Nov 20, 2010

An Outline of Acts 15:1–16:5

F. Scott Spencer has suggested an alliterative problem to solution outline for Acts 15:1–16:5: (1) Dissension (Acts 15:1–5); (2) Discussion (Acts 15:6–18); (3) Decision (Acts 15:19–29); (4) Dissemination (Acts 15:30–16:5). Spencer also sees an A-B-A chiasm in each section.

F. Scott Spencer, Journeying through Acts (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2004), 163–64.


Nov 19, 2010

Dr. Flunk

"When a preacher is in a slump, or when preaching has no power, this is the time one becomes acquainted with Dr. Flunk. Dr. Flunk, in my cultural tradition, is one with whom all preachers are intimately acquainted. Dr. Flunk visits all of us, usually on Sunday mornings, but sometimes he comes even when we are studying or writing our sermons. His presence can be recognized when everything we say falls on deaf ears, no one says 'amen,' no one even nods silent approval, and everyone from the choir loft to the door becomes comatose. Dr. Flunk disregards our degrees and ignores every one of our academic achievements. He sees to it that the sermon over which we have worked long and hard comes out sounding like theological drivel and biblical nonsense. There is no way to avoid him. He comes when he will. He is designed to keep the preacher humble, to help the preacher keep his preaching in perspective, and above all, to help the preacher refrain from taking himself too seriously. He is a master at his work. Yet we are called to preach in spite of the presence of Dr. Flunk."

H. Beecher Hicks, "Bones, Sinews, Flesh and Blood Coming to Life," in Inside the Sermon, ed. Richard Allen Bodey (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), 114. 

Nov 18, 2010

The Minor Prophets and the Epistle of James

"The teaching of James is strongly influenced by the message of the twelve, especially by Hosea, Amos and Malachi. The first book of the twelve, Hosea challenges God’s people to return to the covenant faithfulness by asking, ‘who is wise and will understand these things, or prudent and will comprehend them? For the ways of the Lord are upright, and the just will walk in them, but the impious will be weak in them’ (Hos.14.10 NETS; ET 14.9). Jas 3.13 asks the same question, ‘who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born wisdom.’ This may suggest that the well-recognized wisdom motif in James is mediated more through the prophetic message of the Greek Old Testament than through the wisdom literature of Second Temple Judaism. God’s wisdom (Jas 3.13) makes peacemakers (Jas 3.17) in a community where fighting and quarrelling (Jas 4.1) come from those who want more than they have (Jas 4.2) and are drawn to spiritual adultery by becoming friends with the world to get it (Jas 4.4). Some will even forget God in their quest for the wealth that comes from being friends with the world (Jas 4.13–17: cf. Hos. 13.6) and be driven even to the dishonest gain of exploiting and oppressing others, bringing themselves to a miserable end under God's judgement (Jas 5.1–6)."

Karen H. Jobes, "The Minor Prophets in James, 1 & 2 Peter and Jude," in The Minor Prophets in the New Testament, ed. Maarten J. J. Menken and Steve Moyise (New York: T & T Clark, 2009), 141-42,

Nov 17, 2010


"How is the meaning of a word to be described? If one is waiting a lexicon, a tool whose basic function is to indicate meanings of words, how is it done? Today when we have learnt how difficult it is to say even what "meaning" is, we may be unsure. But for lexicographers of the past, from antiquity onwards, an answer was ready to hand: use another word, a word equivalent in meaning . . . 

"This is definition by gloss. That is, the offering of another word that is more or less equivalent in meaning in the same language, or, in a bilingual context, a word felt to be equivalent in another language. Such a method not only indicates meaning, but also, in the case of bilingual lexicography, offers a translation. The gloss is the way one can translate the word into one's own language; it is a translation equivalent."

John A. L. Lee, A History of New Testament Lexicography, Studies in Biblical Greek 8, ed. D. A. Carson (New York: Peter Lang, 2003), 15-6.

Nov 16, 2010

Ciampa And Rosner's New 1 Corinthians Commentary on Sale (50% off)

Roy E. Ciampa and Brian Rosners' new 1 Corinthians commentary in the Pillar series is now on sale at Westminster Bookstore for 50% off or $32.50. The sale is only good until 11/22. If you spend another $2.50 you will qualify for $1 shipping.

The Genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1–9

“Understandably, modern readers find ancient genealogies—especially one of this length and detail—difficult to appreciate and often skip over them. After all, we do not have any personal family stake in them, so that the names, many of which seem unpronounceable, are meaningless. But a genealogy can be a powerful literary and theological tool, both in the ‘big picture’ that it provides about the group of people who, as a whole, are its subject, and in the specific details.”

Steven L. McKenzie, 1–2 Chronicles, Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries (Nashville: Abingdon, 2004), 59. 

For other posts on genealogies see here.

Nov 15, 2010

"Keeping" in Jude

Careful students of the Epistle of Jude have noted the "keeping" motif in the epistle. Deek Dubberly has a nice discussion of this motif here.

In Conclusion

“Good conclusions require careful craftsmanship. G. Campbell Morgan said, ‘Every conclusion must conclude, include, and preclude.’ To conclude the conclusion must truly end the message. To do this well the conclusion must include what had been previously said and preclude the possibility that the implications and the consequences of the message will escape the listeners.”

Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), 245.

Nov 14, 2010

Review of Why Four Gospels?

Black, David Allen. Why Four Gospels? The Historical Origins of the Gospels. 2nd ed. Gonzalez, FL: Energion, 2010. Pp. 120. $11.99 paper.

Whenever one is reviewing a revised edition, it can be helpful to begin with noting the nature and extent of the revision. According to the author, this edition has an expanded postscript (pp. 75–78) and updated bibliography and some overall rewriting and/or editing. A cursory comparison between the first and second editions does suggest a significant expansion of several pages to the postscript and an expanded bibliography which includes work dated even into 2010. I did not notice any significant changes however to the main body of the work, but my examination of this was fairly cursory. Both editions have about the same number of pages (118 vs. 120 pp.) but this might be a bit misleading since the second edition has a slightly larger format size (8.3 x 5.4 vs. 8.9 x 5.8 inches).
Now concerning the contents of the book itself, I would first begin by noting that I think a more apt title would have been How Four Gospels?, since much of the book explains how the four canonical Gospels came to be. Nonetheless, Black has written a readable and thoughtful presentation of his view of the origins of the Gospels (the Fourfold-Gospel Hypothesis). This view is predicated on Matthean (contra the more popular Markan) priority, a healthy appreciation for the statements on Gospel origins for the Church Fathers, and a brief, but coherent, argument based on the contents of the Gospels themselves and the growth and development of the early church.

Here are a few things that I liked about the book. First and foremost, this book is easy to read. It is simple and yet not simplistic. In my opinion, too many books in biblical studies are unnecessarily obtuse. The bibliography is solid and I always appreciate the inclusion of a subject index.
Let me also suggest two minor critiques. I would have liked to see Black address what he thinks are the weakest points in his view. I would also like to see a Scripture index to go along with the subject index.

It remains to be seen whether Black’s presentation of the Fourfold-Gospel Hypothesis is successful in convincing the vast majority of New Testament interpreters or even in generating more discussion about the disputed issues. That being said, those interested in the origins of the Gospels should take careful look at the case being presented in this book.