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During the month of March, Eerdmans has some great deals on Kindle versions of recent publications

Although I prefer real books to digital (and Logos books to Kindle), these are worth buying for a few bucks. If you do not own a Kindle device, you can get an App on most devices to read Kindle books. I use the iPad Kindle App, it is very convenient for travel (or reading in the dark, if you are into that).

I think the highlight of this month’s sale is J. R. Daniel Kirk, A Man Attested by God: The Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels. James McGrath said “This may well be the most important book about New Testament Christology to appear in recent years.” Kirk argues against the idea the Gospels present Jesus as divine, but rather he is a idealized human similar to other ideal humans (Moses, Elijah, etc.) It is a challenging book, well worth reading and considering his arguments.

There are quite a few others, so poke around the Eerdmans books on Amazon and see what you can find.

The sale runs through the end of March 2019.

During the month of February, Eerdmans has some great deals on Kindle versions of recent publications.  Although I prefer real books to digital (and Logos books to Kindle), these are worth buying for a few bucks (the price of one of those fancy coffees you like so much).

There are quite a few others, so poke around the Eerdmans books on Amazon and see what you can find.

The sale runs through February 28, 2019.

thiselton-discovering-romansAmazon has a great deal on the four published volumes in the Discovering Biblical Texts from Eerdmans. Each volume of the series provides an excellent introduction to the exegetical problems a particular books as well as an example of a commentary from the perspective of Reception History.

When I reviewed the Romans volume by Anthony Thiselton I said:

Discovering Romans is an excellent handbook and guide to the story of Romans. It will make an excellent textbook for the seminary classroom, but will be of great assistance to anyone who wants to keep up with recent developments in the study of Romans. More than this, Thiselton’s goal of reading Romans along with writers in different periods of Church history provides the modern reader with important perspectives which are often overlooked or intentionally ignored. Despite the brevity of the commentary, it is rich with details pointing interested readers to commentaries and monographs to dig deeper into this most important book of the New Testament.

If you read books on a Kindle (or Kindle App), Amazon has the first four volumes of this series on sale for 99 cents each. That is four serious books for your library for the price of a cup of coffee (at least a fancy cup of coffee). I much prefer a real book to the Kindle version, but the price is right for these excellent volumes. If you have an iPad (or other tablet), use the Kindle App to read these books.

Click the title to read my review of the book and then the Amazon link to add the book to your Kindle Library.

Ian Boxall, Discovering Matthew     Link to Amazon

Ruth Edwards, Discovering John     Link to Amazon

Anthony Thiselton, Discovering Romans     Link to Amazon

Iain Provan, Discovering Genesis     Link to Amazon

HT to Jennifer Guo (@jenniferguo) who tweeted links to the NT volumes. I have no idea how long this sale might last, so grab the books while you can.



Kruse, RomansAmazon’s Kindle Store has a great deal on Colin Kruse’s Pillar commentary on Romans.  The list price is $52.00, but the Kindle version is a mere $2.99.  I am not sure if this is a mistake or a short-term sale.  I did not see any other Pillar commentaries on sale in the Kindle store.

I reviewed this commentary when it came out, so go read my review and buy a copy of this fine resource.

Several years ago I happened to visit one of my favorite local used book stores and they had a table set up in the front of the store for a special sale – “buy a foot of books for a dollar.”  Imagine what sort of books get sold by the foot!  There were old Pulpit Commentaries and McClaren’s commentaries with the covers half off, and a fair amount of old Christian fiction.  (I am not a fan of Christian fiction to start with, but Christian fiction form the 1950’s is particularly loathsome).  I looked over the pile of books and would not have wanted to buy any of the books, even at a dollar a foot.

As I was browsing for something else on Amazon this morning, I ran across Luther’s Commentary on Galatians, free for Kindle.  I do not have a physical copy of the book, only the Logos version.  So I downloaded the book to my iPad.  This version is public domain, and Amazon states that the “book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers,” indicating that these are mostly Project Gutenberg texts.  This is the text that has been floating around the internet for some time, converted nicely to Kindle and made available for free.  I looked at a few books, the formatting looks good, which is not always the case on converted books.

Amazon is always very good about suggesting more things for me to by, so across the bottom of the page is “other customers bought.”  This amounts to many pages of other books which are free to Kindle users.  Here are a few other highlights:

Luther, Galatians, Concerning Christian Liberty, and many others from Luther’s Works.

F. G. Smith, The Revelation Explained An Exposition

G. K. Chesterton, All Things Considered, and just about everything else from Chesterton is there! Time to read The Wisdom of Father Brown.

Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is Within You, and many other of Tolstoy’s spiritual writings.

Marcus Dods, The Expositor’s Bible: The Gospel of St John

H. G. C. Moule, Philippians

Alexander McClaren commentaries, many of which now include “real page numbers.”

Walter Rauschenbusch, The Social Principles of Jesus

James Stalker, Life of St. Paul

Poke around, see what else you can find.  It is better than a “foot of books for a buck!”

Josephus, Life

I realize that Loebolus sounds like a rather bad SyFy channel horror movie, maybe something about a zombie classics scholar terrorizing Harvard.  Loebolus is actually a very cool project from Ryan Baumann which  collects all 245 of the downloadable Loeb Classics on a single page.  You can download any individual volume or the whole set in a  single 3.2 GB file.

Ed Donnelly has had most of this information on line for some time, along with links to ABE or Amazon to purchase the actual books. But this site gets you directly to the PDF without entering captcha codes.  I downloaded two files as a trial, both were scanned so that each page is a separate image, Greek and English alternate.  I sent Josephus’ Life to my Kindle App on my iPad for easy reading.

This is a goldmine of information which has all passed into the Public Domain.  All of these books are avaliable from a variety of sources, inclulding Logos (See my comments on the Perseus Collection from Logos here). For biblical studies, the works of Josephus are available.  While I realize that Josephus is commonly reprinted, these PDF files will also give you the Greek text and an abundance of information via footnotes. Strabo’s Geography, Herodotus, Xenophon,  Plutarch are all there.  I am also fond of Thucydides, Peleponnesian War (all four volumes are available).

The Loeb Library is a collection of Greek and Latin classical sources.  These small books have the Greek or Latin on the left side, and an English translation on the right. Some of the volumes have been replaced with newer translations.  Marital, for example, was recently replaced with a modern, vulgar translation, which more accurately reflects Marital’s original shocking language.  (Marital was something of the Lenny Bruce of his day).  For many of these books the only English translation available is the Loeb version.  I am not sure we need a fresh translation of  Theophrastus’ Enquiry into Plants, but other important historical texts have been updated.

Whether you download the whole set or just pick a few of the best, Loebolus is worth checking out.

Rob Bradshaw posted two articles of interest to students of the book of Acts at Biblical Steve Walton (London School of Theology) wrote two articles in The Evangelical Quarterly on Acts, both are reproduced by permission of the current copyright holder. You may download the PDF to your own computer for offline reading or send a copy to your Kindle or iPad with the Kindle App.  to save these links to your computer, right-click and select “save as.”

Steve Walton, “The Acts – of God? What is the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ all about?” The Evangelical Quarterly 80.4 (October 2008): 291-306.  Walton argues that the central theme of the book of Acts is not Paul or Mission as is often suggested, but rather God.  In order to make this point, he uses a statistical analysis of the book and shows that God (or Lord) is used as the subject of verbs more often than any other noun.  He draws a number of implications from this observation with respect to using Acts for doctrine and mission.

Steve Walton, “Primitive Communism in Acts? Does Acts Present the Community of Goods (2:44-45; 4:32-35) as Mistaken?” The Evangelical Quarterly 80.2 (April 2008): 99-111.   Some scholars have suggested that Luke has a negative view of the  the earliest believers in Jerusalem who “held all things in common.”  Since the practice is not mentioned later in the book, is it thought that the practice was given up for a variety of reasons.  Walton disagrees with several of the more “negative” views of this common ownership and also draws some distinctions between the practice in Acts and  Qumran.  In the end he thinks that the question, “does Luke have a negative view of the practice” is wrong-headed, the practice was not a sharing of all property in the first place, and the practice does not disappear later in Acts.  Sharing with those in need is in fact a Christian practice everywhere (2 Cor 8:13-15).

If you do not know about, you ought to at least bookmark their new additions page. Rob Bradshaw provides a vast array of scholarship on both theology and biblical studies.

JHS Article in Kindle

I have been using my iPad for a little over a year now and it has become an indispensable tool for reading and research. About a year ago I wrote “Top Bible Apps for the iPad” on Reading Acts, and it remains a good starting place for people looking to use their iPad for Biblical Studies. The Bible Apps I review then have all been upgraded over the last year, but the functionality is about the same.

In the last year I find myself using my iPad to read not only books but also journal articles from databases as well as proofing things I have written. Although my experience is on the iPad, these tips will work for an Android device as well. Since much of what I say here concerns the Kindle App on the iPad it is all applicable toa real Kindle device.

The first tool you need to get is the Kindle app from the iTunes store. This is a free download, Amazon gives away the reader to tempt you into buying books. This strategy certainly worked on me since Amazon usually has a “deal of the day.”  I have picked up a remarkable number of good books free (or cheap) for reading with the Kindle App. When you register your Kindle app, Amazon will assign you a Kindle email address. You should make a note of this address and authorize your own personal email under the “Manage your Devices” tab in the Kindle store.

The second tool you need is the Send to Kindle app from Amazon (Windows and Mac versions are available). Once you install this app, you can right-click on a file and send it to your Kindle email address. You can send a number of different formats, including PDF and DOC. Assuming that you have authorized your own email, the file will appear on your Kindle, or iPad Kindle App, as a book which can be read as any other Kindle book. If you send a DOC file you can highlight and annotate, but PDF’s cannot be highlighted or annotated at this time.

Reading Acts in Kindle

Another handy tool for reading on a Kindle is a Chrome extension, Send to Kindle. This little extension works in the Chrome browser and will send a web page to your Kindle for reading later. I use this for longer web-pages or to archive a biblioblog that I think I may need later. These HTML pages are converted to a PDF format and can be highlighted or annotated with the Kindle.

I use my iPad for most often for reading journal articles. Using the ATLA database through our library, I find an article of interest and send the PDF to my email. I can either copy it to my DropBox or send it to my Kindle as described above. Prior to buying an iPad, I either read the article online, or printed it for future reference. Anyone who has written a dissertation knows that you end up with a small forest of printed papers when researching, by reading on my iPad I save some time and money by not printing out articles. I sometimes send several articles on a topic to my Kindle app and head off to a coffee shop. Naturally this method will work with any online database that allows students to save files for offline reading.

There are other readers available, including Google Books, CloudReader, Bluefire Reader, Stanza and (of course) iBooks, but my preference at this point is the Kindle reader. All of these readers are really front-ends for online book stores and they all have nearly the same functionality. If you want to transfer PDF files to one of these other readers, I recommend using DropBox. Copy the PDF to your DropBox folder, then select it on your device, and choose a program from the “open with” menu. Alternatively, you can copy the files using iTunes.

I should mention that the Bluefire Reader allows you to read DRM-protected Adobe Digital documents. This is necessary for reading galley proofs from publishers from services like NetGalley. If you have an Adobe ID, you can authorize Bluefire to read your secure books.

Kostenberger in Logos, with Notes

I use the Logos Bible App daily. It is the best app for reading books, although the books must be purchased through the Logos or Vyrso store. There is no import function for Kindle books or other e-reader formats at this time. While this seems like a negative, the Logos Library is rich in material for biblical studies. If a book is available in Logos and Kindle, I will always choose Logos version. This is primarily because Logos books have real page numbers (not “locations”) and the footnotes appear at the bottom of the page you are currently reading. Logos has an excellent note-taking system with a wide variety of highlighting features. Notes I make on my iPad are automatically saved online, and they are immediately available on my desktop version of Logos.  I have several notes files for various topics (Gospel of John, for example), and as I read I add highlights and annotations.  I can cut  and paste these notes into my word processor when I am reading to write.

These tools will get you reading on your iPad, in the next installment, I will comment on a few note-taking programs for the iPad.

Amazon’s Kindle Store has a “Big Deal” sale running through July 27.  I browsed through the “religion and spirituality” section and found a few things which might be of interest.  Looks to me like the best books are all HarperCollins / Zondervan.

NIV Archaeological Study Bible ($2.99).  This is an excellent resource, many well written sidebars and good notes on historical and archaeological items in the text.  I would say that it is targeted at the interested layman rather than expert.  Well worth the three bucks.

Quest Study Bible ($3.99).  I used to call this the “Things to Do During a Boring Sermon” Bible, since every page is festooned with short notes with interesting trivia or facts which illuminate the text.  It is really the Pop-Up Video of Study Bibles.  Sometimes the “questions” are not what I was thinking about, but they are almost always informative.

N. T. Wright, Matthew for Everyone (Part 1) ($2.99),  This whole series is an easy to read introductory commentary, although it is extremely light on details.  I think these are best used in a small group Bible study.

Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth ($2.99).  This is a classic intro to Bible Study Methods.  Nothing revolutionary, just some solid tools for how to take your Bible reading to a deeper level.  This book is often used as a textbook for a basic Bible Study methods class.

Bart Erhman, Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend ($1.99).  I always like reading Bart Erhman, after I get past the shock title and cover art (which I assume comes from HarperCollins), I usually find a well written and generally accurate book on a historical level, with about a dozen edgy ideas intended to stir up controversy. It is sorting out the edgy stuff from the valuable which is the challenge.

Craig Groeschel, The Christian Atheist: When You Believe in God But Live as if He Doesn’t Exist ($2.99).  This book is controversial, and I get questions all the time from people who want to know my “take” on Christian Atheism.  If you are working with college-age people, this might be worth a read.

There are several titles which are usually described as representing the “emergent church.”  Shane Claiborne, Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals ($2.99) and The Irresistible Revolution ($2.99).  I enjoyed The Irresistible Revolution, although there is a great deal of irony attached to reading it on a Kindle or iPad.  Claiborne is something like a Richard Foster for the Millennials, arguing for simplicity and discipline in an overly commercialized word.  He is a good balance to Joel Osteen, although I am not ready to give up my iPod yet.  Might be a little to hippie for most people.

Rob Bell is something of a poster child for the emergent church, although in my view he is not at all “emergent” in his church (but that is for another posting…)  Velvet Elvis ($2.99) was something of an initial shot of Emergence for many of my students, and is an unusually polarizing book.  Two other books from Bell are on sale:  Sex God ($1.99) and Jesus Want to Save Christians ($2.99).

Those are the Kindle “books” which caught my attention.  My guess is that most of these are available as cheap used copies, but this is a great chance to add to your Kindle Library without spending much money.

In the last two parts of this series I said that to use Logos, Accordance, or Olive Tree to their full potential, you have to spend some money to buy quality books.  For some people that is enough to turn the off of these Apps.  I have students tell me how impoverished they are and that they could not possibly buy a Logos collection or an Accordance bundle (usually while texting someone on their iPhone).  Maybe you are just out for a bargain (I haunt used book stores hoping to find a treasure in the stacks!)  Perhaps you are like me and cannot resist the lure of an old book but get frustrated with the high prices on “collectible” books.

For these reasons I will finish out this series on using the iPad for biblical studies with a look at free books.  Free books are often worth what you pay for them, but there are some real gems available for free.  Many of these books cannot be purchased  or are very expensive.  Most libraries do not see the value in shelving 125 year old journals, so the only chance to see some of these books is via Google or some similar source.  For example, I have enjoyed reading early numbers in the Palestine Exploration Society’s Quarterly Report. These descriptions of the state of archaeology in Palestine and Jerusalem in the late nineteenth century are fascinating!

Google Books.  Google Books is a free App which is a front-end for the Google Books Store.  There are commercial books in the Good Book Store, but it is worth poking around for the out-of-print free books.  Unfortunately the tagging of free books is terrible.  For example, search on “Jesus and the Gospels,” change the price to “free” and several hundred titles will appear.  Some of these make sense (Jesus and the Gospels by James Denney, Hodder and Stoughton, 1908), but Bibliotheca Sacra 30 (1873) and Calvin’s Institutes also appear in the list.  Still, there are some classics available for free:  David Strauss’s A New Life Of Jesus (1865) is there as is Ernst Renan’s The Life of Jesus (1866), Plummer’s Commentary on John (1896), and Godet’s Commentary on Luke (1881).  I happened to choose Jesus and the Gospels, any topic will yield hundreds of books.  It might be better to search on an author’s name.  For example, Albert Schweitzer yields several pages of books, but by clicking on the name reduces the list to 18 items, including both English and German versions of The Quest.

You can read these books with the free Google Books app.  I have had no problem reading, although there is no way to search the older books since they are page-scans.  There is no note-taking feature, but I can switch to a notebook program fairly quickly.  I would like the option to leave books “in the cloud” since I tend to binge on free old books and fill up my iPad quickly.   You can shop the Google Book Store on your desktop computer, whatever you “purchase” will appear in the Google Books App.

Kindle. If you have an iPad, you need to get the free Kindle App.  The Kindle Store is a part of Amazon, so if you can find books on Amazon, you can find them at the Kindle store.  There are some deals to be had in the Kindle store, but not as many free books as Google.  For example, The Quest for the Historical Jesus is free at Google, but at the Kindle store only modern reprints are available.  Ernst Renen’s Life of Jesus is a free download, but neither the Plummer or Godet commentary found on Google books appears in the Kindle Store.  More often than not, older books appear in the Kindle store at a small price.  I noticed Alfred Edersheim’s Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah for 99 cents.  Most of Edersheim’s works are on Kindle for the same price, yet they also appear on the Internet Archive in Kindle format for free.  Most (if not all) of Edersheim’s books are in the Google Bookstore for free. There are several “publishers” who appear to be converting public domain PDF files into Kindle books and selling them very cheap on Amazon.  A few are described as “enhanced” since a table of contents has been added to aid navigation, but otherwise the text is identical.  Given the phone-book size of Edersheim’s books, it might be worth a few dollars to have the index.

Internet Archive.  I almost put this resource first since it is perhaps the largest collection of free texts on the Internet.  Most texts are available in PDF and Kindle format as well as several other e-reader formats.  I recommend you use DropBox, copy the PDF files there and then read them in CloudReader (Free, App Store) or Good Reader ($4.99, App Store).   There are some real gems on the Internet Archive.  For example, Mark Goodacre’s The Synoptic Problem is a first rate book, published in 2001 and recent released to the Internet Archive for free download in PDF or Kindle format.  (You should go and download this book regardless of the platform you use to read it!)  Notice that there is a topic link for synoptic problem and Q hypothesis. Click the “synoptic problem” to find 10 other books, including Ernest DeWitt Burton’s Some Principles of Literary Criticism (1903). Search for the Journal of Biblical Literature, quite a few of the earliest numbers are available.

The Internet Archive is not a reader, you will need to know how to move the files to a place where your iPad can read them, and then have the right app to read the file.  Occasionally a PDF will not display on my iPad because of the way it was created.  If it loads on your desktop, you need to re-save it with Acrobat and make sure the JPEG 2000 option is not selected.  Another drawback is sheer wealth of material.  Some items are scanned well, others are shoddy.  Since the Internet Archive is an open-source and supports the creative commons, there are some oddities.  I have found that occasionally books are linked to the Google Store, but this is not really a problem.

The bottom line is that you can fill your iPod (Android, Kindle) with hundreds of books, many of which are classics of scholarship albeit from a previous dispensation.  I have found many books which I have never read simply because I could not find an affordable copy – that can no longer be an excuse!  Since it is a great deal of fun poking around and finding rare books in these collections, I think that I will add a semi-regular feature on this blog highlighting the best “finds” in the online archives.

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