallel between it and the content of the chapters. This is why I suggested earlier that one photocopy the outline. The flow of thought is clearer in the outline than the actual chapter. 

In sum, Romans 8–16 For You, comes to a rather crowded field of Romans resources. I am not sure how much it brings to this loaded table. If one wants to get Keller’s take of this important epistle then this book and its companion covering chapters 1–7 is a must. If not, then this book stands as a good but undistinguished option.

Thanks to the Good Book Company for providing the free review copy used in this review.

Feb 20, 2015

The Book of Acts in the Latest Christian Reflection Journal

The latest edition of Baylor University's Christian Reflection journal is focused on the Book of Acts. You can access the entire journal online here or the articles individually here. There appears to be a number of interesting articles.

HT: Steve Walton

Feb 19, 2015

The War in Iraq and the Prophet Nahum

National Geographic has a sad but interesting story here on the toll that the war in Iraq has taken on ancient sites, in particular, the traditional burial place of the prophet Nahum.

Feb 18, 2015

Pointers for Older Preachers

Peter Mead has some great advice for older preachers here.

Feb 17, 2015

Initial Sermon Evaluation

Brian Croft has some helpful advice here on how to evaluate your sermon an hour after preaching it.

Feb 16, 2015

Codex Vaticanus Online

Just in case you may not have heard, Codex Vaticanus is now available online. See it here.

HT: Russell Beatty

Feb 15, 2015

Theologian Valentines

I know that this is a day late but I thought you might enjoy this. The image comes from this post.

HT: Sheri Klouda

Feb 13, 2015

The Brian Williams Debacle and Using Personal Illustrations in Preaching and Teaching

Tim Gombis has a good reminder here for preachers and teachers to avoid Brian Williams-like errors in their use of personal illustrations. I still remember a professor in Bible college who admonished us to never use the phrase "ministerially speaking" as an excuse for fudging the truth. The end does not justify the means. 

Feb 12, 2015

Identifying Humor in the Bible

Tim Bulkeley has a nice post here on identifying humor in the Bible.

Feb 11, 2015

Getting the Most from Seminary

David Murray has a helpful list of over 150 links on getting the most from seminary here.

Feb 10, 2015

What Is Your Book Nerd Score?

Check this out. Yup, most of these fit me!

Feb 9, 2015

Where Was Herod’s Augusteum?

Ferrell Jenkins has a very nice post here related to the location of Herod’s Augusteum. Many would hold that it was located in Caesarea Philippi/Banias/Panias but as Ferrell notes a good case can be made for Omrit. John Francis Wilson has a good discussion in Caesarea Philippi: Banias, the Lost City of Pan (London: I. B. Tauris, 2004), 11-16. Also,  some numismatists suggest that Herod’s Augusteum can be seen on the coins of Herod Philip. See David Hendin's Guide to Biblical Coins (New York: Amphora, 2010), 255-62, and Ya’akov Meshorer, A Treasury of Jewish Coins (Nyack, NY: Amphora, 2001), 85-90.

As many Bible students know, Caesarea Philippi is associated with Peter's famous confession concerning Jesus' identity (Matt 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30).

Feb 8, 2015

Parallels between the Joseph and Esther Narratives?

William Varner has noted seven parallels between the Joseph and Esther stories here. The parallels are interesting but some seem to oversimplify the details a bit (See #1. Is the setting really the court for both narratives? Or is the court part one of the settings in both stories?) and others might be a bit of a stretch (See #3. Is Joseph's rejection of the advances of Potiphar's wife really an attempt to save his people?). On the other hand, some parallels are more persuasive (2, 4, 6, 7). I might add that both stories involve the transfer of a signet ring (to Joseph in Gen 41:42; to Mordecai in Esth 8:2).

Feb 6, 2015

Tel Burna

International BusinessTimes has a nicely-illustrated article on Tel Burna which might be biblical Libnah here.

Feb 5, 2015

A Papyrus Containing a Verse from Acts

A newly-identified papyrus fragment containing a single verse from Acts and tentatively dated to the fourth century has been reported here.

HT: Larry Hurtado