Friday, August 31, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

When to Say When? PhDs and Priorities

About eight years ago when I was on a drive with my then girl-friend, and now wife, Sarah, the topic of our future plans came up.  Sparing the masses the mushy details, this moment made two things clear, she would be my wife and my call to ministry seemed to be confirmed.

Since then, in my short six years of vocational ministry and seminary, I have found that our family, concerning my priorities, is in a perpetual gray area.  What I mean is that there is always work to be done, and things never seemed tied up, as it were.  This gray area, I have observed, has the potential to cause a rift in families and relationships, a poor walk with the Lord to even idolatry, and true workaholism.

When I was in campus ministry, I experienced the gray area.  I think this gray area was not as noticeable to me because I manage relationships and people well, and relationships are where the majority of campus ministry work is centralized.  So, in this period of my life I was able to manage my time, energy, and spiritual life much more effectively; especially since Sarah too was working in this same vocation.  In seminary, however, things changed, because the type of work changed.  This seems to be true for many who have an academic bent.  As a result, I experienced the gray area in much more intense way.  Priorities where much harder to set in a practical way.  Though I knew what my priorities should be, de facto they were other things.  I realized as I was moving through seminary that if I were to continue in academic ministry, that I would need to figure out how to manage this new never-ceasing gray area, and truly and in practice put first things first.  I started to realized that there would always be work to get done, and it would always appear to be important enough to forsake relationships and other priorities.  Recognizing the gray was only the beginning of the battle...

I don't come with many answers.  In all honesty, I am posting because I have many things weighing on me - a lot of gray!And I post incompletely, because I am part of an incomplete journey...

I come with some priorities:
1) Family: time with kids daily, quality conversation with wife and regular dates.
2) Walk with the Lord: devotional life, prayer, and local church involvement
3) Discipleship, and outreach and evangelism.
4) health: eating, sleeping, exercising, bathing

False priorities:
1) the computer: email, blog, writing
2) more reading, writing = peace, and true success

One solution that has been the most helpful to me:  Set reasonable work hours and stick with them!  I average 9am-5pm.  This allows me to get what I can done in a day and trust the LORD that the rest will get done at a later date.

These are some thoughts off the top of my head on a topic that I believe is of the highest importance.  Please weigh in on your thoughts on this topic.

Other Practically Aimed PhD Posts:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review: The Later New Testament Writings and Scripture

The Blurb:

Many thanks goes to Steve Moyise who has given us in The Later New Testament Writings and Scripture a dependable and reader friendly handbook on a complex subject that will be a classic in its field for years to come.        

The Full Review:

Moyise, Steve. The Later New Testament Writings and Scripture. London: SPCK; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012.  Pp. x + 182. Soft Cover. $22.99.  ISBN 978-0801048531

Steve Moyise (hereafter SM), professor of New Testament at the University of Chichester and most known for his work in the area of the New Testament’s use of the Old, has provided the NT student with yet another helpful handbook on this subject.  The Later New Testament Writings and Scripture (hereafter LNTWS) is the third, and presumably the last, in a series of books on the topic of the NT and Scripture (see the title).  SM first published Paul and Scripture (2010), and soon followed it up with Jesus and Scripture (2011).  This series proposes to “consider the use of Scripture” in three divisions of the NT, that is the Gospels, Pauline Letters, and the rest.  Each of his three book in this series parallels, SM states, IVP’s series of dictionaries, LNTWS following The Later New Testament Writings and Scripture volume. 

    LNTWS consists of an introduction, five chapters that are categorized by NT books, and a conclusion.  In its approach, LNTWS is pragmatic.  First, the chapter order is of note since SM does not follow canonical order.  The book begins in Acts and then skips to a chapter on “1 Peter and Scripture.”  SM says concerning his move from Acts to 1 Peter, “Although the order of the books in the New Testament would suggest that we turn to Hebrews next, it will be more useful to follow Acts with a study of 1 Peter, since the first part of Acts was devoted to Peter’s speeches” (42).  He notes that the comparison between the use of the Psalms in Peter’s speeches in Acts and their use in 1 Peter is of specific interest to his study.  SM continues to move about the NT canon pragmatically as he sees connection between books best made by traditional authorial suppositions and topical content rather than canonical order.  Thus, after 1 Peter SM treats “Jude, 2 Peter and James and Scripture.” He then devotes the final two chapters to Hebrews and Revelation. 

    Secondly, SM studies each of the Later NT use of the OT uniquely; as he sees each book of the NT using the OT. His first chapter on Acts is investigated by how the OT informs a theological topic, including: “Salvation for Jews and Gentiles”; “Christ’s death, resurrection and exaltation”; Christological titles and functions”; “Judgment”; “Major interpretations of Acts and Scripture”; etc.  Next, SM investigates both in chapters on 1 Peter, and Jude, 2 Peter and James simply by following which OT book is being quoted.  These two chapters also include treatments of the quotations and allusions to 1 Enoch.  In the chapter on Hebrews, SM investigates the OT quotations primarily with reference to pericopes in Hebrews, namely: Hebrews 1.5-14; Hebrews 2.6-13; Hebrews 10.19-39; “The cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11”; “Miscellaneous quotations in Hebrews 12-13”; but like the three preceding chapters, SM also covers some topics in Hebrews as they relate to OT use (“High Priest like Melchizedek in Hebrews 5.5-7.28”; “The cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11” could fit here as well; and a special section on “Philo on Cain and Abel”); and finally studies other topics in Hebrews by the specific “traditional” OT passages in Hebrews (“Psalm 95.7-11”; “Psalm 110 in Hebrews”; “Jeremiah 31.31-34 in Hebrews 8-10”;  and subsumed under the previously noted Hebrews 10.19-39 is a section on “Habakkuk 2.3-4 in Hebrews 10.37-38”).  Last, SM covers Revelation.  As he notes, “John does not quote Scripture but his visions allude to numerous biblical passages…” (111).  Thus, SM studies these allusions topically, under the headings: “God, Jesus and the Spirit”; Dragon, beast and false prophet”; “Judgment and disasters”;  “Witness and struggle”; “Final salvation”.  SM concludes his study on Revelation with a short excurses on the Letters of John and Scripture that covers “Cain and Abel and Other allusions”.

    Finally, of objective observation, SM includes two helpful features to his book.  First, throughout LNTWS grey boxes provide the reader a closer look at a specific topic just mentioned in the text.  Some include: Typological Interpretation; The Enoch Literature; The canon of Scripture; Introductory formulas in Hebrews; Philo on Cain and Abel; etc.  Each of these is one long paragraph that orients the reader with a brief definition of a critical topic.   Second, he has a two-page appendix of “quotations in the later writings of the New Testament” according to the UBS critical edition of the NT.  These two, but especially the grey boxes, fill in assumed material that his supposed audience, which I will discuss below, would not likely be aware of. 

    It is customary to reserve recommendations for the end of a review, but it seems necessary with regard to the points I will highlight in LNTWS that I suggest a readership for this book.  Though in this volume SM does not propose an audience, two come to mind to me as I read this book.  This book is suited best for the seminary or graduate student, and non-specialist, like a pastor or specialist in another field, both who would be looking for an informed introduction to a vast area of scholarship in an economy of time and pages.  This being said, I will comment on a couple salient points in the work that stood out to me as helpful.

    First, SM has a keen ability to make technical issues limpid to those who are not ‘in the know’.  One such area is the so-called LXX in the writings of the Later NT, and of course the broader NT.  In very non-threatening ways, SM takes account of the LXX and its interpretive use in the writings of the NT.  In Acts 13.40-41, for example, SM points out to his reader that the Habakkuk 1.5 quotation in Acts will look different than “the one that came down to us [in Hebrew]”, that is, what one would see if one were to turn to Habakkuk in their English Bible.  He helps his readers to see and understand why this is by briefly noting the discrepancy in words such as ‘nations’/’scoffers’ and ‘perish’/’astounded’ and making reference to the linguistic legacy of Luke’s possible source to a DSS commentary on Habakkuk.  The payoff for the reader here is that SM spared much of the details reserved for specialist attention, but gave enough detail to the reader to assure that they were informed of the most salient points.  From here SM can make a redemptive point, that is, that Paul means his audience to know that “God will judge ‘scoffers’ by means of the proclamation of the gospel” (27). 

    Secondly, SM’s chapter on the OT in Hebrews gives a framework for the many (37) explicit OT quotations and many more allusions.  His treatment of Hebrews enables his reader to observe the skilled Jewish exegesis employed in this NT book.  Quoting Susan Docherty (2009), SM observes, “‘originally separate and independent passages of scripture’ can speak in unison: ‘The author of Hebrews as much as any Jewish exegete… regarded it as legitimate interpretation to seek out what scriptural texts imply as much as what they actually say, presumably believing that the new meaning…was inherent in the original revelation, which he regarded as having endless depths of meaning and real contemporary relevance’” (87).  Rounding out the Hebrews chapter, SM does not dodge the authorship issues, possibly submitting an implicit vote for Paul.  He says, “Although few scholars today believe that Hebrews was written by the apostle Paul, it (Hebrews) clearly comes from a mind every bit as sharp and knowledgeable of Jewish tradition” (110). 

    The Later New Testament Writings and Scripture, SM’s latest addition to his and Scripture series, was a joy to read and will serve a wide audience very well.  Of course, it would be easy in a slim book such as this that one could claim that this or that point could have gained a bit more attention.  But the coverage of the primary issues in this field, especially concerning the area of the later NT, and the helpful way for which SM covered these issues should be commended. I can see this book, along with the two previous in this series, becoming useful companions along side particularly Carson and Beale’s OT in the New commentary.  Additionally, this book is an accessible yet not ‘dumbed-down’ intro that would serve seminarians and pastors who do not have traditionally have course space or time for education in Jewish exegesis and LXX quotation in the NT.  Many thanks goes to Steve Moyise who has given us in The Later New Testament Writings and Scripture a dependable and reader friendly handbook on a complex subject that will be a classic in its field for years to come.    

Note:  This book was furnished without charge from Baker in exchange for an objective review.  Thanks to Baker for the book.     

Other Book Reviews on MosisMose:
New Testament Theology in Light of the Church’s Mission

Monday, August 27, 2012

Larry Hurtado on Applying to UK PhD Programs in NT/Christian Origins

Over on Larry Hurtado's Blog, Dr. Hurtado gives very helpful advise on applying to a UK school.  I found that much of what he said is what I found to be true in my journey.  

Of note on his advise: I would say that when he said "We require applicants to do advance reading before applying...", he could mean previous study on a topic that one would propose to study in a dissertation, but this could be misread and could overwhelm a student seeking to apply.  In other words, I did not do a whole lot of study when I sat down to write my proposal for Dr. Nolland, but that was only because I had presented twice already on parts of the subject I proposed to study and therefore was rather well-versed on the topic I was proposing.

Dr. Hurtado also has another blog on The UK PhD: Structure and Pressures.

He also gives a shout-out to Covenant Seminary Alum and brilliant young scholar, Dr. Matthew Novenson, and a great scholar to research with at Edinburgh.

Other Practically Aimed PhD Posts:

Schlatter on the Pastorals: Mission in the Academy

I am currently making my way through I.H. Marshall's second (!) festschrift, New Testament Theology in Light of the Church's mission, as mentioned on an earlier post.  

I recently read Robert Yarbrough's contribution on "Schlatter on the Pastorals: Mission in the Academy".  Yarbrough, along with Adreas Köstenburger, is one of the American experts on Schlatter.

About Schlatter, Yarbrough says, 

"He went beyond being a missionary enabler to serve as a sort of practitioner, as an intent and effect of his scholarship was to uphold historical Christian understanding of the canonical Scriptures and their Christ-centered message... While an aim of many post-Enlightenment biblical scholars has been to disabuse students of historic Christian faith and a high view of Scripture's veracity, Schlatter stands out as a brilliant exegete who overall defended the bible's accuracy." (295-6).

Following this theme, Yarbrough chooses Ulrich Wilkens, a prolific German scholar from the mid to mid-late 20th century, as a conversation partner.  I found Yarbrough approach concerning the choice of a conversation partner when studying Schlatter's exegesis of the pastorals to be more helpful in drawing out the full flavor and importance of Schaltter's conclusions, than if his stances would have been studying in a vacuum, as it were.  

Of this comparison, Yarbrough concludes:

"Whereas for Wilkens the 'historical' setting of the PE is a speculative, undetermined place and time (probably around the onset of the second century) related to no concrete congregations, location, or known author, Schlatter reads the PE as an artifact of Paul's final years of apostolic ministry based on linguistic, literary, and concrete historical considerations... While Wilkens explains the PE from a hypothetical scenario decades after Paul's death, Schlatter reconstruction grows out of the life of Paul and Paul's convictions... foremost Paul himself... Or put it another way, while the historical Paul is a shadowy background figure for Wilkens's PE exposition, which devotes much space to showing disconnects between Paul and the PE, for Schlatter not only Paul but even Jesus plays a significant role, perhaps not surprising since the PE are replete with references to Jesus" (309).  
Yarbrough concludes with a bang, pulling no punches about the critical nature of taking the bible as Schlatter did the PE, saying while those who take, for example, 1 and 2 Timothy as authored by Paul are considered "odd or not truly critical in their thinking" (L.T. Johnson), which is the prevalent critical view in a currently dwindling German protestant church, on the contrary: 
"in the larger world church setting where the Bible is receiving fresh attention and respect, and groups affirming a more historic high regard for the Bible are seeing meteoric growth, [continuing] there is reason to rethink traditional academic animus toward close association between Jesus seen as Savior in fulfillment of OT promises, a Paul who actually encountered him in a life-and world-transforming way, and the PE seen as authentic Pauline writings" (315).

Friday, August 17, 2012

Cheek Alert! - M. Eugene Boring on New German Lukas Commentary

Just a couple weeks ago, I was reading over on RBL Eugene Boring's review of a new German commentary on the Gospel of Luke by Detlev Dormeyer (Professor für Neues Testament at the universities of Münster and Dortmund).  While reading this review I had a little belly laugh when I sensed a little cheek from Boring.  I will share...

Boring says:
"After a brief (nine pages) introduction, the commentary proceeds through the Lukan text
paragraph by paragraph, with a fresh translation in clear and simple German, followed by
an equally clear and simple series of comments aimed at the general. Sentences are short.
Vocabulary and syntax in both translation and commentary are eighth-grade or so.
“Biblical” vocabulary is avoided (e.g., “disciples” [traditionally Jünger] become “pupils”
[Schüler]). There are no footnotes or references to secondary literature, though a brief
bibliography is appended, limited to recent German works. The volume concludes with a
five-page glossary providing one-line definitions of such terms as Synagoge (“a building in
which people gather for prayer”) and Pharisäer (“a religious reform-party”)."
And the cheek...
"Dormeyer’s projected readership is on a lower academic level than Luke’s."

Cheek aside, Boring does emphasize in the end the usefulness of the book for four different audiences, and finds it to be a manual that is a "helpful and responsible model of what is involved in reading the Bible as Holy Scripture with the insights of critical scholarship". These comments put the book on my Amazon wish-list.

Sorry if no cheek was intended, Dr. Boring!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Testament Theology in Light of the Church's Mission

I just received from Wipf and Stock Howard Marshall's festschrift, New Testament Theology in Light of the Church's Mission.  I think out of all the books sent my way I was the most excited to receive this one.  The collection of scholars who write in honor of Howard Marshall is astounding!  I am personally excited to read the entire book, but a slew of contributions stand out to me.  Jimmy Dunn has an entry on methodology of evangelism in the NT; the late R.T. France an entry on the Son of Man in Hebrews 2:6; Darrell Bock a pastoral entry on the gospel preached in the narrative speeches in Acts;  Mark Strauss is going to attempt to reach a consensus on the purpose of Luke-Acts (this should be good!); and you can't beat Brian Rosner on 1 Corinthians, Thiselton on the Thessalonian letters; Yarbrough on Schlatter, and Schnabel on early Christian mission!  I am leaving out many other exciting entries as well.

Marshall, as I will comment in my review, has had a true 2 Tim 2:2 model and effect in his academic ministry.  Though I have never met him, and surely not sat under his teaching, I feel I have since I have been mentored by many of his former students.  I pray I can be the "faithful men" to his Paul.

I am buried now! But reviews will start appearing at the end of the month.  Thanks, Cascade and Wipf and Stock!

Book buying series, Part 3b: Commentaries - Principles I Live by...

This is the second in the buying commentaries part of the book buying series...

Here I will give a handful of principles I live by when purchasing commentaries.  Many of these principles are second nature by this point, so I hope to remember all of them!

1) Individual commentaries over sets:  I buy commentaries for each book of the bible I am studying.  I do not buy sets of commentaries.  In other words, I will buy Nolland's Luke volumes from the Word Biblical series, but not the entire set.  The reason behind this is simple.  Sets are uneven in execution.  Some in a series are exceptional, some not.  Personally, there are only a couple sets that may break this rule.  The Baker Exegetical, Pillar, and Greek Testament series are pretty solid.  I personally own all of the Greek Testament series.  Some other sets are close, but those series are the best as sets go.

2) Don't go overboard!:  What I mean by this is that one can get a bit crazy and buy too many commentaries for each book.  I spoke with a reputable scholar who received his doctorate from Cambridge and he limits himself at three for each book he studies.  This may seem like a lot of commentaries for one book, as it did to me, but three can be topped pretty quickly.  He added that once you buy three of the best commentaries for a given book, you will generally never have to buy another commentary for that book for the rest of your career, since commentaries do not change that much.   I have broken this principle in the area of Luke/Acts simply because this is my research focus, and you will find that is true with most scholars in their areas of research.  If you are in seminary, this is the best time to buy.  In each of your classes, you will likely study specific books.  Buy commentaries for each of these books, starting at one per book.  This is what I did and it paced me well.

3) Be patient and find what you like!:  We may want to pick up Carson and Longman and go buck-wild, but this is unwise.   If you can use a library, make use of many commentaries at that library, and see which series and individual commentaries you jive with the best.  Carson may suggest the Greek Testament series for a given book, but after much study and experience you find that you work best with Pillar, as some of my seminary buddies found; then don't go with Carson's suggestion, buy the Pillar book.  These commentaries will be with you for a while, hopefully; find the ones that will serve you best as tools.

4) Be broad: Simply put - if you are going to buy three commentaries for each book, do not only buy commentaries that are ALL western-evangelical, and cutting edge modern.  Get out and see the world!  Buy one that is critical-liberal, African/Japanese/etc., classic. Broaden yourself!

5) When sets are OK: Only two sets come to mind that would be fine to buy.  First, John Calvin's commentaries on the NT (the Eerdmans edition).  You won't find that many current evangelical commentaries better Calvin on theological interpretation and overall comment on each book.  He is simply classic and worth having.  Second, Keil and Delitzsch on the OT are solid.  Keil is sort of, meh, but Delitzsch is great.    Many sets can be shelf-filler, which is not helpful to anyone, especially when you have to move!  Let's not shelf-fill with our money.  Support a missionary!

A few helpful principles that have guided me...

Others Book buying posts:
Book buying series, part 1: Bibliolatry - a Caution.
Book buying series, part 2: Bibliopegist Technology - a Blessing
Book buying series, Part 3a: Commentaries - WHERE DO I START?!
Book buying series, Part 3b: Commentaries - Principles I Live by...
Book Buying series, special edition: Dead Sea Scrolls

Book buying series, Part 3a: Commentaries - WHERE DO I START?!

This is the third part of my book buying/library building series, but the fourth entry, since we took a to look at the print versions of the DSS.

An important part of book buying for a useful personal-theological library is the purchase of commentaries.  This part of the book buying series will come in two parts.  First I will touch on a couple commentary surveys that orient the researcher to the best available commentaries for each book of the bible, and then give a couple principles I live by when buying commentaries, as well as some other misc. things.

Three important commentary surveys are available that I find helpful.  First, there are the well-known surveys of Tremper Longman on the OT and D.A. Carson on the NT.  A couple comments on these two.

Longman's, of course, covers the OT. He rates the commentaries by a star system (out of 5).  His comment on each commentary is helpful and very organized (as in, a paragraph for each commentary).  At the end of his survey he gives a list of all the 5 star commentaries.  Unfortunately, the list of 5 star commentaries leaves out some OT books, so the list is not really a quick reference to the BEST commentaries for each book, but simply a list of the BEST OT commentaries.  But in the end a great reference.

Carson's covers many more commentaries than does Longman's, but organization is lost.  His blurbs on each NT commentary can range from a couple words to a couple sentences all jammed into large paragraphs, per se.  It is hard to quickly reference this survey due to the scattered nature of it, but the fact that he covers so many commentaries and over such a wide range of time makes the organization a thing one could get over for the wealth of information provided.  Also, Carson, unlike Longman does have a quick reference at the end of his survey with the best 1-3 options for EVERY NT book.  Very helpful!

At this point, I would not buy these surveys because they have both been out for nearly 6 years (an update).  They are a bit dated - sort of - and hopefully more updated volumes will appear soon. I bought both in 2008 and I have used them a ton!  Thus, they are helpful, but it is probably wise to wait for the next editions and use the library's copy for now, unless you can pick them up on the cheap.

Finally, Jon Evans, has a helpful commentary survey that covers the OT and NT, and combines the best of both worlds of Carson and Longman, and more.  He covers many commentaries, is organized, has helpful comment on each resource, and best of all, he updates this survey often.  The last edition was 2010.  Of course, it is easy to notice he is no Carson or Longman, but many like Donald Hagner, C. Bullock, and Gary Burge give his reference a thumbs up.

These would be places where I start when finding a commentary for research.

Others Book buying posts:

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Theology of Luke and Acts

Another exciting package arrived in the mail a couple of days ago.  Zondervan furnished me with a complimentary copy of Darrell Bock's A Theology of Luke and Acts: God's Promised Program, Realized for All Nations, the newest addition in their Biblical Theology of the New Testament Series, edited by Andreas Köstenburger. 

Those who have read Bock's BECNT commentary on the Gospel of Luke (2 vols.), and Acts, among the many other book he has published, know that he has a keen ability to be clear in terms of organization and prose, without sacrificing trenchant scholarly interaction.  Easier said than done.  In my first breeze through some of the sections in A Theology he appears to yet again hit his stride. 

Thank you Zondervan!  A review is soon to follow.

Ice Cream, the Moon, and the Dead Sea Scrolls

A little fun for today!

A show our family has come to love for its great mix of slap-stick humor with witty references to pop-culture and specialized knowledge (of course, only the adults really get the later), is Phineas and Ferb on the Disney Channel.  A down-right brilliant show!

This episode make reference to the Dead Sea Scrolls and tenets of text criticism in search of the perfect ice cream.  Now that sounds like a dissertation worth reading! 

I encourage all to watch the whole episode(!), but the reference in made in the first 1.5 minutes. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Keep the First things First

Martin Luther, again, helps in the area of academia.  This time in reference to the balance between family and work - or, that is how I am applying it.  I know that I can come home from a day of study and have my head in the clouds for the next few hours, mulling over and over my thoughts from the day, and thus desiring to get more work done and not to focus on my children and wife.  Luther was a scholar who dealt with the same issues as scholars today (probably to a greater degree), namely that there is always something to take our attention from our family.  But here, he says in reference to our children, that the worst thing for the church is the neglect of children, but the best thing for the health of the church is focus on our children. It is a good reminder and exhortation!

Es gibt keinen größeren Schaden in der Christenheit, als Kinder zu vernachlässigen.  Denn will man der Christenheit wieder helfen, so muss man fürwahr bei den Kindern anfangen, wie vor Zeiten geschah. 
From Mit Martin Luther von Tag zu Tag: Ein Jahresbeleiter, 10. August.

Other Luther posts on MosisMose:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Documentary on Paul - "A Polite Bribe"

Today, I noticed a trailer being posted on other sites called, "A Polite Bribe".  Here is Bird's comment:
The documentary by Robert Olando, A Polite Bribe, about Paul’s collection for the Jerusalem church, featuring John Dominic Crossan, Richard Horsley, Douglas Campbell, N.T. Wright, Ben Witherington, and others.

Though, of course, I have not seen the movie, it is unfair to comment and is difficult to be as objective as I may otherwise, but when I hear in the trailer, "Now for the first time, the true story is told" and moments earlier hearing 100+ year old Tübingen school hypotheses, namely, "Luke's agenda was to show that all the early Christians were on the same page", one should be a bit doubtful.  Hopefully Ben and Tom, et. al., can hold the fort down and show that there is indeed scandal in the biblical narrative, though not from man, but from God!

A New Volume from the Brill Septuagint Commentary Series

So I missed announcing this by about a week, but Brill has just released the latest in its Septuagint Commentary Series, 1 Esdras by Michael Bird.  Here's the blurb:

In 1 Edras Michael Bird presents a commentary on this much neglected text based on its witness in Codex Vaticanus as part of the next installment of the Septuagint Commentary Series. Containing material that parallels 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, 1 Esdras is featured in the Septuagint and Christian Apocrypha. The commentary presents a survey of critical issues related to the study of 1 Esdras and provides an impressive literary analysis of the contours of 1 Esdras

Though, most of us common folk cannot afford these volumes, I am glad to see this initiative continuing forward by Stanley Porter, et. al.  I personally benefitted from the Genesis volume in previous research.  These commentaries assist in issues of translation technique of the Old Greek/LXX and other topics that MT based commentaries naturally do not touch on.  Furthermore, since the LXX holds such importance in the NT, a commentary on the LXX becomes a helpful guide to the NT exegete.

I should also mention that SBL and The IOSCS has announced a similar initiative, with proposed commentators, in 2005.  I hope it will start appearing soon!  I will update if I hear anything.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Later New Testament Writings and Scripture

I just received in the mail today The Later New Testament Writings and Scripture by Steve Moyise, professor of NT at University of Chichester and expert in the topic of the OT in the NT, compliments of Baker Academic.  I am excited to dive into it, since I have thoroughly enjoyed his other volumes, especially his edited volume with Maarten J.J. Menken on The Minor Prophets in the New Testament (T&T Clark, 2009).  A review will follow shortly!  Thank you Baker!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Distance PhD: Addendum

Just yesterday I was corresponding with a well respected pastor/scholar who completed a residential NT PhD at one of the UK's most storied schools, under an accomplished scholar.  What came from the correspondence was an implicit advantage for pursuing a PhD from distance (I will allow the pastor, his school, and his advisor to remain annonymous because I promised I would do so, and this is in the end the experience of one man at one point of time... so, as they say, results may vary). 

"I’m actually glad to know about this “distance” alternative. Three annual trips, I figure, would still be a small amount compared to borrowing the necessary funds for life and study in Great Britain...."

"It’s worth noting that though I was a resident in [the UK] from 1975-1978 (and certainly profited greatly from the library, from the stimulation of other students, and from life and worship in [the UK]), I probably saw [my advisor] ten times over those three years and never for more than an hour at a time. I did my work by myself and in that respect might have been living in Timbuktu. Indeed, in those days – can’t speak to today – one had the impression that if he chose to take off to Switzerland to ski for three months no one would have known you were gone or cared! So, for a British PhD, research oriented as it is, without classes or seminars or examinations, the difference is much less between distance and residency programs than it would be in other European countries."

Again, the opinion of one, but one I trust.  It is worth considering.

Other Practically Aimed PhD Posts:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Buying series, special edition: Dead Sea Scrolls

So just two days ago I received the first four volumes of Charlesworth DSS volumes, namely 1-4A (update: and later completed the set by a weird sale through WJK), and the graphic concordance to this series (I found one on Amazon for an exceptional price).  I was impressed that each volume from CBD was sealed in brown paper-wrap and stamped by that publisher with series and volume name (see the pictures).  I sort of had the feeling that I was receiving a special volume from some obscure desert monastery!

Receiving these leads me to post a special edition of the book buying series on the acquisition of DSS original source volumes for your own library.  This advice on DSS collecting will be a direct quotation from an email correspondence with a specialist, Professor David Chapman, which I found to be very helpful.

"On DSS [Dead Sea Scrolls], my practice in academic work is to compare texts across the major editions of any one document— always using the DJD (Discoveries it the Judean/Jordanian Desert) text, the Charlesworth text (when available), and any other major stand alone editions and commentaries.  For example, with the Damascus Document there is Charlesworth, and there are 4Q texts in DJD, and there are about a half dozen major text editions/commentaries devoted to the 1Q scroll."   
"This means it simply is not possible to acquire for one's own library all the editions necessary to do an adequate job at academic research/documentation in DSS.  My personal goal instead has been to have an excellent translation (Vermes and/or Garcia Martinez), some original language transcription of most all scrolls (the DSS Study edition by Garcia Martinez you mentioned being most cost effective), and then acquire other major resources when they are available at a sane price (such as these 4 Charlesworth volumes are finally!)."

Others Book buying posts:
Book buying series, Part 3b: Commentaries - Principles I Live by...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Beginning PhD Work? Evangelical? is some advise and counsel that was helpful for me from Eric Ortlund.

Does Ray Ortlund have a book out on raising and discipling sons?  If so, I want to buy it! Seriously.

Other Practically Aimed PhD Posts:

A Great German Theologian Forgotten

A name in scholarship I was unaware of when I entered seminary was that of Adolf Schlatter (1852-1938).  As a theologian during the turn of the 20th century, he had a profound effect in many areas of German theological scholarship that today has been largely forgotten - "a well kept secret", as one scholar notes (The History of the Christ, 11).  Working for Dr. Robert Yarbrough for two years, and being around a couple others who are excited about Schaltter scholarship, led me to read his works, and I found I was enjoying it very much.

The most salient aspect in Schlatter method and scholarship that I appreciate is his complete devotion to Scripture in his scholarship.  Eta Linnemann, after her radical transformation, once noted that Schlatter was not regarded by his peers because his scholarship was "unscientific".  But this was an active choice of his.  I remember it being said of Schaltter that there was a moment in his life where he made the choice to be an expert in the primary sources, and this meant leaving much of the secondary literature to the side.  Andreas Köstenberger observes, "Unlike many of his contemporaries, he treated Scripture with respect and the confidence that it could be trusted to reveal God's word to his generation" (9).   Additionally, Schlatter calims, "the doctrinal task, through which we align ourselves with the teachings of the NT and through which clarify whether or not and how and why we accept those teachings into our own personal lives, so that they are not only truth for the NT community, but also for us personally" (quoted in, 11). For Schlatter Scripture held the key to what we need to know about the historical Jesus and the Christian faith.  "Historical thinking does not extend beyond that which is revealed by the available sources.  Otherwise historical research would turn out novels" (quoted in, 14).

For more on Schlatter, see this excellent page on his life, career, and work.  Köstenberger and Yarbrough observe, "Adolf Schlatter's was a life well lived", and is one that should be celebrated for its faithfulness to God and His word, especially his witness within academia.  A true model for scholars, young and seasoned.

Other Schlatter Posts on MosisMose:

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Church Fathers' Advantage

Often times the church Fathers, namely the ones who spoke and wrote Greek, do not get enough cred. for their interpretations of Scripture; and sometimes even get a bad wrap due to some of their types of interpretation techniques.

A friend who is now researching patristics for a PhD at SLU (Saint Louis U) once made me aware of a point concerning Greek-patristics that, today, I was reminded of by Stephen Neill in The Interpretation of the NT.  The point made was, as legendary British scholar Brooke Foss Westcott often pointed out,
"Origen, Athanasius, and Chrysostom used Greek as their own language a thing that none of us can ever do, and therefore had an instinctive knowledge of the language such as no foreigner can ever possess"  Neill continues, "As a freshmen I once heard Sir John Sheppard remark in a lecture: 'None of us knows enough Greek to say what that means'." (98). 

Neill notes in a balanced way that the Fathers had their own shortcomings and biases, but he still concludes, "They stood far nearer than we to the time and the world of the originals..." (99).

As a NT scholar, this is a helpful point to be reminded of in a time that Jewish and Hellenistic backgrounds are winning the day (and, somewhat, rightfully so), that is Patristic studies should be remembered as a key to the text of the NT as well.

Malachi read-through

Now we turn to Malachi (the only Italian prophet in the bible... sorry, a seminary joke).

The dating of Malachi is unsure.  It is clearly post-exilic, and possibly before the reforms of  Ezra and Nehmiah.  Additionally, there are similarities between conditions witnessed in Malachi's prophesy and those described in Neh. 13:10-29.  A date near to BC 460 is possible.  

More importantly, with reference to Malachi, is the domestic condition of Israel.  Overall, Israel's worship of the Lord had become perfunctory.  They were not a sovereign country, as many expected post-exile, but still subjects of the Persian Empire and were no longer ruled by a Davidic king.  Complaining, corruption of the priesthood, disregard of the Sabbath, neglect of tithes, social injustice, and marriage to heathen wives, are just some of the things that characterized Israel in the time of Malachi's prophetic career.  In sum, the excitement about the return from exile and the rebuilding of the temple and its worship from the careers of Haggai and Zechariah had worn off.  This is the situation into which Malachi speaks. Moral, ethical, and covenantal apathy.

Main theme:
The covenant: Fundamental to Malachi's message is the covenant (1:2; 3:1).  The Lord still has plans to reach the nations with His name via His vehicle of blessings, namely Israel living faithfully in His covenant, and via the Messiah. The Lord, through Malachi, seeks to incite enthusiasm and faithfulness to Him and His covenant as was true of Israel in the period following the return from exile.  

                                                      Malachi and Today:

The state of Israel as described in Malachi also characterizes many eras of the church, but couldn't be closer to home as it is to our Western church, today.   The Lord has given us His Messiah, who died as a perfect sacrifice, resurrected from the dead so that He could be the first-born, and ascended to be in session at the Father's right hand. We live in this point of God's plan where we are witness of these things, and are not as Israel once was, namely hoping for the days we now see. So would we be characterized as those who complain, have corruption of the priesthood, disregard the Sabbath and its ministry, neglect tithes, commit social injustice, and see marriage to unbelieving spouses, among other things?  In sum, are we unfaithful to God's covenant and mission? It is sobering to think that this describes us so well, especially in light of redemptive history.   We are a holy priesthood, set apart for the mission of God.  We are promised His "helper", the Holy Spirit.  We are made new through Jesus.  These things are true, what are we now to do?  Return to the Lord in faithfulness to His mission and covenant.  Forsake our perfunctory worship.  And take up the banner of the Lord to reach the nations with His hope and change.  Only with Jesus!

"Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.  And the Lord whom you seek  will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts."   Malachi 3:1

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mosissimus Mose Reaches 1000!

A stunning thing!  In a matter of two weeks, our small blog has received 1,000 hits.  This of course is chump-change to many of the blogs out there, but an accomplishment nonetheless.  Thanks to those who have 'blogroll-ed' us and mentioned us on their sites.  And who would have thought that Russia would be our second highest country statistically!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Book buying series, part 2: Bibliopegist Technology - a Blessing

So a few days ago I began a series on book buying seeking to relay some practical library building tips. First, though, it seems important to lay the foundation with some indicatives, because as one knows the indicative empowers the imperative!

First we covered a needed caution, namely bibliolatry.  Today we look at the blessing we currently have that make book buying easier for the masses.

Just yesterday I was reading Stephen Neil's The Interpretation of the NT.  In this work he reminded me, "We are so used to printed books that it requires a great effort of imagination to put ourselves back into the world of only five centuries ago, when everything had to be written by hand, and the multiplication of books was a slow and laborious process" (65).  This sets a high initial appreciation for the technology we have now.  So, four thoughts...

                                                Christians and books:
Christians are technologically savvy in disseminating information.  The primary modus operandi of disseminating information was in the first century as it is now via printed material.  Christians saw earlier than most that the scroll was ineffective with regards to accessibility and cost.   Loveday Alexander notes, while "at least for the commercial trade... the roll [scroll] remained the dominant medium for literary texts until well into the third century.  The codex represents a very small proportion... among non-Christian papyri... Christian texts found in Egypt, on the other hand, are almost all in codex form [like a modern book] from the early second century onward." (75).  He also adds, "the early church showed an unusual interest in book production from the earliest centuries of its existence" (72).  Bibliopegist (book binding) technology, though not uniquely Christian in its origin or purely motivated by Christian agendas, in the Christian community "show a 'stronger and more effective preference for the codex [book] at an earlier time than non-Christians,' and seem to have adapted much faster and more creatively to the new technology than their pagan counterparts" (76).  Thus, being a Christian may include the call of owning books and being creative in the way we use/produce them to reach others with the Kingdom of God.

Books, availability and cost:
Our modern book markets and technology has provided the library builder with the best available chance to build a library that is learned and valuable for study.  First, you cannot overlook the Gothenburg Press.  This set the wheels in motion for what we enjoy now. Secondly, I would say the internet is one of the biggest aspects that has made book buying and finding much easier and cheaper (namely, amazon;; dealoz; bookfinder; half; etc.).  I call it "the revenge of the nerds".  By the advent of internet book buying one can often buy a book, if patient, at a reasonable price; and if you are so sick in the mind to sell it again, or you need to, often make a profit! - profits on non-rare books is now possible! The internet has made book selling more competitive because the 'ma-pa' shops have access to the same audience as Barnes and Nobel.  Buying a book at cover price is no longer the norm.

E-books, Kindle, googlebooks, and beyond:
This technology allows a book buyer to put a whole library in a small portable device (a factor I appreciate since I just moved 60 boxes of books 417 miles from St. Louis to Columbus, OH!).  It also makes many resources printable, which can make highlighting and note-taking easier (many can highlight right on the devise which will translate to a printable version).  BUT, I have reservations about these modes.  First, technology is ALWAYS changing.  With the exception of free resources (which are thankfully many) and Kindle who often sells books on specials in e-form, many electronic versions are just as expensive as the actual book.  For example, BDAG is $150 in e-form and book form (sometimes cheaper in paper form).  But what happens when technology changes? You could lose your material you mad-cash for.  And personally, I simply like having a book in my hand.  E-devises and computers are hard on the eyes (except e-ink), and flipping through a book can be difficult on an e-device.  These are a bit picky, but I would say the ever-changing technology factor is the reservation to be considered strongly.

Don't forget your seminary, local, or university library!  Many books in your research will simply be too expensive and would be unreasonable, and just down-right foolish to buy for its cost or limited use. So here enters the library.  The technology we possess has effected your library too!  Your library can now likely have access to the same resources Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, and Yale has access too (within reason!).  This is due to some decrease of book prices, databases, regional sharing agreements, and inter-library loan agreements.  You do not need to buy every book you need, nor should you, but the library can fill the gaps that your personal book buy will not fill.

Those are a few thoughts off the top of my head on the technological blessings we now have in book buying, library building, and access to books for our study.

Others Book buying posts:
Book Buying series, special edition: Dead Sea Scrolls

Zechariah read-through

Zechariah is the book that is taken on today.

For Zechariah we can nail down a more precise date than the previous MPs we have studied so far - 1:1  places his career starting around BC 520.  Zechariah receives his prophesy via vision (actually, many visions).  By the time of Zechariah's ministry, it had been about 20 since their return from exile in Babylon (BC 538).  Though Israel had laid the foundation of the temple shortly after their return in BC 538, the oppressive taxes and many other factors, including Israel's continued moral slide, allowed Israel to conclude the Lord was not with them, and building the temple became nearly impossible.  Zechariah is speaking to a discouraged people who are not seeing what the prophets of the exile had promised would happen, namely a restored and rebuilt Jerusalem.  Thus, faithful obedience of the people of God was viewed as worthless, and the temptation was to pursue any path, even outside the Lord's covenant, that would provide success and happiness.

Main themes:

1) The Messiah:  The Messianic predictions in Zechariah remind Israel that the Lord has not forgotten them nor His promise to the line of David from 2 Samuel 7.  In Zechariah's prophesy, no earthly ruler is mentioned, only the Messiah.  In this Davidic Messiah, both priestly and royal functions are combined. He is refered to as "the branch" (3:8; 6:12), "the one they pierced" (12:10), and "the Shepherd" (13:7ff).  These Messianic prophesies are why Zechariah is so often quoted in the NT (9.9 in Mt. 21.5, Jn. 12.15; 11.13 in Mt. 27.9; 12.10 in Jn. 19.37; 13.7 in Mt. 26.31, Mk. 14.27) - other themes in 3.2 in Jude 9.23 and 8.16 in Eph. 4.25.  He is the one who "shall branch out from his place and he shall build the temple of the Lord... and shall bear royal honor... and the crown shall be in the temple of the Lord as a reminder" (6.12-14).

2) Covenant faithfulness:  The Lord has not forgotten His promises to His people.  He will restore His people, and be faithful to them, though at the time of Zechariah this appears not to be the case.

Main take-way:

The Lord is patient with His people, and even after exile - where the Lord clearly demonstrated His sovereignty over nations and history, Israel's still considers in their despair to pursue other gods in their pragmatism.  But the Lord is clear.  A Messiah is coming, and not just any Messiah.  This Messiah will be a ruler and a priest, and will be in the line of David, as God had promised long before.  The Lord is with His people.  He has not forgotten His mission to establish His Kingdom on earth and redeem all things to Himself via "the one who is pierced".

"And in this day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, "Holy to the Lord."  Zech. 14:20