Oct 27, 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. 

Sean Adams
The Genre of Acts and Collected Biography
Reviewed by Brian C. Small

Corrine Carvalho
Reading Jeremiah: A Literary and Theological Commentary
Reviewed by Marvin A. Sweeney

Brian R. Doak
Phoenician Aniconism in Its Mediterranean and Ancient Near Eastern Contexts
Reviewed by Christopher B. Hays
Reviewed by Michael B. Hundley

Susan Elizabeth Humble
A Divine Round Trip: The Literary and Christological Function of the Descent/Ascent Leitmotif in the Gospel of John
Reviewed by William Loader

Robert K. McIver
Mainstream or Marginal? The Matthean Community in Early Christianity
Reviewed by Susana de Sola Funsten

Stuart S. Miller
At the Intersection of Texts and Material Finds: Stepped Pools, Stone Vessels, and Ritual Purity among the Jews of Roman Galilee
Reviewed by Matthew J. Grey

Patrick Pouchelle
Dieu éducateur: Une novelle approche d’un concept de la théologie biblique entre Bible Hébraïque, Septante et littérature grecque classique
Reviewed by Philippe Guillaume

Peter H. Rice
Behold, Your House Is Left to You: The Theological and Narrative Place of the Jerusalem Temple in Luke’s Gospel
Reviewed by Bart J. Koet

Shively T. J. Smith
Strangers to Family: Diaspora and 1 Peter's Invention of God’s Household
Reviewed by Andrew Mbuvi

Oct 26, 2017

Five Questions with Roger Pugh on Hebrews

My friend, Dr. Roger Pugh, recently published a commentary on Hebrews entitled, Hearing God's Voice and Responding in Faith: A Commentary on Hebrews. Roger is currently the pastor South Clinton Baptist Church in Clinton, Tennessee. He graciously offered to take time out of his busy schedule to answer the following questions.

Question: What originally drew you to the book of Hebrews?

I have always liked certain parts of Hebrews, but I probably would not have attempted a commentary without direction from God. Other parts of Hebrews perplexed me and were difficult to interpret, and preaching it seemed like a daunting task much less doing a commentary on it. At this point, I had preached through Hebrews once, but there was still much I didn’t understand. When I sensed God wanted me to begin studying Hebrews with the goal of writing a commentary, I did so, but with a prayer that God would help me understand it and write the book since I felt pretty inadequate. So in answer to your question, God drew me to it, and my interest in the subject matter of Hebrews grew as the project progressed. I have found that the more that I study it, the more I am drawn to it. The message of Hebrews is one of the most edifying in the New Testament because it helps us see the greatness of Christ and how His greatness can sustain us and help us fulfill God’s purposes in the Christian life.

Question: What motivated you to write this commentary?

As I said above, direction from God was my beginning motivation. But the motivation to keep going in the project came in several ways. As I grew in understanding, the richness of the theology of Hebrews kept me coming back to study it. However, at one point I stopped for a year because I did not know what to do with the warning passages. At a pastor’s conference, I heard Dr. David Allen say that all the warning passages go together and are based on the warning in chapter two (paraphrasing here). I went back to studying them, and though I came to a different view than Dr. Allen holds, the idea that they went together helped me get past my sticking point and I was able to proceed. So his idea was a motivation to continue. My wife was also a great encouragement. When I doubted I could finish it, she would encourage me to keep going. I am blest to have a wife that believes in me. But my greatest motivation came through simply asking God to motivate me. At times frustration or weariness would drain me of motivation, and I would ask God to renew my motivation, and He did. This was important because I had to do major rewriting several times to get to the place where I and those helping me with feedback were satisfied with it.

Question: Who do you think would benefit most from reading this commentary?

It is my hope that anyone who reads it would be edified by reading it, but my goal was to write a commentary that pastors and laymen could use to have a better understanding of Hebrews. Since Hebrews is deep in its theology, I wanted to present that theology in a way that was accessible to the church as a whole. Some commentaries attempt to cover everything comprehensively. Mine does not. I found that often when reading commentaries on Hebrews I would find myself missing the big picture because of all the debates on different issues I was reading about in the commentary. I lost the big picture due to all the specifics. Solomon said, “The more the words, the less the meaning...” in Ecclesiastes 6:11. So my goal was brevity without missing the big picture of the meaning of what is going on in Hebrews. Some commentaries answer the rarely asked questions of specialists, and these are helpful. I own some of them. But my commentary seeks to present the meaning in a way that will help with understanding, but will also help in applying, teaching, and preaching the message of Hebrews. I have also included illustrations at the beginning of each chapter as well as in illustration boxes at different places in the chapters. This is done to help with understanding and also to help the message be more vivid through examples. Also, an application box is provided at the end of each chapter to give ideas of how one can apply the message of Hebrews. This helps with knowing what to do with the message if you are using the commentary for personal edification, but also provides some ideas to pastors as to how they might apply the text of Scripture for their people. There are some comments on the Greek text in the footnotes for those who know Greek, but these are provided as a supplement to the main purpose of the straightforward exposition of Scripture. It is my hope that everyday church people will have some “Aha” moments that will help them enjoy and profit from the wonderful message of Hebrews.

Question: As someone who has preached through Hebrews, what did you find most challenging and what did you find the most rewarding?

The most challenging parts of Hebrews for me without question are the warning passages. They are challenging theologically, intellectually, and emotionally. Figuring out who the passages addressed and how they were to be applied was a great challenge theologically. Sorting through the arguments of people of different viewpoints was intellectually challenging, and being confronted by them personally was emotionally and spiritually challenging. Yet behind these warnings stands the love of God that is too great to let us continue on a destructive path. People who love us tell us the truth. These passages are an expression of the great love of God. The most rewarding passages for me have to be the passages that tell us who Christ is and how He delights to help us. As I studied about the greatness of our Savior, my heart was encouraged, my awe in worship was increased, and my confidence was settled that Christ is enough for whatever we face. Before I undertook this project, I sometimes wondered why chapters seven through the first part of chapter ten spent so much time discussing who Christ was. Now I know that Christ is the key to everything taught in Hebrews. There is no rest, no victory, no perseverance, and no hope without Him. But with Him, all things are possible. We must understand who Christ is so that we can face difficulty and be overcomers in this life through faith in Him. 

Question: What other must-have resources on Hebrews that you would recommend for the average preacher or Sunday school teacher?

For the average preacher or Sunday school teacher, I would recommend Exploring Hebrews by John Phillips, The Letter to the Hebrews by William Barclay, The Bible Exposition Commentary New Testament vol. 2 by Warren Wiersbe, and for application and illustration ideas in a sermon format, The Book of Hebrews by Johnny Hunt.

For the pastor that wants to dig deeper, I would recommend William Lane’s great two volume commentary on Hebrews 47a and 47b (understanding of Greek needed), F. F. Bruce’s The Epistle to the Hebrews, Peter O’Brien’s commentary The Letter to the Hebrews, and David Allen’s Hebrews commentary.

Thank you Dr. Pugh. Check out Hearing God's Voice and Responding in Faith. It is available in hard copy and Kindle formats.