Logos Free Book – John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord

Once again the good folk at Logos are offering an excellent Free Book of the Month. This month Logos partners with P&R Publishing to offer John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord: An Introduction to Systematic Theology (P&R, 2006) as a free addition to your Logos Library until the end of June. Salvation Belongs to the Lord: An Introduction to Systematic TheologyThe book is a substantial 382 pages based on Frame’s lectures for the Institute of Theological Studies. William Edgar said this book “is at once vigorously orthodox and sweetly pastoral. We can be grateful for such a powerful and clear exposition of the whole range of theology.”

In addition to the Free Book of the Month, Logos is offering Brian Vickers, Justification by Grace through Faith: Finding Freedom from Legalism, Lawlessness, Pride, and Despair (P&R, 2013) for only $1.99. This book is part of the Explorations in Biblical Theology series (ed. by Robert Peterson). Tom Schreiner comments in his forward to the book, “sets justification in the context of the story line of the Bible. He doesn’t just give us an abstract and sterile explanation of the doctrine. We learn how justification fits with the biblical story and how it fits with our story.” Both of these books are great additions for people interested in the Reformed side of Christian theology.

As always, you can enter to win the rest of the Explorations in Biblical Theology series (11 vols., a 139.95 value) in the Logos library. Both of these books are excellent additions to your Logos library, so make sure to add them to your library before the end of the month.

Verbum is offering the first two volumes of The Writings of Irenæus (including his most famous work, Against Heresies) for free Irenæus’s The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching for 99 cents. Verbum is part of the Faithlife family of companies, focusing on Catholic resources.  Verbum use your same Faithlife account, so these books are available to anyone with a Faithlife / Logos username and password.

 

Logos Free Book – Ecclesiastes by Douglas B. Miller

Miller-ecclesiastesLogos Bible Software is offering a volume of the Believers Church Bible Commentary for free in August 2016. During this month you can add Ecclesiastes by Douglas B. Miller to your Logos library for free, and for $1.99 you can add Thomas R. Yoder Neufeld’s commentary on Ephesians (2002) in the same series.

According to Herald Press website, the Believers Church Bible Commentary  is a “cooperative project of Brethren in Christ Church, Brethren Church, Church of the Brethren, Mennonite Brethren Church, and Mennonite Church.”

Each volume illuminates the Scriptures; provides historical and cultural background; shares necessary theological, sociological, and ethical meanings; and, in general, makes “the rough places plain.” Critical issues are not avoided, but neither are they moved into the foreground as debates among scholars. The series aids in the interpretive process, but it does not attempt to supersede the authority of the Word and Spirit as discerned in the gathered church.

Douglas Miller is the Old Testament editor for the series and professor at Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kansas. He has published many articles on Ecclesiastes as well as a monograph, Symbol and Rhetoric in Ecclesiastes: The Place of hebel in Qohelet’s Work (Atlanta: SBL, 2002). Thomas R. Yoder Neufeld is Professor Emeritus at  Conrad Grebel University and wrote Killing Enmity: Violence and the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2011).

Both of these books are excellent additions to your Logos library, so make sure to add them to your library before the end of the month.

As always Logos is giving away a set of 26 volumes of the Believers Church Bible Commentary,  a $432.99 value. Enter early and often.

You can also get Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude as the Verbum Free book of the Month and Merton’s The Ascent to Truth: A Study of St. John of the Cross for 99 cents. Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment is still the Noet Free book of the Month

Logos Free Book – Wolfgang Vondey, Pentecostalism: A Guide for the Perplexed

Pentacostalism-a-guide-for-the-perlexedOnce again Faithlife is offering a Free “Book of the Month” for your Logos library. For the month of July you can download a copy of Pentecostalism: A Guide for the Perplexed (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2013), by Wolfgang Vondey from T&T Clark. If you are not aware of the Guide for the Perplexed series, you should be. These are handy little volumes which cover the essential issues of an issue, along the lines of the Oxford “Very Short Introduction” series. This is not a “for dummies” series: the volumes I have used are serious introductions to cmplex topics. Vondey is a “German-born Pentecostal theologian who currently serves as Reader in Contemporary Christianity and Pentecostal Studies at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, where he also directs the Centre for Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies” (at least according to Wikipedia, he is.)

For a $1.99 more, you can supersize this free book and download a copy of T&T Clark Companion to Reformation Theology by David M. Whitford. Whitford is professor in the Religion department at Baylor University and contributed the A Guide for the Perplexed on Luther for T&T Clark. He contributes the first chapter in the volume, “Studying and Writing about the Reformation.” The rest of the chapters cover the following topics:

  • Chapter 2: Human Nature, the Fall, and the Will – Robert Kolb
  • Chapter 3: Revelation and Scripture – Ward Holder
  • Chapter 4: Justification – Carl Trueman
  • Chapter 5: Law and Gospel – Lubomir Batka & Anna Johnson
  • Chapter 6: Election – Chad Can Dixhoorn
  • Chapter 7: Sanctification, Works, and Social Justice – Carter Lindberg
  • Chapter 8: The Sacraments – Bryan Spinks
  • Chapter 9: The Church – Paul Avis
  • Chapter 10: Preaching and Worship – Anne Thayer
  • Chapter 11: Women, Marriage & Family – Karen Spierling
  • Chapter 12: Catechisms & Confessions of Faith – Karin Maag
  • Chapter 13: Church Discipline, Abuse, Corruption – Raymond Mentzer
  • Chapter 14: Eschatology, Antichrist, and Apocalypticism – Robin Bruce Barnes
  • Chapter 15: Political Theology – Volker Leppin
  • Chapter 16: Superstition, Magic & Witchcraft – Peter Maxwell-Stuart
  • Chapter 17: Radical Theology – Geoffrey Dipple
  • Chapter 18: Images and Iconography – Randall Zachman
  • Chapter 19: Martyrdom and Religious Violence – Haruko Ward

Part two of the book is entitled, “A Reformation ABC,” a mini-dictionary of important events and people for Reformation studies. I noticed the T&T Clark website has Whitford’s chapter as part one, the chapters as part 2 and the ABS as part three, Logos has only two parts (essays and ABCs). The content appears to be the same. At 471 pages, this is a great deal for $2.

As always, you can enter to win the three other volumes in addition to the free/almost free books in Logos’s T&T Clark Studies in Theological Systems (5 vols., $99 value). Enter early and often. Both of these books are excellent additions to your Logos library, so make sure to add them to your library before the end of the month.

 

Logos Free Book – Stephen E. Fowl, Ephesians

Once again the good folk at Logos are offering an excellent Free Book of the Month. For the month of December you can have a copy of Stephen Fowl’s excellent Ephesians Commentary in the NTL Library from Westminster John Knox Press. Fowl wrote the Philippians volume in Eerdmans Two Horizons series as well as a number of articles and monographs in the fielFowl Ephesiansd of theological readings of the New Testament. For example, his 2009 contribution to the Cascade Companion series, Theological Interpretation of Scripture.

The commentary was enthusiastically commended by Michael J. Gorman and Nijay Gupta reviewed the Ephesians volume soon after it was released, saying ” this is a solid reading of Ephesians overall from a master-exegete. I only wish it were more detailed and thorough! One will see many similarities and much agreement with Best and Lincoln.”

In addition to the Free Book of the Month, Logos is offering Luke Timothy Johnson’s Hebrews Commentary in the NTL series for only $1.99. Anything Johnson writes is worth reading, so this commentary on Hebrews for a mere $2 is a worthy addition to your Logos Library.

As always, you can enter to win the rest of the NTL commentaries in the Logos library. Both of these books are excellent additions to your Logos library, so make sure to add them to your library before the end of the month.

Luke Timothy Johnson iPad

Luke Timothy Johnson, Hebrews, on the iPad

In addition to the Logos Free book, two other free books are on offer. Noet is the division of Faithlife focusing on classics; this month they are offering James Joyce’s Dubliners for free and Ulysses for 99 cents. Now you can finally follow Leopold Bloom around all day with the Logos Bible app.

Verbum is offering Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI’s The Blessing of Christmas for free and his Seek That Which Is Above: Meditations Through the Year for 99 cents. Verbum is part of the Faithlife family of companies, focusing on Catholic resources. Both Noet and Verbum use your same Faithlife account, so these books are available to anyone with a Faithlife / Logos username and password.

 

Ephesians 4-6 as an Apostolic Didache

It can be argued that the material in Ephesians 4-6 and Colossians 3-4 reflect an early form of apostolic teaching or catechism material. The terms kerygma and didache are used to distinguish between two types of apostolic message.  Kerygma is the “preaching” material of the gospel for sinners (Christ’s death and resurrection), while didache is the teaching material aimed at the person that has already accepted this message and is concerned with the living out of that message in terms of ethical behavior.

didache-largeThis may imply some pre-existing documents that eventually are used in the production of the New Testament books, although these types of materials also circulated orally.  The kerygma material, for example, may include 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 or Phil 2:5-11.  But this is not to say that there was any single document called “kerygma” – the word simply refers to the material that was used in evangelism by various preachers in the early church.

The same applies to the term didache.  There would have been a core of teaching that Paul used in establishing churches and training leaders.  That material would have been generally the same in every church (i.e. qualifications for elders and deacons) but flexible enough to adapt to a slightly different cultural situation (the difference between the qualifications list in 1 Timothy and Titus, for example, show some adaptation for the situation on Crete where Titus was to appoint elders). By the end of the first century a short book of church practice known as Didache did circulate, although the contents are not quite the same as this collection of material.

This core of teaching is found as early as Acts 2:42, where we are told that the new converts were devoted to the daily instruction of the apostles. Since all of these converts in the early part of Acts are Jews, and likely observant Jews in Acts 2, the need for ethical instruction would have been less of a priority than instruction in the teachings of Jesus (i.e. doctrine – Christology (who was Jesus, what did he teach) and Eschatology (the Christ is returning very soon).  It is not unlikely that at this stage that the stories of Jesus’ acts and his teachings began to be passed from the Apostles to their disciples.

What are the implications that Paul might have used and adapted a kind of “standard teaching” in these two letters? Does this “early Christian standard” of ethics help us understand how the Church was teaching ethics in the first century?

Some bibliography: E.  G.  Selwyn, The First Epistle of St.  Peter, 363-466; Philip Carrington, The Primitive Christian Catechism; A. M. Hunter, Paul and his Predecessors; C. H. Dodd,  The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments;  Everett F.  Harrison, “Some Patterns of the New Testament Didache” BSac V119 #474 (Apr 62) 118-129; V. P. Furnish, Theology and Ethics in Paul, 68-111.

Ephesians 4-6 and Colossians 3-4: An Apostolic Didache?

It can be argued that the material in Ephesians 4-6 and Colossians 3-4 reflect an early form of apostolic teaching or catechism material. The terms kerygma and didache are used to distinguish between two types of apostolic message.  Kerygma is the “preaching” material of the gospel for sinners (Christ’s death and resurrection), while didache is the teaching material aimed at the person that has already accepted this message and is concerned with the living out of that message in terms of ethical behavior.

didache-largeThis may imply some pre-existing documents that eventually are used in the production of the New Testament books, although these types of materials also circulated orally.  The kerygma material, for example, may include 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 or Phil 2:5-11.  But this is not to say that there was any single document called “kerygma” – the word simply refers to the material that was used in evangelism by various preachers in the early church.

The same applies to the term didache.  There would have been a core of teaching that Paul used in establishing churches and training leaders.  That material would have been generally the same in every church (i.e. qualifications for elders and deacons) but flexible enough to adapt to a slightly different cultural situation (the difference between the qualifications list in 1 Timothy and Titus, for example, show some adaptation for the situation on Crete where Titus was to appoint elders). By the end of the first century a short book of church practice known as Didache did circulate, although the contents are not quite the same as this collection of material.

This core of teaching is found as early as Acts 2:42, where we are told that the new converts were devoted to the daily instruction of the apostles. Since all of these converts in the early part of Acts are Jews, and likely observant Jews in Acts 2, the need for ethical instruction would have been less of a priority than instruction in the teachings of Jesus (i.e. doctrine – Christology (who was Jesus, what did he teach) and Eschatology (the Christ is returning very soon).  It is not unlikely that at this stage that the stories of Jesus’ acts and his teachings began to be passed from the Apostles to their disciples.

What are the implications that Paul might have used and adapted a kind of “standard teaching” in these two letters? Does this “early Christian standard” of ethics help us understand how the Church was teaching ethics in the first century?

Some bibliography: E.  G.  Selwyn, The First Epistle of St.  Peter, 363-466; Philip Carrington, The Primitive Christian Catechism; A. M. Hunter, Paul and his Predecessors; C. H. Dodd,  The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments;  Everett F.  Harrison, “Some Patterns of the New Testament Didache” BSac V119 #474 (Apr 62) 118-129; V. P. Furnish, Theology and Ethics in Paul, 68-111.

Why Not Ephesians?

Ephesians is one of the books in the Pauline collection which is frequently assumed to be pseudonymous.  Despite the fact that Paul refers to himself four times in the letter (1:1, 3:1, 4:1, and 6:19-22), the majority of scholarship in the last 150 years denies the authenticity of the letter. Rather than written by the “historical Paul,” the letter was created in the late first century, perhaps as a companion to the book of Acts.

P49 Verso

While there are many variations on this argument, many introductions to Paul reject the letter as authentic on the basis of vocabulary, style, and theology.  For many, the letter does not sound enough like Romans, Galatians, or 1-2 Corinthians to be accepted as authentic.  Usually the letter of Ephesians is thought to be a post-Pauline compendium of Paul’s theology.  It was written by a disciple of Paul (“Paul’s best disciple,” Brown, 620).  Sometimes the reconstruction of the circumstances are quite complex. For example, Goodspeed suggested that Onesimus returned to Philemon, was released from his slavery and eventually became the bishop of Ephesus. After Acts was published, there was a great deal of interest in Paul, so Onesimus gathered all the various letters Paul sent to the churches of Ephesus as an introduction to Paul’s theology.  As Brown says, this is interesting but “totally a guess.”

There are some differences between Ephesians and the other Pauline letters.  For example, the common Pauline term brethren is missing (except 6:23), and the letter never calls the Jewish people “Jews” in the epistle, even though the Jews are an important part of his argument.  More surprising is the fact that the verb “to justify” is not used, even though while it is common in Galatians and Romans and might have been useful in the argument of 2:11-22.

Does it matter if Paul did not write the letter himself?  If the letter contains the actual “voice of Paul” then the letter can be considered Pauline.  By way of analogy, in the study of the Gospels there is a great deal of discussion over the words of Jesus.  When I read the words of Jesus in my ESV Bible, can I know that these are the real words of the historical Jesus?  The answer which satisfies me is that the words of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels are true “voice of Jesus,” even though they are not the actual words Jesus’ words were originally spoken in Aramaic, translated to Greek and then to English for me to read!

In the same way, even if Ephesians was not written by Paul, the true “voice of Paul” can be found in the letter.  As it happens I think Paul did write Ephesians, albeit much later in his life during his Roman house arrest.  The letter was intended to go to all the house churches in Ephesus and there is no burning problem which Paul has to address (as in Galatians or Corinthians).  This explains why the letter is generic in terms of theology and practice.

Considering Ephesians to be an authentic Pauline letter may change the way we envision Paul’s  theology.  While Romans and Galatians are concerning with justification and the struggle to define the Church as something different than Judaism, Ephesians is a witness to the universal church which includes Jews and Gentiles in “one body.”  Unity of the church seems to be Paul’s main theme in the letter.  Rather than drawing lines, Paul is arguing for unity among those who are “in Christ.”

How might taking Ephesians seriously change the way we think about various elements of Pauline Theology?