Archive for the 'Study' Category

Your Favorite NT Introduction?

What’s your favorite New Testament Introduction for reference purposes?

I’m looking for one that will be a good all around resource for the NT, especially when doing exegesis of a passage. By the end of this year I should have a commentary for each book of the NT though so the introductions in those are good for background, culture, author, audience etc. I also have two study Bibles but those are pretty abbreviated. I don’t want too much duplication. I’m wondering if I would rather have a dictionary of some sort.

This one seems to be highly rated and would be at the top of my list for now:
New Testament Introduction (Master Reference Collection) by Donald Guthrie

Then there is:
An Introduction to the New Testament by D.A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo (sounds like a good combo)

What do you think of one of these? Are there any you like better?

1 Corinthians 3:18 as applied to serious students of the Bible

1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 3:18
Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise. (NLT)

I memorized this to give myself a reminder not to think I’m all that and a cup of tea. However, God convicted me on a deeper level.

According to what’s written in 1 Corinthians 1:17-31 and all of the first four chapters, I can become like the Corinthians in that I can read my commentaries, use my interlinear etc. and think I’m wise because of my studiousness. I’m now on a higher plain because of this. However:

1 Corinthians 4:7
For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?

This all came about last night. I was feeling burnt out on the studying I was doing and was afraid that my spiritual zeal was waning. I was thinking, “What now God? Take a break? Direct my focus elsewhere for a while?” This break in the action allowed God to speak to me. He let me know that all this is to get to know Him better and focus on Christ and Him crucified, which I knew, but had to slow down to really ponder it.

And also the conviction of pride as described above. Although it can be painful, I love being convicted by the Holy Spirit because it is God speaking to me.

I hope to write more about general observations and questions on 1 Corinthians 1 and 2.

Free Greek Resources

HT:
1. Suzanne
2. Esteban
3. Bible Geek Gone Wild

Any others?

See the comments for more.

Some Conclusions Confirmed In Studying 1 Corinthians 1

1 Corinthians

I had come up with some conclusions in reading and studying the 1 Corinthians 1:17-2:5 passage on my own, under the Holy Spirit of course (see the other blog if you want various boring details).

  1. The second half of verse 17 really goes with the rest of the chapter even though there is a paragraph break in most translations
  2. Verse 19 (For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” Isaiah 29:14) is nothing new and Paul is stating a timeless truth (not that other truths aren’t timeless)
  3. Verse 29 is the crux of the whole chapter
  4. This passage (1 Corinthians 1:17-31) is key to the whole book and to Paul’s rhetoric in delivery and content of the gospel message

Most of these things may seem obvious. After this I read Fee’s commentary on 1 Corinthians on this passage and he mentions the things noted above. I like his commentaries because he often answers questions I have and he doesn’t just exegete each verse or paragraph, he gets to what’s really important about a passage, how it fits with the rest of the chapter, book, writer etc. and why.

1. He says that it’s unfortunate that there is a paragraph break in most English translations between verse 17 and 18 because the “for” at the beginning of verse 18 ties it to verse 17 as an explanation of the final clause in that verse.

2. Fee says that the wisdom of the crucifixion is the fulfillment of the Isaiah passage.

3. He says, “With this clause Paul expresses the ultimate purpose of the divine folly: ‘so that no one may boast before him'”.

4:

This paragraph [1 Corinthians 1:18-25] is crucial not only to the present argument (1:10-4:21) but to the entire letter as well. Indeed, it is one of the truly great moments in the apostle Paul. Here he argues, with OT support, that what God had always intended and had foretold in the prophets, he has now accomplished through the crucifixion: He has brought an end to human self-sufficiency as it is evidenced through human wisdom and devices.

I’ve also read Barrett and will be rereading Garland (on this passage) which I read a few months ago. I’m not implying that Fee is always right and if my assertions agree with him they are automatically correct. But Fee’s commentary seems to speak better for lack of a better term. I always seem to like his style. It’s gratifying to see some of the work on this may be going in the right direction.

In studying 1 Corinthians in our group study, I decided to concentrate on this passage and I can’t say how valuable it’s been.

More posts to come.

Reader-Response Criticism; When More Exegesis Is Less

One of the most recent methods is reader-response criticism. Reader-response criticism does not seek to understand the historical world behind the text (historical research, as this volume advocates). Nor does reader-response criticism seek to map the literary world of the text (i.e., paying close attention to the literary ‘architecture’ of a text, as this volume encourages). Rather, reader-response criticism is concerned with the world in front of the text. That is, for these practitioners the ‘author,’ ‘historical context,’ and idea of textual ‘intentionality’ are mere illusions. The only interaction worthy of investigation and reflection is the one that occurs between text and reader; and, in the end, the reader (and the reader alone) is responsible for the production of ‘meaning.’ Thus, the place of privilege once reserved for the author, the historical circumstances surrounding a text, and the intentionality locked within a text has now been surrendered to the reader.

–Gordon Fee, New Testament Exegesis (Appendix to the 3rd Edition)

One problem I’ve seen with this approach is that people over-interpret the text, especially if it is fairly plain. In wanting to come up with meaning, it’s easy to dream up a lot of theories of what the word, verse or passage could mean.

Regarding determining the tense, voice, and mood of verb forms Fee says:

Deciding that there is no special meaning to be found in some usages is also part of the exegetical process.

I think that sometimes in the exegetical process, we find that a text just means what it says. Or there is ambiguity. It may seem like a waste of time to do the research and investigation only to come back to where we started, but it can keep us from over-interpreting or lead us to determine that we don’t really know and keep us from coming up with theories about “what it means to me” or “what I feel like it’s saying.”

2 Timothy 2:15 KJV
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Book Review: New Testament Exegesis by Gordon Fee

New Testament Exegesis by Gordon Fee New Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors by Gordon D. Fee

What is exegesis as defined by Fee?

“The term exegesis is used in this book in a consciously limited sense to refer to the historical investigation into the meaning of the biblical text. The presupposition lying behind this task is that the biblical books had ‘authors’ and ‘readers,’ and that the authors intended their readers to understand what they wrote (see, e.g., 1 Cor. 5:9-11; 1 John 2:1; see the Appendix). Exegesis therefore answers the question, What did the biblical author mean? It has to do both with what he said (the content itself) and why he said it at any given point (the literary context)–as much as that might be discovered, given our distance in time, language, and culture. Furthermore, exegesis is primarily concerned with intentionality: What did the author intend his original readers to understand?”

This book is for those very serious about exegesis. It’s very broad, but accessible for any student, pastor or anyone serious about studying the Bible.

Although the book was originally written 20 years ago, it has stood the test of time and has been revised in both the 2nd and current 3rd edition to keep it very up to date.

Is it necessary to know Greek to utilize the book?

This is addressed in the Preface to the first edition but also in the Introduction to the 3rd edition:

“A final word to those who use only the English Bible. First, you need to take heart that you can learn to do exegesis as well as anyone else. Knowing Greek gives one obvious advantages in several matters of detail. But the person without Greek who is willing to do a bit of extra work can enter into the full joys of this discipline. You must take seriously the need to learn the Greek alphabet; that will give you direct access to most of the better tools, especially when it comes to the study of words.”

For those who do know Greek the book goes in-depth into using Greek as part of exegesis.

By taking a look at the Amazon link you can “Search inside this book” and start with the Table of Contents to get a good overview of what’s covered.

Fee mentions a wide array of resources for research related to each step. Bibliographic material is mentioned within each chapter in addition to a whole chapter devoted to the material, based on category.

One could easily spend over $2000 on these books which may be a little overwhelming for some. For those without an extensive library of their own, the help of a public library or even at the minimum—the internet, a couple of good study Bibles and a couple of in-depth commentaries covering the passage you will be exegeting—one could get by and do most of the things outlined in the book.

Also overwhelming is the sheer number of steps required in the first chapter, many of which are explained in the second chapter. This is geared to a student who will be writing a paper on a passage of Scripture. The third chapter abbreviates the steps for pastors who have approximately ten hours a week to prepare a sermon.

I thought it would be helpful if the steps in chapter three were directly correlated to the steps in the first two chapters.

It’s important for everyone to carefully read the whole book. For English only readers, reading the portions related to Greek are still valuable. For students, the chapter for pastors is important for remembering application, prayer and reflection so that it doesn’t become only an academic exercise. Pastors will want to be very familiar with the first two chapters so they can tailor the steps to their needs with Fee’s guidance as outlined in the third chapter.

The Appendix, new to the third edition, explains what Reader-Response Criticism is, how popular this has become and how dangerous it is. I see it everywhere and this is not a good thing.

Personal notes:
As noted in the review, the number of steps involved can be overwhelming for a neophyte exegetor. As I was first reading the book I was wondering when the steps would finally come to an end. But once I got through all the steps and read the abbreviated portion for pastors, I could see how I can make it all work. I’m not using the pastor’s chapter as a way to do less work. (I would rather spend more time exegeting and not have to try to write a sermon. Now that’s hard work.) I went through the whole book and wrote down the steps that I can do—not knowing much Greek—along with page numbers and topics so that I can go through it one step at a time. Baby steps.

Another blogger bought this book for me which was on my Amazon Wish List. As one with a small library and small budget, I can’t say how much this is appreciated.

Paperback: 195 pages
Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; 3rd edition (March 2002)
ISBN-10: 0664223168
ISBN-13: 978-0664223168
Book Cover Design: Really cool

Buy it at:

Essential Greek Tools?

I’m a baby Greeker and most likely always will be. As mentioned before I’m thoroughly going through Greek for the Rest of Us.

I want to take advantage of Amazon’s Bill Me Later offer and I’m thinking about getting The Zondervan Greek and English Interlinear New Testament (NASB/NIV) by the Mounces. I’ve looked at the sample of Philippians and think it looks great but I don’t have experience with interlinears. I like having the Greek in its original word order and think it’s pretty brilliant how Mounce Sr. did a translation underneath it. What you do you think? This will set me back for my commentary budget but I would think it’s essential.

Do I need a dictionary in addition to this?

I’ve also been looking at Logos software. At $260 it’s way beyond my budget but it looks fantastic. Should I start saving for it? I’ve been an e-Sword user for quite a while and love it but Logos would be a few steps up. I’m not sure if it’s worth the money or not. (I’m an unfortunate Windows user so Accordance isn’t an option. And let’s not get into that you-know-what debate.)

I’ve been posting rather rapidly lately. I usually like to give people plenty of time to comment but I have a lot of questions lately.

My Translation of Ephesians 5:20-22

This is an exercise from Greek for the Rest of Us. Mounce wants us to notice the verb forms and punctuation and do a translation of our own. I do this with fear and trembling and don’t pretend to be able to translate anything. In other words, I don’t know what I’m doing.

I admit I also consulted O’Briens commentary but only after I did my own by just looking at a Greek interlinear.

There is a disparity in punctuation in the Greek between the interlinear software I have (ISA) and the Greek NT at www.bibelwissenschaft.de.

Let me know what you think:

εὐχαριστοῦντες πάντοτε ὑπὲρ πάντων ἐν ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρί.
20 Continually thanking God the Father for all things in the name of our Lord, Jesus the Christ,

Ὑποτασσόμενοι ἀλλήλοις ἐν φόβῳ Χριστοῦ,
21 being subject to each other out of respect for Christ.

αἱ γυναῖκες τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν ὡς τῷ κυρίῳ,
22 Wives, subject yourselves to your own husbands in the same way you do to the Lord.

:20 The word continually may be idiomatic, but I think it accurately conveys what always means. I changed the word order of God the Father within the sentence.

:21 I used the word subject because it seems to be a good literal translation that also conveys the meaning well—to me anyway. Although using it as a verb in the way I did may not make sense to some. I normally like the word fear and don’t like it when translations remove it, but in this instance I think respect fits well.

:22 I stayed consistent in using the word subject.

O’Brien says:

The use of the middle voice of this verb (cf. Col 3:18) emphasizes the voluntary character of the submission.

I know the use of the middle voice is very nuanced so I don’t know if this is up for debate or not. I just have to trust what he says in this instance. So I translated it in a way that makes it clear that it’s voluntary. Using the words your own makes it clear that they are subject to their own husbands, not all males or other wives’ husbands. Most translations say as to the Lord: what does this mean? I’m interpreting it as: being subject to your husband the same way you are subject to the Lord.

There could be a paragraph break after v. 21. Paul says to be subject to one another. Then starting in v. 22 he spells out how we are to be subject to and how to treat one another all the way through 6:9.

Comments welcome!

Phrasing Scripture Page

I have added a page of phrasing passages that I’ve done. I originally wrote about it here.

I won’t announce when I put up new ones. I will use the page as a place to keep them all.

There is a link to the page in the right sidebar and at the top of the page.

The Belgic Confession Is Here

I have a new page here of the Belgic Confession. The Scripture plug-in used on this site is especially useful for a page like this as you’ll see.

As with the Heidelberg Catechism, this took some work to format the text in order for it to work with the Scripture plug-in. I put an ad at the top to try to recoup some of my efforts and I hope that doesn’t look too tacky.

Esteban suggested I take a closer look at the Belgic Confession. It’s a beautifully crafted document. I include one of my favorite sections below.

There may be some imperfections. If you see anything that needs correcting please let me know.

ARTICLE 13 – THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD

We believe that this good God, after He had created all things, did not abandon them or give them up to fortune or chance,1 but that according to His holy will He so rules and governs them that in this world nothing happens without His direction.2 Yet God is not the Author of the sins which are committed nor can He be charged with them.3 For His power and goodness are so great and beyond understanding that He ordains and executes His work in the most excellent and just manner, even when devils and wicked men act unjustly.4 And as to His actions surpassing human understanding, we will not curiously inquire farther than our capacity allows us. But with the greatest humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us,5 and we content ourselves that we are pupils of Christ, who have only to learn those things which He teaches us in His Word, without transgressing these limits.6

This doctrine gives us unspeakable consolation, for we learn thereby that nothing can happen to us by chance, but only by the direction of our gracious heavenly Father. He watches over us with fatherly care, keeping all creatures so under His power that not one hair of our head – for they are all numbered – nor one sparrow can fall to the ground without the will of our Father (Mat 10:29-30). In this we trust, because we know that He holds in check the devil and all our enemies so that they cannot hurt us without His permission and will.7

We therefore reject the damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God does not concern Himself with anything but leaves all things to chance.

1. John 5:17; Heb 1:3. 2. Psalm 115:3; Prov 16:1, Prov 16:9, Prov 16:33; Prov 21:1; Eph 1:11-12; James 4:13-15. 3. James 1:13; 1 John 2:16. 4. Job 1:21; Isa 10:5; Isa 15:7; Amos 3:6; Acts 2:23; Acts 4:27-28. 5. 1 Kings 22:19-23; Rom 1:28; 2 Thes 2:11. 6. Deut 29:29; 1 Cor 4:6. 7. Gen 45:8; Gen 50:20; 2 Sam 16:10; Rom 8:28, Rom 8:38-39.

Greek for the Rest of Us – Part 1

Greek for the Rest of UsDo any of you diagram or phrase (as William Mounce puts it) Scripture? (This is not grammatical diagramming.) In his book Greek for the Rest of Us he describes this and shows us how to do it. I find it extremely helpful. If any of you do this and would like to help me, I will post examples of my work and you can critique it. I’ll post my first one which I have been working on this weekend on and off. Let me know what you think. The first one I’ve done completely on my own is
Phrasing of 1 Corinthians 1:17-31 (PDF File), which is what we’re studying in our group Bible study. That may be a rather large one to start with.

He mentions that this is usually part of a commentator’s exegesis of a passage and this will help us to understand commentaries in addition to understanding Scripture itself.

I find this book fascinating. I’m taking the Greek part of it very seriously but the parts about Bible translation(s) and phrasing make it all the more worth it.

I’m pretty much through week two (of six) which means I know the Greek alphabet, pronunciation, basic translation philosophies and very basic phrasing.

I may or may not post more about this as time goes on.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who doesn’t have time to really learn Greek but wants to know the basic grammar and be able to (hopefully) understand what those commentators are saying when they talk about Greek and its grammar.

I had no idea it includes more than just basic Greek. Thanks goes to Esteban for recommending this to me and helping me out.

Unfortunately the paperback doesn’t include the CD of his lectures. My library system has the hardcover which seems to be out of print right now.

Edit: As per Nathan’s review, as of now there are two hardcovers available at Eisenbrauns.

Jeff

Heidelberg Catechism / Confession Here

I have a new page here of the Heidelberg Catechism. The Scripture plug-in used on this site is especially useful for a page like this as you’ll see.

Even if you don’t subscribe to each element of the catechism, which I don’t quite, there are many Scripture references on various topics which may be useful for some.

If only I was taught things of this nature instead of nothing Biblical in all my Catholic classes beyond preschool Sunday school when growing up!

This took some work to format the text in order for it to work with the Scripture plug-in. I put an ad at the top to try to recoup some of my efforts and I hope that doesn’t look too tacky.

If you have any suggestions or see any errors please let me know.

Saying or Praying “God Willing”

I would like to repost something I wrote a while ago. Then at the bottom is a link to a post called 7 Reasons to Say ‘God Willing…’ from another blog which complements this very well. Hat Tip to Challies.com.

———

Praying God’s Will

Someone was once saying that a preacher on the radio was saying that we shouldn’t be saying, “If it’s Your will” when we pray because we’re not having confidence in what we’re praying, or something to that effect.

I said that it’s Scriptural to say that because of a couple of passages/verses:

James 4:13-15
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” TNIV

1 John 5:14
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. TNIV

However I’ve rethought my reasoning. The James passage isn’t talking about prayer, it’s talking about plans, predicting the future etc. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” So while I think it’s Scriptural to say, “I’ll be doing … God willing”, the James passage doesn’t support saying, “If it’s Your will” when praying.

The 1 John passage is talking about God answering according to His will, not necessarily how we should pray. Matthew 21:22 says, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” But this needs to be balanced with 1 John 5:14 as mentioned above.

So when is it appropriate to say, “If it’s Your will?” I’m not trying to teach here. I’m just writing what my thinking is at the moment. Please feel free to comment.

If we are praying something that we know is Scriptural, it would almost be disrespectful to to add the if. For example–praying for growth in knowledge, wisdom (James 1:5-8) etc. If we are praying for miraculous healing, a certain material item etc. it may be respectful and reverent to say if it’s Your will. Some would say that shows a lack of confidence. I’m not sure if we could judge right or wrong either way.

As far as asking for something we know might or might not be in His will, it’s fine to ask and to be persistent as the parables of the woman in front of the judge and the man knocking on his neighbor’s door asking for food for a guest. If we should know the answer is no, then should we stop asking.

Paul pleaded with God three times for the thorn in his side to be taken away. God gave him a definitive answer, ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”‘ (2 Corinthians 12:9)

We don’t always know what to pray and the Spirit helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26-27). Thomas Schreiner in his commentary on Romans says that since the totality of God’s will is hidden from us, the Spirit fills this lack by interceding for us. The Spirit searches our hearts which long for God’s will, searches even the depths of God (1 Corinthians 2:10) and intercedes for us according to God’s will with groans that our words can’t express.

I think it’s very important when praying for someone to always pray for things that you know are in God’s will according to Scripture along with any requests they may have or things you think they should have that may or may not be a part of God’s plan. For example if you pray only for healing and that isn’t a part of God’s plan, you’re not really doing them any good. But if you pray for comfort, perseverance, hope, strength etc. along with healing, you know you will be participating in glorifying God in their situation whatever the outcome.

———

7 Reasons to Say ‘God Willing…’

Meme: What Has God Been Teaching Me?

I’ve been tagged by TC Robinson for a meme started by Roger Mugs.

“In an effort to keep it simple, short, and easy to follow, I’d like to challenge you to quote one verse (not one chapter). And then say what the Lord has been teaching you in one sentence (not one paragraph). Then tag 5 peeps (you know the drill).”

Psalm 51:4 TNIV
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.

God is the holy lawgiver and when we sin it is against the one who not only gave the law, but is the Holiest of holy who is infinitely more offended by sin that any people we sin against, and caused David to declare that only against Him was he sinning.

That verse always mystified me. In a future post I may elaborate on this regarding forgiveness which is more personal in nature.

I’d like to tag:

  • Stefan – even though he doesn’t have time right now
  • Mike – ditto
  • Bryan – I follow Christ (or whatever it’s called now)
  • John MacArthur

Hallowed

I never knew until recently that the Greek word most often translated as hallowed only occurs twice in the New Testament.

Update: As Peter Kirk pointed out to me, this isn’t true. While the specific verb form may be used twice in Matthew 6:9 and Luke 11:2, it occurs many more times in the New Testament. Please see the ISBE portion of the PDF file. (And read it more carefully than I did the first time around.)

Matthew 6:9
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Luke 11:2
When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.

I put together a PDF file of some definitions that I printed out for a Bible study using out of copyright sources and thought I’d make it available here.

Here is a quote from the book we’re studying:

By requesting that God honor his name, Jesus teaches us to ask God to make all creation recognize and revere his holiness. Of course, included in creation is the one praying. So in the same breath that we request God to make his name holy everywhere else, we also ask God to make our own heart honor him.

By praying, ‘hallowed be your name,’ we make God’s holiness our highest priority and ask him to promote his glory in, around, and through us. Thus the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer asks that all creation reverence God and that God exercise his will in ways that will advance his name in all the earth. The petition for God to hallow his name asks God to fulfill his righteous purposes for his glory.

–Bryan Chapell, Praying Backwards