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mcknight-galatiansI have a brand new copy of Scot McKnight’s Galatians commentary in NIV Application series. I made some comments in a previous post about this series which is on sale right now for $4.99 a volume in several eBook formats.

McKnight is a very well-known and respected New Testament scholar, known for his work in the Gospels, but also several popular books (Jesus Creed, Blue Parakeet). This commentary follows the pattern of the rest of the NIVAC series. After a short expositional section McKnight sets a given passage into the context of the first century, then attempts to “bridge the gap” by applying the passage to a modern Christian context. These pastoral comments will illuminate how the text might be understood and model a pastor’s heart for interpreting Scripture. This is a very “readable” commentary which will be valuable for anyone who wants to read the book of Galatians closely.

I will send a physical copy of McKnight’s commentary to a randomly selected person who leaves a comment below with their name and their favorite Galatians commentary (other than McKnight, of course).

Since I am leaving for the ETS/SBL meetings next week, this is a fast giveaway: I will pick the winner Friday, November 11.

Martinez-DSScrolls-Trans_PB_Reprint07.qxdTwo weeks ago I opened a giveaway context for a slightly used copy of Florentino Garcia Martinez’s The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The Qumran Texts in English (Leiden; Grand Rapids. Mich.: Brill; Eerdmans, 1996). Since then there have been 29 comments. I placed the names in a spreadsheet, randomly sorted, the rolled a random number at, and the winner is:

Jenna O

Looks like Jenna’s favorite scroll is the Damascus Document. Congrats, and please contact me via email (plong42 at with a shipping address and I will get this right out to you.

Thanks to everyone who participated, nice to see some people use at least a part of their summer to read the blogs!


Martinez-DSScrolls-Trans_PB_Reprint07.qxdI plan on continuing my series on the Enoch Literature after the weekend, but since this is a holiday weekend, I thought I would give away a book to celebrate.

I have an extra copy of Florentino Garcia Martinez’s The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The Qumran Texts in English (Leiden; Grand Rapids. Mich.: Brill; Eerdmans, 1996). This is a “barely used” paperback copy of the book and I purchased it myself.

The Eerdmans Website describes the book as:

“One of the world’s foremost experts on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran community that produced them provides an authoritative new English translation of the two hundred longest and most important nonbiblical Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran, along with an introduction to the history of the discovery and publication of each manuscript and the background necessary for placing each manuscript in its actual historical context.”

The Journal for the Study of the Old Testament said this volume is “the most useful of the available collections not merely for its completeness but for its complete list of Qumran MSS serving also as an index to the context. Absolutely invaluable!” If you do not have a copy of the Dead Sea Scrolls in English, this is the volume to have.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this thread with your name and your favorite Dead Sea Scroll. Or at least your name.

I will generate a winner at random and announce that winner in two weeks, on July 14. Good luck!

World of NTTo celebrate the happiest time of the year (the beginning of school), I am going to give away a few books on Reading Acts. First up is The World of the New Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts (Grand Rapids. Mich.: Baker Academic, 2013) edited by Joel B. Green and Lee Martin McDonald. This 640-page hardback collects 44 essays on various background issues. Larry Hurtado said this is “a valuable volume, especially for students and general readers but also for scholars who want to catch up on any of the topics included.”  As you can see from the Table of  Contents below, there are some excellent writers in the volume.

This book is brand new and is my own copy. To enter, simply leave a comment on this thread and tell me which essay you would most likely to read first if you win the book. I will generate a winner at random and announce that winner on August 31. Good luck!

Table of Contents:

1. Introduction – Joel B. Green and Lee Martin McDonald
2. New Testament Chronology – Lee Martin McDonald

Part 1: Setting the Context: Exile and the Jewish Heritage
3. Exile – Nicholas Perrin
4. The Hasmoneans and the Hasmonean Era – Larry R. Helyer
5. The Herodian Dynasty – Everett Ferguson
6. Monotheism – Nathan MacDonald
7. The Scriptures and Scriptural Interpretation – Lidija Novakovic

Part 2: Setting the Context: Roman Hellenism
8. Greek Religion – Moyer V. Hubbard
9. The Imperial Cult – Nicholas Perrin
10. Greco-Roman Philosophical Schools – John T. Fitzgerald
11. Civic and Voluntary Associations in the Greco-Roman World – Michael S. Moore
12. Economics, Taxes, and Tithes – David J. Downs
13. Slaves and Slavery in the Roman World – S. Scott Bartchy
14. Women, Children, and Families in the Roman World – Lynn H. Cohick
15. Education in the Greco-Roman World – Ben Witherington III

Part 3: The Jewish People in the Context of Roman Hellenism
16. Temple and Priesthood – David Instone-Brewer
17. Jews and Samaritans – Lidija Novakovic
18. Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes – Michelle Lee-Barnewall
19. The Dead Sea Scrolls – C. D. Elledge
20. Prophetic Movements and Zealots – James D. G. Dunn
21. Apocalypticism – Larry R. Helyer
22. Synagogue and Sanhedrin – Kenneth D. Litwak
23. Jews in the Diaspora – David A. deSilva
24. Noncanonical Jewish Writings – Daniel M. Gurtner
25. Jewish Identity, Beliefs, and Practices – Archie T. Wright
26. Jewish Education – Kent L. Yinger
27. Healing and Health Care – Joel B. Green

Part 4: The Literary Context of Early Christianity
28. Reading, Writing, and Manuscripts – E. Randolph Richards
29. Pseudonymous Writings and the New Testament – Lee Martin McDonald
30. Literary Forms in the New Testament – Thomas E. Phillips
31. Homer and the New Testament – Thomas E. Phillips
32. Josephus and the New Testament – Michael F. Bird
33. Philo and the New Testament – Torrey Seland
34. Rabbinic Literature and the New Testament – Bruce Chilton
35. Other Early Christian Writings – Nicholas Perrin

Part 5: The Geographical Context of the New Testament
36. Jesus Research and Archeology – James H. Charlesworth
37. Egypt – John D. Wineland
38. Palestine – Thomas R. Hatina
39. Syria, Cilicia, and Cyprus – Mark Wilson
40. The Province and Cities of Asia – Paul Trebilco
41. Galatia – Mark Wilson
42. Macedonia – Gene L. Green
43. Achaia – Gene L. Green
44. Rome and Its Provinces – Thomas Hatina

Additional Resources
Money in the New Testament Era
Measurements in the New Testament Era

Moo, Douglas J., Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey. Encountering Biblical Studies. Grand Rapids, Mich. Baker, 2002. 240 pp. Pb; $27.89.  Link to Baker  Link to Logos

The Encountering the Bible series from Baker Academic includes an Old and New Testament Survey (reviewed here) as well as several texts on specific books designed for a College or Seminary classes. Encountering the Book of Romans was originally published in 2002, but has recently been released as a book in the Logos Bible Software library.

Moo is well-known to students of the book of Romans, having written a commentary on Romans in the Wycliffe series (Moody, now out of print), a major commentary on Romans for Eerdmans (NICNT, 1996) and the NIV Application Commentary volume on Romans for Zondervan (2000). In addition he has written numerous journal articles on aspects of Romans, both exegetical and theological. He has also written commentaries on James and Colossians/Philemon in the Pillar New Testament Commentary series (Eerdmans), and his Galatians commentary is due this fall in the Baker Exegetical Commentary series. His NICNT volume is excellent; I included it among my “Top Five Romans Commentaries” last summer. Moo’s contribution to the Encountering the Bible series distills his thinking on Romans into a very readable form, intended to introduce students to the major issues one needs to face when reading Romans.

Encountering Romans

Logos on the Desktop

Like other books in this series, Encountering the Book of Romans is designed to be used in a classroom. The chapters are brief and divided into clear sub-units. Each chapter begins with clear objectives (“after reading this chapter you should be able to….”) The chapters conclude with study questions that could be used for writing assignments for a class on Romans. Key terms are listed at the end of a chapter and appear in bold in the body of the text.  Like most textbooks, there are numerous text boxes scattered throughout the book that give additional information or connect the text of Romans to larger questions of Pauline theology.

The book is divided into six parts, beginning with some basic orientation to the study of Paul.  The first three chapters discuss briefly the impact of the New Perspective on Paul on the study of Romans. For the most part, Moo does not depart from the standard conservative view on the origins of the Roman church and the situation for Paul’s writing of the letter.  For Moo, the letter is written in A.D. 57 from Corinth, just prior to his return to Jerusalem to deliver the Collection.  Paul’s intention is to prepare the way for a potential ministry trip to Spain.  The church of Rome was founded by Jewish believers who perhaps first heard the Gospel at Pentecost, but many of those Jewish believers were expelled from Rome by Claudius. While some Jews have returned to Rome, the churches Paul addresses are primarily Gentiles, especially God-Fearing Gentiles.

Moo contrasts the “classic” view beginning with Luther with the recent critique of that status quo by E. P. Sanders, but more important for Romans, James Dunn’s Word Commentary on Romans. Moo states that most scholars find Sanders’s view of first century Judaism accurate (p. 25), but the New Perspective goes too far when they reduce the gospel in to only a “people of God” issue.  For Moo, Romans 1:16-17 is “basically about the restoration of the individual sinner’s relationship to God” (p. 28).

Moo describes his approach as a “modified reformation approach,” although he does attempt to show how both side approach any given text or issue in Romans. Moo says that “The reader should know that I have taken a mildly critical stance toward the new perspective in this volume” (p. 28). But this book does not vilify the New Perspective. For Moo, there is still much to be learned from Dunn. Moo is not able to interact with N. T. Wright’s commentary on Romans (in the New Interpreter’s Bible), which was published the same year as this book.

The body of the book forms a commentary on Romans in five sections. There sections Moo uses are fairly standard (1:18-3:20; 3:21-4:25; 5:1-8:39; 9:1-11:36; 12:1-15:13, with an addition chapter on 15:14-16:27).  The commentary is based on English, although there are occasional references to the Greek text (always in transliteration). Moo manages to treat the classic exegetical problems in Romans with brevity and clarity. For example, the meaning of baptism in Romans 6:3-4 is covered in a well-written paragraph that introduces the major views (p. 113). Moo states his view very clearly (“I suggest…”) and alerts the reader to similar views from James Dunn and G. R. Beasley-Murray via footnotes.  “All Israel will be saved” in in Romans 11:26 is another exegetical conundrum.  After surveying the options, Moo states “I think that verse 26a predicts the conversion of a significant number of Jews at the time of Christ’s return in glory, and I am deliberately vague about the timing” (p. 171). Once again, there is enough here for a student to find options, compare views, yet Moo does defend a position.

As an introduction to the book of Romans, this book is an excellent choice for undergrad classes and a good choice for graduate classes. At the graduate level, I might suggest Karl Donfried’s The Romans Debate (Revised and Expanded Edition; Hendrickson, 1991) as a supplement to Moo’s book.

Encountering the Book of Romans in Logos

Encountering the Book of Romans appears in the Logos Library.  While there is a  Kindle version of this book available from Amazon ($15.39), it does not include page numbers at this time. Unlike the third edition of Encountering the New Testament or the Kindle version, Encountering the book of Romans in the Logos Library does not include illustrations and text boxes appear as text in a monospaced font, set off by lines rather than a colored box. The print version has two columns per page with endnotes, the Logos version is single column and footnotes are embedded.

Reading a book with notes in Logos works very well, especially compared to the Kindle version. On the desktop version of Logos, all of the features found in Logos are available when reading the book.  Footnotes are links which float the user mouses over the number, or they can be clicked to highlight text in the notes (this is handy for copying bibliographic entries). Some Logos books on the iPad place the notes at the bottom of the page (the Pillar New Testament Commentaries, for example), but Encountering Romans does not.

On the desktop the user is able to search the book in ways you cannot with a paper copy.  For example, I wanted to see all the references to Dunn (there are 23) and Wright (there are only three).  While an author index is commonly appended to a book, the printed index is not comprehensive (only one reference to Dunn, none to Wright). Perhaps more useful is a search on justification (65x), with only 16 appearing in the printed index.  The printed index does sort these references by topic (justification by faith, for example), but that can be done in a Logos search as well.

Logos on the iPad syncs with the desktop version. This means that highlights and notes made on the iPad appear on the desktop version, and vice versa.  For this review, I read on my iPad and made a few notes and highlights.  When I opened Logos on my laptop, all of those highlights and notes were immediately available to me.

Conclusion. Doug Moo’s Encountering Romans would make an excellent introduction for a Romans course. The book is easy enough to read that it is appropriate for an undergraduate course, but Moo’s interaction with contemporary scholarship makes the text a good addition for a graduate level class as well.  I think that it is more accessible than The Romans Debate, and probably more appealing to more conservative audiences.

Logos has a special price for a three-book bundle of Encountering the Old Testament, Encountering the New Testament, and Encountering Romans. Logos books are often available “on sale’ from time to time and students should inquire about potential discounts. You can follow @logos for a daily twitter deal.  (UPDATE: Logos has an “upgrade” for the Encountering series on offer as a pre-publication, 25% off for Bill Arnold, Encountering Genesis, Brett Beyer, Encountering the Book of Isaiah, and Donald Hagner, Encountering the Book of Hebrews.)

Thanks to Logos for kindly providing me with a review copy of these books. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

Arnold, Bill T. and Bryan E. Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey.  Encountering Biblical Studies. Third Edition. Grand Rapids, Mich. Baker, 2008. 448 pp. Hb; $49.99.  (Link to Baker) (Link to Logos)

Elwell, Walter A. and Robert W. Yarbrough, Encountering the New Testament: A Christian Survey.  Encountering Biblical Studies. Second Edition. Grand Rapids, Mich. Baker, 2013. 528 pp. Hb; $49.99. (Link to Baker) (Link to Logos)

Baker Academic released a third edition of their New Testament Survey textbook in May of 2013, the Old Testament textbook is in a second edition (2008). I have used both books in Bible Survey courses and found them to be excellent textbooks for an undergrad, freshman level course.  Both books come with a CD-ROM containing a number of student helps. (The introduction to the books describes this CD as “fun and informative to use,” my students did not find it helpful at all.) Baker has continued to improve the books by adding online resources for both professor and student for Encountering the New Testament.

PrintBoth books are written by solid evangelicals and demonstrate a commitment to the inspiration and authority of the Bible. In EOT, Arnold and Beyer state that “plenary verbal inspiration seems to deal best with all the biblical evidence” (EOT p. 25).  Both books begin with a chapter orienting the student to the study of the Bible, placing an emphasis on the importance of the Bible for personal salvation and understanding what truth God has revealed.  For example, “The Bible’s words are God’s words” (ENT, p. 22)

But this does not mean that these books ignore contemporary methods for reading the Bible. In EOT Arnold and Beyer discuss the Documentary Hypothesis as well as multiple authorship theories for books such as Isaiah.  While they do not accept these theories, they are conversant with and respectful of these views.  Likewise, in ENT Elwell and Yarbrough have a very well-written chapter on Historical Jesus issues. Their conclusions are solidly conservative evangelical, but the student will have enough understanding of the issues at stake to move on to more advanced studies in the gospels.

Both books are richly illustrated and have many side-bars and charts to help the student manage the information presented in the chapters. Some of the pictures in EOT are not very high resolution (or are old, p. 185, Tel Dan). The presentation of maps in both books is minimalistic, which in most cases works very well.  They use a few colors to highlight the theme of the map, and only mark locations that are important for that map.

EOTEach chapter has clear objectives and a set of key words” that the student ought to be able to define and describe after reading chapter.  There are a number of text-boxes containing parallel literature (ANE literature, church fathers) or longer quotes from contemporary scholarship. Some boxes deal with theological issues. For example, In EOT, there are paragraphs on Evolution, the origin of Evil, Sexuality in Leviticus, etc. In ENT, there are “focus” boxes that discuss modern applications of the text, such as Miracles, Missions or Persecution.

These books are well-designed for use in a classroom. My impression is that they will be welcome in a conservative undergraduate environment, although there is enough depth in each book that they could be used in Introduction courses at the seminary level. I think that both books would be excellent for an interested layperson who wants to develop their knowledge of the Old and New Testaments.

Classroom Resources

Both Encountering the Old Testament and Encountering the New Testament are designed to be used in the classroom.  To this end, the books include the sorts of things usually found in textbooks – chapter objectives, key terms, review questions, and bibliography.

Baker provides resources for the professor as well as study aids for the study as a part of their Textbook Sources site.  Student resources include online videos introducing each chapter and chapter summaries. The online videos are simply Robert Yarbrough talking for about two or three minutes. There are no graphics or production at all, so they are not exactly exciting to watch.

The questions at the end of the chapter are reproduced on the website. Students can review with a web-based flashcard system and take a practice quiz. The student receives feedback on why answers are incorrect after they complete the quiz. There is also a flash card deck for Quizlet, an app for iPad and Android platforms. I would suggest that this data be ported to Study Blue, another popular study aid for iOS.

Logos on the Desktop

At this time, there is no Kindle version of either book on Amazon. Encountering the New Testament is available on the Baker website as an ePub book ($37.49).  Both books are available in the Logos Library. This means that all of the features of Logos can be used for these books.  Everything is linked in a Logos book, including scripture references and indices.  Just one example: I clicked on a text box from Eusebius and it opened my copy of Church History in the Post-Nicene Fathers set.

On the desktop version of Logos, the reader can read footnotes and scripture in floating boxes. Clicking on scripture will open the text in your favorite Bible. Logos has a timeline feature. When a date is given in the text of either book, the user can click the timeline flag to open the Logos Timeline. Photographs in ENT can be sent to PowerPoint or copied and pasted into any program.  Words marked in bold in the print version indicate the word appears in the glossary. Moving the mouse over the bold/blue text floats the glossary entry.

Clicking the title on the Bibliography at the end of a chapter will allow the user to copy and paste the bibliographic entry in plain text, BibTeX or Refer/BibText formats (for importing into Zotero, for example). In almost every case, the user will want to use the plain text format.

ENT iPad 02One of the most interesting features of ENT is that the end-of-chapter questions can be answered in the book itself.  A small textbox appears under the question and the reader can fill in the answer for themselves. Unfortunately this box does not expand, I entered about three lines of text before the text scrolled up.  The boxes accept Unicode fonts (I pasted Greek and Hebrew).  I am not sure if there is a limit answers, but I pasted the entire book of Galatians into the box without any problems. I do not recall this “workbook” feature in a Logos book before, but it has promise.  If the Question Box could be printed (or exported to an RTF file) with the answers inserted, this would be a way for students to do the questions as a homework assignment within Logos itself.

Encountering the Old Testament is still in the second edition and is not as advanced as ENT in the Logos version.  There are no photos or maps in the electronic version. All of the text features are present, but none of the bells and whistles.  In fact, there is no ePub version available for EOT at this time.  I assume that if Baker does a third edition of Old Testament book that they will develop classroom resources and will include the features found in ENT.

Logos on the iPad

Many students are using Kindle or some other ebook reader for their textbooks. Using Logos to read these books a very enjoyable. All of the features of the iPad Logos app are available, including highlighting and note taking.

The iPad version of Logos does not have timeline feature, but both footnotes and scripture will appear in a floating window.  (Some Logos books have the footnotes at the bottom of the page, but that is not the case for these two books).  Tapping a word that appears in the glossary will take the reader to that entry in the glossary; although the “return” navigation button is sometimes hard to see (it is an arrow in the upper left hand side of the screen). I would have preferred glossary entries to float like Scripture or foot notes links.

ENT iPad 01The photographs in ENT look great on my iPad 3, although there does not seem to be any way to zoom with the pinch gesture. I rotated the iPad to landscape and the photograph was much larger. The photographs sometimes appear on a single page, sometimes embedded in the text.  I assume that this depends on the size of the photograph. Unlike the desktop version, there is no “send to Keynote” feature, and although the photographs appear to copy, I cannot find a way to paste them into Keynote, Pages or Evernote. If you were really desperate, you could take a screen shot and edit the photo. The charts look good on the iPad, but sometimes they run over a screen break. It would be nice to force charts onto a single screen.

A real benefit for reading books in Logos is that real page numbers are included.  On earlier Kindle books, it was impossible to find a real page in a book. (If the syllabus says “read pages 42-53,” a Kindle user had to poke around until they found the proper section. This is addressed in newer Kindle books.) The Logos books have very detailed table of contents with links to specific sections.  In addition, each chapter begins with a list of topics linked to chapter sections. The books have both brief tables of contents as well as a detailed one.

ENT iPad 03

On the iPad, Bibliography, if the book appears in the Logos library, the title is a link to the book. If you happen to own the book, the Logos app will open the book for you. Like the desktop version, study questions in ENT can be answered in Logos itself.  I personally find reading a book in the Logos App a better experience than in the Kindle App, at least on the iPad.

Conclusion. Both of these books are ideal for a Bible survey course, either at the undergraduate or graduate levels. As I said above, they are solidly evangelical although they interact with a range of scholarship that might challenge more conservative readers. 

Logos has a special price for a three-book bundle of Encountering the Old Testament, Encountering the New Testament, and Encountering Romans by Douglas Moo. I plan on reviewing Encountering Romans soon. I notice that Logos also has other books in this series, including  Andreas J. Köstenberger, Encountering John and C. Hassell Bullock, Encountering the Book of Psalms. It would be nice to see these other texts added to a “bundle,” perhaps Romans, John and Psalms should go together, leaving EOT/ENT as a bundle so students using these books in a class can buy the Logos version.  (UPDATE: Logos has an “upgrade” for the Encountering series on offer as a pre-publication, 25% off for Bill Arnold, Encountering Genesis, Brett Beyer, Encountering the Book of Isaiah, and Donald Hagner, Encountering the Book of Hebrews.)

Thanks to Logos for kindly providing me with a review copy of these books in the Logos Library. At some point in the past Baker provided me with classroom review copies.  This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

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