Brent E. Parker and Richard J. Lucas, eds. Covenantal and Dispensational Theologies: Four Views

Parker Brent E. and Richard J. Lucas, eds. Covenantal and Dispensational Theologies: Four Views on the Continuity of Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2022. 266 pp. Pb; $30.  Link to IVP Academic

Part of IVP Academic’s Spectrum Multiview Book Series, this book compares four views on the continuity of scripture. Brent E. Parker (PhD, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is assistant editor of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology and co-edited (with Stephen Wellum) Progressive Covenantalism (‎B&H Academic, 2016). Richard J. Lucas (PhD, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is pastor of teaching and reaching at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. As is typical of a “four views” books, each invited contributors presents their position in a chapter, answering these questions and the respond to the other three views in shorter concluding chapters. Parker and Lucus offer an introduction to frame the debate and a brief concluding chapter. The introduction includes an overview of each of the four theological systems presented in the book.

Covenantal and DispensationalLet me make three important observations at the outset to clarify terms to avoid common misunderstandings. First, as Darrell Bock says in his essay, this issue is “very much an in-house, family discussion with evangelicalism” (112). All four views have a high view of Scripture, and all four views employ a grammatical-historical hermeneutic. All four contributors are interested an interpretive framework that favors authorial intent and avoids eisegesis. No one is “allegorizing the text” or being “excessively wooden” in their literal interpretation. Second, even though the word “progressive” is used for the two middle positions, there is no implication progressive covenantalism or dispensationalism are somehow liberal forms of the older, pure theological views. Third, even though two of the views are labeled dispensationalism, this book is not about eschatology. Certainly, there are differences between covenantal and dispensational systems regarding the millennium (a-mil vs. pre-mil, for example), but that is not the burden of this book. In fact, the dispensationalism represented by Bock and Snoeberger is more ecclesiological than eschatological.

As Parker and Lucas explain in their introduction, these essays are not the about the totality of covenantal or dispensational systems of interpretation. The discussion is focused squarely on one’s interpretive approach and hermeneutic for putting together the old and new testaments. The questions addressed by this collection of essays concern the hermeneutical principles which govern the reading of the whole Bible, how various covenants relate to one another and whether the Old Testament covenants are fulfilled in the New Testament. Each approach has a slightly different view on the relationship of the New Testament church and the Old Testament people of God, how Israel’s promises are (or are not) fulfilled in the church, whether there will be a future restoration of Israel and whether the land promises to Israel will be fulfilled.

Michael S. Horton (Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California) has written extensively on Covenant Theology, including Covenant and Eschatology (WJKP, 2002) and Introducing Covenant Theology (Baker Academic, 2009). In this essay, Horton begins with by quoting John Hesselink: ‘Reformed theology is simply covenant theology” (36), but this is mostly because reformed theology recognizes two covenants, the Old and the New, uniting nearly all of Scripture from Genesis 3:15 through Revelation. Covenant Theology is, for Horton, the architectural design of Scripture. Covenants like Sinai are administrations on the one Covenant of Grace. The purpose of covenants in the Old Testament is to foreshadow the coming of Christ. A key “The church does not supersede Israel…. rather, the church has always existed since Adam and Eve, but only in Eden and in the land of Canaan has the church ever been fused with a temporal nation-state” (71).

Stephen J. Wellum (professor of Christian theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) contributes the chapter on Progressive Covenantalism. Wellum co-wrote Kingdom through Covenant with Peter Gentry (Crossway, 2012; second edition 2018) and co-edited a collection of essays on Progressive Covenantalism (Baker, 2016). Progressive covenantalism argues the Bible presents a plurality of covenants that progressively reveal the triune God’s one redemptive plan. “God has one people, yet there is an Israel-church distinction due to their respective covenants” (75). But what really drives Progressive covenantalism is typology. Following Richard Davidson, Wellum says typology is a feature of divine revelation rooted in history and in the text. It is both prophetic and predictive. In fact, he considers typology a subset of predictive prophecy. So how does typology work? The first aspect of typology is a repetition of a person, event, or institution that is repeated in later persons, events or institutions, allowing readers to see an emerging pattern. The ultimate fulfillment of these types is (first) Christ and then (second) his people (83). The best example is Adam as a type of Christ since Paul specifically mentioned Adam as a type of Christ in Romans 5:14 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-49. Christ is the “last Adam,” but Wellum points out Abraham and Israel can also be described as a type of Adam, anticipating the greater fulfillment in Christ. The types grow from a lesser to greater progressively through the covenants. Regarding the future, Progressive covenantalism adopts an already/not yet inaugurated eschatology, “the present kingdom of Christ will increase unto completion at his return” (101), but there is he does not see Israel receiving their promises in a future millennium (110). Wellum sees the church as the next progressive step in God’s plan. There is only one people of God throughout all time, and the church age is not a parenthesis (contra dispensationalism).

Darrell L. Bock (Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary) presents the Progressive Dispensational viewpoint. Bock was one of the leading scholars in the mid-1980s involved in revising dispensationalism in dialogue with covenant theology. Along with Craig Blaising, he edited a collection of essays (Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, Zondervan, 1992) and co-wrote Progressive Dispensationalism (Baker 1993) and has continued to contribute many essays on dispensational issues. See my review of the essay collection, Israel, the Church, and the Middle East. Although the word progressive appears in both the middle positions in this book, a key difference between progressive covenantalism and Progressive dispensationalism is their use of typology. Bock says progressive dispensationalism “does not define progress by appeals to typology or chains of development in new structures that come only from the New Testament. In progressive covenantalism, later typological fulfillments cancel out the earlier types. So, Israel was promised a land, but that promise is fulfilled in the church. Rather than a particular people in a land, God’s people are all people in the entire world. Bock disagrees, pointing to the Abrahamic promise which originally promised the whole world would be blessed (118). This leads to another key distinction is that gentile blessing does not mean the national, territorial Israelite exclusion. This is a pre-millennial, dispensational distinction: Israel will be restored in some real way in a millennial kingdom, a living in a land and experiencing peace promised in the Old Testament (123). But Bock insists this is still a unified people of God rather than a strict church/Israel distinction found in traditional dispensationalism.

Mark A. Snoeberger (professor of systematic theology and apologetics, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary) represents traditional dispensationalism. One aspect separating traditional dispensationalism from the two forms of covenantalism is an anti-typology. Dispensationalism as Snoeberger presents it “rejects the legitimacy of the typological approach to Scripture observable in the Reformed and progressive covenantal literature” (153). In fact, Snoeberger presents dispensationalism as part of modernisms rejection of allegorical, typological, or spiritual hermeneutics. His principal objection is that typology “obliges readers to see later revelation as altering the meaning plainly intended by the original authors” (154). Wellum said just this: as the typology progresses through the various covenants, the later overrules the earlier. Snoeberger observes that dispensationalism was not born as “a hodgepodge of eschatological whimsy,” rejecting the one true way of salvation, etc. It was born as “an ecclesiological movement deeply committed to a careful reading and harmonization of the whole of Scripture” (151-52).

Rather than a literal, normal or plain hermeneutic (to use Charles Ryrie’s words, he argues for is an “originalist” reading of the Old Testament. For example, the term Israel in Scripture always carries with it an ethnic overtone and there are no biblical uses of the term Israel, which includes gentiles in its scope; he concludes Israel can never mean church (157). Not that Snoeberger denies there are types in Scripture, but he rejects typological interpretation (159, his emphasis). Snoeberger points out another key distinction. Both covenant theology and progressive covenantalism views scripture as a history of redemption. Dispensational theology, he argues, views scripture as a history of the rule of God (163).

Conclusion. As is often observed, the debate between traditional covenant theology and traditional dispensational theology creates a great deal of heat with little light. This is because the two systems are very close: Covenant theology focuses on the larger superstructure of the Covenant of Grace and Dispensational theology focuses on the internal structure (smaller stages) within the plan of God. Ironically, Horton says the Sinai covenant was an administration within the Covenant of Grace, so can it be called a dispensation, and Horton refers to Sinai as a parenthesis in salvation history, a very word traditional dispensationalists often use for the present church age.

What is clear after comparing the four views in Covenantal and Dispensational Theologies is that the key dividing point between the two approaches is their understanding of how typology functions in Scripture and how far to press typology when constructing a theological system. I have been wary about recent evangelical developments which seem to me to take typology too far.

Sometimes in-house family discussions can be the most chaotic. Like Benjamin L. Merkle’s Discontinuity to Continuity: A Survey of Dispensational and Covenantal Theologies, this book is compares the views is a peaceful constructive manner which will facilitate further discussion.


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

Bill T. Arnold, The Book of Deuteronomy, Chapters 1–11 (NICOT)

Arnold, Bill T. The Book of Deuteronomy, Chapters 1–11. New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2022. xxxix+660 pp. Hb; $60.00   Link to Eerdmans

Bill Arnold’s new commentary on Deuteronomy 1-11 replaces Peter Craigie’s 1976 commentary in the New International Commentary on the Old Testament series. In 2020, Arnold joined Robert L. Hubbard as the editor of this important commentary series. Arnold in the Paul S. Amos Professor of Old Testament Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary since 1995 and has contributed many articles and monographs on the Old Testament. He co-edited Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books (IVP Academic, 2005).

Arnold, Deuteronomy 1-11In the eighty-seven-page introduction Arnold suggests Deuteronomy can rightly be called a compendium of the most important ideas of the Old Testament. “It crystallizes the themes and messages of the first four books of the Bible, while at the same time it establishes the theological foundation for the books of history and prophecy to follow” (1). The message of the book is without question: the exclusive worship and faithfulness to YHWH Israel’s God.

Regarding literary genre, Deuteronomy could be classified as law, covenant, or even a national constitution. Some suggest the book is an early Israelite catechesis. The book, however, considers itself to be Torah. Arnold argues for the unity of composition. Since the book uses a series of speeches employing distinctive phraseology and expressions such as “YHWH your God,” and “as YHWH commanded,” etc. But as he observes, citing Moses Wienfield, “the concept of composition is likely meaningless when applied to a book like Deuteronomy.” An ancient author with a collector and compiler rather than a creator of literature (11). Many hands worked on Deuteronomy over many years. He begins his discussion of authorship with a survey of Graf-Wellhausen and Martin Noth’s Deuteronomic History (critiquing Noth for isolating Deuteronomy from the other books of the Torah). Arnold concludes we cannot be dogmatic about authorship, but Deuteronomy claims to be to preserve a tradition of the “voice of Moses.”

But Deuteronomy is an exegetical enterprise. Ancient Israelite scribes preserved, updated, reformulated traditions using a method of composition which may be fairly described as an “inner biblical exegesis” (16). When did these scribes do the exegesis? Discussing the occasion of Deuteronomy, Arnold has two assumptions. First, there was an earlier form of Deuteronomy, but he also accepts the historical reality of Josiah’s reforms (24). But these kinds of reforms reoccur in Israel’s history (Hezekiah, for example); the exegesis of Deuteronomy could develop earlier

A second assumption is the parallels between Deuteronomy and Ancient Near Eastern treaty forms. First proposed by George Mendenhall and developed by Meredith Kline and K. A. Kitchen, there are clear parallels between Deuteronomy and ancient vassal treaties. But which treaties? When Craigie published his NICOT commentary in 1974, he discussed the format these Hittite Vassal treaties and states “the Hebrews adapted the treaty format for their own use” (Craigie, 23). But more recently, this thesis has been modified by comparing Deuteronomy to recently discovered Assyrian treaties (Esarhaddon, for example). Judean officials at the time of Josiah living in Jerusalem would know the Assyrian treaty forms and use them as they developed a core Moses tradition. Arnold suggests that such cohesive theology makes it easy to imagine a single mind behind Deuteronomy 12-16 and the poem in Deuteronomy 32. If so, the author “is one of the greatest biblical theologians of all time” (48).

Nevertheless, the book seems to fit Josiah’s reforms best. “Deuteronomy’s message of YHWH’s supremacy and its call for singular devotion to him alone would have been a bold and prophetic voice in the seventh century BCE, coming at the height of Assyrian imperialism, in perhaps the book’s penultimate edition” (32). Arnold observes that Josiah’s discovery of the Law suggests a “early form of Deuteronomy existed and was authorized by the prophet Huldah.” An additional factor is the impact of Deuteronomy on pre-exilic prophets (Joshua, judges, Samuel, Kings), so that Zechariah 1:4 can refer to the former prophets as an “already quasi-canonized set.” There are other hints that the book considered itself a canonical unit. For example, Deuteronomy 4:2, “do not add to or omit anything.” Arnold suggests this is a canonized self-awareness” (37).

With respect to the theology of Deuteronomy, Arnold begins with Shema: YHWH is one. This is the “cornerstone of an edifice constructed with the Ten Commandments, which houses the life-giving instructions for every facet of Israel society and daily life” (47). Deuteronomy serves as a kind of “Bible” for the rest of the Old Testament. Deuteronomy also is the first attempt to summarize the essential substance of the law (10:12-13). At the core of Deuteronomy is the conviction that Yahweh revealed himself at Sinai. The initiative for that revelation is God himself, and this establishes YHWH’s self-disclosure in God’s intervention in Israel’s history. The function of God’s revelation is to make YHWH’s gracious will known to Israel. Arnold divides the theology of Deuteronomy into two major categories, the God of Israel, and the Israel of God. here he is following John Goldingay’s Old Testament Theology.

Regarding the God of Israel, Arnold suggests we let Deuteronomy speak for itself and keep the New Testament (and Trinitarianism) out of Deuteronomy’s theology! What sort of God was revealed at Sinai? First, Yahweh is absent from the other gods of the Ancient Near East. Israel does not adopt a Canaanite god nor is there anything in Canaanite mythology quite like YHWH. He is deeply compassionate, longing to be worshipped, and therefore a jealous God who has a fiery passion for his people Israel. He expects to be obeyed by Israel and loved by all. Yahweh demands exclusive loyalty because of his great love for his people. This holy, loving God is in many ways present with his people. For example, Deuteronomy 4:7, “God is near to those who pray.” There are also many references in the book to God placing his name among his people. This is often described as a “Name Theology” which demythologizes an earlier theology which thought of God is dwelling in the Tabernacle or sanctuary (56). Arnold thinks name theology has been seriously overstated, it is simply not an accurate reflection of Deuteronomy’s theology.

The introduction also discusses more briefly the main themes of the book such as Torah, covenant, prophecy, retributive justice, centralization of the cult, education, individualism, warfare, exile, and poverty.

Each unit in the commentary’s body begins with a new translation of the pericope with extensive textual notes comparing the Masoretic text to the LXX, Syriac, Vulgate, Targumim, etc. Readers who are not interested in these issues can easily skip the notes. Following the translation is a brief introduction summarizing the contents and connecting it to the proceeding unit. The commentary proceeds verse-by-verse as much as possible. The commentary is oon the Hebrew text, but all Hebrew appears in transliteration. Comments concern lexical issues (what words mean) and syntax (how words are used), but this is not so technical a read without extensive Hebrew training will follow the discussion. Arnold uses footnotes for extensive interaction with secondary literature, but this is not a commentary on what other commentaries say.

There is some synthesis in the commentary itself. For example, commenting on astral bodies in 4:19b, Arnold suggests that there are two broad categories in dealing with the meaning of “astral bodies.” Some take this as a reference to a monotheizing process in ancient Israel, so that the mention of other gods does not imply their reality. Others take the gods as real and rightly worshipped by other peoples. However, YHWH is the only deity for Israel. Arnold presents these two broad categories with notes to representatives in the secondary literature.

Arnold’s comments on the difficult passage in Deuteronomy 7:1-6 merit comment here. Although this text is often associated with the so-called Canaanite genocide, Arnold focuses on the entire chapter and its emphasis on the election of Israel as God’s people based on divine love. It is somewhat astonishing therefore, to find the command to completely destroy the Canaanites in this passage. This command is an absolute obligation, using the word herem, devoted to YHWH, and there are to be no survivors. As he suggests, this is the single most morally and theologically problematic problem in the Old Testament (437). It is in fact a theological problem even if Israel never fully carried out the command. Arnold suggests that this is a rhetorical technique reconstituting an ancient battlefield strategy. The command is a metaphor, there “is no literal command envisioning the taking of human life” (438). However, as I read these verses, it does not read like a rhetorical strategy or a metaphor. And Israel does, in fact, take human lives in Jericho “under the ban” in the book of Joshua. This issue is, of course, extremely complicated and there are several published monographs on holy war in the Old Testament (see the recent Charlie Trimm, The Destruction of the Canaanites: God, Genocide, and Biblical Interpretation, Eerdmans, 2022).

More helpful is Arnold’s reading of this text within the context of Deuteronomy 7. This chapter is about the election of God’s people. He tells them not to make a covenant with the Canaanites nor are they to intermarry with them. Both commands are in line with the absolute loyalty that Yahweh demands. The reason Israel cannot make covenants or intermarry with the Canaanites is that they will turn them away from Yahweh. Although it is surprising to read “exterminate all the Canaanites because Yahweh loves you,” that is in fact what Deuteronomy 7 says.

Conclusion. Many surveys of “top commentaries on Deuteronomy” consider Peter Craigie’s commentary one of the best available. Bill Arnold’s new volume is a worthy replacement in terms of additional depth and broad engagement with both the text of Deuteronomy and a vast secondary literature. As is usually the case, Arnold’s volume is far more detailed than the Craigie volume it replaces. Arnold devotes 660 pages to the introduction and first eleven chapters of Deuteronomy; Craigie’s commentary was 424 pages for the entire book of Deuteronomy. Will Peter Craigie’s popular commentary in the NICOT move to the Eerdmans Classic Commentary series?

Bill Arnold’s Deuteronomy 1-11 is worth the investment for students of the Old Testament, and I look forward to volume 2.


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


Stephen Westerholm, Romans: Text, Readers, and the History of Interpretation

Westerholm, Stephen. Romans: Text, Readers, and the History of Interpretation. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2022. ix+413 pp. Hb; $49.99  Link to Eerdmans

Rather than a commentary on Romans, this new volume by Stephen Westerholm in on the reception history of Romans. He is writing the Romans volume for Illuminations commentary series. (I reviewed Amy Erickson’s Jonah commentary in this series here.) This book is not a commentary on Romans, rather it is a commentary on the reception of Romans by later readers. Westerholm surveys commentaries from Lutheran, Calvinist, Wesleyan, Armenian perspectives many well-known but others quite obscure.

Westerholm RomansThe first section (pages 1-40) deals with the text of Romans as a witness to the earliest reception of Romans. He begins with a detailed description of papyrus 46, the earliest papyri copy of the book of Romans as an example of an early reception of the letter. Papyrus 46 dates to around A.D. 200 and was produced by a “blundering and not always attentive scribe,” to cite Michael Holmes (5). The codex contains 52 sheets folded to produce 104 leaves, 208 total pages. Only 86 pages survive (56 are in the Chester Beatty library and 30 are at the University of Michigan). The text was probably prepared for public reading. Westerholm suggests “his patron should have demanded a refund” (7). There are many variant readings comma often unintentional and easily recognized period. But there are some attempts at improvement that are unique to this manuscript. An early reader actively and thoughtfully engaged with the content of the text being read. “In limited but real ways, liberty was taken with the text of the epistle” (9). for example, the scribe had little use for Paul’s rhetorical repetitions, in Romans 8:17 he deliberately eliminated a redundancy. Occasionally the copiest substituted “what Paul might have said” for “what he appears to have written.” For example, when quoting Isaiah 9:27, the scribe replaces Paul’s word for remnant with a synonym because that is what is found in the Septuagint. Occasionally the text is simplified. Westerholm suggests this list of changes is “underwhelming” (12), but his point is that there are many different readings and not all these minor variants are accidental. “The word of the Lord (or of his apostle) is not tied to a particular wording” (12).

The second section (pages 41-76) is entitled “Readers” and interacts with how the “Paul within Judaism” scholarship reads Romans. The section begins with a short sketch on what can be known about the Roman church before Paul wrote his letter (following Peter Lampe, From Paul to Valentinius). Westerholm then introduces the so-called radical new perspective on Paul. Essentially, this view states that Paul did not convert from Judaism to Christianity and continued to live as a Jew for the rest of his life.

Romans has been wrongfully universalized; it addresses a specific situation in the Roman church. For “Paul within Judaism” scholars, Romans deals with the problem of how Gentile sinners become righteous, enjoy salvation, and become the people of God. Paul’s solution, according to this view, is that Gentiles are made right by faith in Christ, but Jews were already right with God because of God’s covenant with Israel. Paul is positive towards the Law, but the Law was only given to the Jews. Gentiles were never intended to keep the Law, so Paul essentially tells them the distinctively Jewish practices do not apply to them.

Westerholm thinks “Paul within Judaism” scholars are correct in denying that Paul in any of his letters denounces Judaism, but after his encounter with the risen Jesus Paul rethought the place of the Law ion God’s plan. The Law is hold, good, and righteous, but it paid out a path to righteousness humans are neither able nor inclined to take. The Law is weak to alter human capacities and dispositions since humans are sinners. Therefore, Westerholm concludes, righteousness can only be found apart from the Law.

As for the purpose of the letter, Westerholm surveys the usual suggestions, but ultimately suggests an unfavorable view of Paul’s theology may have reached Rome before Paul. Paul therefore presents his theology and calls on Jews and Gentiles to live in a single community of faith (73).

The bulk of this book is a survey of interpreters beginning with the Patristic Period, with short chapters on Origen, “Antiochene Interpreters” (John Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrus), and Early Latin Interpreters (Ambrosiaster, Pelagius, Augustine).  For the Medieval Period, Westerholm focuses on Peter Abelard and Thomas Aquinas. For the Sixteenth century, Calvin and Luther are the main lights, but Westerholm includes John Colet and Desiderius Erasmus, and Philip Melanchthon. He concludes with comments on several English translations of Romans (Wyclif, Tyndale, the Geneva Bible, The Rheims New Testament and the King James Version).

The Modern Period begins in the 1600s with Philipp Jakob Spener, Matthew Poole, Richard Baxter, John Locke. Augustin Calmet, Cotton Mather, Robert Witham, and John Gill. He surveys several Arminian interpreters before covering nineteenth century interpreters John Taylor, Heinrich Meyer, Henry Alford, Benjamin Jowett, and John William Colenso. The final chapter is devoted to Karl Barth, perhaps the only writer that might be considered contemporary. In the introduction Westerholm specifically sets aside recent commentaries in this survey.

Westerholm concludes the book with an appendix on the popular Romans commentary by British writer D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones who preached 372 sermons on Romans which were edited and published in fourteen volumes. I. H. Marshall said “if we ask who has been the most influential interpreter of Romans in the church in the twentieth century, one strong candidate is David Martyn Lloyd-Jones. You don’t hear about him in academic circles. Quite simply, he was the finest preacher and expositor of Romans in the evangelical wing of the church, and John Calvin and Martin Luther will have been the major influences on him. He did not always get it right, but of the breadth of his influence in the U.K. there can be no doubt” (351). Although he was not a great exegete, Westerholm describes Lloyd-Jones as “theological controlled preaching,” so the bulk of the chapter is devoted to describing how Lloyd-Jones develops key theological themes like justification and sanctification.

Conclusion. Westerholm’s book is a kind of pre-commentary on Romans, focusing on how a wide range of people in different theological traditions throughout the history of the church have read the Book of Romans. As a result, the book is more theological than exegetical, as a book on reception history must be. Someone might object their favorite ancient commentator was overlooked, but Westerholm provides clear summaries of the major interpreters of Paul’s letter.


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


Logos Free Book for December 2022 – The Gospels as the Story of Jesus Video Series

Logos Free Book of the Month- December 2022

Logos is giving away video resources for their Free Book of the Month promotion in December 2022. Until the end of the month, The Gospels as the Story of Jesus (Lexham Press, 2021) video series to your Logos library.This video series features Lynn H. Cohick and covers 13 topics in short videos totally an hour and half. The Gospels as the Story of Jesus provides background material that will be useful to students as the take short courses on the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the book of Acts. It provides a brief overview of Gentile and Jewish sources affirming the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. Like most Logos Mobile Education videos, this resource includes transcripts and an objective exam will consist of multiple-choice and true or false questions.

You can also get Mobile Ed: LD211 Church Leadership and Strategy: For the Care of Souls (1 hour course) for $9.99, or choose one Course for $49.99 at Checkout with Coupon Code COURSE49 and another for $99.99 at Checkout with Coupon Code COURSE99.This is a good chance to try out a Logos Mobile Course.

Save on Zondervan books

The Publisher’s Spotlight is on Zondervan this month, so prepare your credit card to save on collections and commentaries from Z! With collections from biblical languages to church history, commentaries, and more, there’s something for every level of biblical scholar and Logos user. Here’s just a few of our featured titles to choose from:

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On October 10 Logos released their new version, Logos 10. Here is my first look review. As expected, there are various upgrade paths for current users, from “not expensive at all” to “I need a second mortgage on the house” and everything in between. I have been using the new version for a while now on a Mac with the M1 and the speed improvement is quite noticeable. You millage may vary, but even if you are an older system, the changes to the way Logos handles files and indexing will speed things up considerably.If you are an iOS user, Logos upgraded the iPad and iPhone apps with some very cool features and a modern look and feel.

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 or Mac.

Logos Christmas Sale

The annual Logos Christmas sale is coming…check back for the Twelve Days of Christmas, new savings every day.

All the links are Logos Affiliate links, so buy a few books and help out Reading Acts. The deals go away on November 30, so be sure to check out all the Logos deals right away!




Biblical Studies Carnival 201 for November 2022

Welcome to the Biblical Studies Carnival for November 2022. November was a slower month for BiblioBlogs, podcasts and the like. Perhaps many of the professor types were busy grading papers (a highly unlikely possibility) or getting ready for SBL in Denver (or more likely, attended craft beer receptions at SBL). Then Thanksgiving happens and everyone goes comatose for a week.

Professor MemeSpeaking of SBL, I enjoyed my week in Denver. I was in for the long haul, first attending the ETS meetings, the IBR on Friday and SBL through Monday. I attended dozens of papers, many enjoyable and a few, well, less so. The rule seems to be, if there are five papers in a session, one going to bring you down. I bought a few books (ok, a lot of books), met with some old friends, and ate out way too much (turns out I really like Vampire Tacos). I always enjoy seeing Tutku Tours people.

What is the current state of the Biblical Studies Carnival in 2023? Jim West will finish out the year with his annual Top Ten round up (he loves top ten lists). But after January 1, I have no volunteers for 2023. Maybe it is time for you to contact me at and host a carnival. Veterans or rookies, we need people to host. Do it early and get your preferred month.

What Biblical Studies Carnival would be complete without memes?


Old Testament and Archaeology

Ken Schenck surveys Interpretations of Genesis 1.

Peter Goeman says Goliath was a Nephilim of the Anakim.

Grant Van Leuven reflects on Psalm 128: The Lord Blesses Those Who Fear Him.

At, Jack Sasson asks What Really Happened in the Garden of Eden?

Hezekiah’s Name Found! Maybe. Luke Chandler posted a few comments on a Possible Monumental Inscription with Hezekiah’s Name; Christopher Rollston posted some “brief methodological musings” about reading of the fragment. Here is the a news story on the fragment from October 26.

Luke also posted a report on the Discovery of First Known Sentence in Canaanite Language at Lachish.

If you read one story about Canaanite words on a lice comb, let it be this one.

Rare coin from Hanukkah story villain era found in theft suspect’s home. News story, but a fun read.

Bob MacDonald (who did the Biblical Studies Carnival #199) interacts with Daniel Crowther on two systems of te’amim (cantillation marks).

The Hebrew Language Detective discusses the difference between chesed and chasid, and throws hasida (stork) into the mix as well.

William Ross discusses a New Article Surveying Septuagint Research.

Drew Longacre lists Four Ways Scholars Date Early Hebrew Bible Manuscripts.

James McGrath posted a summary of his Mandaean Illustrated Scroll Talk and Exhibit at the Visiting Scholars Center at Oxford University’s Weston Library. Some great photos of Mandean manuscripts via Digital Bodleian.  See also his post from June on the Mandeans and John the Baptist.

Me and James McGrath in the SBL Book Room

New Testament

Ian Paul gets an early start on ruining Christmas with your seasonal reminder: Jesus was not born in a stable! Never fear, he also asks “Can all ages have confidence in the Christmas Story?” Spoiler: Mrs. Reasonable wins the day.

Marg Mowczko on “Covering” or “Testicle” in 1 Corinthians 11:15? In the context of hair-length for women and head coverings in 1 Corinthians 11, Marg discusses two articles by Troy W. Martin, “Paul’s Argument from Nature for the Veil in 1 Corinthians 11:13–15: A Testicle Instead of a Head Covering,” JBL 123.1 (2004); 75-84 (PDF) and  Martin, “Περιβόλαιον as ‘Testicle’ in 1 Corinthians 11:15: A Response to Mark Goodacre,” JBL 132.2 (2013): 453–465. (PDF). Part two of this excellent article is still “coming soon.”

Should you want to be ‘left behind’ in Matthew 24? Ian Paul answers: yes, yes you do. And he is right. Also, Ian Paul wins November’s most prolific blogger award (if we had one). His post, What does ‘faith’ and ‘faithfulness’ mean in the gospel of Luke? is excellent.

Philip Jenkins wonders if Jesus was a Carpenter. This is a great post demonstrating a method for doing word studies with resources found on the web.

Nadya Williams asks, Did Lydia Play a Role in Planting the Bithynian Church? The article is based on Williams’s forthcoming work, Cultural Christians in the Early Church.

B. Brandon Scott,Basileia: Kingdom of God or Empire of God?” Where, What, When? Can one saying answer all three questions about the kingdom (or empire) of God? Scott also had an article on Why the Gospel of Luke Framed Mary Magdalene at the end of October I am including here.

Dumbledore memeAt Scribes of the Kingdom, Καταπέτασμα discusses Preterism under judgement in “The temple at time’s end: An insufficient apocalypse.”

David Turner compares biblical anchors to the Edmund Fitzgerald…dang. Now that song going to run through my head for the next week.

Matters of Interpretation studies and then reflects on Luke 1:8-20.

B. J. Oropeza on Junia: A Woman Apostle (Romans 16:7).

What does submission “in everything” mean? Marg Mowczko says “Too many Christians, however, have applied “in everything” in Ephesians 5:24 in an oppressive and domineering manner that does not fit with Paul’s tone throughout Ephesians 5 and does not foster genuine unity in marriage.”

James Tabor suggests Paul Does Not Believe in the Preexistence of Jesus with a link to a poscast on Philippians 2:5-10.

Brent Nongbri posted on the First Fragments at the Chester Beatty, an exhibit at the Chester Beatty library in Dublin.


Claude Mariottini, Why Am I a Christian? (part 1 and part 2)

David Swartz on Ron Sider and the Fate of the Evangelical Left. Required reading for those who forgot there is an Evangelical Left. Read this interview with Isaac Sharp on The Other Evangelicals. Or read this from Roger Olson, “Would Jesus Be an “American Nationalist?

Speaking of Roger Olson, he also reported on a Forgotten Chapter and Theory in Creation Theology, ideal time theory promoted by scientist and amateur theologian Philip Henry Gosse (1810-1888) in his book Omphalos.

Jacob Randolph, Gender, the Great Tradition, and Evangelical Memory.

Beth Allison Barr updates her reflections on Complementarian Theology and Sexual Abuse.

Ted Peters asks, “Did I lose my Self to Determinism?” The answer makes use of neuroscientists and neurophilosophers.

Elli Elliott asks, “Is the King James Version the One True Word of God?” (Spoiler: no)

Book Reviews (and previews)

Five Views on the Testament Canon (Kregel 2022; reviewed by Brent Niedergall)

John Barton, The Word: On the Translation of the Bible (previewed by Jim West)

John Dyer, People of the Screen: How Evangelicals Created the Digital Bible and How It Shapes Their Reading of Scripture (OUP, previewed by Peter Gurry)

Jeffrey W. Barbeau and Emily Hunter McGowin, eds. God and Wonder: A New Book on Theology, Imagination, and the Arts (Cascade, previewed by Nijay K. Gupta)

Todd M. Hickey, James G. Keenan, Edgar J. Goodspeed: America’s first papyrologist. Berkeley: California Classical Studies, 2021 (reviewed by Mills McArthur)

Susan Ackerman, Gods, Goddesses, and the Women Who Serve Them (Eerdmans, reviewed by Phillip Long)

Carol A. Newsom. The Spirit within Me: Self and Agency in Ancient Israel and Second Temple Judaism. Yale University Press, 2021 (reviewed by Rebecca Harris)

Sara Parks, Shayna Sheinfeld, and Meredith J.C. Warren. Jewish and Christian Women in the Ancient Mediterranean. New York: Routledge, 2022 (reviewed by Alexiana Fry)

Sue Edwards and Kelley Mathews, 40 Questions Women in Ministry (Kregel, reviewed by Phillip Lon

David M. Moffitt, Rethinking the Atonement: New Perspectives on Jesus’s Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, (Baker Academic; previewed by Brian Small)

We need more books

That is it for Biblical Studies Carnival #201. Now it is on to the end of the semester, grading papers and finishing manuscripts I promised several months ago.