Dec 31, 2008
Peter Mead has posted a review of Preach the Word: Essays on Expository Preaching in Honor of R. Kent Hughes, edited by Leland Ryken and Todd Wilson . You can access the review here.
Todd Bolen has a nice post on the top eight archaeological discoveries in 2008. You can read it here.
Dec 30, 2008
A few years ago I taught a course entitled "Themes from the Book of Acts." In this course I developed the following eight themes.
1. The expansion of the Church
2. The Holy Spirit
3. The spread of the inclusive gospel
4. The sovereignty of God
5. Opposition to the spread of the gospel
6. The person and work of Christ
8. The ministries of Peter and Paul
As I was reading through Puskas and Crump's An Introduction to the Gospels and Acts (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), I noted that they identify the following as key themes in Luke-Acts (pp. 128-52). Although I did not include Luke in my listing of themes I thought that a comparison of themes might be interesting and/or helpful. The themes they identify are:
1. Salvation to the Gentiles
2. The progression of the gospel
3. The Holy Spirit
5. Wealth, poverty, and the marginalized
6. Faithful Israel
7. Roman tolerance.
It is encouraging to note that there was significant overlap between the lists. But I wonder if there might be some other major themes. Suggestions anyone?
Dec 29, 2008
Stephen Cook has posted his November 2007 Religion Compass article in toto. The abstract to the article reads:
Ancient Israel was thoroughly familiar with existence beyond death. Individual personalities survived the death of the body, most Israelites believed, albeit in a considerably weakened and vulnerable state. The ensnaring tentacles of Sheol constantly threatened the living-dead, but the fortunate among them were able to use the power of kinship bonds to keep Sheol’s threats at bay. The traditional ties of lineage and kin-bonding, according to biblical Yahwism, were an actual way for the living-dead to pull themselves back from death’s devouring suction. Ancient Israel’s funerary practices and afterlife expectations are greatly illumined by recent archaeological studies and by a new comparative model that draws on data gleaned from African ethnography.
While one might debate the specifics of ancient Israel's conception(s) of the afterlife, it is refreshing to see someone acknowledge that ancient Israel had a conception of an afterlife. You can access Cook's article here.
Dec 28, 2008
Keith Mathison Ligonier Ministries has a list and discussion of his top five commentaries on Song of Solomon at the Ligonier Ministries blog. Mathison acknowledges that, “It is somewhat difficult to recommend a "Top 5" list on the Song of Songs because one's inclusion of commentaries in the list will largely depend on whether one takes an allegorical or non-allegorical approach to the book. The list below is based on my own non-allegorical approach to the book.” That being said, I would suggest that Duane Garrett (either or both his work in the NAC and WBC) is a better choice for the top two slots than either Gledhill or Carr. (Garrett takes a non-allegorical approach.) I would also add David Hubbard, Michael V. Fox (The Song of Songs and the Ancient Egyptian Love Songs), Tremper Longman (Cornerstone), and Jack Deere in The Bible Knowledge Commentary to the runners-up. In any case, the top five Mathison listed are:
1. Tom Gledhill -- The Message of the Song of Songs (The Bible Speaks Today, 1994).
2. Lloyd Carr -- The Song of Solomon (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, 1984).
3. Richard S. Hess -- Song of Songs (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, 2005).
4. Tremper Longman -- Song of Songs (New International Commentary on the Old Testament, 2001).
5. Iain Provan -- Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (NIV Application Commentary, 2001).
Dec 27, 2008
Alex Tang and Kar Yong have posted here and here concerning why pastors and professors ought to be on Facebook.
- it forces them to become more computer and Internet savvy. Many pastors are generations behind in their understanding and use of communication technology
- it introduces them to a new way of social interacting- the digital way.
- it makes them human. Depending on their openness and integrity, pastors who presents themselves as themselves will have to reveal a more personal and human side of themselves.
- allows them to understand and know what the younger generations in his/her congregation is doing in these social network spaces
- develop new aspects of their ministries. Most pastors do not realise that their ministry is limited to the verbal and printed words. They need to be missional with digital words
- provide the presence of Christ in these social network spaces
- make 'friends' with people from all over the world
- they need to create Christian faith communities in these social network spaces
- they should have fun
- In addition to the reasons listed by Alex, I think I could add that if lecturers in seminary participate in Facebook, we can discuss aspects of our lectures with our students, engage with them and, who knows, we might even attract some potential students.
Dec 26, 2008
I was recently teaching Ecclesiastes to a class of seminarians. During the course of our discussion I was asked how one might go about preaching this challenging book. While I have not actually preached through the book myself (I have taught it several times), one of my friends, who is actually a professor of homiletics, has. David L. Allen, who at time was the pastor of
Ecclesiastes 1:1-2: "The World Is Not Enough"
Ecclesiastes 1:3-11: "The View From The Treadmill"
Ecclesiastes 1:12-2:11: "I Can't Get No Satisfaction"
Ecclesiastes 2:12-26: "Life's Joy? It's God's Gift!"
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8: "War...What Is It Good For?"
Ecclesiastes 4: "Getting on God's Time Zone"
Ecclesiastes 5: "Watch Your Step at Church"
Ecclesiastes 6: "Things Ain't What They Seem!"
Ecclesiastes 7:1-15: "God Wisdom?"
Ecclesiastes 8: "Who's In Charge Here?"
Ecclesiastes 9: "Most Unlikely to Succeed"
Ecclesiastes 10: "Life With Dumb and Dumber"
Ecclesiastes 11: "Enrolled...Don't Forget the Final"
Ecclesiastes 12:1-8: "A Visit to Vanity Fair"
Ecclesiastes 12:9-14: "The World Is Not Enough...But God Is"
Dec 25, 2008
Dec 24, 2008
Peter Mead has identified four observations on dealing with personal inadequacies in preaching. In sum:
1. Feelings of inadequacy are appropriate.
2. Feelings of inadequacy should not be avoided.
3. Feelings of inadequacy should not undermine faith.
4. Feelings of inadequacy might be a prompt to faith-filled action.
Mead concludes by stating that "Feelings of inadequacy – not all good, not all bad, not the end of the story." You can read the entire post here.
Mark Hoffman has posted on Bob Burns' compilation and comparison of different trnaslations of the Apocrypha. You can access Hoffman's post here. You can access Burn's post here and a table here
The table as an XML spreadsheet:
As an MS Excel spreadsheet:
As an image file:
Concerning the table Burns offers the following explanatory notes:
The line items highlighted in blue represent the preferred available
text tradition for each book in the collection. For the 3 additions to
Daniel, for instance, the preferred text tradition is "Theodotion". In
this analysis, the Latin Vulgate (with the exception of 2 Esdras) is
never viewed as a preferred text tradition, because it is itself a
translation of the Greek; also it is known that Jerome, the translator
of the Vulgate, paraphrased and abridged a number of these books.
Esther poses the highest number of ways in which it has been handled by
translators. For instance, the translators of the KJV, EV and RSV did
not restore the portions from Greek Esther into the narrative sequence
of the book, so one is left with a jumble of incoherent chapters out of
Some translators DID reinsert the chapters, such as the NAB, NJB and the
NRSV-CE, but within the context of a translation of Esther from the
Few translators, such as NETS and NRSV, have translated all of Greek
Esther as a unit, thus giving us a better picture of what ancient
readers of Esther in Greek would have been reading.
Three compositions, 2 Esdras, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) and Psalm 151 have
been enlarged with previously lost portions. 2 Esdras had a portion of
chapter 7 recovered from versions of that book found outside of the
Vulgate. In the case of Psalm 151, its longer original form was
recovered from the Dead Sea Scroll caves. Sirach had portions recovered
from Hebrew fragments found in the Cairo Geniza.
Dec 23, 2008
Bill Mounce has posted on Hebrews 12:3-11. In particular, the post is concerned with the reference to discipline in 12:5. Mounce concludes that this verse teaches that there are that "we are being "disciplined," not in the sense of being punished for sin but in the sense of God allowing life to mold and shape us, to teach us about his love as our heavenly father, and to call us to faithfulness in the midst of life."
I think this conclusion is correct and one that I reached a number of years ago when I was writing an argument for the book of Hebrews for a seminary class. Writing an argument forces you to notice not only the divisions or breaks between sections, but also the logical links and connections between the same passages.
In any case, you can read Mounce's post here.
What characterizes a Gospel? Mark Strauss has helpfully identified three characteristics of a gospel. First, the Gospels are historical literature, that is, “they have a history of composition,” “they are set in a specific historical context,” and “they are meant to convey accurate historical information.” Second, the Gospels are narrative literature and “not merely collections of reports or sayings of the historical Jesus.” Third, the Gospels are theological literature, that is, “theological documents written to instruct and encourage believers and to convince unbelievers of the truth of their message. One further note concerning genre can be made. There is a developing consensus that the Gospels bear close similarities in form to Greco-Roman biographies.
 The substance of this paragraph is summarized from Mark L. Strauss, Four Portraits, One Jesus: An Introduction to Jesus and the Gospels (
 See Richard A. Burridge, What Are the Gospels? A Comparison with Greco-Roman Bibliography, ed. Astrid Beck and David Noel Freedman, 2d ed., Biblical Resource Series (
Dec 22, 2008
Dec 21, 2008
D. A. Carson has reviewed Three Views on the Use of the Old Testament, edited by Berding and Lunde. Read the review here. Other reviews of this book that I have posted on can be found here and here.
Dec 20, 2008
Claude Mariottini has posted on preaching messianic prophecies. I am not sure I agree in all ways with his understanding of fulfillment, but it is worth reading. You can access it here.
Dec 19, 2008
In 2007, Baker published Prophecy and Apocalyptic: An Annotated Bibliography by D. Brent Sandy and Daniel M. O'Hare. These authors have now made available a substantial free addition to this book available in html, Word, or PDF format at the Institute for Biblical Research website. You can access it here.
Dec 18, 2008
Claude Mariottini has listed his top ten Bible-related archaeological discoveries for 2008 with links. Check it out here.
Dec 17, 2008
Dec 16, 2008
Dec 15, 2008
Bill Mounce has a post on 2 Timothy 1:7. In particular, Mounce asks and answers the question, "Was Timothy timid or fearful. In short, Mounce's answer is "no." Read the post here.
Dan Wallace on the Reclaiming the Mind blog writes:
Friends, just a short note: Several have asked about getting a hold of my plenary lecture at the Evangelical Theological Society’s annual meeting; others have wanted to get my lecture given at apologetics conferences and in churches on whether our Bibles today essentially reflect the wording of the original text. Both of these are now available as a video DVD. The ordering information is available below.
“Is What We Have Now What They Wrote Then?”
A lecture at an apologetics conference in Providence, Rhode Island, 2008, about whether our printed New Testaments today accurately represent the original text.
“Challenges in New Testament Textual Criticism for the 21st Century”
A plenary lecture at the annual Evangelical Theological Society meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, 2008, on current issues in NT textual criticism.
The price of each video DVD is $10 plus $3 S&H. The price of both video DVDs together is $15 plus $3 S&H. Texas residents also will pay 8.25% sales tax. Allow two to four weeks for delivery.
To order, go here.
Dec 14, 2008
Jim Davila has an interesting post on the traditional tombs of Esther and Mordecai located in modern Iran. The post includes the following links.
Jewish shrine in Iran registered as national work
There are some pictures of the tomb, inside and outside, here. They start midway through the fourth column of photos. Note the Hebrew inscriptions. Some critical evaluation of the tradition is here.
Jan Pieter van de Giessen has posted more photos of the tomb, including close-ups of the Hebrew inscriptions, at his Aantekeningen bij de Bijbel blog.
Dec 13, 2008
Dec 12, 2008
Dec 11, 2008
Rod Decker has scanned and posted the complete text of A. T. Robertson’s inaugural lecture at Southern Baptist Seminary in 1890. Robertson is best known for his work in New Testament Greek. You can download the document here.
Dec 10, 2008
Michael Heiser has posted his ETS paper entitled"The Concept of Godhead in Israelite Religion." The argument of the paper is that the Old Testament can be read in a way that affirms at least a Binitarian concept of godhead. You can download the paper here.
Dec 9, 2008
“In a debate over Gentiles in Acts 15, Peter makes their inclusion in his ministry God’s choice. Because faith eliminates distinctions between Jews and Gentiles in God’s eyes, to make Gentile believers become proselytes is to defy God. Peter inverts readers’ expectations by comparing believing Jews with believing Gentiles: so with Gentiles so also with Jews (15:7–11). But the inversion is temporary. James characterizes God as taking Gentiles under divine care in accord with Amos 9:11–12 LXX, and Amos confirms God’s inclusion of the Gentiles in fulfillment of the Davidic promise. In contrast to peter’s inversion, God adds the Gentiles to the Jews: as with Jews so also with Gentiles.”
Robert L. Brawley, “The God of Promises and the Jews in Luke-Acts,” in Literary Studies in Luke-Acts: Essays in Honor of Joseph B. Tyson, ed. Richard P. Thompson and Thomas E. Phillips (Macon, GA: Mercer, 1998), 291-2.
Yesterday I referred to a post by Todd Bolen on the acoustics of Mts. Gerizim and Ebal as it relates to Joshua 8:30-35 and Deuteronomy 27:14.Mark Hoffman followed Todd's post with a visual of one of the points in Todd's post by using Google Earth. See Todd's post here and Mark's post here.
Dec 8, 2008
Nijay Gupta has an excellent post concerning a common mistake in theological research. He writes,
We must be cautious, though, of too eagerly searching for answers outside of the text. What often ends up happening is this: We think Paul (or Luke or whoever) connects concept A to concept B. Why does he do that? Let’s look at the contemporary literature. Ok, we see that Philo links concept A to concept C. And we see Jubilees link concept C to concept B. Thus, Paul was influenced by Philo and Jubilees and THAT explains the mysterious relationship of A to B….right?
I think that Gupta is dead on with this caution. Raed his entire post here.
“That Christ’s vicarious sacrifice for our sins was the central element of the gospel that Paul received on the Damascus road may be inferred from his persecution of the Hellenist Christians. Even [J. D. G.] Dunn agrees that the Hellenists rejected the Jerusalem temple out of their belief that Christ’s death was the eschatological atonement that ended all sacrifices. After seeing the crucified Jesus as vindicated by God on the Damascus road, Paul joined them. It would be most unnatural if Paul had failed to see the appearance of the risen Christ as a confirmation of their belief. So we will have to conclude that at Damascus Paul accepted their kerygma that Christ died for the sins of humankind.”
Seyoon Kim, Paul and the New Perspective: Second Thoughts on the Origin of Paul's Gospel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 49.
Todd Bolen has a fascinating post on the acoustics of Mts. Gerizim and Ebal as it relates to Joshua 8:30-35 and Deuteronomy 27:14. Read the post here.
Dec 7, 2008
Dec 6, 2008
Thanks to Fortress Press for the review copy.
Bovon, François. Luke 1: A Commentary on the Gospel of Luke 1:1–9:50. Hermeneia, ed. Helmut Koester. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2002.
The author is a seasoned Lukan scholar who is currently serving as Frothingham Professor of the History of Religion at Harvard Divinity School. This volume is the first of a three-volume commentary on the Gospel of Luke originally published in German as Das Evangelium nach Lukas (EKKNT III/1. Zürich: Benziger Verlag & Neukirchen¬Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1989).
Bovon’s commentary is similar to the format and approach of other volumes in the Hermeneia series. Luke 1 begins with a surprisingly short introduction of twelve pages. Nonetheless, the introduction is worth reading since Bovon is able state in brief what takes others much longer.
Following the introduction is the commentary proper, which, is divided into forty-seven sections. Each section is further demarcated into five sections: bibliography, translation of the text, analysis, commentary, and conclusion. The analyses typically set the entire passage in context with the commentary section discussing the parts. The conclusion attempts to relate the passage theologically and practically. For the most part, the format works and Bovon’s comments are generally clear and judicious. The bibliography is helpful but does not appear to be quite up to date. The lack of interaction with more recent scholarship is acknowledged in the author’s forward and for some will make this volume less attractive since it reflects the state of scholarship of the German 1989 edition. In the fast-paced world of biblical studies some would consider it out-of-date.
Overall the commentary is a solid contribution to Lukan studies. Although the lack of interaction with more recent scholarship will be off-putting for some, Bovon’s contributions to the sttudy of the Third Gospel in this volume should not be ignored.
Peter Mead identifies the folllowing as the most important elements in a sermon introduction.
This speaker is relevant to me. I don’t want to listen to somebody that is out of touch with the real world. Please give me confidence that you are a relevant speaker.
This message is relevant to me. If I am a normal listener, I have not come to church excited for a historical lecture. Please give me confidence that this message will be relevant to my life. If you leave application and relevance until the end of the message (traditional approach) then I may well miss it (to be absent from the body may not mean being present with the Lord, if you see what I mean?)
This passage is relevant to me. I would be thrilled to open up my Bible with expectation and motivation, hungry to understand it and be changed by it. As the preacher you need to create that motivation during your introduction.
Read the entire post here.
Dec 5, 2008
John Walton has an interesting post on the messianic names in Isaiah 9:6. He suggests that, "based on 1) the singular use of "name"; 2) the prevalent use of theophoric names; 3) the lack of precedent for messiah being attributed deity; and 4) Isaiah’s fondness for long names, growing increasingly complex; that we have just one long, complex name: Pele’-yo’ets’-el-gibbor-’avi-’ad-sar-shalom. Like Maher-shalal-hash-baz it is a name made up of two parallel lines. Each of these lines is theophoric and has four components. The resulting translation would be: 'A Supernatural Planner is the Mighty God; The Father of Time is a Prince of Peace.'"
Read the entire post here.
The latest issue of Review of Biblical Literature is out. Reviews that may be of interest from a Bible Exposition perspective include:
Ignacio Carbajosa and Luis Sánchez Navarro, eds.
Entrar en lo antiguo: Acerca de la relación entre Antiguo y Nuevo Testamento
Reviewed by David Creech
Lutz Edzard and Jan Retsö, eds.
Current Issues in the Analysis of Semitic Grammar and Lexicon I: Oslo-Göteborg Cooperation 3rd-5th June 2004; II: Oslo-Göteborg Cooperation 4th-5th November 2005
Reviewed by Frederick E. Greenspahn
Paul Foster, ed.
The Writings of the Apostolic Fathers
Reviewed by Taras Khomych
Robert P. Gordon
The God of Israel
Reviewed by Ben C. Ollenburger
Ancient Letters and the New Testament: A Guide to Context and Exegesis
Reviewed by Matthew D. Montonini
Mary E. Mills
Alterity, Pain, and Suffering in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel
Reviewed by Hallvard Hagelia
Peter M. Phillips
The Prologue to the Fourth Gospel: A Sequential Reading
Reviewed by John Painter
Thomas Römer and Konrad Schmid, eds.
Les Dernières Rédactions du Pentateuque, de L'Hexateuque et de L'Ennéateuque
Reviewed by John Engle
Der Prolog der hebräischen Bibel: Der literar- und theologiegeschichtliche Diskurs der Urgeschichte (Genesis 1-11)
Reviewed by Karl Möller
Christopher R. Seitz
Prophecy and Hermeneutics: Toward a New Introduction to the Prophets
Reviewed by Julia M. O'Brien
Between Woman, Man and God: A New Interpretation of the Ten Commandments
Reviewed by William Marderness
J. Samuel Subramanian
The Synoptic Gospels and the Psalms as Prophecy
Reviewed by Thomas J. Kraus
Reviewed by Edward J. Mills III
Sigve K. Tonstad
Saving God's Reputation: The Theological Function of Pistis Iesou in the Cosmic Narratives of Revelation
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas
Ben Witherington III
The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Captivity Epistles
Reviewed by Timothy Gombis
Dec 4, 2008
Rod Decker has a nice summary of, and observations about, the recent sessions at ETS concerning the recent book Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. You can read the post here.
Dec 3, 2008
Andreas Köstenberger has posted his top ten biblical and theology Books for 2008. Here is his list.
1. The ESV Study Bible (Crossway): While people may debate the merits of the ESV as a translation, the qualities of the ESV Study Bible are indisputable. An exquisitely produced, high-quality product that sets a new standard for study Bibles.
2. Eckhard Schnabel, Paul the Missionary (InterVarsity Press): A worthy sequel to Schnabel’s landmark 2-volume work Early Christian Mission. The new “Ronald Allan” on Paul’s missionary practice. Both thorough and practical.
3. D. A. Carson, Christ & Culture Revisited (Eerdmans): A timely book on an all-important subject, the relationship between Christianity and contemporary culture.
4. Robert Stein, Mark (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament; Baker): I haven’t read Stein’s work in toto yet, but from what I’ve seen so far, this commentary is first rate, as one would expect from this senior Markan scholar.
5. David Chapman, Ancient Jewish and Christian Perceptions of Crucifixion (Mohr-Siebeck): The revised version of a dissertation at
6. Margaret Elizabeth Köstenberger, Jesus and the Feminists (Crossway): This book should have been written a long time ago. A judicious survey of various feminist approaches to Jesus. J. I. Packer calls it “scrupulously fair.” In the interest of full disclosure: I am married to the author.
7. Cosmology of New Testament Theology (ed. Jonathan Pennington and Sean McDonough; T & T Clark): Finally, a monograph on this very important but widely neglect aspect of New Testament theology. Worldview matters, then and now.
8. Craig Blomberg and Mariam Kamell, Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: James (Zondervan): A great start to an important new series from Zondervan. Blomberg here teams up with Mariam Kamell, a doctoral student at
9. Suffering and the Goodness of God (ed. Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson; Theology in Community series; Crossway): Another promising start to a new series, with contributions by, among others, Robert Yarbrough, Walter Kaiser, Dan McCartney, and John Frame.
10. Clyde Fant and Mitchell Reddish, Lost Treasures of the Bible: Understanding the Bible through Archaeological Artifacts in World Museums (Eerdmans): A great publishing idea, and well executed. As a teacher and student of Scripture, this is a resource I will value highly.