May 19, 2012

The Self-Induced Pressures of Preaching

“Many preachers are tired; they are worn out from the pressure of trying to be interesting and trying to be God for the people. In the past, people might have been willing to grant the preacher that privilege, but no more. People know us better than that. Too many of us have failed, and few people are willing to give us the benefit of the doubt. It is hard to stand in the pulpit and claim to speak for God—especially when our stomach sticks out over our belt and our breath smells funny and our breakfast is stuck between our teeth. It is difficult to speak for God when we are so obviously flawed. Just trying will wear a person out.

“We can find courage in the knowledge that preaching doesn’t depend on the preacher’s cleverness. Our task is simply to help people hear from God. Once the preacher understands that God has already promised to make himself known in his Word, the pressure lifts. Surprisingly, we then find ourselves motivated to deeper and more faithful engagement with the text.”

Kenton C. Anderson, Choosing to Preach (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 40.

May 18, 2012

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.

Philip F. Esler
Sex, Wives, and Warriors: Reading Biblical Narrative with Its Ancient Audience
Reviewed by Brian Peterson
John Paul Heil
Hebrews: Chiastic Structures and Audience Response
Reviewed by Philip Church
Richard A. Horsley
Jesus and the Powers: Conflict, Covenant, and the Hope of the Poor
Reviewed by Kevin B. McCruden
Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan and Tina Pippin, eds.
Mother Goose, Mother Jones, Mommie Dearest: Biblical Mothers and Their Children
Reviewed by Melanie Howard
Thomas E. Phillips
Acts within Diverse Frames of Reference
Reviewed by Arie W. Zwiep
Tammi J. Schneider
An Introduction to Ancient Mesopotamian Religion
Reviewed by Andrew Riley
Hershel Shanks
Freeing the Dead Sea Scrolls: And Other Adventures of an Archaeology Outsider
Reviewed by Matthew A. Collins
Andrew E. Steinmann
Ezra and Nehemiah
Reviewed by Antje Labahn
Michael E. Stone
Ancient Judaism: New Visions and Views
Reviewed by Joseph Angel
James Riley Strange
The Moral World of James: Setting the Epistle in Its Greco-Roman and Judaic Environments
Reviewed by John S. Kloppenborg

This issue also contains the following two responses to previous reviews.

Rob Dalrymple responds to the review of his Revelation and the Two Witnesses at:
Brian Abasciano responds to the review of his Paul's Use of the Old Testament in Romans 9.10-18 at:


May 17, 2012

Buy One, Get One Free Sale at Baylor University Press

Baylor University Press is having a buy one, get one free sale through May 31. For more details go here. Their biblical studies titles can be found here.

Anthropological Versus Theological Preaching

"Much preaching today is anthropological rather than theological. In an anthropological sermon, the acting subject is the human being with his hopes, needs, wishes, and religious longings, rather than the God who moves in on human beings whether they have spiritual inclinations or not. In an anthropological sermon, the central appeal is is made to the human decision. More and more, the central theological divide in the churches has to do with the matter of the acting subject: is it us, or is it God?"

Fleming Rutledge, And God Spoke to Abraham: Preaching from the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011), 8.

May 16, 2012

Varner on the Red Heifer

The ritual of the red heifer found in Numbers 19 and referred to in Hebrews 9 is one of the more obscure and mysterious rituals in the Old Testament. But William Varner has a good succinct explanation of it here.

May 15, 2012

E-Book Infographic

This is an interesting e-book infographic. To see a full size version go here.


May 14, 2012

The New Pictorial Library of Bible Lands

I am excited to read that Todd Bolen has now rolled out a new and improved version of his Pictorial Library of Bible Lands. The original version was been a great asset to my teaching ministry since I first started using it in 1999. The Pictorial Library of Bible Lands is the best resource, hands down, for pictures related to the Holy Lands. Although I have not personally seen this new version (over 17,500 images!), I am confident that this will be a top-notch resource as well. You can read all about it here.


Some Challenges and Trends for Seminaries

The Chronicle of Higher Education has this article on some of the challenges facing seminaries and some trends related to addressing the challenges.

May 13, 2012

On the Writing of Commentaries

I was recently looking through Thomas Manton’s classic commentary on James and came upon the following statement concerning the canonical status of James (which students of James know has been disputed by some). 

“Concerning the divine authority of this epistle, I desire to discuss it with reverence and trembling. It is dangerous to loosen foundation stones. I should wholly have omitted this part of my work, but that the difference is so famous; and to conceal known adversaries is an argument of fear and distrust. The Lord grant that the cure be not turned into a snare, and that vain men may not unsettle themselves by what is intended for an establishment!” (James Manton, A Practical Commentary or an Exposition with Notes on the Epistle of James [London: John Gladding, 1840], iii).

I find Manton’s words refreshing for three reasons. First, he recognizes that there are consequences (intended and unintended to what we write) and therefore care should be exercised. Second, even with the possibility of “loosing foundation stones,” Manton realizes that he has a responsibility to address controversial issues rather than operating out of “fear and distrust.” Third, Manton is prayerful that his discussion would ultimately be edifying. I know that Manton’s sentiments might sound rather quaint, but should not a similar attitude characterize Christian interpreters today?

By the way, you can download a free e-book copy of Manton’s commentary here.