I had the privilege and pleasure of preaching at West Hills Covenant Church on March 5, 2017. The sermon is now available on audio if you are interested.
I am very excited about the planned dictionary set from Mohr Siebeck called Historical and Theological Lexicon of the Septuagint. Here is the description:
This large-scale collective and interdisciplinary project will aim to produce a new research tool: a multi-volume dictionary giving an article of between 2 and 10 pages (around 500 articles in all) for each important word or word group of the Septuagint. Filling an important gap in the fields of ancient philology and religious studies, the dictionary will be based on original research of the highest scientific level.
The dictionary will be published in English. The project will cover about a decade. The objective is to publish a first volume of 500 pages in 2017. At least three other volumes of the same size should follow over the years 2017-21.
Don’t miss the March 2017 free Logos book – This Risen Existence, where Paula Gooder goes through the theology of the resurrection. I really enjoy the writing style of Gooder and she does great theological work – very rich and also accessible. Worth getting this free book! (CLICK HERE)
In celebration of their 25th anniversary, Logos is giving out a $25 coupon code which requires no extra money spent. That’s pretty generous! The offer ends March 1.
You can pick up my 1-2 Thessalonians commentary ($19.99) with a few bucks left BTW!
A handful of years ago a blustery (American) megachurch pastor commented that England has failed to produce a decent preacher/teacher in our time. Obviously this was a ridiculous comment. There are many outstanding Christian leaders in the UK; one such was John Stott (who passed away in 2011). Stott exhibited that kind of quiet strength that drew many to him. He was also a gifted and winsome writer. I read his The Cross of Christ in college, and I enjoyed his The Radical Disciple and his writings on the Sermon on the Mount in more recent years.
Recently Eerdmans has republished his Basic Introduction to the New Testament, which has its originals as far back as 1954 (under the title Men with a Message; Stephen Motyer has added chapters on Matthew and Mark to fill out the book). Reading the Basic Introduction now, it is obviously not fully up-to-date on biblical scholarship and popular trends and questions for everyday believers; still, I am so impressed with Stott’s mastery of the scholarship of his time and his desire – for the sake of the church – to educate believers for the study of Scripture.
Two things struck me about the Basic Introduction. First of all, in the chapter on Luke, Stott picked up on all the crucial themes that relate to this gospel; for a book from 1954, I was pleased with Stott’s emphasis on how Luke gives special attention to women (Stott calls Luke the “gospel of women”). He notes that Luke most clearly portrays the “welcoming attitude of Jesus towards women, and the place he allowed them to occupy in his ministry” (58). Stott also recognized how Luke underscored the gospel’s care for the marginalized and lowly – a timeless message, with obvious relevance for us now.
Also, for the book of Revelation, Stott had a very good grasp on the different ways that scholars approach the text – preterist, historicist, futurist, and time-less symbol. In his usual diplomatic style, Stott argues that there is something right about each one, but argues strongly against the “historicist” approach in general. He seems most attracted to the benefit of the time-symbolic approach. Here is his brief summary on Revelation:
[The message of Revelation] centers on the vision of the Christ who shares his people’s suffering and death and then shares the throne of God. It points us beyond the chaos and trauma of world history, and of our own lives, to our security in God’s plan both for us and for the world. It takes evil seriously, but God even more so. It horrifies us with its stark portrayal of death and evil, then raises our spirits to heaven by putting on our lips words of the most wonderful praise. As we sing with the heavenly hosts, we know that the powers of evil have been defeated, and we are redeemed: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ (7:10) [pg. 192]
I am hopeful that Stott will inspire other Christian leaders today to invest more in teaching Scripture to the people of God.
In the past six months or so we have seen the publication of several interesting and noteworthy works on John. Here are some of my brief comments.
Character Studies in the Fourth Gospel (ed. Hunt, Tolmie, and Zimmerman; Eerdmans). This is a massive, exhaustive study of all the people (named and unnamed!) who appear in John’s Gospel. The contributors are a veritable who’s who of Johannine studies including Catrin Williams, Paul Anderson, Mary Coloe, Harry Attridge, Marianne Meye Thomspon, Gail O’Day, Adele Reinhartz, Jan van der Watt and many more. And of course the esteemed Chris Skinner has penned a couple of chapters as well. At 721 pages, the work is rather encyclopedic, but very insightful and inspires the reader of Scripture to pay attention to even the “bit characters” in the fourth gospel. Highly recommended!
John (Edward W. Klink III; ZECNT; Zondervan). Fourth Gospel scholarship benefits from many outstanding commentaries (e.g., Thompson, Moody Smith, Brown, Keener, Lincoln, Moloney, O’Day). Klink’s massive 900+ page work is a nice contribution nonetheless. The Zondervan Exegetical series has a number of helpful features, including diagramming of passages, brief “Main Idea” notes, thorough interaction with the Greek text, and passage-level “application” sections. Klink’s volume draws out the strengths of the series. I was impressed with how Klink weaves into the detailed analysis his own theological insights, even if briefly. He also has a very good grasp of the secondary literature overall, though one can see reliance on a number of traditional works such as Barrett, John Calvin, Don Carson, Leon Morris, and Ridderbos. As far as analysis of the Greek text, I noticed close work with Wallace.
I do think Klink’s work is commendable (I expect I will consult it on all kinds of nitty-gritty questions), but I have one quibble with his book. He has chosen to use androcentral language in his translations, preferring “man” or “he/him” in places where one would expect a gender neutral term. For example, re: John 3:5, Klink offers “unless a man is born from water and spirit” where the text reads εαν μη τις γεννηθη εξ θδατος και πνευματος. Klink does this not infrequently (see p206 on 3:18). I am surprised because the NET and the NIV2011 both chose to prefer gender neutral language in cases where the reference is to anyone regardless of gender (and thus it should not be a conservative litmus test). I take this matter very seriously so this would prevent me from using this as a textbook.
Reading John for Dear Life: A Spiritual Walk with the Fourth Gospel (Jaime Clark-Soles; WJK). This is not an academic book, but a Bible study for laypeople. It is written in an accessible and attractive writing style, but also chock full of insight. If someone from church were to ask me what they might read for Bible study, I would offer this immediately. I find that so much Bible study material out there is utter rubbish – so glad to have some trustworthy, learned-but-engaging materials to recommend. Thanks Jaime!
At SBL 2016 I was excited that Wipf & Stock interviewed me regarding my 1-2 Thessalonians commentary. Here is the video (below) which I think could serve as a nice little introduction to these epistles.