Dec 31, 2011

Some Benefits of Reading the Psalms

See William Varner's post here.

Giving the Bible the Benefit of the Doubt

“Another aspect of Christian character that is needed to be a good and godly Bible teacher and scholar is a willingness to give the text the benefit of the doubt before leaping to the conclusion that the text is: (1) riddled with contradictions, (2) is unclear, or (3) is hopelessly antiquarian and thus obsolete and irrelevant. One of things that has often surprised me about some Bible scholars is that they will not give the Bible the same benefit of the doubt they will give their colleagues' theories, even if a theory is wild and wooly. This I find exceedingly odd. Why should a modern writer be given so much more benefit of the doubt than an ancient one? I see no rational reason for this, but it reflects a phenomenon I have come to call justification by doubt, as if doubting something proves one is a critical thinker and therefore a good scholar of the Bible.”

Ben Witherington III, Is There a Doctor in the House? An Insider's Story and Advice on Becoming a Biblical Scholar (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 129. 

Dec 30, 2011

The Authenticity of 2 Peter

Rob Bradshaw at has just posted a PDF of P. H. R. van Houwelingen's 2010 article in the European Journal of Theology entitled "The Authenticity of 2 Peter: Problems and Possible Solutions" here. I remember looking at this article a while back and finding it helpful.

Concerning the Song of S0ngs

"It is therefore not surprising that the Song is one of the three most commented-upon books in the Bible. In the first place, its presence there urgently calls for explanation. Can a canonical book of Scripture really be as secular as this poetry seems to be? In a second place, if it has some hidden religious or theological meaning, how do we discover it? To those who think they know the answer to the last question, the Song then offers unique opportunity for exegetical virtuosity—not to say uncontrolled fantasy.”

Robert W. Jenson, Song of Songs, Interpretation (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2005), 2.


Dec 29, 2011

Acts as Narrative

How does Acts work as a narrative? Simply stated, the plot of Acts unfolds in support of Luke’s theological aim. On the one hand, he designs his story according to a specific geographical and chronological framework. The action begins in Jerusalem before moving beyond the holy city into the neighboring provinces of Samaria and Judea before moving into the nations and peoples beyond Palestine. Many have found this geographical outline indexed by Jesus’ programmatic prophecy in Acts 1:8. In addition, Acts traces the key events with brief glimpses of the most important leaders of earliest Christianity to establish a general chronology of the church’s origins. On the other hand, the historical conception provides the framework for two grand thematic movements (‘conversion’ and ‘consecration’), each scripted by extended citations of Scripture (see 2:17-21; 15:16-18) that narrate how the redemptive purposes of God are realized through the church’s mission.”

Robert W. Wall, “Acts,” in The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes, vol. 10, ed. Leander E. Keck (Nashville: Abingdon, 2002), 13–14.


Dec 28, 2011

New Job Commentary

My friend Larry Waters has co-written a commentary on Job with Mona Bias in the Asia Bible Commentary Series. Larry knows more about the Book of Job than most anyone I know. This expository commentary provides solid explanations of the book and thoughtful applications particularly geared towards an Asian context. The book is a bit difficult to find, but you can see it here and order it by following these instructions.

Step One 

Send us an e-mail ( ) indicating your order and delivery address.
Company / Receiver Name:
Town / Area Code:
State / Country:
Contact Name:
Phone / Fax No.:

Step Two

Confirm your order.

Step Three 

Payments can be made in two ways:
Telegraphic Transfer
Account Name Asia Theological Association Manila, Inc.
Account Number 441-2-441-00323-9
Bank Metrobank-Karuhatan, Valenzuela Branch
Bank Address 235-I McArthur Highway, Karuhatan Valenzuela, Metro Manila, Philippines

Check/International Bank Draft
Payable to Asia Theological Association Manila, Inc.
Send to  Dr. Theresa Lua c/o Asia Graduate School of Theology
               54 Scout Madriñan, Quezon City 1103, Philippines


Dec 27, 2011

The Exegetical Habit

"Responsible biblical preaching does not come easily. It requires time, study, and hard work. The time required for the study of Scripture is not spent apart from ministry; it is not even in preparation for ministry. It is ministry, and as such it should be cherished and protected. There are ways to use study time wisely and efficiently. There are even shortcuts we can take in the process of biblical interpretation, but there are no short circuits." 

Thomas G. Long, The Witness of Preaching, 2nd ed. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2005), 67.

Dec 26, 2011

Black's Top Ten for Studying Greek

David Alan Black lists his top ten recommended books for studying New Testament Greek here.

Working While Working on a Ph.D.

It is generally inadvisable to pursue a Ph.D. while working a full-time job. But if you must, Mark Warnock has some good advice here.

Dec 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

Galatians 4:4–5


Dec 24, 2011

The Pastoral Epistles as Christmas Epistles

See this article by Jeff McSwain. One of my favorite lines in the article is, ". . . the Pastorals are less concerned with the deity of Christ than with the humanity of God." 

Dec 23, 2011

Interview with Craig Keener

The blog has a four part interview with Craig Keener concerning his Miracles book here.

Pastoral Salary Cap?

Joe Wooddell has an interesting post on pastoral salaries here. The problem is that  the Bible does not appear to address the issue directly. That being said, I think that it is generally unwise and unhealthy for a pastors to make significantly more than the average member of their church. But I acknowledge that there could be exceptions to this and a variety of factors may need to be taken into consideration.

Dec 22, 2011

Latest Issue of the Bulletin for Biblical Research: Vol. 21 No. 4

Main articles:

Old Greek Daniel 7:13-14 and Matthew's Son of Man
H. Daniel Zacharias

Let the Reader Understand: Mark's Use of Jeremiah 7 in Mark 13:14
Robert S. Snow

Consumed by Zeal: John's Use of Psalm 69:9 and the Action in the Temple
Steven M. Bryan

Johannine Fulfillment of Scripture: Continuity and Escalation
Brian J. Tabb

The Portrayal of Peter and Atonement Theology in the Gospel of John
Timothy Wiarda 


The Virgin Birth, Virgin Conception, and Immaculate Conception

The Virgin Birth, Virgin Conception, and Immaculate Conception are all designations that relate directly, or indirectly, to the birth of Christ. People typically use the designation Virgin Birth and Virgin Conception to mean the same thing. Namely, that Jesus was conceived supernaturally by the Holy Spirit while Mary remained a virgin. I prefer to use the designation Virgin Conception since strictly speaking, we are referring to the circumstances of the conception rather than the birth per se. That is, while Jesus was conceived supernaturally like no other child; he was born naturally like every other child. (I am not distinguishing here between what is called natural and Caesarean childbirth.) The Immaculate Conception on, on the other hand, is a Roman Catholic dogma that holds that Mary was conceived and preserved from the stain of original sin. While I believe that the Virgin Birth/Virgin Conception has biblical warrant, I do not believe that the Immaculate Conception has any basis in Scripture. Concerning the Immaculate Conception, see this post by Bill Combs.

Dec 21, 2011

A Caution Concerning Sermon Preparation

"Tragically many seminary-trained preachers view exegesis as an academically inclined exercise intended to display scholarship and research. Instead of spending time alone listening to Scripture, they regurgitate other scholarly opinions. Open Scripture is bypassed in favor of commentary helps. Of course, commentaries, at best, are written by gifted people intent on helping the readers discover the riches of God's Word. In no way do I wish to disparage commentators' ministry in God's service. Yet too many preachers seem frightened to practice a belief in a speaking God who meets them in Scripture. They dive too quickly into historical-grammatical research and see 'waiting on God' as suspiciously pietistic and vulnerable to eisegesis. Why delay the hard work of discovering a text's meaning when it is presumed to be available only through others' sound scholarship?"

Michael J. Quicke, 360 Degree Preaching: Hearing, Speaking, and Living the Word (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), 141-42.

Dec 20, 2011

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Martyn Lloyd-Jones was born on this day in 1899. Those interested in the work of Martyn Lloyd-Jones might want to check out this site.

Dec 19, 2011

Cuneiform Royal Inscriptions and Related Texts in the Schoyen Collection

See this article on the recently published book Cuneiform Royal Inscriptions and Related Texts in the Schoyen Collection. The article contains a picture of a portion of a stele with a depiction of Nebuchanezzar II and the following translation.

"I mobilized (all) countries everywhere, (each and) every ruler (who) had been raised to prominence over all the people of the world (as one) loved by Marduk..."

"I built their structures with bitumen and (baked brick throughout). I completed them, making (them gleam) bright as the (sun)..." (Translations by Professor Andrew George)

You can access the first 32 pages of the book here.

Preachers as Gifted People

"Preachers are gifted people, but the gifts needed for good and faithful preaching are different than those of the electrifying speaker or the charismatic entertainer. Faithful preaching requires such gifts as sensitivity to human need, a discerning eye for the connections between faith and life, an ear attuned to hearing the voice of Scripture, compassion, a growing personal faith, and the courage to tell the truth. These are gifts of the Spirit, and although gift of the Spirit cannot be taught in the classroom, they can be named, developed, encouraged, shaped, and given direction and focus."

Thomas G. Long, The Witness of Preaching, 2nd ed. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2005), 14.

Dec 18, 2011

The Priority of the Ascension

I have long felt that the ascension of Christ is one of the more neglected facets of Christ's life and work. So I really enjoyed this post by Paxson Jeancake.

Dec 17, 2011

Dec 16, 2011

Journal for the Study of the New Testament 34:2

The latest issue of the Journal for the Study of the New Testament is out. Here is a list of the articles and links to abstracts.

Zeal for Paul but Not According to Knowledge: Douglas Campbell’s War on ‘Justification Theory’
R. Barry Matlock

Review Article: The Deliverance of God
Grant Macaskill

An Attempt to be Understood: A Response to the Concerns of Matlock and Macaskill with The Deliverance of God
Douglas A. Campbell
pp. 162–208

Dec 15, 2011

Tips for Using Ancient Near Eastern Material

Charles Halton has some excellent advice here for properly using ancient near Eastern material, especially in academic studies.

Almsgiving as the Commandment in 1 Timothy 6:14

Nathan Eubank makes an interesting case for understanding the commandment in 1 Timothy 6:14 as related to almsgiving. You can read his argument here.

The Firstborn as a Messianic Motif

See William Varner's post on Mary's Firstborn.

Preaching Proverbs

Peter Mead has three helpful posts on preaching from Proverbs, here, here, and here. I found the third post to be particularly helpful.

Dec 14, 2011

John Walvoord Online

Some readers might not be aware of the fact that there is a website devoted to John Walvoord, former professor, president (1952-1986), and chancellor at Dallas Theological Seminary. The website contains links to Dr. Walvoord's articles, audio, and books. Some complete commentaries and other books can be viewed in their entirety online. Here are links to two commentaries available for online viewing.

Dec 13, 2011

Geza Vermes on Jewish Christians

Geza Vermes writes about Jews, Christians Judaeo-Christians here.

Dec 12, 2011

Forthcoming Biography of F. F. Bruce

Readers interested in a forthcoming biography of F. F. Bruce might also be interested in this brief interview of the book's author Tim Grass.

Review of What the Bible Means to Me

I begin by confessing that I almost opted not to participate in this blog tour of What the Bible Means to Me. The title suggested to me that the book might be advocating a hermeneutic that I am uncomfortable with, namely a reader-response kind of approach. But there is great clarification in the subtitle: Testimonies of How God’s Word Impacts Lives. Or in Hirschian terms, this book is really less about meaning and more about significance

That being said, I was glad that that I did not follow my initial negative reflex. What the Bible Means to Me contains forty-four testimonies about the personal, powerful, and practical ways that the Bible has impacted lives of people all across the socio-economic spectrum. Contributors include a politician and preachers, authors and artists, a bus driver and barista, missionaries and a midwife, a translator and television producer, a chairman of the board and a chaplain, a principle and a professor, a nurse, a student, and others. Some of the names I recognized (e.g. J. I. Packer) but most I did not. Nonetheless, each person has their own story, and yet each story is connected to the others by a shared love and appreciation for the Scriptures. 

As might be expected in a diverse work like this, some of the stories resonated with me more than others. But the cumulative effect was uplifting. As one who has committed his life to the proclamation of the Scriptures, my heart was encouraged by the fact that the Bible appears to play such a profound role in the lives of so great a cloud of witnesses.

Thanks to Christian Focus Publications for the review copy and inviting me to participate in this blog tour.

Dec 11, 2011

God in Esther

"There is one other character in the book of Esther who keeps an even lower profile than the eunuchs, but who is even more important for the happy resolution of both Esther’s story and our own. That character is God."

. . . .

"All of this is to say that God is very much a character in this book, though one who evidently prefers to remain anonymous. This should be of considerable comfort to those of us who are struggling to remain faithful in the midst of an unfaithful culture. Like the Jews, the women, and the eunuchs in the book of Esther, we must make difficult decisions about whether to adopt, reject, or adapt to our situation. Yet God is with us in the midst of that struggle. We may wish at times that God’s presence and power were a little more obvious. But as the incarnation itself illustrates, even God sometimes chooses to steer from the front.”

Carol Bechtel, Esther, Interpretation (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002), 13–14.


Dec 9, 2011

Commentary Closeout Sale

Christian Book Distributors is having a commentary closeout sale here. Discounts are 40% or higher.

Dec 8, 2011

Exodus as History?

Many people that I talk to are surprised to learn that a number of Jews are skeptical about the historicity of the Exodus. Unfortunately this is a sad fact. But see this editorial by Barnett Kamen. Kamen, teaches at Barrack Hebrew Academy, summarizes the issue quite well in stating: 

"When I teach biblical history to my students, I tell them that there are two issues that must be examined. First, did the event happen and were the characters real? And second, if they are, is the account of them historically accurate? Saying yes to both gives us an historical account. Saying yes to the first and no to the second gives us historical fiction, and saying no to the first gives us fiction. Minimalists, biblical scholars who deny the historicity of the biblical account, say we are dealing with fiction." 

You can read the rest of the editorial here.

Dec 7, 2011

Hamilton on the Book of Exodus

In his brand new commentary, Victor Hamilton makes the following astute observation.

“Why the Lord brings his people out of Egypt is as important, if not more important, than how he delivers Israel from Egypt. If the book of Exodus is about the exodus event, then the book should be concluded by the end of chap. 14, or by 15:21 if one wants to include Miriam's and Moses’s lyrical response. But what is one to do with 15:22–40:38, all of which are postexodus events in the Exodus book?”

Victor P. Hamilton, Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011), xxi. 


Dec 6, 2011


The Credo magazine/blog has a link to Brent Parker's recent Evangelical Theological Society paper on typology. I have not had the opportunity to go through all thirty-three pages of the paper, but I have enjoyed what I have read so far. You can access the Credo post and paper here.

Dec 5, 2011

Star Trek, Narratives, and Application

Trekkies out there might really appreciate this editorial in the Huffington Post: “Seven Lessons You Can Learn from Star Trek” by David Borgenicht. This post is interesting from a biblical studies and interpretation standpoint because it illustrates how we intuitively draw applications from narratives, even fictional ones. Having said that, properly applying narratives can be a bit tricky, but the issue is not whether we do it, but whether we do it well.

Biblical Preaching on Facebook

Readers of this blog know that I often link to Peter Mead's posts on preaching. Peter has now started a Facebook page for Biblical Preaching that some of you might be interested in. If so, go here.

Dec 4, 2011

The Better Way to Read the Bible

“There are differences of opinion among scholars about whether being aloof and detached is a better way to read ancient texts without bias, or whether being profoundly interested and passionate about getting at the truth about a text better propels one toward the goal of understanding the Bible. In my view, as long as you can take into account your own predilections, the latter orientation is more likely to produce an accurate result, not least because the person actually cares about the outcome and is willing to go the extra mile to get to the bottom of things. I like the dictum of Johannes Bengel that John Wesley was prone to cite: ‘Apply the whole of yourself to the text; apply the whole of the text to yourself.’ This latter phrase brings us to my next crucial point.”

Ben Witherington III, Is There a Doctor in the House? An Insider's Story and Advice on Becoming a Biblical Scholar (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 128. 

How to Half Preach the Text

Peter Mead has four excellent posts entitled "10 Ways to Half Preach the Text" here, here, here and here.Make sure to read Peter's entire posts, but here are the ten.

1. Say just enough about the text to introduce what you want to say.
2. Preach from the details, but don’t figure out how they work together to give the main idea.
3. Preach a generic message or idea from what could be any text.
4. Use the content, but ignore the context.
5. Use the context, but ignore the content.
6. Impose a sermon structure instead of letting the text’s structure influence your message.
7. Preach a preferred cross-reference.
8. Preach a plethora of cross-references.
9. Explain it, but don’t apply it.
10. Commentary it, but don’t proclaim it.


Dec 3, 2011

The Challenge of Interpreting Ecclesiastes

I haven't had the chance to dip to deeply into Peter Enns' new commentary on Ecclesaistes, but he does sum up nicely some of the interpretive challenges that I have sensed in studying this book. Enns writes,

"There is . . . a vicious circle in interpreting Ecclesiastes. How one understands the overarching message of Ecclesiastes as a whole will affect how one handles the details of the book itself, yet the book's overall message cannot be determined apart from the book's details. Of course, on one level, this circle is operative with any biblical book, but the problems are augmented in the case of Ecclesiastes: it is not only the introductory questions that prove elusive, but the very details of the book, the data by which a plausible model of the whole must be constructed, likewise suffer from difficulties and ambiguities, and thus challenge any attempt to harness its overall message. It is a common experience when reading Ecclesiastes that, just when it seems the book's train of thought has been apprehended and some firm conclusion is forthcoming, a verse or two later the author says something that turns it all on its head. One begins to suspect that this is precisely what he has in mind . . . ."

Peter Enns, Ecclesiastes, Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011), 1. 

Dec 2, 2011

Two Free Audio Downloads for December is offering two free audio books in December  through December 31.

The first free audio book is From Pearl Harbor to Calvary by Mitsuo Fuchida. According to the website,
"Mitsuo Fuchida was a Captain in the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service who is perhaps best known for leading the first air wave attacks on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Fuchida was responsible for the coordination of the entire aerial attack working under the overall fleet commander Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo.

"After World War II ended, Fuchida became an evangelist, Christian preacher and frequently traveled to the United States to minister to the Japanese expatriate community. He became a United States citizen in 1966. His autobiography was originally released in 1953, and this edition will be published to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 2011."

The second free audio book really needs no introduction. It is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol

Dec 1, 2011

The Reality Check of the Word

"In our world of virtual reality it is the Word of the Lord that brings realism. This is the 'reality check' that dispels illusions with the sunlight of truth. In our lives and in our ministries we must hear him, Jesus Christ, the living Word."

Edmund P. Clowney, Preaching Christ in All of Scripture (Wheaton: Crossway, 2003), 175.

Nov 30, 2011

On Translating from Some Translators

Andy Naselli has some links here to a a symposium held at Liberty University involving Doug Moo, Wayne Grudem, and Ray Clendenen discussing the NIV, ESV, and the HCSB respectively.

A Meal Setting for James 2:1-9?

Daniel Streett has an interesting take on James 2:1-9 which places the passage in the context of an early Christian meal. You can read more about his argument on his blog here. I have to think a bit more about it, but it does seem to be a plausible explanation.

Nov 29, 2011

Some Explanations for Daniel's Decision to Avoid Defilement (Daniel 1)

Anne Gardner has an interesting article in the Australian Biblical Review in which she surveys various explanations and then offers her own take on the matter. Gardner lists the following explanations which I have summarized and modified somewhat. 

  • The king’s food would have been defiling because foreigners made no distinction between clean and unclean animals.
  • The king’s food had been offered to idols.
  • Daniel and his friends did not want to put themselves under obligation to Nebuchadnezzar.
  • Daniel and his friends desired to live austerely.
  • Daniel and his friends had an aversion to foreign food.
  • Daniel and his friends were fasting as a sign of mourning.
  • Daniel and his friends did not want to be defiled generally.
  • Daniel's refusal of the king's food is a refusal of part of the indoctrination process which occurred when the youths entered the king's court.
  • Daniel and his friends wanted to eat “seeds” because dry seeds were considered “clean” (Lev 11:37–38)
I have summarized Gardner's solution as follows.

Daniel and his friends reject the king’s portion of prey because it is morally tainted and and wish to live according to God’s first mandate concerning food (Gen 1:29–30). It is also possible that Daniel and his friends had taken a Nazirite vow and the consumption of “seeds” and “water” may also mirror Ezekiel’s prophetic sign in Ezekiel 4:1–15. 

See Anne E.Gardner, "The Eating of Seeds and Drinking Water by Daniel and Friends: An Intimation of Holiness," Australian Biblical Review 59 (2011): 53-63.

Nov 28, 2011

The Need for Patience in Biblical Study

"There is a different side to character that a Bible scholar needs to develop-virtues. For one thing a Bible teacher or scholar needs lots and lots of patience. Despite the fact that our culture suggests we can have everything quickly, getting at the meaning of ancient texts in their original contexts is, or can be, a slow process. Sometimes the outcomes of a detailed and intense study of the Bible in its culture can be disappointing. It's precisely when the text does not cough up the results you were expecting or wanting that you find out what sort of Bible teacher or scholar you actually are."

Ben Witherington III, Is There a Doctor in the House? An Insider's Story and Advice on Becoming a Biblical Scholar (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 127. 

Nov 27, 2011

Ulrich Luz's Matthew 21–28 Commentary

This is the third and final volume of Luz’s three volume Matthew commentary. This three volume series is based on Luz’s original German four-volume commentary. It is technical in content and critical in methodology. For information on the first volume, Matthew 1–7, see here and for information on the second volume, Matthew 820 see here. For more information on the Hermeneia series see here.

Publisher's Description:

In this third volume, Luz brings his superlative analysis of Matthew's Gospel to a close. He is renowned for both his discerning exegetical insights as well as his tracing of the effects the text has had throughout history — in theological argument, art, and literature. This final section provides in-depth treatment of Jesus' final days — his entry into Jerusalem, the Passion Narrative, and post-resurrection appearances..

Abbreviated Table of Contents:

Foreword to Hermeneia
Editor's Note
Translator's Preface
Reference Codes


V Jesus in Jerusalem (21:1–25:46)

A Jesus’ Reckoning with His Opponents (21:1–24:2)
B The Judgment Discourse (24:3–25:46)

VI Passion and Easter (26:1–28:20)

A Introduction
B Commentary

1. Passages
2. Greek Words
3. Subjects
4. Medieval Commentators and Modern Authors

Nov 26, 2011

The Monoethnic Mosaic Covenant

Steven Coxhead has an interesting post on the monoethnic nature of the Mosaic Covenant.

Latest Issue of Review of Biblical Literature

The latest issue of Review of Biblical Literature is out. Reviews can be accessed by clicking the links below.

Ovidiu Creanga, ed.
Men and Masculinity in the Hebrew Bible and Beyond
Reviewed by Stuart Macwilliam

Katharine J. Dell, Graham Davies, and Yee Von Koh, eds.
Genesis, Isaiah and Psalms: A Festschrift to Honour Professor John Emerton for His Eightieth Birthday
Reviewed by Jeffery M. Leonard

Helen Leneman
Love, Lust, and Lunacy: The Stories of Saul and David in Music
Reviewed by Christina Landman

Amy-Jill Levine, ed.
A Feminist Companion to the Apocalypse of John
Reviewed by Renate Viveen Hood

Joseph F. Mali
The Christian Gospel and Its Jewish Roots: A Redaction-Critical Study of Mark 2:21-22 in Context
Reviewed by Tom Shepherd

Hugh R. Page Jr., ed.
The Africana Bible: Reading Israel's Scriptures from Africa and the African Diaspora
Reviewed by Gerald O. West

Emanuel Pfoh
The Emergence of Israel in Ancient Palestine: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives
Reviewed by Jeremy Hutton

Pekka M. A. Pitkänen
Reviewed by Thomas B. Dozeman

Alf H. Walle
Pagans and Practitioners: Expanding Biblical Scholarship
Reviewed by Daniel K. Darko

John Walliss and Lee Quinby, eds.
Reel Revelations: Apocalypse and Film
Reviewed by T. Michael W. Halcomb 

Nov 24, 2011

Ten Tips for Reading Scripture in Public

I have been trying to improve my public reading of Scripture and I found these ten tips helpful.

1. Acknowledge that the public reading of the Scriptures is important.
2. See for yourself how interpretation and verbal nuances makes a difference.
3. Make sure you understand the meaning of the passage.
4. Become comfortable with expressing a wide range of emotions.
5. Read some children's book aloud.
6. Use the very effective communication device called the pause.
7. Look up from your reading only to reinforce the message.
8. Read; do not act.
9. Prepare ahead of time by reading aloud.
10. Be open to critique.

Daniel L. Akin, Bill Curtis, and Stephen Rummage, Engaging Exposition (Nashville: B & H Academic, 2011), 156-57.

Nov 23, 2011

Clowney on Study and Sermon Preparation

Edmund Clowney in discussing the sermon preparation process, reminds us that preparation in God's Word is not merely an academic exercise but rather a spiritual one.

"Do you need reminding to be aware of the presence of the Lord as you study His Word? Of course, reading his Word is also the prime way of seeking his presence. How do we ever manage to forget that it is the Lord who addresses us?"

Edmund P. Clowney, Preaching Christ in All of Scripture (Wheaton: Crossway, 2003), 46.

Nov 22, 2011

The Task of Old Testament Theology

“This is a theology of the Old Testament. The Theology of the Old Testament will never be written. Each generation sees new vistas within the Scriptures of which earlier generations were unaware. Thus the Theology of the Old Testament has to be represented to each generation in the language and thought of that new generation. He who seeks to represent it thus must also take into account the ever-growing heritage both of the world of science and of the world of biblical studies.”

George A. F. Knight, A Christian Theology of the Old Testament (London: SCM, 1959), viii.


Nov 21, 2011

Witherington on the Kind of Bible Teachers We Don't Need

"There's hardly anything sadder than to run into a teacher of the Bible who does not believe the Bible and may even have a guilty conscience about making a living from teaching the Bible. I have known a few such folk, and they, perhaps above all Bible teachers, need our prayers. It is true, of course, that God can write straight with a crooked stick. We all know the story of God's using not only Balaam, but Balaam's donkey to convey the truth. But these examples are far from ideal. Jesus wanted disciples, not mere marionettes that he could manipulate to talk for him.

"The warning that "not many of you (Christians) should presume to be teachers" could be further amplified if we are talking about people who are not even inclined to believe the Bible, or even worse are prepared to caricature, ridicule, and stereotype the Bible, or use it to pursue their own unbiblical agendas. We don't need Bible teachers like that, especially in a biblically illiterate culture already prone to dismiss the Bible as a relic of the past."  

Ben Witherington III, Is There a Doctor in the House? An Insider's Story and Advice on Becoming a Biblical Scholar (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 126. 

Nov 20, 2011

The Limitations of Wisdom in Ecclesiastes 1:12–18

How does Ecclesiastes 1:12-18 relate to Ecclesiastes 1:1-11? I suggest that in 1:12-18 Qohelet anticipates someone who might wonder whether the meaninglessness and frustration expressed in 1:1–11 could be attributed to failing to apply wisdom to the observations made in these verses. Perhaps if one could understand life then such an understanding would result in significance and meaning. However, Qohelet puts an end to such speculation in 1:12-18 with his comments concerning the limitations if wisdom. As one author suggests, Qohelet is shutting off all escape routes.[1]

[1] Michael A. Eaton, Ecclesiastes: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, ed. D. J. Wiseman, vol. 16 (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity , 1983), 61.

Nov 19, 2011

Wisdom as a Way of Doing Things

"Wisdom is not something to do; rather it is a way of doing things. This is borne out by the bewildering variety of human endeavors mentioned in the Old Testament in connection with wisdom."

William E. Mouser, Jr., Walking in Wisdom: Studying the Proverbs of Solomon (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1983), 125.

Nov 18, 2011

Preaching Christ from the Old Testament

"Preaching Christ from the Old Testament means that we preach, not synagogue sermons, but sermons that take account of the full drama of redemption, and its realization in Christ. To see the text in relation to Christ is to see it in its larger context, the context of God's purpose in revelation. We do not ignore the specific message of the text, nor will it do to write an all-purpose Christocentric sermon finale and tag it for weekly use.

"You must preach Christ as the text presents him. If you are tempted to think that most Old Testament texts do not present Christ, reflect on both the unity of Scripture and the fullness of Jesus Christ. Christ is present in the Bible as the Lord and as the Servant."

Edmund P. Clowney, Preaching Christ in All of Scripture (Wheaton: Crossway, 2003), 11.

Nov 17, 2011

Five Crucial Sermon Questions

These are five crucial quiestions for every sermon to raise and answer.

1. What does this text teach about God and his character and ways?
2. What does the text teach about fallen humanity?
3. How does this text point to Christ?
4. What does God want my people to know?
5. What does God want my people to do?

Daniel L. Akin, Bill Curtis, and Stephen Rummage, Engaging Exposition (Nashville: B & H Academic, 2011), 133-34..

Nov 16, 2011

Hagner on Resurrection in the New Testament

Donald Hagner has a good general article on resurrection in the New Testament ("The Resurrection of the Body in the New Testament," Australian Biblical Review 59 [2011], 64-80). Among other things Hagner points out that all the miraculous raisings of the dead in the Bible except for Christ are better called resuscitations. That is, "Those who were raised still belonged to the first creation, and had to die a second time." Hagner of course, is correct. In discussing the difference between resuscitation and resurrection I have found that if you use the term resuscitation, many have the impression that the person was not really dead. On the other hand, resurrection cannot be used for the reason Hagner has noted. So I have coined the term "resusurrection" (at least I have never heard anyone else use it). The idea is that resuscitation is too weak a term since it might convey the idea of something short of death and resurrection too strong because it belongs to the new creation. 

Nov 15, 2011

Witherington on the Role of Faith in Knowing and Teaching the Bible

"If it sounds as if I am suggesting that one has to be a genuine Christian or devout Jew to properly teach, preach, or write about the Bible, I am indeed suggesting that that should be the desideratum. If teaching is going to glorify God, edify the saints, and even educate, intrigue, and influence the lost, then, yes, that is what is most needed. It is true that some non-Christians can put Christians to shame with their biblical knowledge. If we are just talking about understanding biblical texts and ideas, it is indeed possible for a secular person to teach the Bible well at the level of information. But just as it is one thing to know the Bible, another to know the God of the Bible, it is also one thing to know the Bible and another thing to know the Bible is true, and God's Word.

"The Bible is not just intended for information and education. It’s not intended to be just a great piece of literature that merely intrigues or mildly inspires. It's intended for human transformation, and a teacher who cannot help an audience with the latter is handicapped. Indeed, a teacher who has not personally been transformed by the text cannot properly embody it, embrace it, model it, call for emulation of it, and the like. The Jewish or Christian teacher who is constantly coming to grips with the text will be constantly challenged to live it."

Ben Witherington III, Is There a Doctor in the House? An Insider's Story and Advice on Becoming a Biblical Scholar (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 125. 

Nov 14, 2011

Themelios 36.3 is Out

The latest edition of Themelios, a 238 page PDF, is now available as as a free download here. Individual articles and features with links are as follows:

  1. D. A. Carson | Editorial: Spiritual Disciplines
  2. Jonathan Gibson | Jonathan Edwards: A Missionary?
  3. Andrew Moody | That All May Honour the Son: Holding Out for a Deeper Christocentrism
  4. Rodney J. Decker | An Evaluation of the 2011 Edition of the New International Version
  5. Melvin Tinker | Friends: The One with Jesus, Martha, and Mary;  An Answer to Kierkegaard
  6. 71 Book Reviews

The New Covenant

I had recently been working through Jeremiah and thinking about the New Covenant when I came across this statement from H. L. Ellison. Unfortunately, Ellison does not further unpack the statement, but that being said, there is a lot here that resonates with me.

It is one thing to say that Jeremiah was not given to see what the new covenant would mean for the world, it is entirely another to say that by Israel and Judah he really meant the Church. So to understand Jer. 31:23–40; 33:14–26 is to make all sane Bible interpretation impossible. On the other hand, we must not fall into the opposite error of supposing that the new covenant will mean something else for ‘all Israel’ than it does for the Church, that saved Israel will be saved in some other way than is the Church. God does not abolish physical Israel, but in saving it transcends it, just as He does not scrap this earth but renews it.”

H. L. Ellison, Men Spake from God: Studies in the Hebrew Prophets (Carlisle: Paternoster, 1968), 92.

Nov 13, 2011

Top 25 Books for Young Theologians

Bruce Ashford has a list of the top twenty-five books (or so) that he believes young theologians should own and read.

Latest Issue of Review of Biblical Literature

The latest issue of Review of Biblical Literature is out. Reviews can be accessed by clicking the links below.

Joseph Blenkinsopp
Creation, Un-creation, Re-creation: A Discursive Commentary on Genesis 1-11
Reviewed by John E. Anderson
Yoram Cohen, Amir Gilan, and Jared L. Miller, eds.
Pax Hethitica: Studies on the Hittites and Their Neighbours in Honour of Itamar Singer
Reviewed by Paul Sanders
Corneliu Constantineanu
The Social Significance of Reconciliation in Paul's Theology: Narrative Readings in Romans
Reviewed by Robert Jewett
Timothy G. Gombis
Paul: A Guide for the Perplexed
Reviewed by James S. Hanson
Ronald Hendel, ed.
Reading Genesis: Ten Methods
Reviewed by Frank H. Polak
Amanda H. Podany
Brotherhood of Kings: How International Relations Shaped the Ancient Near East
Reviewed by Bertrand Lafont
Hendrika N. Roskam
The Purpose of the Gospel of Mark in Its Historical and Social Context
Reviewed by W. R. Telford
Hayim Tawil
An Akkadian Lexical Companion for Biblical Hebrew: Etymological-Semantic and Idiomatic Equivalents with Supplement on Biblical Aramaic
Reviewed by Aaron D. Rubin
David Trobisch
Ein Clown für Christus: Die ganz andere Geschichte über Paulus und seine Zeit
Reviewed by Jeffrey F. Cayzer
Urban C. von Wahlde
The Gospel and Letters of John
Reviewed by George L. Parsenios

Nov 12, 2011

Recommended Reading for Church History

Keith Mathison has a recommended reading list for church history here.

Nov 11, 2011

Eilat Mazar in Christianity Today

Those interested in archaeology and the Bible might want to check out this story on Eilat Mazar in Christianity Today.