Jan 9, 2010

Too Rich for Heaven?

ChristianHistory.net has posted an interesting
article by Brian Matz entitled "Can You Be Too Rich for Heaven? How the early Christians explained Mark 10:21."

Rediscovering a Gospel Forgery

See this fascinating
account of the work of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.

HT: Scot McKnight

Luke's Task and His View of the Law

“Luke wrote both as a historian and as an apologist for early Christianity. In order to understand his approach to the Mosaic law, we must grasp how his approach could help him accomplish the tasks appropriate to these two roles.”

Frank Thielman, The Law and the New Testament: The Question of Continuity (New York: Crossroad, 199), 136.

Jan 8, 2010

Daniel Commentary in ZIBBCOT is Avaialable on Scribd

Zondervan has made Ernest Lucas' commentary on Daniel in the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary Old Testament available free via Scribd here.

Interview With Richard B. Hays

John Anderson has a nice interview with Richard B. Hays here.

A Review of Subversive Sequels in the Bible: How Biblical Stories Mine and Undermine Each Other

Barbara Sofer has posted a review of Judith Klitsner's Subversive Sequels in the Bible: How Biblical Stories Mine and Undermine Each Other here.

Most Ancient Hebrew Biblical Inscription Deciphered

See this press release from the University of Haifa on the Khirbet Qeiyafa inscription.

Professor Gershon Galil offers the following translation of the text:

1' you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].

2' Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]
3' [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]
4' the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.
5' Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.

Credit: Image courtesy of the University of Haifa

International Bulletin of Missionary Research

Both current and past issues (to 2004) of The
International Bulletin of Missionary Research is now available online for free.

HT: Tim Davy

Reflections on Graduating Seminary

Britt Treece's reflections on graduating seminary are worth reading for those beginning or contemplating attending a seminary. You can access it here.

Rabbinic Midrash

"To understand the Rabbinic sages' approach to Scripture in the Midrash compilations, we have to begin with a negative question: how is Rabbinic Midrash unlike contemporary readings of Scripture? People nowadays want Scripture to yield historic facts, not religious truths, except as a byproduct of history. Rabbinic Midrash for its part uncovers the Torah's enduring truths."

Jacob Neusner, Judaism and the Interpretation of Scripture (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2004), 1.

Jan 7, 2010

Blomberg on Preaching the Parables

Craig Blomberg has an article on preaching the parables

An Introduction to Hans-Georg Gadamer

You can read Cynthia Nielsen's four part introduction to Hans Georg-Gadamer here.

HT: John Hobbins

A Review of Biblical Studies and Tech Tools for 2009

See Mark Hoffman's review of biblical studies and tech tools in 2009 here.

Jan 6, 2010

New Blog

Steven Coxhead, part-time lecturer at the Presbyterian Theological Centre in Sydney, Australia, has started a blog that looks quite promising. You can access it

HT: Michael Bird

Piper on Seven Reasons to Love and Study the Book of Ruth

John Piper identifies the following seven reasons to love and study the book of Ruth.

1. Ruth is the Word of God.
2. Ruth is a love story.
3. Ruth is a portrait of beautiful, noble manhood and womanhood.
4. Ruth addresses racial and ethnic diversity and harmony.
5. Ruth displays the sovereignty of God.
6. Ruth displays radical acts of risk-taking love.
7. Ruth displays the glory of Christ.

Some Sobering Statistics

According to the most recent
Church Leaders Intelligence Report::

  • In the next hour, 1,370 of our youth will take an illegal drug.
  • 57% of all illegal drugs are sold on school campuses.
  • The stress of school keeps 68% of students awake at night, with 20% of them at least once a week.
  • In the next 30 minutes, 29 kids under age 18 will make a serious attempt at suicide.
  • 100,000 ten-year-olds get drunk at least once a week.

Jan 5, 2010

Pictures of the Ziggurat at Ur

here for some nice pictures of the Ziggurat at Ur.

HT: Stephen Cook

Coins and the New Testament: Teaching and Preaching Possibilities

I recently enjoyed reading through Lawrence E. McKinney’s article “Coins and the New Testament: From Ancient Palestine to the Modern Pulpit,” Review and Expositor 106 (2009): 467–89. One aspect of the article in particle that I found interesting was hpow the author uses coins in his teaching and preaching ministry. I have reproduced part of his discussion below.

“The possibilities for using coins of the New Testament period for religious education and homiletics are bounded only by one's creativity. Gaining access to information, examples and illustrations of the coins has never been greater. This is due to the growing number of books and articles on the subject, and the abundance of images and information available by means of web searches. If one performs web searches of images and subjects using such topics as “Roman Coins,” “Jewish Coins,” or “Biblical Coins,” hundreds of photos and drawings will turn up.

“I personally like to use PowerPointTM to help me present my numismatic information to groups. I further prefer to illustrate each with a “show-and-tell” consisting of a display of actual coins from my teaching collection. As a public school educator, I have found this to be a highly successful method for teaching my high school special education students about antiquity. We have come to call it our “Friday Treasure of the Week.” The students seem to eagerly anticipate each Friday lesson. They regularly tell me it makes history more real to them, and they wonder how many students, besides themselves, ever actually get to hold such pieces of living history. I receive the same feedback from the church, synagogue and other groups to whom I present. It seems no one outgrows the love of “show-and-tell.”

“More recently, I have begun to explore using coins from New Testament times as the basis for a sermon series. I project a picture of the coin for the congregation to see as I preach, and then they are invited to see and hold the actual item after the service. For the public speaker or preacher who would like to try an even more avant-garde approach, maybe the idea of letting the artifact tell its own story in the first person would be worth exploring. Some great examples can be found in a series of five articles by Frank L. Holt, Professor of History at the University of Houston, which have been published in Saudi Aramco World magazine [“I Witness History.” The latest installment can be found in: Frank L. Holt, “I, The Sea Tramp," Saudi Aramco World (2009): 18–23].”

Jan 4, 2010

Concluding Observations on The Glory of Preaching

I have devoted a number of posts to introducing Darrell Johnson’s The Glory of Preaching (see here, here, here, and here). Having now read the book I offer the following concluding observations. First, this is a book about preaching for preachers. This might seem obvious given the title, but it is important to note that Johnson often assumes
that his audience has a general familiarity with exegesis, homiletics, and general theological studies. Those less familiar with these disciplines might feel a bit lost at times. This leads to a second observation, that this work is not really an introductory text to expository preaching. Johnson does discuss the process of creating and delivering a sermon, but not in sufficient detail as to serve as an introductory text. Third, while The Glory of Preaching is not introductory, it is warmly devotional and motivational. The author clearly appreciates the practice of preaching and how that practice relates to the church, the world, and the preacher himself. In conclusion, I would recommend this book to preachers who are in need both of affirmation concerning the importance of what they do and encouragement to do better what they do.

Jan 3, 2010

Mirror Reading

When reading an epistle (or letter), one is presumably only reading half of a conversation or dialogue. So interpreters practice what is called “mirror reading.” Mirror reading is the attempt to reproduce the dialogue, circumstances, etc. that gave rise to the response reflected in an epistle. For example, if you hear me say “ouch,” you can presume that something or someone has caused me to say it. Mirror reading would attempt to identify what had caused me to say “ouch.” If the identification is successful, then presumably we would have a better understanding of the significance of “ouch” in this particular context. Or in other words, mirror reading is an attempt to move from the known (the epistle) to the unknown (the circumstances behind the epistle), in order to better understand what is known (the epistle). As such mirror reading is an indispensable tool for understanding the epistles in Scripture. However, the practice of mirror reading is not without certain challenges. Although he is dealing with Galatians in particular John M. G. Barclay has helpfully identified four “pitfalls” of mirror reading epistles which have been summarized below.

1. The first we may call the danger of undue selectivity.

2. The second pitfall is the danger of over-interpretation.
3. A third pitfall awaits those who are guilty of mishandling polemics.
4. The fourth pitfall is that of latching onto particular words and phrases as direct echoes of the opponents' vocabulary and then hanging a whole thesis on those flimsy pegs. John

M. G. Barclay, “Mirror-Reading a Polemical Letter: Galatians as a Test Case,” in The Galatians Debate, ed. Mark Nanos (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002), 372–6.