Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Finally, I don't understand when Strauss says, "I need to say first of all that I like the English Standard Version (ESV). After all, the ESV is a moderate revision (about 6% I believe) of the Revised Standard Version (RSV; 1952), which itself was done by very competent scholars." But he then describes the translation as "overly literal—full of archaisms, awkward language, obscure idioms, irregular word order, and a great deal of 'Biblish.' Biblish is produced when the translator tries to reproduce the form of the Greek or Hebrew without due consideration for how people actually write or speak." With that said what's there to like? He says it's a "good supplement to versions that use normal English." Why? How is a translation so plagued with problems a good supplement?
I will watch with great interest to see how this plays out. Also, there was a paper read on another translation which has not had enough visibility--The Holman Christian Standard Bible. You can find that here.
Friday, November 21, 2008
This is not a new interpretation and the more recent commentaries address the issue. I think B/K have got this one right. This is one of those cases where a surface reading of the text can lead you one way but in fact the details, when properly understood, point in another direction. But the question becomes what difference does it really make? Isn't the point the same no matter what the original context--don't show favoritism!
In one sense this is true. It is possible to wrangle over details of interpretation and then miss the main point. On the other hand if our goal is to understand the Bible and to explain it accurately then we can't simply bypass these issues. And while in this case the application is not affected one way or the other, this may not be true in other passages. Competent application is always built on solid exegesis. Sometimes faulty applications are read back into passages and therefore skew the interpretation. I'll give one brief example. Often we see Gen 31:49 "May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other" as a divided pendant worn by two people as a sign of their love for each other and to trust God to care for them in their absence. The problem is the context of the passage is one of distrust! The next verse Laban says to Jacob, "If you mistreat my daughters or if you take any wives besides my daughters, even though no one is with us, remember that God is a witness between you and me." (Note the NIV Study Bible text note says, "May . . . other. The so-called Mizpah benediction, which in context is in fact a denunciation or curse." (en loc)) But we are so used to seeing the verse applied in a loving context we assume that's how it was originally intended. With that said, I think it is worth understanding the original meaning of the text. That's why I read commentaries!
Back to ZECNT. In summary these "In Depth" sections, few as they are, are an added bonus in what is quickly becoming one of my favorite commentaries to recommend to pastors and small group leaders.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
For this text I compared the following Bibles: ESV Study Bible, TNIV Study Bible (the notes in this Bible are the same as the NIV Study Bible), NLT Study Bible, NKJV Study Bible, The Life Application Study Bible, The MacArthur Study Bible and The Ryrie Study Bible. The first to note is all these study Bibles come from varying degrees of a Calvinist perspective which leads one to ask don't the Arminians have a study Bible? Well, they certainly don't have the choices that the Calvinists do. A couple that have gone out of print are The Reflecting God Study Bible (which was an adaption of the NIV Study Bible and the old The Wesley Study Bible. There is a new Wesley Study Bible due to come out next year from Cokesbury. Otherwise some have pointed to the Life in the Spirit Study Bible which is Arminian but also Pentecostal. The Society of Evangelical Arminians has a small write up on this Bible and its treatment of election which some will find useful. With that aside let's look at the "Calvinist" study Bibles.
The ESV Study Bible offered the most view points (4). It certainly has the longest note and dedicated a couple of different notes for the passage. It argues heavily for the view that these are not genuine Christians and salvation may not be lost. The TNIV Study and the Ryrie Study Bible name three different views. The former leans in the direction of these being "professing Christians" and the latter, while a bit vague, seems to lean in the direction of the hypothetical view. (This is, in fact, his viewpoint if you check his Basic Theology, p 385-86.) MacArthur presents only one view at the verse itself but offers more discussion in a section called "Interpretive Challenges." In typical MacArthur fashion he states, "There is no possibility of these verses referring to losing salvation." The NLT Study Bible and the Life Application Study Bible offer an interpretation but do not indicate there are other options. The former does say it is "one of the most difficult" passages.
Overall I think the ESV study Bible has the best coverage (from a Calvinistic perspective). The TNIV Study Bible would be my second choice. Let's remember notes are just that--notes, not dissertations. While it is nice when a study Bible offers a little lengthier note (as in this case with the ESV) that is not always possible. If a note at least alerts the reader of interpretive options then they can pursue further study if so desired. Those that offered only one interpretation (NLT Study Bible and Life Application) would be last on my list. What about Ryrie and MacArthur? I understand that in these notes I'm getting the author's unique perspective. I don't expect them to give alternate views although I think it is nice when they do.
Next week we'll look at I Tim 2:12 and the issue of women in the church.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Do we really need a new commentary series? After spending the weekend with Zondervan's debut volume of a new commentary series, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, I have to say yes. The first volume in this series is authored by Craig Blomberg and Mariam J. Kamell on the book of James . Blomberg talks about his hesitancy of doing another commentary but after seeing the prospectus and the format distinctive he was sold. Having worked through the book of James over many years he felt most qualified to do this entry in the series. He says, "I have had to study this epistle more intensively than any other book of the Bible." (13). Shortly after accepting the project he asked his research assistant, Mariam Kamell, if she would like to work on the commentary. Kamell had done her M.A. thesis on aspects of James. She accepted and the result is truly collaborative effort. Blomberg explains more of this in detail in the "Author's Preface."
I'll talk a little about the format in this blog and later I will comment on specific issues in James. The series is targeted towards the "busy pastor or teacher" and is designed for a "one-stop shopping approach to adequate sermon preparation or lesson planning." In order to better facilitate this goal Zondervan consulted with pastors, teachers, ministry leaders, and seminary professors to glean what would be most helpful in a commentary that would be useful to the church. The result is a commentary which devotes seven sections to each passage of Scripture treated. The first is the "Literary Context" which helps the reader see the connection between what precedes and what follows that particular material. I especially enjoyed this section as it kept me from getting lost in the details of the text. Too often we forget the larger context and can't seem to follow the "train of thought" the author is presenting. The next section is the "Main Idea." Here the main idea of the passage is presented in one or two sentences. For preachers looking for the "big idea" of a passage this will be very welcome. Then follows the "Translation and Graphical layout." Here the author provides their own translation and then diagrams the passage. This is really nice. The diagramming of a passage helps the reader to visually see how the text flows together and how the parts relate to each other. The "Structure" section describes the "flow of thought in the passage and explains how certain interpretative decisions regarding the relationship of the clauses were made in the passage." (11) The "Exegetical Outline" provides a more detailed outline of the passage. The "Explanation of the Text" is where you find the verse by verse exegesis of the passage. The final section is "Theology in Application." Here you will find the theological message of passage summarized and suggestions on "what the message of the passage is for the church today." (12)
Pastors and small group leaders will want to take full advantage of this new series. Don't let the size fool you. This is a first-rate commentary at the beginner/intermediate level. It does interact with the Greek which make some avoid using it. But there is plenty in here for those who don't know Greek.
Next time I will talk about the structure of James and how Blomberg/Kamell understand it and I'll look at a couple of passages of interest.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Next week we will start with the very controversial passage of Hebrews 6:4-6.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Amongst a myriad of methodological approaches to the Psalms, Goldingay's approach is from a Canonical context (think Brevard Childs). He sees almost no need to identify the author, or the Sitz im Leben, the "situation in life" in which the Psalms were composed for. In this way, he matches the series goal to write a commentary for "ministers, seminary students, and Bible study leaders. Of these groups we have most in mind clergy and future clergy, namely seminary students." (Volume I: Psalms 1-41, p. 8) But if you think the academic and textual comments are scant, think twice. Goldingay gives his own translation of each Psalm, followed by a large volume of textual notes both in the text and in footnotes. He then gives his interpretation and the "Theological Implications" of the Psalm.
After reading his 70-page introduction to the Psalms I had some reservation in giving the book a warm and positive review. This was partly because I have extensively studies the Psalms and read quite a bit of material on Psalm Studies. He believes that the Psalms anonymity, including the "Davidic" ones (see his notes on the Hebrew le in the superscriptions for his wonderfully grounded argument) open up the Psalms for use in both Israel and our own churches. Given the patriarchal society of the Old Testament this anonymity also may protect the fact that some of the Psalms may have written by women (although he only mentions this in passing).
He gives a good account for the MT's inclusion of the superscription in the text itself as well as a good synopsis of the words which appear in the margins of most translations as notes for singers/choir directors, eg., selah. He also gives a good overview of Hebrew Poetry and the use of parallelism.
The reason for my positive and warm review is that the introduction complements the actual commentary very nicely. The book is well organized, the layout is simple to understand and the writing is conversational and the book is actually enjoyable to read. Even for someone who has read so extensively in Psalms studies I was able to learn very valuable insights in the Psalter and how the church can benefit from them in their own worship.
Eric Karloski works in the Used Book Department at Baker Book House and has recently been accepted for a position as Professor of Old Testament Studies at Life Theological Seminary, Bhubaneswar, India
Monday, November 3, 2008
This book is primarily a survey although Kostenberger does provide critiques along the way. Those looking for hearty critiques may sometimes be disappointed but she does provide further resources in numerous footnotes. As the title suggests the book focuses on Jesus and therefore most of the discussions are on the Gospels. A number of times I had to remind myself of this as I kept wondering why she wasn't dealing with this or that passage from Paul. Furthermore, I sometimes wished for more interaction with certain authors like William Webb. However, because Webb does not work much with the Gospels she concludes the "Gospel evidence does not feature prominently in [his] hermeneutical scheme." (169) She does interact with other prominent evangelicals such as Grant Osborne, Douglas Groothuis, Ben Witherington, and R. T. France.
An important issue for Kostenberger is Jesus' selection of twelve men as apostles. She asserts "Despite advancing various explanations, feminists have not been able to account satisfactorily for the fact that Jesus appointed twelve men as apostles." (213) Egalitarians will counter that Kostenberger is overstating her case and simply dismissing their responses as wrong without sufficient argument. Kostenberger devotes one chapter to various passages from the Gospels of Jesus and women. Here she persuasively demonstrates how difficult it is to portray that Jesus was in any meaningful sense a feminist by 21st century standards (radical, reformed or evangelical). It appears that if a strong case is going to be made for feminism then it can't be found on the basis of anything Jesus said or did. The case must be made elsewhere and this is precisely how so many today are arguing. Most prominent have been those who follow along the lines of Webb in his redemptive hermeneutic. See for example Scot McKnight's most recent book The Blue Parakeet.
Because the feminist debate so frequently ends up centered around Pauline texts (at least in evangelical circles) this is a refreshing volume to remind us that the Gospel evidence must not be neglected. For those interested in the spectrum of ideas represented in Feminist Theology this is an excellent introduction.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The contributors of the study notes represent some of the finest in contemporary conservative Christian scholarship. Among them are Gordon Wenham, Duane A. Garrett, C. John Collins, Andreas J. Kostenberger, Clinton Arnold, Grant Osborne, Robert Yarbrough and Thomas R. Schreiner to name only a few. Finally, these Bibles have been printed on the finest paper and are all Smyth-Sewn to ensure a quality final product. With your purchase of the print edition you will always have access to a FREE ESV Online Study Bible which offers the full content of the print version, plus additional unique features. You must see these first hand in order to appreciate it fully so stop in today and see for yourself. You won't be disappointed.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
These guides were based on the award-winning NIV Application Commentary series. This means that each guide brings with it the insights of top evangelical scholars like Douglas Moo, John Walton and Karen Jobes to name a few.
But enough with the basic facts, I should tell you why I recommend this series: because for someone who has grown up in church (like myself) this study guide curriculum goes refreshingly deeper than other series. I don't say that to put down other books, or to exonerate myself, but just to recognize that when you grow up in the church it's easy to know all of the "right answers" to common Bible study questions and it's easy to get bored with Bible study. Because this series focuses on scholarship (but still maintains accesibility) it is challenging me to think more deeply about verses I've heard many times, and exposing me to knowledge about the text that you only typically find in commentaries.
I recommend this series to those who want something "deeper" in their small groups and Sunday school classes, and I especially recommend it to those who have been through numerous study guides and programs before - these might reignite your passion to study the Bible again. My Bible study group just started Romans. As we work through it, I'll add other thoughts about the series to this post, so check back!
Andrew Rogers is a Promotions Manager for Zondervan. Check back each Friday for his New From Zondervan reviews.
Friday, September 26, 2008
"...The lifeblood of Christianity is found in its ability to translate itself across new cultural and geographic barriers and to recognize that areas that once were the mission field can, over time, become the very heart of Christian vitality, while those areas that were once at the heart can lose the faith they once espoused...places like Lagos, Nigeria, and Seoul, South Korea, where the presence of Christianity at one time seemed almost unimaginable, are today vibrant centers of the Christian faith." (p.6)
Though this text is not brand new (2007), considering it as a textbook it is still new enough to merritt a review, and I was so impressed by Tennent's work I felt I had to mention it here.
There is much to learn from the global Church. It's easy in developed countries, where church is perfected and polished, available in a thousand flavors and expressions, to assume that we have the corner on theology. But as Tennent asserts it is often in those places that seem to be less churched where the Church is often at its most vibrant, relevant, and offering fresh insights on who God is.
This book is completely accessible for lay readers and the general audience. It looks and feels like a textbook but Tennent's passion for his beliefs come through in a powerful way. I would recommend this for Sunday School classes, Missions classes, and if you have an ambitious small group it could be used there as well.
"Those of us from the older northern churches of Christendom must listen attentively to these new southern Christians. We are no longer the only, or even the central, players on the filed. Admittedly, this is not an easy adjustment for us. We are not accustomed to living in a world where the heartlands of Christianity are located in Africa, Latin America and Asia. nevertheless, twenty-first-century Christianity will largely be determined by the faithfulness of those outside our primary sphere of influence. After all, the theology that matters the most is wherever the most Christians are located." (p. 272)
Andrew Rogers is a Promotions Manager for Zondervan. Check by every Friday for his posts on Zondervan's new books and resources.
Friday, September 19, 2008
So begins Roger Olson in How to be Evangelical without being Conservative.
In this short book Olson manages to tackle a number of religious/social/political issues that are often unnecessarily used to polarize viewpoints, while attempting to redeem words like "evangelical." Each chapter begins by asking a relevant but often unspoken question: What does it mean to "Take the Bible Seriously Without Literalism"? Or to "Celebrate America without Nationalism"? To even to be "Religionless without Secularism"?
As we enter the final stages of the Presidential race I encourage you to read this book. Olson does not present a partisan argument, but encourages readers to think beyond pundit labels and media slant. You may not agree with all of his thoughts, but his reasoned approach and personal tone are worth reading. This book also includes a glowing foreword by Scot McKnight in which he says:
"This book reminds us that the two-option approach so popular in our world today, two options that are held with utter certitude by both sides, is not always the right one. Sometimes, in fact, there is a Third Way, a way that might not be so cocksure and certain, but just might be 'Here I stand, so help me God.'"
Check back every Friday for Andrew's updates on new Zondervan resources for ministry and Bible study! Andrew Rogers is a Promotions Manager for Zondervan.
Friday, September 12, 2008
HippoBooks is a shared imprint among several publishers and partners including Zondervan and African publishing houses. The vision for HippoBooks is to stimulate growth in the African Church by enabling African scholars to address their native realities from an evangelical perspective.
As the world grows smaller through the Internet and easier travel, African issues grow in importance for the Western Church. HippoBooks allow us to get a firsthand look into a larger vision of the body of Christ, and its problems, guided by trustworthy scholars.
If your church has a multi-ethnic congregation, then I would especially recommend this book to you. It's emphasis on understanding cultural sensitivities and it's concise dealing with each topic make it a handy reference tool.
Speaking of the topics, I was particularly intrigued when I saw this book because of the variety of ethical issues it covers: Church and State, War and Violence, Striking, Contraception, Polygamy, Domestic Violence, Incest, Rape, Witchcraft and many more. Often reading a non-western perspective on these topics is enlightening and gets me thinking about the Church and faith issues in new ways.
This would also be great reading for anyone travelling, even just short term. in Africa. It would also be good for students entering a missions program this fall. Kunhiyop's writing is in-depth but not overly academic. (Don't balk at the book's 400 pages, it reads much faster than it looks.)
Thanks to Baker Book House for allowing me to be a guest blogger. Check back next Friday for more news about Zondervan's ministry and Bible study resources. I'll be posting weekly and if you use any of the resources mentioned don't hesitate to leave a comment, we want to know what you think!
Andrew Rogers, Promotions Manager, Zondervan
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
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Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I'd love to hear feedback from every point of view, but please, let's keep it clean.
With this first post we'll examine "Papa." For the remainder of the discussion I will refer to "Papa" interchangibly with "God" meaning the figure of the Trinity traditionally called "God the Father."
How is he/she portrayed and what are the implications of this portrayal? I'll list a few observations, you can post your responses.
1) God is a woman named "Papa": See p.86 and 91. The average Christian thinks of God as a man, even the Lord's prayer refers to "Our Father," but a number of scholar's conclude that God is genderless. What are your thoughts?
2) God has scars from the cross: On p.95-96 Papa reveals her scarred wrists to Mack. "We were there (on the cross) together." (p.96) Mack asks about Matt.27:46 - "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (NIV) Papa responds with "you didn't understand the mystery." So was God crucified with Christ, or was Christ forsaken, or both? One step further, was the Holy Spirit crucified too? ("We were there...")
3) God became human with Christ: See p. 99: "When we three spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of god, we became fully human. We also chose to embrace all the limitations that this entailed. Even though we have always been present in this created universe, we now became flesh and blood." Despite the pronoun and tense confusion in this paragraph, what does this say of the incarnation? Were all three human? Or was only Christ human with the other two present in him? Can this question really be answered definitvely?
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Galli’s book is a helpful and balanced antidote to the all too common picture of Jesus as someone who was perennially nice and just walked about spouting gems of wisdom to passers by. The Jesus of the Gospels is far removed from this image. Galli observes how Jesus “sternly charged” people and was sometimes angry. He cursed the fig tree and destroyed a herd of swine. The reactions to Jesus’ actions are described as “amazed,” “utterly astounded,” “terrified,” “fear and trembling,” and “terror and amazement.”
A particular strength of the book is Galli’s pastoral experience and keen eye for avoiding extremes. Galli is a former pastor and a senior managing editor of Christianity Today. No where does this experience show better than when he carefully nuances his presentation. For example, chapter 16 begins with “Just when we need him most, God forsakes us.” (p.165) Galli acknowledges that “this is a disturbing thought . . . but it is a truth of human experience. We would do well to acknowledge it up front.” In a chapter that is brimming with the potential for pessimism Galli faces a truth of the Christian life and shows the silver lining.
This is a book that is forged in the realities of the Christian life. In the end we find Jesus—undomesticated, mean and wild but “pulsating with unnerving and irresistible love.”
Monday, June 30, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Similar to the ending of Ecclesiastes, Leithart chooses not to leave his readers with a hopeless sentiment by reminding us, "But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works." (Ps. 73:28)
Here you'll find helpful tips on Christian resources, news about Christian books and other releases, as well as book and resource reviews. We encourage you to post your thoughts and to check back frequently. We will be posting weekly.
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