Monday, March 22, 2010

Off the Grid: What a Voice!

Myles Kennedy, lead singer of AlterBridge, has simply one of the best voices in rock today. Here he is in Amsterdam performing an acoustic version of "Watch Over You." Simply beautiful.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Book I Will Have to Get

It is no secret that I believe Zondervan Academic makes some of the best products. Their books in addition to being innovative or always aesthetically  pleasing and it looks like another is on the way.

J. Daniel Hays, The Message of the Prophets: A Survey of the Prophetic and Apocalyptic Books of the Old Testament
In The Message of the Prophets, author J. Daniel Hays offers a scholarly, yet readable and student-friendly introductory survey of the Old Testament prophetic literature that presents the message of each prophet in both its historical and its biblical context, tracking that message through the NT to discuss what it means for believers today.


Christians sometimes approach the Old Testament with a mixture of awe and bewilderment, knowing that it contains pearls of wisdom, but unsure how to dive for them ... especially when it comes to the Prophets. In The Message of the Prophets, author J. Daniel Hays offers a scholarly, yet readable and student-friendly survey of the Old Testament prophetic literature that presents the message of each prophet in its historical and its biblical context and then tracks that message through the New Testament to challenge readers with what it means for them today. Hays focuses on synthesizing the message of the prophets, which enables students to grasp the major contours of the prophetic books clearly and concisely. Hundreds of colorful pictures help to illustrate the historical and cultural background of the prophets. After identifying what the message meant for ancient Israel, Hays helps the readers to move toward theological application today, helping readers to gain a better understanding of God and the relationship between God and his people. The Message of the Prophets is essential for professors, students, and others seeking to understand the role that the OT prophets play in the Christian faith.

Page Count: 384
Publication Date: October 2010
Here is what they are saying:

“In this volume, Hays provides his readers with a superb overview of the message and significance of the Old Testament prophets. After introducing prophetic literature in general, Hays guides his readers through each prophetic book. Numerous clear images and helpful sidebars add to the richness of this book. He includes features like suggestions for further reading, discussion questions, and writing assignments that make the book ready-made for classroom use. Hays takes a number of the complicated issues of prophetic literature and provides a clear explanation of this important part of the Old Testament.” — Michael A. Grisanti, PhD, Professor of Old Testament, The Master's Seminary

"Every once in a while a book comes along that is exceptional in every aspect one may choose to look at it. I have found J. Daniel Hays's The Message of the Prophets to be such a book. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing in its graphics and content layout, but it moves easily from introductory matters about the prophets to the message of each of the sixteen writing prophets. I believe it will become a standard textbook for pastors, Bible Study leaders, and college and seminary classes on the prophets. I heartily endorse its widest usage for all who love to grasp the message of the Old Testament prophets.” — Walter C. Kaiser Jr., President Emeritus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

“To the burgeoning interest in the Old Testament prophets and the recent literature reflecting that interest must be added this magnificent overview of the men and their writings that make up a major part of the Old Testament canon. Although presupposing up-to-date scholarship on the prophets in a technically accurate fashion, Hays spares the beginning student the morass of argument pro and con on various issues, preserving instead the crucial facts and facets of the prophets' messages in their historical and cultural contexts. The photographs and other visual assets greatly enhance the beauty and reader-friendliness of the work, making it, with its other virtues, the finest volume of its kind. Highly recommended!” — Eugene H. Merrill, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

“The Message of the Prophets is an excellent introduction to the prophets of the Old Testament. From the attractive and inviting format, with photographs, maps, and sidebars, to the very fair and even-handed treatment of controversial issues, this book will be of great benefit to any who are seeking to get an understanding of this complex but vital field. The introductory overview is careful and complete, the writing style is clear and engaging, and the contents of the books are effectively summarized without becoming pedantic. In view of all these factors, I predict that this book will become a standard text in the coming years.” — John Oswalt, PhD, Visiting Distinguished Professor of Old Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary

“J. Daniel Hays gives the students a front-row seat into the world of the prophets. Students will learn to appreciate the struggles of the prophets, their literature, and their theology, plus gain insight into their poetry and eschatological messages. Hays traces their messages and highlights the key theological themes in each major literary unit in both the major and minor prophets. The text is attractively designed with either a large illustrative picture or a sidebar on almost every page. Students will love the beautiful pictures that show what a high place, an olive tree, or a Bedouin tent looks like, plus the maps will raise their consciousness of the land where these events took place. The sidebars explain theological terms, an ancient custom, or an important archaeological discovery that is mentioned in the verses under discussion. The text flows smoothly and is spiced up with modern illustrations and numerous connections to the New Testament.” — Gary Smith, Professor of Christian Studies, Union University

If this volume comes remotely close to approaching Mark Strauss' Four Portraits, One Jesus , it should be a dandy because I consider this to be the finest introduction to Jesus and the Gospels available. Hopefully, Hays can do the same for the prophets.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Quote of the Day

Murray Harris on 2 Cor 4.6 (ὅτι ὁ θεὸς ὁ εἰπών· ἐκ σκότους φῶς λάμψει, ὃς ἔλαμψεν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν πρὸς φωτισμὸν τῆς γνώσεως τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν προσώπῳ [Ἰησοῦ] Χριστοῦ.):

"Conversion is the flooding of the darkened human heart by divine light" (Harris, The Second Epistle to The Corinthians; NIGTC; Eerdmans, 2005; 335).

Monday, March 15, 2010

Exodus Commentaries

I am looking for some recommendations on Exodus commentaries. Currently, I am borrowing Fretheim's in the Interpretation series, Sarna's JPS and Propp's Anchor.

What recommendations do you have?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hermeneutical Method: Random Thoughts

Reading through a review of my friend and mentor's latest contribution to scholarship, Seeing Things John’s Way: The Rhetoric of the Book of Revelation is one, exciting, and two, fraught with the potential for bias against the reviewer, in this case, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, because David is my friend and one I have always looked up to. Nevertheless, with this disclaimer out of the way, my following comments raise the issue of hermeneutical method in general and probably speak to my own biases on this issue.

Fiorenza criticizes deSilva's labeling of other hermeneutical approaches (i.e. liberationist, feminist) as 'ideological interpretations'. She claims that in effect, deSilva's contemporary-historical-critical approach is too, idealistic (2). Fair enough, as she well notes "that all readings are ideological and that the 'rhetorical situation' of the text and that of the reader determines all interpretation and engenders multiple readings" (2; italics original).

Interestingly, deSilva does indeed value these other readings. deSilva labels these disparate approaches under a 'fifth key' namely, contemporary-historical approaches. He states that idelogical interpretations are "generated by readers deeply aware of, and engaged with, their own social locations of reading" (deSilva; 7). Second, deSilva labels liberationist readings as "important...though with a very specific goal" (deSilva; 7). Similarly, feminist readings such as those produced by Schüssler-Fiorenza and others are "important readings, wrestling specifically with the gendered images and language of Revelation, asking whether or not any reading of Revelation can still be liberating for women" (deSilva; 8). Important for deSilva is to note that there should be "no hard and fast lines...drawn  between feminist and (other) liberationist readings"--an assessment with which Schüssler-Fiorenza agrees (deSilva; 8).  This latter point is important when deSilva lays out his own methodological approach:

In this book I seek to contribute to opening up Revelation's composition, construction, meaning, and significance using this fifth key. In particular, it will do so by giving close attention to John's rhetoric,(italics original) both in terms of the rhetorical strategies and effects resulting from John's choice of the genres in which to communicate to his hearers and in terms of the ways John fulfills general expectations, current in the first century, of a public act of communication geared toward persuading.  Like liberationist readings, (italics mine) this reading will explore how Revelation holds the practice of modern churches within a particular range of social locations under a critical yet healthful lens, offers a critical perpsective on the domination systems within which we live and with which we cooperate, and challenges us to respond in ways that renew the prophetic witness that John exemplified and to which he called his own congregations (deSilva; 8).

There is much more I could say regarding Schüssler-Fiorenza's critique, however, the one question that keeps bugging me is this: "Should we privilige certain hermeutical methods over others?" I am not saying that liberationist, post-colonial, and feminist readings are unimportant, but should they be held to the same level of importance as the contemporary-historical approach which, Schüssler-Fiorenza considers an "outdated hermeneutical method" (2)? It seems to me that adducing what John meant in his original context and applying that application to churches today is the responsible route to pursue in doing justice to the text. I have no poblem in recognizing that the application of what John meant will vary with respect to differing contexts within the church; what does bother me is the apparent diminution of the historical-critical method among proponents of 'ideological readings'.

Moreover, as demonstrated above, deSilva adopts a liberationist hermeneutic in his methodology. Secondly, he maintains that ideological readings are "deeply aware of, and engaged with, their own social locations of reading"(deSilva; 7). If deSilva adopts his own liberationist reading, does this not imply that he too, is deeply aware of his own social location?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

More Lectures from Villanova University

In finding Frank Matera's lecture (see previous post), I also found lectures celebrating the Jubilee Year of Paul from such luminaries as E.P. Sanders, Mark Nanos, Joseph Fitzmyer, Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, Beverly Roberts Gaventa etc. Click here to see all nine videos.

Frank Matera on YouTube

Here is a cool video of a lecture that Frank Matera delivered at Villanova University last year in celebration of the Jubilee Year of Paul. The title of the lecture is "Living in the Newness of Life: Pauls Understanding of the Moral Life".

Also here is a short clip of Matera discussing the importance of "background reading" before taking on Paul's Epistle to the Romans.

Here is yet another short video of Matera discussing the "righteousness of God" (Rom 1.16-17; 3.21-31) and Romans 1-11 and the moral exhortation that follows beginning in Romans 12.

Incidentally, as announced previously on this blog, Matera has a Romans commentary (Paideia; Baker Academic) due to be released in the fall. These videos should whet the appetite in the meantime!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On The Need for Commentaries

Frank Matera has an interesting comment regarding the writing of his II Corinthians commentary and the writing of commentaries in general:

The writing of a commentary is an intensely personal endeavor. It requires concentration, discipline, and most of all, long periods of uninterrupted time. Somewhere in the midst of such a project, one begins to feel as though he or she has become a monk or a hermit, cut off from the familiar social world of family and friends who are about the business of earning their daily bread. At such moments the noonday devil appears and interrogates the would-be author: 'Why are you composing yet another commentary when there are so many, most of which are better than what you will write?' But if the temptation to abandon the task is resisted, and if the work is completed, the commentator finally receives his or her answer: the privilege of studying the sacred page, of asking it questions and being questioned by it, is itself sufficient reason to write yet another commentary. Thus every commentator eventually learns that even if the work falls short of one's expectations, as inevitably it will, the effort has not been in vain (Preface ix; italics mine).

These comments are timely as this question about the proliferation of commentary writing has been asked with increasing frequency over the past few years. It is also a good reminder of what biblical scholarship should be about on every level, namely, the privilege of wrestling with Scripture. Originality has its place in commentary writing, as it does within biblical scholarship in general, but it should not be the main goal. This ties in with the quote Joel Willitts provided recently of one George B. Stevens, a 19th century NT scholar who states:

"Originality does not consist of thinking new things but of thinking for ourselves."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Scripture Memorization

I have been thinking quite a bit lately about the subject of Scripture memorization. Maybe my own inconsistent efforts with Philippians have something to do with this, but I am not certain that is the only reason.

More specifically, I was interested in hearing of documented cases of scholars who have either the Hebrew Bible/ NT (entirety or portions of it) committed to memory. In the case of the NT, there was a post I did on F.F. Bruce a couple of years ago and a post Dan Wallace did on C.F.D. Moule where Wallace states:

I believe that Moule had memorized the Greek New Testament, just as his predecessor at Cambridge, C. H. Dodd, had done. After one of his visits to Cambridge a few years ago, on the train ride home, Charlie’s only copy of the Greek New Testament was stolen, a copy that he had had for decades. Yet one could almost see the smile on his face as he wrote to me, "I hope that the thief will come to see the real value of his new treasure!" My Advanced Greek Grammar class at Dallas Seminary pooled their resources and we purchased a Biblia Sacra for him (a one-volume Hebrew Old Testament with the Greek New Testament), a gift for which he was exceedingly grateful. In the interim, when he had no Greek New Testament, he continued to write to me. He made many helpful comments about the NET Bible (of which I am the senior New Testament editor). In several places, he commented on the Greek text and our translation of it. Yet his comments on the Greek text were all from memory.

That leads me to a question: Do any of you know of scholars who have accomplished this amazing feat? And, how many of you practice memorizing Scripture?

I think the implications of this discipline are imporant in that memory is how we tell the story of our crucified and risen Lord and how our story fits into His.

I'm wondering what you think...

Monday, March 8, 2010

EGLBS Paper Proposal Accepted!

In the midst of all the chaos of this past weekend I neglected to mention that I got a great bit of news Friday morning. My paper proposal was accepted for EGLBS (Eastern Great Lakes Bible Society) meeting April 8-9! This will be the first paper I have ever presented so I am really excited and nervous all at the same time.

Here is the abstract:

2 Corinthians 4:1: Paul and Moses Once Again?

It is without dispute that Paul offers an extended exposition of Exodus 34.29-35 in comparing the ‘glory’ of his ministry with that of Moses (2 Cor 3.7-18). In keeping with this theme, I would like to suggest that Paul alludes to his Christophany in 2 Cor 4.1 where he speaks of "ministry" as the result of mercy he has "received " (ἠλεήθημεν). By mentioning his call/conversion, Paul extends his exposition on Moses by alluding to the Mosaic theophany in Exodus 33.18-19, in which Moses pleads with YHWH to “show me your glory” (33.18). YHWH’s response in part is to tell Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy” (ἐλεήσω ὃν ἂν ἐλεῶ)

To substantiate this reading, I will demonstrate, first, that Paul employs this language of “mercy” elsewhere to speak of his ministry that derives from his experience with the risen Christ (1 Cor 7.25; [cf. 1 Tim 1.13,16 ]). Second, this allusion fits nicely with Paul’s reflection on his conversion/call using “light” language in 2 Cor 4.6. Third, though perhaps more peripherally, if one is to use one of the criteria suggested by Hays for determining echoes, i.e. “recurrence”, Paul cites YHWH’s response (Exod 33.19) in Romans 9.15.

Postscript: There will be some tweaks to this as I will also draw on Paul's language of "grace" (χάρις) to speak of his christophanic experience (1 Cor 15.9-10; Gal 1.15-16).

Quote of the Day

Indeed, to assume from silence that Paul did not know the Jesus tradition because he does not cite it more explicitly and more often is almost analogous to assuming that the writer of 1 John was unaware of the Johannine Jesus tradition because the document presupposes rather than cites that tradition.

(Craig Keener, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 151.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Organizing My Library

After a tedious day of moving several days of unpacking awaits. This leads me to a question: How should I organize my books?  In the past I have attempted to organize my commentaries, Pauline and Historical Jesus monographs, theologies, etc. by keeping them separate and arranging them alphabetically by author last name and/or by publication date (more geared towards the commentaries).

Does anyone have any suggestions? My happy frustration occurs when I acquire more books (happy) and then struggle to fit them in their respective section (frustration). I know the common sense thing to do would be to not pack my shelves too tight, but space is at a premium. My wife's suggestion to not get any more books is neither helpful nor realistic...She married a bibliogeek for God's sake!


N.T. Wright on YouTube

N.T. Wright, who is becoming quite the fixture on YouTube and many other places has three short but sweet videos on a channel called "Future Church."

Pay particular attention to his advice for the next generation:

What a great challenge!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Moving, Moving, Moving...

My wife and I have been in the process of moving for the past month. We have our final move this weekend.

I have learned a couple things during this experience. One, there is no good way to move. It doesn't matter if  you have one day, one week, one month, etc.

Two, I have discovered how many books I am fortunate enough to own. I didn't attempt a tally, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was north of 500.  I know that is a modest number for some, but I never thought I'd be surrounded by so many friends, mentors, and sparring partners that I could turn to time and again.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Klyne Snodgrass on iTunes

Klyne Snodgrass, whom I have a had the good fortune of speaking with and interviewing in the past, has a great audio/video series via Dallas Theological Seminary delivering the W. H. Griffith Thomas Memorial Lectureship on "The Hermeneutics of Identity". All four lectures can be accessed on this page.

There is much here to absorb and ponder and I'm hoping that Klyne decides to publish these lectures at some point. His treatment of Jesus and Paul are superb and I think, may create new avenues in the way we approach the texts of the NT as a whole.

HT: David Stark

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

E. Earle Ellis (1926-2010)

I was saddened to hear about the passing of E. Earle Ellis. Way before it was common to ask how Paul cited Scripture, it was Ellis who over 50 years ago first published Paul's Use of the Old Testament, a book still widely used and valued today.

Moreover, I knew he had been working on his magnum opus, a commentary on 1 Corinthians (ICC). I hope whatever has been written thus far will still be published.

For those of you interested, here is an article Ellis published in 1993, "Jesus' Use of the Old Testament and the Genesis of New Testament Theology," BBR 3; 59-75.


HT: Michael Bird; Denny Burk

C.F.D. Moule's Unpublished Writings

Christ Alive and at Large: The Unpublished Writings of C. F. D. Moule (Cantebury Press Norwich; Paperback, 192 pp.; June 2010)

Edited by Robert Morgan

Here is some welcome news on the horizon:

The renowned Anglican biblical scholar Charlie Moule, as he was popularly known, came from an eminent church and missionary family. He obtained a first at Cambridge and trained for ordination at Ridley Hall where his grandfather was once Principal and where he himself became Vice-Principal at the age of 28. His Cambridge career culminated in his appointment as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, a post he held for 25 years, where he influenced a generation of Anglican leaders including Rowan Williams (at whose wedding he officiated), John Sentamu and the late Graham Stanton, his successor as Lady Margaret Professor. Charlie Moule died in 2007. He wrote a number of definitive texts in New Testament studies, but here is not the scholarly professor, but the humble and prayerful man (nicknamed 'Holy Mouley') reflecting widely on Christian practice and belief, biblical questions and contemporary challenges. The text of Rowan Williams' memorial service address is included and his nephew Patrick Moule, provides a preface.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

F.F. Bruce and the Motherload of Audio Resources

My 40 hour a week job "encourages" me to listen to my iPod quite frequently. I have a ton of music downloaded on there and quite a few lectures. The latter help me stay intellectually and spiritually sharp, something I crave after doing work that does not require much in the way of thinking.

So, lately I have agressively pursued resources in the latter category, lectures. The other day I was delighted to find a lecture series that the late, great Markus Barth delivered on Baptism in the NT. I've often wondered what his voice sounded like, now I know. That led me to see if I could track down any resources of another late, great scholar, one F.F. Bruce. Well, I discovered some! Five lectures to be exact. They are on the subject of Fulfillment of the OT in the New, more specifically, "The Time is Fulfilled Promised Beforehand Through His Prophets" delivered at Moore College in a year not specified. Bruce does mention at the outset of Tyndale Fellowship being founded 36 years prior, so that may provide an indicator of the year. The first, second, third, fourth, and fifth lectures can be heard here.

What is cool about finding these particular resources is in finding other great lectures. Myrhh, The Moore Institutional Repository contains some 1,700 + lectures/sermons of such luminaries as Paul Barnett, D.A. Carson, Scott Hafemann, Bruce Metzger, Peter O' Brien, Brian Rosner, Bruce Waltke, Bruce Winter, and N.T. Wright. Concerning O'Brien, there are 108 lectures/sermons contained on this site! There is fairly recent stuff on Hebrews to go along with Colossians, Ephesians, and Philippians --the other commentaries he has written.

Happy listening!

Another Exciting Pauline Resource

James Ware, whom I heard give probably one of the best papers I have ever heard at an SBL several years ago, is coming out with a unique Pauline resource entitled: Synopsis of the Pauline Letters in Greek and English (Baker Academic; Nov. 2010).

Here is a description:

This handsomely produced Greek-English synopsis of related or parallel passages in the Pauline corpus and the Acts of the Apostles provides an essential tool for studying the New Testament text. Conveniently organized by topic, it is the first conspectus of related passages in Paul's letters both in Paul's original Greek (following the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece) and in English translation (using the NRSV) on facing pages. It is also the first synopsis that includes all thirteen epistles attributed to Paul as well as relevant passages from the portrayal of Paul's teaching and ministry in the book of Acts. This indispensable resource covers over 150 topics and will be of use to New Testament scholars, professors, and students as well as pastors.