Aug 8, 2009

Texts on Hell

Rob Kashow has posted a helpful compilation of biblical and extrabiblical texts on hell. See his list here.

Jenson on the Sacrifice of Praise

Michael Jensen has a nice post on the sacrifice of praise (Heb 13:15). I particularly enjoyed this paragraph:

"Praise is a theological act, because right praise involves a true doctrine of God. It involves recalling God’s characteristics revealed in his great acts. The Psalms frequently rehearse Israel’s history and infer from these encounters with Yhwh his praiseworthy characteristics. In the NT, it is not surprising that praise becomes thoroughly Christological in content. Christian praise recalls and rehearses the particular and decisive work of God in Christ. The great examples are of course the Philippian and Colossian hymns. The chorus of praise is led by Christ (Heb 2:12) but also has Christ as its object."

Read the entire post here.

D. A. Carson on Innerancy

Interview with Peter Head on Ancient Letter-Carriers and Paul

Nijay Gupta has an interesting interview with Peter Head on ancient letter-carriers and Paul. See the interview
here and Head's blog on the topic here.

Aug 7, 2009

Relevance and Preaching

“An evangelical approach to sermon form will be concerned with relevance to today's culture. Relevance must take a backseat to theology, but it does get a seat. Relevance is relevant! Who wants to be irrelevant? An evangelical approach will seek to understand the world in which we live and design sermons that are effective in communicating to that world. Sermons are different today than they were a generation ago and that is at least partly because we live in a different world. We must seek to faithfully communicate to that world. In the gospel, God stepped into our world. In designing sermons for today, as ambassadors of Christ we step into the listener's world.”

Dennis M. Cahill, The Shape of Preaching: Theory and Practice in Sermon Design (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 82–3.

Aug 6, 2009

Latest Issue of Review of Biblical Literature

The latest issue of Review of Biblical Literature is out. Reviews that may be of interest from a Bible Exposition perspective include:

Mieke Bal
Loving Yusuf: Conceptual Travels from Present to Past
Reviewed by Rebecca Raphael

Roland Boer
Last Stop Before Antarctica: The Bible and Postcolonialism in Australia
Reviewed by Steed Vernyl Davidson

Cilliers Breytenbach and Jörg Frey, eds.
Aufgabe und Durchführung einer Theologie des Neuen Testaments
Reviewed by Willard M. Swartley

Timothy Clack and Marcus Brittain, eds.
Archaeology and the Media
Reviewed by Yuval Gadot

Gudrun Holtz
Damit Gott sei alles in allem: Studien zum paulinischen und frühjüdischen Universalismus
Reviewed by Lars Kierspel

Joseph F. Kelly
The Birth of Jesus according to the Gospels
Reviewed by J. Samuel Subramanian

Andreas J. Kostenberger and Scott R. Swain, eds
Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John's Gospel
Reviewed by Martijn Steegen

Tom Thatcher, ed.
Jesus, the Voice, and the Text: Beyond The Oral and the Written Gospel
Reviewed by Stephan Witetschek

C. Adrian Thomas
A Case For Mixed-Audience with Reference to the Warning Passages in the Book of Hebrews
Reviewed by Gert J. Steyn

Felipe Blanco Wißmann
"Er tat das Rechte": Beurteilungskriterien und Deuteronomismus in 1Kön 12-2Kön 25
Reviewed by Ernst Axel Knauf

Leslie S. Wilson
The Book of Job: Judaism in the Second Century BCE: An Intertextual Reading
Reviewed by F. Rachel Magdalene

Blomberg on the Prohiitions in Acts 15

Whatever their [the prohibitions in Acts 15] precise origin, the important observation to make is that the council is not imposing on Gentile believers a new law here, however abbreviated. The practices they are to avoid remain particularly offensive for Jews, who had been dispersed throughout most of the Roman Empire (v. 21). When the council writes its letter to believers in Antioch and nearby regions explaining their decision (vv. 22–29), it concludes simply by stating, "You will do well to avoid these things" (v. 29), hardly a way to refer to mandatory legislation. These are merely restrictions that the Christian leaders hope Gentile believers will voluntarily adopt for the sake of not offending Jewish consciences unnecessarily. That the Christians who received this letter were glad and encouraged, sending the letter carriers off with a blessing of peace, suggests they understood the ‘decree’ in the milder sense (vv. 30–35). That Paul later writes about food sacrificed to idols to both the Corinthians (1 Cor. 8–10) and the Romans (Rom. 14:1–15:13), without referring to this decision, likewise suggests its limited scope and audience.”

Craig L. Blomberg, From Pentecost to Patmos: An Introduction to Acts through Revelation (Nashville: B & H Academic, 2006), 53.

Aug 5, 2009

Riding a Dead Horse

I love this bit from Preaching Now:

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from one generation to the next, says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. However, in contemporary organizations other strategies have often been tried with dead horses, including the following:

1. Buying a stronger whip.

2. Changing riders.

3. Threatening the horse with termination.

4. Appointing a committee to study the horse.

5. Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.

6. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.

7. Appointing an intervention team to reanimate the dead horse.

8. Creating a training session to increase the riders load share.

9. Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.

10. Change the form so that it reads: "This horse is not dead."

11. Hire outside contractors to ride the dead horse.

12. Harness several dead horses together for increased speed.

13. Donate the dead horse to a recognized charity, thereby deducting its full original cost.

14. Providing additional funding to increase the horse's performance.

15. Do a time management study to see if the lighter riders would improve productivity.

16. Purchase an after-market product to make dead horses run faster.

17. Declare that a dead horse has lower overhead and therefore performs better.

18. Form a quality focus group to find profitable uses for dead horses.

19. Rewrite the expected performance requirements for horses.

20. Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position. (Mikey’s Funnies)

Review of “True for You but Not for Me” Overcoming Objections to the Christian Faith

Paul Copan, “True for You but Not for Me” Overcoming Objections to the Christian Faith, rev. ed. (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2009).

Relativism and pluralism are two major philosophical challenges faced by Christians today. Furthermore, the concept of religious pluralism is a direct challenge to orthodox Christianity’s exclusivist claims. To this end, Paul Copan has done a great service for the church by addressing these challenges head on logically. philosophically, and biblically.

The book consists of a
preface and introduction, five major sections containing thirty-three chapters, and endnotes (see the table of contents below). All the chapters are titled after common statements and questions (e.g., “That’s Just Your Opinion”). The chapters contain a brief discussion of the issue expressed by the statement or question, a bulleted summary, and a further reading list. Both the discussion and format are helpful. One minor criticism though, is that some of the discussion gets a bit redundant. It might have been better to have grouped similar statements/questions together for one discussion.

This book would be useful for Christians who have honest questions about their faith and Christians who are involved in evangelism and might need a bit of help in answering common questions. A free PDF study guide tied to the book is available at the author’s website:

Table of Contents:


PART I: Absolutely Relative

1. “That’s True for You, But Not for Me.”

2. “So Many People Disagree—Relativism Must Be True.”

3. “You’re Just Using Western Logic.”

4. “Who Are You to Judge Others?”

5. “Christians Are Intolerant of Other Viewpoints!”
6. “What Right Do You Have to Convert Others to Your Views?”

7. “It’s All Just a Matter of Perspective.”

8. “Perception Is Reality.”

9. “That’s Just Your Opinion!”

10. “You Can Choose Whichever Religion You Want.”

: The Absolutism of Moral Relativism
11. “Why Believe in Any Moral Values When They’re So Wildly Different?

12. “Your Values Are Right for You, But Not for Me.”

13. “Who Are You To Impose Your Morality on Others?”

14. “You Can’t Legislate Morality.”

15. “It’s Arrogant To Say Your Values Are Better than Others’.”

16. “Biological Evolution Explains Morality.”

17. “We Can Be Good Without God”: Part I

18. “We Can Be Good Without God”: Part II

Part III: The Exclusivism of Religious Pluralism
19. “All Religions Are Basically the Same.”

20. “All Roads Lead to the Top of the Mountain.”

21. “Christianity Is Arrogant and Imperialistic.”

22. “If You Grew Up in Thailand, You’d Be a Buddhist.”

23. “Mahatma Gandhi Was a Saint If Ever There Was One.”

PART IV: The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ: Myth or Reality?

24. “You Can’t Trust the Gospels. They’re Unreliable.”

25. “Jesus’ Followers Fabricated the Stories and Sayings of Jesus.”

26. “Jesus Is Just Like Any Other Great Religious Leader.”
27. “But Jesus Never Said, ‘I Am God.’”

28. “People Claim JFK and Elvis Are Alive, Too!”

PART V: “No Other Name”: The Question of the Unevangelized

29. “It Doesn’t Matter What You Believe—as Long as You’re Sincere.”

30. “If Jesus Is the Only Way to God, What About Those Who Have Never Heard of Him?”
Response #1: The Agnostic View
31. “If Jesus Is the Only Way …”
Response #2: The Inclusivist or Wider-Hope View
32. “If Jesus Is the Only Way …”
A Response to the Inclusivist/Wider-Hope View
33. “If Jesus Is the Only Way …“
Response #3: The Accessibilist or Middle-Knowledge Perspective

Aug 4, 2009

The Holy Spirit’s Role in the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15

“Altogether, the outcome of this most important conference is one of the happiest proofs of the guidance and control of the earliest church leaders by the Holy Spirit the book affords. The unanimity with which the plan proposed by James, which was in no sense coercive is freely adopted by ‘the whole church’ and their acceptance as well of his formulation of it, which is repeated in the official minutes as quoted by Luke, shows that the Lord’s brother rightly read the mind of the Spirit as moving upon that first Ecumenical Council.”

Charles Fremont Sitterley, Jerusalem to Rome: The Acts of the Apostles (New York: Abingdon, 1915), 174.

Aug 3, 2009

Preaching as a Theological Task

“Preaching is a theological task. The preacher has the responsibility of taking God's truth and proclaiming that truth to the world. Preachers are schooled in theology and biblical studies. And the best preachers take pride in the time they invest in Bible study and theological thought. They pay attention to the theological nature of the homiletic mandate.”

Dennis M. Cahill, The Shape of Preaching: Theory and Practice in Sermon Design (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 48.

Aug 2, 2009

Review of Richard Pervo's Acts Commentary

I Pervo, Acts: A Commentary, Hermeneia, ed. Harold W. Attridge (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2009). The author is well-known for his work in Acts, having written a number of books and articles on Acts, including Profit with Delight: The Literary Genre of the Acts of the Apostles (1987), Luke’s Story of Paul (1990), Rethinking the Unity of Luke and Acts (with Mikeal A. Parsons, 1993), and Dating Acts: Between the Evangelists and the Apologists (2006).

Pervo’s commentary on Acts is part of the Hermeneia series published by Fortress Press. This series is known for its comprehensive exegetical examination of the text and an emphasis of historical-critical concerns. In this regard, this volume on Acts is a worthy represent
ative of the Hermeneia series. The comments are often exegetically insightful and occasionally pastorally helpful. There are copious footnotes, extensive bibliography, and four indexes (Scripture and ancient literature, Greek words, subjects, and modern authors). The juxtaposition of translations of the conventional text as represented by NA27 and UBS4 with the so called Western or D-Text at certain points is also a helpful feature.

Many interpreters in general, and theologically conservative interpreters in particular will question Pervo’s conclusions on the dating of Acts to the second century (pp. 5–7), the genre of Acts as a form of popular historical novel or popular apologetic history (pp. 14–16), and the rejection of the traditional affirmation of the unity of Luke-Acts (pp. 18–19). A bigger problem in my view is the author’s ambivalence, skepticism, and at times downright rejection of the historical veracity of Acts (e.g., pp. 58, 60, 76, 115, 151, 239, 302, 331, 334, 519, 538, 684, 688). As Pervo states, “Luke’s achievement as a historian lies more in his success at creating history than in recording it” (p. 18). That being said, Pervo’s idiosyncrasies do not prevent the observant reader from gleaning helpful exegetical insights from the comments in general. His handling of syntax and text-critical issues are often quite insightful.

But, the Hermeneia series in general, and this commentary in particular is probably not the best resource for your average pastor or Sunday school teacher. Critical commentaries such as this one usually provide little to no help in communicating, applying, or illustrating the text. Therefore, Pervo’s commentary is best suited for an academic setting. In this context, one suspects that there will be more appreciation for the novel contributions propagated in this volume.