Concerning Jeremiah’s role in the Book of Jeremiah, Jack Lundblom notes, “As a royal messenger, Jeremiah’s job is to deliver the King’s word—to Judah primarily, but also to foreign nations of the world. The divine word is central to Jeremiah’s preaching; in fact, it is his preaching” (Jeremiah 1-20: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, Anchor Bible, ed. William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman, vol. 21A [New York: Doubleday, 1999],144).
Would there be Jeremiah's today? Preachers of whom it could be said that the divine Word is central to their preaching; in fact, it is their preaching.
An evaluation of Jeremiah by most standards of success would brand him an abysmal failure. He preached for forty years without convincing the people that he was God’s prophet. He was threatened, ridiculed, and physically abused by his own people. Jerusalem was finally destroyed, and Judah ceased to exist as a nation because the people refused to accept Jeremiah’s remedy for deliverance—turn back to God and submit to the Babylonians. However, Jeremiah must not be judged by human standards. God has a different measuring stick by which he judges a person’s life. His is the test of obedience. God only required that Jeremiah obey him by proclaiming his message. Jeremiah was not responsible for a favorable response or lack of response. One who is an obedient servant of the Lord today is not held accountable for lack of response from those who hear his message. The great rulers of Jeremiah’s day—Ashurbanipal, Nebuchadnezzar, Neco, and Hophra—have largely been forgotten. Their influence is nil, whereas Jeremiah’s name and influence remain because of his obedience to God’s will for him.
F. B. Huey, Jr., Jeremiah, Lamentations, vol. 16, New American Commentary, ed. E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1993), 24.
Matthew Malcolm has an interesting discussion on 1 Corinthian 15, namely the problem that the Corinthians had with the resurrection. Malcolm suggests that,
Firstly, I suggest that the denial of resurrection was focused not primarily on the present or future experience of the deniers themselves, but on those who were presently the dead. Secondly, I suggest that this denial was not primarily driven by logical problems with postmortal existence or celestial physicality; but by political and existential issues of status and superiority. Thirdly, I wonder whether the Corinthian denial was implicit in certain claims and activities, rather than an explicit theological point of dispute.
In other words, the claim that “there is no resurrection of the dead” was one more example of spiritualistic Corinthian superiority, pouring disdain on those who were presumably going to miss out on the benefits of being personally present for Christ’s parousia because they had died. This proud, superior attitude toward the status of “the dead” is the climactic example of Corinthian cruci-phobia; and the Corinthians need to learn that the dead are not at a disadvantage - rather, the Corinthians themselves are called to embrace present death and look ahead to future resurrection.
Bill Mounce has posted on the topic of pastors and teachers in Ephesians 4:11. The post is part exegesis and part pastoral philosophy. I would have preferred a more of the former since it serves as the basis for the latter. In any case, you can read it here.
The month's SBL Forum has am article by William Lyons entitled "Rahab through the Ages: A Study of Christian Interpretation of Rahab." The author identifies and discusses four different Christian approaches on the meaning and significance of Rahab. The four approaches are: (1) Allegorical Interpretation, (2) Tropological Interpretation, (3) Anagogical Interpretation, (4) Literal Interpretation.
"In the end, the book of Jeremiah does not belong to the scholarly guild. It belongs more properly to the synagogue and the church, who have, all through the centuries, attended to its preservation and reading. This does not mean that the book of Jeremiah is reduced to conventional religious expectations. It does mean, however, that the book's proper climate is a community that expects to be addressed in dangerous and unsettling ways by the holiness that sounds here."
Walter Brueggemann, A Commentary on Jeremiah: Exile and Homecoming (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), xiii.
Matthew Malcom has a nice post that offers annotations of some recent books that help to better understand Paul as a letter writer. Malcom offers the following:
Greek and Latin Letters: An Anthology with Translation, by Michael Trapp
This is a useful collection of ancient letters in the original greek & latin, along with a discussion of issues related to the production of the letters. For example, Trapp states, in relation to the use of secretaries: “[W]e can make at least some headway with the question of who did the writing: the presence of particularly skilful hands, and of changes of hand between the main body of the letter and the final salutation, suggest just how often the bulk of the work, or all of it, was done by secretaries (for the affluent) and (for the less well-off) professional letter-writers.” (p8)
Paul the Letter-Writer: His World, His Options, His Skills, by Jerome Murphy-O’Connor.
This book explores three areas: Practical issues related to writing a letter; Theoretical issues related to creating the content of a letter; and issues related to the collecting of ancient letters. Unfortunately his consideration of the ‘content’ of letters relies too much on Rhetorical Criticism, but this is a great little book. He notes, for example, that secretaries/professional letter-writers (as mentioned by Trapp above) would generally have been employed not only to write the letter to be dispatched, but also to write a copy for the sender to keep, “both for control and perhaps future use” or perhaps because one’s letters “were shared with friends” (p13)
Books and Readers in the Early Church, by Harry Y. Gamble
Gamble argues for the collection of Paul’s Epistles as canon, a canon sufficiently long that it needed to be kept together using the format of the Codex - explaining the early Christian preference for the codex over the roll. He covers a number of interesting issues along the way. For example, he applies the insight that ancient letter-writers kept copies of their letters (as mentioned by Murphy-O’Connor above) to Paul: “A dossier of Paul’s letters would surely have been useful to Paul and his coworkers: it can hardly be supposed that each letter immediately had its intended effect, required no further clarification, and generated no new issues. The letters themselves are proof to the contrary. The tangled correspondence of Paul with the Corinthians, if not typical, certainly indicates that Paul needed to and did keep track of what he had written.” (p101)
Paul and First-Century Letter Writing: Secretaries, Composition and Collection, by E. Randolph Richards
This is a great overview of the issues in the title. For example, Richards considers ancient letter writers’ use of secretarial copies of their letters (as mentioned by Gamble above), and writes: “From the evidence we can infer that material was recycled from one letter to another in two common scenarios. First, if a writer had written a lengthy account and then later wanted to send the information to another recipient…. A second common reason for reusing material in another letter was when the writer wanted to send a well-written passage to another.” (p160) Obviously, this sort of insight might be fruitfully examined in relation to the letters of Paul - perhaps in terms of a possible relationship between Ephesians and Colossians… perhaps in terms of a possible relationship between 1 Thessalonians & 1 Corinthians…
Ligonier Ministries has a list and discussion of their top five commentaries on Esther. I would replace Baldwin with Berlin. I would also add M. V. Fox (Character and Ideology), C. M. Bechtel (Int), F. B. Huey (EBC) to the runners-up list. In any case, the top five Keith Mathison has listed are:
1. Karen Jobes -- Esther (NIV Application Commentary, 1999).
2. Joyce Baldwin -- Esther (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, 1984).
3. Iain Duguid. -- Esther and Ruth (Reformed Expository Commentary, 2005).
4. Frederic Bush -- Ruth/Esther (Word Biblical Commentary, 1996).
5. Mervin Breneman -- Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (New American Commentary, 1993).