Oct 16, 2010

Preaching Hebrews

"My appeal to the preacher of Hebrews is this: preach this great book holistically, giving rightful place to the large semantic units in the text. Avoid an atomistic approach that tends to allow the chapters and verses as they appear in the English Bible to truncate the author's argument. We who preach should learn from this great expositor how to bring exegesis to bear on a text of Scripture and then apply its meaning to the church. In Hebrews we find all the ingredients necessary for solid expositional preaching: careful but creative exegesis, theological reflection and reasoning, a balance of exhortation and encouragement, pungent illustration of truth, and practical application-all creatively constructed into a masterful sermon that makes use of rhetorical techniques for maximum effect on the hearers."

David L. Allen, Hebrews, New American Commentary, ed. E. Ray Clendenen, vol. 35 (Nashville: B & H, 2010).


Oct 15, 2010

Handwriting and Learning

Even though there are numerous resources for learning biblical Greek and Hebrew, I have found that it is helpful to write out your own vocabulary and paradigm flash cards. Here is an interesting article that seems to lend credence to my method.

The Danger of Almost Saying Something

"Recently, I heard about a preacher who "spoke for an hour and said nothing." We need constantly to pray that we might be delivered from the art of almost saying something. A young boy came up to me in church one Sunday morning and said, "Good morning, Stuart. Have you anything of significance to say to us today?" That's a good question that all preachers should either ask themselves or be asked by someone else. To the extent that their sermon is a proclamation of the Word, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Conversely to the extent that man's best ideas are substituted for God's truth, the answer is an unqualified no."

Stuart Briscoe, “Constructing a Sermonic ‘Taj Mahal,’” in Inside the Sermon, ed. Richard Allen Bodey (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), 46.


Oct 14, 2010

Judges: Literary Coherence

Michael Barber has an interesting post on the literary coherence of Judges here.

Oct 13, 2010

Reading Esther in Light of the Canon

"More than any other text in the Old Testament, Esther asks us to read it in light of the canon Scripture. One could contend that we look for God in Esther only because its place within the Old Testament compels us to read it religiously, seeking theological themes because the nature of the canon leads us to look for what is not otherwise there. But this is a cynical view of the canon, and even in considering the book's main characters it has been impossible to avoid reference to other parts of the Old Testament. Thus, the introductions to both Mordecai and Haman direct us to 1 Samuel, and then to Exodus 17 to understand the conflict between Israel and Amalek. Esther and Haman respectively embody the wise and fool from Israel's wisdom traditions, though without thereby becoming ciphers for these figures. They remain responsible individuals, yet their stories are told so that those who know the wisdom traditions cannot help but note the connections. Once we realize that so much of the story is told in a way that alludes to other passages in the Old Testament we begin to realise that our reading of Esther is meant to be shaped by what we know from these other passages and these allusions are consistently theological in their emphases."

David G. Firth, The Message of Esther, Bible Speaks Today, ed. J. A. Motyer (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2010), 33-4.

Oct 12, 2010

One Problem with Denying Pauline Authorship of the Pastorals

Many New Testament scholars have come to the conclusion that the apostle Paul did not write 1-2 Timothy and Titus (a.k.a. the Pastoral Epistles). Personally, I think that there are a number of problems with this conclusion textually, theologically, and pastorally. But there is also a problem related to the study of the Pastorals, or perhaps better, the lack of study on the Pastorals. As Aldred Genade notes in a recent article, "The link between the authorship debate and the evident neglect of the Pastoral Epistles generally and Titus specifically is beyond dispute" (p. 49). This is even more troubling since New Testament scholarship seems to have plenty to say these days about extra-biblical literature, and yet have neglected the Pastorals (Ibid). An informal search of the program for this years Society of Biblical Literature meeting seems to confirm this. Out of the hundreds (?) of papers scheduled for this years meeting there are two papers dealing with 1 Timothy, two papers on 2 Timothy, and one paper related to Titus.

Aldred Genade, "The Better to Titus in Recent Scholarship: A Critical Overview," Currents in Biblical Research (2010); 48-82. 

Oct 11, 2010

New Hebrews Commentary

The Book of Hebrews is probably my favorite book of the Bible. So I was delighted to finally get my hands on David Allen’s new treatment of this wonderful book. I am just getting into the commentary, but I have seen enough to know that this will likely become the commentary that I will recommend to others. If you want to know a bit more about the author you can see this interview I posted recently.

Here is a paragraph from the author’s preface.

"The book of Hebrews is about Jesus the Son who became our High Priest and then became king when he sat upon the throne of God in fulfillment of Ps 110:1,4. This schema is presented in brilliant summary fashion in the prologue and then is developed in each of the three major divisions of the epistle (the Son in 1:5–4:13; the High Priest in 4:14–10:18; and the King in 10:19–13:21). Christology is intertwined with eschatology and applied pastorally to a congregation facing discouragement and spiritual drift due to persecution and failure to press on spiritually by means of obedience to the Word of God."

Oct 10, 2010

Evaluations of Introductory Greek Grammars

See this post evaluating introductory New Testament Greek grammars.

Humor in Ministry

Here is a serious look at using humor in ministry.