Jan 16, 2010

Adhering to the Word

“A strict adherence to the Word of God will keep the minister doctrinally well-balanced and constantly in touch with God. In this way he shall be able to keep his people in line with the truth and direct their feet into the paths of righteousness. They in turn will learn to ‘search the scriptures’ and develop a personal discernment which will enable them to see and avoid pitfalls themselves. It is in this way that the commission of the apostle is carried out: ‘The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also’ (2 Timothy 2:2).”

Douglas M. White, The Excellence of Exposition (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Borthers, 1977), 58.

Old Testament Illustrated Timeline

See these interesting "
history tables" featuring Israelite and ancient Near Eastern history at Ralph Klein's website. Go to the "Old Testament" tab pull down menu and access "History Tables (OT/ANE). Then, choose which period you are interested in.

HT: Yitzhak Sapir

Jan 15, 2010

Getting Aramaic

See Michael Halcomb's latest project: Getting Aramaic (see here). I continue to be amazed by the quantity and quality of Michael's work and the fact that he continues to make that work available for the rest of us.


I was asked recently for recommendations concerning texts to use for a New Testament course. My answer to this question spurred me to think and re-think the purposes of textbooks. Broadly speaking, textbooks of course should ultimately be used to further the objectives of the course at hand. More specifically, textbooks can/should (in no particular order):

1. Expose the learner to new information and ideas,
2. Expand the learner’s current knowledge of information and ideas,
3. Supplement the interaction in the classroom,
4. Support and reinforce classroom content,
5. Provide an alternative to the view(s) presented in the classroom,
6. Introduce the learner to further avenues of study.

Thoughts? Additions? Corrections?

Jan 14, 2010

Evangelism and the Early Church

"Despite uncertainty about numerous aspects of primitive Christianity, the sources are unanimous in reporting certain basic traits. Among these is an enthusiastic dedication to missionary activity. There was, to be sure, a protracted and often bitter debate about whether the mission should focus exclusively on Jews (“Go nowhere among the Gentiles,and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” – Matt 10:5f; cf. also the story of the Syrophoenician woman in Matt 15:21–28) or should include Gentiles as well (“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . .” – Matt 28:19!). Even among those who advocated a universal calling, there was disagreement about the conditions under which Gentiles could embrace the faith. Should they assume the full burden of the Mosaic Law (“But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up, and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses.”’ – Acts 15:5) or just a partial burden (Acts 15:19f)? Still others, like Paul, maintained that allegiance to the Christ meant freedom from the Law altogether (Galatians, passim). But transcending these disagreements was a consensus that a primary obligation of the community as a whole was to proclaim the gospel of Christ in the world. More than any other cult in the Roman Empire, Christianity was a missionary faith and, of course, owed its ultimate status in the empire to the success of its mission."

Although I am uncomfortable with the thesis of this article as a whole, which sees the evangelistic efforts of the early church as an example of cognitive dissonance related to the perceived failure of the kingdom to appear, the quote above is a helpful reminder of the evangelistic priority in the early church.

John G. Gager, “Christian Mission and the Theory of Cognitive Dissonance,” in Social-Scientific Approaches to New Testament Interpretation, ed. David G. Horrell (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1999), 179.

Jan 13, 2010

Interview with Craig Keener

Nijay Gupta has posted an interesting interview with Craig Keener concerning his recent Romans commentary. You can access the interview

Loeb's Classical Library Online

Some of the volumes of the well-known Loeb Classical Library series are available for free online. See this helpful
list for what is available and where.

HT: Roger Pearse

Sloyan on Luke and the Law

“When Luke speaks of the Law he means the entire dispensation under which Jews—including some who believe in Jesus—live.”

Gerald Sloyan, Is Christ the End of the Law? (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978), 58.

Jan 12, 2010

More of the Cyrus Cylinder?

Claude Mariottini has reported that additional fragments from the Cyrus Cylinder have been found in the British Museum. See the post here.

What’s the Point? Moving from Exegetical to Homiletical

See Ken Burge's article entitled, "What's the Point? Moving from Exegetical to Homiletical"

Great Teaching

Charles Halton has a link to an article in
Atlantic magazine (here) and a good summary of the highlights of article here.

Mounce on the Divine Name

Bill Mounce has an interesting post on the fixation that some people have on the Divine name. I am in general agreement with Mounce, but I do think we ought to try and get the Divine name right. Mounce asks, "Why do some people obsess over 'getting the name right' when it is not the name but the person that is important?" While obsession is clearly not the way to go, getting anyone's name right is a sign of respect. Do we not find it at least mildly annoying when people that we have an ongoing relationship with do not take the time or make an effort to get our name right. Furthermore, names in Scriptures have a significance that our names don't always have. In Scripture, the
person and the name are closely related. And finally, I suggest that we ought to try and get the name right since it shows deference in part to how God chose to reveal Himself.

Thielman on Luke and the Law

According to Frank Thielman, Luke writes as a Hellenistic theologian and social apologist. Both roles shape his understanding and presentation of the Mosaic Law. Furthermore, "If we read Luke’s material on the Mosaic law in the light of these two aspects of his narrative, we discover that a coherent approach to the law emerges. It can be summarized in three propositions:

1. The Mosaic Law was normative for God’s people until the ministry of Jesus.
2. Despite some continuity between Jesus’ ethical teaching and the Mosaic law, Jesus replaced the law with his own, more radical ethic.
3. The reluctance of the early Christians to understand this and their pragmatic approach to its implementation in their communities reveals their respect for traditional social customs."

Frank Thielman, The Law and the New Testament: The Question of Continuity (New York: Crossroad, 1999), 140.

Jan 11, 2010

From Charles Spurgeon's First Words at the Metropolitan Tabernacle

“I would propose that the subject of the ministry in this house, as long as this platform shall stand, and as long as this house shall be frequented by worshippers, shall be the person of JESUS CHRIST. I am never ashamed to avow myself a Calvinist; I do not hesitate to take the name of the Baptist; but if I am asked what is my creed, I reply, ‘It is Jesus Christ.’”

Jan 10, 2010

Jervell on Luke and the Law

“For Luke the law remains the law given to Israel on Sinai, in the strict meaning of the word, the law of Israel. And Luke is concerned about the law because it is Israel’s law. Certainly Moses is a prophet as well (Acts 3:22; 7:37), but he is primarily associated with the law. It is significant that Luke is most concerned about the ritual and ceremonial aspects of the law. The law is to him not essentially the moral law, but the mark of distinction between Jews and non-Jews. The law is the sign of Israel as the people of God, which is evident from Luke’s overall perspective and from individual passages.”

Jacob Jervell, Luke and the People of God (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1972), 137.

Effective Preaching and Application

"Effective preaching includes application that, first, allows the Word of God to speak (which requires biblical integrity) and, second, allows the Word of God to speak as explicitly and concretely today as it did originally (which requires contemporary relevance). Preachers often "fall off the wagon," as Willimon put it, because our application lacks one or both of these elements."

Daniel Overdorf, Applying the Sermon: How to Balance Biblical Integrity and Cultural Relevance (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2009), 15.