Galatians: Freedom through God’s Grace

My new book, Galatians: Freedom through God’s Grace, is now available through Amazon in paperback or a (cheaper) Kindle.

I have been working on this book for a long time, and I am glad to have it in print.You can also order it through the Wipf & Stock website (it is a little less expensive there, they will charge shipping so it is about the same as Amazon Prime). If you are a blogger and want to review the book Wipf & Stock has a “Request Review Copy” on their page and they can send you a copy. If you happen to be around the Grace Christian University campus, drop into my office and I would be happy to sell you a copy (I have a few on hand).

This book had its origins in my teaching ministry at Rush Creek Bible Church, but taught the material in several other contexts over the years and used this blog as a sounding board for material which found its way into the book. I intended this book as a basic introduction to Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. It would make a good pastor’s commentary or a supplement for teaching Galatians in a Sunday School or small group Bible Study for a quarter.

Here are my goals in this book in contrast to other styles of commentaries already on the market. First, this is not an exegetical commentary. I rarely comment on Greek grammar except where it is critical to the meaning of a verse. While I do include some cultural and historical background in order to illuminate the text, I do not claim to be comprehensive in this area. There is far more to say about the background to Galatians than I cover in this book. There are several places in the book where I reflect some insights of the so-called “new perspective on Paul,” but this book is neither a critique nor a defense of this view of Paul’s letters.

Second, I do not intend for this book to be an expositional commentary, although that is the closest model. Expositional commentaries focus on an English translation and attempt to explain the details of the text. My goal is not necessarily the details but the overall point Paul makes in the letter. I move through Galatians in sections and comment on the most important aspects of the text in order to understand what Paul is trying to say both to the original readers and to Christians living in similar situations in the twenty-first century. I have attempted to ground this contemporary application in the text of the Bible.

Third, I intend this book for laymen, Bible teachers, and busy pastors who need an overview of the main issues in the book of Galatians. I envisioned this book being used in a small group Bible study or Sunday School class as a supplement to a personal study of Galatians. No book should ever be used to replace reading Scripture, but perhaps this book will help readers to better understand some nuances of Paul’s thought in his letter to the Galatians.

Here is how you can help me out. First, buy a copy of the book for yourself or your pastor. Second, recommend your church library purchase a copy; if you attend a Bible College or seminary, request the book for your library.

If you do buy the book please leave a review on Amazon. You can even review the book if you did not buy it from Amazon. Just a few kind words would really help others to purchase the book. I hate to be whiney about it like some YouTuber, but it is (unfortunately) important to have good reviews on Amazon these days. So leave your comments and rating at Amazon and I will be eternally grateful.

In old news, Jesus the Bridegroom is only $10 for Kindle, and I see a few cheaper copies both new and used if you want a print copy. Again, please consider leaving a review for that book as well.

So what’s next? I have two or three similar books in process, I hope to have Ephesians finished by the end of the year.

My New Book: Galatians: Freedom through God’s Grace

My new book, Galatians: Freedom through God’s Grace, is now available through Amazon with the Kindle version coming soon.

I have been working on this book for a long time, and I am glad to have it in print.You can also order it through the Wipf & Stock website (it is a little less expensive there, they will charge shipping so it is about the same as Amazon Prime). If you are a blogger and want to review the book Wipf & Stock has a “Request Review Copy” on their page and they can send you a copy.

Craig Keener’s commentary on Galatians also came out recently and I am happy to say at 156 pages, my book is almost as long as his bibliography.

I intended this book as a basic introduction to Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. I divided the book into fourteen chapters (plus one chapter for the introduction). I think it would fit nicely into a Sunday School or small group Bible Study for a quarter. In fact, the book has its origins as a Sunday Evening Bible Study at my church.

Here are my goals in this book in contrast to other styles of commentaries already on the market.

First, this is not an exegetical commentary. I do not comment on the Greek text nor do I try to solve every difficulty in the text. Perhaps I will return to the text of Galatians and produce a more formal and scholarly commentary in the future, but the goals of this commentary preclude me from dealing with more technical aspects of the letter. I rarely comment on Greek grammar except where it is critical to the meaning of a verse. While I do include some cultural and historical background in order to illuminate the text, I do not claim to be comprehensive in this area. There is far more to say about the background to Galatians than I cover in this book. There are several places in the book where I reflect some insights of the so-called “new perspective on Paul,” but this book is neither a critique nor a defense of this view of Paul’s letters.

Second, I do not intend for this book to be an expositional commentary, although that is the closest model. Expositional commentaries focus on an English translation and attempt to explain the details of the text. My goal is not necessarily the details but the overall point Paul makes in the letter. I will therefore move through Galatians in sections and comment on the most important aspects of each section to understand what Paul is trying to say both to the original readers and to Christians living in similar situations in the twenty-first century. I have attempted to ground this contemporary application in the text of the Bible.

Third, I intend this book for laymen, Bible teachers, and busy pastors who need an overview of the main issues in the book of Galatians. I envision this book being used in a small group Bible study or Sunday School class as a supplement to reading the letter to the Galatians. No book should ever be used to replace reading Scripture, but perhaps this book will help readers to better understand some nuances of Paul’s thought in his letter to the Galatians.

Here is how you can help me out. First, buy a copy of the book for yourself (I do not mind if you want to wait for the less expensive Kindle version). Second, recommend your church library purchase a copy; if you attend a Bible College or seminary, request the book for your library.

If you do buy the book please leave a review on Amazon. You can even review the book if you did not buy it from Amazon. Just a few kind words would really help others to purchase the book. It is incredibly important to have good reviews on Amazon these days, so please leave your comments and rating at Amazon and I will be eternally grateful.

In old news, Jesus the Bridegroom is only $10 for Kindle, and I see a few cheaper copies both new and used if you want a print copy. Again, please consider leaving a review for that book as well.

So what’s next? I have two or three similar books in process, I hope to have Ephesians finished this fall.

 

Logos Bible Software Upgrade Sale Ends Soon

In case you have not seen the announcements, Logos Bible Software released a major upgrade at the end of last year. I did a “first look” review of Logos 8 here. There are plenty of new features to justify an upgrade and the software runs much more efficiently than the previous version. Everything runs faster than Logos 7 so the upgrade is well worth getting.

If you upgrade to Logos 8, you can save 25% on any upgrades to Logos 8 and pick five free books. Follow the link and used the code READINGACTS8 and save a little money on the upgrade. But this upgrader discount ends on February 7, 2019. If you do not already have Logos, here is a loophole in the sale. Get Logos 7 Fundamentals for $59 then upgrade to a Logos 8 base package and use the code to save 25%.

As always, be sure to check out the Logos Free Book of the Month. They give away a new book every month and usually have promotional pricing on one or two others from the same publisher. This is a great way to build up your library.

Jesus the Bridegroom only $4.99 in the Logos Bible Software Library

I was quite surprised today with a tweet from a former student who bought my book, Jesus the Bridegroom for the Logos Bible Software for $4.99. This is part of the Wipf & Stock sale through Logos which (I assume) runs through the end of November 2018.

Jesus the Bridegroom has been reviewed in a couple of places. Marianne Blickenstaff reviewed the book for SBL’s Review of Biblical Literature (click here to read the review) and Peter Leithart reviewed the book at First Things a bit earlier. Don K. Preston reviewed the book at Amazon, saying he loves “the research that went into this. While Dr. Long’s emphasis is on ‘source’ and my focus is on theology, Nonetheless, I did find this book to be very helpful. I particularly appreciated the linguistic studies, showing the marital language that is used in some texts (e.g. especially Isaiah 4-5) that I had never seen before, and I truly appreciated it. His inter-textual notations were also fruitful. Long’s conclusion that Jesus drew together several strands of Jewish thought, and conflated those strands into a harmonious message, thus, suggesting that Jesus stood well within the framework of a Jewish prophet, is very good”

The book is also available through Amazon and the Wipf & Stock website (the retail price is $33 but there are discounted copies at Amazon and Wipf & Stock). The Kindle version is only $9.99 and claims to have real page numbers, but I cannot see them reading the book with the Kindle App on an iPad. Still, the book looks great in Kindle.

Obviously I would love for you to buy a copy, but I know that is not always possible. Here’s how you can help get the word out for me:

  • Buy the book while it is on sale at Logos, it is only $4.99!
  • Request that the book be added to your college, university, or seminary library.
  • Leave a review on Amazon.com. I cannot stress this enough, it is very difficult to get people to leave a review on Amazon, but the sad fact is Amazon reviews count for something in today’s book buying world.

What is the book about? The full title of the book is Jesus the Bridegroom: The Origin of the Eschatological Feast as a Wedding Banquet in the Synoptic Gospels. The book is an edited version of my dissertation. As I was working on my dissertation, people would ask what I was writing on. I usually said “an intertextual study on messianic banquet imagery in the Synoptic Gospels.” After a moment of awkward silence, I clarified: “Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is like a Wedding Banquet – what’s up with that?”

The book attempts to study the marriage metaphor / motif in the teaching of Jesus. There are a few places in the Synoptic Gospels where Jesus describes the Kingdom of Heaven as a Wedding Banquet, Matt 22:1-14 and 25:1-13 are the most obvious texts. But there are a few places where Jesus describes himself as a bridegroom, and a marriage metaphor appears in a number of other places. My proposal is that Jesus combined the metaphor of an eschatological banquet with the common Old Testament marriage metaphor and described his ministry as an ongoing wedding banquet to which all Israel is now invited. The long period in the wilderness is over and it is time for Israel to return to her Bridegroom.

In order to make this case, I apply what might be called an intertextual method to traditions or set of metaphors. The “text” in this intertextual study is the Hebrew Bible, but that text was heard by Jesus’ original listeners rather than read. They knew the metaphors because they heard them taught in their homes and synagogues. Jesus used these metaphors because they were current, but by combining them to describe himself, he created a new image of the eschatological age as a wedding banquet.

I first examine the eschatological “victory banquet” motif in the Hebrew Bible, starting with Isa 25:6-8 (ch. 3), the use of the Wilderness Tradition in Isaiah 40-55 (ch. 4), and the Marriage Metaphor in Hosea, Isaiah and Jeremiah (ch. 5).  I trace the development of these three themes through the Second Temple Period in chapter 6, and finally apply that database to the sayings of Jesus in chapter 7.

There are a few things that you will not find in this book. First, I did not cover John’s gospel, although there is much there that can be described as “wedding motif.” My reason for this omission are simple-the dissertation was already too long to include another major section on John’s Gospel! Second, there is nothing in this book on the application of the Bridegroom metaphor to the church. I wanted a study of Jesus’ use of the metaphor, not the (much) later theological development of that metaphor. Again, the reason for this is simply that I was writing a New Testament dissertation, doing “biblical theology” rather than “systematic theology.” I wanted to focus on the teaching of Jesus and the origin of the wedding banquet metaphor.

I would really like to hear feedback from anyone who reads the book – feel free to send me an email to continue the discussion. Thanks!

Labor Day Sale: 40% discount on Jesus the Bridegroom

Labor Day Sale

Wipf & Stock is having a Labor Day Sale. Through the weekend you can get 40% off any purchase through their website, using the discount code LABOR40. The best use of this discount is to buy my book, Jesus the Bridegroom (Pickwick, 2015).

cover-1000x1500Marianne Blickenstaff of Union Presbyterian Seminary reviewed the for Review of Biblical Literature (here is a link to the RBL Review)  I am very happy to have her review the book, especially since I read her book, ‘While the Bridegroom is with Them’: Marriage, Family, Gender and Violence in the Gospel of Matthew (London: T&T Clark, 2005) at the very beginning stages of my research on the Wedding Banquet Parable and was influenced by her reading of the Banquet Parable in Matthew 22. I appreciate her very kind review. She summarizes the book and concludes “This study is a compelling counterargument to scholarship that claims the church, and  not Jesus himself, developed the bridegroom and wedding banquet themes. Long has provided well-researched and convincing evidence that Jesus could have operated within Second Temple Jewish interpretive conventions to develop Hebrew Bible themes in new
ways to elucidate the purpose of his ministry.”

The full title of the book is Jesus the Bridegroom: The Origin of the Eschatological Feast as a Wedding Banquet in the Synoptic Gospels and is an edited version of my PhD dissertation. As I was working on my dissertation, people would ask what I was writing on. I usually said “an intertextual study on messianic banquet imagery in the Synoptic Gospels.” After a moment of awkward silence, I clarified: “Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is like a Wedding Banquet – what’s up with that?” I considered that as a title for a (very) short time.

The book is also available through Amazon in paperback and Kindle. The Kindle version is only $9.99 and claims to have real page numbers. There is also a Logos version of the book, if you prefer that format. If you live in the Grand Rapids area, I have a three copies in my office if you want to get one directly from me.

If you have read the book (or at least looked it over semi-seriously), please leave a review on AmazonI would appreciate your comments. Unfortunately Amazon reviews carry weight, so please consider giving the book a good rating and leaving a comment on Amazon if you can.

I would really like to hear feedback from anyone who reads the book – feel free to send me an email to continue the discussion. Thanks!

One Million Hits on Reading Acts!

one-million

Reading Acts launched in September 2008, and after three years hit about 50,000 views. As of today, the blog had its one millionth hit! Although the majority of these are undoubtedly spambots from eastern Europe hoping to steal my identity or sell me low-cost Ugg books, there are quite a few regular readers who occasionally leave comments, so I know some people are actually reading what I write.

In the early days I might have seen 20-30 hits a week, but now the average is well over 800 per day so far in 2016, and the last month as been closer to 1000 per day. Since the end of 2015 I am seeing about 25000 a month, and growth almost every month over the last two years.

I am quite humbled that Reading Acts has lasted long enough to pass this mark. Yesterday was my 1700th post over the nearly eight years I have been writing here. This is quite a few considering I do not write the types of posts that tend to go viral. You know the type: cheap shot political articles, clickbait, celebrity gossip, etc. I also do not espouse radical theological opinions to generate hits. No historical Adam histrionics or anti Rob Bell rants. Maybe if I wrote acid-laced rants about these hot topics I would generate more traffic, but I really can’t pull that sort of thing off.

For the most part I write all the posts (there have only been three guest posts).  I did publish my dissertation in 2012, but it is not controversial nor all that exciting, apparently. I think I only get hints from people looking for Brant Pitre’s book of the same name (and different subtitle). Go buy a copy and review it on Amazon, it is only $10 for the Kindle version.

Most of my posts plod along a a few hits a week although there are a few which consistently turn up as top posts every week. Sometimes there are hits coming from a moodle page or from a University discussion board. Since I cannot see them, hopefully people are treating me gently. With only a few exceptions, comments on Reading Acts have been helpful and friendly.

Commentors

Speaking of future plans, I was hoping to update the Top Five Commentary series from 2012 this summer. In the last four years new commentaries on virtually every book of the New Testament have been published so my original lists are now out of date. Several people have encouraged me to add more categories (historical Jesus, Parables, Pauline studies, etc.) Leave a comment if you have a suggestion for a similar “top five” category, I might just include it.

I am also considering a summer series on Jewish apocalyptic literature since I am teaching a Daniel and Revelation summer class and a Second Temple Period lit class in Spring 2017. I need to sharpen up on the material and a blog series is a great place to start. I am teaching Romans in the fall, so I am planning on a slow read through the book starting in September and going through December.

Since one million hits is a pretty big milestone, I will celebrate with a few book giveaways over the next few weeks. I have been setting a stack of books aside to give away all winter long, now is the time to get them out there! Check back after the weekend for the first book giveaway.

Once again, thanks to everyone who reads this blog, even the spambots.

One-Million-Hits

 

Jesus the Bridegroom Reviewed by Review of Biblical Literature

00_PICKWICK_Template Marianne Blickenstaff of Union Presbyterian Seminary reviewed my Jesus the Bridegroom for Review of Biblical Literature. I am very happy to have her review the book, especially since I read her book, ‘While the Bridegroom is with them’ : Marriage, Family, Gender and Violence in the Gospel of Matthew (London: T&T Clark, 2005) at the very beginning stages of my research on the Wedding Banquet Parable and was influenced by her reading of the Banquet Parable in Matthew 22. I appreciate her very kind review.

She summarizes the book and concludes “This study is a compelling counterargument to scholarship that claims the church, and  not Jesus himself, developed the bridegroom and wedding banquet themes. Long has provided well-researched and convincing evidence that Jesus could have operated within Second Temple Jewish interpretive conventions to develop Hebrew Bible themes in new
ways to elucidate the purpose of his ministry.”

The full title of the book is Jesus the Bridegroom: The Origin of the Eschatological Feast as a Wedding Banquet in the Synoptic Gospels and is an edited version of my PhD dissertation. As I was working on my dissertation, people would ask what I was writing on. I usually said “an intertextual study on messianic banquet imagery in the Synoptic Gospels.” After a moment of awkward silence, I clarified: “Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is like a Wedding Banquet – what’s up with that?” I considered that as a title for a (very) short time.

The book is now available through Amazon and the Wipf & Stock website. The book retails for $33, but Amazon and Wipf & Stock have it discounted. The Kindle version is only $9.99 and claims to have real page numbers. I have not seen a Kindle version yet. If you live in the Grand Rapids area, I have a few copies in my office if you want to get one directly from me.  If you do get the book, leave a nice review on Amazon, I would appreciate that.

Obviously I would love for you to buy a copy, but that is not always possible. Here’s how you can help get the word out for me:

Of course, I would really like to hear feedback from anyone who reads the book – feel free to send me an email to continue the discussion. Thanks!