Festschrift for Grant R. Osborne (Book Notice) (Skinner)

Osborne FSI have just finished reviewing the Festschrift for Grant Osborne, edited by Stan Porter and Eckhard Schnabel. I really liked the particular focus of this volume, though I don’t think it will have the wider appeal that some Festschriften have. Having edited a Festschrift myself, I know that it is important to identify a specific focus or several foci in the honoree’s scholarship around which to center the book’s essays. The title of this volume is On the Writing of New Testament Commentaries, and contains 21 chapters devoted to the topic of writing commentaries on different biblical texts. While this won’t appeal to all readers and reviewers, it is interesting to those like me who hope to one day write a commentary, along with others who already have. The book is filled with insights and interesting tidbits from seasoned authors. The book, no doubt, also serves as a fitting tribute to Prof. Obsorne. During his 40-year career, Osborne has published a dozen books, including two full-scale commentaries (Revelation and Matthew) and four less technical commentaries (Romans, John, Mark, and James/1-2 Peter/Jude).

Of the 20 contributors to this volume, 17 have experience writing at least one commentary, while most have made a career out of the commentary-writing enterprise. The book is divided into five sections:

(1) Commentaries and Exegesis (with chapters from Eckhard Schnabel, Stan Porter, Doug Moo, Craig Blomberg, Douglas Huffman, and Craig Evans)

(2) Commentaries and the Hermeneutical Task (with chapters from Don Carson, Daniel Block, David Pao, Robert Yarbrough, Walter Liefield, and Scott Manetsch)

(3) Commentaries and Theology (with chapters from Kevin Vanhoozer, Daniel Treier, and Linda Belleville)

(4) Commentaries on the Gospels, Epistles, and Revelation (with chapters from Darrell Bock, Stan Porter, Scot McKnight, and Lois Fuller Dow)

(5) Commentaries and Publishers (with only one chapter written by Daniel Reid, longtime editor at InterVarsity Press).

For my money, the fourth section is the most instructive and interesting. Congratulations to Prof. Osborne!

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Theology Questions Everyone Asks (Book Notice) (Gupta)

When I was in seminary and had the opportunity to do a bit of teaching, Dr. Stuart (OT prof) gave me this advice that has stuck with me: classroom preparation involves 10% work on producing a lecture and 90% readiness for answering questions. By that he meant that anyone can hit the library and develop a lecture with bulletin points and examples. The way you detect an expert from a novice is in the “thinking on your feet” moments. It also means that a lot of learning and processing happens in unpredictable ways.

It is unfortunate when a professor gets into the classroom and is too locked into setting the agenda for three hours. It pays, I have learned, to pre-plan “wiggle-room” for discussion and reflection (perhaps even 30-50% of the classroom time should be non-lecture). Nowadays, students have a lot of access to information (ATLA, blogs, ebooks, etc…). What they need is a context to work through some of their own questions.

That having been said, I was delighted to get a surprise in the mail today from IVP – Theology Questions Everyone Asks: Christian Faith in Plain Language (2014). This book is produced entirely by Wheaton theology faculty to provide basic thoughts on questions that are often raised by students (What is Christianity? Who is God? Who is Jesus? How Should I Live?). I couldn’t help myself so I jumped right to chapter 2: “What is the Bible?” (contributor: Kevin Vanhoozer). While it is a basic approach to the question (15 pages, non-technical), I found Vanhoozer’s discussion refreshingly clear and insightful, even winsome. I don’t suppose this book fits the needs of seminary students as much as it does undergrads, but I am considering throwing Vanhoozer’s concise little chapter on Scripture into the introductory reading mix for my first-year sem students. Why not? Who could teach them better than KJV?

Anyway, this is a neat little book – always exciting to see a faculty come together to produce a shared work. It shows institutional unity and integrity. It shows care for their students and others. By the way: the three chapters I will read next, “Who is Jesus?” (Gary Burge), “Who Is the Church?” (Dan Treier), and “What Is Christian Hope?” (Beth Felker Jones). Do you teach a gen-ed intro theology course at your evangelical institution? Pick this up and have a look.

Gnostics as Intellectuals? DeConick Responds to Hurtado (Skinner)

A few days ago when I read, then discussed Larry Hurtado’s blogpost about how the gnostics were not to be regarded as intellectuals, I wondered to myself if April DeConick wouldn’t eventually respond. Well now she has, with a fairly substantive post of her own. I would love to see this turn into an ongoing conversation between the two.