Mar 21, 2014

The Preacher's Library

“If there is a thinker behind every great movement, there is a library behind every great preacher. What tools are to mechanics, books are to preachers. Just as no mechanic can do an effective job without adequate tools to perform precision work, so no pastor can ever hope to expound the Bible without good books. It is the height of folly for any pastor to attempt to preach God’s Word without proper exegetical and expository tools. We are never so competent in our knowledge of the Scriptures that we can afford to despise the help provided by the great minds of the past and the present.”

David Alan Black, Using New Testament Greek in Ministry: A Practical Guide for Students and Pastors (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 34.

Mar 20, 2014

Reading the Old Testament Missiologically

"Mission is often thought of as a New Testament and post–New Testament phenomenon. Is it possible to read the Old Testament also as a missional text? The clearest justification for doing so is that Jesus himself told his disciples to read it that way. In Luke 24 he twice surveys the whole canon of Old Testament Scripture and claims that ‘this is what is written’: both that the Messiah would come, suffer, die, and rise again; and that repentance and forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to the nations (vv. 45-47). The first claim reads Scripture messianically; the second reads Scripture missiologically — and Jesus urges this double hermeneutical strategy on those who read the Old Testament in conscious relation to himself.”

Christopher J. H. Wright, “Mission and Old Testament Interpretation,” in Hearing the Old Testament: Listening toGod’s Address, ed. Craig G. Bartholomew and Dvaid J. H. Beldman (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), 186.

Mar 19, 2014

Embracing Shared Ministry

Check out Joseph Hellerman’s recent book entitled Embracing Shared Ministry: Power and Status in the Early Church and Why It Matters Today. Whether you agree with every point or not, one can appreciate the careful presentation and application of a historically contextualized examination of the New Testament to the church today. You can read an excerpt here.

Mar 18, 2014

An Illustrated Guide to the Holy Land for Tour Groups, Students, and Pilgrims

At last years Society Biblical Literature meeting I picked up a copy of An Illustrated Guide to the Holy Land for Tour Groups, Students, and Pilgrims by Lamontte Luker. I selectively worked through this compact volume in preparation for a trip that I am helping to lead this year. Here are some preliminary thoughts.

The size (4.25 x 5.5 in.) makes it easy to slip into a pocket or purse. Given its size, I was pleasantly surprised about how much was packed into this 184-page volume. The entries I read usually contained enough information to be helpful. It will not replace something like Jerome Murphy-O’Conner’s The Holy Land but few, if any, resources could. The one thing that would help this guide to be more user-friendly is to provide a site index. This would probably not add more than a few pages. One can use the table of contents, but this is set up by region and requires the user to know what sites are located within which regions. But if you already know what is located the Shephela for example, then you might not need a book like this. That being said this is still a helpful but not an indispensable resource.

Mar 17, 2014

The New Testament Was Written for Believers
"The NT was written for believers, not for doubters. Believers are the implied readers of the NT texts, and therefore believers are in the best place to make sense of the NT texts. It is to believers that the texts open themselves most readily. This is contrary to the frequently encountered claim that faith is an obstacle to the proper understanding of the NT. Only, however, when faith is characterized by openness rather than an a priori dogmatism is it an aid to the study of Scripture.

"The advantage that the believer has in the study of Scripture is openness to the truth of the narratives. A hermeneutic of trust can have the salutary and paradoxical effect of making us better historians and scholars of Scripture than those who do not believe. Options that arise from the material itself may be given fairer consideration; helpful constructions may emerge from a positive approach that would not be seen in a negative orientation. Certainly the approach of the believer will be more fruitful and truthful than a hostile approach of one who is predisposed to deconstruct the Christian faith. Theological presuppositions, of course, inevitably enter into the discussions, as indeed they do for those who consider themselves “neutral.” Without question presuppositions will remain crucial. “The wise course is to recognize those presuppositions, to make allowance for them, to ensure that they do not exercise an undue influence on our understanding of what we read. It is the unconscious and unsuspected presuppositions that are harmful.”

"It should be stressed once again that the critical method is indispensable to the study of Scripture. It is the sine qua non of responsible interpretation of God’s word. The believer need have no fear of the method itself, but need only be on guard against the employment of improper presuppositions. J. B. Lightfoot gave helpful counsel:"

The timidity, which shrinks from the application of modern science or criticism to the interpretation of Holy Scripture, evinces a very unworthy view of its character. If the Scriptures are indeed true, they must be in accordance with every true principle of whatever kind. It is against the wrong application of such principles, and against the presumption which pushes them too far, that we must protest. It is not much knowledge, but little knowledge, that is the dangerous thing here as elsewhere. From the full light of science or criticism we have nothing to fear: the glimmering light—which rather deserves the name of darkness visible—hides and distorts the truth.
Donald A. Hagner, The New Testament: A Historical and Theological Introduction (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2012), 10-11.