Jun 14, 2014

Top 10 Books on Teaching

The Chronicle of Higher Education has this article on the top ten books on teaching. I can't vouch for the books on the list but it might be worth checking out.

Jun 13, 2014

Eugene Merrill on Atonement in the Old Testament

See this brief article by Eugene Merrill on atonement in the Old Testament.

The Purpose of the Book of Esther

The purpose of Esther seems twofold. On a theological level, it serves to remind the reader of God’s providence and sovereignty. This message would be particularly appropriate for a post-exilic Israel still wrestling with their covenantal relationship with the Lord, a relationship that had been strained but not broken. Some would dispute this purpose since the book is not overtly religious. Furthermore, it is common knowledge that Esther is the only book in the Bible in which the name of God is not mentioned and one of only a handful of Old Testament books not quoted in the New Testament. Nonetheless, its place in the canon insures that it has spiritual value (cf. 2 Tim 3:16) and its focus on the preservation of God’s chosen nation Israel has implications for the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants, and therefore, for the Messiah himself. On a historical level, Esther serves to provide an explanation for the origin of the Feast of Purim.[1] Most commentators agree with this purpose although some would deny the historical veracity of this account.[2]

[1] Huey notes that, “Many exegetes take the position that the major purpose of the Book of Esther was to explain the historical origin of Purim, to justify its celebration (since it is not mentioned in the Torah), and to regulate its manner of observance”( F.B. Huey, “Esther,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 4, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988], 779).
[2] Ironically, “Purim is not central to the narrative” (Sandra Beth Berg, The Book of Esther: Motifs, Themes, and Structure, Society of Biblical Literature and Dissertation Series 44 [Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1979], 3). Similarly Edwin Yamauchi has observed “It is mentioned only in Esther 9:28-32 with allusions to it in 3:7 and 9:24” (“The Archaeological Background of Esther,” Bibliotheca Sacra 137 [April-June 1980], 101).

Jun 12, 2014

Now for What Is Really Important . . .

See this post from Justin Taylor on the proper pronunciation of Augustine.

Five Benefits of Consulting Commentaries

See David Allen's five reasons for consulting commentaries here. I would add at least two other reasons.

1. It helps to cultivate humility, an important quality for those who seek to understand and communicate Scripture.

2. It helps us to connect us with our rich interpretive heritage and theological forbears. 


Jun 11, 2014

"Urban Legends" Related to the New Testament

David Croteau has a brief but interesting post related to "urban legends" related to the New Testament here.

The Genre of Esther

Opinions on the genre of Esther vary widely from historical narrative to short story or novel. Early Jewish opinion saw it as “both law and history.”[1] Some interpreters have seen it as either wholly fictitious or partially so, while others have regarded it as generally historical. Whatever the case may be, the book gives itself internal evidence indicating that it was indeed a historical account. As Berg points out “The histiographical nature of the book is underlined by its opening and concluding passages. The narrator begins his work in a manner typical of biblical histories and concludes with a challenge to verify his account.”[2] Also, the cultural details, the specific names, places, and titles would at the very least imply historicity. Therefore, it is probably best to see Esther as a historical narrative woven with great artistic skill. Jobe’s words are helpful at this point. “Rather than deciding whether the book of Esther is history or literature, the real question is how to understand it as both. When reading the Esther story, it would be a shame to allow ourselves to be so distracted by the historical ‘problems’ it raises that we completely miss the point of this wonderful book. Similarly, it would be a mistake to be so impressed by its literary qualities that we dismiss the book as pious fiction.”[3]

[1] Edwin M. Yamauchi, “The Archaeological Background of Esther,” Bibliotheca Sacra 137 (April-June 1980), 101.
[2] Sandra Beth Berg, The Book of Esther: Motifs, Themes, and Structure, Society of Biblical Literature and Dissertation Series 44 (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1979), 2.
[3] Karen H. Jobes, Esther, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 37.

Jun 10, 2014

David Allen's Blog

You should check out the David Allen's blog. Dr. Allen is an excellent expository preacher and there are a number of resources available with more to come. You can access the blog here.

Jun 9, 2014

Thoughts on Hebrews 13:25

The Book of Hebrews provides a powerful encouragement to press on in faith. This exhortation runs to the very end of the book. Recently while teaching through Hebrews I came upon this comment on Hebrews 13:22–25.

"The declaration that ‘I encourage’ you as brothers to hold on to the word of the ‘encouragement’ emphatically underscores that what the author has composed in this letter is indeed a homiletic word aimed at encouraging his audience (13:22). Noteworthy is that the author’s final and climactic greeting, ‘the grace with all of you!’ (13:25), contains no explicit verb. This facilitates its multiple functions as a speech act whose purpose begins to be accomplished in the very hearing of it. First, it affirms that ‘the grace has been with all of you,’ thus reminding the audience that they have already received the grace of God in the past, in accord with the fact that Jesus tasted death on behalf of all by the grace of God (2:9). Secondly, it asserts that ‘the grace is now with all of you’ thus indicating to the audience that the grace of God is now presently being given to them in and through hearing and heeding of the letter itself as the author’s word of encouragement (13:22). Finally, it prays that ‘the grace will be with all of you,’ thus assuring the audience that the grace of God will continue to be available to them in the future. This accords with the encouraging exhortation, ‘Let us approach then with boldness the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and may find grace for timely help’ (4:16).”

John Paul Heil, Worship in the Letter to the Hebrews (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2011), 274.