When You Are a Pastor or A Biblical Scholar…

… Who makes their living from interpreting Scripture, it is not my aim to make you feel bad, from time to time, when I mention the importance of knowing the biblical languages.  No, I don’t wish you to feel bad at all.  I want you to feel inadequate.  The way a medical student would feel inadequate if they were unable to identify a tibia or a bicep.  Because if you can’t manage what’s utterly foundational, inadequacy isn’t only your problem, it is the problem of every single person who is subjected to your linguisitically fallow verbal jugglings.

I want you to feel so inadequate that you actually resolve to do the hard work of learning how to read the Bible.  That’s what I want.  And it’s what your hearers want too.

The Home of the Redeemed

Zwingli writes, quite famously-

zwingli_schriftenI believe, then, that the souls of the faithful fly to heaven as soon as they leave the body, come into the presence of God, and rejoice forever. Here, most pious King, if you govern the state entrusted to you by God as David, Hezekiah, and Josiah did, you may hope to see first God Himself in His very substance, in His nature and with all His endowments and powers, and to enjoy all these, not sparingly but in full measure, not with the cloying effect that generally accompanies satiety, but with that agreeable completeness which involves no surfeiting, just as the rivers, that flow unceasingly into the sea and flow back through the depths of the earth, bring no loathing to mankind, but rather gain and joy, ever watering, gladdening and fostering new germs of life.

The good which we shall enjoy is infinite and the infinite cannot be exhausted; therefore no one can become surfeited with it, for it is ever new and yet the same. Then you may hope to see the whole company and assemblage of all the saints, the wise, the faithful, brave, and good who have lived since the world began. Here you will see the two Adams, the redeemed and the redeemer, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, Phineas, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, and the Virgin Mother of God of whom he prophesied, David, Hezekiah, Josiah, the Baptist, Peter, Paul; here too, Hercules, Theseus, Socrates, Aristides, Antigonus, Numa, Camillus, the Catos and Scipios; here Louis* the Pious, and your predecessors, the Louis, Philips, Pepins, and all your ancestors who have gone hence in faith.

In short there has not been a good man and will not be a holy heart or faithful soul from the beginning of the world to the end thereof that you will not see in heaven with God. And what can be imagined more glad, what more delightful, what, finally, more honorable than such a sight? To what can all our souls more justly bend all their strength than to the attainment of such a life? And may meantime the dreaming Catabaptists deservedly sleep in the regions below a sleep from which they will never wake. Their error comes from the fact that they do not know that with the Hebrews the word for sleeping is used for the word for dying, as is more frequently the case with Paul than there is any need of demonstrating at present.

The Greatest Shame of Evangelicals

Decent people on twitter have become the voice of conscience that Evangelicals should have been but aren’t because they’ve followed self serving moral failures like @JerryFalwellJr @ericmetaxas @robertjeffress and their ilk and that humiliation is their greatest shame.

Abandon such miserable beasts and follow Christ, Christians, or your humiliation will be absolute.

In 36 Hours The World of Biblioblogdom Will Be Forever Changed

When the Carnival goes live at midnight plus one minute, tomorrow, March 31/ April 1.  The upheaval will be total.  With no chance of any return to the status quo thereafter.  Cities will fall, Universities will tumble, and lives will never return to normal.  The day will live in infamy for 1000 generations.

Stay tuned. And you still have a little time to get your submission in.

Luther Endorses the Commentary

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have these lines from Luther today regarding my humble efforts*-

Your [Commentary] no one will call [just] a commentary but … an index for reading the Scriptures and recognizing Christ, a thing that thus far none of the commentaries has provided, at least none extant. As to your plea that you are thoroughly dissatisfied with your [Commentary], it is difficult for me to believe you. And yet I do believe that you will not be satisfied with yourself. No one seeks or demands this from you. No, we wish for Paul, too, to keep his own reputation safe, lest anyone ever claim that [Jim] is superior or equal to Paul. It is enough for you to be close to Paul. We begrudge no one if [in another commentary] he is able to come closer still.

You’ll want to get it now, I know!

IMG_8299For many years I worked on the ‘Person in the Pew’ commentary series. It covers the entire Bible and some of the more important Apocryphal works.

Individual books can still be obtained by the usual route but the entire series in pdf can only be acquired directly from me. And the procedure is simple:

1- Drop me an email at jwest@highland.net telling me you’d like it.
2- Paypal the cost of the volumes (A paltry $75).
3- I will then send them to you without delay.

But do please note, the purchase entitles you to make use of the volumes for your personal use but they may not be shared or given or sold to second parties under any circumstances.  Of course there’s no way to monitor your honesty in this matter, but you’ll know.  And so will God.

Mind you, I’m not a marketer and I know nothing about business or the business of selling things. I’ve never been in biblical studies for the money and I’m not aiming to make a fortune with the complete series in pdf.

But, that said, all the hours put into these volumes are worth something, so I’m selling the lot for $75. That’s authentically inexpensive considering the thousands of pages written. And it’s a good commentary.

* Luther actually said that of Melanchthon’s work, but who am I to quibble with what he would clearly say of mine too? False modesty is, after all, sin.

The Birth-iversary of Biblical Theology

You may not know this, but today’s an important day in the history of Biblical scholarship.  It’s the ‘birthday’ of Biblical Theology.  Yes, it was on the 30th of March, 1787, that Gabler delivered his epoch making speech „De iusto discrimine theologiae biblicae et dogmaticae regundisque recte utriusque finibus“!

De iusto discrimine theologiae biblicae et dogmaticae regundisque recte utriusque finibus“ („Von der rechten Unterscheidung der biblischen und der dogmatischen Theologie und der rechten Bestimmung ihrer beider Ziele“; lat. Text und deutsche Übersetzung bei Niebuhr / Böttrich 2003, 15-41; Letztere aus Merk 1972, 273-284; engl. Übersetzung bei Sandys-Wunsch / Eldredge 1980, 134-144). Darin beschrieb er die Biblische Theologie als eine von der Dogmatik unabhängige, aber zugleich auf diese ausgerichtete Wissenschaftsdisziplin. Ihre Aufgabe als eine historisch orientierte Wissenschaft sei es, die normativen Grundwahrheiten oder allgemeinen Vorstellungen (notiones universae; notiones purae) der Bibel von ihren zeitbedingten Einkleidungen abhzuheben. Dagegen müsse die Dogmatik die christliche Glaubenslehre in eine sich immerzu wandelnde Gesellschaft hinein vermitteln.

The central theme of the lecture-

„Die biblische Theologie besitzt historischen Charakter, überliefernd, was die heiligen Schriftsteller über die göttlichen Dinge gedacht haben; die dogmatische Theologie dagegen besitzt didaktischen Charakter, lehrend, was jeder Theologe kraft seiner Fähigkeit oder gemäß dem Zeitumstand, dem Zeitalter, dem Orte, der Sekte, der Schule und anderen ähnlichen Dingen dieser Art über die göttlichen Dinge philosophierte. … und [dass wir] nach Ausscheidung von dem, was in den heiligen Schriften allernächst an jene Zeiten und jene Menschen gerichtet ist, nur diese reinen Vorstellungen unserer philosophischen Betrachtung über die Religion zugrundelegen, welche die göttliche Vorsehung für alle Orte und Zeiten gelten lassen wollte“.

It’s virtually impossible to underestimate the importance of this lecture or its aftermath.  It changed the way biblical studies was done as no other single event has.

So, happy birthday Biblical Theology!

Good Friday

Early in the morning all the chief priests and the elders of the people reached the decision to have Jesus put to death. They bound him, led him away, and turned him over to Pilate the governor. When Judas, who betrayed Jesus, saw that Jesus was condemned to die, he felt deep regret. He returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, and said, “I did wrong because I betrayed an innocent man.” But they said, “What is that to us? That’s your problem.” Judas threw the silver pieces into the temple and left. Then he went and hanged himself. …

Jesus was brought before the governor. The governor said, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “That’s what you say.” But he didn’t answer when the chief priests and elders accused him. Then Pilate said, “Don’t you hear the testimony they bring against you?” But he didn’t answer, not even a single word. So the governor was greatly amazed.

It was customary during the festival for the governor to release to the crowd one prisoner, whomever they might choose. At that time there was a well-known prisoner named Jesus Barabbas. When the crowd had come together, Pilate asked them, “Whom would you like me to release to you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?”

He knew that the leaders of the people had handed him over because of jealousy. While he was serving as judge, his wife sent this message to him, “Leave that righteous man alone. I’ve suffered much today in a dream because of him.” But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and kill Jesus. The governor said, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” “Barabbas,” they replied. Pilate said, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Crucify him!” But he said, “Why? What wrong has he done?” They shouted even louder, “Crucify him!” Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere and that a riot was starting. So he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I’m innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It’s your problem.” All the people replied, “Let his blood be on us and on our children.” Then he released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus whipped, then handed him over to be crucified.

The governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s house, and they gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a red military coat on him. They twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They put a stick in his right hand. Then they bowed down in front of him and mocked him, saying, “Hey! King of the Jews!” After they spit on him, they took the stick and struck his head again and again. When they finished mocking him, they stripped him of the military coat and put his own clothes back on him. They led him away to crucify him. (Matt. 27:1-31)

This Day In Cranmer History

It was on this date in 1533 that Cranmer was made an Archbishop.  What you may not know, though, is that…

Archbishop Cranmer appears in an unfavorable light. His first wife, “Black Joan,” died in childbed before his ordination. Early in 1532, before he was raised to the primacy of Canterbury by Henry VIII. (August, 1532), he married a niece of the Lutheran preacher Osiander of Nuernberg, and concealed the fact, the disclosure of which would have prevented his elevation.

The papal bulls of confirmation were dated February and March, 1533, and his consecration took place March 30, 1533. The next year he privately summoned his wife to England; but sent her away in 1539, when he found it necessary to execute the bloody articles of Henry VIII., which included the prohibition of clerical marriage.

He lent a willing hand to the divorces and re-marriages of his royal master. And yet with all his weakness of character, and time-serving policy, Cranmer must have been an eminently devout man if he translated and reproduced (as he certainly edited) the Anglican liturgy, which has stood the test of many generations to this day.

Cranmer: ever the pragmatist.