Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Baker Academic Forthcoming Releases

Baker Academic is at it again. Slated forthcoming releases include these highly significant volumes:

1)Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation (Greg Beale; release date: Sept. 2012; page count: 208; price: $17.99)
This is one I'm going to have to add to my library for sure. Man, is Beale prolific or what? After his New Testament Biblical Theology, he produces yet another significant work.

Here is a description of the volume: This concise guide by a leading New Testament scholar helps readers understand how to better study the multitude of Old Testament references in the New Testament. G. K. Beale, coeditor of the bestselling Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, focuses on the "how to" of interpreting the New Testament use of the Old Testament, providing students and pastors with many of the insights and categories necessary for them to do their own exegesis. Brief enough to be accessible yet thorough enough to be useful, this handbook will be a trusted guide for all students of the Bible.

 Endorsements "This handbook provides readers with a wonderful overview of key issues in and tools for the study of the use of the Old Testament in the New. It is written at an accessible level without sacrificing depth. I expect it to become a standard textbook for courses on the subject (as it will be for mine) and the first book to which newcomers will be directed to help them navigate through these sometimes complex waters."--Roy E. Ciampa, professor of New Testament, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

2) Essays on John and Hebrews (Harold Attridge; release date: Nov. 2012; page count: 464; price: $55.00)
I'm glad that Baker Academic is one of the few that is taking more expensive volumes like those of Mohr Siebeck and reissuing them at a cheaper price, which is the case with this volume.

Here is a description of the volume:Internationally renowned New Testament scholar Harold Attridge illuminates key aspects of John and Hebrews, two of the most theologically compelling and complex New Testament books. Attridge explores the literary and cultural traditions at work in the text and its imaginative rhetoric, which aims to deepen faith in Christ by giving new meaning to his death and exaltation. He situates his literary analysis within the context of the history of religion and culture in the first century, with careful attention to both Jewish and Greco-Roman worlds. Several essays focus on gnostic traditions. Originally published by Mohr Siebeck in the Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament series, this work is now available as an affordable North American paperback.

3)Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory: The New Testament Apostle in the Early Church (Markus Bockmuehl; release date: Nov 2012; page count: 224; price:$24.99)

Bockmuehl is a first-rate New Testament scholar so this should set a standard for Petrine studies.

Here is a description of the volume:After Jesus, Peter is the most frequently mentioned individual both in the Gospels and in the New Testament as a whole. He was the leading disciple, the "rock" on which Jesus would build his church. How can we know so little about this formative figure of the early church? World-renowned New Testament scholar Markus Bockmuehl introduces the New Testament Peter by asking how first- and second-century sources may be understood through the prism of "living memory" among the disciples of the apostolic generation and the students of those disciples. He argues that early Christian memory of Peter underscores his central role as a bridge-building figure holding together the diversity of first-century Christianity. Drawing on more than a decade of research, Bockmuehl applies cutting-edge scholarship to the question of the history and traditions of this important but strangely elusive figure. Bockmuehl provides fresh insight into the biblical witness and early Christian tradition that New Testament students and professors will value.

4)James and Jude: Paideia: Commentaries on the New Testament (John Painter and David deSilva; release date: November 2012; page count: 288; price: $27.99)

Anything produced by my mentor and friend David deSilva always finds a place on my bookshelves. This will be no exception!

Here is a description of the volume: In this addition to the well-received Paideia series, two respected New Testament scholars offer a practical commentary on James and Jude that is conversant with contemporary scholarship, draws on ancient backgrounds, and attends to the theological nature of the texts. This commentary, like each in the projected eighteen-volume series, proceeds by sense units rather than word-by-word or verse-by-verse. Paideia commentaries explore how New Testament texts form Christian readers by attending to the ancient narrative and rhetorical strategies the text employs showing how the text shapes theological convictions and moral habits commenting on the final, canonical form of each New Testament book focusing on the cultural, literary, and theological settings of the text making judicious use of maps, photos, and sidebars in a reader-friendly format.

5) The New Testament: A Historical and Theological Introduction (Donald Hagner; release date: November 2012; page count: 848; price: $49.99)

Hagner's magnum opus is guaranteed to be a must-have!

Here is a description: This capstone work from widely respected senior evangelical scholar Donald Hagner offers a substantial introduction to the New Testament. Hagner deals with the New Testament both historically and theologically, employing the framework of salvation history. He treats the New Testament as a coherent body of texts and stresses the unity of the New Testament without neglecting its variety. Although the volume covers typical questions of introduction, such as author, date, background, and sources, it focuses primarily on understanding the theological content and meaning of the texts, putting students in a position to understand the origins of Christianity and its canonical writings. Throughout, Hagner delivers balanced conclusions in conversation with classic and current scholarship. The book includes summary tables, diagrams, maps, and extensive bibliographies.

6) Acts: An Exegetical Commentary: Volume 2: 3:1-14:28 Craig S. Keener; release date: Feb. 2013; page count: 1,120; price: $59.99)

What more can be said about Keener? His prodigious writing continues at an astounding pace. He will have amassed 2,200 pages after the first two volumes with  two more to follow. This will certainly be the standard commentary for Acts for a long time to come.

These are just a sampling of the releases slated for release. For more, check out Baker's site.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Here is a three-part video series from the folks with Tom Schreiner on the topic of Scripture:
Part I:

Part II:

Part III:


Thursday, February 16, 2012

R.T. France's Philosophy on Commentary Writing II

I can count on one hand the amount of commentaries I have read cover-to-cover, or almost to that extent. One of these is R.T. France's magisterial commentary on Matthew (NICNT). France wrote with a style that was captivating and kept me turning page after page. This is no mean feat considering the commentary was 1,100 plus pages long! It takes a skillful communicator to make a commentary a good read, even more so, one of this length.

R.T. France (1938-2012)
The other day, I quoted from France's equally magisterial commentary on Mark's Gospel (NIGTC). Now I'd like to highlight some comments he makes in the Introduction (pp.1-2) of his Matthew commentary.

  • On potential reviewer's missing the boat
I have noticed that reviews of biblical commentaries often focus on the introduction rather than undertaking the more demanding task of reading and responding to the commentary itself. Potential reviewers of this commentary who hope to use that as a convenient shortcut will, I fear, be disappointed. If as a result this book receives only very short or superficial reviews, so be it. (France, The Gospel of Matthew, 1)
France felt no need to recapitulate what he had already written in his work Matthew:Evangelist and Teacher, and so comments:

...I am loath to reinvent the wheel by attempting another full introduction in which I would be simply repeating myself." (France, The Gospel of Matthew, 1)

  • The goal of France's present work:
This is intended to be an exegetical commentary which proceeds from the text outward rather than one which seeks confirmation in the text for a separately formulated position. It is intended for the use of those who are seeking help in understanding and appreciating the text rather than in locating my position within a constantly moving academic debate. (France, The Gospel of Matthew, 1; italics mine)
This text-centered driven-approach was the hallmark of France's work. I love the fact that he made no apologies for this! He realized that no matter the ever-shifting fads involved with scholarly work, the one constant was the text itself. May we who have benefited greatly from his work continue to keep these principles close to our hearts and minds when we encounter the text we are interpreting.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Craig Keener and the Miraculous: Web Resources

Craig Keener has recently published his massive two-volume work, Miracles, The Credibility of the New  Testament Accounts with Baker Academic.  If you have yet to purchase this work, I would highly recommend that you do so, as it will set the standard for the foreseeable future on this subject. In case you cannot however, there are plenty of good resources on the web that outline the main parameters of this work. I want to draw attention to a series of videos conducted on the Asbury Seedbed website, beginning with this one:

 Also, Craig has also published an interesting article in the Huffington Post on Miracles that can be viewed here.

Finally, Craig actually has a blog where he composes commentary and study notes on  Bible background  material. Also, on this site is several other free resources such as articles, a booklet on how to improve one's study of the Bible, and a series of studies on Matthew that can be used for adult Sunday school classes. Do check these resources out, it will be worth your time!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

R.T. France's Philosophy on Commentary Writing

One of the reasons I enjoy reading R.T. France's commentaries is the approach that he describes in his Introduction section for his commentary on Mark:

I have tried to write the sort of commentary I like to use. Whether this is what other readers are looking for will depend on what they think a biblical commentary should be. But I hope there are enough other people who share my own expectations to make the enterprise worthwhile. Let me spell out what I mean.
This is, in my intention, a commentary on Mark, not a commentary on commentaries on Mark. I have commented on the matters which I regard as needing or deserving comment, and not necessarily on those which have been the traditional concern of other commentators. Much of the time the two coincide fairly closely, but I have not felt obliged to say something about every issue which other commentators have raised. My method has been first to write my own comments on each section of the text (moulded, of course, by many years’ awareness of the issues which have been current in Marcan studies), and only after that to look at other studies and commentaries on that passage. Where this reading raised further issues to which I have wanted to draw attention, these most often appear in the footnotes.
My concern is with the exegesis of the text of Mark, not with theories about its prehistory or the process of its composition. Where synoptic comparison is illuminating for understanding Mark’s text, I have tried to take this into account, but my object has always been the understanding and appreciation of Mark’s text as we have it rather than proposing explanations as to how and why Mark came to be different from or the same as Matthew or Luke. Nor have I generally felt it important to discuss which elements in a given passage may derive from earlier tradition and which from Mark’s own contribution. It is the Greek text of the gospel, however it may have come about, that is the given factor around which all critical theories revolve, and it is the exegesis of that text, not the exploration of the theories, which is the aim of this commentary. (R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark : A Commentary on the Greek Text [Grand Rapids, Mich.; Eerdmans, 2002; italics mine), 1.

R.T. France Passes Away

R.T. France (1938-2012)
One of my favorite New Testament scholars and commentators, R.T. France has passed away. I am very saddened to hear this news.  His commentaries on Mark (NIGTC) and Matthew (NICNT) were two of my favorite commentaries. He was able to write with such clarity about complex matters. France was also a member of the Committee on Bible Translation for the NIV.

It's always sobering to think the impact that scholars can have on people like me whom they have never met. I only wish I could have told him how his work impacted me.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Thinking Out Loud: 2 Kings 4 and Mark's Gospel

As I was reading the narrative of 2 Kings 4 this morning, the account of Elisha's raising of the Shunammite woman's son (2 Kings 4:18-37) called to my mind some of the disparate healing accounts in Mark's Gospel.

Earlier in the narrative Elisha prophesies that the Shunammite woman, despite her husband's advanced age will conceive a son in the next year (2 Kings 4:14-17). The account fast-forwards a bit, as now the child is grown and is helping his father in the field when he complains of his head hurting. The father orders one of the servants to carry the boy to his mother (4:18-20). The child later dies on his mother's lap, and she proceeds to lay her son on the bed that Elisha would lay on when he would stay with this family (4:21; cf. 4:10). Next, the woman along with a servant, takes a donkey to seek out Elisha who is at Mount Carmel (4:22-25).

Elisha sees her coming and sends out his servant Gehazi to ask her if all is well (4:26). She responds that all is well and proceeds to the mountain where Elisha is present (4:27). She grabs his feet and Gehazi attempts to push her away (4:27). Elisha stops Gehazi and admits that he does not know yet why she has come to him (4:27). She then asks Elisha rhetorically, "Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, 'Do not deceive me?'" (4:28). Elisha proceeds to send Gehazi back with her to her home where he is instructed to lay Elisha's staff on the boy's face (4:29). The woman is not satisfied with this healing via distance and refuses to leave unless Elisha comes with them (4:30). Gehazi does as he is told and the healing is unsuccessful (4:31). Enter Elisha. He shuts the door behind them and prays (4:33). Next, he lays on the child, puts his mouth on the boy's mouth, his eyes on the boy's eyes and his hands on his hands, stretching himself upon the child's body. Soon the body becomes warm (4:34). After walking back and forth in the house, Elisha repeats the action (4:35). The child sneezes seven times and opens his eyes (4:35). Next, he orders Gehazi to call the woman and orders her to pick up her son (4:36). She falls at Elisha's feet, picks up her son and leaves (4:37).

After reading this narrative in 2 Kings, I could not help but reminded of Mark 5, the healing of Jairus' daughter, and the healing of the hemorrhaging woman (5:21-43). Here are some of the points of correspondence:

1. Jairus in seeking out Jesus to heal his daughter, who is near death, "fell at his feet" ( πίπτει πρὸς τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ; 5:22); (cf. 2 Kings 4:27, ἐπελάβετο τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ,; 4:37, ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ). Moreover, when the hemorrhaging woman is called out by Jesus, she "fell at his feet" (προσέπεσεν αὐτῷ; 5:33).

2. The intervening narrative of the hemorrhaging woman (5:25-34), stalls the narrative of what becomes of Jairus' daughter until v.35, where we find that Jairus' daughter has died in the interim. Jesus takes his disciples Peter, James, and John to Jairus' house. When he arrives at the house Jesus pronounces the daughter as 'asleep' which draws the jeers of the mourners present (5:38-40). Jesus proceeds these mourners out taking his disciples, and the parents of the little girl in to where she is laying (5:40).  Jesus then orders the girl to arise (5:41), and she immediately stands up and begins to walk around to everyone's astonishment (5:42). Similarly, Elisha is accompanied by his disciple, Gehazi to the house of the Shunnamite woman, where her son is lying on the bed when he is eventually raised back to life (2 Kings 4:31-35).

3. Another healing episode found in Mark's Gospel that finds points of correspondence with this narrative in 2 Kings 4 is the healing of the boy with the unclean spirit in 9:14-28. Once again, a young child is involved, this time, a boy who has what appears to be seizures. One particular aspect is noteworthy here. You may recall Gehazi's failed attempt at healing the boy in 2 Kings 4:31. Jesus' disciples also fail in healing (Mark 9:18) which leaves Jesus angry at their inability to do so (9:19). Jesus, like Elisha, succeeds at the healing after the disciple(s) failed attempt (9:25-26).

To wrap up this post, I am in no way suggesting literary dependence here. These are just some interesting (to me at least!) observations on points of correspondence between the two accounts. So what do you think?

Follow Up to Dan Wallace's Discovery

The biblioblog world has been abuzz with remarks made by Dan Wallace concerning the discovery of a first-century fragment of the Gospel of Mark during a recent debate with Bart Ehrman. While we do await the particulars in a book to be published by Brill later this year, here is a clarification post by Wallace on this and six other second-century discoveries made recently.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Greg Beale's Interview and the Quote of the Day

There is a very worthwhile interview on The Gospel Coalition that John Starke conducted with Greg Beale on his A New Testament Biblical Theology. It appears to me at least, that this is a work that I will eventually have to pick up as I have always had a keen interest on how the NT authors utilize the OT.

Towards the interview Starke asks:
 You end your 1,047-page book with, "The upshot of this book is ultimately this: To God be the glory." For young scholars or pastors who are digging deep into the inter-canonical themes running through the Bible and trying to keep up with the latest scholarship on any given issue, how would you counsel them to maintain this God-glorifying posture?
 Beale's reply (and the 'quote of the day', I might add):

To maintain the posture of “To God be the glory” is to ask ourselves at every point (in preparing sermons, Bible studies, lectures, articles or books, etc.) why am I doing what I am doing? Am I doing the present task to bring attention to myself and to honor myself or to bring attention to God, Christ, the gospel, and to honor the Trinity? Am I doing what I am doing to make a reputation for myself or for God? These are very convicting questions for all of us. The entire process of sanctification is ridding ourselves of our idols, especially of worshiping ourselves. If we are authentic Christians, we will progress in doing this, perhaps slowly but nevertheless surely. Only at the end of our journey will the idol of self be completely destroyed, and we will all be caught up in the glory of Christ.

Friday, February 3, 2012

David Garland's Luke Commentary

Yesterday, I received David Garland's new Luke commentary in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary series. I have read through the short introduction and have just started to make way into the commentary proper. I am excited about this work because I consider Garland one of the very best commentary writers going, and if you have yet to get his Mark (NIVAC) or his 1 Corinthians volume (BECNT), you should set some money aside and add these to your library. He, along with R.T. France, Gordon Fee, and Ramsey Michaels actually make the reading of commentaries enjoyable, and that is no small feat!

Since the commentary weighs in at over 1,000 pages, and I do not have the time to read the volume through,  I have a question. What are some of the interpretive hot-button issues for Luke's Gospel? I would like to focus on these passages and report what I find in a series of posts or something along those lines. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Getting 'A's': A Student's Perspective on Grades

John Byron has a fascinating post entitled, "A Professor's Letter to Students." In this post, John states that since becoming a professor he is amazed at the sense of entitlement that students display when it comes to their grades. John notes that this attitude is accompanied by the belief of the student that one, I paid for tuition, two, I attend class, and three, I have submitted assignments, therefore, I should get an 'A'. John cites a very interesting article in Forbes magazine article authored by Art Carden, an economics teacher at Rhodes College. Please check both John's post and this article for more.

I would like to add my own perspective on this matter as a former student of John's at Ashland Seminary. First, a brief background on my own academic background is in order. I come from a family of teachers. Education has always been valued in my upbringing. That being said, I was never a very good student. In high school, it was all about sports and girls. I distinctly remember my senior year, having my class' GPA results posted publicly on a bulletin board and not finding my name until I arrived at the bottom quarter of the list. It used to drive my Dad crazy as he was teacher in the school system! We would have our mid-term grades mailed to our homes if we were in the 'D' to 'F' range. Nearly every grading period the ritual would ensue. My mom would grab the mail to find once again I was on the verge of blowing a couple of the classes that I was taking. I would get home, get a stern talking to, and then wait for my Dad to arrive. When he got home, I would get a shake of the head, a sigh, and another stern talking to. After this, I would promise to do better, pull my grades up to the 'C' range, and do it all over again the next grading period! You think I would have learned! But, in hindsight, much of this behavior could be chalked up to immaturity. However, much of it had to do with passion or more precisely, the lack thereof. As far as school subjects, History was by far my favorite and the one I excelled in. It also helped that my Dad was a history teacher and I had been around his interest all my life.

When it came time to choose a college, I had few options. I certainly was nowhere close to get an academic scholarship per se, so I decided to attend a local community college close to home. With my parents paying for my tuition, I took it slightly more seriously and did a bit better. By the time I transferred to Kent State University, decided on a major, I was bit more mature and serious as a student. But, I would not say more passionate. I tried to manufacture passion for my area of study, but that does not really work if your heart is not in it. Again, I did a bit better, close to a 'B' average by the time I received my degree. Unfortunately after an internship  and some years of working various jobs, I had an epiphany of sorts. During the time between my undergrad and these years I had become a Christian. I began reading scholarly works that dealt with historical backgrounds to the New Testament. I was reading Fee, Witherington, and Kenner, with a Thesaurus in one hand and their books in my other!  But, the one book that had the biggest impact on me and chartered the course of my scholarly life was David deSilva's Honor, Patronage, Kinship, & Purity. This book unlocked so much of what I had been reading and opened up exciting vistas that I was previously unaware. Through a confluence of events that I can only describe as God's providence, I ended up at Ashland Seminary where I had the distinct pleasure of being one of David's students. To make a long story short, I had discovered my passion.

The amazing thing about discovering your passion is the fact that you are willing to put the work in, often times above and beyond the average student, and when this happens good things follow. I began to receive straight 'A''s for the very first time in my life! Class after class, I was achieving as I never had before. It almost became addicting, and therein lies the danger. There were times when I had to check my intentions at the doorway of the classroom to remind myself that it wasn't about the grades, it was about the experience. As long as I kept my priorities straight, I would not fall into the trap of become a grade-hound and feel that it was my God-given right to get A's. Admittedly, this could be a struggle, but I overcame this danger for the most part. See, the thing is, my professors were under no obligation to give me anything! Everything I received was due to the fact that I earned my grades. Make no mistake, my goal was not in getting an 'A' on an exegetical paper or exam, it was doing my very best with the abilities and desire that God gave me. It was about honoring God by doing my very best. To give anything less would be a waste of everyone's time, my professors included.