Jun 15, 2013

Robert Alter on Ancient Israel

Adam Kirsch has a review of sorts on Robert Alter's new book on Ancient Israel here.

Jun 14, 2013

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.

Mersha Alehegne
The Ethiopian Commentary on the Book of Genesis: Critical Edition and Translation
Reviewed by James C. VanderKam

Daniel E. Fleming
The Legacy of Israel in Judah’s Bible: History, Politics, and the Reinscribing of Tradition
Reviewed by Yitzhaq Feder
Reviewed by Frank H. Polak

Mark Leuchter and Jeremy M. Hutton, eds.
Levites and Priests in Biblical History and Tradition
Reviewed by Pekka Pitkanen

Tremper Longman III
Reviewed by Michael Collender

Christian Metzenthin
Jesaja-Auslegung in Qumran
Reviewed by Paul Sanders

Douglas E. Oakman
The Political Aims of Jesus
Reviewed by Tobias Hagerland

B. J. Oropeza
Jews, Gentiles, and the Opponents of Paul: The Pauline Letters
Reviewed by Joseph Oryshak

Peter Pilhofer
Neues aus der Welt der frühen Christen
Reviewed by Günter Röhser

Mark R. Sneed
The Politics of Pessimism in Ecclesiastes: A Social-Science Perspective
Reviewed by Martin A. Shields


Jun 13, 2013

An Interview with Dr. Robert Chisholm on 1-2 Samuel

A new commentary in the Teach the Text series on 1 and 2 Samuel recently came out. Its author Dr. Robert Chisholm Jr. is professor of Old Testament and chair of the department at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is the author of Handbook on the Prophets, A Workbook for Intermediate Hebrew, and From Exegesis to Exposition: A Practical Guide to Using Biblical Hebrew. Dr. Chisholm graciously agreed to answer a few questions about the commentary:

Question: How did you get involved with the Teach the Text series?

I was invited by the Old Testament editor, John Walton, to participate in the series. Initially he asked if I’d be interested in writing the commentary on 1-2 Chronicles. I told him that I had not done a great deal of work on Chronicles, but that I would be very interested in writing on 1-2 Samuel, since I had done quite a bit of research on it. Since 1-2 Samuel was also unassigned at the time, John invited me to write on it and I gladly accepted the offer.

Question: What do you see as some of the challenges of preaching and teaching 1–2 Samuel?

1-2 Samuel, like the entire Old Testament, originated in a time and culture far removed from our own. While people often find the stories contained in 1-2 Samuel, especially those pertaining to David, to be interesting, they sometimes fail to see the relevance of the material to their own situation as a Christian living in the modern world. So the challenge for the interpreter is to bring the underlying theological and spiritual principles of the ancient text to the surface and to help a modern audience see their relevance.

A more specific challenge for interpreters of 1-2 Samuel is the fact that the primary literary theme of the story does not seem relevant for us today. It’s obvious that the ancient narrator(s), writing under the control of the Spirit of God, had a pro-David, anti-Saul agenda. All of the material in 1-2 Samuel, even the accounts of David’s failure, contributes to this theme. It may have been very relevant in ancient Israel, but most people in the pews of our churches don’t see why it is important. While it is important to show that David’s credentials as rightful king are foundational to Jesus’s credentials as rightful king as the son of David, one cannot keep drumming on this point as one teaches/preaches through 1-2 Samuel. To do so would empty the classroom or sanctuary and reduce one’s messages to a mere history lesson.

But 1-2 Samuel should not be viewed in isolation—it is part of a larger history that ends with the exile. It must be read in that context. Now the exiles would have been concerned about this issue—they needed to know that a Davidic king would be the ruler of the revived postexilic covenant community. But in this larger context 1-2 Samuel is not just a Davidic apology. It’s a story of how God made his people into a nation, but then the nation failed, primarily because of failed leadership. The leaders represent the people. So as one reads 1-2 Samuel, one must ask, What was the point of all of this for the exilic community? The story explains why they are in exile. It gives behavior to avoid and behavior to follow. It also gives insight into who God is, what he desires from his covenant community, and how he relates to them, especially when they fail. Those themes are very relevant for God’s people today.

Question: How do you see your commentary providing specific help to preachers and teachers who are trying to do exposition?

The Teach the Text series is very user-friendly for pastors and teachers; the format allows them to get at the main point of the narratives quickly. My commentary, like the others in the series, is not a reference work that provides exhaustive analysis of the text. There are plenty of these works available, many of which are cited in the footnotes and bibliography of the commentary. The purpose of my commentary is to identify the major themes of each literary unit, to show how the text itself develops them, and to suggest how teachers can relevantly and accurately apply those themes to a modern audience. I focus on the text’s thematic and theological dimensions, which are of primary interest to teachers and preachers. Since the text’s theological themes are often bound together with its literary features, this commentary is sensitive to the text’s literary dimension, especially intertextual connections within the Former Prophets and within 1-2 Samuel. Oddly enough, this literary dimension has been sorely neglected for the most part in the reference commentaries.

Question: What commentaries or other resources have you found particularly helpful in shaping your own thinking on 1–2 Samuel?

I found Bill Arnold’s NIVAC commentary quite insightful. Various literary studies were especially helpful, particularly the commentaries by Keith Bodner and David Firth, and monographs by Diana Edelman and V. Philips Long, all of which are listed in the bibliography.

Question: What do you hope to accomplish through this commentary?

The preface states the commentary’s purpose as follows: “to provide a ready reference for the exposition of the biblical text, giving easy access to information that a pastor needs to communicate the text effectively.” More specifically, my desire is to help teachers and preachers see the literary

contours of the text as a basis for discovering its theological themes. These in turn become the foundation for relevant application to a modern audience. As always in my research and writing, I seek to serve in some small way the Church, especially those whom God has gifted and prepared to teach his people.

You can preview a section of 1 and 2 Samuel here.

Jun 12, 2013

New Testament Studies 59:3

The latest issue of the New Testament Studies is out. Here is a list of the articles.

Passover and Last Supper Revisited
Joel Marcus

pp 303-324

Der Geist und das Reich im Lukanischen Werk: Konkurrenz oder Konvergenz zwischen Pneumatologie und Eschatologie?
Klaus B. Haacker
pp 325-345

The Improper Temple Offering of Ananias and Sapphira
Anthony Le Donne
pp 346-364

The Election of Officers in the Corinthian Christ-Group
Richard Last
pp 365-381

‘Peace and Security’ (1 Thessalonians 5.3): Is It Really a Roman Slogan?
Joel R. White
pp 382-395

The Benefactor's Account-book: The Rhetoric of Gift Reciprocation according to Seneca and Paul
Thomas R. Blanton
pp 396-414

Justification, Good Works, and Creation in Clement of Rome's Appropriation of Romans 5–6
David J. Downs
pp 415-432

Reciprocity as Salvation: Christ as Salvific Patron and the Corresponding ‘Payback’ Expected of Christ's Earthly Clients according to the Second Letter of Clement
James A. Kelhoffer
pp 433-456

Taking up and Raising, Fixing and Loosing: A Chiastic Wordplay in Acts 2.23b-24.
Benjamin R. Wilson
pp 457-460 


Jun 11, 2013

Free eBook from the John 3:16 conference

You can download a free eBook from the 2013 John 3:16 Conference in either ePub or PDF format here. The conference was held on March 21-22, 2013 at North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. The following papers were presented and part of the eBook. 

“For Whose Sins Did Jesus Die?” by Jerry Vines
“Who is Guilty of Adam’s Sin?” by Adam Harwood
“Does Regeneration Precede Faith?” by David L. Allen
“What Were the Early SBC Leaders’ View of Salvation?” by Emir Caner
“Who Are the Elect?” by Eric Hankins “Is the Sinners’ Prayer Biblical?” by Steve Gaines

Jun 10, 2013

Studying the Old Testament

Eric has some good advice for studying the Old Testament here.

Jun 9, 2013

Titles for God in Malachi

Jimmy Millikin, in his discussion on the theology of Malachi notes the following in relation to the titles used for God in the book.

"Three significant titles for God are found in Malachi–father (1:6; 2:10), master (1:6), and king (1:14). None of these are unique to Malachi. That God is father of his covenant people is an undisputable truth found throughout the Old Testament. This father-son relationship was declared at the beginning of the Exodus (Ex. 4:22, 23), and afterward was stated explicitly a number of times (Dt. 32:6; Is. 63:16; 64:8; Jer. 3:4, 19; Ps. 89:27). However, some have thought that Malachi introduces a new dimension to Yahweh’s fatherhood in his question in 2:10: “Have we not all one father?” This is taken by some to be a preparation for the idea of the universal “fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man” supposedly taught by Jesus, a concept found nowhere else in the Old Testament. But the context clearly reveals that the question in 2:10 is applicable only to God’s particular covenant relationship to Israel. “Malachi’s point of reference is indisputably his fellow Jews” (Verhoef, p. 266).

"The titles “master” and “king” guard against misusing the title “father” to become overly familiar with Yahweh. The word “master” denotes the owner of a slave or servant. As such he is to be honored and feared. The adjective “great” is used with “king” to magnify Yahweh’s greatness and the reverence that is due his name. This composite picture of Father-master-king serves to guard against “over-familiarity one the one hand and a too distant subjection on the other” (Baldwin, p. 217)."

Jimmy A. Millikin, “The Theology of Malachi,” Mid-America Theological Journal 11:1 (1987): 72–73.