Nov 17, 2018

Is Today Jesus' Birthday?

Clement of Alexandria (ca. AD 150-215), "speculated that Christ was born on this day, November 17, 3 BC." You can read more about it here.

Nov 16, 2018

Old Testament Holiness in Ancient Near Eastern Context

Some additional thoughts from John Walton's recent Old Testament Theology.
"In the ancient Near East, gods were rarely designated as holy. They were considered pure or clean, but there is no term comparable in semantic range to the Hebrew term (qādôš). The closest concept we find in Akkadian is the concept of dingir. This is a determinative noun used to designate the gods, the temples, objects associated with the gods (i. e., included in the divine realm), stars, etc. It is not an indication of a quality but an indication of identity. In Akkadian literature it is very rare for a person’s name to be categorized by use of a dingir (occasional kings), and never is a whole people group so designated (as Israel is designated as holy)."
John H. Walton, Old Testament Theology for Christians: From Ancient Context to Enduring Belief (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2017), 50.

Nov 15, 2018

The Primary Theme of the Old Testament

I have been working through John Walton's recent Old Testament Theology. Here is what Walton has to say about the main theme of the OT.
"I propose that the primary theme that progresses throughout the Old Testament and indeed throughout the Bible, is the establishment of God’s presence among his people (“I will put my dwelling place among you,” e.g., Lev 26:11) with the explicit of being in relationship with them/us (“I will . . . be your God, and you will be my people,” e.g., Ex 6:7; Lev 26:12; Jer 11:4; Ezek 36:28). I do not consider this to be the “center” of Old Testament theology, but it is an overarching theme, arguably the most dominant and persuasive of themes, the trajectory along which the program of God moves. It is the covenant which gives formal articulation to the stages of the relationship between God and his people; it is the promise of God that he will make such a relationship possible; it is the Torah that governs how people may live in the presence of God and sustain relationship with him; and it is the kingdom of God that expresses his role in the cosmos and in which we participate as we live out our relationship with him."
John H. Walton, Old Testament Theology for Christians: From Ancient Context to Enduring Belief (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2017), 26.

Nov 14, 2018

Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry

The fall 2018 issue of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary's Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry is available online for free here.

Nov 13, 2018

Three Functions of the Genealogies in Genesis

According to Bill Arnold, “the genealogies of Genesis have three functions. First, by means of a process known as “divergence,” each paragraph of ancient Israel is the father of other children who are not part of the Israelite ancestry and who become the ancestors of other people groups in the ancient world. Through such a process of differentiation, Genesis explains how Israel related to the other populations of the ancient world. Second, Israel’s lineage itself is traced through a straight line from Adam to Jacob in a process known as “invergence,” in which only one son continues the Israelite ancestry. This lineal descent gives way to twelve subunits in a single generation with the children of Jacob (Gen. 29:31–30:24, counting Dinah, the birth of Benjamin is recorded in 35:16–21), and from that point forward a third process, known as “segmentation,” becomes primary. With the children of Jacob, the genealogies of Genesis focus on the branches of the ancestral family, all considered within the covenant blessing of Israel’s ancestry. Thus, the book traces through this system of genealogies a line of descent for all humanity through twenty-five generations from Adam to the children of Jacob, creating a literary framework or skeleton for the entire book."

Bill T. Arnold, “The Genesis Narratives,” in Ancient Israel’s History: An Introduction to Issues and Sources, Bill T. Arnold and Richard S. Hess, eds. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2014), 32-33.

Nov 12, 2018

Robert Lowth and Poetry in the Prophets

I knew of Robert Lowth's contributions to the understanding of Hebrew poetry and parallelism. But I did not realize that he was one of the first (if not the first) to suggest that much of the prophetic books were poetic. For example, according to Jack Lundbom, "Lowth estimated about half of Jeremiah—at the beginning and the end—was poetry" (Jack R. Lundbom,  Writing Jeremiah: The Prophet and the Book [Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2013], 119).

Nov 11, 2018

Responding to People Who Don't Like You

Joel Rainey has some pretty good advice here. In a nutshell he suggests that one should recognize, pray, learn, lead and love them but do read the entire post.