New Testament theology raises many questions, not only within its own boundaries, but also in relation to other fields such as history, literary criticism, sociology, psychology, history, politics, philosophy, and religious studies. But, the overarching question concerns the relevance of two thousand year old writings in today’s world. How does one establish what is and is not relevant in the New Testament? How does one communicate the ancient ideas, presented in an alien language, alien time, and alien culture to a contemporary audience? This book is intended to serve as a methodological introduction to the field of New Testament theology, aimed at a range of readers-undergraduate and Seminary students, clergy, and laypersons interested in the relevance of scripture. It is a guide which aims to help readers understand how practitioners of New Testament theology have wrestled with the relationship between historical reconstruction of the New Testament, and its interpretation in the modern world.
In addition to the free book, Logos is offering deep discounts on these resources:
Nelson Searcy, The Greatness Principle: Finding Significance and Joy by Serving Others, $0.99
Donald Grey Barnhouse, Man’s Ruin: Romans 1:1-32, $1.99
Gary M. Burge, The New Testament in Seven Sentences: A Small Introduction to a Vast Topic,$2.99
Howard F. Vos, Exploring Church History, $3.99
Henry Alford, The New Testament for English Readers (2 vols.), $4.99
Gordon R. Clark, The Word “Hesed” in the Hebrew Bible (Bloomsbury Academic Collections), $5.99
William Edgar, Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader: Volume 1, To 1500, $6.99
Daniel Doriani, Matthew, 2 vols. (Reformed Expository Commentary), $7.99
Michael Grisanti, Eugene H. Merrill and Mark Rooker, The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament, $8.99
Robert Sherman, King, Priest, and Prophet: A Trinitarian Theology of Atonement, $9.99
David J. A. Clines, The Concise Dictionary of Classical Hebrew, $10.99
Pre-Order and Save: John Stott Sermon Archive, $99.99
There is a little something for everyone on the list. Clines, The Concise Dictionary of Classical Hebrew is excellent; if you do not have a Hebrew Lexicon, this is a good start. The T&T Clark portion of the Free Book of the Month sale runs through December 15.
Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (TOTC | 27 vols.)
The Bible Speaks Today: New Testament (BST | 22 vols.)
Apollos Old Testament Commentary (AOT | 11 vols.)
IVP UK Biblical Theology Bundle (15 vols.)
Contours of Christian Theology (9 vols.)
Then starting December 15, get up to 50% off books from Yale University Press, including 40% off Anchor Yale Bible commentary volumes, the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, and the Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library.
Finally, in December 2023, you can get a free copy of Logos Fundamentals to give away when you buy a Logos 10 package for 20% off. This is a great way to give a gift to a pastor or teacher in your church who does not yet use Logos (and get yourself a nice discount on an upgrade). Current users have various upgrade paths, and if you spend more than $200, use the code CHRISTMASJOY at checkout to save $25 on your order.
Welcome to Biblical Studies Carnival #212 for November 2023. For most of 2023, Jim West and I have been trading off carnivals. We both enjoy doing the carnivals (it is hard to know what Jim thinks, he is so shy about sharing his feelings). But I really want to have a few more volunteers in 2024 to keep the Biblical Studies Carnivals going.
Contributors at A Place for Truth started a nice series on the Minor Prophets, “Majoring on the Minors.” Here is Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Jonah, Nahum. Subscribe to their blog for the rest of the series in December.
For the entire month of November, Bob MacDonald has worked through the Psalms (starting here with Psalm 62:10). He calls these posts a “PsalmTweet.” Following his method of creating music for the Psalms, these are fascinating snippets of his larger project. Follow him on Twitter (or whatever they are calling it these days), @drmacdonald.
Tommy Wasserman revisits Peter Head’s 2009 SBL paper on “The Marginalia of Codex Vaticanus: Putting the Distigmai (Formerly known as ‘Umlauts’) in Their Place.” He summarizes Ira Rabin’s SBL 2023 paper. He concludes: “To come full circle, we are back to Peter Head’s paper from SBL in 2009, in which he presented a comparison of the location of the distigmai with the published text of Erasmus reflecting MSS available in his time and he had found that in the gospels there was a 92% match between Erasmus edition and the distigmai”
David Swartz celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the Chicago Declaration, the evangelical left’s founding document with many links to Ron Sider-related articles. Follow the link, read the list of signees, and ask yourself if any name on that list would be considered an evangelical in today’s America.
Jacob Randolph has a timely two-part essay: “What About the Palestinians? Southern Baptists vs. Southern Baptist Missionaries.” Part One and Part Two. The article is on the history of Southern Baptist perceptions of Palestinians after the creation of the state of Israel.
Megan S. Nutzman. Contested Cures: Identity and Ritual Healing in Roman and Late Antique Palestine. Edinburgh Studies in Religion in Antiquity. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2022. Reviewed by Mika Ahuvia).
When Jim West isn’t making Luther memes, he posts some valuable links to open-access resources. This means you can download a PDF copy of a very expensive volume for free. Here are a few highlights from this month:
Barker, Joel and Steven D. West. Numbers. A Commentary for Biblical Preaching and Teaching. Kerux Commentaries. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Ministry, 2023. 477 pp. Hb. $37.99 Link to Kregel Ministry
Joel Barker serves as Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Heritage College and Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario. He previously contributed a commentary on Joel in the ZECOT series (Zondervan, 2020). Steven D. West is Provost and Professor at Heritage College and Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario, and the Lead Pastor of Madoc Baptist Church. His Resurrection, Scripture, and Reformed Apologetics in the McMaster Theological Studies Series.
Given the goal of the Kerux series to produce an exegetical commentary with extensive preaching helps, a volume on Numbers presents many challenges. Most pastors or teachers would avoid large sections of the Book of Numbers and possibly even consider it “unpreachable.” As Barker observes in the introduction, many scholars see Numbers as an “unorganized hodgepodge” with a wide variety of genres, such as census lists, that do not make for good preaching texts.
As the authors acknowledge in the introduction, writers of a commentary on the Book of Numbers face the challenge of finding a balance between comprehensiveness and readability (44). Each chapter of the commentary covers large sections of text, and it will be difficult to cover everything in a half-hour sermon. Some sections simply do not lend themselves to a verse-by-verse exposition.
Nevertheless, the authors divide the book into forty-one preaching units (summarized on pages 13-40). Each preaching unit includes an exegetical idea, theological focus, and a preaching idea (one sentence each). Each preaching unit includes two paragraphs of preaching pointers. These forty-one units are divided into four sections:
A Shaping the Community at Sinai (1:1-10:10)
B Travels and Travails in the First Generation (10:11-19:22
B’ Sin and Redemption for the Second Generation (20:1-25:18)
A’ Shaping the Community on the Plains of Moab (26:1-36:13)
In the introduction to the volume, Barker and West argue that Moses is the book’s primary author. For example, in Numbers 33:2, Moses was commanded to write. But Moses was a supervising author, overseeing a collection of legal decisions, etc. The Book of Numbers is, therefore, “essentially Mosaic.” What sections are non-Mosaic? Numbers 12:3 describes Moses as the most humble man ever. Would the humblest man ever write something like that?
The date depends on the date of the Exodus, an issue too complex for this short introduction. Barker declines to say for certain whether the Exodus is early (15th century BC) or late (13th century BC). The context of the Book of Numbers is just after the redemption of god’s people from slavery comma during their time in the wilderness (the first word of the book). This commentary does not engage with the documentary hypothesis, nor are they interested in arguing for or against the historicity of any particular tradition found in the book of numbers. Other commentaries are available that engage in this sort of academic pursuit. The Kerux series aims to help pastors and teachers present the Book of Numbers to their congregations and classrooms, so much of this material is omitted (see, for example, Timothy Ashley’s recent NICOT volume, Eerdmans, 2022, reviewed here).
The body of the commentary is divided into 41 chapters of about ten pages each. Each chapter is about 75% exegesis and about 25% preaching tips. This means that large sections are often covered in short paragraphs. Exegesis is necessarily brief and focuses on the meaning of words, especially if there is a difference in English translation. Hebrew is not transliterated, and the commentary only rarely interacts with matters of Hebrew syntax. Major commentaries are cited in-text with additional interaction with secondary sources in footnotes.
Most Hebrew exegesis appears in boxes identified as translation analysis. These sidebars deal with Hebrew lexical issues and occasionally explain Hebrew syntax, especially when these generate differences in English translations. Barker’s goal here seems to be giving the preacher information to explain different English translations while preaching the passage.
As with other volumes in this series, the commentary is illustrated by frequent sidebars that expand on the text’s historical, cultural, and theological themes. For example, in Numbers 13:32-33, Barker deals with the Nephilim. “This may be a sheer exaggeration,” the people intentionally exaggerate the threat. He discusses Moses’s Cushite wife and suggests that she may be Zipporah (he concludes the question is unresolvable). A sidebar discusses the translation of “bitter water” in Numbers 5:15-28.
After the exegetical section of the chapter, the writers summarize the theological focus of the unit. These observations make canonical connections within the Old Testament and occasionally tie the passage to New Testament themes. They are working with a canonical biblical theology in this section.
Each chapter concludes with preaching and teaching strategies. This section attempts to move from exegesis to a preaching idea that basically describes “what this sermon is about” in a brief single sentence (Haddon Robinson style). West Then provides some contemporary connections (What does it mean? Is it true? Now what?) This is followed by suggestions for creativity in presentation. These include analogies and illustrations often drawn from contemporary culture. There are the usual suspects (C.S. Lewis, Lord of the Rings, Pilgrim’s Progress), but also a few classic hymns and a few historical documents (The Heidelberg Catechism). Providing illustrations for sermons on the Book of Numbers must be difficult for any writer. How do you preach a sermon on corpse contamination from Numbers 19? Or perhaps the question should be, should you preach on corpse contamination?
Conclusion. If scholars attempting to write a commentary on the Book of Numbers face challenges, so do preachers and teachers who attempt to work through the wilderness period of Israel’s history. Yet rich traditions in the Book of Numbers resonate with the rest of the Old Testament and even in the gospels and Pauline literature. It is my hope that a commentary like Barker and West’s will encourage local pastors to teach this often-ignored book of the Old Testament.
NB: Thanks to Kregel for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.
Goldingay, John. Proverbs.Commentaries for Christian Formation. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2023. xvi+477 pp. Hb; $39.99 Link to Eerdmans
John Goldingay’s commentary on Proverbs joins N. T. Wright’s Galatians in the Commentaries for Christian Formation series (reviewed here). His commentary intentionally seeks to integrate serving the church through sound theological exegesis to support preaching, teaching, and forming believers in the faith. In the introduction to the series, the editors suggest, “Theology is not the result of exegesis; nor is it one discrete element that is separable from exegesis carried on by other means. Rather, exegesis is itself a way of doing theology” (xiv).
John Goldingay embodies the goals of this series in all his exegetical work, but especially so in this new commentary on Proverbs. This commentary does not deal with Hebrew syntax lexical issues, translation or textual criticism. It is clearly aimed at readers who want to be challenged by reading the proverbs or to prepare to challenge others in the classroom or from the pulpit.
In the brief introduction, Goldingay says Proverbs wants to enable people to learn wisdom for a life lived faithfully and in awe of Yahweh. Wisdom is also practical and will enable people to be smart, shrewd, and skilled. However, people “who refuse to learn wisdom will end up idiots whose lives will not work out well” (3). Gaining wisdom is hard work. Understanding proverbs requires thought and reflection. The book assumes there is an ethical dimension to wisdom. This ethic concerns everyday life. The book of Proverbs also assumes wisdom involves awe for Yahweh. Goldingay defines this as a “submissive acknowledgment of Yahweh.” Notice he does not use the common translation “fear of the Lord” here. He is avoiding the confusion caused by the English meaning of the word, preferring to translate the word as awe.
How did people encounter the Book of Proverbs in ancient Israel? “Books such as this commentary are written for a small group of people who have acquired a taste for reading.” The same is true for the Book of Proverbs in ancient Israel. Most people would encounter the book of proverbs from a teacher who had read it and studied it and is now communicating it to them in some way.
Most commentaries on Proverbs suggest some complicated origin for the book. Goldingay Keeps it simple by dividing the book into three parts: Proverbs A (1:1-9:18), Proverbs B (10:1-22:16), and Proverbs C (22:17-31:31). He starts with the observation that the phrase “verses of Solomon” “hardly seems to imply that Solomon composed the sayings in the book” (9). Maybe Solomon sponsored the collection. Or maybe the proverbs are Solomon’s in the same sense that the Torah is Moses’s or that the Psalms are David’s. Goldingay suggests that a lack of knowledge of the book’s origin does not greatly hold back our understanding of the book. Basing our interpretation of the proverbs on a hypothesis is as likely to lend to misinterpretation. Proverbs are independent of date and provenance. Jeremiah or Paul may have addressed specific contexts, but Proverbs is universal. In fact, he warns against hypothetical theories of the origin of the Book of Proverbs. Any hypothesis is built on limited data in the book itself, and it creates a feedback process. The interpreter finds things that support the hypothesis, whether they are there or not.
Nevertheless, Goldingay briefly outlines his hypothesis for how the Book of Proverbs was collected. Sayings developed independently over centuries. Much of Proverbs B was collected during the monarchic period. Proverbs C was collected during the Second Temple period. Proverbs A was composed in the Second Temple period as an introduction to the book. This process ended at the beginning of the Hellenistic period, but the book was still being adapted in detailed ways until the end of the Roman period (10-11). He suggests the fall of Jerusalem may have been the event that brought the process of collecting and supplementing the text to an end (13).
Each chapter of the commentary covers about a chapter of proverbs, although it’s not always as neat as that. There are 33 chapters at all. Each chapter has a title which summarizes the contents. The commentary moves through subunits of potentially coherent themes. His comments are entirely on the English translation (provided at the beginning of each section). These are Goldingay’s own translations, and they reflect the sense of the Hebrew well. Given the goals of the commentary, there are no footnotes explaining translation decisions, textual variants, etc. Footnotes interact with various modern commentaries and occasional journal articles or monographs. He sometimes recognizes the contributions of early Christian commentators (Gregory the Great and John Chrysostom, for example) and medieval Jewish exegetes (Rashi and Ibn Ezra, for example).
Conclusion. Goldingay certainly achieves the goals of the series by providing insight into the Book of Proverbs with the goal of forming readers spiritually. Reading John Goldingay is always a delight. His clear and insightful prose will be accessible to laypersons and scholars alike. In fact, this is one of those rare commentaries that is a pleasure to read.
NB: Thanks to Eerdmans for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.
November is a great month for saving money on Logos Resources. First up, the Logos Free Book of the Monthprogram has grown into two free books, one in the first half of the month and another in the second. Through November 15, you can get a free copy of Peter Morden, The Message of Discipleship: Authentic Followers of Jesus in Today’s World (IVP UK 2018). Morden is senior Pastor and Team Leader at South Parade Baptist Church, Leeds, England. This book is part of IVP UK’s The Bible Speaks Today: Bible Themes series edited by Derek Tidball. The book covers seventeen New Testament passages on discipleship in three categories (foundations, resources, and practice of discipleship).
In addition to the free book, Logos is offering deep discounts on these IVP resources:
J. I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, $1.99
Maurry Harris, Slave of Christ: A New Testament Metaphor for Total Devotion to Christ (New Studies in Biblical Theology, vol. 8), $2.99
Bruce Milne, The Message of John, rev. ed. (The Bible Speaks Today), $3.99
Robin Routledge, Hosea: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, reviewed here), $4.99
David Garland, Romans: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale New Testament Commentary), $5.99
David G. Firth, Exploring Old Testament Wisdom: Literature and Themes, $6.99
David Peterson, Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship, $7.99
Timothy Larsen, Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, $8.99
Craig Blomberg, From Pentecost to Patmos: Acts To Revelation; An Introduction and Survey, 2nd ed., $9.99
Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, 4th Edition, $10.99
Pre-Order: Larry Helyer, The Life and Witness of Peter, $16.99,
The second way to save starts November 15. You can get Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls for free and some great deals on Yale University Press books. I will add more here when that sale begins.
The third way to save is the Logos “Cyber Deals.”What started as Black Friday then mutated into Cyber Monday, then evolved into a whole month of discounts. Each week, Logos highlights a different publisher or theme. For the first week, October 30 through November 6, you can save on a variety of commentaries, Bible dictionaries, theology collections, and more, including:
1 & 2 Chronicles, 2 vols. (Tyndale Old Testament Commentary), only $8.99
Homilies on Isaiah (The Fathers of the Church), only $8.99
New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, only $9.99
How to Understand and Apply the Old and New Testaments (2 vols.), only $10.99
The fourth way to save this month is The monthly Publisher’s Spotlight sale. In November, Westminster John Knox & Fortress are on sale at 40% off. Starting November 1, you can save on individual volumes as well as the Westminster Bible Companion Series (34 vols.), Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (43 vols.), WJK Old Testament Studies Collection (7 vols.) and The New Testament Library Series Collection (20 vols.). Starting November 16, get up to 40% off resources from Augsburg Fortress on apologetics, systematic theology, biblical interpretation, and more. Hermeneia and Continental Commentaries (74 vols.), Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works Collection | DBW (17 vols.), and the Fortress Press Pauline Studies Collection (35 vols.). This is a great time to load up on high-quality academic resources.
Finally, in November 2023, you can get a free copy of Logos Fundamentals to give away when you buy a Logos 10 package for 20% off. This is a great way to give a gift to a pastor or teacher in your church who does not yet use Logos (and get yourself a nice discount on an upgrade). Current users have various upgrade paths, from “Not expensive at all” to “Who needs food?” and everything in between. You can still get Logos Fundamental ($49.99) or Basic (free) packages and take advantage of the free Logos Book of the Month promotion. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the free/cheap packages. All it takes is a Faithlife account, and you can read your books using the iOS or Android app, the Logos web app, or the (much more powerful) desktop version for both Windows and Mac. Check out my first-look review of Logos 10.