Jun 10, 2017

The Point of Biblical Theology

"The point of biblical theology, therefore, is to reaffirm revelation in history within a robust view of the divinely inspired reliability of the biblical text itself, which will require restoring the humility of the theologian before the text and, supremely, before God, whose text it is.”

Scott Hafemann, “What’s the Point of Biblical Theology? Reflections Prompted by Brevard Childs,” in
Biblical Theology: Past, Present, and Future, ed. Corey Walsh and Mark. W Elliott (Cascade: Eugene, OR, 2016), 119.

Jun 9, 2017

Archaeological Evidence for King David

Kenneth Way has a good post here discussing the archaeological evidence for King David.

Jun 8, 2017

My Screwtape Letter

I was recently going through some of my old seminary assignments and came across a paper that I apparently modeled after C. S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters. I must confess that I do not remember the assignment or the course for which it was created. But, I have lightly edited it and condensed it because I was surprised about how timely it was. So with apologies to the esteemed Lewis, here is a reminder for whom it might be helpful.

Dear Wormwood,

Thank you for enlisting my help concerning Charles. Indeed I have had my eye on him for many years and I can tell you that he is so gullible at times that I even wonder if he is worthy of my expertise. However, I have learned that the Enemy sometimes delights in using one as insignificant as him so we must not take anything for granted. Therefore permit me to suggest possible strategies that you might use against him.

You can help Charles to become dissatisfied with his life by placing those who are more talented, intelligent, and wealthy around him so that he will quickly take his eyes off of the Enemy, forgetting all the undeserved blessings which he already enjoys. Make sure that you remind him how great a sacrifice he is making by going to seminary and is thus entitled to a reciprocal measure of prosperity. Take care though that you do not mention the words “prosperity theology” for he claims to reject it. Allow him to point a finger at the prosperity teachers without recognizing how close he comes to this theology at times. In fact it might even helpful in inflating his pride by reminding him how much more biblical he is than the health and wealth teachers. A little subtlety will go a long way here.

The beauty of cultivating envy is that you can also cultivate greed. By feeding Charles’ envy you can also create an insatiable appetite for more. Let me suggest that you proceed carefully. You must seek to develop this greed within reason. Ideally, greed is most effective when it does not involve much more than a person has, but just a little more than they have now. This approach is effective because most humans feel that they deserve a little more than they have now.

Jun 7, 2017

Is It Proper to Preach the Psalms?

To be honest, I have always assumed that the Psalms could and should be preached. But as Sidney Greidanus points out, Claus Westermann, Donald Gowan, and others believe that the Psalms can be prayed and sung but they should not be preached. but Greidanus offers four reasons why the Psalms should be preached.
  1. "The editors of the Psalter have placed Psalm 1, a torah (wisdom) psalm, at the head of this collection in order to signal that every following psalm is to be read as part of God's torah, teaching, instruction for Israe1."
  2. "Though many psalms originated as a human word to God, every psalm is now part of the Psalter and was accepted in the Canon as God's word for Israel."
  3. "The New Testament authors accepted the Psalter not just as Israel's word to God but as God's word to his people"
  4. "Jesus not only prayed the psalms but used them, more than any other Old Testament book, for his preaching and teaching."

Sidney Greidanus, Preaching Christ from Psalms: Foundations for Expository Sermons in the Christian Year (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016), 3-4.

Jun 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.

Holly Beers
The Followers of Jesus as the ‘Servant’: Luke’s Model from Isaiah for the Disciples in Luke-Acts
Reviewed by Phillip Long

Simon Chi-Chung Cheung
Wisdom Intoned: A Reappraisal of the Genre ‘Wisdom Psalms’
Reviewed by Phil J. Botha

Michael V. Fox
Proverbs: An Eclectic Edition with Introduction and Textual Commentary
Reviewed by Richard Clifford

Esther Fuchs
Feminist Theory and the Bible: Interrogating the Sources
Reviewed by Lisa Davison

Trine Bjornung Hasselbalch
Meaning and Context in the Thanksgiving Hymns: Linguistic and Rhetorical Perspectives on a Collection of Prayers from Qumran
Reviewed by Blake A. Jurgens

Derek Olsen
Reading Matthew with Monks: Liturgical Interpretation in Anglo-Saxon England
Reviewed by Brian C. Dennert

Mikeal C. Parsons
Reviewed by Joshua W. Jipp
Reviewed by Troy M. Troftgruben

Avigdor Shinan and Yair Zakovitch
From Gods to God: How the Bible Debunked, Suppressed, or Changed Ancient Myths and Legends
Reviewed by Frederick E. Greenspahn

Bryan A. Stewart
Priests of My People: Levitical Paradigms for Early Christian Ministers
Reviewed by Richard S. Briggs

Jun 5, 2017

Temples as Banks in the Ancient World?

I like many others have often taught that temples in the ancient world often functioned as de facto banks. But if Marty Stevens is correct then such a linkage as at best imprecise or inadequate. Note the following helpful clarification from Stevens.
But the ancient temple as “bank” is imprecise and inaccurate. Most precisely, temples functioned as “treasuries” or “depositories,” a place for the storage and retrieval of (precious) commodities and metals by the depositor. Temple archives demonstrate that the temple held deposits by individuals but did not allow others to access them or in any other way use the negotiable instruments that complete the definition of “banking.” Temples lent their own property, not that of others on deposit with the temple. If the temple used the deposits at all, it was acting as a broker at the direction of the depositor, who retained the risk of the use. The defining issue is the accountability for risk. The broker-intermediary does not assume any risk; a banker-intermediary assumes risks as a creditor. So temples were not “banks” in antiquity. Rather, the more precise designation for the role of the temple in antiquity would be “financial intermediary.” As collector, user, and disburser of goods and financial services, the temple transferred value from the contributor to consumer.”
Marty E. Stevens, Temples, Tithes, and Taxes: The Temple and the Economic Life of Ancient Israel (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2006), 137.