Who are the Sinners Who Eat with Jesus? – Matthew 9:10

After calling Matthew to follow him, Jesus “reclined at the table in the house.” Since Jesus is the guest of honor at a festive meal shared with other tax collectors and “sinners,” the Pharisees question Jesus’s disciples about sharing food with these sorts of people.

Jesus Eating with Sinners

In Matthew 9;10 it is simply “the house,” probably referring to Peter’s house, but Mark has “his house,” making it at least possible this occurs at Matthew’s house.  Luke 5:29 makes it clear the meal took place at Levi’s house. The usual way of reading this story is Matthew was so overwhelmed with Jesus that he hosted a rich banquet in his home and invited all his friends to come and hear Jesus. In this scenario, Jesus is the guest of honor at a festive meal in the home of a Jewish man who was hated “as greedy, self-serving, and parasitic.” If Matthew intended the reader to understand this as Peter’s house in Capernaum, then Jesus is the host of this meal rather than Matthew. This is significant because Jesus is opening his home to tax-collectors and sinners and sharing his food with them. This is the main reason the Pharisees question the disciples.

What makes these people sinners? In the Law one could be in a state of sinfulness without committing what Christians consider sins. Nolland suggests these are “unsavory types” who life on the edges of respectable society (Matthew, 386). However, if Matthew was indeed a tax-farmer, then he may have earned a reputation “as greedy, self-serving, and parasitic.” Even if he was just a worker in a toll both, he was in constant contact with the Romans and would have been unclean by contact.

Like Zacchaeus in Luke 19, a tax collector meets Jesus, follows him and then Jesus shares a meal with him.

The Pharisees ask about Jesus’s practice of sharing food with sinners (Matthew 9:11). The Pharisees would not enter the house of a tax collector nor share food with him because they are unclean.

In the previous story the scribes questioned Jesus’s authority to forgive sin. Here it is the Pharisees who wonder how Jesus can eat with people who are obviously still in their sins. From Jesus’s perspective, they are not sinful anymore because he has forgiven them. From the perspective of the Pharisees, they are still sinful because they are still tax collectors and other “unsavory types.”

By way of analogy, if a scary looking biker with tattoos and piercings (probably named “Porkchop”) accepts Christ as savior and comes to church for the first time, people might look at him, judge his outer appearance and assume he is still in his sins. Since the Pharisees see Jesus eating with some people and know they are sinners, these people are known by sight at people on the fringe of society. This might be as simple as “oh look, there is Matthew, the tax collector,” or it might be the case the people look like sinners to the proper Pharisee.

Since Jesus seems to be eating with a number of people he is possibly in the courtyard of the house. The little homes in Capernaum would not have formal dining rooms like a Roman villa (or a modern home); even if Matthew was a wealthy tax farmer (which he probably was not), his home would still not be that large. The only way for a crowd to eat together is to gather outdoors.

Perhaps some disciples were not eating with Jesus and were on the fringe of the gathering listening to Jesus. Maybe two or three Pharisees see the gathering and see Jesus as the honored guest among a group of people they consider to be sinners and wonder how Jesus could eat with such people.

The question assumes Jesus would behave like a Pharisee with respect to food traditions. For the Pharisee, contact with an unclean person would communicate that uncleanliness. If the sinner touched the food, then the food itself would be considered unclean. In their defense, they were trying to obey the commands God gave through Moses and were willing to think through every possible situation that might render them unclean. This is no different than Christians asking questions about what God would think of any new situation (can a Christian go to the movies?)

In the ancient world, to share the table with another person made statement about yourself and about your guest. People wanted to share a meal with someone who was at least in the same social circle; to be invited to a meal by an elite citizen was indeed an honor. On the other hand, there is no way an elite citizen would invite people from the lower classes to share a meal with them. A Pharisee would only eat with people they were sure were ceremonially clean, and the people Jesus is eating with are clearly are not even close!

As with the inner thoughts of the scribes in the previous story, Jesus hears what the Pharisees are discussing with his disciples and responds directly to them.

More Free Books for Logos Bible Software in November 2020

Levering Brazos Ezra NehemiahLogos just added another free book for November, Matthew Levering’s Brazos Commentary on Ezra and Nehemiah. This series is a good example of theological interpretation of Scripture.

Don’t miss these special discounts on additional books by Levering and Scott Hahn:

  • Scott Hahn’s The Kingdom of God as Liturgical Empire: A Theological Commentary on 1–2 Chronicles, $1.99
  • Levering’s Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation: The Mediation of the Gospel through Church and Scripture, $7.99
  • Encountering the Living God in Scripture: Theological and Philosophical Principles for Interpretation, $9.99

Logos partners with Baker Academic this month for their Free Book of the Month promotion in November. Add William Hendricksen’s commentary on Romans for free to your Logos Library. Originally published in 1981 in two volumes, this commentary reflects a classic Reformed view of Romans and years of preparation. Hendricksen was Professor of New Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary from 1942 to 1952. After Hendricksen died in 1982 Simon Kistemaker (Reformed Theological Seminary) finished the series. 

Logos is offering several other commentaries from Baker at deep discounts. The Understanding the Bible Commentary was formerly the New International Biblical Commentary, published by Hendricksen. When Baker acquired the series they renamed it and updated the covers, but as far as I know the content is identical. Although they are brief commentaries, I have always found them quite helpful.

The Teach the Text Commentary Series  attempts to bridge the gap between exegetical and devotional commentaries “by utilizing the best of biblical scholarship and providing the information a pastor needs to communicate the text effectively.” Here is a video trailer for the series from Baker Academic.

  • Donald Hagner, Hebrews (Understanding the Bible Commentary), $1.99
  • Robert Chisholm, 1 & 2 Samuel (Teach the Text Commentary Series), $2.99
  • Craig C. Broyles, Psalms (Understanding the Bible Commentary), $3.99
  • William Hendricksen, John (Hendriksen & Kistemaker New Testament Commentary), $5.99
  • Edward Curtis, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs (Teach the Text Commentary Series), $7.99
  • Simon J. Kistemaker, James and the Epistles of John (Hendriksen & Kistemaker New Testament Commentary), $9.99

As with all Logos books, these commentaries fully utilize  the features of Logos Bible Software, including fully searchable text, links to other resources in your library, and robust note taking tools.

I did a “First Look and Review” of the newest version of Logos Bible Software. Logos 9 was released in late October and is worth a look. Do want to invest any money in Logos yet? Version 8 is still available in a basic free edition. Download the basic edition and add the free books. You can always upgrade later. Don’t forget, you can purchase the Collector’s Edition of Logos 9 or a pretty nice car.

These Logos resources are available only until the end of November 2020. Be sure to load up on these resources while you can!


Jesus Calls Matthew to Follow Him – Matthew 9:9

Matthew is sitting at a tax booth, and he seems to be friends with other tax collectors. A τελώνιον (telōnion) refers to a tax office, or as BDAG suggests, “toll-collection operation.” In Matthew 10:3 he is called a tax-collector (τελώνης, telōnēs).

Matthew icon

The noun does not refer to an employee of a Roman equivalent to the IRS, but rather to a “tax-farmer.” A person bids on a contract to collect taxes in a particular area, then collect whatever they could from the people and pays the Romans what he bid and pockets the rest. “The prevailing system of tax collection afforded a collector many opportunities to exercise greed and unfairness. Hence tax collectors were particularly hated and despised as a class” (s.v. τελώνης, BDAG).

In a similar situation, Zacchaeus is a tax collector and is described by those who grumbled against Jesus as a “sinner.” Zacchaeus confessed to defrauding people and promised to make restitution (Luke 19:1-10).

Matthew may not have been a tax farmer, but rather an employee in a tax office. His role is not clear, it could be something innocent (an account, a counter), or something more blame-worth (an enforcer?). In either case, anyone working for the Romans would be suspicious, perhaps even disloyalty to Jewish nationalism.

Tax collectors are never particularly popular in any society, but Jews who worked for the Romans to collect taxes and tolls were considered to be traitors since they collected money for the occupying forces. Not all taxes are bad (people tend to like nice roads and national parks, for example). Roman taxes did pay for some level of stability in the region and provided valuable infrastructure all people enjoyed. But because of the practice of tax-farming, tax collectors “were despised as greedy, self-serving, and parasitic” (Hagner, Matthew, 238).

However, like Americans who “do not want their taxes to pay for…” whatever they do not like politically, the Jewish people assumed their money was being rounded up and sent to Rome to pay for pagan temples or other sinful activities.

In addition to the political aspects of tax collecting for the Romans, a tax collector would be in constant contact with gentiles and therefore in a state of ceremonial uncleanliness. Like the leper (8:1), the centurion (8:5-13), (perhaps) Peter’s mother-in-law (8:14-15), the demon possessed men in the cemetery (8:28-34) and the paralyzed man (9:1-8), the woman with the flow of blood (9:18-22) and perhaps even the blond and mute men (9:27-31), Matthew is in a state of uncleanliness which would keep him from entering the Temple courts or sharing fellowship with the Pharisees.

Jesus simply commands Matthew to follow him and he immediately “rose and followed” Jesus. This is the same way he called the first disciples (Matt 4:13-22). The fishermen were going about their business and Jesus called them to follow without any indication they had heard Jesus preaching prior to the call. John 1:35-42 implies the early disciples were followers of John the Baptist prior to following Jesus.

It is one thing to heal a person who is ceremonially unclean, but now Jesus is calling an unclean person to be one of his disciples. When his new disciple reaches out to his social circle, the Pharisees will become indignant and will question his disciples about this practice.

This is a clear example of Jesus’s practice of eating with people who are on the fringe of what it means to be Jewish, at least from the perspective of the Pharisees.

Is Matthew the same as Levi? Matthew 9:9

The parallel story in Mark 2:14-22 and Luke 5:27-38 agree Jesus called Levi the to leave his tax booth and follow him. Virtually every detail is the same except the name and the citation of Hosea 6:6. Why does Matthew 9:9 have Matthew and not Levi?

Jesus calls Matthew Giovanni Paolo Panini

The name Matthew is Μαθθαῖος (or Ματθαῖος) in Aramaic it is either מתי or מתא. The name is likely an abbreviation of Mattaniah or Mattithiah (2 Kgs 24:17; Neh 8:4) which means “gift of Yahweh.” The name Matthew is therefore not related to the Greek noun translated disciple (μαθητής). Mark calls Levi “the son of Alphaeus” complicating this issue since in Matthew 10:3, Matthew is “the tax collector” and James is the “the son of Alphaeus.” Luke 5:27 has Levi but not Alphaeus, perhaps to avoid confusion (Dulling, 619). If this was not confusing enough, there are a variety of textual variants which try to sort out the problem.

I agree with Hagner (WBC, 238) that is most likely Matthew and Levi are the same person. Like Joseph the Levite who was also called Barnabas (Acts 4:36), Matthew may have had two names (France, Matthew, 352). There are a number of people in the New Testament with two names; Simon bar Jonah is also called Cephas (on Aramaic) or Peter (in Greek). Some scholars suggest Levi was his pre-conversion name. After following Jesus, he was known as Matthew (similar to Saul/Paul in Acts; Hagner, Matthew, 238; Turner, Matthew, 12)

If Matthew is indeed the author of the first Gospel, then this he made this editorial change himself. The main problem with this view is there is no name-change story, either canonical or non-canonical.

There are several other less-likely suggestions. First, Levi may not be a name, Albright and Mann suggested Matthew was a Levite (Albright and Mann, Matthew, clxxviii). Second, some suggest there were two different tax collectors called by Jesus, the author of the fourth Gospel used the name “Matthew” since that was the name he knew (Davies and Allison, Matthew, 99). Third, the use of Matthew in 9:9 is the author’s self-identification. Fourth, the author of the first gospel may have replaced Levi with Matthew for theological reasons.

Regardless of whether the name is Levi or Matthew, when Jesus calls the tax collector as a disciple, he demonstrates the kind of mercy God requires. This stands in contrast to the Pharisees, who question Jesus when he eats with “sinners” (9:10-13) and the disciples of John who wonder why Jesus is eating at all (9:14-17).

Bibliography: Dennis C. Duling, “Matthew (Disciple),” ed. David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 619; J. G. Bashaw, “Matthew the Apostle,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

Sin and Sickness – Matthew 9:1-8

Some of the scribes who have gathered to hear Jesus teach think Jesus blasphemed when he forgave the paralytic’s sin without healing him.

Jesus heals a paralytic

“This fellow” or “this man” may be pejorative, something like “who does this guy think he is?” in Matthew 8:27 the disciples ask, “What kind of man is this” after he calms the sea. But the question “who is this man?” is at the heart of all the stories in Matthew 8-9, Jesus is revealing who he is, the God who forgives sin, but the scribes do not accept that claim. There is a contrast between the demon possessed men in 8:29 who know Jesus is the Son of God and these Jewish scribes, who deny he could be the God who forgives sin.

What does it mean to blaspheme?  In the Law, blasphemy is a misuse of the name of God, a “verbal slander against God” and the punishment for this offense of death (Bock, “Blasphemy” in DJG, 84) or example, in m. Sanhedrin 7:5, a blasphemer has “fully pronounced the divine Name.” As is well known, the punishment for pronouncing the name of God was death punishable by death (Lev 24:10-16). In m. Sanh. 6.4 some sages say, “Only the blasphemer and the one who worships an idol are hanged.” Philo said “But if anyone were, I will not say to blaspheme against the Lord of gods and men but were even to dare to utter his name unseasonably, he must endure the punishment of death; (Mos. 2.206).

Ironically, but the end of this section of Matthew, Jesus declares the Pharisees have committed “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” (12:30-32). As far as the scribes are concerned, the many has not been forgiven since he is still paralyzed. They seem to interpret his condition as the result of sin.

For some writers in Second Temple Judaism, God punished sin with physical illness. In Matthew quoted Isaiah 53:4 as fulfilled in Jesus’s healing, “He took up our infirmity and bore our diseases” (8:17). Psalm 103:2-3 says the Lord both forgives sin and heals disease. When Hezekiah was afflicted with a deadly boil, he may have assumed there was a connection between the disease and punishment for sin. In the Prayer of Nabonidus (4Q242), the king is afflicted with a disease until a Jewish exorcist “forgave his sins.”

Psalm 103:2-3 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.

4Q242 (4QPrNab ar) 4QPrayer of Nabonidus ar [I, Nabonidus,] was afflicted [by a malignant inflammation] 3 for seven years, and was banished far [from men, until I prayed to the God Most High] 4 and an exorcist forgave my sin. He was a Je[w] fr[om the exiles… (Martı́nez and Tigchelaar)

Ned. 41A R. Alexandri in the name of R. Hiyya bar Abba, “A sick person does not recover from his ailment before all of his sins are forgiven: ‘Who forgives all your sins, who heals all your diseases’ (Ps. 103:3).”

As is the case in Matthew 8:16-17, it is also possible the illness was caused by demonic influence. Like the owners of the pigs in the previous story, the scribes are less concerned about the paralyzed man than Jesus’s blasphemous statement claiming to forgive sin.

Jesus Responds by Healing the Paralytic (Matthew 9:4-7). Jesus knows their thoughts, as he will the Pharisees in 12:25. In both cases, these thoughts consider Jesus to be claiming divine authority in a way which is offensive to God.

“Which is easier?” Jesus asks. Nolland calls this a “riddling question” that depends on the saying “your sins are forgiven.” God grants the authority to heal to humans, even the disciples will be given authority to heal (Matthew 10:1), but only God can forgive sin. Therefore, it is easier (for a human) to heal than to forgive sin (Brown and Roberts, Matthew, 91). On the other hand, anyone can say “your sins are forgiven,” that does not make them forgiven.  The problem is that there can be no proof a person’s sins are forgiven (or not). However, healing a paralyzed man is verifiable. He if stands up and walks, then he has been forgiven.

Jesus then heals the paralytic so that they will know “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” In Daniel 7:14 a son of man is given authority to judge the Gentile nations and establish the final kingdom of God. By using the phrase “Son of Man has authority,” Jesus is alluding to Daniel 7 and claiming to be God’s appointed representative who is qualified by God himself to render judgment, to punish or to forgive sin.

Jesus made an extraordinary claim, to have the authority to forgive sin, then verifies that the man’s sins have been forgiven by healing his paralysis in full view of a crowd.

It is important to understand that this passage disconnects the man’s illness from any punishment for sin. We do not know why he is sick, and it does not matter since the story is about Jesus’s authority, not whether (or not) a person’s sin is related to their illnesses.

The crowd saw the man stand up and walk out of the house and they are amazed. But is this fear or amazement? Normally φοβέω refers to fear (in Matthew 8:26 Jesus asks the disciples why they are so afraid, the noun there is δειλός, cowardly, timid). Later when Jesus walks on the water, the disciples are afraid because they think they have seen a ghost, and when Peter attempts to walk on the water, he sees the waves and is afraid.

The crowd does glorify God “who gave such authority to men.” Why plural, men? It is possible his anticipate Matthew 10. Jesus will authorize his own disciples to drive out demons and heal all kinds of sickness. In John 9, Jesus explicitly contradicts the belief that a person’s illness or infirmity was caused by their sin.

Matthew does not tell us anything more about the once-paralyzed man or his friends. His focus on in Jesus’s claim to have authority to forgive sin. Just as the crowds were amazed when Jesus taught by his own authority (7:28-29) and the disciples were amazed when he calmed the sea (8:27).

But like the people in the area of Gadarene who were frightened by Jesus’s restoration of the demon possessed man, now a crowd is afraid of  him, yet they glorify God.

Jesus Has Authority Over Sin – Matthew 9:1-2

In the previous two stories, Jesus demonstrated his authority over satanic powers. First, he calms the chaos of the seas and second, he commanded demons to leave two men who were living among the tombs. In both cases he is in “enemy territory” where Satan has the advantage. Now in 9:1-7 Jesus will demonstrate his authority over sin and sickness by healing a paralytic man. The one who silences the chaos of the seas and commands demons also has the authority to forgive sin. Matthew is making a clear Christological statement about who Jesus is as well as tracking a range of responses to Jesus, amazement, fear, and rejection.

Jesu Heals the Paralytic

The story appears in see Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:18–26. As is usually the case, Matthew’s version of the story is brief compared to Mark and Luke. “Matthew’s narration is surprisingly slim at this point” (Brown and Roberts, Matthew, 91). Matthew omits the situation (a large crowd in Peter’s house), the four friends who lower the paralyzed man through the roof, and the paralytic does not pick up his mat when he departs. An interesting addition is calling Capernaum “his town.”

Having returned to Capernaum, which Matthew calls “his own city” (ESV), a paralytic is brought to Jesus. In Mark’s version of the story, Jesus is teaching in Peter’s house and a crowd has gather which prevents four men from bringing the man to Jesus through the door.They are forced to dig a hole in the roof in order to lower the paralytic into Jesus’s presence. When Jesus sees their faith, he forgives the man’s sin.

It is possible the story was so well-known Matthew did not need to include all of the details since his focus is on who Jesus claims to be and the reaction of the scribes and the crowd. On the other hand, Nolland suggests the paralytic did not express faith (the other men who brought them did); since Matthew focuses on faith in Jesus as a basis of healing (see 8:10), he abbreviated the story to avoid the implication the healed man did not express faith (Nolland, Matthew, 380).

Paralysis was one of several impurities which would prevent this man from going up to the Temple to worship. The lame were not permitted to serve as priests or Levites (Leviticus 21:16-24), although they can eat from the offerings, they are not permitted to “come near to offer the Lord’s food offerings.” In the Rule of the Congregation (1Q Sa).

Deuteronomy 15:21 (ESV) But if it has any blemish, if it is lame or blind or has any serious blemish whatever, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God.

1QSa 2:3-7 No man, defiled by any of the impurities 4 of a man, shall enter the assembly of these; and no-one who is defiled by these should be 5 established in his office amongst the congregation: everyone who is defiled in his flesh, paralysed in his feet or 6 in his hands, lame, blind, deaf, dumb or defiled in his flesh with a blemish 7 visible to the eyes, or the tottering old man who cannot keep upright in the midst of the assembly. (Martı́nez and Tigchelaar; see also those who are not permitted to participate in the final war in The War Scroll, 1QM 7:4)

Rather than healing the man, Jesus pronounces the man’s sins forgiven. Jesus declares the sins forgiven even though there has been no sacrifice or other means of atonement made. If the man was struck with paralysis because of an illness, then his friends may have thought he was under the judgment of God for some sin he may have done. They should have begged God forgive the man gone up to the Temple to offer sacrifices on his behalf.

For Jesus to claim to forgive sin is to claim divine authority. Only God forgive sin in the Old Testament (Exodus 34:7; Isa 43:25-26) and the literature of the Second Temple period.

Exodus 34:7 (ESV) …keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Isaiah 43:25–26 (ESV) “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. 26 Put me in remembrance; let us argue together; set forth your case, that you may be proved right.

4Q398 f14–17ii Remember David, who was a man of the pious ones, [and] he, too, 2 [was] freed from many afflictions and was forgiven.

4Q417 f2i:14 Be like a humble man when you conduct a case […] 15 grasp. And then God will see, and his anger will turn away, and he will forgive your sins [f]or before [his] an[ger] 16 no-one can endure.

11Q5 19:12-14 When I recall your power my heart is strengthened, 13 and I rely on your kind deeds. Forgive my sin, YHWH, 14 and cleanse me from my iniquity.

In a similar situation, Jesus forgives the sin of a woman in Luke 7:49. He gets a similar reaction from the witnesses: they are shocked he claims authority to forgive since forgiving sin done through the sacrifices and only granted by God.

What is Jesus claiming in this story? Is there a difference between claiming to have the authority to forgive sin and claiming to be God?

Logos Bible Software 9 – A First Look and Review

I have been using Logos Bible Software since the middle 1990s. My first copy shipped on floppy discs and I have a fairly large stack of CDROMs from the early days of Logos. Hardly a day goes by when I do not use the desktop version and I regularly use the iPad to read books and take notes. It has now been two years since Logos 8 was released (read my review of Logos 8 here). That was a major upgrade in terms of program speed and tools for Bible Study. This latest incarnation of Logos continues to develop tools for note taking, sermon preparation, and integration with other the Faithlife products. In fact, many of the major upgrades are “under the hood.”

I have been working with the beta of Logos 9 for a couple of months on my 2015 Mac Air (1.6 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5 with 8GB of memory). I do use a second monitor, but I am testing Logos on a fairly average machine. Since I only have a 256GB hard drive, I only download books I am regularly using in order to save space, although Logos resources are not usually very large files. With the last update, Logos functions well on this particular setup and I have no complaints about performance in the new version. The more robust platforms will (obviously) perform better. Those of you still using that 386 PC clone with a 40MB hard drive should consider upgrading your hardware soon.   

As with any upgrade, there are many more features than I can cover in a single review. Here is a six minute video from Logos summarizing the new features:

Many of the features I personally do not use. For example, I usually prepare my lectures and Bible studies using Word rather than Logos’s sermon prep or workflow tools. As cool as those features are, I just do not have the time to master them and the “old ways” still work fine. In fact, this new edition of Logos should appeal to the busy pastor looking to go deeper in their Bible study by streamlining the processes used for sermon and Bible study development. In addition, Logos has added dozens of counseling guides for specific situations and the Jay Adams Counseling Commentaries in many of the packages.

There are several new interlinear Bibles available, and a very interesting Reverse Interlinear Explorer tool. Pick any verse, and the Explorer will create an interlinear with lemma, transliteration, root, morphology, and link to the Greek-English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domains (Louw-Nida). The Interlinear Explorer is similar but adds Strong’s Numbers and a graphic visualization of variations in word order and punctuation.

One other feature that gets people excited is is Dark Mode. Logos 9 can do dark mode now, if you are into that sort of thing. Seriously, add dark mode to a program and people go crazy with joy. I personally do not get it. I tried it, and turned it off after a few minutes on my laptop. Maybe that is more exciting on a phone or iPad, but it was more distracting than helpful on my desktop version.

Factbook 2.0

One of the major upgrades in Logos 9 is the Factbook. In some ways this is similar to a Passage Study or a Bible Word Story, but much more. If you type a topic or passage in the Go Box, one option is to open the Factbook.  Another way to access the Factbook Words underlined in your Bible. This link creates a Factbook page full of links to resources in your library. Here is a quick video tutorial on using Factbook”

The key link is Lexham Bible Dictionary, which makes sense because it is in all base packages, including the free basic Logos (at least in version 8, check to see if this is true in Logos 9). Following the key link is a media tab. The Factbook searches your library for photographs or maps that relate to your topic. Only the highlights are provided, but the user can open the media tool or search all of their media for their topic. Includes a few key passages, and then a section labeled “referred to as.” This will provide Greek and Hebrew words used to describe the topic. Clicking a Greek or Hebrew word will open the Lexham Research Lexicon. The Factbook also generates links to Bible dictionaries and other resources (journals, sermons, other books from your library). You can launch a Workflow from the fact book as well.

One of the final sections of the Factbook is “Further Reading.” Here the Factbook may link the user to Wikipedia in a new Logos window. Clicking a Greek or Hebrew word in Wikipedia does not open your lexicon, but that is probably not possible. A very cool feature of this section is a link to Google Maps for places. For example, using the Factbook for Nazareth I clicked on the map coordinates and Google Earth opens in a web browser so I can even visit Nazareth using Google Streetview. Not surprisingly, store link is included so you can go spend more money in the Logos bookstore!

Lexham Lexicons

Three new Lexham Lexicons: Greek New Testament, Hebrew Bible and Aramaic Portions of the Hebrew Bible draws on the data sets including in Logos. For example, the Senses and Sense Labels are taken from the Bible Sense Lexicon; References to Biblical people, places, and concepts are based on data from the Bible Knowledgebase; Hebrew and Aramaic equivalents is taken from an alignment of H.B. Swete’s The Old Testament in Greek and the Lexham Hebrew Bible; Phrases and clauses presented in example verses are based on The Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament. Information regarding principal parts of verbs, genitive endings of nouns and adjectives, and English glosses are taken from data utilized in the Bible Word Study guide.

πέμπω (pempō), vb. send. fut.act. πέμψω; aor.act. ἔπεμψα; perf.act. πέπομφα; aor.pass. ἐπέμφθην; perf.mid. πέπεμμαι. Hebrew equivalent: שׁלח (2). Aramaic equivalent: שׁלח (2).  LTW πέμπω (Calling or Commission).

LTW refers to the Lexham Theological Wordbook, a resource included in most packages. It would be ideal if the editors include links to other theological lexicons, such as TDNT, TLNT, etc. Occasionally related words are included in the header.

After the heading, the Lexicon offers a series of syntactical usage of the word (noun, adjective, verb, etc.) with interlinear examples, then a section of Septuagint references. Unfortunately, these are not presented in interlinear format, only links are provided. This is true for the Alternate Corpus References (Apostolic Fathers, Josephus, OT Pseudepigrapha, and Classical Greek sources). Following the example uses, the lexicon gathers commentary sections (called “articles”. This is convenient since the link goes to the exact section of the commentary dealing with the word. References in this section are based on an analysis of the use of original language in over 7,000 commentaries, the Lemma in Passage data and is influenced by Important Words data. Finally, if available, journal articles are list. For example, under περίεργος (“busybody”) there is a link to Jeannine K. Brown, “Just a Busybody? A Look at the Greco-Roman Topos of Meddling for Defining Ἀλλοτριεπίσκοπος in 1 Peter 4:15,” Journal of Biblical Literature 125 (2006): 552.

The Lexham Lexicon of the Hebrew Bible and the Aramaic Portions are similar, the heading includes the Greek equivalent from the LXX when available. As with the Greek lexicon, each example is presented in interlinear format. 

Lexham Research Commentaries

Like Factbook 2.0 and the new Lexham Lexicons, the Lexham Research Commentaries make use of datasets across the Logos ecosystem. What is a “research commentary”? This resource is edited by Miles Custis, Douglas Mangum, and Wendy Widder as a way of bringing all the resources of the Logos Library into a commentary-like format. The guides are a research tool presenting a wide range of interpretive issues raised by Bible scholars. The idea of these Research Commentaries is similar to Allan Ross’s Creation and Blessing, a commentary on Genesis which often pointed out what a pastor or teacher needs to sort out before actually teaching the text. Like the Factbook or Passage Study tool, the Research commentaries add data from various places in the Logos ecosystem to a brief commentary to guide a student into deeper research. For more details on these commentaries, see my review here.

Lexham Context Commentary

These two new resources for the Old and New Testament were edited by Douglas Mangum (project editor) and Thomas Parr and Mark Ward, associate editors (with an introduction by Leland Ryken). The goal is to provide quick access to the context of any portion of the Old or New Testament by offering outlines each book and summaries of every portion of the books. These brief notes ask, “Where have we been, where are we, and where are we going?

Manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible, Greek New Testament, and Septuagint

Another set of resources includes information about Greek New Testament, Greek Septuagint,  and Hebrew Bible manuscripts. These resources contain information about each manuscript and, where available, links to manuscript images. This data is drawn from the New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room (NTVMR). Many of the images require an account at NTVMR. At the time I used these resources there were too many “image not available” errors, but I expect that to improve.

Other Language Tools

Greek Grammar Ontology is edited by Jimmy Parks, this new resource is an effort to bring vocabulary and concepts of Greek Grammar into the Factbook. It is essentially a gigantic index of resources on morphology and syntax. For example, click on “Objective Genitive” in the index. The entry starts with a basic definition (“As an adjectival use of the genitive, the objective genitive indicates a verbal concept where the genitive noun is the object of the verbal idea”) followed by resources categorized as beginning (Zacharias, Biblical Greek Made Simple (reviewed here) Mounce), intermediate (shorter Robertson, shorter Wallace, Porter’s Idioms), and research (Robertson, Wallace, BDF  and Smyth). There is also a link to the Factbook, which appears to generate the same sort of information but with the other categories usually found in the factbook (when available).

Greek Prepositions in the New Testament: A Cognitive-Functional Approach by Rachel Aubrey and Michael Aubrey. This is book is designed to be referenced from the new Lexham Lexicons but offers deeper information on how prepositions function in the Greek New Testament. As most first year Greek students know, any given preposition has a wide range of meaning depending on the context. This resource unpacks that complicated syntax with example from the Greek New Testament. At this time the resource only covers proper prepositions, but will be updated to improper prepositions in a future.  

Conclusion. For any new version, the main question is, “is it worth the upgrade?” If you are using any version prior to Logos 8, then absolutely. If you are happy with Logos 8, you might consider a minimal upgrade in order to take advantage of the updated datasets. Since this is a new release, Logos is offering upgrade discounts, click the links and pick an upgrade path that fits your budget. If you are a first time Logos customer, there are some free books and other perks for you.


Book Review: JoAnna M. Hoyt, Amos, Jonah, Micah

Hoyt, JoAnna M. Amos, Jonah, & Micah. Evangelical Exegetical Commentary. Bellingham, Wash.: Lexham Press, 2019. 850 pp.; Hb.; $54.99. Link to Lexham Press

JoAnna Hoyt is visiting professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and an adjunct professor at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics. This new exegetical commentary is a major contribution to the study of these three minor prophets.

Joanna Hoyt, Amos, Jonah, MicahIn the twenty-eight-page introduction to Amos, Hoyt offers a standard overview of the authorship, date, setting and audience of the book. The introduction includes about 20 pages on intertextual issues, including possible allusions to Amos in in Joel and Jeremiah and a brief comment on the quotation of Amos in Acts 15. After a summary of the theology of Amos she turns to the style in genres used by the book. There is nothing particularly controversial in this summary. However, in her section on the unity of Amos she summarizes various redactional theories, especially Hans Walter Wolff’s complex theory found in his Hermenia commentary on Amos (Fortress, 1977). Hoyt concludes, “The proposal that portions of Amos are late additions is based on criteria that cannot be substantiated” (23). The introduction concludes with a lengthy discussion of various suggested outlines for the book of Amos, and exegetical outline, and selected bibliography. A more detailed bibliography appears at the end of each commentary section.

The introduction to Jonah is much more extensive (about seventy-five pages). Authorship is problematic for the book of Jonah; Hoyt herself consider is it at least possible Jonah wrote the book himself, but it is more likely the author is an anonymous third-party who lived “during Jonah’s lifetime or at some later point” (339). She provides two pages setting Jonah into the context of 1 Kings 14 and deals in detail with the problem of when the story was actually written. Here she follows John Walton and dismisses Aramaisms as requiring a late date. Intertextual connections with Joel may be more important, but it must be admitted the date of Joel is not certain either. After providing several pages on the historical setting of the book of Jonah and the end of the Syrian empire, she surveys several doubts scholars have about the historicity of Jonah. Most of these doubts center on the city of Nineveh, and why God would send an Israelite prophet like Jonah to Nineveh in the first place. These doubts also include the problem of three nights in a fish.

She cites approvingly Douglas Stewart who concluded “it is important to note that there is ample evidence to support the historicity of the book, and surprisingly a little to undermine it” (364). But of course, a fictional story could be set into a proper historical context, and the story could still be true. This leads to the very difficult problem of genre. Hoyt surveys and critiques suggestions including historical narrative, novella, parable, allegory, and midrash. The increasingly popular view of Wolff that Jonah is a parody or satire. A few have considered the book to be a fairy tale or a fable. Even the psalm in Jonah 2 has been identified as either a thanksgiving or lament, and possibly also satire. Ultimately, Hoyt concludes the book should be read as a historical narrative with satirical elements (377).

In the thirty-two-page introduction to Micah, Hoyt places Micah in the eighth century, responding to the last years of the northern kingdom and kings Ahaz and Hezekiah in Judah. The all of Samarian in 722 B.C. and the Assyrian Invasion in 701 B.C. for the main context for the book. As with Amos, there are several suggestions to explain the so-called hope oracles scattered through the book. For some, their presence shows either a late date for the entire book or a later revision of the book during the exile.

In the commentary’s body each section begins with an introduction followed by an outline. She then provides a fresh translation with textual notes, followed by a verse-by-verse commentary. Hebrew appears in the text of the commentary without transliteration. Matters of technical Hebrew grammar and syntax are found in the footnotes. Each unit ends with a selected bibliography of journal articles or other resources pertaining to the unit. If there is a difficult syntactical or lexical problem in the unit, she will include an excursus, “Additional Exegetical Comment.” Readers without Hebrew can skip these sections without too much loss. Chapter units in with very short Biblical Theology comments, followed by Application and Devotional Implications.

Each commentary ends with an excursus. For Jonah, Hoyt examines Jesus’ mention of the Ninevites in Matthew 12:41/Luke 11:32. In Micah, she has a two-page excursus on high places and three pages on Migdal-eder, the Birth of the Messiah and Christian Myth in Micah 4:8. This is the belief that near Bethlehem there was a special flock of sheep set aside for cultic use at the temple. Pastors often try this special flock of sheep to the shepherds in Luke 2. Although this makes for a great sermon illustration at Christmas time, it is not based on facts. It probably entered popular preaching through Alfred Edersheim’s Life of Jesus the Messiah (1896).

Hoyt interacts with a wide range of secondary literature. As expected by the use of evangelical in the commentary series title, her conclusions are more conservative, although she fully interacts with major English commentaries and monographs on these three prophets.

As with other volumes of this series, Lexham published the commentary simultaneously in print and in the Logos Bible Software. The Logos book takes advantage of all the resources of the software, including tagging cross references and links to other resources when available. To date, there are thirteen commentaries in the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary available to Logos users, with a total of forty-four volumes planned. The series has been redesigned with new covers and Andreas Köstenberger is now the editor of the New Testament. Purchase all thirteen volumes at 20% off through the Lexham website or subscribe to the series and receive new volumes as they are published.

NB: Thanks to Lexham Press for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book, both in print and Logos format. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

The Joy of a New Bible

Like most people who teach the Bible regularly, I have owned quite a few Bibles over the years. When I went to college my parents gave me a nice leather bound NIV Bible. I used that one for years be eventually had to retire it because the NIV translation had been revised several times. I tried several other Bibles but have never quite found one that had the same feel. I have a couple of well-worn NIV 2011 variations, and I am a sucker for a Crossway Readers edition. I even bought a goatskin ESV Psalms volume at ETS a few years ago (it is a beautiful book that will likely outlast me).

Since 2005, I have been using variations on the ESV Bible, settling eventually on a hardback ESV Study Bible soon after it was released in 2010. I have used that Bible in classes and in Bible studies for the last ten years, and it is looking a bit long in the tooth. The cover is loose and there are some awkward coffee stains in the Pauline epistles. I thought about a new edition of the NRSV (which I use in Logos Bible Software, and I do have a hardback with the Apocrypha handy in my office).

I recently upgraded the hardback ESV Study Bible to a nice TruTone binding of the same edition. It looks exactly like my comfortable old ESV, but it feels just a bit more special. I got the Bible from Personalized Bible, a website which focuses almost exclusively on Bibles.  I say almost exclusively, because non-Bibles sometimes turn up in searches.

Their website is very user-friendly, you can by translation (KJV, NIV, ESV, NKJV, NASB, NLT, HCSB), and then adjust the search by price of the Bible (in case you do not want to be tempted by those Cambridge calf-skin leather Bibles). They have a wide selection of Study Bibles in various translations, including the old Scofield Reference Bible (“if it was good enough for Paul, it is good enough for you”) and the Ryrie Study Bible.  

As for imprinting, they will do two lines for maximum of 25 characters each for an additional $7.99. Not every Bible can be customized, so look the imprintable Bibles if you want to add your name. This is also a good source for a gift and award Bibles that can be customized. They have both large print (12-point) and giant print (14-point) Bibles. Honestly, I did not know a giant print existed, but as I get older, that is more and more attractive. I noticed a “super giant print” 17-point ESV Bible. There is an economy giant print ESV ($8.54 each), churches might consider buying a case to help out the older folk who attended Bible studies.

The prices are competitive and they are lightning fast on shipping (even for a personalized Bible).  Check them out when you are in the market for a new Bible.

How can I buy a Personalized Bible?



Logos Free Book of the Month for November 2020 – William Hendricksen, Romans

Hendricksen, Romans CommentaryLogos partners with Baker Academic this month for their Free Book of the Month promotion in November. Add William Hendricksen’s commentary on Romans for free to your Logos Library. Originally published in 1981 in two volumes, this commentary reflects a classic Reformed view of Romans and years of preparation. Hendricksen was Professor of New Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary from 1942 to 1952. After Hendricksen died in 1982 Simon Kistemaker (Reformed Theological Seminary) finished the series. 

Logos is offering several other commentaries from Baker at deep discounts. The Understanding the Bible Commentary was formerly the New International Biblical Commentary, published by Hendricksen. When Baked acquired the series they renamed it and updated the covers, but as far as I know the content is identical. Although they are brief commentaries, I have always found them quite helpful.

The Teach the Text Commentary Series  attempts to bridge the gap between exegetical and devotional commentaries “by utilizing the best of biblical scholarship and providing the information a pastor needs to communicate the text effectively.” Here is a video trailer for the series from Baker Academic.

  • Donald Hagner, Hebrews (Understanding the Bible Commentary), $1.99
  • Robert Chisholm, 1 & 2 Samuel (Teach the Text Commentary Series), $2.99
  • Craig C. Broyles, Psalms (Understanding the Bible Commentary), $3.99
  • William Hendricksen, John (Hendriksen & Kistemaker New Testament Commentary), $5.99
  • Edward Curtis, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs (Teach the Text Commentary Series), $7.99
  • Simon J. Kistemaker, James and the Epistles of John (Hendriksen & Kistemaker New Testament Commentary), $9.99

As with all Logos books, these commentaries fully utilize  the features of Logos Bible Software, including fully searchable text, links to other resources in your library, and robust note taking tools.

These Logos resources are available only until the end of November 2020. Be sure to get these books while you can!