May 8, 2010

How to Fail as a Christian Teacher

Jonathan Moorhead has a
post that every Christian teacher should read.

HT: Todd Bolen

Beyond the New Perspective

While some are just now getting up to speed on the new perspective on Paul, some scholars have already moved beyond it (Should we call this the newer perspective?). Magnus Zetterholm suggests that those who have moved beyond the new perspective of Sanders-Dunn-Wright are characterized by four shifts of focus. The four are:

1. The traditional idea that Paul addressed the whole of humanity has been heavily challenged. Within the radical new perspective, it is quite clear that Paul addresses non-Jews.
2. The assumption that Paul turned to non-Jews has led scholars to the conclusion that his major theological problem concerned non-Jews, not Jews.
3. While traditional scholarship and the new perspective often have argued that Paul created a new group, free from ethnic boundaries, these scholars maintain that the Jesus movement did not represent for Paul a "third race," but remained within Judaism, with new ideas about the appropriate ways to identify and instruct the non-Jewish members.
4. A common trait among the radical new perspective scholars is the ambition not to let contemporary Christian normative theology influence their interpretations.

Magnus Zetterholm, Approaches to Paul: A Student’s Guide to Recent Scholarship (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2009), 161–2.

May 7, 2010

Westminster Sale on Ecclesiastes Books

Westminster Bookstore is offering a 45% off sale (ONE WEEK ONLY, ends May 13) on two new books on Ecclesiastes.

Philip Graham Ryken, Ecclesiastes: Why Everything Matters – $18.69 Sale price

Sidney Greidanus,
Preaching Christ from Ecclesiastes: Foundations for Expository Sermons – $14.30 Sale price

Other titles by Sidney Greidanus are also on sale at 40% off

Moses' Preaching in Deuteronomy

See this
post discussing Moses' preaching in Deuteronomy.

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:

Bogdan Gabriel Bucur
Angelomorphic Pneumatology: Clement of Alexandria and Other Early Christian Witnesses
Reviewed by James F. McGrath

David Flusser
Judaism of the Second Temple Period: Volume 2: The Jewish Sages and Their Literature
Reviewed by Peter J. Tomson

Florentino García Martínez, ed.
Echoes from the Caves: Qumran and the New Testament
Reviewed by Anders Klostergaard Petersen

Mark K. George
Israel's Tabernacle as Social Space
Reviewed by Frank H. Polak

Thomas J. King
The Realignment of the Priestly Literature: The Priestly Narrative in Genesis and Its Relation to Priestly Legislation and the Holiness School
Reviewed by Bill T. Arnold

Nancy C. Lee and Carleen Mandolfo, eds.
Lamentations in Ancient and Contemporary Cultural Contexts
Reviewed by Douglas Watson

Henri de Lubac
Medieval Exegesis, Volume 3: The Four Senses of Scripture
Reviewed by John F. A. Sawyer

Samuel A. Meier
Themes and Transformations in Old Testament Prophecy
Reviewed by David G. Firth

John H. Walton, ed.
Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Old Testament (5 vols.)
Reviewed by Trent C. Butler

May 6, 2010

Some Free Preaching Resources is offering some free preaching resources.

Go to to get:

20 Free Premium PowerPoints

Free Video Illustration

Free Book, D. L. Moody's Anecdotes & Illustrations

Advice on Reading Noteworthy Theological Chapters, Articles and Sermons

Nicholas Batzig has good advice for all of us who have too much to read and too little time. He offers the following ten suggestions (note: my numbering is a bit different than than the author's).

1. Read every chapter, article or sermon recommended by professors, pastors and theologians that you hold in high esteem.
2. Make the level of your reading to vary.
3. Don’t neglect the footnotes or endnotes (they will always uncover useful books, articles or chapters).
4. Ask friends what they are reading and what they have found most helpful.
5. Read those chapters that appear to be most closely related to the subject you are currently studying.
6. Read chapters that are relevant to a particular theological issue with which you are wrestling. 7. Find compilation volumes and familiarize yourself with the contributors and chapter titles.
8. Find and read doctoral dissertations.
9. Guard your heart and mind from intellectual pride.
10. Whatever you read, be fervent in reading your Bible.

Read the entire post here.

Interpreting Gospel Narratives

One weakness that I think many Bible teachers and preachers have is how to properly handle narratives. For this reason I am excited about Timothy Wiarda's new book
Interpreting Gospel Narratives: Scenes, People, and Theology (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010). Although I have just started reading the book I thought I would share a bit about it.

Publisher's Description:

The night of his arrest, Jesus spoke to his close followers about two testimonies that would focus on Him: the work of the Holy Spirit and their own personal accounts. Interpreting Gospel Narratives looks exclusively at the testimony given in the Gospels, exploring several ways to enrich our Gospel exegesis so that we may see Christ as clearly as possible.Timothy Wiarda’s book is primarily how-to, discussing questions of exegetical method that will help interpreters and expositors work with Gospel texts. He also discusses methodological questions relating specifically to the narrative material in the Gospels and focuses in on other fine details—the portrayal of individual characters, descriptive elements, the relation between theology and story, and more.

Here is a link to the
table of contents and chapter one.

Much thanks to Jim Baird at B&H for the review copy.

May 5, 2010

Mounce on Prepositions and 2 Thessalonians 2:13

See Bill Mounce's
post on the syntactical challenges presented by prepositions in general and 2 Thessalonians 2:13 in particular.

Interview With James Crenshaw

John Anderson has an interesting interview with James Crenshaw here. Dr. Crenshaw is best known for his work with Wisdom Literature.

May 4, 2010

How to Write An Awful Worship Song

Stephen Altrogge has posted on "How to Write an Awful Worship Song." The salient points are:

Recycle A Love Song
Use Time Tested Rhymes
Be Vague About Your Theology
Make the Song All About You
Be Incredibly Poetic
Use Well-Worn Musical Progressions
Defend Your Song Like It’s Your Firstborn Child

Read the entire post here.

HT: Tim Challies

Witherington's Indelible Image, Volume 2

I was so excited to receive my copy of the second volume of Ben Witherington III’s Indelible Image: The Theological and Ethical Thought World of the New Testament: The Collective Witness. Readers might recall that I reviewed the first volume here. Here is the publisher’s description of the book and the table of contents.

All too often, argues Ben Witherington, the theology of the New Testament has been divorced from its ethics, leaving as isolated abstractions what are fully integrated, dynamic elements within the New Testament itself. As Witherington stresses, "behavior affects and reinforce
s or undoes belief." Having completed commentaries on all of the New Testament books, a remarkable feat in itself, Witherington now offers the second of a two-volume set on the theological and ethical thought world of the New Testament. The first volume looks at the individual witnesses, while the second examines the collective witness. The New Testament, says Ben Witherington, is "like a smallish choir. All are singing the same cantata, but each has an individual voice and is singing its own parts and notes. If we fail to pay attention to all the voices in the choir, we do not get the entire effect. . . . [If the first volume was] about closely analyzing the sheet music left to us by which each musician's part is delineated, [this second volume attempts] to re-create what it might have sounded like had they ever gotten together and performed their scores to produce a single masterful cantata." What the New Testament authors have in mind, Witherington contends, is that all believers should be conformed in thought, word and deed to the image of Jesus Christ--the indelible image.

Table of Contents:

REWIND: A Brief Synopsis of Volume One

PROLEGOMENA: Is New Testament Theology or Ethics Possible

1 Preliminary Considerations: From Symbolic Universe to Story to Theologizing

2 What is the Symbolic Universe of Jesus and the New Testament Writers?

3 The Narrative Thought World of Jesus and the New Testament Writers

4 New Testament Theology: A Census of the Christological Consensus

5 A Census of the Consensus: The God of the Old Testament as the Father of Jesus and his Followers

6 A Census of the Consensus: The Holy Spirit: God's Mighty Presence in Person

7 A Census of the Consensus: Salvation Now and in the End

8 A Census of the Consensus: New Testament Ethics--Preliminary Considerations

9 A Census of the Consensus: The Ethic of Jesus and its Influence on New Testament Writers

10 Ethics for Jewish Christians (Matthew, John, James, Jude, Hebrews, 1-3 John, 1 Peter, Revelation

11 Ethics for Gentile Christians (Paul's Letters)

12 Ethics for Gentile Christians (Mark, Luke, and 2 Peter)

13 The Matrix of Meaning--the Thought Worlds of the Old Testament and New Testament and the Way Forward



Thanks to Adrianna Wright and InterVarsity Press for the review copy.

May 3, 2010

Free Audio Download: The Hole in Our Gospel is offering a free audio download of Richard Stearns'
The Hole in Our Gospel. Go here and use the coupon code MAY2010. I don't really know anything about the book, but here is a description.

This is a story of how a corporate CEO faced his own struggle to obey God whatever the cost, and his passionate call for Christians to change the world by actively living out their faith. Using his own journey as an example, Stearns explores the hole that exists in our understanding of the Gospel.

May 2, 2010

J. Dwight Pentecost on the Book of Acts

For those who may not know him, Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Bible Exposition and Adjunct Professor in Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary. Dr. Pentecost continues to teach and mentor students at ninety-four years young! Recently Dr. P (as he is affectionately known) sat down with me for an interview co
ncerning the recent publication of his twentieth book: New Wine: A Study of Transition in the Book of Acts (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2010). Here is a transcript of that interview.

How did the book New Wine come about?

Dr. Pentecost: For some years I taught two complementary courses: Dispensational Problems in Matthew and Transitional Problems in Acts. I believe that Matthew and Acts are the two most important books supporting Dispensationalism. But since I covered Matthew in the Life of Christ course, the Dispensational Problems in Matthew course was eventually dropped as an elective. But the Transitional Problems in Acts course was retained and I’ve taught that for some years now. New Wine is a byproduct of that course.

Why did you decide to write this book after all these years?

Dr. Pentecost: I have decided to write New Wine now for two reasons. First, my students who took the Transitional Problems in Acts course kept telling me that the course material ought to be in print. Second, I wrote New Wine because I could not find the same approach to Acts in books that were already out there. Many books on Acts deal with the book historically rather than theologically.

Can you explain what your approach is?

Dr. Pentecost: My reading of the book of Acts is predicated on the understanding that the offer of the kingdom to Israel has been set aside, that there is a judgment on that generation, and an institution of a new form of theocracy in the present age. As a result you find at least six different parties all promoting their own theology, their own practices, with the result that the church in Jerusalem was basically in chaos. The early church is forced to appeal to the apostles to settle important issues. If we approach Acts this way, we can see that the resolution of the problems that arose ultimately become the basis for a great deal of Paul’s ecclesiology, and I think that was really the reason that I decided to try to make a few notes.

What is the main thesis of the book?

Dr. Pentecost: The main thesis is that with the setting aside of Israel and the offer of the kingdom, the postponing of the Davidic form of the kingdom, we’re not building on – or not trying to change Judaism or correct Pharisaism. Christ is introducing something that’s new. That’s why he uses the illustration of not putting new wine into old wine skins but rather putting new wine into new wine skins (Matt 9:17). What is happening through the Book of Acts is a continuation of that newness.

Who do you think should read this book?

Dr. Pentecost: Anyone who is interested in seeing a Dispensational presentation of the theological development in the Book of Acts. This book seeks to demonstrate how Judaism of the first century was locked into its traditions and that in the Church something new is being introduced. I believe that this is the heart of Dispensationalism.

You mentioned that this book originated in the seminary classroom. Do you think that this book is best suited for seminary students? What about pastors or laypersons?

Dr. Pentecost: Any of those. I believe that this book could be helpful to anyone who is interested in the issues and doctrines that are being debated and settled by the apostles in the New Age of the Church.

What do you hope to accomplish through this book?

Dr. Pentecost: To be able to throw my typewriter away. Seriously, I hope to be able to present an approach to the Book of Acts that is different from most to a new generation of Bible students. Students who have taken my Acts course have often remarked that my class has taught them a new way of reading Acts. In presenting this approach, I also hope to encourage further study of Dispensational theology.