Category Archives: Bible

People Are OK With David Being a Murderer, But They Can’t Stand the Thought of Him Being a Rapist

Isn’t that crazy?

The essay linked is pretty good, by and large.  And not altogether poor in its understanding of the Bible.  But this part is excellent:

When the issue is whether David murdered Uriah, readers generally feel free to expand how the Old Testament murder law should be read. But when we ask whether David raped Bathsheba, then some readers push back demanding precision around what the law says explicitly about rape.

Both Jesus and Nathan’s focus on the intent and motives of the heart give us good reason to look beyond the letter of the law. The story of David and Bathsheba is not a story of adultery or an affair, but one where a powerful man is sexually exploiting a vulnerable woman and is willing to use coercive power to call her to his chamber and cover up his actions.

Perhaps more intriguing than determining David’s motives is our own determination to spare him from disrepute. We don’t want David to be a rapist. We actually find it easier to stomach him being a murderer of a man than an abuser of a woman.

And, if the preponderance of sermons is any indication, Christians have historically been willing to slut-shame Bathsheba to keep any stink (beyond adultery) off of David. It’s nonsensical, particularly because in Scripture, Bathsheba is never accused, indicted, or even maligned in any way for what happened.

Read the whole.  David the murdering rapist may not really deserve to be adored as he is.

One of the Few Things Barth Got Right Was the Hermeneutical Circle

Which he got right from Paul-

The natural person has no room for the gifts of God’s Spirit; to him they are folly; he cannot recognise them, because their value can be assessed only in the Spirit. The spiritual person, on the other hand, can assess the value of everything, and that person’s value cannot be assessed by anybody else. For: who has ever known the mind of the Lord? Who has ever been his adviser? But we are those who have the mind of Christ.  (1 Cor. 2:14-16)

Like it or not, Paul’s assertion that only those gifted with the Spirit understand the gifts of the Spirit is true.  Dwelling outside the hermeneutical circle doesn’t mean one is a bad historian.  But it does mean one is a terrible theologian and a worse exegete.  All protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

From Scribal Error to Rewriting: How Ancient Texts Could and Could Not Be Changed

Coming soon from V&R

How ancient texts could and could not be changed has been in the focus of vibrant scholarly discussions in recent years. The present volume offers contributions from a representative group of prominent scholars from different backgrounds and specialties in the areas of Classical and Biblical studies who were gathered at an interdisciplinary symposium held in May 2015 at the Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University in Tbilisi, Georgia. In the first part of the volume Ancient Scribal and Editorial Practices, the authors approach ancient scribal and editorial techniques in Greek, Latin, and Syriac sources concerning classical and biblical texts, their textual criticism, and editorial history. The second part Textual History of the Hebrew Bible focuses on scribal and editorial aspects of the textual history of the Hebrew Bible. The third part Writing and Rewriting in Translation deals with a variety of writings from the Old Testament, New Testament, Apocrypha, and Patristic texts in various languages (Greek, Coptic, Arabic, Armenian, and Georgian), focusing on issues of textual criticism and translation technique. The volume contains an especially rich assortment of contributions by Georgian textual scholars concerning ancient editorial practices and ancient Georgian translations of biblical and patristic texts. This collection of papers provides insights into a variety of different areas of study that seldom come into contact with each other but are clearly in many ways related.

Something to Remember, Always

Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side. Do not be bold of tongue, yet idle and slack in deed. (Sir. 4:28-29)

I Think I’ll Post This Every Wednesday

Then he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food, I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink, I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, lacking clothes and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.”

Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or lacking clothes, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?”

Then he will answer, “In truth I tell you, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.” And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the upright to eternal life.’ (Matt. 25:41-46)

The fate of the compassion-less is sealed.

More on the App Version of the Tyndale House Greek New Testament

If you’re on Instagram, Tyndale House has posted a little instructional video on their instagram page showing how to choose and use the version.

 

The Tyndale House Greek New Testament is Now Available Online and In Apps

Here’s the online location.

The THGNT text can also be accessed via the YouVersion Mobile App, which is used on over 385 million unique devices all over the world.  Download from the Apple Store, and for Android, from Google Play.

Pauline Dogmatics: The Triumph of God’s Love

Say what you must, Doug writes big books.  And when it comes to big books….

  • I like big books and I cannot lie,
  • you other brothers can’t deny…

(That’s the only part I know, sorry).

The eschatological heart of Paul’s gospel in his world and its implications for today

Drawing upon thirty years of intense study and reflection on Paul, Douglas Campbell offers a distinctive overview of the apostle’s thinking that builds on Albert Schweitzer’s classic emphasis on the importance for Paul of the resurrection. But Campbell—learning here from Karl Barth—traces through the implications of Christ for Paul’s thinking about every other theological topic, from revelation and the resurrection through the nature of the church and mission. As he does so, the conversation broadens to include Stanley Hauerwas in relation to Christian formation, and thinkers like Willie Jennings to engage post-colonial concerns.

But the result of this extensive conversation is a work that, in addition to providing a description of Paul’s theology, also equips readers with what amounts to a Pauline manual for church planting. Good Pauline theology is good practical theology, ecclesiology, and missiology, which is to say, Paul’s theology belongs to the church and, properly understood, causes the church to flourish. In these conversations Campbell pushes through interdisciplinary boundaries to explicate different aspects of Pauline community with notions like network theory and restorative justice.

The book concludes by moving to applications of Paul in the modern period to painful questions concerning gender, sexual activity, and Jewish inclusion, offering Pauline navigations that are orthodox, inclusive, and highly constructive.

Hmmm… as they say.  And hmmm…. concerning the date of publication:

Hmmm….

Why Do People Accept Lies?

Though the light has come into the world people have preferred darkness to the light because their deeds were evil. (Jn. 3:19)

People accept lies because they live in darkness.  And like it.

Prayer for the Month

“Rise, Yahweh! God, raise your hand, do not forget the afflicted! Why should the wicked spurn God, assuring himself you will never follow it up? You have seen for yourself the trouble and vexation, you watch so as to take it in hand. The oppressed relies on you; you are the only recourse of the orphan.

Break the arm of the wicked and evil, seek out wickedness till there is none left to be found.

Yahweh is king for ever and ever, the heathen has vanished from his country. Yahweh, you listen to the laments of the poor, you give them courage, you grant them a hearing, to give judgement for the orphaned and exploited, so that earthborn humans may strike terror no more.” (Ps. 10:12-18)

Amazingly Accurate Bible Translation Chart

Via Tim *The Terrible* Bertholet

Sirach is On the Mark

There are three sorts of people my soul hates, and whose existence I consider an outrage: the poor swollen with pride, the rich who is a liar and an adulterous old man who has no sense. (Sir. 25:2)

Sound like anyone you know?

(Also, Sirach is way more ‘scriptural’ than Jude or 2 Peter.  Sirach should be in the Protestant canon).

You Need a Commentary That Helps Make Sense of the Bible

the-person-the-pew-commentary-seriesThe ‘Person in the Pew’ commentary series is the only series of Commentaries in modern history written by a single person on the entire Bible and aimed at layfolk .  Everyone needs a commentary on the Bible that they can understand and that answers their questions about the meaning of the text.  So I wrote one.

If you or someone you know wants to get a copy of the entire 42 volume collection in PDF format, you can do so from yours truly for the exceptionally reasonable price of  $75 by clicking my PayPal Link.  Leave your email in your paypal payment note so I can send it to you right away.

Should you only wish one volume, email me and we can arrange it.

***

Saint Paul knew more than I can ever imagine about Christians living in tension with the Gospel and with each other, and his several letters to the Church in Corinth are pivotal to the entire New Testament. Which is why I am so pleased to mention here some recent commentaries by a friend of mine, Jim West, on I and II Corinthians.

Subtitled ‘for the Person in the Pew’, and published by Quartz Hill Publishing House of Quartz Hill School of Theology, California, these two commentaries are in fact part of a much larger project by West to write similar commentaries on every book of the Bible, and to make them available in print and electronically for everyone to read. That project is now nearly completed and the results are tremendous.

I think there are three main reasons why these commentaries are so successful. First, West is a first-class Biblical scholar, one who makes the intelligent critical study of the text central to his theological interpretation. That commitment is rarer than one might imagine and to have it realized across the entire Bible is an astonishing feat that gives us now a unique resource.

Second, and delightfully, Jim West is a great writer: his pages fizz with sharp words and phrases and he appears incapable of saying anything boring about these texts. This ability keeps us reading along with him and, more importantly, reading along with Saint Paul. I have rarely come across any Christian writing project, aimed at ‘the person in the pew’, that has succeeded so brilliantly in bringing alive its subject matter.

Third, West couldn’t dodge an issue if his life depended on it, which can be an uncomfortable position for a Christian theologian. Corinth, as with most churches in most places, had some strange people believing and practising some odd things. The knack, as West points out, is to engage them endlessly with love and grace rather than self-righteous anger, but to engage them: ‘Paul lived with a purpose. And he urges the Corinthians to do the same. As we all who name the name of Christ must’ (West on I Cor. 9:27, p.60).

I am going to be talking to Jim about making these commentaries available through Ming Hua’s website, but inspect them for yourselves if you have the time: you will find them a superb companion to your own reading of the Bible and, as importantly, a great reminder of just how much the early Church struggled with some of the same problems we face now.

– Gareth Jones, Principal, Ming Hua Theological College, Hong Kong

Cheer Up… They Said. Read the Bible… They Said…

Is not human life on earth just conscript service? Do we not live a hireling’s life?
Like a slave, sighing for the shade, or a hireling with no thought but for his wages,
I have months of futility assigned to me, nights of suffering to be my lot.
Lying in bed I wonder, ‘When will it be day?’ No sooner up than, ‘When will evening come?’ And crazy thoughts obsess me till twilight falls.
Vermin and loathsome scabs cover my body; my skin is cracked and oozes pus.
Swifter than a weaver’s shuttle my days have passed, and vanished, leaving no hope behind.
Remember that my life is but a breath, and that my eyes will never again see joy.  — (Job 7:1-7)

NIV Life Application Study Bible, 3rd Edition

I’ve been sent along a copy of the new 3rd edition of Zondervan’s NIV ‘Life Application Study Bible‘ for review by the good folk at Biblegateway.  In due course, I’ll let you know what I think of it.  In the meanwhile, I’m obliged to tell you that I received the bible with the understanding that it 1) costs me nothing and 2) I should review it here, and 3) that I am free to offer my opinion unencumbered by any requirement to make the publisher happy (but of course that’s always true of reviews here, isn’t it?).  Ok cool.  I am also reminded that I need to include the hashtag #BibleGatewayPartner which, naturally, I am happy to do.

I’ve also been asked to point out that there is an interview with the general editor of this edition right here.  You may find it helpful.

More, as we say, anon.

It’s Foolish to Place your Hope in Politicians…

Do not trust in nobles, in a son of man, who cannot save. When his breath leaves him, he returns to the ground; on that day his plans die.  

Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God,  the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them. He remains faithful forever, executing justice for the exploited and giving food to the hungry.

The LORD frees prisoners.  The LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD raises up those who are oppressed. The LORD loves the righteous.  The LORD protects resident aliens and helps the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.  — (Ps. 146:3-9)

Proverbs Has Something to Say, to the American Government…

An archer wounding everyone, such is he who hires the passing fool and drunkard. As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool reverts to his folly. You see someone who thinks himself wise? More to be hoped for from a fool than from him! (Prov. 26:10-12)

To all The Baptist Men Who Think Women Shouldn’t Be Ordained…

1- Phoebe was a Deaconess (cf Rom 16:1 in Greek).

Συνίστημι δὲ ὑμῖν Φοίβην τὴν ἀδελφὴν ἡμῶν, οὖσαν [καὶ] διάκονον τῆς ἐκκλησίας τῆς ἐν Κεγχρεαῖς, (Rom. 16:1)

2- The Qualifications for Deacons in 1 Timothy also apply to women deacons.  ‘The women, likewise’ applies to ‘women’, not ‘wives’.  Read Greek.

Γυναῖκας ὡσαύτως σεμνάς, μὴ διαβόλους, νηφαλίους, πιστὰς ἐν πᾶσιν. (1 Tim. 3:11)

3- The early Church ordained women deacons.  This is simply a historical fact that cannot be denied.

4- Every single one of you attend a Church that has some sort of benevolence committee or kitchen committee or something of that sort whose job is to minister to families that are grieving or hurting, and women do most of that work.  And that is PRECISELY the work Deacons are assigned in the New Testament.  You have women deacons, de facto, even if you deny them de jure.

In short, you have no biblical or practical or theological leg to stand on.  And you know it.  And if you don’t, you shouldn’t be in ministry at all.

2 Peter and the Apocalypse of Peter: Towards a New Perspective

Published by Brill

In the 2016 Radboud Prestige Lectures, published in this volume, Jörg Frey develops a new perspective on 2 Peter by arguing that the letter is dependent on the Apocalypse of Peter. Frey argues that reading 2 Peter against the backdrop of the Apocalypse of Peter sheds new light on many longstanding interpretative questions and offers fresh insights into the history of second-century Christianity. Frey’s lectures are followed by responses from leading scholars in the field, who discuss Frey’s proposal in ways both critical and constructive. Contributors include: Richard Bauckham, Jan Bremmer, Terrance Callan, Paul Foster, Jeremy Hultin, Tobias Nicklas, David Nienhuis and Martin Ruf.

If ever there were a theory that hung by a strand of spider web, it is the one proffered by Frey in this volume and in his earlier Commentary on 2 Peter and Jude.  The notion that somehow or other, 2 Peter is reliant upon the Apocalypse of Peter beggers credulity.  That isn’t to suggest that Frey doesn’t try awfully mightily to make it so.  But he cannot.  It simply is not a sensible theory and that, I suspect, is why only a small handful of people hold to it.

The present volume is a wonderful resource for study into the entire question.  Frey sets the agenda with his defensive essay which opens the book and then his like-minded friends muster their arguments for agreeing with Frey.  Accordingly, the contributions of Bremmer, Nicklas, and Callan (who curiously also asserts that Josephus is also somehow a source of 2 Peter), Nienhuis, and Hultin are all in basic agreement with Frey with varying degrees of separation.  The deck, then, is stacked.

Ruf, then

… questions Frey’s (and Grünstäudl’s) account of the literary connection between 2 Peter and the Apocalypse. Ruf is skeptical about the possibility of determining any kind of direct literary connection. In Ruf’s estimation there is a relationship between the two documents, but it is difficult to be more specific than to say that they are engaging in, and contributing to, the same “discourse.”

Foster and Bauckham too are skeptical (to say the least) concerning Frey’s notion of dependence.

Frey gets the last word, of course, and asserts – in quite a friendly manner – the superiority of his point of view in spite of the doubts of three of his interlocutors.

The best argued essay, in my estimation, is that of Ruf.  Towards the end of his essay he observes, quite sagely

Wolfgang Grünstäudl and Jörg Frey highlight the ideas Second Peter shares with Eastern, and particularly Egyptian, literature, while they pay less attention to its western contacts than Bauckham did. Future research will have to ponder both ‘directions’ of literary contacts and find a balance. A thorough methodological, or, rather, criteriological reflection on the categories of literary contacts and their relevance for the determination of the place of origin would be highly desirable.

And that, I think, is the crux of the issue.  It is the old old wondering after which came first, the chicken or the egg.  Frey asserts that the chicken (Apocalypse of Peter) came first and the egg (2 Peter) only later.  But how can he prove this?  And the simplest answer is- he can’t.

He tries, as do his like-minded colleagues.  But he doesn’t succeed.  His web of assertions are attempting to bear too much weight.  They cannot.  And soon, when more weight (in terms of scholarly response to the theories presented here and in his Commentary) is applied to his idea, it will come crashing down.

The second half (leaving aside Frey’s rejoinder) is just the first salvo in the chicken and egg wars.  As such, it deserves your attention and your consideration.  And it also deserves a monograph in response.

The Day Tyndale’s English Version of the Bible was Printed: October 4, 1535

tyndale