Feb 1, 2015

50 Micro-Book Reviews

I enjoyed read these 50 micro-book reviews from Nicholas McDonald.

Jan 31, 2015

Into the World of the New Testament

The T & T Clark blog has a brief post here by Daniel Smith discussing his new book Into the World of the New Testament. Here is the table of contents. 

Chapter 1: What is the New Testament?

Part 1: The Setting
Chapter 2: The Kingdom of... God?
Chapter 3: When in Rome

Part 2: The Cast of Characters
Chapter 4: John the Baptist and other Movers and Shakers
Chapter 5: A Virgin, a King, a High Priest, a Governor, and a Rabbi
Chapter 6: Joshua the Carpenter's Son...or the Christ, the Son of God?
Chapter 7: Learners
Chapter 8: The Jews
Chapter 9: "I am a Jew"

Part 3: Reading Words
Chapter 10: The Crux of the Matter
Chapter 11: Faith(fulness)
Chapter 12: Apocalypse Then
Post-Script: Loose Canons

The Chronicler and the Book of Chronicles

William Varner has some helpful thoughts on the Chronicler's idealized presentation of David and Solomon here.

Jan 30, 2015

Initiation into the Mysteries of the Ancient World

Larry Hurtado has noted that Jan N. Bremmer's Initiation into the Mysteries of the Ancient World is available for free access here. This sounds like a must read for those interested in Roman-era mystery cults and the New Testament. You can read what Hurtado has to say about it here.

Jan 29, 2015

Assyrian Soldiers and PTSD?

Smithsonian.com has an interesting article on how ancient Assyrian soldiers might have suffered from PTSD here. This would not be surprising if the Sennacherib palace reliefs tell even half the story regarding the atrocities committed by the troops. For example see here.

HT: Charlie Dyer

Jan 27, 2015

Are You a Theology Nerd?

If so, you might enjoy this.

Are You Using PDF's in Your Research?

If the answer to the above question is"yes," then you might want to check out Brian Renshaw's helpful post here.

Jan 26, 2015

Pointers for Young Preachers

Peter Mead has some sound advice for young preachers here.

Who Sold Joseph into Slavery?

Someone at church recently asked me about who actually sold Joseph into slavery. He had been reading Genesis 37 and noted that the text is not as clear on the answer to that question as many would assume. The ambiguity in the account has resulted in three basic interpretations.

1. If one assumes a documentary approach to the composition of the Pentateuch then one might explain the ambiguity and confusion due to the inclusion of two different accounts of the same event (what is called a doublet).

2. Joseph’s brothers put him into the pit, but the Midianites found him and sold him to the Ishmaelites. This view assumes that the Ishmaelites are distinct from the Midianites and that all of Joseph’s brothers, not just Reuben was absent when this occurred. This view assumes that the “they” of v. 28 refers to Midianites (e.g., HCSB, NAB, NRSV, REB). This seems to be supported by the fact that Reuben reported to his brothers that Joseph was gone (v. 30). Presumably, the brothers would not need to (1) have Reuben return to them if they were in fact present at the pit, and (2) it appears that Reuben made a solo trip to the pit (v. 29). Also, later in Genesis 40:15, Joseph states that he had been “stolen.”

3. Joseph’s brothers sold him to the Midianites/Ishmaelites. This view understands the designations Midianite and Ishmaelite to be overlapping, or more technically Ishmaelite is more generic and Ishmaelite more geographically specific (Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 18–50, NICOT [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995], 423). So from a distance Joseph’s brothers could only tell that it was a, Ishmaelite caravan, but when they got closer they discovered that they were in fact Midianites. This shared identity seems to be supported by v. 36. If the Midianites had stolen Joseph and then sold him to the Ishmaelites, how do they again have him to sell him to the Egyptians? So this view assumes that the “they” of v. 28 refers to Joseph’s brothers, minus Reuben (e.g., NKJV, NET, NLT, NIV, TEV). This view finds support in (1) the likelihood that Midianites and Ishmaelites refer to the same group, and (2) Joseph’s statement in Genesis 45:4: “So Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come near to me, please.’ And they [Joseph’s brothers’ came near. And he said, ‘I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt’” (ESV). 

In sum, if one decides that the Midianites and Ishmaelites refer to the same group, then view 3 seems practically certain. On the other hand, if the Midianites and Ishmaelites refer to different groups then there are good reasons to support view 2. But neither view changes the fact that Joseph was mistreated by his brothers.

Jan 24, 2015

2015 Expository Preaching Workshop - Preaching Jude in Today's Culture

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is holding its annual Expository Preaching Workshop on March 2-3, 2015. The theme this year is "Preaching Jude in Today's Culture." Early registration for the workshop is $25 for students and $50 for non-students through February 26, 2015. After February 26, registration fees increase to $50 for students and $75 for non-students. The workshop will run from 4:00-8:00 pm on Monday and 8:00 am-4:15 pm on Tuesday. You can see the list of speakers, schedule, and more information here.

Jan 23, 2015

Bible-Minded Cities

Barna has just released their 2015 list of Bible-minded cities in America.

"In the annual “Bible-Minded” cities report, Barna Group explores how Bible engagement plays out regionally in the United States. The study, based on interviews with 62,896 adults over a 10-year period, shows how people in the nation’s 100 largest media markets view and use the Bible

"Barna Group ranks the nation’s top media markets based on their level of Bible engagement. Individuals who report reading the Bible in a typical week and who strongly assert the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches are considered to be Bible-minded. This definition captures action and attitude—those who both engage and esteem the Christian scriptures. The rankings thus reflect an overall openness or resistance to the Bible in various cities of the nation." 

HT: James McCullen

Jan 22, 2015

Talking to the Preacher Before They Preach

Thom Ranier has some helpful suggestions about talking to preachers before they preach here. I know that before I started preaching I was fairly oblivious to some of the challenges faced by those who preach. 

Jan 21, 2015

Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain

Students of the Gospels are aware that there is some debate as to whether the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5–7 is the same as the Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6:17–49. Although most have concluded that they are the same sermon, I created the following table to try and outline the issue in broad terms.
Sermon on the Mount and Sermon on the Plain: Same Sermon?
·     Both sermons have the same beginning and endings
·     Both sermons have similar content with virtually all of the Sermon on the Plain paralleled in the Sermon on the Mount and often in identical order
·     Both sermons are followed by Jesus’ entrance into Capernaum and the healing of the centurion’s servant
·     The stated geographical location is different (mount vs. plain)
·     The Sermon on the Plain follows the choosing of the Twelve an event that does not occur in Matthew until chp. 10
·     The content is different (Matt 5:33-37; 6:1-6, 16-18; 7:6 are not found in the Sermon on the Plain)
Geographical and content differences between the sermons can be readily explained
Similarities can be explained by understanding that Jesus was an itinerant preacher who reused his material
Proponents: Origen, Chrysostom, J. Calvin, W. Hendricksen, C. Blomberg, R. Guelich, C. Quarles, D. Turner, D. A. Carson, B. Witherington
Proponents: Augustine, J. A. Alexander, E. H. Plumptre, L. Morris, E. Glasscock

Jan 20, 2015

The Gospel of Matthew by Davies and Allison

Those who have done serious work in the Gospel of Matthew are certainly familiar with the ICC commentary by W. D. Davies and Dale Allison. What I had not realized is the extent to which this helpful work can be attributed to Allison. Note the following comment by William Baird in his History of New Testament Research: Volume Three

"Davies is credited with the publication of massive three-volume commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, in which all three volumes list him as the lead author. Although Davies was the inspiration, architect, and supervisor of this monumental project, most of the actual research and writing (virtually all in volumes 2 and 3) was done by Dale Allison. Allison became a student of Davies at Duke in 1977 and worked with him on the Gospel of Matthew for almost two decades. He served as Davies's research assistant during the time Davies was at Texas Christian University (1981-85). Allison knew the mind and method of Davies and incorporated them into this comprehensive commentary on Matthew" (p. 298).

Jan 19, 2015

Book Writing Hack

Nicholas Carlson has some helpful advice for writing here.

Jan 18, 2015

Paul's Garden of Gethsemane?

William Varner has an interesting take on Acts 20:13 and Paul's decision to travel alone. You can read about it here.

Jan 17, 2015

Advice for Guest Preachers

Craig Schill has some helpful advice for guest preachers here. Having done a bit of guest preaching myself, I think that a number of these points are spot on.

Jan 16, 2015

Free Audio: Volume 1 of Unseen God: A Study in the Book of Esther

You can download free audio from the first volume of "Unseen God: A Study in the Book of Esther" preached by Alistair Begg here. This series contains the following messages.

Introducing Esther, Part One (1:1–9)
Introducing Esther, Part Two (1:1–9)
Wine, Women and Self (1:10–2:4)
Providence (2:1–23)
Mordecai and Esther (2:5–23)
God is in Charge (3:1–15)
Fasting, Weeping, Lamenting (4:1–11)
What's Going On? (4:12–17)

Jan 15, 2015

Patterns of Evidence: Exodus

The documentary Patterns of Evidence: Exodus has been generating some interest. The trailer looks pretty good (see below). The movie's website contains quite of bit of information and you can access it here. Right now the movie is only being shown on one night, January 19, at select theaters.

Jan 14, 2015

Gentile References in Matthew

I have been working in the Gospel of Matthew. This Gospel is often, and rightly, recognized as the most Jewish of the Gospels. But what is less well known is that there is a significant Gentile thread that runs through the book. Although others have surely produced such a list, I could not find one. So here is a list that I came up with. Feel free to suggest other possible references in the comments section.
1. The references to Rahab (1:5), Ruth (1:5) and Uriah (1:6),
2. The visit and positive presentation of the Magi (2:1–12)
3. The quotation of Isaiah 9:1–2 (“Galilee of the Gentiles”) (4:15–16)
4. Jesus’ fame spreading throughout Syria (4:24)
5. The reference to the Decapolis, a territory that is seen as less Jewish (4:25)
6. The commendation of the Roman centurion’s faith vis-à-vis Israel (8:10)
7. Jesus’ prediction that, “many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (8:11)
8. Jesus responds positively to the request of the centurion (8:13)
9. The reference to Nineveh rising up at the judgment against the current Jewish generation (12:41)
10. The reference to the queen of the South rising up at against the current Jewish generation (12:42)
11. The reference to Jesus withdrawing to the district of Tyre and Sidon (15:21)
12. Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman with commendable faith (15:21–28)
13. Some see reference to the Gentiles as at least some of those who are gathered for the wedding banquet (22:1–14)
14. Some see reference to the Gentiles as those who treated Jesus’ “brothers” (Jews) with kindness (25:40)
15. The response of centurion at the death of Jesus: “Surely he was the Son of God” (27:55) 

16. The Great Commission’s call to go and make disciples of all nations

Jan 12, 2015

Keener on Kissing

Louis McBride has an extensive quote here related to Acts 20:37 ("And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him," ESV) on kissing in the ancient world from from Craig Keener's Acts 15:1-23:35 commentary. The comments are interesting and give you some idea of the encyclopedic character of Keener's work.