May 17, 2008
Ken Schenck has an interesting post on the distinction between theological and inductive hermeneutical approaches. Schenck notes three distinctions (which I have only listed, see the post for additional explanation of each).
1. Its fundamental method is deductive rather than inductive.
2. It does not aim at the most likely interpretation given the evidence but on the interpretation that best fits with its presuppositions.
3. Theological hermeneutics is a species of reader response criticism.
One of the men in a Bible study that I lead recently gave me a devotional book with daily readings from classical Christian writings. The first reading I turned to was from Thomas Á Kempis (adapted by John Wesley).
Read to despise exterior things and to give thyself to the interior.
Assign some stated time every day for this employment of spiritual reading; so far as you possibly can, keep this exercise in inviolable.
Prepare yourself for reading, by purity of intention and by fervent prayer to God, that he would enable you to see his will, and give you a firm resolution to perform it.
Be sure to read, not cursorily or hastily, but leisurely, seriously, and with great attention; with proper pauses and intervals, and that you may allow time for the enlightening of the divine grace. To this end, recollect, every now and then, what you have read, and consider how to reduce it to practice.
Further, let your reading be continued and regular, not rambling and desultory. To taste of many things, without fixing upon any, shows a vitiated palate, and feeds the disease which makes it pleasing. Whatsoever book you begin, read, therefore, through in order.
Labor to work yourself up into a disposition correspondent with what you read; the reading is useless which only enlightens the understanding, without warming the affections. And therefore intersperse earnest aspirations to God, for His heat as well as His light. Select also any remarkable sayings or advices, and treasure them in your memory.
Conclude all with a short prayer to God, that from your reading He might sow seeds in your heart and that it may bring forth fruit.
May 16, 2008
Rodney Decker has made a previously published booklet on Dispensationalism and Kingdom (Rodney J. Decker, Contemporary Dispensational Theology, Kansas City, MO: Calvary Bible College, 1992. ii + 58 pgs) available as pdf download here.
Over at the Exiled Preacher blog there is some helpful wisdom from Pastor Geoff Thomas on "Anxiety in the Ministry." Some of the points I found most helpful are:
I. Four things that we must not worry about
2) Things we can't control
3) Problems that have not arisen yet
4) About things that God has promised to take care of
II. How should we deal with our worries?
1) Make a present of worry
2) Be thankful
3) Leave your worries with God
May 15, 2008
Surely there is a lesson or illustration in this tragic story of a man in Brighton England who apparently had messianic delusions and drowned after trying unsuccessfully to walk on water. I am reminded of the assertion of C. S. Lewis and others that Jesus of Nazareth was either liar, lunatic, or Lord.
Chris Heard continues his discussion of Genesis 1 and interaction with John Walton's view with a focus on the Hebrew verb ברא. Heard concludes, "In my opinion, we must conclude that the author of Genesis 1 used ברא and עשה as synonyms. If so, then the whole 'assignment of function' argument cannot stand or fall with ברא alone, but also with עשה. This weakens Walton’s point even further, if he really wants to eliminate “making things” from the semantic range of ברא. It just won’t work."
Make sure to read the rest of the post.
May 14, 2008
The latest issue of the Review of Biblical Literature is out. Reviews that may be of interest to those interested in Bible exposition include:
Loveday C. A. Alexander
Acts in Its Ancient Literary Context: A Classicist Looks at the Acts of the Apostles
Reviewed by Chrys C. Caragounis
Markus Bockmuehl and James Carleton Paget, eds.
Redemption and Resistance: The Messianic Hopes of Jews and Christians in Antiquity
Reviewed by Joshua Ezra Burns
Frances Taylor Gench
Encounters with Jesus: Studies in the Gospel of John
Reviewed by John Painter
L. Ann. Jervis
At the Heart of the Gospel: Suffering in the Earliest Christian Message
Reviewed by Thomas W. Gillespie
John: The Maverick Gospel
Reviewed by Dirk G. van der Merwe
Terence C. Mournet
Oral Tradition and Literary Dependency: Variability and Stability in the Synoptic Tradition and Q
Reviewed by Robert K. McIver
Geert van Oyen and Tom Shepherd, eds.
The Trial and Death of Jesus: Essays on the Passion Narrative in Mark
Reviewed by Adam D. Winn
Gershom M. H. Ratheiser
Mitzvoth Ethics and the Jewish Bible: The End of Old Testament Theology
Reviewed by Walter Brueggemann
Gerald O. West, ed.
Reading Other-Wise: Socially Engaged Biblical Scholars Reading with Their Local Communities
Reviewed by Erhard S. Gerstenberger
Reviewed by Gosnell Yorke
Jin Yang Kim has a nice discussion and map of bamot ("high places") in Kings and Chronicles on his Old Testament Story blog. Jon concludes,
But make sure to read the entire post.
There is no doubt that both Kings and Chronicles see bāmôt as legitimate cultic sites during the time of the United Monarchy, but the ways how both books describe are different.
In the books of Kings, the ancient people of Israel continued to offer sacrifices at bāmôt before Solomon built the Jerusalem Temple (1 Kgs 3:2). For example, Solomon also offered sacrifices at the bāmôt of Gibeon (1 Kgs 3:3).In the books of Chronicles, the Chronicler mentions that the tabernacle was located at Gibeon (1 Chr 16:39). Solomon visited the cult site at Gibeon in 2 Chr 1:3-13 and sacrificed a thousand burnt offerings on its bronze altar. After Solomon had completed the building of the temple, the priests and Levites brought up the ark, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in “the tent” to the new building. The ark was already in the city of David; the tabernacle was brought from Gibeon. Why does the Chronicles mention the tabernacle at Gibeon? Ralph W. Klein states that “locating the tabernacle at Gibeon may be an attempt to justify Solomon’s pilgrimage to the high place at Gibeon” (Klein 2006, 368). The Chronicler depicts Solomon as the ideal king so that the tabernacle should be there at the bāmôt in Gibeon.
Chris Heard has posted a nice follow up on some recent discussions on Genesis 1 in the blogging world (see my previous post). Make sure that you follow the link that Chris has provided for John Walton's presentation.
May 13, 2008
The Christian Post has an article which has Paige Patterson, the president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary blaming recent declines in membership and baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention on shallow preaching, anemic pulpits, and an overemphasis on cultural relevance.
An AP story reports that,
One of the most important Dead Sea scrolls is going on display in Jerusalem this week — more than four decades after it was last seen by the public. The 24-foot scroll with the text of the Bible's Book of Isaiah had been in a dark, temperature-controlled room at the Israel Museum since 1967. It went on display two years earlier, but curators replaced it with a facsimile after noticing new cracks in the calfskin parchment.Pictured on the right is the Isaiah scroll (ca. 120 B.C.).
A recent UPI story reports that the University of Illinois at Chicago is now offering an online course which highlights the use of biblical narratives in psychotherapy. According to the article, "'A Biblical Approach to Mental Health,' is a 12-week online course that suggests the biblical narratives offers life-affirming principles not found in the Greek myths traditional used a subtext for psychotherapy" [sic].
While it is always nice to see the Bible taken seriously as a book that is relevant to the needs of modern life, attempts like this one to principalize the biblical material are often hermeneutically unsound and therefore, therapeutically dubious. But without additional information, it is hard to know the methodological approach to the biblical narratives utilized in this course.
Yesterday I noted Graogans commentary on the Psalms. Today I want to highlight the recently released commentary by James McKeown's on Genesis (part of the Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary Series) . According to the blurb at the Eerdman's website,
"In this commentary James McKeown treats Genesis as a book of beginnings and a foundational sourcebook for biblical theology. He begins with exegesis of the Hebrew text, highlighting the recurrence of key words, phrases, and themes throughout the book. He also draws attention to passages particularly pertinent to earlier readers either facing or returning from exile, offering a historical context outside a solely Christian perspective.
"The second half of the book unpacks the numerous theological horizons of Genesis — main unifying themes (descendants, blessing, land); key theological teachings of Genesis (creation, fall, character and image of God, life of faith); and the contribution of Genesis to theology today, including its impact on science, ecology, and feminist theology.
"McKeown’s Genesis provides a solid examination of a scriptural book that reflects the struggles and hopes of its readers — ancient and modern — and offers encouragement for their walk with God."
Table of Contents:
Introduction to Genesis
Commentary on Genesis
Theological Horizons of Genesis
Theological Message of the Book
Main Unifying Themes
Key Theological Teaching of Genesis
The Theology of Land
The Doctrine of Creation
Creatio ex Nihilo
The Character of God
The Image of God
The Life of Faith
Genesis and Theology Today
Genesis and Science
Genesis and Biblical Theology
Genesis in Canonical Context
Genesis in the Historical Books
Thematic Continuity in the Prophets
Index of Names
Index of Scripture and Other Ancient Writings
May 12, 2008
Richard Anderson at dokeo kago grapho soi kratistos Theophilos has an interesting post on "The Role of the LXX in the Theology of the Early Church." Anderson points to the importance of the topic by noting:
. . . many early Christians spoke and read Greek, thus they relied on the Septuagint for most of their understanding of the Old Testament. The New Testament writers also relied heavily on the Septuagint in that the majority of the quotes cited in the New Testament are quoted directly from the Septuagint. Greek Church Fathers also quoted from the Septuagint. The theology of the early church, as explained by the Fathers of the first several centuries, is based on the wording of the Septuagint.Although I would probably take issue with a number of Anderson's conclusion the post is worth reading.
Jeff Medders at EatBible has an interesting post titled "Don't Waste Your Summer (9 resolutions)." His list includes:
1. Study Jesus & the Gospel. Read and study one of Gospels this summer. Read your Bible!!!!
2. Have breakfast everyday.
3. Read a good book this summer.
4. Get discipled or get a disciple.
5. Share the Gospel with someone.
6. War with your sin.
7. Serve in your church or go to church!!!
8. Tithe . . . if you have a job already, or if you are getting a summer job.
9. Pray for other people.I suggest a tenth: take a summer mission trip.
Peter Mead at Biblical Preaching has a good post on preaching as you are, i.e. not trying to preach in Saul's armor. Mead writes, "I recently wrote about preaching to ordinary people. It should go without saying that we preach as ordinary people." I agree, but unfortunately, the ordinary people we preach to often have extraordinary expectations of their rather ordinary preacher. The problem is exacerbated (at least in the US) by a congregations frequent exposure to size extraordinary preachers and preaching through Christian television, radio, and now the internet. Make sure you read Mead's entire post.
Geoffrey Grogan's commentary on Psalms (part of the Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary Series) has just been released. According to the blurb at the Eerdman's website,
"Geoffrey Grogan here tackles the growing field of Psalms research and presents an accessible theological treatment of the Psalter. He begins by surveying and evaluating the main scholarly approaches to Psalms and then provides exegesis of all the psalms, emphasizing their distinctive messages.
"Grogan follows with a full discussion of the Psalter’s theological themes, highlighting the implications of its fivefold arrangement. He considers the massive contribution of the Psalter to biblical theology, including the way the psalms were used and interpreted by Jesus and the New Testament writers. The volume closes with an analysis of the contemporary relevance of the Psalms and a step-by-step guide to preparing a Psalms sermon, based on Psalm 8."
The table of contents:
Important Advice to the Reader
The Familiar and Yet Unfamiliar World of the Psalms
Sense Rhythms of the Psalms
Historical and Source Criticism
Psalm Genres and Form Criticism
Rhetorical or Literary Criticism
Appraisal of the Various Types of Criticism
Use of the Psalms Today
Excursus: The Davidic Psalms
THEOLOGICAL HORIZONS OF PSALMS
The Psalter’s Key Theological Themes
The Basic Convictions of the Psalmists
The Covenants and the Theological Significance of the Exile
Yahweh as the God of the Future, the God Who Plans, the God of the Messiah and His Kingdom
The Contribution of the Psalter to Biblical Theology
A Warm Doctrine of God
A Firm and Confident Doctrine of Historical Revelation
A Heartfelt and Expanding Sense of Community
A Profound Doctrine of Sin
A Realistic Doctrine of Suffering
A Responsive Doctrine of Prayer and Worship
An Unshakable Doctrine of the Messiah
The Psalter’s Relevance to Present-Day Theological and Other Issues
God and Creation
Humanity and Sin
Christ’s Person and Work
The Grace of God, the Work of the Holy Spirit, and the Christian Life
The Last Things
Appendix: Preparing a Sermon on a Psalm
Index of Names
Index of Subjects
Index of Scripture References
May 11, 2008
See this story on the recent debate between Dan Wallace and Bart Ehrman on the textual evidence for the reliability of the New Testament.
After posting this, I noticed Joe Weaks discussion at the Macintosh Biblioblog.