May 3, 2008

Nebi Samwil

Todd Bolin has an excellent
discussion of a recent Biblical Archaeol
ogy Review article on Nebi Samwil. Todd demonstrates persuasively that one of the premises in the BAR article, that Nebi Samwil is Mizpah is incorrect.

"Does a Literal Translation Matter with a Digital Bible?"

Hall Harris has an interesting post in which he asks, "
Does a Literal Translation Matter with a Digital Bible?" Make sure that you also read the comments posted as well.

May 2, 2008

Substitutionary Atonement and Proverbs

Dan Phillips at the Pyromaniacs blog has an interesting two-part post on "Substitutionary Atonement and Proverbs"
here and here.

Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel

See Andreas Köstenberger's blog for a
write up on his forthcoming book
entitled Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel.

Genesis 1 and Creation

John MacArthur at Pulpit Magazine has a couple of posts on "
Genesis 1 and Biblical Authority" and "Taking Genesis at Face Value."

May 1, 2008

Bible Quiz Boycott

A story in the Jerusalem Post notes that,

A group of religious Zionist rabbis have called for a boycott of this year's International Bible Quiz after discovering that one of the four finalists from Israel is a Messianic Jew who believes Jesus is the true Messiah.

John Hannah on Job 38-42

The latest e-mail newsletter has the following points from John Hannah on Job 38-42.

Is There Any Comfort?
by John Hannah
Text: Job 38-42
Topic: How God comforts us even when there are no answers
Big Idea: When Job questioned God, God responded not with answers, but with his character, which brought Job comfort.
Keywords: Comfort; God, goodness of; God, sovereignty of; Peace; Suffering

Introduction: God's deepest comforts are not attached to answers.

Job shares some insights gained on the anvil of experience.

  • Job lost everything - possessions, family, health - and had 3 lousy friends to boot.
  • Job answers his friends with 3 answers: one correct answer, but 2 wrong ones:
    - He's correct to say it wasn't his personal sin that caused his tragedy.
    - He's incorrect to say 1) God is uncaring, and 2) God is not in control.
  • We sometimes make the same incorrect assumptions about God when in crisis.
  • In Job 31:35, Job asks the universal question: "Why?"

God responds to Job's questions.

  • Job 38-42 is the longest discourse in the Bible in which God speaks.
  • God responds to Job's questions by raising seventy questions of his own.
  • In Job 38:4-39:30, God answers Job's charge that he is unkind.
  • In Job 40:6-41:34, God answers Job's charge that he is not in control.

Job responds to God's replies.

  • In Job 40:3, Job essentially says he has no right to accuse God of not caring.
  • In Job 42:6, Job repents for saying God didn't care.
  • The point: Job had a terrific change of mind, even though God gave no answers.
  • Job found comfort not in answers, but in God's revealed character. We can too.
    - Illustration: Hannah tells of the time his wife discovered a lump on her breast, and he found comfort in God's character.
Conclusion: What is the source of your comfort? The answer is in God's character.

1 Thessalonians 2:17–3:13: A Summary

In 1 Thessalonians 2:17–3:13, Paul continues to respond to criticisms leveled against him by some in Thessalonica. Apparently his opponents suggested that he did not really care about them, an attitude confirmed by his failure to make a return visit to the church. Paul addresses this spurious criticism in at least four ways.

First, Paul tells the Thessalonians that despite the criticism he has received he still cares for them deeply, and thus, desires to revisit them, and rejoices in them, especially in light of the expectation of Christ’s return (2:17–20). Paul’s failure to pay a return visit was not spiritual indifference but rather satanic interference (v. 18).

Second, Paul tells the Thessalonians that although he could not come personally, his concern for them was reflected in the fact that Timothy was sent to strengthen and encourage them (3:1–5). Paul’s explanation that “we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone” should be read in light of the difficulties and challenges of ministry in a pagan environment and the uncertainties of travel and communication in the ancient world. Yet Paul was willing to sacrifice the support and companionship of one of his most trusted coworkers for the Thessalonians sake. How many pastors today would be willing to release a key member of their ministry team for the welfare of another church?

Third, Paul gives evidence of his concern for the Thessalonians by noting his rejoicing at Timothy’s return and positive report and by his desire to return to them for further ministry (3:6–10). Paul was comforted: “now we really live” (vv. 7–8), thankful (v. 9, cf. 1:2; 2:13), and prayerful (v. 10–13). Coincidentally, note that Paul prays for three things: (1) that he might come again (v. 11b); (2) that they might continue in love (v. 12); (3) that they might be consecrated in holiness (v. 13).

I conclude with the following observations/questions/ applications.

  • One of the undeniable observations that can be made in this passage is Paul’s great love and concern for the church. Do you take your church for granted? Are you concerned for your fellow believers? If not, commit yourself to becoming personally involved in the mission and ministry of the church. Where there is commitment there will be concern.
  • The Christian dynamic involves having a faith toward God and love for one another (v. 6). So entrust yourselves to God and give yourselves to others in love.
  • Paul was thankful yet not complacent concerning the spiritual growth of the Thessalonians. Thank God that those you have shepherded are not what they once were, but ask God to make them more like Christ than are now.

Apr 30, 2008

Thomas Aquinas and the Ascension

Michael Barber at the Singing in the Reign blog has an interesting
post concerning Thomas Aquinas' and Jesus' Ascension, namely five purposes for the Ascension.

New Dead Sea Scroll Display

The Associated Press has posted the following story:

JERUSALEM (AP) — A rarely displayed segment of the Dead Sea Scrolls will be part of an exhibition for President Bush and other dignitaries attending Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations next month, a museum official said Wednesday.

The ancient manuscripts date back over 2,000 years and contain almost the full text of the Jewish Bible.

The segment on display will be from Psalm 133. It reads: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."

There are about 1,000 segments of the ancient scroll. Eight pieces are on permanent display at the Israel Museum and the rest, including Psalm 133, are kept by the Israel Antiquities Authority and rarely shown, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Many of the fragments were found in a cave next to the Dead Sea. Others were bought from collectors of ancient artifacts.

Latest Issue of Review of Biblical Literature

The latest issue of the Review of Biblical Literature is out. Reviews that may be of interest to those interested in Bible exposition include:

Martin Beck and Ulrike Schorn, eds.
Auf dem Weg zur Endgestalt von Genesis bis II Regum: Festschrift Hans-Christoph Schmitt zum 65. Geburtstag
Reviewed by Klaas Spronk

Beate Ego and Helmut Merkel, eds.
Religiöses Lernen in der biblischen, frühjüdischen und früjchristlichen Überlieferung
Reviewed by Wilhelm Pratscher

Eldon Jay Epp
Junia: The First Woman Apostle
Reviewed by Nancy Calvert-Koyzis

Alice Hunt
Missing Priests: The Zadokites in Tradition and History
Reviewed by Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer

Lenka Karfíková, Scott Douglass, and Johannes Zachhuber, eds.
Gregory of Nyssa: Contra Eunomium II: An English Version with Supporting Studies, Proceedings of the 10th International Colloqium on Gregory of Nyssa (Olomouc, September 15-18, 2004)
Reviewed by Mark Weedman

Ivan Shing Chung Kwong
The Word Order of the Gospel of Luke: Its Foregrounded Messages
Reviewed by Steven Runge

Adriane B. Leveen
Memory and Tradition in the Book of Numbers
Reviewed by Thomas B. Dozeman

Philip L. Mayo
"Those Who Call Themselves Jews": The Church and Judaism in the Apocalypse of John
Reviewed by Jack T. Sanders

Christoph Nihan
From Priestly Torah to Pentateuch: A Study in the Composition of the Book of Leviticus
Reviewed by Eckart Otto

William M. Schniedewind and Joel H. Hunt
A Primer on Ugaritic Language, Culture, and Literature
Reviewed by Robert D. Holmstedt

John Howard Schütz
Paul and the Anatomy of Apostolic Authority
Reviewed by Graydon F. Snyder

Tommy Wasserman
The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission
Reviewed by Stephen D. Patton

Salvation and Redemption

I have frequently noticed that usage of theological/biblical terminology and concepts is often a bit careless. A case in point is the use of the terms salvation and redemption. So I thought I would include a quote from Ronald Youngblood's book The Heart of the Old Testament
which I have working through. Youngblood writes,

Although intimately related to each other, salvation and redemption are not simply synonymous terms. Cognate to the noun salvation is the verb save, which carries with it the general idea of deliverance or release from danger, slavery, imprisonment, debt, and the like. Cognate to the noun redemption is the verb redeem, which connotes the payment of a price by means of which salvation is effected. Salvation is thus a general concept, whereas redemption is more specific. (p. 102)

Preaching and Worship

Peter Mead has am interesting post on his
blog about the relationship between preaching and worship and preachers and worship leaders.

Apr 28, 2008

Genesis 38 and Ruth

Dave K at his 48 Files blog has posted an interesting comparison/contrast of Genesis 38 and Ruth. I have included his comparative
table below, but be sure to read the entire post.

Gen 38


Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite

Elimelech moved away from his people to Moab

Judah and his son marry a Canaanite

Mahlon and Chilion marry Moabites

Judah's two sons die

Elimelech and his two sons die

Judah and Onan act unfaithfully as kinsman-redeemer

Boaz acts faithfully as kinsman-redeemer, the un-named redeemer of Ruth 4 does not act faithfully

Tamar faithfully seeks to continue the line

Ruth faithfully seeks to continue the line

Tamar offers herself as a prostitute to Judah

Ruth seeks to seduce Boaz in a way which could almost be considered entrapment

Judah dishonourable and seduced by Tamar

Boaz is honourable in his conduct to Ruth

Tamar is included in the people of Israel and is an ancestor of Boaz, David and Jesus

Ruth is included in the people of Israel and is an ancestor of David and Jesus

Book on Paul's Cruciform Preaching

Brazos Press has just announced the publication of We Preach Not Ourselves written by Michael P. Knowles. The announcement contained the following description and endorsemen

The Apostle Paul was an effective and faithful preacher, one to whom pastors and seminarians can look as a model. Paul preached Christ crucified and Christ resurrected. But these two key themes provided more than just the content for Paul's preaching; they also provided the shape for how Paul viewed and went about the task of preaching. That is to say, Paul's proclamation arose out of and indeed modeled a cruciform spirituality. This cruciform posture in preaching led to the spiritual transformation of both Paul and his hearers. It is this vision of spirituality, rather than a particular rhetorical strategy, that lies at the heart of effective, faithful, gospel-centered preaching that transforms lives.

We Preach Not Ourselves employs a close study of 2 Corinthians 1:1-6:13 to shed light on Paul's theology of preaching. Further, it demonstrates that Paul indeed practiced what he preached. The reflections are based in solid exegesis and are informed by the struggles and concerns of one who has occupied the pulpit. An excellent text for homiletics courses, it will prove helpful in courses on 2 Corinthians and will also be of interest to Pauline scholars and students.

Craig A. Evans (Acadia Divinity College) says, “Michael Knowles has brought together homiletics and New Testament interpretation in a stimulating and delightful way. It is refreshing to read the work of one who is well trained in exegesis and criticism on the one hand, and well practiced in preaching and communication on the other. We Preach Not Ourselves makes several original and insightful observations and will be read with appreciation by New Testament interpreters and clergy alike. It is highly recommended.”

Scott Hoezee (The Center for Excellence in Preaching, Calvin Theological Seminary) says, “Today ‘successful’ preachers are often those whose broad smiles and upbeat personalities radiate the optimistic belief that the faithful can expect lives stuffed with goodness and happiness. The Apostle Paul viewed preachers and preaching quite differently, and in this compelling book Michael Knowles reminds us why. The faithful preacher proclaims a crucified Savior from the context of a life and ministry touched by sorrows and acquainted with grief. The cruciform preacher may not embody happiness as society defines it, but like Paul himself, such a preacher is transparent to the Savior by whose wounds we are healed.”

Apr 27, 2008

27 Ways to Introduce a Sermon

Cal Habig at his Talking the Walk blog lists twenty-seven ways to introduce sermons. In alphabetical order they are:

Assertion (“Here’s what we’re going to talk about today")


Antiphonal scripture reading

Biographical summary

Catalog introductions (“A hammock under a shade tree, a tall glass of iced tea, and Mozart on the breeze. Ahh, that is contentment.”)

A challenge to the validity of the theme the preacher is about to propose

A drawing (charcoal, chalk) or quick painting done by someone in real time

Dramatic skit


Historical Event

Hymn or Song

Human Interest Account


Interpretive dance


News Item

Neighbor nudge (quick discussion question)


Provocative Question





Striking Statement

Silence (for a purpose)


Video Clip

The Gospel According to Bruce Springsteen?

I believe that there is some place for contextualization in preaching, but sometimes zeal for identification with popular culture and the desire to be “relevant” appear to go too far. Such is the case in a recent news story of the the pastor of Grace United Methodist Church who recently spent the month of April preaching the Gospel according to Bruce Springsteen.