Logos Bible Software Deals for December 2019

Every month Logos Bible Software gives away a free book for your Logos library, along with a few deeply discounted books in the same series or from the same publisher. This month features the Brazos Theological commentary series published by Baker.  You can add Jaroslav Pelikan’s Acts commentary for free, Stanley Hauerwas on Matthew for $4.99 and Peter J. Leithart on 1-2 Kings for $9.99. The three books retail for just under $90, so $15 for the three is a great deal.

When the Brazos Commentary first appeared I was surprised by the authors. Stanley Hauerwas is excellent, but he is not my first thought for a commentary on Matthew. What kind of commentary would a theologian like Hauerwas write? The book blurb for this volume is an attempt to answer my  suspicions:

Stanley Hauerwas’ commentary on Matthew is not your typical commentary. Though most commentators approach a book for its theological aspects, Hauerwas’ Matthew focuses on the “how-to” of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. With the use of current Matthean scholarship and the wisdom of various scholars and theologians, including Augustine, Barth, and Bonhoeffer, Hauerwas is able to address relevant topics like homosexuality, politics, and abortion—not normally discussed in other commentaries on Matthew.

The same would be true for Jaroslav Pelikan. (Here is the a lengthy review via Best Commentaries)

Jaroslav Pelikan, one of the most well-respected scholars in the history of Christianity, brings you an insightful and well articulated commentary on Acts. This distinctly theological commentary focuses more on the themes and dogmas of Acts, rather than the text itself.

All three are excellent resources even if they are not the same kind of commentary as the New International Greek Text Commentary (last month’s giveaway).These valuable resources are only free (or almost free) through December 31, 2019.

Logos also does an Author’s Spotlight each month, for December they focus on the work of Craig Evans. You can save 25% or more on almost everything in the Logos Library with a contribution from Evans. Craig Evans is John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins at Houston Baptist University and formerly the Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament and director of the graduate program at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. He has written more than 70 books and hundreds of journal articles. Logos featured Evans in quite a few of their Mobile Course (most are 35% off).

Logos has some of his popular books on the list as well as his Word Biblical Commentary on Mark 8:27–16:20. He is a contributor to the new volume on the historical Jesus from Zondervan, Jesus, Skepticism, and the Problem of History: Criteria and Context in the Study of Christian Origins (25% off). Two other excellent academic books on the list are two edited volumes in the LNTS series from Blombury T&T Clark on intertextuality in the New Testament, ‘What Does the Scripture Say?’ Studies in the Function of Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity, Volume 1: The Synoptic Gospels and Volume 2: The Letters and Liturgical Traditions ($17.99 each).

Looks like a great time to add some excellent resources to your Logos library!

 

Biblical Studies Carnival 166 for November 2019

SBLAAR BloggerWhile we were all out enjoying thanksgiving with friends and family, Derek DeMars worked diligently to post an excellent Biblical Studies Carnival at his blog, Theology Pathfinder. Derek has been blogging for some time but this is his first time hosting a Biblical Studies Carnival, so go check out his work. In other blogging news, Brian Small did a post summarizing sessions on Hebrews at SBL as well as a quick summary of material on Hebrews from the recent book by Scot McKnight and Nijay K. Gupta, The State of New Testament Studies. It was nice to bump into Brian at SBL. I also ran into Gary Greenberg, host of the October Carnival. There were several other bloggers there, but they succeeded in avoiding eye-contact with me.

The December 2019 will post on January 1, Alex Finkelson will be the host at Scribes of the Kingdom. Jim West will ring in the start the 2020 Biblio-blogging season off with the January 2020 carnival on on February 1. I have been the curator of the Biblical Studies Carnival since August of 2012. Over these nearly eight years, many bloggers have moved on to other things (ie., real life). Although a few have moved on to podcasting, there is still some life out there in the Biblioblog world.

A bit of sad news this month was the passing of Tim Bulkeley. Tim was a long time blogger who contributed to several excellent blogs over the years, including Sansblogue  (started in2004) and the 5 Minute Bible podcast (see this list of Tim’s various projects). He hosted the Biblical Studies carnival in 2016 and 2018.  Bible Studies and Technology has a tribute to Tim and Jim Davilla recalls “his Sansblogue was one of the earliest ‘biblioblogs,’ one of the seven that were founded within a year of PaleoJudaica.” If you are interested in the early history of BiblioBlogs, read Davilla’s 2010 SBL paper “What Just Happened?”

Carnivals are fun to write and a good Carnival draws attention to your blog. I would love to start filling in a few hosts for 2020, so contact me at plong42@gmail.com to volunteer to host a carnival.

2 Timothy 4:6-8 – Paul’s Last Words

Despite his certain execution, Paul knows that he has been faithful to his calling from God. Paul describes himself as already “being poured out like a drink offering.” This is a particularly vivid image that anyone in the ancient world would understand.

The verb is a single word (σπένδω) usually translated as the phrase “poured out like a drink offering.” This refers to pouring wine (or water) onto the altar as the main sacrifice was being burned. In Num 15:24, for example, a sacrifice is a “pleasing aroma to the Lord” and is accompanied by an offering of wine and grain as well. A drink offering is never the main sacrifice, it is one that is given along with the main sacrifice.

Good FightPaul used this same word in Phil 2:17 in a similar context, he refers to his life as a kind of sacrifice that accompanies the “main sacrifice.” In Philippians 2:17, the main sacrifice is the faith of the Philippian church. Here in 2 Tim 4:6 Paul does not specify the main offering. Perhaps he is thinking of Jesus as the main sacrifice for sin, and the martyrdom of the believer as that which accompanies the main sacrifice.

He uses three metaphors to describe his faithfulness to his commission. In each of these three lines Paul emphasizes the object, “the fight, I fought, the race, I finished, the faith, I kept.”

The phrase “fought the good fight” is common in contemporary English, but usually it refers to making a very good effort. But the adjective “good” modifies the noun, so it is a “good fight.” Paul’s point is that is life was like a long boxing match, but the reason for the fight was good and anyone who takes up that fight after he departs will also be “fighting a good fight.” It is the task to which Paul was called was good, as opposed to the false teachers who also fight (about words, etc.). They are “fighting the pointless fight.”

The second metaphor is also sports-related. Paul has “finished the race.” Looking ahead at the end of this section, Paul knows that he has competed well and will have his reward when he stands before the judge.

Third, looking back on his ministry, Paul can say he has “kept the faith.” This ought to understood of what the “faith” means in 2 Timothy. He has not qualified or compromised his doctrine in the face of persecution.

Paul was prepared to preach his gospel whenever and wherever he was called, he was ultimately committed to “discharge the duties of a minister of the gospel.” Even in his death, Paul is setting himself up for Timothy as an example. Being faithful to the Gospel is dangerous and may very well put Timothy in same sort of imprisonment Paul is facing at this moment.

In fact, Paul has already been “rescued from the lion’s mouth,” despite no one coming to his defense (vv. 16-17). The “earlier defense” could refer to the end of the book of Acts, Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome. But Paul seems to be referring to more recent events, so it is likely that he has in mind a preliminary trial after his second arrest in Rome, perhaps just after the Fire of Rome.

The reference to being saved from the “mouth of the lions” could be literal, but if it is it means that he was not thrown to the lions when he might have been. It is not the case that he was in the arena about to be killed and somehow he was rescued. Think of this as someone who is acquitted from a capital offense “escaping the hangman’s noose.” The important fact is that God rescued him despite the fact that no human came to his defense.

Finally, Paul looks forward to standing before his Lord “in that Day. ”The “day” refers to the moment when Paul stands before the judgment seat of Christ and receives a victor’s crown. That he is “in Christ” qualifies him to stand there, not the fact that he ran the race well or that he finished the race to which he was called

Paul will receive a “crown of righteousness.” This is the natural metaphor that follows from the use of a race or a boxing match a few lines before. But is this righteousness a description of the crown, or is righteousness itself the reward? Typically we focus on justification as righteousness given to the believer in Christ at the moment of salvation, in other texts Paul looks at our ultimate justification (being made righteous) at the resurrection (Gal 5:5).

Paul’s final words to Timothy focus on the Gospel. Like Timothy, we must continue being faithful to our calling and stand on the foundation of Scripture, clearly proclaiming the gospel. This is the “good fight” to which we have all been called.

2 Timothy 3:13-15 – Avoiding Self-Deception

MontebankThe opponents in Ephesus stand in contrast to Paul’s record of suffering (v. 13) It is Paul and Timothy’s opponents who are the imposters. The noun (γόης) Paul uses here is a common way to describe an opponent in a philosophical debate. The noun originally referred to a sorcerer (T.Sol 19:3 uses it for a witch, Herodotus, Hist. 7.791.2 for magicians, sometimes it refers to a “juggler,” [Aeschines, Ctes. 137], presumably because they do some sort of distracting act while they pick the pockets of the crowd.).

By the first century this word was used to describe a swindler or a con-man who used some kind of deception to gain a profit from his audience. I think of the character from old Western movies, the “snake oil salesman.” The Greek writer Demosthenes used the word in this sense: “for fear I should mislead and deceive you, calling me an artful speaker, a mountebank, an impostor, and so forth” (Dem., 18 276).

Ironically, these deceivers succeed in deceiving themselves! This is also a common way of describing sophists and charlatans in Greco-Roman world (Dio Chrysostom, Orations, 4.33). The way to avoid these sorts of people is proper “divine” education (4.29).

Dio Chrysostom, Orations 4.33 If, however, he falls in with some ignorant and charlatan sophist, the fellow will wear him out by leading him hither and thither, dragging him now to the east and now to the west and now to the south, not knowing anything himself but merely guessing, after having been led far afield himself long before by impostors like himself.

Similarly, the way to avoid the self-deceptive teaching of the opponents in Ephesus is to devote oneself to divine teaching through the Scripture which has been given by God.

Paul encourages Timothy to “continue in what he has learned” from the Scriptures (vv. 14-15). Timothy was trained in the scripture from a young age. Jewish family, reading the Old Testament in Greek (most likely). While the opponents are progressing into more esoteric “deep” knowledge, Timothy is told to remain where he is. He has already learned the truth and has been convinced that it is the truth. There is no need for him to dabble in the “myths and genealogies” of the opponents.

The Jews regularly referred to their scriptures as “sacred writings,” Paul can only have in mind here the Old Testament. At this point in history it is unlikely that the Gospels were circulating as Scripture, perhaps Paul’s churches cherished his letters as authoritative. But the New Testament as we know it simply does not exist yet!

Paul says Timothy was “raised on the Old Testament.” We know that his mother was Jewish and it is likely that he was taught the Old Testament, perhaps having some training in the Septuagint and Hebrew Bible in a synagogue. I doubt that Paul selected Timothy as a missionary companion if he was totally ignorant of the Bible prior to coming to faith in Jesus!

The remedy for self-deception, for Paul, is an absolute reliance on the Scripture for faith and practice. While the opponents in Ephesus pursue fruitless “myths and genealogies” Timothy is to remember what the Scriptures plainly teach and pursue righteousness.

I suspect if people actually read the Bible, they would not tolerate the sort of “teaching” that passes for popular Christian preaching!

2 Timothy 3:10-12 – Why did Paul Suffer?

In contrast to the false teachers, Paul lists his own suffering as an example of what will happen to anyone that wants to live a godly life (vv. 10-12). This is somewhat surprising for contemporary Christians who are fed a steady diet of “health and wealth” gospel: if you are really spiritual and doing everything God requires, you will be blessed, you will be happy, healthy and wealthy. That teaching is the exact opposite of Paul’s point in this passage.  Paul knows that his Gospel is the truth because he has suffered physically as a result of his preaching of Jesus.

It might seem odd, but Paul recalls his first missionary journey as an example of his suffering. He specifically has in mind the persecution he faced in Asia Minor (Acts 14). In Antioch, Paul is opposed by Jews from the Synagogue, who follow him to Iconium to harass him. Paul was attacked in Lystra, stoned and left for dead (Acts 14). Perhaps these persecutions were chosen because he was “left for dead,” or perhaps this period continued to haunt him in his ministry for some time.

Paul StonedWhile that physical attack was important, Paul has in mind the constant treat from the Jewish community throughout that first journey as well as the threats to his churches reflected in the book of Galatians.  The attack on Paul’s character reflected in Paul’s early letters may have been more painful than the physical pain he faced in Lystra.  It appears that some of Paul’s opponents described him as unqualified to preach the gospel (Gal 1) or worse, as a charlatan (1 Thess 2, for example).

A potential problem with this review of Paul’s ministry is that it all occurred on the first missionary journey, before Timothy began to travel with Paul (Acts 15). This is used to argue the letter of 2 Timothy is a pious forgery. The writer introduced a historical error by saying Timothy witnessed these events himself. On the other hand, Timothy was from Lystra himself and joined Paul mission with the full knowledge that Paul is often persecuted physically and opposed by very powerful people where ever he preaches the Gospel!

Paul states very clearly everyone who desires to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. This is a common theme throughout the New Testament: Jesus was persecuted and so too will his followers face similar trials.  Galatians 5:11 indicates that Paul was persecuted because he was preaching that the Gentiles were not under the Law.  The immediate background is his troubles in Asia Minor to which he alludes here in 2 Timothy (cf. Rom 8:35, 1 Cor 4:12, 2 Cor 4:9, 12:10, Gal 4:29, 5:11, 2 Thess 1:4).

If Timothy’s desire is to live a godly life, he will in fact face some sort of trial or  persecution.  Paul knows that Timothy is at the moment facing a difficult time because of the false teachers in Ephesus, even if that has not developed into a physical persecution at this point. This text is clear that the one who is “in Christ” will suffer like Christ.  Perhaps this is an indication that the opponents in Ephesus are not really “in Christ,” they simply do not suffer!

Imagine what would happen in Evangelical Christianity if people really believed they should suffer for Jesus rather than expecting to be wealthy because of their faith. When was the last time you took a rock to the head because of your faith in Jesus?

Logos Black Friday Sale 2019

Here in American it is “Black Friday,” the semi-official start of the Christmas shopping season. The day is celebrated with deep discounts at major retailers, general public madness and riots among shoppers trying to save 10% on a new 64-inch TV. It is much like a zombie movie with enormous credit card debt. I ventured out into the world only once on Black Friday, and it was terrible. Despite a great deal on a dishwasher my wife wanted, I was left with an extreme loathing for the human race.

Logos Bible Software SaleIf you are like me, Black Friday is a good excuse to stay and home and read a good book. But the retailers are on to people like me, my inbox is stuffed with invitations to online sales and “cyber Monday” deals. It seems like any retailer I have made eye-contact with over the last twenty years has sent some sort of deal over the last few days. (For those who do not know, Cyber-Monday is a made up holiday from online retailers to compete with the made up holiday Black Friday.)

Like almost every other online retailer, Logos Bible Software has a great Black Friday sale.

You can spend very little and get some great resources for your Logos Library. There are some great discounts on individual volumes, such as The New Perspective on Paul: An Introduction by Kent L. Yinger (only $4.99) or Approaches to Paul by Magnus Zetterholm (only $5.14). Thomas R. Schreiner’s new 1 Corinthians commentary in the Tyndale New Testament series is only $7.99 (read my review of this commentary here).

There are several Mobile Ed Courses on sale as well. If you have not sampled any of these yet, now is your chance. Among the deeply discounted courses is Jonathan Pennington on The Gospels as Ancient Biography and Josh Jipp on Hospitality in the New Testament.

But you can also make a major investment over this weekend, the entire Interpretation Bible Commentary series is 70% off. There is a 46-volume Old Testament Bundle and a 57-volume New Testament Bundle from Baker books. I picked up the Studies in Jesus and the Gospels bundle from T&T Clark, Sheffield Academic Press (23 vols., 82% off). I already had a few of these volumes so the price for the full package only included the books I did not already own (Logos calls this “dynamic pricing”). Logos is also happy to work out a monthly payment plan so you do not have to skip feeding your family to buy all the books you want.

This “black Friday” sale runs through December 2 (12:00 a.m. PST). So head on over tot he Logos Black Friday Deals Page and load up on discounted books.

If you have not already picked up the Logos Free Book of the Month for November, be sure to get a free copy of the excellent commentary on Mark’s Gospel by R. T. France in the New International Greek Text Commentary (Eerdmans, 2002). I have been tracking these “free book of the month” promotions for several years and this is by far the best one yet.  Logos users who do not already own these resources should get them immediately! When I did a top five commentaries on Mark post a few years ago, France’s NIGTC was first on my list.

For $4.99 you can add James Dunn’s Colossians and Philemon in the NIGTC (see my Top Five Commentaries on Colossians). And for $9.99 add Anthony Thiselton’s excellent commentary on 1 Corinthians in the same series. This volume was my first choice for my Top Five Commentaries on 1 Corinthians. These great deals on the New International Greek Text Commentary expire on November 30, 2019.

Logos Bible Software 8 is a significant upgrade to this powerful Bible study system. I did a “first look” review of Logos 8 here. The software runs much more efficiently than the previous version, that alone is worth the upgrade. Everything seems to run faster than Logos 7 and the upgrade is well worth considering. As always, there are less expensive paths to upgrading that will keep you from mortgaging your home. At the very least, download the free Logos Basic or the $89 Logos 8 Fundamentals (currently on sale for 10% with some free book choices). With either minimal package you can download and use the free book every month and build your Logos library.

2 Timothy 2:14-15 – Present Yourself as an Approved Workman

Timothy is to present himself as an approved workman (v. 14-15, 22). Paul’s metaphor here is of a worker presenting himself before his supervisor. The verb (σπουδάζω) has the sense of hurried activity, eagerness or zealousness (BDAG). Perhaps someone who is doing a job will conscientiously, working hard to make sure that it is done properly.

WorkmanAn approved workman might be someone who has been trained and “qualified” as a craftsman. The noun ἐργάτης is often an agricultural laborer (Matt 9:37, “fields,” 20:1, vineyard), but in Acts 19:25 it refers to craftsmen in a kind of guild. As an approved workman, Timothy is no longer an apprentice, still a student under a master. He is an approved worker who has been examined by a master and given an approval by that master.

Timothy is to present himself before God as an approved workman. We might have expected Paul to set himself up as the example since he has done this several times. But here the ultimate “approval” of a minister’s work is God himself.

Timothy ought to do his ministry in a way that does not cause him to be ashamed. Anyone who has done a work that involved a skill has probably said, ‘yeah, that is not my best work.” In the case of a craftsman going before a master for review, the worker will want to do their very best work possible so that they will not experience shame when their work is tested.

What would possibly cause Timothy shame? Possibly his youth, since Paul has already told him to not allow anyone to look down on him for his your (2 Tim 2:15). But it is also possible that his association with Paul is shameful. Paul’s opponents may have made the point that Paul is in prison and no longer under the blessing of God. If Timothy is Paul’s successor, then perhaps they are trying to shame Timothy by associating him with Paul’s “failure.” Paul certainly does not consider his imprisonment a shameful state, but a well-trained Greco-Roman orator could have used this to their advantage. Perhaps the opponents were able to pick apart Timothy’s teaching the way a Sophist might destroy an enemy’s rhetoric, causing Timothy public shame. In any case, Timothy is told to do his work in such a way that he will not be ashamed by his own efforts.

In order to be approved, Timothy is to “correctly handling” God’s word. What happened to rightly dividing? The Greek word (ὀρθοτομέω) is very rare and is the combination of the word for straight (ὀρθός) and the verb for cutting (τέμνω), hence the KJV’s “rightly dividing.” When the word is used with a road in mind, it means “cut a road across country (that is forested or otherwise difficult to pass through) in a straight direction” (as in Thuc. 2, 100, 2 although the compound is not used there, BDAG).

In the context of 2 Timothy, the word has to been “correctly interpret” the Word of God. If Timothy is a craftsman, his “material” is the Word of God. Imagine a sculptor who is submitting a piece to Art Prize; the create a beautiful statue to display outside some building downtown. But they use the wrong material, instead of clay or stone or wood, they used sugar. The first time it rains, the sculpture will melt away into nothing (or a bunch of ants will come along and eat it!) Paul’s point here is that if Timothy is going to be an approved workman, he is going to need to know how to work with his materials in such a way as to present a finished product that will please the master.

There are many examples of people who are not well educated and try to interpret the Bible in new and exciting ways (and they tend to find their way to the internet and YouTube). For example, It is easy to pull a few verses out of the Old Testament, combine them with some conspiracy theory and fears about the government, and somehow prove the present administration is the Anti Christ or that immigration reform will lead to the End Times and the Mark of the Beast. Or something like that.

Does this mean that only the seminary-trained professional scholar should attempt to read the Bible? That is not Paul’s point at all; Timothy is the “professional” in his situation and his responsibility is to give a gentle answer when someone suggests a reading of the Bible that is in error.

In summary, this section begins with Paul commanding Timothy to seek his approval from God as if he were a worker looking for approval from his master. In order to gain that approval, Timothy must correctly handle his materials, in this case the word of God.