This is not the usual word used for “fear of the Lord.” This word (פַּחַד) has the connotation of terror or dread, the kind of fear that makes you tremble. It is used in passages where God’s wrath is poured out on an enemy (“the dread of the Lord fell upon them,” 1 Sam 11:7, 2 Chron 14:13).

The_ScreamThis is the certain knowledge you are about to be swept away in judgment and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Think about the feeling you have when you drive through an obvious speed trap going well over the speed limit. You know you are about to face a righteous judgment and no argument you can make will prevent getting a ticket.

These unbelievers lack the sense to know they are about to fall under God’s wrath and face a righteous judgment. They lack the sense to make provisions against the coming judgment, whether that is to hide, bargain, or repent.

The wicked are “unbelievers.” The noun is the same as Psalm 1:4 (רָשָׁע). These are people who simply do not recognize the God of Israel as having any authority over them. As a result, they live life outside of Wisdom.

  • They flatter themselves in their own eyes. The verb “flatter” (חלק) has the sense of “make smooth,” either by pounding something out with a hammer (Isa 41:7) or by using oil. In Wisdom literature, the metaphor is smooth, slippery words, usually to flatter someone. For example, Prov 2:16 and 7:5 refer to the smooth words of the adulteress. Psalm 55:21 describes the words of a false companion and betrayer as “smooth like butter, softer than
  • They think their iniquity cannot be found out and hated. Beyond self-deceptive flattery, the wicked think what they are doing is in secret and cannot be discovered. What makes this flattery self-destructive is the wicked platter themselves. They have adapted their thinking so they can imagine themselves as something other than people destined for destruction.
  • They speak “trouble and deceit,” or perhaps “disaster and disillusionment.” The second word (מִרְמָה) has the sense of fraud or trickery, such as fraudulent balances or weights (Hos 12:8, Amos 8:5). But these are not dishonest weights in the market, but rather the words coming from the person’s mouth. If one is going to flatter oneself, then the words they speak are more than likely going to be lies and deceptions.
  • They have ceased “to act wisely and do good.” To “act wisely” is a hifel infinitive construct of שׂכל, a word normally associated with success or have insight (cf. Gen 3:6). Some translations use “prudent” for this word. To act wisely or prudently is to make a good decision based on careful reflection which results in success. “Doing good” in the Hebrew Bible covers a wide range of moral and ethical choices, very often these are good deeds toward other people.
  • They plot trouble or disaster. The noun (אָוֶן) can have the sense of a looming disaster, but since the wicked person is plotting out the disaster, they intend to cause trouble for someone—they are “up to no good.”
  • They stand on the “not good” path and do not reject evil. This verse recalls Psalm 1 and much of the wisdom tradition. There are two “paths” one can follow, two ways to go through life. These wicked do not just flirt with disaster, they are actively seek it out!

In summary, when there is no fear of the Lord, there is nothing but trouble! The wicked as described here live in utter ignorance of the looming disaster them face.

I have been teaching through some of the Wisdom Psalms in my Summer Bible Study series at church. Psalm 36:1 presents several unusual challenges for a teacher since translations vary greatly:

NIV: I have a message from God in my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked

ESV: Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart

LXX: The lawless one, to sin, says in himself that there is no fear of God before his eyes

The vast differences in the translation of verse 1 are due to the difficulty of the Hebrew text and the way the Greek translation interpreted the verse. Both the NIV and ESV provide a note with an alternate translation. Rolf Jacobson comments the first few words of the verse are “undoubtedly corrupt” (Psalms NICOT; 339 n. 3).

LXX Psalm 88:4-8

LXX Psalm 88:4-8

As in most cases, the reason for the difference is the difficulty of the Hebrew text and the way the Septuagint (LXX) coped with the difficulties. It is always possible the translator had a different Hebrew manuscript, but that is not likely the case here. It is also possible the translator did not understand the Hebrew and made an attempt to make sense of what the Hebrew text says. This could be from a lack of Hebrew skills, as most first year Hebrew students will attest, Hebrew poetry can be difficult to translate! But in this case, it seems to me the translator became an interpreter when approaching Psalm 36:1. (To complicate matters, this verse is Ps 36:2 in the Hebrew Bible and 35:1 in the LXX.)

The first word (נְאֻם) usually refers to an oracle of the Lord, so the first line could be a title analogous to the prophets: “An oracle of transgression concerning the wicked.” The LXX interpreted this as “the transgressor, in order to sin, says to himself” (Φησὶν ὁ παράνομος τοῦ ἁμαρτάνειν ἐν ἑαυτῷ). My overly-literal translation attempts to read the articular infinitive τοῦ ἁμαρτάνειν as the purpose or intent of the verb “he speaks.” This translates the Hebrew לָ֭רָשָׁע, a noun with a prefixed preposition (“to the sinner”).

Since the Hebrew text already has a word for sin (פֶּשַׁע), the LXX translator took the second sin word as an infinitive explaining why the sinner is speaking:  “in order to sin, a sinner has to speak within his own heart and convince himself there he has no dread of the Lord.” This is the gist of the Hebrew verse as well as the LXX, although one problem yet remains, the meaning of the first word of the Hebrew text, נְאֻם. Does this mean “speak” as the LXX has, or “an oracle”?

Allen Ross represents a more or less traditional response to this textual difficulty. He translates the first line, “An oracle concerning the transgression of the wicked is within my heart” (Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 1:779). Kraus, on the other hand, suggests the word oracle (נְאֻם) ought to be read as “pleasing” (נָעִים), resulting in the translation “pleasing is the transgression to the wicked deep in his heart” (Kraus, Psalms 1-59, 396).

Jacobson reads נְאֻם as related to the Arabic naʾama to howl, growl or the Akkadian and translates “Transgression whispers to the wicked one deep in his heart” (Psalms, NICOT, 339). Transgression becomes an evil persona who speaks into the inner person of the wicked and prevents them from recognizing the “dread of the Lord.”

A final difficulty is the Hebrew first person “my heart” (לִבִּ֑י). If the first word is not “an oracle,” then the pronoun needs to be changed to the third person “his heart,” since again based on the reading of the LXX.

In any case, the verse refers to the inner machinations of a sinner who resists the fear of the Lord and lives outside of the Wisdom Lifestyle.

TParsonshe Logos Bible Software “Free book of the Month” is Mikeal C. Parsons Acts commentary in the Paideia series from Baker. Mikeal Parsons is a top Acts scholar and the Paideia series pays close attention to the cultural and educational context from which it emerges. Parsons see Acts as a charter document explaining and legitimating Christian identity for a general audience of early Christians living in the ancient Mediterranean world

In addition to the free book, Logos is offering Charles Talbert’s Ephesians and Colossians volume in the Paideia series for only $1.99. I have always enjoyed reading Talbert’s work (especially his Reading Acts, which I still maintain I did not know about when I named this blog…)  As always, Logos is running a giveaway for the month, this time for the whole twelve volumes of the Paideia series. Head over to Logos and enter the contest as many times as you possibly can, these commentaries are all worth owning.

WestermanLogos is also running a “back to school sale” (which is not unusual since it is back to school time and Logos runs sales about every three hours). Each week they will be offering a new book, and this week it is Claus Westermann’s Continental Commentary Series: Genesis 1-11 (Fortress, 1994). This free book is not exactly free, you have to share the sale on twitter or Facebook to download the book. Spamming your friends is a small price to pay for this classic commentary on Genesis.

Check the “back to school” sale next week for another offer.

Carnival Cat

The June Carnival has arrived at Lindsay Kennedy’s My Digital Seminary. Lindsay has done a remarkable job collecting the best of the BiblioBlogs this month. Click all the links, the deserve it. Lindsay includes a blurry photograph of himself and N. T. Wright, suitable for printing and framing, or meme-ing at the very least.

In other Biblioblog news, Jim West has dedicated his Avignonian Carnival to America, and West claims his carnival is now “virtually 74.23% snark free!” Remember Peter Kirby’s Christian Origins is aggregating biblioblogs and providing a nice digest of links for the week categorized into “Top 20 Biblical Commentary Posts,”  “Top 15 Biblical Criticism Posts” and “Radical Criticism Posts.”

Just a personal note, this is the 1500th post to Reading Acts since it began nearly 8 years ago. I realize 1500 is what Jim West calls “the weekend,” but it seemed like an important milestone to me.

Bob MacDonald (@drmacdonald) is up for the August Biblical Studies Carnival at his blog Dust. I am sure he would appreciate any nominations for those carnivals.

If you want to host a Carnival, please contact me. I have several spots open in the next few months and need volunteers! It does not matter if you are a relatively new BiblioBlogger or a grizzled veteran. Carnivals are a great way to attract attention to your site if you are new blogger, but more importantly it gives you a chance to highlight the best and the brightest in the world of bibliblogs. Contact me via email (plong42@gmail.com), DM on twitter (@plong42) or a comment on this post and I can contact you. September through December 2015 are still available, usually November and December are good months for BiblioBlogs because of the national SBLAAR and ETS meetings.

Shepherd, Charles E. Theological Interpretation and Isaiah 53: A Critical Comparison of Bernhard Duhm, Brevard Childs, and Alec Motyer. The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies 598. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2014. Hb $112.00.   Link to Bloomsbury

This monograph arises from Shepherd’s Ph.D. work at Durham University in 2012 under the direction of Walter Moberly. He proposes to study a theologically rich passage in the Hebrew Bible through the lens of three significant Isaianic scholars as way to explore the value of classical historical criticism in the light of recent developments in the field of theological interpretation of Scripture. Bernhard Duhm represents historical criticism of the nineteenth century and is well known for the religionsgeschichtliche Schule of Protestant liberalism. Brevard Childs is often associated with canonical criticism and is something of a godfather of recent theological interpretations of Scripture. Alec Motyer represents an evangelical voice who has a strong faith commitment to Scripture. Shepherd describes Motyer as an evangelical who “reads the Old Testament without recourse to critical questions” and is guided by “core theological and doctrinal convictions” (p. 6). In fact, Shepherd considers Motyer’s work on Isa 53 “a true tour de force in evangelical interpretation” that is theologically coherent and exegetically independent (p. 198).

ShepherdAside from their magisterial commentaries on Isaiah, an additional factor in selecting these three scholars is that their hermeneutical approach is a “rhetorical positioning away from a perceived threat” (p.200). Duhm moved away from teleological readings of the prophets which read Isaiah only through the lens of Christ (“Erscheinung Christi”). Childs moved away from Protestant Liberalism’s fascination with “Historie” by emphasizing the connection between the Old and New Testament. Motyer does what Duhm avoided, he reads the prophets as messianic prophecy fulfilled in Christ, although he seeks to set the prophecy in an original eighth century B.C. context as well as applying it to the modern church.

Another contrast between the three scholars studied in this monograph is each has an interlocutor representing a threat which proper exegesis will answer. For Duhm, “supernaturalists” such as Delitzsch and Hengstenberg, although Shepherd points out it is not always clear if Duhm has a specific scholar in mind (p. 233). Childs approach is in dialogue with “anthropocentrists” in contrast to his own “theocentric” hermeneutic. He has in mind the religionsgeschichtliche Schule. Since Motyer is concerned with the unity of the book of Isaiah, he distances himself from the “rationalists,” specifically Eichrodt and Von Rad. Shepherd says “Motyer’s rhetorical shaping suggests that those who are open to traditional source-critical work have no basis on which to wed text with doctrine” (p. 237).

Shepherd devotes two chapters to each scholar. He first sketches the theological hermeneutics represented by the scholar, then he examines the application of those hermeneutical strategies on Isaiah 53. This text was chosen because it is, as Shepherd puts it, an “easy target” (p. 5). More than this, Isa 53 has been located in various ways in history and has been an important text moving from antiquity to the Christian theology. The complexity of the passage is conducive to both historical critical studies and a theological reading. Shepherd is clear that the his study is not interested in the correct reading of Isaiah 53, but rather the moves made by the interpreters as well as the theological and philosophical commitments which inform those exegetical decisions.

Shepherd offers several observations by way of a concluding chapter. Duhm’s comments in Isa 53 demonstrate his work as an interpreter on the “raw materials” of the text, and he does not think the poem refers to the Christ event. Yet Shepherd points out Duhm “felt the need to reflect theologically,” although in a section separated from his exegesis. This “historical distancing” of theology and history is somewhat artificial, Shepherd suggests, but it was “already underway in his prior exegetical moves” (p.203).

Childs consciously approaches the text of Isa 53 as a Christian interpreter and stands with those interpreters who have gone before. Since Childs argues the poem has been “loosed from particular historical settings and relocated to a literary context,” the concrete, original historical context is important only in the sense of “types,” or foreshadowing of how the final writer intended the poem. The placement of the poem in Second Isaiah points to an eschatological theme: “God intervenes to end the exile and to usher in his eschatological reign” (p. 208). Reading the poem as a Christian, Childs stands with virtually all patristic and scholastic interprets by identifying Jesus as the servant. The original context is inaccessible and may even be at odds with a theological reading of the text.

Motyer approaches the text as a divinely inspired revelation from God and therefore emphasizes God’s sovereignty and involvement in history. Yet he is still interested in the facts of history, although these are the facts as they relate to God’s work of redemption. Shepherd considers this a “strange relationship” with modern knowledge. Motyer uses history to avoid “make believe,” but the Bible itself is immune from critical analysis (specifically, Motyer’s reading of Isaiah as the work of a single eighth prophet). Motyer reads Isa 53 as a referring to a servant in history, but the poem “reminds” the Christian reader of the “resurrection, ascension and heavenly exaltedness of the Lord Jesus” (p. 213). Shepherd concludes Motyer collapses the distance between history and Christian theology. Old Testament and New Testament share the same messianic context and theological foundations. As an example of this, Shepherd cites Motyer’s unapologetic reading of Isa 53 that supports penal substitutionary atonement (p. 228). While Childs would be cautious in imposing this kind of theological category, Duhm rejects this kind of theological reading.

In his epilogue Shepherd asks if Historical Criticism is a “Friend, Foe, or Foil.” Shepherd interacts with Francis Watson’s assertion that historical criticism does not really exist since every generation of Christian interpreters have used all of the scholarly tools available to them. In fact, to create a dichotomy between “historical criticism” versus “theological interpretation” assumes the two exist in complete isolation. This is simply not how exegesis works. “The task of the biblical ‘historian’ was likewise bound up with questions of personal commitment” (p. 260).

Conclusion. Shepherd’s study achieves what it proposes to do. He does in fact offer a “sympathetic yet critical” reading of these three diverse scholars. By contrasting Duhm with Moyter, Shepherd appears to be favoring Childs as a “golden mean” between the two extremes, the modernism of nineteenth-century Protestant liberalism and the twentieth-century evangelical (fundamentalism?) reaction to liberalism. But he does not set Duhm or Motyer up as straw men; their ideas and hermeneutical strategies demonstrate Shepherd’s thesis that personal commitment will always color interpretation.

NB: Thanks to Bloomsbury for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

Hill, Wesley. Paul and the Trinity: Persons, Relations, and the Pauline Letters. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2015. 224 pp. Pb; $26.   Link to Eerdmans with a twelve minute video “book trailer.”

Wesley Hill attempts a theological reading of several important Pauline texts with respect to the Trinity in order to find a new way through the “Low Christology” vs. “High Christology” debate. In the introductory section of the book, he suggests a method for approaching Pauline theology that reads later patterns of Trinitarian theology alongside several classic Trinitarian texts. The result is a “Trinitarian retooling of Christological discussions” (p. 31). In order to achieve this goal, Hill suggests follows the work of Francis Watson and others by defining God in relation to Jesus. This theological use of relationships within the Trinity is not new since the early church used similar language in the development of the doctrine of the Trinity, although it has been challenge

Hill, Paul and TrinityHill begins his book by comparing several approaches to Pauline Christology usually designated as “high” or “low” Christology. For low Christology begins with the work of James Dunn and James McGrath. Starting point for low Christology is Paul’s Jewish, monotheistic heritage. Paul simply would not have conceived of the relationship of God and Jesus and Trinitarian terms. McGrath argued Paul expanded or split the shema. God and Jesus together do not constitute a single God, but rather there is “one God” and there is “one Lord.” In both Dunn and McGrath, there is a conscious effort to bracket out later Trinitarian theology, since Nicaea would “allow an alien question…to obscure what was at stake in Pauline Christology” (p. 19).

High Christology, on the other hand, begins with the idea of Jesus and God are equal. As has been pointed out by Larry Hurtado, the earliest Pauline Christians worship Jesus, considering him in the closest possible relationship to God the Father. Hurtado and others have pointed out “worshiping Jesus was for the early Christians actually a requisite demonstration of the reverence for God ‘the father’” (p. 64).

Hill thinks the high/low Christology discussion is not particularly helpful for understanding “Paul’s God.” Therefore in the the second part of the book Hill discuss is God’s relationship to Jesus. In order to do this, he examines a series of texts in which God is identified by actions done by/to/in Jesus primarily through Paul’s description of the God of Abraham as the same as the God of Jesus. The same God Abraham trusted is the one who raised Jesus from the dead. Galatians is not only a battle for the right interpretation of Abraham’s faith, but also for a right identification of God himself. As Hill concludes, “There is no ‘monotheism’ with Christology” (p.74).

In the third section of the book Hill reverses the direction of the relationship and examines Jesus’s relationship to God in the most significant Pauline texts for understanding the Trinity, Philippians 2:6-11. Hill argues the identities of God and Jesus are “mutually determined” (p. 77). After careful exegesis of Phil 2:6-11, he concludes there is both a unity between God and Jesus in the text as well as distinctions between the two. The Trinitarian pieces are on the table, so to speak, and by applying the insights of Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil, and Augustine, Hill concludes the two aspects of Phil 2:6-11 are “irreducible to one another, equally ultimate and non-overlapping” (p. 108). Yet there is a kind of asymmetrical relationship since Jesus is subordinate to the Father in some ways. But for Hill, this does not render the relationship any less mutual.

In the fourth section of the book examines Jesus’ relationship to God in two important texts from 1 Corinthians. First, in 1 Cor 8:6 Paul affirms there is but one God, but also that there is one Lord, Jesus. Hill considers this interpretation of shema to contain the same unity between God and Jesus found in Phil 2:6-11, but also a distinction between Father and Son. Dunn would see this as an example of Paul “splitting the shema” to emphasize the distinction between the two. McGrath rejects this as an unwarranted division since the same kind of formulation appears in 2 Sam 7:22-24. Bauckham, on the other hand, find this statement to be a strong affirmation of the unity between the Father and Son. Hill sees this text as an example of “non-competitive and mutually complementary” Trinitarianism. God the Father and Jesus belong together as the “one God” of the shema as distinct agents.

He finds the same elements in the “second Adam” Christology of 1 Cor 15:24-28. Hill concludes that this asymmetrical mutuality or “redoublement” does justice to both the priority of the Father (who sends the Son) as well as their unity, since the Father depends on the Son in order to be identified as the Father. The Father and Son are interdependent, but they are not interchangeable (p. 135).

The final section of the book examines the role of the Spirit in relation to God and Jesus. Just as the Father and the Son are asymmetrical mutual, so too the Holy Spirit conveys the presence and activity of the risen Lord and is therefore God- and Christ-determined. Texts such as 1 Cor 12:3 indicate the activity of the Spirit is dependent on the Father and Son since no one can confess Jesus as Lord unless through the Spirit. Yet when Paul speaks of the Spirit, it is the Spirit of God who identifies the Father and Son through their mutual relationships. Hill wants to avoid so-called “binitarianism” associated with C. F. D. Moule, although this perspective itself is guided by the high/low Christology discussion. It is the relationship For Hill the Spirit is the “means whereby Jesus mediates his power or presence to and among believers” (p. 164).

Conclusion. Hill recognizes early on that his method can be described as a projection of categories on to the Pauline texts, resulting in exactly the kind of results he expected in the first place (p. 45). This is of course the danger any theological reading of the New Testament faces, since in many ways the conclusion is assumed from the beginning of the project. By treating Pauline theology and later Trinitarian theology in a kind of dialectic, he opens himself to the charge of petitio principia, begging the question. Fourth century dogma can guide exegesis, or as Hill puts it, “theology and exegesis are, or ought to be, mutually dependent” (p. 47).

There are therefore two things going on in this book. First, Hill offers a correction to the high/low Christology discussion. He think both sides fail to adequately describe Paul’s view of the relationship between Father and Son primarily because they consciously ignore later theological discussions of the Trinity. Second, Hill demonstrates a theological exegetical method which balances the historical critical method with a kind of “rule of faith” common in these sorts of studies. His exegetical discussion of Phil 2:6-11 is excellent. Although I personally would not look to Augustine as an exegetical guide, Hill does a good job showing how later Trinitarianism sheds light on the passage. While Hill achieves his goals, scholars who have been active in the high/low Christology debate may not consider Hill’s goals their own.

NB: Thanks to Eerdmans for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

The first six verses of the Psalm described God’s continuous silent revelation of his existence and attributes to the whole world. Despite the testimony of creation, not all people recognize the God of creation and fail to give him his proper glory. He therefore has revealed himself more specifically in his Law. This is a written revelation, and like creation, it is a constant and steady witness to God’s existence and attributes. While creation reveals the creator God is powerful, the Torah reveals he is fair and just in all his commandments and these commandments are good for those who follow them.

Torah ReadingGod’s revelation is described with six different terms: law, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear, and judgments. All four give the impression that “comprehensive emphasis that all of the words of the Lord are beneficial” (Ross, EBC, 182). Testimony is covenant language and is a retelling of God’s saving acts (HALOT). This is not a written document, like the Torah, but a testimony to what God has done for his covenant people. Precepts and commandments are the individual elements of the Torah. Precepts are the “procedures” for how the Law works (פִּקּוּדִים, only in the plural in the HB, exclusively in the Psalms, 21x in Ps 119). Commandment is the standard word for the law (מִצְוָה 43x in Deut alone).

Each of these six words for God’s revelation are described with adjectival phrases to highlight the reliability and perfection of God’s revelation.

  • Perfect or blameless is a word (תָּמִים) which refers to the perfection of sacrificial animals: they are to be without fault (Exod 12:5, for example). It can have the sense of complete, there is nothing left out of the Law or nothing which is incomplete.
  • Sure (nifel participle of אמן) has the sense of enduring or permanent. A thing which is enduring is reliable, always there at all times in the sense of being faithful and reliable. The word is translated “steadfast” in some of the Psalms.
  • Upright or straight (יָשָׁר) is a common word used to describe something which is morally correct (a straight path, for example), or a person who is living a morally correct life. The phrase “upright in heart” is used in the Psalms frequently.
  • Pure is a rare word in the Hebrew Bible (בַּר II), although it is used in Ps 24:4, a person with a pure heart may ascend the holy hill of the Lord.
  • The fear of the Lord is “clean,” a word which refers to ceremonial cleanliness (טָהוֹר)
  • The Hebrew word for “true” (אֱמֶת) is common, but covers far more than the English word. Something which is faithful and trustworthy is true, perhaps the analogy of an arrow which hits its target, the “aim was true.” The word is frequently associated with God’s character. Psalm 31:5, for example, describes God as a “faithful God.”

God’s revelation is described by six phrases. The first four are the results of an encounter with the word of the Lord; the final two are further characteristic of God’s revelation. Syntactically, these are all participles with an object.

  • Reviving the soul. The verb can be refresh, restore, etc. (the common שׁוב in the hifel). When one is aligned with the word of God properly, then ones inner person is restored to where it originally belonged.
  • Making wise the simple. The simple are in experienced people who do not know how to get through life. God’s word can give them the categories of thought that help them to understand how to live life to the fullest.
  • Making the heart rejoice. The heart is a person’s inner being, what they are at their inner core. God’s word provides and enlivening of the soul, a strange happiness despite circumstances.
  • Enlightening the eyes. The ESV follows many modern commentators who take the verb often translated as “warned” as cognate to “illuminate,” this is probably correct, since in the context the sun has been mentioned. The word of God shed light on everything, and light exposes things which are hidden. To read tiny writing, you need light at just the right angle to make out the letters. So to the word of God brings to light aspects of our lives which need to be addressed, but also shed light on how to live out a godly life.
  • Enduring forever. That God’s word endures forever is repeated often in the Bible, Jesus said not even the smallest mark or letter will pass away. But what does an eternally enduring word of God mean? Like the general revelation of creation, God’s propositional truth claims are always true. For example, God declares he exists in creation, and in the special revelation of the Bible God reveals creation is good and humans have become estranged from God because of sin. This is true and that truth will endure forever (science will not prove humans are not in rebellion against God, for example).
  • They are entirely righteous. There is nothing about God’s special revelation which is not just and fair.

Even though creation is constantly pouring forth speech, it is not enough to fully reveal God. It is only through the special revelation of God’s word one can fully encounter God.

 

Summer CarnivalCelebrate a long hot summer with the July 2015  Biblical Studies Carnival by Lindsay Kennedy (@digitalseminary) at My Digital Seminary. I am sure Lindsay would appreciate having a few nominations for top posts for the month. Here is a link to Lindsay’s form to submit links.

In August, Bob MacDonald (@drmacdonald) will host the Carnival, but he rest of the year is more or less open.  Please email me (plong42 at gmail.com) and pick your month! Carnivals are a great way to attract attention to your site if you are new blogger, but more importantly it gives you a chance to highlight the best and the brightest in the world of bibliblogs.

The first half of Psalm 19 is a meditation on Genesis 1. Heavens and sky refer to all of creation. The “heavens” is the atmosphere in this case, and the skies are the firmament from Gen 1:7 (רָקִיעַ). In the worldview of the Ancient Near east, the “vault of heaven” was a kind of “beaten metal plate” on which the sun, moon, and stars moved. The Psalmist uses this commonly understood description of the world and argues it reveals something important about God.

Milky Way - Black Rock Desert NevadaThe heavens both “declare” and “proclaim.” These common verbs refer to speech acts, although “declare” can have the sense of making a formal record, often a written record.  Usually this word has the sense of a pronouncement of some important information, even a “report.” It is the verb, for example, used for the report from the twelve spies in Numbers. Both verbs are participles, emphasizing the ongoing nature of this testimony: the heavens are continually declaring God’s glory. Coupled with the “day and night” of verse two, the writer is clear this revelation is constant and ongoing.

“Pouring forth speech” is a vivid metaphor of rapid speech. The verb (נבע) refers to “bubbling” or “gushing” water. Think of the way an excited five-year old tries to relate a story, words gush from the kid as fast as they can talk (usually one long sentence you can’t follow anyway!) Creation is a constant flow of information about God.

The content of all this constant speech a revelation of knowledge. This knowledge certainly contains facts, but there is more to it than a series of propositions since biblical knowledge leads to proper response to God. In Prov 9:10, for example, parallels the fear of the Lord as the beginning of wisdom of God with knowledge of the Holy One.

This testimony goes out to the whole world even though there is no speech (19:3-4). In theological terms, this Psalm is talking about creation as general revelation from God. Humans can know some things about God from observing nature, his existence and power, for example. By analogy, there are universal symbols virtually every culture knows and understands (poison is a skull and crossbones, for example). You may not know what the poison is in the bottle, but anything with that symbol is understood as dangerous, especially if there are red letters and exclamation points.

This revelation is so clear there is no one who can escape God’s self-revelation, he is like the sun in the sky, a bridegroom proudly going up from a wedding or a warrior charging into battle. “Just as the sun dominates the daytime sky, so too does Torah dominate human life” (Craigie, Psalms 1-50; WBC, 184). This is similar to Paul’s point in Romans 1:18-25. God clearly reveals his existence and some of his attributes in order to draw people to himself, but humans suppress this knowledge and worship created things rather than the creator.

If God reveals himself so clearly in creation, why do people twist or reject that revelation?

LBDLogos Bible Software has completed their Lexham Bible Dictionary. The LBD weighs in at over 4.5 million words in more than 7,000 articles. It took about five years for the 700 contributors from to complete the work. The Dictionary is completely integrated into the Logos system from the beginning. Some articles were written top-notch scholars, for example: Mark Goodacre, “Gospels;” Andreas J. Köstenberger, “New Testament Use Of The Old Testament, Survey;” Michael Bird, “Justification;” Nijay Gupta, “Ethics, New Testament,” “Law in the New Testament,” and “Paul, New Perspective on.”  The LBD used many other less-well-known scholars, but as far as I have seen they are all experts in their field. Some authors are borderline obscure: I have 19 very short articles in the LBD!

When this resource was originally announced several years ago, Logos did some promotion at a national ETS. I recall at the time liking the idea of an online Bible Dictionary, but I was skeptical the articles would be the same quality as the Anchor Bible Dictionary, for example. But as it turns out, the LBD is in fact a worthy competitor to the ABD, and has several advantages over any print dictionary. The Lexham Bible Dictionary was able to assign longer articles for topics a print Dictionary could not devote much space, a clear advantage of an online format. Another advantage is the ability to change and update articles on a regular basis. With a print dictionary, the only way to update is through a supplement volume. Another advantage for Logos users is the Lexham Bible Dictionary is already part of most base packages, making the cost to the average using negligible.

I look forward to seeing if the LBD can gain stature in the academic world. I expect there will be some resistance to citing the LBD, but most of the articles are on a par with the Anchor Bible Dictionary, the resource I would consider the standard reference work for biblical studies for the last 20 years. The Lexham Bible Dictionary represents a new way of presenting scholarly material outside of the confines of a physical book. To have a 6-volume, 7000 page resource on my iPad and with me where ever I happen to be is exciting! While I will always prefer a book to an electronic resource, the LBD is a worthy contribution to the study of the Bible.

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About Me

Phillip J. Long

Phillip J. Long

I am a college professor who enjoys reading, listening to music and drinking fine coffee. Often at the same time. Author of Jesus the Bridegroom(Wipf & Stock 2014).

My book Jesus the Bridegroom is now available from Amazon in paperback or Kindle

ACI Profile for Phillip J. Long

Christian Theology

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