Sep 19, 2014

A Daily Dose of Greek

There are many ways to keep up with the Greek that you learned in seminary. If your way is not working for you, you might consider signing up Rob Plummer's "Daily Dose of Greek." Plummer is a professor of Greek and New Testament at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The plan is fairly simple Sign up by email and starting October 1, you will be emailed a link to a two minute "daily dose" video five days a week. You can check out the website and view the introductory video here. There are also resources available at the website.

HT: Brandt Vanroeckel

Sep 18, 2014

The Birth of Moses and the Birth of Jesus

Recently while working through Exodus, it struck me that there are a number of similarities between the birth narratives of Moses and Jesus. Consider the following list.
  • Both birth narratives are associated with Egypt
  • Both birth narratives occur during times of oppression (Egypt, Rome)
  • Both birth narratives involve potential infanticide
  • Both birth narratives involve a non-biological parent (Pharaoh’s daughter, Joseph)
  • Both birth narratives highlight the role of the mother
  • Both birth narratives involve a baby who will deliver his people
  • Both birth narratives involve population concerns (growth of the Israelites and the census in Luke)
  • Both birth narratives note the placement of the child (Moses in a basket, Jesus in a manger
  • Both birth narratives highlight the etymological significance of the naming of the child (Exod 2:10; Matt 1:23-25)
  • Although not strictly part of the birth narrative, the accounts of both Moses and Jesus move quickly from birth to adulthood (little is said related to childhood and adolescence)

Sep 17, 2014

How to Research Well

The Study Hacks blog has a helpful post discussing the correlation between the best young professors and research. According to the post, the following four characteristics typified these professors and their research habits.

  • The exemplary faculty did not wait for “ideal” times to write.
    As Boice explains: “waiting for ideal times such as binges induces more than mere uninvolvement…[i]t can also bring procrastination and dissatisfaction.”
  • The exemplary faculty instead maintained a regular writing habit.
    As Boice explains: “[they] pay close attention to regiment…[those who] did not establish a regiment of writing regularly did not establish productivity.”
  • The exemplary faculty put thought into how to be more productive.
    As Boice explains: “[new faculty] would do well to take more notice of knowledge, usually untaught in open systematic ways, about survival, including self-management.”
  • The exemplary faculty looked for outside help in improving their academic productivity.
    As Boice explains: “The quick starters depicted here, unlike their counterparts, were proactive in soliciting collegial advice. They were quick to dismiss the idea that they had to figure out the subtle rules of productivity on their own.”

Sep 16, 2014

How Long It Takes To Read The World's Most Popular Books

See this article and infographic listing 64 of the world's most popular books, including the Bible, with estimates related to total reading time of an average reader reading 300 words per minute.

HT: Matt Larsen

Sep 15, 2014

The Didache

David Capes has posted on the Didache here. He provides a good summary of this early Christian document. I also found it interesting that he taught a series on the Didache in a church context. Unfortunately, I am not sure that most Christians would be interested in such a study. 

Sep 14, 2014

The Dating of Deuteronomy and the Suzerain-Vassal Treaty Forms

I think that too much is often made of the similarities between the suzerain-vassal treaty forms and the books of Torah, most notably Deuteronomy. But whatever the similarities exist between Deuteronomy and the treaty forms seem to better fit the extant second millennium forms rather than the much later Neo-Assyrian forms. If correct, this supports a much earlier date of composition for Deuteronomy than is typically held in critical scholarship. So I think that Aaron Koller is spot on in his article "Deuteronomy and Hittite Treaties" in Bible and Interpretation here. See the abstract below but make sure to read the article.
"There has long been one very good reason to consider dating Deuteronomy far earlier than the seventh century, and to the second millennium BCE: certain core elements of the book seem to be based on treaty forms most similar to the Hittite treaties known from the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries BCE. That Deuteronomy relies on the form of a treaty is another well-established consensus position in biblical scholarship."

Sep 13, 2014

A. T. Robertson on the Purpose of Seminaries

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary blog recently had a nice post on A.T. Robertson here. The blog post focuses on Robertson views related to the purpose of seminaries. According to the authors, Robertson "rejected the idea that the purpose of the seminary was to make scholars." And that, "The question for him was: 'Does the college and seminary training tend to make better preachers?'” To which Robertson responds,

"If not, it is a failure. The German idea is to make scholars first and preachers incidentally. But ours is to make preachers, and scholars only as a means to that end. We have small need in the pulpit for men that can talk learnedly and obscurely about the tendencies of thought and the trend of philosophy, but do not know how to preach Christ and him crucified. The most essential thing to-day is not to know what German scholars think of the Bible, but to be able to tell men what the Bible says about themselves. And if our system of theological training fails to make preachers, it falls short of the object for which it was established. But if it does meet the object of its creation, it calls for hearty sympathy and support. … But my plea is for scholarship that helps men to preach. For after all, the great need of the world is the preaching of the gospel, not saying off a sermon, but preaching that stirs sinful hearts to repentance and godliness" (
Archibald Thomas Robertson, “Preaching and Scholarship” [Louisville: Baptist Book Concern, 1890], 9–10, 15–16).

Sep 12, 2014

The Primary Aim of Text-Criticism

Concerning text criticism, Michael V. Fox states,

“The primary aim of text criticism is representation of authorial intent. The recovery of intention is the essence of interpretation. A text, strictly speaking, doesn't mean; it transmits meaning. Again, the willingness to correct typos is proof that we all are ready to override what is written in favor of what was intended.”

“Text Criticism and Literary Criticism,” in Built by Wisdom, Established by Understanding: Essays on Biblical and Near Eastern Literature in Honor of Adele Berlin, ed. Maxine L. Grossman (Bethesda, Maryland: University Press of Maryland, 2013), 354.

Sep 11, 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. 

C. Clifton Black
The Rhetoric of the Gospel: Theological Artistry in the Gospels and Acts
Reviewed by Geert Van Oyen

Wally V. Cirafesi
Verbal Aspect in Synoptic Parallels: On the Method and Meaning of Divergent Tense-Form Usage in the Synoptic Passion Narratives
Reviewed by Steven E. Runge

David J. A. Clines
Job 38-42
Reviewed by Norman Habel

Katharine J. Dell
Job: Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?
Reviewed by Martin A. Shields

Craig A. Evans
Reviewed by Robert H. Gundry

Camilla Hélena von Heijne
The Messenger of the Lord in Early Jewish Interpretations of Genesis
Reviewed by Koog P. Hong

Daniel Keating
First and Second Peter, Jude
Reviewed by Abson Joseph

Steven T. Mann
Run, David, Run! An Investigation of the Theological Speech Acts of David's Departure and Return (2 Samuel 14–20)
Reviewed by David G. Firth

James M. Robinson
The Story of the Bodmer Papyri: From the First Monastery’s Library in Upper Egypt to Geneva and Dublin
Reviewed by Tommy Wasserman

Christopher W. Skinner and Kelly R. Iverson, eds.
Unity and Diversity in the Gospels and Paul: Essays in Honor of Frank J. Matera
Reviewed by James D. G. Dunn

Sep 9, 2014

Journal of Biblical Literature 133:3

The lasted volume of the Journal of Biblical Literature is now out. Here is a list of the articles with links to abstracts.

Aaron D. Hornkohl, "Her Word versus His: Establishing the Underlying Text in 1 Samuel 1:23"

Mika S. Pajunen ,"4QPsx: A Collective Interpretation of Psalm 89:20–38"

Hector Avalos, "Nebuchadnezzar’s Affliction: New Mesopotamian Parallels for Daniel 4"

Stuart A. Irvine, "Idols [ktbwnm]: A Note on Hosea 13:2a"

Jonathan M. Gibson, "Cutting Off “Kith and Kin,” “Er and Onan”? Interpreting an Obscure Phrase in Malachi 2:12"

Katell Berthelot, "Reclaiming the Land (1 Maccabees 15:28–36): Hasmonean Discourse between Biblical Tradition and Seleucid Rhetoric"

Tucker S. Ferda, "Matthew's Titulus and Psalm 2’s King on Mount Zion"

Adam Winn, "Resisting Honor: The Markan Secrecy Motif and Roman Political Ideology"

Toan Do, "[Monon] or [monon]? Reading 1 John 2:2c from the Editio Critica Maior" 

Blake E. Wassell and Stephen R. Llewelyn, “'Fishers of Humans,” the Contemporary Theory of Metaphor, and Conceptual Blending Theory"

Adele Reinhartz, "The JBL Forum, an Occasional Exchange"

Serge Frolov, "The Death of Moses and the Fate of Source Criticism"

Philip Y. Yoo," The Place of Deuteronomy 34 and Source Criticism: A Response to Serge Frolov"

Shawna Dolansky, "Deuteronomy 34: The Death of Moses, Not of Source Criticism" 

Unified until Proven Disunified? Assumptions and Standards in Assessing the Literary Complexity of Ancient Biblical Texts
David M. Carr 

Sep 8, 2014

The Importance of Biblical Geography

I am a big proponent of the idea that geography is an important component of a well-rounded biblical understanding. I find it puzzling that the some who devote themselves to learning the biblical languages and Second Temple Judaism are relatively unconcerned with developing a competency in biblical geography. So I am always encouraged when I find a commentary that highlights the importance of geography. Here is a rather longish quote from an older commentary on Joshua by George C. M. Douglas. 
"In reading almost any book of the Old Testament, we have to take notice of geography if we are to appreciate fully what we read: but what is thus true in general attains its most emphatic exemplification in the book of Joshua. The study of the geography of the Holy Land is as old as the study of the Old Testament by Christians outside that country: and to this hour we are told by travellers that there is no better guide to their geographical studies than the book of Joshua. I have occasion often to mention the great contribution to sacred geography in the first Christian centuries, the Onomasticon, or list of names, written by the Greek bishop Eusebius, and edited half a century later by the great Hebrew scholar among the Latin fathers, Jerome. The Christian (not to speak of the Jewish) pilgrims before the Crusades, and during them, and after they were over collected a mass of traditions which have been laboriously sifted. From the dawn of modern times there have been intelligent travellers, who have accumulated stores of information for us: and in the latter part of last century, and in the early years of this one, these travellers went to work more scientifically and systematically than any of their predecessors, aided no doubt by the accurate and learned work Palæstina, by the Dutch scholar Reland. It is still some years under fifty, however, since a vast step in advance was made by the late Dr. Edward Robinson of New York, aided by his countrymen the missionaries at Beyrût, one of whom, Dr. Thomson, still living, has given much information in a popular form in his Land and the Book. It would be invidious to single out names of others, both dead and living, who have carried on a noble work. But there is no indelicacy in mentioning the labours of a society, that of the Palestine Exploration Fund, which has accomplished what individuals were not in circumstances to achieve, and whose labours have reached a climax in giving to the world in 1880 the map of a trigonometrical survey of Palestine west of the Jordan, on the scale of an inch to the mile, accompanied by memoirs which are in process of publication, and to be followed as quickly as possible by maps on a somewhat reduced scale (one just published, three-eighths of an inch to the mile, is admirable) with the ancient as well as the modern names, to suit them to the wants of the readers of the Old and of the New Testaments. We have had many good maps before, among which those of the Dutch traveller C. W. Van de Velde and of President Porter in Murray’s Handbook may be singled out: but it is no reproach to earlier labourers in this field to say that the Palestine Exploration maps must displace or essentially modify all earlier efforts, at least so soon as the part of Palestine east of the Jordan has also been surveyed and published. And among the workers on this survey, speaking of geographical research over the whole country, not of topographical research in Jerusalem, for instance, it is no disparagement to the others to single out Lieutenant Conder, R.E., because his duties have led him to take a specially prominent position. It has been no small labour to go over and digest all the information communicated in these publications, and in the quarterly statement of the Society; and after all, I fear that I have to admit that pages of this Handbook must be unspeakably dry, particularly in chapters 15–19, so that sometimes nothing better can be recommended than to pass them over. Yet I felt it impossible to publish the book without the summary of this information; and I am sure that there are those who will take the map and carefully trace the lists which seem so dry to others, and find them deeply interesting. I may say in a sentence, that the boundaries of the tribes are still in many cases doubtful; but that there is hardly room for doubt that in some cases very considerable modifications must be made of preconceived opinions, in the case of the group of Issachar and Western Manasseh and Ephraim, and in the group of Zebulun and Asher and Naphtali. When the Palestine Exploration Society have done for the country east of Jordan what they have accomplished for Canaan proper, the next great service to scriptural geography will be a careful survey of the Negeb and the desert of Et Tih, that is, of the southern extremity of Canaan from about Beersheba outwards to the great desert in which the children of Israel wandered. It is true that this will have less influence on the geography of the book of Joshua than their present labours: yet there are important points for it also. Especially it will settle how far south the limits of Judah and Simeon are to be extended; and this in connection with the very interesting question of the situation of Kadesh-barnea; see notes on 15:3. The Rev. H. A. Trumbull (Quarterly Paper, July 1881, pp. 208–212), while not committing himself finally, gives strong evidence from personal examination in favour of Rowlands’ view."

Preaching Philemon

David Allen highlights a book by O. S. Hawkins as a resource for preaching Philemon. You can access Allen's thoughts here.

Sep 6, 2014

Exodus Route and Mt. Sinai

Farrell Jenkins has compiled a helpful list of links to posts that he has written related to the route of the Exodus and the location of Mt. Sinai here. Ferrell has an excellent blog related to the Bible lands.

Sep 5, 2014

Reasons for Preaching Predictive Prophecy

Mark Snoeberger has a good post on the advantages of preaching predictive prophecy here. In short he supplies four reasons. Make sure you use the link to read the entire post with explanations related to each point.
  • Preaching predictive prophecy keeps the present in proper perspective. 
  • Preaching predictive prophecy keeps our affections properly aligned. 
  • Preaching predictive prophecy keeps the climax of history in view.
  • Preaching predictive prophecy keeps the mission of the church intact. 
I would add one further point. About a quarter of the Bible consists of prophetic passages. If one is to preach the whole counsel of Scripture, you simply cannot ignore prophetic texts.

Sep 4, 2014

Levirate Marriage in Modern Jewish Practice

The Jerusalem Post has an interesting story here highlighting the modern day practice, or more technically the non-practice of Levirate marriage (Deut 25:5-10; cf. Gen 38, Ruth 3-4). The article also touches upon the topic of remarriage.

Sep 3, 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. 

James K. Aitken, Jeremy M. S. Clines, and Christl M. Maier, eds.
Interested Readers: Essays on the Hebrew Bible in Honor of David J. A. Clines
Reviewed by Bob Becking
Reviewed by Richard S. Briggs

Mary Ann Beavis and Michael J. Gilmour, eds.
Dictionary of the Bible and Western Culture
Reviewed by Matthias Millard

Rachel M. Billings
“Israel Served the Lord”: The Book of Joshua as Paradoxical Portrait of Faithful Israel
Reviewed by Thomas B. Dozeman

Susanne Gillmayr-Bucher
Erzählte Welten im Richterbuch: Narratologische Aspekte eines polyfonen Diskurses
Reviewed by Klaas Spronk

Mark Larrimore
The Book of Job: A Biography
Reviewed by Michael S. Moore
Reviewed by Agnethe Siquans

Reinhard Neudecker
Moses Interpreted by the Pharisees and Jesus: Matthew’s Antitheses in the Light of Early Rabbinic Literature
Reviewed by Abson Joseph

Stanley E. Porter and Eckhard J. Schnabel, eds.
On the Writing of New Testament Commentaries: Festschrift for Grant R. Osborne on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday
Reviewed by Edward W. Klink III

Daniel R. Schwartz
Reading the First Century: On Reading Josephus and Studying Jewish History of the First Century
Reviewed by Jonathan Klawans

Sep 2, 2014

Resource on Isaiah

Students of Isaiah might be interested in this upcoming festschrift for Joseph Blenkinsopp entitled The Book of Isaiah: Enduring Questions Answered Anew. An Amazon link is here.

Table of Contents:


In Praise of Joe Blenkinsopp
Philip Davies

Exegetical Studies

“An Initial Problem”: The Setting and Purpose of Isaiah 10:1-4
G. M. Williamson

On the Structure and Formation of the Book of Deutero-Isaiah
Rainer Albertz

The Legal Capacity of Women in the Biblical Tradition of the Persian Period
Klaus Baltzer and Peter Marinkovic

The Lament in Isaiah 63:7–64:11 and Its Literary and Theological Place in Isaiah 40–66
Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer

Joseph Blenkinsopp as an Interpreter of “Third Isaiah”
Hans M. Barstad

“Build up, Pass through” — Isaiah 57:14–62:12 as the Core Composition of Third Isaiah
Andreas Schuele

Thematic Essays

Major Interchanges in the Book of Isaiah Subservient to Its Umbrella Theme: The Establishment of Yhwh’s Sovereign Rule at Mt. Zion (Chs. 12–13; 27–28; 39–40; 55–56)
Willem A. M. Beuken

Little Highs, Little Lows: Tracing Key Themes in Isaiah
Hyun Chul Paul Kim

Kingship and Servanthood in the Book of Isaiah
Ulrich Berges

Eschatology in the Book of Isaiah
Marvin A. Sweeney

Consumerism, Idolatry, and Environmental Limits in Isaiah
Patricia K. Tull

Isaiah’s Interpretive Revolution: How Isaiah’s Formation Influenced Early Jewish and Christian Interpretation
Jacob Stromberg

HT: Eerdword Blog

Sep 1, 2014

Free Audio Book: Francis Schaeffer's How Should We then Live? is offering Francis Schaeffer's well-known work How Should We then Live? as their free download for the month of September. The book was first published in 1976. It also served as the basis for a series of ten films. To read more about the book and to get your free audio download go here.

Aug 29, 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. 

Scott A. Ashmon
Birth Annunciations in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East: A Literary Analysis of the Forms and Functions of the Heavenly Foretelling of the Destiny of a Special Child
Reviewed by Paola Mollo

Matthew W. Bates
The Hermeneutics of the Apostolic Proclamation: The Center of Paul’s Method of Scriptural Interpretation
Reviewed by Robert B. Foster

Gareth Lee Cockerill
The Epistle to the Hebrews
Reviewed by Gabriella Gelardini
Reviewed by Kevin B. McCruden

Dean B. Deppe
All Roads Lead to the Text: Eight Methods of Inquiry into the Bible
Reviewed by Nijay Gupta

Timo Nisula
Augustine and the Functions of Concupiscence
Reviewed by Anthony Dupont

Dennis Pardee
The Ugaritic Texts and the Origins of West-Semitic Literary Composition: The Schweich Lectures of the British Academy 2007
Reviewed by Jeremy M. Hutton

Ryan S. Schellenberg
Rethinking Paul’s Rhetorical Education: Comparative Rhetoric and 2 Corinthians 10–13
Reviewed by Fredrick J. Long
Reviewed by Duane F. Watson

Samuel Vollenweider and Eva Ebel, eds.
Wahrheit und Geschichte: Exegetische und hermeneutische Studien zu einer dialektischen Konstellation
Reviewed by Mark W. Elliott

Aug 28, 2014

Review of Mark Taylor's 1 Corinthians Commentary

Mark Taylor, 1 Corinthians, New American Commentary 28 (Nashville: B&H, 2014).

First Corinthians continues to draw significant commentary interest. Taylor’s work now joins the crowded field of recent efforts (since 2000) by Lockwood (Concordia 2000), Pratt (HNTC, 2000), Thiselton (NIGTC, 2000), Sampley (NIB, 2002), Garland (BECNT, 2003), N. T. Wright (Everyman, 2003), A. Johnson (IVPNTC, 2004), Naylor (2004), Keener (NCBC, 2005), Schenk (WesBC, 2006), Collins (SP, 2007), Verbrugge (EBC rev., 2007), Fitzmyer (AB, 2008), Ciampa and Rosner (Pillar, 2009), Montague (CCSS, 2011), Perkins (Paideia, 2012), and Vang (Teach the Text, 2014). Gordon Fee’s revised NICNT volume is also scheduled for 2014.

This latest volume in the New American Commentary series is a solid work. It consists of a brief 15-page introduction and a respectable commentary section of a little over 400 pages. The explanations are clear and concise, broad but not exhaustive. This is in keeping with the author’s intention to write for the “teaching pastor” and “produce an up-to-date commentary of mid-range length that interacts representatively with the most recent scholarship” (author’s preface). In many ways Taylor has achieved his stated goal.

However, I believe that this work could have been more helpful to the “teaching pastor” in two ways. First, while the author does a decent job in identifying differing interpretive views, he often does not explain which view he prefers and why. Helping the teaching pastor think through the various options would have enhanced this commentary’s value. I suspect that many who want more in-depth analysis will find this commentary to be too succinct and turn elsewhere. Second, students of 1 Corinthians know that the book addresses a number of issues that continue to have relevance today (e.g., lawsuits, church discipline, the role of women in the church, speaking in tongues, etc.). But this commentary does not really explore these issues at any depth. To be fair, many commentators limit themselves to interpretive issues and do not tease out the implications or theology of the text for their readers. But since this commentary has the stated intention of helping teaching pastors then it seems reasonable to expect this kind of help. Many pastors that I know appreciate at least some help in moving from exegesis to application. Again, pastors looking for this kind of assistance will likely be forced to seek other resources.

In sum, this commentary is solid but whether it does enough to find a sufficient niche within the crowded, and perhaps over saturated, field noted above remains to be seen.

Much thanks to B&H Publishing for providing the free review copy utilized in this review.

The Wine in a Middle Bronze Age Palace in Israel

Wine is referenced over 230 times in the Bible. So some readers might be interested in this post from the Smithsonian blog on the chemical analysis of the contents of large jars found at Tel Kabri, tentatively identified as a wine cellar of a Middle Bronze Age palace. The blog post summarizes more extensive and technical discussion found here.