Sunday, March 31, 2013

Don't you wish it was Easter every day?

I've heard it asked, "Don't you wish it was Christmas all year long?"  To which I normally answer with a resounding, "NO! Have you had too much eggnog?"  But I did have a a thought today as I was surveying many blogs and posts on Facebook.  I asked, "would it not be nice for it to be Easter each day?" 

Why do I ask this?  Why is this a thought that comes to mind?  It comes to mind because today what we as Christians live for, and have hope of life through, is brought to the fore, at least for 15 waking hours.  Facebook is full Easter greetings, Easter messages, beautiful bible reflections and quotations.  It is very uplifting.  And for a moment folks are not snarky on Facebook or back stabbing on blogs.  For a moment the blogs that quarrel and slander brothers over silliness preach the gospel. 

While it is uplifting, in all truth it can be equally sad.  Why today, historically not the day the Jesus actually was raised from the dead for our new life and the world's hope of renewal, do we drop our weapons and preach Jesus?  It just seems a bit silly.  I can quote one who certainly did not share the hope of Jesus and say, "You, you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope some day you'll join us and the world will be as one."  But can it not be?  We, through the death and resurrection of Jesus are now empowered as his ambassadors, invested with the power of the Holy Spirit, to do what John Lennon did not have the power to ever do.  We have the power, the Resurrection power, to make REAL CHANGE to the glory of the Father, and Acts 2 says it started from within, and then worked outward. 

So could every day be Easter?  Yes and no.  Do I wish everyday was Easter.  Yes.

We still live in an imperfect world, but we have hope of a more perfect world of what we celebrate today.  Let us live in that hope as if it were everyday, and when we are imperfectly living in that hope, let us extend the hope to a brother in words of Resurrection hope.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Book Received: Finding Meaning in the Text

Late last week I received W. Edward Glenny's dissertation Finding Meaning in the Text: Translation Technique and Theology in the Septuagint Amos.  A special thanks to Brill for taking me on as a reviewer of this important book.

On a personal note, my dissertation deals with the meaning of the Book of the Twelve in the Book of Acts.  Last November at the national ETS meeting I had the privilege to meet and get coffee with Ed after his presentation on the two Amos quotations in Acts (a topic I presented on a year earlier at an SBL meeting).  Our interaction was fruitful and I am looking forward to reading this book, as well as his volumes on the Minor Prophets from the Septuagint Commentary Series (I will be receiving those as well from Brill as they appear, so stay tuned for reviews!).  It is always a blessing to be able to interact with one who not only knows the stage of life you are going through, but also the material you will be working with!

A key question I will be interested to hear an answer on in this monograph is why the book of Amos is studied apart from the other 11 prophets bound in the same book.  The evidence is rather overwhelming concerning the redactional intentionality for the literary and theological unity of the Twelve in both the Hebrew (MT) tradition as well as the Greek tradition; and NETS, as far as I can remember, supposes one translation technique for the Twelve.  I am interested to hear Glenny on why the redaction of the LXX/Amos and theology this redaction reveals is treated in segregation from it Sitz im Text.  It could simply come down to the necessary evil in writing a dissertation of limiting your focus!  Nevertheless, I am excited to peruse it. 

My Review

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Reading The Book of the Twelve LXX

It is assumable that Luke, the writer of Acts, was a reader of The Book of the Twelve according to an LXX version similar to that of MSS A.  Of course, as with any reader of a normative text, Luke made appropriate changes to the text to fit the context he was speaking into.  This is the point of The Twelve in its only form(s) in extant.  It is only known to us in a redacted single volume, which according to Francis Watson (which I agree with), places the reader in priority over the author.  Luke as a reader of The Twelve was in conversation with others reading The Twelve, namely other Jewish traditions, and with the Scriptures themselves.  Disagreement will happen, changes will happen, semantic and semiotic ranges will be exploited.  What is 'literal meaning'?

Why do I say all this?  Well, today I am reading through the LXX Twelve Prophets, seeking out themes that tie the books together.  I want to understand how the editors wanted us to read The Twelve.  The LXX is unique in its ordering of the first six books.  I am interested to see how this changes one's reading of this book.

I will be reading it out of A New English Translation of the Septuagint, one of the greatest biblical studies resources to hit the market in a long while.  Is there any coincidence that the editors of NETS started The Twelve at page 777?  I think not.

Weigh in on your thoughts on reading The Twelve.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

On Book Reviews

I have come to a point where I can appreciate book reviews.  For a long time, I was unsure their purpose, besides obvious reasons of summarizing a book, getting published, etc...  But now I read book reviews for a few reasons:

1) To become generally oriented to a book before reading it by scholars or journals I trust.

2) To get the general 'feel' on how the book is received among my colleagues.

3) And once I am finished reading a book, I read a review to catch details or flaws in an argument I may have been short-sided to.

4) To continue the discussion.  I think this is a value.  Book review when done well can continue the conversation amongst scholars.

So what happens when a book review doesn't do any of these three things for me?  I find it a bit frustrating and time-wasting.

What I don't read book reviews for:

1) Copious notes on every detail on each point of the book.  It happens.  In this case I size up the review, and if it seems like it will end up this way, I read the first and last paragraph to find the important stuff.

2) To gain knowledge on one's type-set preference or to know each typo present in a volume.

3) I also find it silly to read overly short reviews that feel more like annotated bibliographies.

What is it you look for in reviews?  What is helpful to you?  Why do you read reviews?

Monday, March 18, 2013

The NEW New Testament and Dan Wallace's Criticism

Over on Mike Bird's blog is a summary of the New New Testament, and even more helpfully Bird points out Dan Wallace's biting response, here.  Also check out Wallace's blog

The Book based on The Bible on History: A Review

Here is a great review on the book premised on The Bible mini-series on History called A Story of God and All of Us.  It is not by me and is sarcastic (if you may not catch it).

Here's the link.

Here is the quoted review:

Finally, all the Bible's stories in one place!
When I watched the first episode of the epic TV miniseries "The Bible," I remember thinking to myself, "This is spectacular, but what if I want to engage with these stories on a deeper level." After watching and re-watching and re-re-watching the entire series, it still felt like something was missing...

Thank God for this book! Finally, all the stories from the Bible have been gathered into a single text! Now I can go right to the source to get the news straight from the horse's (or donkey's) mouth, as it were. If you want to relive the fall of humanity alongside Adam and Eve, the story is here. If you want to be captivated time and time again as Moses turns water into blood, look no further. If you are looking for THE comprehensive account of just what God has been up to these last 5,000+ years, you must buy this book.

And that's not all! Recently, a small group of friends and I have been getting together to study the stories here. What a blessing it's been! We're even thinking about gathering a larger group once each week and having a few gifted leaders teach us important truths based on this wonderful book. Who would have thought that a single text could be so life-encompassing and applicable.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a perfect resource. I do have a few complaints/suggestions:
- Is there a leather-bound version available? I hope there will be soon.
- I'd like to have even more detail, if possible. Why not add more stories, along with genealogies, poetry and maybe even a few letters?
- What would really be cool is if there was some sort of reference system to allow readers to connect parts of the book to other parts, when appropriate.
Certainly not damning criticism by any means, just some thoughts I had...

I any case, I give this book two thumbs way, way up! If you've spent your entire life wondering if there is a God that you can put in a box, consume in small, easy-to-chew quantities and exploit in order to feel some arbitrary (albeit fleeting) sense of meaning and happiness, this is the book for you.

If, on the other hand, you're looking for a true representation of the real God, the God who is worthy of your entire allegiance and all your praise, the God who will use both blessing and suffering to transform you into the person you were made to be and who will ultimately give you eternal joy and infinite satisfaction, I've heard you can find him in the actual Bible... but really, who's got the time to read that old rag, or the courage to encounter such a God, for that matter?

And the funniest response to the review:

"that old rag"?  Shame on you. You are speaking about the word of God.