Tag Archives: Exegesis

It’s Adolf Schlatter’s Birthday!

That profoundly gifted exegete and theologian Adolf Schlatter was born on the 16th of August in 1852. His productivity was second to none as he published commentaries on every book of the New Testament (some for general readers and some more advanced), dogmatics, ethics, devotional materials, philosophy, history, and even an introduction to the entire Bible.

Only a fragment of his work has been translated into English and consequently he is barely known (if at all). This is a real shame, as he has much to say that’s worth hearing.

Not that everyone cares for his work, or even him. Both Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann studied for a time under him and neither of them were very impressed. And in more recent times, Gerd Ludemann has found him wanting because of his apparent support of the Nazi party (which, I hasten to add, was not the case at all!).

It’s Bultmann’s Birthday

Rudolf Karl Bultmann, the most important New Testament theologian of the 20th and the 21st centuries was born on this day in 1884.  Don’t believe 99% of what you read ABOUT him written by the angry fundamentalists.  Read HIM and you’ll learn something.  In fact, you’ll learn a lot, much of which has never been superseded in academic biblical studies.

Be A Winner! Of the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary, that Is

From Logos-

To mark the release of the newest addition to the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (44 vols.), we’re giving away a copy of the entire EEC! This giveaway ends June 30, so enter soon—and often!

Indeed do.  It’s a fantastic series (so far at least and there’s no reason to think the quality will decline).

The Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (44 vols.) is the first major academic Bible commentary series published in many years. Like the Word Biblical Commentary, the EEC offers the best in evangelical scholarship. Logos has carefully selected authors who are specialists in their field of study, ensuring that each commentary offers critical and exegetical interaction with the Bible in its original languages and context.

The EEC is written from a distinctively evangelical perspective and each volume provides serious exegesis, interacting with primary sources as well as the most up-to-date secondary sources. Such interaction requires that contributors engage with the very best scholarship available. Our commitment to evangelical scholarship is spelled out clearly in the sections on “Biblical Theology” and “Application and Devotional Implications” at the end of each pericope.

I’ve reviewed several of the volumes and found them really quite useful.

Evangelicals, Don’t Be Ashamed… A New Commentary Series Called the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary

Logos launched, last year, a new commentary series aimed at bringing the best of Evangelical scholarship to bear on the interpretation of the biblical text.  It’s called the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary.

I’ve received the commentaries on Philemon and Ezra/Nehemiah (take note, Thomas Bolin) and feel like saying a few things about them.  But first, a word about the series itself.

These days a lot of Evangelicals are being ‘shamed’ into retreat of a sort into the back room of biblical studies.  ‘Oh Evangelicals can’t be objective so their work is illegitimate’ or ‘Evangelical = Fundamentalist, ergo, what they write doesn’t matter’ are phrases sometimes heard in the hallways of academic conferences.  Take heart, Evangelicals, you have no cause to be ashamed of who you are or where you stand.

Let’s be really, really objective for a moment, shall we?  These days the bible is read through a variety of lenses.  We have ‘queer’ commentaries, ‘feminist’ commentaries, ‘minority’ commentaries, ‘third world’ commentaries, ‘Catholic’ commentaries, ‘secularist’ commentaries, ‘Pentecostal’ commentaries and of course the usual ‘historical-critical’ commentaries.  And the one common truth they all share is that they come from a point of view- they all operate with presuppositions.  I guarantee you that if you pick up a ‘queer’ commentary its reading of Romans 1-2 will be quite idiosyncratic, pressing, as it must, a reading which accords to its viewpoint.

Historical-critical commentaries too come from a point of view which has problems inherent in the system.  The entire ‘documentary hypothesis’ of the Pentateuch is a case in point.  It’s nothing more than the fruit of academic imagination, pure and simple, and yet it remains the reigning theory of pentateuchal composition.

As my dear teacher reminded us all in an essay he wrote many, many years ago- ‘there is no such thing as presuppositionless exegesis!’

Hence, fellow Evangelicals, don’t be ashamed of who you are nor of your supposition that Scripture is just that, Scripture.  ‘Queer’ theorists aren’t ashamed of who they are nor of their point of view and neither are feminists.  Why should Evangelicals be?

Frankly I’m proud of Logos for publishing a commentary series that actually admits its presuppositions beforehand.  I’m not ashamed of the title ‘Evangelical’ and I look forward to digging in more to exegetical commentaries which bear the name I also proudly wear.

So, in the next week or so, expect a few words about both the Philemon volume and the Ezra/Nehemiah volume.

More anon…

On The Anniversary of the Birth of Adolf Schlatter

That profoundly gifted exegete and theologian Adolf Schlatter was born on the 16th of August in 1852.   His productivity was second to none as he published commentaries on every book of the New Testament (some for general readers and some more advanced), dogmatics, ethics, devotional materials, philosophy, history, and even an introduction to the entire Bible.

Only a fragment of his work has been translated into English and consequently he is barely known (if at all).  This is a real shame, as he has much to say that’s worth hearing.

Not that everyone cares for his work, or even him.  Both Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann studied for a time under him and neither of them were very impressed.  And in more recent times, Gerd Ludemann has found him wanting because of his apparent support of the Nazi party (which, I hasten to add, was not the case at all!).

I’ll be mentioning a number of his publications throughout the day.  I honestly hope you’ll get to know the man and his work.  Not at second hand (which is never the proper way to learn anyone or anything) but for yourself, through his words.

Logos 4: My Recommendation to Logos Software

Yesterday Cliff mentioned the impending availability of the Duke Papyri collection from Logos, for free.  I signed right up, having Logos 3 and having used it for a long time.

Alas, I learned later on that Logos 4.3 is required for using the new, free resource.   Dismayed, I shared with Cliff via Twitter that such was the case.

He replied that I could in fact download the ‘core’ of Logos 4.3 for free, which I did (though it took most of the night- it’s a 1.5 gigabyte file and I’m on simple DSL).

It auto-installed once it was downloaded and when I checked it this morning I was really pleasantly surprised and pleased.  It’s a vast, vast improvement over Logos 3.  Night and day, actually.

 The welcome screen

the exegetical screen

I’m so impressed that I’m going to buy the upgrade package.  And here’s my recommendation to Logos:

1- Prominently display the link to the Logos 4 core download on the home page under something like ‘try it out before you buy it’.  If everyone else is as happy with it as I am I’m fairly sure they will have considerably more purchases.

2- Publicize the free download on the Logos blog and elsewhere.  Trying to find it on the Logos site isn’t the simplest thing and frankly I never would have known about it if Cliff hadn’t told me on the Twitter.  Get the word out.  Literally.

As I mentioned in a recent review of BibleWorks 9, it’s my go to resource for exegetical work in terms of biblical studies software.  As I also mentioned, the strength of Logos is its huge collection of secondary literature.  I still think that’s true.  But Logos 4 is much better for exegesis than Logos 3.  And that’s a certainty.

Combined, the resources for exegesis in BibleWorks 9 and the (mainly) secondary resources available in Logos 4 ‘have it all’.

I guess what I’m saying is, you probably need both.  Skip lunch at McDonalds for a couple of months and get both.

The Worst Case of Dilettantism I’ve Ever Seen

Or rather, ever been subjected to. Seriously, the people who produced the garbage called the ‘Chronicle Project’ demonstrate both the ignorance of the dilettantes and the arrogance of the unlearned. The less informed people such as these are, the more they insist that everyone who has come before them has been completely wrong. As though wisdom only came with them. Ignorant dullards and winners of the Dilly Award this week (and forever).

My friend Jeremy sent me this page asking what my thoughts were on The Chronicle Project. At first I was not interested enough to closely examine their linguistic claims, however, he was insistent so today I took a peek. Personally, I usually start at someone’s about page to get an idea what I am dealing with: Our Credentials From the Chronicle Research Team: It’s been well over a hundred years that modern professionals have been working with anc … Read More

via

BibleWorks 9: Hebrew and the LXX, and Final Observations

Frequently it’s necessary to examine the Hebrew text of the Old Testament side by side with the LXX.  BibleWorks 9 makes it simple as pie.  One need simply open up the program, go to the OT text one is exegeting, and select ‘Parallel Hebrew -LXX’ from the list of resources:

Then one has handily displayed the Hebrew and Greek side by side along with their respective analyses and lexica.

Want another verse, just go to it in the main window and there it is:

Once you’ve decided where you want to be, you can enlarge the window and everything is considerably easier to see.

I’ve examined the program quite a bit but there is still a lot more to explore.  But I won’t drag these review-lets out interminably.  Hence, a few closing observations.

First- BibleWorks 9 is the ideal tool for biblical exegesis.  It contains everything one needs in terms of primary materials.  Biblical texts in the original languages, numerous versions, lexica, dictionaries, maps, grammars, and all the rest are at the fingertip.  Even more, though, now several very ancient manuscripts along with transcriptions of those are also included.

Second- given all that it contains, I’ll call it ‘the scholar’s go to tool’ for exegesis.  It has everything many of us have had on our shelves in hardback book format for a while and is much easier to access.

Third- if asked which biblical studies software I would recommend, I would, and will, say BW9.

Fourth- that doesn’t mean I think it’s perfect.  I wish it contained other editions of the Bible (like the Revised English Bible) and I wish that it had the Dead Sea Scrolls biblical texts (along with photos of those texts as it has for key NT manuscripts) and Clines’ Dictionary of Classical Hebrew.

Fifth- In conclusion, this software has so much and lacks so little that I cannot conceive of any person doing serious work in biblical exegesis not benefiting from it immensely.

[All segments of this multi-part review can be found here].

Contra Reception History: Roland Boer

Roland has an essay at Bible and Interpretation worth reading if you’re interested in reception history (Wirkungsgeschichte).  My own reservation concerning the method is that it deals with how texts are received (which is nothing more than the study of commentaries and art and the like) rather than directly with the text itself.  Hence, the text of the Bible, in the practice of Reception History, takes a ‘back seat’ to how readers have understood it.

Reception history is very popular in circles particularly discontented with the historical – critical method.

Give Roland’s piece a read.  He writes, among other things

But what is wrong with the category of reception history? Apart from the blurring inherent in the term, the problem is that reception history assumes that the text is in some way original, the pad from which subsequent trajectories launch themselves forth. If “exegesis” is the primary method appropriate to the originary biblical text, then reception history is secondary. It is a linear straightjacket that preserves the primacy of that strange guild of biblical “exegetes.” So, under the label of “reception history” may now be lumped all those other approaches, like feminist, Marxist, postcolonial, psychoanalytic, ideological, queer, and so on, all of which are supposedly anachronistic. But the proponents of this approach also understand any interpretation of the text outside exegesis by biblical scholars as secondary, especially the way the Bible is interpreted in art, literature, film, politics, or music.

Otto Kaiser’s Birthday

The Old Testament scholar Otto Kaiser was born on November 30th, 1924.   A Bultmannian, Kaiser’s many volumes are articulate and insightful.  His most important work, in my estimation, is Der Gott des Alten Testaments. Theologie des Alten Testaments in 3 vols.

He’s a fine exegete and his commentaries are some of the best.

He was celebrated on his 80th birthday in 2004, and rightly so.  Here are some of the glowing words of appreciation.

Jeremiah and Lamentations: A Review

Neither new, nor unknown, R.K. Harrison’s contribution to the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries is still, in my opinion, extraordinarily useful. So I’m reviewing a copy I requested and received from IVP because I think it’s important to consider older volumes when biblical studies materials are suggested to students and interested readers.

Simply because something wasn’t published last week doesn’t mean it isn’t useful.  And in fact, some of the new stuff can’t hold a candle to earlier studies.  Harrison’s commentary is one of the older volumes (it was published first in 1973) that deserves wide attention and appreciation.

His methodology is sound even if his reliance on ‘biblical history’ is a bit unnecessary.  His Introduction to Jeremiah (pp. 15ff) is articulate and sensible (and, I have to hasten to add, very ‘von Rad-ian).  He’s very traditionally oriented in his perspective.  For example, he understands the Lachish letters to offer extra-biblical confirmation of biblical events.  He also believes that archaeology supports the historical reliability of the book.  To be fair, in 1973, nearly everyone believed that.

His historical views notwithstanding, his argument isn’t undercut by them and his exegesis is excellent.  I would even say trustworthy.

Following the Introduction, H. offers an analysis of the text (an outline of the book’s contents) and then he dives into commentating.   And while he does a brilliant job of it, one wishes (or at least this one wishes) that he had discussed Jeremiah’s ‘Confessions’ a bit more.  The passages in question are admirably handled but not thoroughly.  Which is a shame, really, given that Harrison has such insight into the text’s meaning.

When Harrison gets to Lamentations, he follows the usual procedure of Introduction, Analysis (Outline) and Commentary.  The five ‘Dirges’ of the book are treated marvelously.

Commentaries come and go.  Some are worth reading and some aren’t worth picking up.  Some are worth using and some are worth using as nothing more than paper-weights or door-stops.  Harrison’s Jeremiah and Lamentations is worth reading, consulting, and appreciating by all those who find themselves as fascinated by Jeremiah as Harrison clearly was.