Apr 25, 2009

Ancient Near Eastern Background and the Decalogue

The Koinonia blog has
posted on possible ancient Near Eastern backgrounds and the Decalogue.

Apr 24, 2009

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson

I have just finished reading D. A. Carson's book on his father entitled,
Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson. I found the book to be both encouraging and edifying. As I read the book I was reminded of words that Carl Sandburg used in reference to Abraham Lincoln: "A tree is best measured when it's down" (Abraham Lincoln, p. 433). Carson's book shows that what is said of a president can also be said of many "ordinary pastors" who may never have biographies penned about them, but who have their names in the Lamb's book of life.

Apr 23, 2009

Biblical Genealogies: Open and Closed Genealogies

This post continues a series on biblical genealogies (see here and here). Today, I will discuss open and closed genealogies.

A significant and controversial issue related to genealogies is the issue of open and closed genealogies. Closed genealogies are genealogies that comprehensively and sequentially include a representative person in each generation covered in the genealogy. This does not mean that every person within a generation is identified, but that there is a direct and unbroken link between generations. Indeed, genealogies by nature tend to be selective (sometimes referred to as telescopic). Open genealogies are genealogies that are sequential but not comprehensive. That is, there are “gaps” within the genealogical record. Wilson refers to these “gaps” in terms of fluidity and has identified three types of fluidity: (1) changes in genealogical relationships, (2) additions of names, (3) disappearance or omission of names.[1] Usually these “gaps” are understood to be intentional and made for various reasons. These reasons can include the desire to have exactly a certain number of generations (7, 10, etc.),[2] a desire to be representative not exhaustive (only “hit the high spots”), or a desire to exclude certain individuals (unimportant or undesirable individuals). The problem here is that attempting to determine why a given genealogy was formed in a particular way is highly speculative. Green has argued strongly for the existence of open genealogies in Scripture,[3] and many, if not most, accept this premise as a given. Nonetheless, whether a particular genealogy is open or closed is a point of much debate. This tension is particularly acute concerning the genealogies in the Book of Genesis (e.g. Gen 5; 11). The issue is further complicated by the New Testament usage of the Old Testament genealogical data. Matthew[4] and Luke’s[5] genealogies seem to support open genealogies whereas Jude[6] seemingly supports a closed position.

[1] Wilson, Genealogy and History in the Biblical World, 29-36.
[2] Sasson argues that it was common Hebrew convention to make minimal alterations in genealogies to highlight certain individuals by placing them in the seventh (or sometimes the fifth) position. Jack M. Sasson, “A Genealogical "Convention" in Biblical Chronography?,” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 90 (1978): 171-85. But Sasson’s work is not without problems. See David T. Bryan, “A Reevaluation of Gen 4 and 5 in Light of Recent Studies in Genealogical Fluidity,” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 99 (1987): 181-82.
[3] William Henry Green, “Primeval Chronology,” Bibliotheca Sacra 47 (1890): 285-303.
[4] In Matthew 1:8, Matthew leaves out at least three generations (Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah). Furthermore, Matthew’s depiction of three sets of fourteen genealogies appears to most to be highly stylized and intentional.
[5] In Luke 3:36, Cainan is included between Arphaxad and Shelah. Cainan does not appear in the Masoretic text, although it does appear in the LXX (Gen 10:24; 11:12-13).
[6] Jude 14 states that Enoch was the seventh generation from Adam.

Apr 22, 2009

Scripture Unlocked

My friend
René López has a new website called Scripture Unlocked. There are a variety of resources available. Check it out here.

Bird on Royal Psalms

Michael Bird has
posted three ten minute videos on royal Psalms.

Apr 21, 2009

Mounce on the Imperfect Verb

Bill Mounce has posted on the imperfect verb in Greek.

Biblical Genealogies: Forms

I recently began a series on biblical genealogies (see here). Today, I want to discuss the forms of genealogies.

The genealogies in Scripture typically take one of two forms. One form is a standard identification and linking of descendants (e.g. Gen 36). Another form of genealogy is narratival in form (e.g., 25:19), and Wilson refers to these genealogies as a “genealogical narrative.”[1] The Book of Genesis includes both of these forms. One might also distinguish between patrilinear and matrilinear genealogies. Patrilinear genealogies trace descent from the father and matrilinear genealogies trace descent from the mother. “In the Penteteuch genealogies are fundamentally patrilinear, though women occasionally—and significantly—appear within them (e.g., Gen 11:29-31; Ex 6:23, 25).”[2]

While perhaps not strictly a question of form, it is worth noting at this point the work of Martin Noth.[3] Noth distinguished between “authentic” and secondary genealogies. “Authentic” genealogies are genealogies that existed prior to and apart from the narrative in which they are found. Secondary genealogies, on the other hand, are genealogies which exist only within the narrative itself. For Noth, the Pentateuch contains some “authentic” genealogies which are older than the narrative in which they are found (and thus might have some historical value) and secondary genealogies which are literary constructs for linking literary units.

[1] Wilson, Genealogy and History in the Biblical World, 9.

[2] Wright, “Genealogies,” 346.

[3] Martin Noth, A History of Pentateuchal Traditions, trans. Bernhard W. Anderson (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1972), 214-19.

Apr 20, 2009

Emergent Scrabble

Not sure if this is available in T
oys R Us yet!!!

McKnight on the New Perspective

Scot McKnight sums up the new perspective on Paul in three lines.

1. Judaism was not a works-earns-salvation religion.
2. Paul was therefore not opposing a works-earns-salvation religion.
3. Therefore, the Reformation's way of framing the entire message of the New Testament as humans seeking to earn their own redemption rests on shaky historical grounds.

Read Scot's post here.

Apr 19, 2009

Biblical Genealogies: Definition and Types

Genealogies tend to be an area of the Bible that most people know little about. However, I have to admit that I am a bit intrigued by this material. So I will have several posts dealing with some of my research in this area. Today, I want to discuss a definition and the types of genealogies.

Genealogies may be defined as “a written or oral expression of the descent of a person from an ancestor or ancestors.” [1] Broadly speaking genealogies have either/both breadth and depth.[2] Breadth relates to how many persons a genealogy lists in a single generation. Depth relates to the chronological length of the genealogy. Genealogies that have only depth are also called linear genealogies (e.g. 5:3-31). If a genealogy contains both breath and depth it is called a segmented genealogy (Gen 10:1-32). (A family tree is a common form of segmented genealogy.) A shift from a linear genealogy to a segmented genealogy often carries literary significance. Generally speaking, segmented genealogies seek to establish familial relationships, whereas linear genealogies seek to establish a link between the first and final descendant.[3]

[1] Robert R. Wilson, Genealogy and History in the Biblical World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), 9.
[2] J. W. Wright, “Genealogies,” in
Dictionary of the Old Testament Pentateuch, ed. David W. Baker (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 346.
[3] Bruce K. Waltke and Cathi J. Fredricks,
Genesis: A Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 106-7.