Two new volumes in the B&H series, Exegetical Guides to the Greek New Testament have recently been released. According to the B&H website, these are the two of the first three in a projected series of 20 volumes aimed at helping those in the classroom and pulpit better appreciate the message of the Greek text. (A previous volume on Colossians and Philemon was published in 2010).
I have spent the past few weeks reading carefully through each volume and have found them both to be very useful. The first is Chris Vlachos‘ volume on James (2013) and the second is Greg W. Forbes’ volume on 1 Peter (2014). As a professor who teaches courses on NT Greek and exegetical methods, I find works like these to be particularly useful for helping students reinforce out of class what we have done inside the classroom. They will also prove to be helpful for those who intend to make use of the Greek text in sermon and lesson preparation.
The format of both volumes is essentially the same. Each begins with an introduction to issues of authorship and date. (To my mind, these discussions are not as important in such resources as philological and linguistic insights, though I assume they must be of importance to the editors of the series.) The volumes then proceed to a section-by-section analysis in which the structure of the Greek is discussed, followed by a grammatical analysis of every phrase, followed by a list a pertinent reading resources and homiletical suggestions.
For years I have used and suggested that students buy the resource affectionately known as “Max and Mary” as an on-the-fly resource for exegetical analysis. These books are like the “Max and Mary” version of individual NT books only with more in-depth analysis. If you are looking for resources that will aid in exegesis, you will find something of value here.
For the past few weeks, Pete Enns has been hosting guest posts by Biblical scholars who formerly self-identified as evangelical and read the Bible with a rigid hermeneutic (i.e., through the grid of “inerrancy”). Thus far, he has posted his own reflection, followed by those of John Byron, Daniel Kirk, Michael Pahl, and Charles Halton. Today he posted the reflection he asked me to write. I appreciate what Pete is doing with this series and I also appreciated him asking me to contribute. It gave me an opportunity to reflect back on how far I’ve come and on how I understand the Bible today–both as a scholar and a man of faith.
I am on a mini-vacation and Nijay is moving across the country, so it’s safe to say we’ve both been away from our emails the past few days and we may have missed a few things. When I opened up my email a few minutes ago I had received word that SBL’s Bible Odyssey has officially launched. This is a project that has been in the works for several years now and has involved many biblical scholars from across the world. Contributors had a chance to look at the site in advance a few weeks back. I was impressed. The site is attractive, well-organized, and contains many excellent essays. I should also point out that both Nijay and I are contributors. He wrote the article on women leaders in the Philippian church and I contributed two pieces–one on the Beloved Disciple and one on 1 Corinthians 13 and Weddings. Check out the site when you have a chance. I think it will prove to be a very useful resource for the public.
I love Bibleworks - I use it everyday. But a few years ago I wanted to have my students buy Bibleworks and they had to pay more than $300. For a researcher like myself, it is a no-brainer to invest in heavy-duty software, but I did feel bad having my seminary students fork over so much when they would not end up using all the features.
Last year I was very excited to discover www.stepbible.org - a new *FREE* Greek software program designed by Tyndale House (Cambridge, UK). It just went through a major revision and operates very smoothly. Obviously, since it is free, you are not getting things like Louw-Nida, BDAG, or access to Dead Scrolls. But it meets the basic needs of seminary students. Here are the key features:
-Quick lexical access to LSJ (and Thayer’s I presume) when you hover over a word in the NT text (Greek, or even English).
-Ability to do word (and multiple words) search in English translations like ESV and NIV (no NRSV or NET, sadly)
-Ability to do word searches easily in Greek
-Shows Greek interlinear if you want
-Ability to Greek word search the Septuagint
-Helps students identify “related” Greek words.
There are also some public domain commentaries (Luther, Lightfoot, K & D)
There are lots of “free” Greek-English Bible websites, but stepbible seems to me to be the best for teaching Greek word studies and for getting students quick and easy access to Septuagint.
A few months back, I published an article with Canadian Theological Review called “Beholding the Word of Christ: A Theological Reading of Colossians.” It is now available for free online from the publisher (thanks!).
This is my crack at theological interpretation of Scripture and a reading of Colossians especially sensitive to its socio-historical context, its canonical context, and its reception. I am especially interested in a Word/Torah vs. Idol dynamic in Col 3:16 and a righteous hearing vs. idolatrous seeing motif in the letter as a whole.
I got some strong pushback from my editorial reviewers especially because I present the theology in Colossians as (what appeared to them to be) a criticism of visual liturgy. This made me go back and sort this out, and I was able to finish the article with a reflection on this that still maintains the validity of visual liturgy.
Anyway, this piece has been accused of being too wide-ranging and unwieldy. Perhaps, but I hope that what I lost in precision I made up for in fresh thinking and creative explorations in canonical interpretation.
Last night I watched a great documentary on Netflix called Pompeii: Back from the Dead. It is from 2011, but it is new to me and the film is produced very well. The documentary talks about a (then) new discovery of a group of skeletons in a cellar that tells us scores and scores about these people’s diet, social customs, relative wealth, and even sex life. Some of the insights are summarized here. More info here.
If you have Netflix or access to this film otherwise, it is definitely worth the time!
According to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc., N.T. Wright’s ICC volume on Philippians is slated to be released this November (2014). Could that be possible given the recent release of Paul and the Faithfulness of God and the upcoming publication of his Paul and His Recent Interpreters?
(funny sidenote: stores were given as description copy for Wright’s Philippians volume the description from a summer 2014 release on Ecclesiastes by Stuart Weeks, but they forgot to change the wording, so the Philippians description actually talks about Ecclesiastes! Check it out)
If someone knows better that Wright’s anticipated volume will not see the light of day in 2014, please let us know.
(second sidenote: Wright doesn’t do a lot of technical commentary writing. The two that he has done – Colossians and Romans – have both been extremely well-received and are two of the best commentaries in existence on both of these books; he has long loved Philippians for a number of reasons, not least of which involves Paul’s theopolitical language; put simply, this commentary will be 600+ pages of goodness!)