Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I just wanted to express my sincere wish for all of you out there in the biblioblogosphere-namely, that you have blessed holiday season.

I appreciate all of you who have taken the time to read, comment, and visit my humble, little blog. I hope to have some interesting things in store for 2009, and am looking forward to see what's in store on the many blogs I visit and yet to have visited in the coming year.

So once again, Christmas blessings to you and yours.

In Christ,


Thursday, December 18, 2008

ZECNT (James): An Interview with Craig Blomberg

As many of you know who attended ETS/SBL, Craig Blomberg and Mariam Kamell co-wrote the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on James, the first appearing in this brand new series. Craig Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary, was kind enough to answer a few questions about this new commentary.

1) Craig, you have reviewed, read, and written many commentaries. Talk a bit about what makes the ZECNT unique, and why this series should be on the desk of pastors and students alike.

The format is distinctive and creates a one-stop shopping resource for the busy pastor or teacher. Readers can find for each passage of preachable length the literary context, the main idea, the grammatical structure of the Greek text, an exegetical outline, verse-by-verse commentary, and a substantial section called "Theology in Application" which highlights other places in Scripture where the key themes of the passage appears and then suggests key applications of that theme more generally.

2) Many disagreements about the structure of James exist (lack of coherence, etc.). With the graphical layout feature of the ZECNT, do these questions about the structure of the epistle reach any resolutions?

We think we have come up with a plausible outline and we discuss briefly in our introduction why we favor it over the main alternatives. But whether readers think we have reached a resolution will be for them to determine!

3) What surprises might the reader encounter in their reading of James (for example James 2.17ff: 'faith v. works')? 2:18ff.?

Well, our resolution of the supposed tension between James and Paul on this topic proves little different from what a number of evangelical commentators have been saying over the last half-century, but our explanation of the puzzling question of who is saying what to whom in vv. 18-19 receives an answer that we have retrieved from a century or more ago, which has not been defended in quite a long time!

4) Could you talk a bit about your collaboration with Mariam Kamell on this commentary?

Mariam was one of my M.A.N.T. students. I was her thesis advisor and then she was my research assistant for two years. Now she is finishing her Ph.D. thesis in St. Andrews. She has worked on James this entire time so she was a natural partner to select for the project. Three or four friends at other institutions have done this kind of thing with their students and their model challenged me to consider doing it as well. It's a win-win situation all around. While I certainly did more than just 50% as much work as I would have done had I worked on my own, it was still considerably less than the amount that would have been required had we each not researched and written first drafts of different sections of the book before comparing, critiquing and revising each other's material. And it gives Mariam a nice publication feather in her cap as she begins the job hunting process.

5) One of the strong points of this commentary are the Theology in Application sections at the end of each unit. Could you talk a bit about the challenges of writing these pieces in finding the significance and relevance of how James' epistle speaks to Christians and the church in concrete and practical ways?

I think I'm wired more than many scholars in the direction of practical application and I know Mariam is. So, once you have lived with the material exegetically for some time and reviewed what writers before you have done when they have created applications, so many ideas suggest themselves that we really had to be selective in terms of which we included.

Thanks for your time, Craig!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Off the Grid with the Allman Brothers

"Statesboro Blues" is my favorite Allman Brothers song. I believe it cracked Rolling Stone magazines top ten for best guitar songs. Although this performance will never match the Fillmore East version (1971) with the late, great Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, and the late, Berry Oakley, this is a suitable version from 2003, with Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes trading licks, and Gregg Allman doing his thing.


Free Biblical Greek classes

In my perusal around the internet and biblioblogosphere, I wanted to point out a couple of different free Greek courses made available.

The first I discovered was via YouTube, and is taught by a Jeff A. Jenkins and is comprised of 39 classes and the first class can be accessed here:

The second resource I discovered was from Jim Hamilton, who has an excellent post on how to prepare for second semester Greek. The resource is Ted Hildebrandt, who posts 28 video lessons along with mp3 files for Greek vocab.

I applaud those who are offering these types of resources, as this is yet another move in the right direction, making seminary-level resources available to the wider public. Make sure you check these out!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

When Scot McKnight met F.F. Bruce

I have recently read the outstanding and thought-provoking book Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight. I believe Scot has spoken somewhat prophetically in this book on what the Bible is, how it is to be read, and specifically, the role of women in ministry. Do go out and purchase this book if you have not. I believe you will be challenged, provoked, and inspired by what Scot has to say.

In the chapter (15) entitled "Silencing the Blue Parakeet (2): Women in Church Ministries 5" has an interesting story of when he and his family met with F.F. Bruce for some afternoon tea. It is worth quoting the story in full and pay close attention to what Bruce says in this conversation.

In the Spring of 1981, as a doctoral student in Nottingham, England, I piled Kris and our two kids, Laura and Lukas, into our small car and drove to Buxton. Professor F.F. Bruce, perhaps the most widely known evangelical scholar of the previous generation and a specialist on Paul, had invited our family to his home for some late-afternoon tea. When we arrived, we were welcomed into the home by Professor Bruce, and we sat in the living room for about two hours. During that time our son managed to spill a glass of orange squash on the Bruce's rug, which Professor Bruce dismissed with a 'whatever can be spilled has been spilled on that rug.'

During a break, as Kris was talking to Mrs. Bruce, I asked Professor Bruce a question that I had stored up for him (and I repeat our conversation from memory): 'Professor Bruce, what do you think of women's ordination?'

'I don't think the New Testament talks about ordination,' he replied.

'What about the silencing passages of Paul on women?' I asked.

'I think Paul would roll over in his grave if he knew we were turning his letters into torah.'

Wow! I thought. That's a good point to think about. Thereupon I asked a question that he answered in such a way that it reshaped my thinking:

'What do you think, then, about women in church ministries?'

Professor Bruce's answer was as Pauline as Paul was: 'I'm for whatever God's Spirit grants women gifts to do.' (italics original; 206-207)

All I can say is 'wow'! Oh yeah, and another thing...go pick up this book!