Daily Archives: 3 Dec 2019

Scholarship: An Observation

Scholarship isn’t the pursuit of fame, it’s the quest for truth.  Only scholars of our time have forgotten that.  Only our contemporaries have sold their academic birthright for a bowl of publicity porridge.

A Free Book About Ancient Scripts

Here.  Enjoy.

Some of My Favorite Books in 2019

What are some of your favorite books?

5 Reasons You Need to Make Church a Weekly Commitment

From 2016, a very thoughtful essay on the topic of Church attendance.  Give it a read.

Quote of the Forever

“Keine Übersetzung kann das Original völlig ersetzen”. -Lamer, Wörterbuch der Antike.

If only biblical scholars would take this truth seriously.

Ugh… It Just Never Ends

A Claiborne County middle school teacher has been charged multiple charges involving receiving and sending sexually explicit photos with a 13-year-old student. Aaron James Ellison was charged with 16 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and five counts of solicitation of a minor to observe sexual conduct.

The charges result from an investigation by the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office. Between August and November, Aaron James Ellison, a teacher at H.Y. Livesay Middle School, solicited five images of a sexual nature from a 13-year-old girl, according to an arrest warrant. Ellison is also alleged to have sent 11 sexually explicit images of himself to the girl, the arrest warrant said.

Here’s an idea- LEAVE KIDS ALONE.  And if you feel compelled, seek help.  And if nothing helps, STAY AWAY FROM KIDS FOREVER.

Christless Christians are Far Worse than Christmas without Christ

Just in the Nick of Time…

I got a bag sent before they sold out.

It sounds delightful.  I’ll let you know.

There Is Something Vaguely Anti-Semitic in Importing The New Testament Into The Old

As though the Old Testament has no meaning (or cannot be understood properly) without the New Testament when the truth is, the New Testament cannot be properly understood without the Old Testament.

Nope.  You aren’t the first to notice something because you’re a brilliant exegete; you’re first to notice something that no one else ever has because you’re insane.

Again, the New Testament needs the Old to be understood; but the Old doesn’t need the New.  So just let the Old Testament be the Word of God in its own right, ok?  Bloody Marcionites.

Lexham Geographic Commentary on Acts through Revelation

I was unaware of the existence of this book (and of the series of 4 other volumes with which it serves as part) until it arrived for review.  So I thank Lexham for sending it along, doubtless knowing of my great interest in such things.

My review will post tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

The Lexham Geographic Commentary on Acts through Revelation delivers fresh insight by drawing attention to the geographical setting for the spread of Christianity in the first century AD. Geography is a central concern in Acts, but the full significance of its geographical context is easily overlooked without a familiarity with the places, the types of transportation, the relative distances, and the travel conditions around the Mediterranean in the first century AD. Luke’s account mentions places from all over the known world, and Paul’s missionary travels covered an estimated 15,000 miles by land and sea.

Jesus’ words in Acts 1:8 literally map the future travels of the Apostles and provide the structure for the rest of the book: The Apostles will take the gospel from Jerusalem (1:1–8:3) to Samaria and Judea (8:4–40, 9:32–11:18), and finally throughout the Roman world and beyond (13:21–28:31). Geography also provides a new depth of insight into John’s letters to the seven churches in Rev 1–3. Their locations along key Roman mail routes suggest the letters may make up a single composite message to be received in stages as the letters are passed along from one church to the other. The references in Acts and Rev 1–3 cover the full geographical context for the first century Church since some of the cities Paul visits in Acts are later the locations of churches that receive his letters such as Ephesus (Acts 19; Eph 1:11 Tim 1:3). The Lexham Geographic Commentary gives you insight into the importance of all of these locations—both culturally and spatially—and provides a deeper understanding of the spread of early Christianity.

The title of the volume is a bit misleading, as this is not, in fact, a geographic commentary on Acts through Revelation.  It is a commentary on fragments and select passages from Acts through Revelation.  The first ten chapters cover only select passages in Acts (by a variety of scholars) and it isn’t until the eleventh chapter that snippets from Acts, 2 Cor, Hebrews, I Peter, and Revelation are included.

Snippets from Acts predominate.  Indeed, it isn’t until chapter 42 that Acts is left behind and we move to Philippians.  Then Colossians appears, 1 Thess, Philemon, 1 Peter, and then Revelation (through the letters to the Seven Churches only).

Poor James and Jude are evidently geographically empty.

Mind you, there are lots of maps, charts, graphs and other useful illustrative material along with a subject index, a Scripture index, image source listing, and brief bios of all the contributors.

If they had titled the volume ‘Lexham Geographic Handbook on Acts Through Revelation’ it would be a virtually perfect volume.  But as they didn’t, and instead called it a commentary (which it is not), I have to quibble.

A commentary is a particular genre which prospective readers understand to be a volume or volumes which takes the text as it unfolds and explains it.  Commentaries don’t hop and skip and jump from hither to yon frenetically.  They are organized canonically.  And this book is not.

Further, there are places where the content itself is a bit troubling (or questionable) from a biblical studies point of view.  In chapter 35 Eckhard Schnabel opines that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that Paul was released from Roman imprisonment and made his way to Spain to carry out missionary work there.

Schnabel argues his case not on the scriptural evidence, since there is none, but on late secondary sources (which, as we all know, are seriously questionable as accurate historical sources).

After citing his secondary materials Schnabel writes

Many scholars accept these two passages as historical evidence that Paul was released from his (first) imprisonment in Rome, which allowed him to go to Spain.

Many more, however, do not.  Further on

It is a plausible assumption that Paul preached in Tarraco, but there were other cities that would have been plausible sites for missionary work…

Like Madrid or London I suppose.  Or Paris…  The point being that plausible assumptions are not the stuff of scholarship.  They are the stuff of fantasy.  The truth is, we simply have no reason to suggest that Paul made it to Spain.  The evidence is lacking.  He may have, but the best we can do is say ‘we don’t know that he did and we have no useful facts to say otherwise’.  As I remind students fairly often, ‘absence of evidence is evidence of nothing.’

It’s not all bad, however.  There are some genuinely excellent chapters.  Chapter 43, by Alan Cadwallader on Colossae is fantastically written and thoroughly unobjectionable.  And chapter 53 by Cyndi Parker on Laodicea is also exceptionally done.  The bibliographies are very good and, again, the maps are just fantastic.  Indeed, the maps alone are reason to obtain the volume.  Readers need merely be careful with the content because it is extremely conservative at points and thus not very useful (for academic purposes).

At the end of the day I would suggest you obtain a copy of this volume.  It’s worth having, even if it doesn’t live up to its title and its contents are dicey from time to time.

Nothing Has Harmed the Church More Than….

The Pastor with the MBA or worse, a mere degree in business from a College or University.  If your Pastor doesn’t hold theological degrees, find a Church where the Pastor does.

If your Pastor isn’t a Scripture scholar, you’re in the wrong Church.

Paradise

Peter Williams tweets

Josephus (War 6.6) notes that before the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, there were many pleasure gardens round Jerusalem. Jesus was betrayed in a paradise.

Isaiah the Impatient

Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence– As fire burns brushwood, As fire causes water to boil– To make Your name known to Your adversaries, That the nations may tremble at Your presence! When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down, The mountains shook at Your presence.

For since the beginning of the world Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him. You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways.

You are indeed angry, for we have sinned– In these ways we continue; And we need to be saved. But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.  And there is no one who calls on Your name, Who stirs himself up to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us, And have consumed us because of our iniquities.  But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.

Do not be furious, O LORD, Nor remember iniquity forever; Indeed, please look– we all are Your people!  Your holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and beautiful temple, Where our fathers praised You, Is burned up with fire; And all our pleasant things are laid waste. Will You restrain Yourself because of these things, O LORD? Will You hold Your peace, and afflict us very severely?  (Isa. 64:1-12)