Jan 16, 2017

Fake Readers

I have often wondered whether my students actually read their assigned readings but according to this story, some librarians seem to have created fake readers of another kind. Apparently, these readers were created in order to bolster the circulation numbers of some books. I suspect that there is a good sermon illustration here.

Jan 15, 2017

Preparation for Bible Study

Henry Neufeld talks here of the different "contributions" of practices and experiences and not just formal training that helps equip a person for Bible study.

While on the topic of Bible study, one might want to take a look at this website.

Jan 14, 2017

Garden of Eden as Temple or Sanctuary

Many Bible students today see the Garden of Eden in Genesis as a prototype temple or sanctuary. Greg Beale identifies fourteen reasons for this identification (The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God, New Studies in Biblical Theology [Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004]). John Walton also holds a similar position. But as Andrew Perriman points out in this post, this kind of identification is open to question. I have personally gone back-and-forth on the issue and remain agnostic.

Jan 13, 2017

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 but unfortunately you must be a SBL member.

Simeon Chavel
Oracular Law and Priestly Historiography in the Torah
Reviewed by Benjamin D. Sommer

Terence E. Fretheim; Michael J. Chan and Brent A. Strawn, eds.
What Kind of God? Collected Essays of Terence E. Fretheim
Reviewed by Carmen Imes

Federico Giuntoli and Konrad Schmid, eds.
The Post-Priestly Pentateuch: New Perspectives on Its Redactional Development and Theological Profiles
Reviewed by Ernst Axel Knauf

Andrew Gregory and Christopher Tuckett, eds.
The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Apocrypha
Reviewed by Janet Spittler

Christine Hayes
What’s Divine about Divine Law? Early Perspectives
Reviewed by Joshua Schwartz

Justin Langford
Defending Hope: Semiotics and Intertextuality in 1 Peter
Reviewed by Katherine M. Hockey

Richard N. Longenecker
Paul, Apostle of Liberty
Reviewed by Panayotis Coutsoumpos

Victor H. Matthews
The Cultural World of the Bible: An Illustrated Guide to Manners and Customs
Reviewed by Tyler R. Yoder

Charles E. Shepherd
Theological Interpretation and Isaiah 53: A Critical Comparison of Bernhard Duhm, Brevard Childs, and Alec Motyer
Reviewed by J. Todd Hibbard

Martin Stowasser, ed.
Das Gottesbild in der Offenbarung des Johannes
Reviewed by Nils Neumann

Mark L. Strauss
Reviewed by J. Andrew Doole

John Van Seters
The Pentateuch: A Social-Science Commentary
Reviewed by Jean Louis Ska

Donald R. Vance, George Athas, and Yael Avrahami
Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: A Reader’s Edition
Reviewed by Hubert Keener

Luigi Walt
Paolo e le parole di Gesù: Frammenti di un insegnamento orale
Reviewed by Ilaria L. E. Ramelli

Kyle B. Wells
Grace and Agency in Paul and Second Temple Judaism: Interpreting the Transformation of the Heart
Reviewed by Don Garlington

Jan 12, 2017

Jeremiah 29:11

I just couldn't resist linking to this Babylon Bee "story."

Jan 11, 2017

Hebron's Cave of the Patriarchs

This article provides an interesting account of a surreptitious visit to Hebron's Cave of the Patriarchs. Because of security issues most tourists do not go to Hebron much less see the features described and pictured in the article.

Jan 10, 2017

Reading Proverbs

Matthew Holst has some good advice here for reading Proverbs.

Jan 9, 2017

John Sailhamer (1946–2017)

Several sources have noted that John Sailhamer has died (here is one). Although, I did not know Dr. Sailhamer personally, I found his writings to be helpful and stimulating. I did not always agree with his conclusions but he frequently caused me to think or rethink.

Jan 8, 2017

A Challenge of Theological Education

I am not sure if I would call it the biggest challenge of theological education, but Greg Forster's post here is worth considering.

Jan 7, 2017

College Majors

Here is another article on the most and least profitable college majors. Biblical studies is listed fifth in the least profitable category. As the article notes, "If you want to follow your heart, and not necessarily the dollar signs, these jobs may be for you." I have not regretted my decision to pursue biblical studies but I do think one needs to think and pray hard and have realistic expectations when pursuing that path.

Jan 6, 2017

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 but unfortunately you must be a SBL member.

Michal Beth Dinkler
Silent Statements: Narrative Representations of Speech and Silence in the Gospel of Luke
Reviewed by Mikeal C. Parsons

John Eifion Morgan-Wynne
Paul’s Pisidian Antioch Speech: Acts 13
Reviewed by Lars Kierspel

Jason M. H. Gaines
The Poetic Priestly Source
Reviewed by Frank H. Polak

Friedhelm Hartenstein and Konrad Schmid, eds.
Abschied von der Priesterschrift?: Zum Stand der Pentateuchdebatte
Reviewed by David M. Carr

Gary G. Hoag
Wealth in Ancient Ephesus and the First Letter to Timothy: Fresh Insights from Ephesiaca by Xenophon of Ephesus
Reviewed by Susana de Sola Funsten

Walter J. Houston
Amos: Justice and Violence
Reviewed by Karl Möller

Michael Labahn and Outi Lehtipuu, eds.
People under Power: Early Jewish and Christian Responses to the Roman Empire
Reviewed by Warren Carter

Antti Laato
Guide to Biblical Chronology
Reviewed by Ernst Axel Knauf

David A. Lambert
How Repentance Became Biblical: Judaism, Christianity, and the Interpretation of Scripture
Reviewed by Dru Johnson

Reinhard Pummer
The Samaritans: A Profile
Reviewed by Monika Schreiber

Benjamin Sargent
Written To Serve: The Use of Scripture in 1 Peter
Reviewed by Abson Joseph

Pyung Soo Seo
Luke’s Jesus in the Roman Empire and the Emperor in the Gospel of Luke
Reviewed by Frank E. Dicken

Martin Vahrenhorst
Der erste Brief des Petrus
Reviewed by Torrey Seland

Meredith J. C. Warren
My Flesh Is Meat Indeed: A Nonsacramental Reading of John 6:51–58
Reviewed by Dana Robinson

Konrad Zawadzki
Der Kommentar Cyrills von Alexandrien zum 1. Korintherbrief: Einleitung, kritischer Text, Übersetzung, Einzelanalyse
Reviewed by David Kneip

Jan 5, 2017

Review of A Syntax Guide for Readers of the Greek New Testament

Charles Lee Irons, A Syntax Guide for Readers of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2016). 

A plethora of resources are available for students and potential students of the Greek New Testament, including books, software, videos, and apps. One can be thankful for the availability of these resources but the sheer volume and variety can be intimidating. The situation is further complicated by the differing levels of competency in potential users and different opinions on the perceived value of any given resource. One person’s helpful tool is viewed by others as a crutch. The availability of Bible software and its ability to parse and quickly access original language resources (e.g., lexicons, grammars) also has been somewhat of a game changer. It is in this context that Charles Lee Irons’ A Syntax Guide for Readers of the Greek New Testament, fairly or unfairly, needs to be considered.

But before we examine the contribution that Irons’ work might make, we should take note of what exactly Irons seeks to accomplish. This is easy enough, as he notes, “This Syntax Guide is intended to assist readers of the Greek New Testament by providing brief explanations of intermediate and advanced syntactical features of the Greek text. It also provides suggested translations to help the reader make sense of unusual phrases and difficult sentences” (p. 7). It is not intended to replace or supplant parsing guides, lexicons, reader’s editions of the Greek New Testament, or apparently commentaries. “Rather it picks up where these other tools leave off, presupposes their use, and moves on to more complex issues of syntax, translation, some textual criticism, and limited exegesis” (p. 7). One distinguishing feature of the work is its emphasis on recognizing “Hebraic constructions, Semitic interference, and Septuagentisms in the syntax” (p. 11). Irons’ goal is a noble one. Namely, “to encourage students, pastors, and others to devote themselves to reading large portions of the Greek New Testament, ideally all of it” (p. 8).

The layout of the book is simple. The notations are grouped by book and arranged in chapter and verse order. Not every verse is covered but the majority seems to be. The chapter/verse number is followed by the pertinent Greek word or phrase and an explanation which often, but not always, includes an English translation. Also often included are brief syntactical notes and references to the “Hebraic constructions, Semitic interference, and Septuagentisms” noted above. This volume also includes a brief but helpful index of subjects listed not by page number but by biblical reference (which is preferable for a work like this). The syntactical notes seem to reference most often in Blass, Debrunner, and Funk (BDF) and Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, and not surprisingly, many of the lexical references are to BDAG. 

There are a number of features that make this volume helpful and desirable. First, the packaging and presentation are user-friendly. The book is the same size as the two most commonly used editions of the Greek text (NA and UBS) making it easier to carry. The layout is also generous in white space when compared to two similar works that I cut my teeth on, namely, the more densely-packed The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament by Rogers and Rogers and A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament by Zerwick. Second, Iron’s work does a bit of the grammatical legwork for his readers by providing references to the pertinent discussions in some of the most frequently referenced intermediate grammars. The reader will still need to look at these grammars to read the full discussion but it can still be a time-saver. Third, the occasional references to the “Hebraic constructions, Semitic interference, and Septuagentisms” is a nice plus. Most of these can probably be found in technical commentaries, but again, to have a quick reference in one place is nice.

There is not much to say by way of criticism. One could disagree with Irons’ conclusions here or there and one might wish that he would have produced a more comprehensive treatment. But taken on its stated terms, Irons delivers what he promises. Probably the biggest challenge for this work will be finding a niche in the crowded field of New Testament Greek resources. There are already well-established and similar works like those by Rogers and Rogers and Zerwick and it will also need to compete with B&H Academic’s Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament (EGGNT) and Baylor’s Handbook series. Perhaps its saving grace will be that it is a single volume packaged in a manageable-size that can easily be carried with a Greek New Testament. In any case, Irons’ work is a helpful, but not essential, resource that merits consideration by those seeking to become more proficient in reading their Greek texts.

You can read an excerpt here.

Thanks to Kregel for providing the copy used in this unbiased review.

Jan 4, 2017

Do You Have a Book Table at Your Church?

I think that having a book table at church is a wonderful idea. Here is a post on one church that tried it.

Jan 3, 2017

Free Logos "Book" for January: Bulletin for Biblical Research, Volume 1

The free Logos "Book" of the Month for January is Bulletin for Biblical Research, Volume 1. To get this resource you can go to the Logos' Free Book of Month page here.

Listening and Applying the Sermon

Mahlon Smith has a good post here on listening and applying a sermon. In essence, the recipient of the message participates in the message with an attitude of obedience and expectation of life change. Ultimately, application is a collaborative effort between the Spirit, Text, preacher/sermon, and recipient.

Jan 2, 2017

One More List of 2016's Significant Archaeological Discoveries

I have previously posted on a list of 2016's significant biblically-related archaeological discoveries by Christianity Today here, then a list here of 2016's significant archaeological discoveries in Israel by Haaretz, and now and probably finally, a list by Biblical Archaeology Review here on their top ten list of discoveries in 2016.

Eight Categories for the New Testament Use of the Old Testament

Michael Vlach has a helpful post here on eight ways that the New Testament uses the Old Testament.

Jan 1, 2017

Are We Misusing the Term Intertextuality?

This article by Russell Meek on intertextuality is a couple of years old but is worth reading. It is a great reminder of the dangers of using/misusing terms without understanding the presuppositions that undergird them.

HT: James Hamilton

Dec 31, 2016

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 but unfortunately you must be a SBL member.

Miriam Bier
‘Perhaps There Is Hope’: Reading Lamentations as a Polyphony of Pain, Penitence, and Protest
Reviewed by Amy C. Cottrill

Tony Burke, ed.
Forbidden Texts on the Western Frontier: The Christian Apocrypha from North American Perspectives: Proceedings from the 2013 York University Christian Apocrypha Symposium
Reviewed by Julia Snyder

Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford, ed.
The Shape and Shaping of the Book of Psalms: The Current State of Scholarship
Reviewed by John E. Anderson

Susan E. Hylen
A Modest Apostle: Thecla and the History of Women in the Early Church
Reviewed by Kate Wilkinson

Richard Kalmin
Migrating Tales: The Talmud’s Narratives and Their Historical Context
Reviewed by Rivka Ulmer

Duane Litfin
Paul’s Theology of Preaching: The Apostle’s Challenge to the Art of Persuasion in Ancient Corinth
Reviewed by James W. Thompson

Alicia D. Myers and Bruce G. Schuchard, eds.
Abiding Words: The Use of Scripture in the Gospel of John
Reviewed by Inhee C. Berg

Manfred Oeming and Konrad Schmid
Job’s Journey: Stations of Suffering
Reviewed by Katharine Dell

Donald W. Parry and Emanuel Tov
The Dead Sea Scrolls Reader, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded
Reviewed by Peter Porzig

Leo G. Perdue and Warren Carter; Coleman A. Baker, ed.
Israel and Empire: A Postcolonial History of Israel and Early Judaism
Reviewed by Steed Vernyl Davidson

Adele Reinhartz
Caiaphas the High Priest
Reviewed by Arie W. Zwiep

Jeremy Schipper
Ruth: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary
Reviewed by George Savran

V. George Shillington
An Introduction to the Study of Luke-Acts
Reviewed by James M. Morgan

Daniel Lynwood Smith
Into the World of the New Testament: Greco-Roman and Jewish Texts and Contexts
Reviewed by Troy M. Troftgruben

Werner Zager
Jesusforschung in vier Jahrhunderten: Texte von den Anfängen historischer Kritik bis zur “dritten Frage” nach dem historischen Jesus
Reviewed by Stephan Witetschek

Dec 30, 2016

Another List of Archaeological Discoveries in 2016

A few days ago, I posted on Christianity Today's list of top ten Bible-related archaeological discoveries in 2016. Now Haaretz here has a list of the best archaeological discoveries in Israel for 2016.

Dec 29, 2016

The Earliest Synagogue in Israel?

Carl Rasmussen has an interesting discussion and photos of an ancient synagogue, perhaps the oldest discovered. You can about it here.

Dec 28, 2016

Christianity Today's Top 10 Biblical Archaeology Discoveries of 2016

Godon Govier at Christianity Today lists and discusses the top ten biblical archaeology discoveries of 2016 here.