May 4, 2013

Messianic Theology of the Old Testament

William Varner has made a very helpful document on Messianic Theology of the Old Testament available for free here. Check it out.

May 3, 2013

Words from Waltke

I mentioned in a few days ago that I am scanning some old articles from my files. Today, I came across one by Bruce Waltke. He has good words for those of us who are involved in the academic study of the Bible.

"A major temptation confronting any student is that instead of seeking God in his or her own discipline he or she seeks personal achievement and human recognition through it. In a word, we are ever in danger of becoming ‘worldlings,’ by which I mean seeking ‘success’ according to secular evaluations instead of according to sacred values."

A bit later in the article, Waltke states.

"A student cannot say he is devoted to God who carelessly treats the empirical data in which he revealed himself. Here, however, we must face the reality that we are in the process of growing in our knowledge of accredited exegetical procedure and in our application of it to the literature, and therefore as we improve in our exegesis we mature in our knowledge of God."

Bruce K. Waltke, "On How to Study the Psalms Devotionally," Crux 16 (1980): 2, 3. 


May 2, 2013

The Cyrus Cylinder Again

Kristen Swenson has a blog post here on the Cyrus Cylinder that is now being exhibited at various locations in the United States. Check out the slideshow as well.

Here is a TED talk by Dr. Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museums, which was delivered upon returning the Cylinder from Iran in 2011

May 1, 2013

The Most Neglected Reality in Education

I found the following comment by Parker Palmer interesting and unfortunately too often true of biblical and theological studies.

“In conventional education, the classroom is not regarded as a place to ‘practice’ anything. Practice goes on in the world, and the classroom is a place set apart. Practice is what students are being prepared for—it is oriented toward the future. Their preparation consists of absorbing accumulated knowledge—it is oriented to the past. So the realities that concern conventional education are 'out there’ in the world, ‘back there’ in the past, and ‘up there’ in the future. The most neglected reality in education is the reality of the present moment, of what is happening here and now in the classroom itself.”

Parker J. Palmer, To Know as We Are Known / A Spiritualityof Education (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 11983), 88.

Apr 29, 2013

Review of Charts on the Book of Hebrews

Herbert W. Bateman IV, Charts on the Book of Hebrews, Kregel Charts of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2012).

One cannot help but be impressed with Herbert Bateman’s Charts on the Book of Hebrews. There are 104 charts total, but this does not tell the whole story. I would guess that at least half of the charts are more than a page in length and a number of the charts are quite detailed. Indeed, there is such an impressive amount of information that sometimes it borders on overkill (e.g., five charts and eight pages on the issue of Hebrews and the Canon). However, one reader’s informational gluttony might be another reader’s feast. This chart book is also a bit different from some others in that there is a helpful written explanation of the charts in the back (“Chart Comments,” pp. 239–53). Another bonus is the four-part bibliography.

The charts themselves are grouped into four major sections. The first major section covers introductory considerations (e.g., authorship, dating, structure, etc.) (pp. 15–66). The second section addresses background issues, namely, Old Testament and Second Temple influences on Hebrews (pp. 67–105). The third section covers the theology of Hebrews (pp. 107–50). And the fourth section contains charts related to exegetical issues (i.e., interpretive issues, text-critical issues, figures of speech, and important words) (pp. 151–238). Most preachers and teachers will likely find the most useful information in sections three and four, but there is just about something for every student of Hebrews here.

By way of critique, there are a few typos here and there (e.g., the wrong
sigma form on p. 119 and a blank page on p. 200). One might also quibble a bit with the treatment of Scot McKnight’s view on the warning passages. It seems to me that McKnight nuances his view concerning those addressed by the passages in calling them “phenomenological believers.” They might be “real Christians” but probably not “real” in the same way as others on this chart who hold that the author is addressing “real Christians.” Finally, the usefulness of this book could be enhanced in two ways. First, it would be very helpful to make these charts available in electronic form as a supplementary CD (or some other means). I for one would be willing to pay a bit more to be able to easily incorporate this material into handouts or presentations. Second, a Scripture index would be quite valuable and a Second Temple literature index could be a great timesaver.

These minor critiques aside, Bateman has provided a great resource for those interested in the serious study of the book of Hebrews. This work will not solve the interpretive challenges of understanding Hebrews, but it does provide a jump start on the data needed to move towards better comprehension.

Thanks to Kregel for providing the review copy for this unbiased evaluation. 

Apr 28, 2013

McKenzie on the Messianic Kingdom

I have been scanning some old articles from my files and came across one from the Roman Catholic scholar John L. McKenzie. I have provided two excerpts, one from the beginning of the article and one from the end. 

“Exegetes are not entirely in agreement on the extent on which messianism should be called eschatological: that is, whether the messianic hope is to be realized within history or outside history. In either case, however, messianism is understood to be a divine intervention in history and the establishment of the kingdom of God over all men. In the conclusion of this paper I shall state the meaning which I think should be attached to the word eschatological. Here at the beginning we must notice that the future kingdom of God is conceived and described in the terms of historical kingdom of Israel as the primary term of analogy; consequently, the messianic hope rarely appears entirely deprived of national features.”

“In conclusion, then, we can state that royal messianism is a conviction that Yahweh has promised the dynasty of David an eternal duration. With this eternal duration Israel is inescapably connected. The Davidic king and the kingdom of Israel are to extend their sway over the entire world and to be the medium through which the kingdom of Yahweh realize itself for all men, a kingship not of conquest and oppression like the world empire of the Assyrians, but a kingdom of justice, righteousness, peace and security. This hope in its earliest form focuses upon the dynasty as a whole, represented in each successive historical king. As time goes on and the historical perseverance of the dynasty becomes uncertain, and it finally comes to an end, the hope turns to an assurance that the promises of Yahweh will find fulfillment only in the restoration of the dynasty. Attention is then focused not upon the dynasty as a whole—for it no longer exists, or is shortly to perish—but rather upon the ruler who will restore the dynasty. This founder of the new dynasty will be another David in the sense that the reign is inaugurated with him. Like David, he will exhibit the qualities of the ideal king. In him the fullness of the spirit will be realized, upon him will rest the gifts of the spirit, and through him the power of Yahweh will establish His reign over the entire world, which will submit in peace to the rule of a righteous God.”

John L. McKenzie, “Royal Messianism, Catholic Bible Quarterly 19 (1957): 25, 51–52.