Jan 7, 2017

College Majors

Here is another article on the most and least profitable college majors. Biblical studies is listed fifth in the least profitable category. As the article notes, "If you want to follow your heart, and not necessarily the dollar signs, these jobs may be for you." I have not regretted my decision to pursue biblical studies but I do think one needs to think and pray hard and have realistic expectations when pursuing that path.

Jan 6, 2017

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 but unfortunately you must be a SBL member.

Michal Beth Dinkler
Silent Statements: Narrative Representations of Speech and Silence in the Gospel of Luke
Reviewed by Mikeal C. Parsons

John Eifion Morgan-Wynne
Paul’s Pisidian Antioch Speech: Acts 13
Reviewed by Lars Kierspel

Jason M. H. Gaines
The Poetic Priestly Source
Reviewed by Frank H. Polak

Friedhelm Hartenstein and Konrad Schmid, eds.
Abschied von der Priesterschrift?: Zum Stand der Pentateuchdebatte
Reviewed by David M. Carr

Gary G. Hoag
Wealth in Ancient Ephesus and the First Letter to Timothy: Fresh Insights from Ephesiaca by Xenophon of Ephesus
Reviewed by Susana de Sola Funsten

Walter J. Houston
Amos: Justice and Violence
Reviewed by Karl Möller

Michael Labahn and Outi Lehtipuu, eds.
People under Power: Early Jewish and Christian Responses to the Roman Empire
Reviewed by Warren Carter

Antti Laato
Guide to Biblical Chronology
Reviewed by Ernst Axel Knauf

David A. Lambert
How Repentance Became Biblical: Judaism, Christianity, and the Interpretation of Scripture
Reviewed by Dru Johnson

Reinhard Pummer
The Samaritans: A Profile
Reviewed by Monika Schreiber

Benjamin Sargent
Written To Serve: The Use of Scripture in 1 Peter
Reviewed by Abson Joseph

Pyung Soo Seo
Luke’s Jesus in the Roman Empire and the Emperor in the Gospel of Luke
Reviewed by Frank E. Dicken

Martin Vahrenhorst
Der erste Brief des Petrus
Reviewed by Torrey Seland

Meredith J. C. Warren
My Flesh Is Meat Indeed: A Nonsacramental Reading of John 6:51–58
Reviewed by Dana Robinson

Konrad Zawadzki
Der Kommentar Cyrills von Alexandrien zum 1. Korintherbrief: Einleitung, kritischer Text, Übersetzung, Einzelanalyse
Reviewed by David Kneip

Jan 5, 2017

Review of A Syntax Guide for Readers of the Greek New Testament

Charles Lee Irons, A Syntax Guide for Readers of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2016). 

A plethora of resources are available for students and potential students of the Greek New Testament, including books, software, videos, and apps. One can be thankful for the availability of these resources but the sheer volume and variety can be intimidating. The situation is further complicated by the differing levels of competency in potential users and different opinions on the perceived value of any given resource. One person’s helpful tool is viewed by others as a crutch. The availability of Bible software and its ability to parse and quickly access original language resources (e.g., lexicons, grammars) also has been somewhat of a game changer. It is in this context that Charles Lee Irons’ A Syntax Guide for Readers of the Greek New Testament, fairly or unfairly, needs to be considered.

But before we examine the contribution that Irons’ work might make, we should take note of what exactly Irons seeks to accomplish. This is easy enough, as he notes, “This Syntax Guide is intended to assist readers of the Greek New Testament by providing brief explanations of intermediate and advanced syntactical features of the Greek text. It also provides suggested translations to help the reader make sense of unusual phrases and difficult sentences” (p. 7). It is not intended to replace or supplant parsing guides, lexicons, reader’s editions of the Greek New Testament, or apparently commentaries. “Rather it picks up where these other tools leave off, presupposes their use, and moves on to more complex issues of syntax, translation, some textual criticism, and limited exegesis” (p. 7). One distinguishing feature of the work is its emphasis on recognizing “Hebraic constructions, Semitic interference, and Septuagentisms in the syntax” (p. 11). Irons’ goal is a noble one. Namely, “to encourage students, pastors, and others to devote themselves to reading large portions of the Greek New Testament, ideally all of it” (p. 8).

The layout of the book is simple. The notations are grouped by book and arranged in chapter and verse order. Not every verse is covered but the majority seems to be. The chapter/verse number is followed by the pertinent Greek word or phrase and an explanation which often, but not always, includes an English translation. Also often included are brief syntactical notes and references to the “Hebraic constructions, Semitic interference, and Septuagentisms” noted above. This volume also includes a brief but helpful index of subjects listed not by page number but by biblical reference (which is preferable for a work like this). The syntactical notes seem to reference most often in Blass, Debrunner, and Funk (BDF) and Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, and not surprisingly, many of the lexical references are to BDAG. 

There are a number of features that make this volume helpful and desirable. First, the packaging and presentation are user-friendly. The book is the same size as the two most commonly used editions of the Greek text (NA and UBS) making it easier to carry. The layout is also generous in white space when compared to two similar works that I cut my teeth on, namely, the more densely-packed The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament by Rogers and Rogers and A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament by Zerwick. Second, Iron’s work does a bit of the grammatical legwork for his readers by providing references to the pertinent discussions in some of the most frequently referenced intermediate grammars. The reader will still need to look at these grammars to read the full discussion but it can still be a time-saver. Third, the occasional references to the “Hebraic constructions, Semitic interference, and Septuagentisms” is a nice plus. Most of these can probably be found in technical commentaries, but again, to have a quick reference in one place is nice.

There is not much to say by way of criticism. One could disagree with Irons’ conclusions here or there and one might wish that he would have produced a more comprehensive treatment. But taken on its stated terms, Irons delivers what he promises. Probably the biggest challenge for this work will be finding a niche in the crowded field of New Testament Greek resources. There are already well-established and similar works like those by Rogers and Rogers and Zerwick and it will also need to compete with B&H Academic’s Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament (EGGNT) and Baylor’s Handbook series. Perhaps its saving grace will be that it is a single volume packaged in a manageable-size that can easily be carried with a Greek New Testament. In any case, Irons’ work is a helpful, but not essential, resource that merits consideration by those seeking to become more proficient in reading their Greek texts.

You can read an excerpt here.

Thanks to Kregel for providing the copy used in this unbiased review.

Jan 4, 2017

Do You Have a Book Table at Your Church?

I think that having a book table at church is a wonderful idea. Here is a post on one church that tried it.

Jan 3, 2017

Free Logos "Book" for January: Bulletin for Biblical Research, Volume 1

The free Logos "Book" of the Month for January is Bulletin for Biblical Research, Volume 1. To get this resource you can go to the Logos' Free Book of Month page here.

Listening and Applying the Sermon

Mahlon Smith has a good post here on listening and applying a sermon. In essence, the recipient of the message participates in the message with an attitude of obedience and expectation of life change. Ultimately, application is a collaborative effort between the Spirit, Text, preacher/sermon, and recipient.

Jan 2, 2017

One More List of 2016's Significant Archaeological Discoveries

I have previously posted on a list of 2016's significant biblically-related archaeological discoveries by Christianity Today here, then a list here of 2016's significant archaeological discoveries in Israel by Haaretz, and now and probably finally, a list by Biblical Archaeology Review here on their top ten list of discoveries in 2016.

Eight Categories for the New Testament Use of the Old Testament

Michael Vlach has a helpful post here on eight ways that the New Testament uses the Old Testament.

Jan 1, 2017

Are We Misusing the Term Intertextuality?

This article by Russell Meek on intertextuality is a couple of years old but is worth reading. It is a great reminder of the dangers of using/misusing terms without understanding the presuppositions that undergird them.

HT: James Hamilton