Category Archives: Bible

Who Wrote the Torah?

Excise yourself from the misery of American politics and wickedness (they’re synonyms) and enjoy this fine essay by the superb Konrad Schmid.

Handing the Evil One over to Satan for the Destruction of His Flesh

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord  (1 Cor 4:3-5).

Let the reader understand.

If This Doesn’t Suffice To Guide Your Views of Immigration, You Just Don’t Care What the Bible Says, About Anything, So Stop Talking About It

Exodus 23:9 —  “You must not oppress foreigners. You know what it’s like to be a foreigner, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.”

Politicians are Ripe for Judgment

If you need proof that politicians are contemptible simply take note of their silence about the inhumane and godless mistreatment of children at the border until the ground swell of public opinion forced them to break silence. Were they truly moral people, they would have decried the evil when it first came to light. Period. Full stop. They are without excuse.

16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that hurry to run to evil,
19 a lying witness who testifies falsely,
and one who sows discord in a family.  (Prov 6)

America’s politicians are guilty of 7 of these.

Yup

“You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. 2 For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them!” —  2 Ti 3:1–5.

Monday Book Notes: The Commentary

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 for lay people on the whole Bible.

The set runs $75.  This very low cost has been decided upon because I’m very keen to make it accessible to a lay audience.  At $75 it’s less than any other commentary on the entire Bible, so a bargain indeed.   Listen to Prof Dr Ralph Keen- ‘$75 is a mere fraction of its true value!’

So if you or someone you know has wanted to get a copy of the collection in PDF format, you can do so from yours truly for $75 by clicking my PayPal Link.

******

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).

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

Jesus’ Tripartite Ministry Was Viewed By the Crowds as Singular

What I mean by that is that Matthew describes the ministry of Jesus as threefold- and in order of importance:

Mt 4:23 – Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

Jesus was teacher (i.e., Rabbi), Evangelist, and healer.  Yet the crowd doesn’t follow Jesus for his teaching or his evangelizing- the crowd follows him simply because they are concerned for their physical condition.

Matthew is implicitly critical of the crowds – just as John is explicitly critical of the crowds in John 6.  Both evangelists see the interests of the crowd to be merely on the level of having their ‘felt needs’ met.  The herd doesn’t care about what Jesus teaches nor does it care about the Good News. It simply wants it’s illnesses healed so that it can return to pursuing whatever it is it pursued before.

And nothing has changed since.  The herd is still far more concerned about physical wellness than it is spiritual truth.  If you don’t believe it, just listen to the things people ask you to pray for.  I guarantee that 90% of the time or more the focus will be on some temporal illness and not some spiritual deficit.

Bad Things Happen to the Critics of Prophets

Besides the well known story of the kids mauled by bears because those kids made fun of Elisha, there’s this little morality tale which drives home the point that the people of God are advised to respect the persons God has appointed to speak on his behalf-

Num 12:1 While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had indeed married a Cushite woman); 2 and they said, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. 3 Now the man Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth. 4 Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them came out. 5 Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud, and stood at the entrance of the tent, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forward. 6 And he said, “Hear my words:

When there are prophets among you,
I the Lord make myself known to them in visions;
I speak to them in dreams.
7 Not so with my servant Moses;
he is entrusted with all my house.
8 With him I speak face to face—clearly, not in riddles;
and he beholds the form of the Lord.

Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” 9 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and he departed. 10 When the cloud went away from over the tent, Miriam had become leprous, as white as snow. And Aaron turned towards Miriam and saw that she was leprous. 11 Then Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord, do not punish us for a sin that we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like one stillborn, whose flesh is half consumed when it comes out of its mother’s womb.”

Uh oh….  Bad move Aaron and Miriam.  Best to refrain from your insults.

No Preacher in Washington is Micaiah, They’re All Zedekiah

1 Kings 22-

For three years Aram and Israel continued without war. 2 But in the third year King Jehoshaphat of Judah came down to the king of Israel. 3 The king of Israel said to his servants, “Do you know that Ramoth-gilead belongs to us, yet we are doing nothing to take it out of the hand of the king of Aram?” 4 He said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?” Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “I am as you are; my people are your people, my horses are your horses.”

5 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the Lord.” 6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred of them, and said to them, “Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?” They said, “Go up; for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” 7 But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no other prophet of the Lord here of whom we may inquire?” 8 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one other by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah son of Imlah; but I hate him, for he never prophesies anything favorable about me, but only disaster.” Jehoshaphat said, “Let the king not say such a thing.” 9 Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Bring quickly Micaiah son of Imlah.” 10 Now the king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah were sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes, at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets were prophesying before them. 11 Zedekiah son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron, and he said, “Thus says the Lord: With these you shall gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.” 12 All the prophets were prophesying the same and saying, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.”

13 The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king; let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” 14 But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, whatever the Lord says to me, that I will speak.”

15 When he had come to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain?” He answered him, “Go up and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” 16 But the king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” 17 Then Micaiah said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep that have no shepherd; and the Lord said, ‘These have no master; let each one go home in peace.’ ” 18 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy anything favorable about me, but only disaster?”

19 Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, with all the host of heaven standing beside him to the right and to the left of him. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, so that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ Then one said one thing, and another said another, 21 until a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 ‘How?’ the Lord asked him. He replied, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then the Lord said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do it.’ 23 So you see, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has decreed disaster for you.”

24 Then Zedekiah son of Chenaanah came up to Micaiah, slapped him on the cheek, and said, “Which way did the spirit of the Lord pass from me to speak to you?” 25 Micaiah replied, “You will find out on that day when you go in to hide in an inner chamber.” 26 The king of Israel then ordered, “Take Micaiah, and return him to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king’s son, 27 and say, ‘Thus says the king: Put this fellow in prison, and feed him on reduced rations of bread and water until I come in peace.’ ” 28 Micaiah said, “If you return in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Hear, you peoples, all of you!”

Beverly Gaventa on Romans 13

Read this.  And pass it on to a friend.  And someone, for pete’s sake, give it to Jeff Sessions.  That poor dilettante really needs it.

‘My House Will Be Called a House of Prayer for All People’

“For Yahweh says this: To the eunuchs who observe my Sabbaths and choose to do my good pleasure and cling to my covenant, I shall give them in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I shall give them an everlasting name that will never be effaced. As for foreigners who adhere to Yahweh to serve him, to love Yahweh’s name and become his servants, all who observe the Sabbath, not profaning it, and cling to my covenant: these I shall lead to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar, for my house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isa. 56:4-7)

Scripture for the Day

In light of remarks made by various evil-inspired politicians, a passage of Scripture that is not decontextualized:

You should not have stood at the crossings to cut off his fugitives; you should not have handed over his survivors on the day of distress.  For the day of the Lord is near against all the nations.  As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head.  (Obadiah 14-15)

Studien zu Jesus und dem frühen Christentum

Ulrich B. Müller’s work is distinguished above all by his profound knowledge of early Jewish and ancient Christian prophecy and apocalypticism. This compilation of essays written between 2004 and 2014 by the New Testament scholar is published in honor of his 80th birthday. The first part includes studies on the historical Jesus and his self-understanding, followed by essays on the theological lines of development of early Christianity.

Pride Comes Before Destruction

As Nebuchadnezzar was walking on the roof of the royal palace in Babylon, the king said, “Babylon the great! Was it not I, with my great strength, who built it as a royal residence for my splendor and majesty?”

While these words were still on the king’s lips, a voice spoke from heaven, “It has been decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar, that your kingship is taken from you! You shall be cast out from human society, and shall dwell with wild beasts; you shall be given grass to eat like an ox, and seven years shall pass over you, until you learn that the Most High is sovereign over human kingship and gives it to whom he will.”

At once this was fulfilled. Nebuchadnezzar was cast out from human society, he ate grass like an ox, and his body was bathed with the dew of heaven, until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle, and his nails like the claws of a bird. – Daniel 4

One Very Simple, Scriptural Reason that No Christian Should Endorse Any Politician

And why the Southern Baptist Convention was reprehensibly wrong to invite Mike Pence to speak to its annual Convention.

We are representatives of Christ, first, last, and only.  Our ministry isn’t a ministry of endorsing politicians, but representing Christ.  And the simple fact is, we cannot be representatives of Christ and politicians simultaneously.  One must give way to the other.  We will either serve God, or political Mammon.  This text from Paul is the only text we need to know that political endorsements are inappropriate and those, like Falwell and Metaxas and Bakker and White and the leadership of the SBC and the rest who have publicly endorsed Trump (or any politician of any party) are simply wrong:

τὰ δὲ πάντα ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ καταλλάξαντος ἡμᾶς ἑαυτῷ διὰ Χριστοῦ καὶ δόντος ἡμῖν τὴν διακονίαν τῆς καταλλαγῆς, ὡς ὅτι θεὸς ἦν ἐν Χριστῷ κόσμον καταλλάσσων ἑαυτῷ, μὴ λογιζόμενος αὐτοῖς τὰ παραπτώματα αὐτῶν, καὶ θέμενος ἐν ἡμῖν τὸν λόγον τῆς καταλλαγῆς. ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ οὖν πρεσβεύομεν ὡς τοῦ θεοῦ παρακαλοῦντος δι᾽ ἡμῶν· δεόμεθα ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ, καταλλάγητε τῷ θεῷ.  (2 Cor. 5:18-20 TIS)

omnia autem ex Deo qui reconciliavit nos sibi per Christum et dedit nobis ministerium reconciliationis  quoniam quidem Deus erat in Christo mundum reconcilians sibi non reputans illis delicta ipsorum et posuit in nobis verbum reconciliationis pro Christo ergo legationem fungimur tamquam Deo exhortante per nos obsecramus pro Christo reconciliamini Deo (2 Cor. 5:18-20 VUL)

It is all God’s work; he reconciled us to himself through Christ and he gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  I mean, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not holding anyone’s faults against them, but entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were urging you through us, and in the name of Christ we appeal to you to be reconciled to God. (2 Cor. 5:18-20 NJB)

Alles aber kommt von Gott, der uns durch Christus mit sich versöhnt und uns den Dienst der Versöhnung aufgetragen hat.  Denn ich bin gewiss: Gott war in Christus und versöhnte die Welt mit sich, indem er den Menschen ihre Verfehlungen nicht anrechnete und unter uns das Wort von der Versöhnung aufgerichtet hat.  So treten wir nun als Gesandte Christi auf, denn durch uns lässt Gott seine Einladung ergehen. Wir bitten an Christi Statt: Lasst euch versöhnen mit Gott! (2 Cor. 5:18-20 ZUR)

Et le tout vient de Dieu, qui nous a réconciliés avec Lui par le Christ et nous a confié le ministère de la réconciliation.  Car c’était Dieu qui dans le Christ se réconciliait le monde, ne tenant plus compte des fautes des hommes, et mettant en nous la parole de la réconciliation. Nous sommes donc en ambassade pour le Christ ; c’est comme si Dieu exhortait par nous. Nous vous en supplions au nom du Christ : laissez-vous réconcilier avec Dieu. (2 Cor. 5:18-20 FBJ)

Will Ross Talks About the ‘Septuagint Reader’s Edition’

Over at our blog Septuaginta, I put together some information about what vocabulary we provided in the apparatus of our reader’s edition. Plus if you stick with it you’ll find a sample text from Exodus at the bottom of the post.

Via.

We Aren’t Called to Be Relevant or Powerful, We Are Called to Be Obedient

Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’ (Matt. 28:18-20)

Jesus doesn’t need you to be relevant or powerful- he already has all power.  He needs you to be obedient.  He needs you to be a disciple.  A real one.

Scripture: An Observation

When dissected into verses, Scripture disintegrates and crumbles into meaninglessness.

Sprüche (Proverbia) 1-15

Bernd U. Schipper reads the book of Proverbs within the context of ancient Near Eastern wisdom literature and at the same time as an integral part of the Old Testament. As a work of literature from the Second Temple period, the book of Proverbs takes part in the theological debates of its time over issues such as the significance of the Torah (and particularly the Deuteronomic law) or whether humans are capable of living in accordance with the divine will.

The analysis of ancient Near Eastern parallels gives special attention to textual material that has previously not been applied to the exegesis of the book of Proverbs: the sapiential texts from the Egyptian Late Period (6th–2nd c. B.C.E.).

On the whole, the final form of the book of Proverbs emerges as a text from the late Persian and early Hellenistic periods that can be ascribed to a circle of “scribes” who were well-versed in the scriptures of ancient Israel.

The publisher, V&R, have sent a review copy. My thoughts are below, and to save space you are encouraged to visit here for the TOC and front matter.

Two words spring immediately to mind concerning this volume:  Lengthy and thorough.  The volume is 870 pages long plus indices, and it only covers just less than half of the Book of Proverbs!  By contrast, the entire Book of Proverbs itself runs from page 947 to 972 in Dothan’s edition of Codex Leningradensis, a paltry 25 pages.

Schipper fills the space with 116 pages of introduction leading up to his discussion of Pr 1:1-7.  Each pericope is prefaced by a bibliography and includes a new translation of the text, copious text critical notes, an ‘orientation’ to the passage, the ‘Form’ of the passage, and a word by word and phrase by phrase commentary proper.  Each pericope is then discussed as to its ‘Aim’ (or goal).

This pattern is repeated throughout the volume with occasional insertions of ‘Forschungsgeschitliche Skizze’ when needed.

English readers need no despair; the present volume will also appear in English in the Hermeneia Commentary series (though at the moment it does not yet appear on the Fortress Press website).

This is a historical critical commentary in the best sense of that phrase.  It is classic in style and presentation and offers scholars (though not casual readers) a state of the art critical commentary on one of the Bible’s most intriguing books.  Schipper writes clearly and in spite of the size of the work, precisely.  He wastes not a word.

Readers of the volume are encouraged to take special note of the ‘Aim’ of each pericope.  Here Schipper makes some of the most interesting and relevant observations found in the volume.  In short he shows with stunning clarity the utter relevance of the Book of Proverbs.  Yet he does so whilst avoiding completely any eisegetical tendencies.  Proverbs is shown to be relevant- but without the gymnastics usually performed by eisegetes.

Weisheitliche Bildung hat zwar ihren Wert, kann jedoch den Menschen nicht allein zum Leben führen.  Dazu ist JHWH nötig, denn neben der weisheitlichen Kompetenz gibt es den Weg der Torheit, der genauso machtvoll ist wie die personifizierte Weisheit (p. 578).

Readers of German will want to obtain a copy for themselves or encourage their library to do so and English readers will want to watch for the publication of the Hermeneia edition.  This is a commentary well worth consulting.

Silence is Sin

‘To the one who knows to do right, and who does not do it: to him, it is sin!’ –  St. James