May 10, 2008

Ministerial Students, Calling, and PhD Studies

Sean Michael Lucas has a helpful
discussion on ministerial students, calling, and PhD studies. As a PhD student myself I have wrestled with some of the issues that Lucas raises in his post.

Special thanks to Kevin for bringing this post to my attention.

May 9, 2008

I Never Thought: Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz

I never thought I would see a news editorial with the name Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (Isaiah 8:1, 3) in it, but
here it is in The Valley Dispatch ("Just Be Thankful You're Not Named Mahershalalhashbaz"). The pertinent section states,

Parents have been giving their kids Biblical names as long as the Bible has been around. I wonder if Old Testament parents were thinking, "Hey, that would be a great Bible name someday," There's Caleb, Gabriel, Rebecca, Noah, Jeremiah and Isaiah, who picked out a doozy of a name for his firstborn. Actually, it was the Lord who told Isaiah what to name his son. The boy's name was Mahershalalhashbaz. Try getting that on a keychain.

The Problems of Digital Tithes and Offerings

A growing number of churches are now offering online giving. While such giving is convenient, there is a theological cost. See Bob Smietana’s article “Tithing evolves from offering plate to click of a mouse.” In the article,

Todd Johnson, professor of worship, theology and the arts at Fuller Theological Seminary in California, says that when offerings become digital, church rituals of offering no longer work.

Worship used to be marked by awe, reverence and sacrifice, he says.

“Now it's seen as a spiritual recharge station,” he says. “The church does not know what to do with giving as a ritual.”

May 8, 2008

The Kingdom of God in the SBJT

The Spring 2008 issue of the
Southern Baptist Journal of Theology is devoted to the topic of the Kingdom of God. Stephen Wellum's editorial and Brian Vicker's article on "The Kingdom of God in Paul's Gospel" are available as pdf downloads (see links below). See also the article in Towers Online.

Editorial: Stephen J. Wellum
"Reflecting on the Kingdom of God"

Graeme Goldsworthy
“The Kingdom of God as Hermeneutic Grid”

Peter J. Gentry
“Kingdom Through Covenant: Humanity as the Divine Image”

Jonathan T. Pennington
“The Kingdom of Heaven in the Gospel of Matthew”

Brian Vickers
“The Kingdom of God in Paul's Gospel”

Russell D. Moore and Robert E. Sagers
“The Kingdom of God and the Church: A Baptist Reassessment”

Todd L. Miles
“A Kingdom without a King? Evaluating the Kingdom Ethic(s) of the Emerging Church”

Latest Issue of The 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:

Paul N. Anderson
The Fourth Gospel and the Quest for Jesus: Modern Foundations Reconsidered
Reviewed by John Painter

Michael Thomas Davis and Brent A. Strawn, eds.
Qumran Studies: New Approaches, New Questions
Reviewed by Heinz-Josef Fabry

April D. DeConick
The Original Gospel of Thomas in Translation: With a Commentary and New English Translation of the Complete Gospel
Reviewed by Stephan Witetschek

Seenam Kim
The Coherence of the Collections in the Book of Proverbs
Reviewed by Johann Cook
Reviewed by Jutta Krispenz

Sarah Malena and David Miano, eds.
Milk and Honey: Essays on Ancient Israel and the Bible in Appreciation of the Judaic Studies Program at the University of California, San Diego
Reviewed by Wolfgang Zwickel

Mikael C. Parsons
Body and Character in Luke and Acts: The Subversion of Physiognomy in Early Christianity
Reviewed by Pieter J. J. Botha
Reviewed by Patrick E. Spencer

Todd Penner and Caroline Vander Stichele, eds.
Moving beyond New Testament Theology? Essays in Conversation with Heikki Räisänen
Reviewed by Jan van der Watt

Richard L. Rohrbaugh
The New Testament in Cross-Cultural Perspective
Reviewed by Stephan Joubert

C. Kavin Rowe
Early Narrative Christology: The Lord in the Gospel of Luke
Reviewed by Christopher Tuckett

Naomi Seidman
Faithful Renderings: Jewish-Christian Difference and the Politics of Translation
Reviewed by Cameron Boyd-Taylor

Brad H. Young
Meet the Rabbis: Rabbinic Thought and the Teachings of Jesus
Reviewed by Verlyn D. Verbrugge

May 7, 2008

Bock on Forthcoming Book

Read the brief interview of Darrell Bock concerning the forthcoming book entitled Jesus of Nazareth: A Realistic Portrait, written by Paul Verhoeven and Rob van Scheers.

Bible Quiz Controversy

I had reported a few posts back that a story in the Jerusalem Post was reporting that a group religious Zionist rabbis were calling for a boycott of this year's International Bible Quiz because one of the four finalists from Israel is a Messianic Jew. A new Jerusalem Post story now notes that the two chief rabbis of Israel are calling for the cancellation of the quiz altogether.

A Good Reminder

"Only God omniscient can accurately appraise the results of evangelism. Only He
can count converts. When through mass evangelism many thousands come to profess faith in Christ, only He who searches the reins and hearts of men (Rev. 2:23) can judge how many of them possess true and abiding faith. And when Robert Morrison, the father of Protestant missions in China, after twenty-eight years of zealous missionary endeavour numbered but ten souls as his hire, only God knew in how many additional hearts his Spirit was about to begin, or even had begun, a good work."

R. B. Kuiper, God-Centered Evangelism (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1966),221

May 6, 2008

Pastoral Mentoring

Dustin Benge at his Pastor and People Blog has a helpful post on pastors and mentoring. Dustin identifies the following ten things that he wished someone would have shown or taught him.

1. Show them a heart truly devoted to God and the glory of Christ
2. Show them why to love church history.
3. Teach them to preach and pray
4. Teach them to love books
5. Give them discipline
6. Teach them to love the church
7. Instill in their hearts a passion for missions
8. Teach them to mentor
9. Set an example of Godliness and Holiness
10. Show them why you love to be a pastor

Balaam in the Tell Deir 'Alla Inscription

In 1967 pieces of a plaster inscription was discovered
in some building ruins (generally thought to be an ancient sanctuary)[1] located at Tell Deir 'Alla the Transjordan valley near the Jabbok River. The dating of the ink on plaster inscription has ranged from the eighth century to the Persian period, although most seem to hold an eighth century date.[2] The issue of dating was initially complicated by two problems. First, the text is fragmentary and at least fifteen combinations of the inscription have been proposed.[3] Second, the form of the text is debated (Canaanite, Aramaic, both?).[4] However, it is now generally agreed that the first combination (see below) is the most likely and that the text is Aramaic (at least primarily).

In the first combination, and in the first line, Balaam is described as a “seer of the gods” (zh ˒lhn, I, 1). Interestingly, Yahweh is never mentioned, although El, El Shaddayin (plural), and a goddess (whose name is mostly missing from the fragmentary text) are found in the text. The superscription also mentions that Balaam sees an oracle (wyzh mzh) like a vision (˒). The rest of the text contains material not found in the biblical record (although some of the language is similar).[5] The oracle itself appears to relate to divine punishment and the loss of fertility.[6] A detailed examination of the text is not possible here but such treatments are available.[7]

(1) [VACAT] The sa]ying[s of Bala]am, [son of Be]or, the man who was a seer of the gods. Lo! Gods came to him in the night [and spoke to] him (2) according to these w[ord]s. Then they said to [Bala]am, son of Beor, thus: “Let someone make a [ ] hereafter, so that [what] you have hea[rd may be se]en!” (3) And Balaam rose in the morning [ ] right hand [ ]and could not [eat] and wept (4) aloud. Then his people came in to him [and said] to Balaam, son of Beor, “Do you fast? [ ] Do you weep?” And he (5) said to them, “Si[t do]wn! I shall inform you what the Shad[daying have done]. Now come, see the deeds of the g[o]ds! The g[o]ds have gathered (6) and the Shaddayin have taken their places in the assembly and said to Sh[ , thus:] ‘Sew shut the skies with your thick cloud! There let there be darkness and no (7) perpetual shining and n[o] radiance! For you will put a sea[l upon the thick] cloud of darkness and you will not remove it forever! For the swift has (8) reproached the eagle, and the voice of vultures resounds. The st[ork has ] the young of the NHS-bird and ripped up the chicks of the heron. The swallow has belittled (9) the dove, and the sparrow [ ] and [ ] the staff. Instead of ewes the stick is driven along. Hares have eaten (10) [ ]. Freemen[ ] have drunk wine, and hyenas have listened to instruction. The whelps of the (11) f[ox ] laughs at wise men, and the poor woman has mixed myrrh, and the priestess (12) [ ] to the one who wears a girdle of threads. The esteemed esteems and the esteemer is es[teemed. ] and everyone has seen those things that decree offspring and young. (15) [ ] to the leopard. The piglet has chased the young (16) [of ] those who are girded, and the eye. . .’”

[1] There is some discussion regarding the original placement of the plaster. Some suggest that it was on a wall and other suggest that it may have been part of a stele. See Gerrit van der Kooij, “Book and Script at Deir 'Alla,” in The Balaam Text from Deir 'Alla Re-Evaluated: Proceedings of the International Symposium Held at Leiden 21-24 August 1989, ed. J. Hoftijzer and G. Van Der Kooij (New York: E. J. Brill, 1991), 239-41.

[2] See P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., “The Balaam Texts from Deir 'Alla: The First Combination,” Bulletin of the Schools of Oriental Research 237 (1980): 49-60, J. Naveh, “The Date of the Deir 'Alla Inscription in Aramaic Script,” Israel Exploration Journal 17 (1967): 236-38.

[3] M. W. Chavalas, “Balaam,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament Pentateuch, ed. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2003), 76.

[4] Dennis Pardee, “The Linguistic Classification of the Deir 'Alla Text,” in The Balaam Text from Deir 'Alla Re-Evaluated: Proceedings of the International Symposium Held at Leiden 21-24 August 1989, ed. J. Hoftijzer and G. Van Der Kooij (New York: E. J. Brill, 1991), 100-05.

[5] Hackett, “Balaam,” 572

[6] Chavalas, “Balaam,” 76.

[7] See Jo Ann Hackett, The Balaam Text from Deir 'Alla, Harvard Semitic Monographs 31, ed. Frank Moore Cross (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1980), 21-89, McCarter, “The Balaam Texts from Deir 'Alla: The First Combination,” 51-9.

May 5, 2008

Genesis One: Hobbins vs. Walton

John Hobbins at Ancient Hebrew Poetry has recently taken John Walton to task for his reading of Genesis 1 (read here). John Walton has now offered a detailed response and defense of his position which is also posted at AHP (here). I think that both posts are worth reading even though one might disagree with both Hobbins and Walton.

Hebrews 2:1-4: A Propositio?

Michael Bird has an interesting question at the Euangelion blog concerning whether Hebrews has a
propositio (similar to a thesis statement). Bird writes,
Does Hebrews have a propositio? (Actually, does any NT doc have a propositio, but that is another matter). Recently, Ben Witherington has argued that since Hebrews is a piece of epideictic rhetoric it has no propositio. But if I had to press one passage that certain does fit the function or role of a propositio in Hebrews, it would have to be Heb. 2.1-4:
My knee-jerk response was "no." I have always understood 2:1-4 as simply a warning passage but I must admit I am now thinking about Bird's question. Make sure to read his entire post here.

May 4, 2008

Prayer and Evangelism

“To pray, however fervently, for the conversion of the unsaved, whether th
ey be in China or in the house next door, and to take no action whatever toward acquainting them with the gospel of Jesus Christ, is an abomination.

“To be never so diligent in bringing the evangel to the lost, and not to pray that God may bless the evangel to their hearts unto salvation, is the height of folly, for only God the Holy Spirit can effectually by the Word call sinners to repentance.”

R. B. Kuiper, God-Centered Evangelism (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1966),151.