Sep 12, 2009

Form Criticism and Preaching

Duane A. Garrett, “Preaching from the Psalms and Proverbs,” in
Preaching the Old Testament, ed. Scott M. Gibson (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006), 113, writes:

“Every seminary student has some familiarity with form criticism and the psalms. Some psalms are described as ‘hymns’ (community songs of praise), others as ‘communal laments’ (community prayers for help), and others as ‘individual songs of thanksgiving’ (sung by one person rather than a whole community), or ‘individual laments,’ ‘royal songs,’ ‘Torah psalms,’ and so forth. It is important to know these categories insofar as they force us to ask ourselves, ‘Was this psalm for one person or a whole congregation?’ ‘Is this psalm a prayer to God, or is it addressed to the reader?’ ‘Is this reflecting a celebration or a calamity?’ Although form criticism has its value, and in some instances is extremely helpful, on the whole I am not persuaded that it is of great use to the preacher. It is a tool, but no more.”

I tend to think that Garrett is right. What do you think? If you disagree, I would be interested to hear how you incorporate this material into your preaching.

Lecterns and Pupits

Peter Mead provides some good common sense advice about lecterns and pulpits

Sep 11, 2009

Reflections on 9/11

It is not likely that many in America will not let this day pass without at least a minimal thought given to the events on this day eight years ago. For many, the thoughts and feelings will seem more like eight seconds fresh rather than eight years old. There will be questions asked and answered concerning “Where were you . . . .” Americans will observe, reflect, and respond in a variety of ways this day. For me, I offer the following three reflections.

1. While every act like 9/11 is a tragedy and travesty, I am thankful that there are not more 9/11’s given our fallen state and the depravity of which we are all capable of. Surely, this is an evidence of God’s common grace.

2. While I truly wish that the perpetrators of this heinous crime could and would be brought to justice, I suspect that even if this were to occur it would only bring a measure of comfort and closure. True comfort and closure does not come from making things right (thought that surely helps) but by knowing the Righteous One by faith. Do you know Him today?

3. While this day is an important day, a day worth remembering, it is not the most important day. The most important day is when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords returns to establish his dominion, a time in which there will be no more 9/11’s, no more tears, and no more looking in the mirror dimly as faith gives way to sight. Hallelujah!

Surely more could be said, and surely more will be said, but these are my thoughts on this ninth day of September 2009.

Fabulaous Friday Specials from CBD

Some readers might be interested to know that Christian Book Distributors is offering the following items as part of its Fabulous Friday Specials (Friday only sale).

  • The 12 volume Expositor’s Bible Commentary (the original, not revised series) for $99 (retail $456.88)
  • Studies on the Sermon on the Mount by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones for $5.99 (retail $30)
  • Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation edited by Moises Silva for $11.99 (retail $37.99)

You can access the sale with these and other books here.

Sep 10, 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:

Octavian D. Baban
On the Road Encounters in Luke-Acts: Hellenistic Mimesis and Luke's Theology of the Way
Reviewed by Ron Clark

Randall C. Bailey, Tat-siong Benny Liew, and Fernando F. Segovia, eds.
They Were All Together in One Place? Toward Minority Biblical Criticism
Reviewed by Gerald West

Richard Bauckham
The Jewish World around the New Testament: Collected Essays 1
Reviewed by Christoph Stenschke

Augustine Casiday and Frederick W. Norris
The Cambridge History of Christianity, Volume 2: Constantine to c. 600
Reviewed by Paul Dilley

Gregory Lee Cuéllar
Voices of Marginality: Exile and Return in Second Isaiah 40-55 and the Mexican Immigrant Experience
Reviewed by Timothy Sandoval

Lawrence DiPaolo Jr.
Hymn Fragments Embedded in the New Testament: Hellenistic Jewish and Greco-Roman Parallels
Reviewed by Daniel Darko

Daniel Durken, ed.
The New Collegeville Bible Commentary: New Testament
Reviewed by Peter Judge

Beverly Roberts Gaventa and Richard B. Hays, eds.
Seeking the Identity of Jesus: A Pilgrimage
Reviewed by Mark Elliott

Axel Graupner and Michael Wolter, eds.
Moses in Biblical and Extra-biblical Traditions
Reviewed by Hallvard Hagelia

Heidi J. Hornik and Mikeal C. Parsons
Illuminating Luke, Volume 3: The Passion and Resurrection Narratives in Italian Renaissance and Baroque Painting
Reviewed by Thomas E. Phillips

Andrew T. Lincoln and Angus Paddison, eds.
Christology and Scripture: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Reviewed by Douglas Campbell

Mark McEntire
Struggling with God: An Introduction to the Pentateuch
Reviewed by Lissa Wray Beal

Marvin Meyer
Judas: The Definitive Collection of Gospels and Legends about the Infamous Apostle of Jesus
Reviewed by Philip Tite

Anita Norich and Yaron Z. Eliav, eds.
Jewish Literatures and Cultures: Context and Intercontext
Reviewed by Joshua Schwartz

James M. Robinson
Jesus: According to the Earliest Witness
Reviewed by Petri Luomanen

Dan R. Stiver
Life Together in the Way of Jesus Christ: An Introduction to Christian Theology Author(s):
Reviewed by Yolanda Dreyer

Sep 9, 2009

Okham's Razor and Biblical Hermeneutics

Kevin DeYoung, interacting with Robert Stein, has posted a helpful reminder about simplicity and interpreting the Bible. Read it

Sep 8, 2009

Latest Issue of Journal for the Study of the New Testament

The following articles can be found in the latest issue of Journal for the Study of the New Testament (September 2009, Vol. 32, No. 1).
Absent Presences of Paul and Christ: Enargeia in 1 Thessalonians 1—3
Jane M.F. Heath
Journal for the Study of the New Testament 2009;32 3-38

Paul’s Caricature of his Chief Rival as a Pompous Parasite in 2 Corinthians 11.20
L.L. Welborn
Journal for the Study of the New Testament 2009;32 39-56

The Invasion of a Mustard Seed: A Reading of Mark 5.1-20
Joshua Garroway
Journal for the Study of the New Testament 2009;32 57-75

Narrative Analysis as a Text Critical Tool: Mark 16 in Codex W as a Test Case
Thomas R. Shepherd
Journal for the Study of the New Testament 2009;32 77-98

Making Fear Personal: Hebrews 5.11—6.12 and the Argument from Shame
Peter S. Perry
Journal for the Study of the New Testament 2009;32 99-125

Sep 7, 2009

The Holy Land: Then and Now

Todd Bolen at has done a series of terrific posts comparing photographic images from the past to how they look today. So far Todd has compared Ein Herod, the synagogue at Capernaum, Beth Shean, Shechem, and Herod's temple at Sebaste. Check it out and Todd's new set of images.

Topical Studies in Proverbs

I am about to start teaching a class on Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and So
ng of Solomon. For Proverbs I plan to do an exposition of chapters 1-9. But, the rest of Proverbs will be studied topically. Because of time I will only be able to cover four to five topics. Therefore, I want to give my adult students a process to develop their own topical studies. I have created a handout which I have included below. Feel free to give your thoughts or suggestions by clicking on comments below.

How to Do Your Own Topical Study

1. Read Proverbs and become familiar with the different kinds of topics that seem to reoccur.

2. Select a topic and try to determine what key words might fall under that topic. For example, proverbs related to the family might use words like father, mother, son, child, discipline, training, etc.

3. Try and find every proverb related to the topic. This can be done by personally going through each proverb in Proverbs. This is the best way. But if you don’t have the time to do this then you can use certain commentaries which have topical arrangements or indexes (see below) or you can use a topical Bible like Naves (good), or a concordance like Strong’s or Young’s to look up key words (acceptable but might be time consuming).

4. Once you identify all the proverbs related to the topic, try to determine the meaning of the proverb and how it contributes to your topic.

5. Once you have worked through all the proverbs related to the topic, try and identify basic categories. For example, possible categories for proverbs related to speech could be encouraging speech, edifying speech, gossip, honesty, lying, criticism, etc.

6. Once you have identified your categories then try and identify an overall message that could be supported by the individual proverbs in that category.

7. Meditate and apply what you have learned to your life.

8. Start the process over with another topic.

Some Books on Proverbs Arranged Topically or with Topical Indexes

House, H. Wayne and Kenneth M. Durham. Living Wisely in a Foolish World: A Contemporary Look at the Wisdom of Proverbs. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992.

Hubbard, David. Proverbs. Mastering the Old Testament, ed. Lloyd J. Ogilvie, vol. 15A. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1989.

Kidner, Derek. Proverbs: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, ed. D. J. Wiseman. Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 1964.

Longman, Tremper, III. Proverbs. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, ed. Tremper Longman III. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.

Sailler, Ronald M., and David Wyrtzen. The Practice of Wisdom: A Topical Guide to Proverbs. Chicago: Moody, 1992.

Woodcock, Eldon. Proverbs a Topical Study. Bible Study Commentary. Grand Rapids: Lamplighter Books, 1988.

Sep 6, 2009

Salt and Light

Commenting on Matthew 5:13–16, Dwight Pentecost, Design for Living: Lessons on Holiness from the Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1999), 84, states,

“You are salt to make a man thirst for Jesus Christ. You are light to bring a man to Christ. If your pattern of life is so like the pattern of life of the unsaved man that he cannot see any difference between himself and you, you will never create a thirst in him for what you have. Salt does not serve its function by being just like the food on which it is placed. Salt has to be different to serve its purpose. Until there is a transformation in your daily conduct, you will never be salt. Apart from the word of God you can never be light. God calls us from a world from which we were saved to a new kind of life so we might be salt. He delivered the Word to us so that we might be light to men who are lost.”