Thursday, May 31, 2007
Check out the list here
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
To all the items on the weekly sale, which includes the Mesopotamian Civilizations series, two RAI proceedings, Lambert's classic Babylonian Wisdom Literature, plus Huehnergard's Akkadian Grammar and Key, click here
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
That’s right, no one has found so much as a single Carthaginian coin in the Alps in over 2000 years. Further, you would think that 25,000 men and some elephants would leave a trail that someone would be able to find, but no one has been able convincingly to map the route. What’s more, we don’t have any contemporary accounts of the feat; everything we have is later, and either in Greek or Latin, nothing in Punic. To make matters even worse, our manuscripts are late, and in some cases fragmentary and contradictory.
Now, with all this negative evidence, you would think that people would be up in arms about the tale that has been foisted on unsuspecting students over the years. How do we know that it wasn’t just an invention of the Roman propaganda machine to justify the destruction of Carthage? After all, Cato the elder ended every speech with the friendly phrase Carthago delenda est (Carthage must be destroyed); not exactly what I would call a sympathetic attitude. The only power that could have derailed the Roman imperial monster was Carthage. Revisionist history would seem to be the clear answer. But is it?
Nope. Hannibal’s march through the mountains is in the history books; on the exams; in the research; National Geographic even is funding yet another attempt to find the route he used.
At the risk of being simplistic, what is the difference between this and the history that is recorded in the Hebrew bible? You get people complaining that the exodus and David and Saul are being foisted on unsuspecting youth, corrupting them forever. Ah, you say that is a theological worldview. Right. Do you really think the Romans didn’t have a theological worldview that comes through loud and clear in their histories?
This might come as a shock to your secular worldview, but the ancient world didn’t move without consulting the omens. Armies would face each other for days, with neither side making a move. Why? Because the omens weren’t right! You don’t want to fight without the gods on your side; you’re sure to lose. Yes, especially the Romans. They were probably the most superstitious around. Don’t believe me, read Livy sometime. They could portray the Carthaginians as the bad guys for practicing infant sacrifice, which they did, but don’t push them too hard about the vestal virgins that they buried alive in their panic. No, they weren’t above human sacrifice, if it would bring a victory to Rome.
So, again, why isn’t Hannibal’s march questioned and the existence of David is?
Friday, May 25, 2007
Some years ago I remember hearing a pastor and thinking he sounded hollow, or that something just didn't seem right, or at least that in spite of the way he preached which was an emulation or model of "good preaching", and that there was good in his message, I frankly was glad when it was over. Later it came to light that he was having an emotional affair with a woman from another city. I don't know if I had just been having a bad day or had been given a measure of some kind of discernment. But there are few issues I'm more concerned about than losing my heart in God, really none.
He goes on to reflect “When I'm losing my heart in God I no longer feel quite at home in God. My heart is elsewhere. Isn't that idolatry?”
That is so true. When I find that I don’t desire to live in God’s presence, it is always because I have allowed something else—maybe even something “good”—to displace God in my heart. God brooks no rivals, either he is lord, or he isn’t. I just finished reading the hextateuch again, and that seems to be a resounding refrain throughout all six books, all the way up to the last chapter in Joshua:
But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord; for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good.” Joshua 24:19-20 RSV
Thursday, May 24, 2007
. . .We did not have time to stop and ask if this is truly what God wants from us, because we were so busy doing things.
We were so busy doing things...
And, that's just what they were... things. This is what I realized this morning while I was talking with my wife. We had been so busy doing things for so long that we had almost forgotten that God is not interesting in things. God is interested in us and other people... relationships.
Don't misunderstand me... I don't think these things were designed as things. But, they became things. Things to do. Things to prepare. Things to instruct. Things to follow. Things to believe. Things to support. Things to finance. Things...
We should teach other believers... but teaching can become a thing. We should preach the gospel... but preaching can become a thing. We should meet with other believers... but Sunday morning events (and Saturday evenings spent with friends) can become a thing.
Even quiet times... devotional times... prayer times... can become things. And things are not God.
Martha and Mary in the Gospel of John. We live in a Martha centric society. Do this, do that, here’s the latest deadline, don’t miss it or you’re in trouble. Activity, everywhere you look. If you take time to stop and meditate, you feel guilty for not producing.
But how much of the activity is just hiding the emptiness inside? How much of the activity is a subtle form of works righteousness? How much of the activity is to keep us from confronting who we really are? If we just stay busy, we can collapse at the end of it and feel like we “did something,” thus keeping the conscience quiet.
A whirlwind of activity, but what is at the center of it? Self! And what does Christ call us to except death to self! As usual, we get it backwards. Christ calls us to die, that we might truly live. So we work like crazy, thinking we can truly find life that way. Ah, the folly of our ways. Genesis 3 permeates everything we do, think, and see. Would that we were to allow Romans 8 to have the same reign in our lives! What a transformation the world would see. Would that I John’s perfect love of God and neighbor were allowed to control our thoughts and actions. We would rapidly recover the reputation that the early church had among their neighbors! Instead we devise clever programs for “reaching the lost.” Things!
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
From next month, Google will no longer take adverts from companies which sell essays and dissertations - and the internet company has written to advertisers to tell them about the policy...
But one of the UK companies fearing that it will be prevented from advertising, Essaywriter.co.uk , is angry at the threat to its business - with 80% of its customers coming through Google.
Managing director Matthew Wilson says this will punish the legitimate, transparent companies, which sell essays, but which warn students that they must not be used dishonestly.
Mr Wilson says that such a bespoke service, selling tailor-made essays at short notice, with prices around £70 and upwards, can be used as a guide for students wanting extra assistance.
Overseas students are frequently customers, he says - but the firm makes clear that essays should not be passed off as being written by the student.
And he says that such a blanket ban will not stop the search engine from generating links to rogue essay selling companies, which have been accused of scamming customers by providing poor quality material.
Right! They write and sell the essays, but warn people not to use them. Doesn't that sound a bit hypocritical?
But, the fact that Google is cutting them off is good news.
While location and distance are certainly important, I'm also concerned about how we see our connection to believers around us. If we drive even 5 minutes to meet with a group of believers, but never interact with the believers in our own neighborhood (because they belong to another local church), I think we have an invalid concept of local church.
I'm beginning to think of the "local church" as all believers with whom God allows me to interact. That includes the ones that I meet with regularly. But, it also includes my neighbors and co-workers who are believers. They are part of the local church for me, and we are responsible for one another just as the ones who share "membership".
Barna raised this same question in The Revolution; his answer is that we have too narrowly defined church. Church is the body of believers, where ever and whenever they happen to meet. If there are two or more gathered, then it is Church. Pretty wide-open definition, but quite biblical!
Under that definition, Alan’s understanding is correct, and our parochialism is unbiblical. If I am talking with my neighbor, we are experiencing a bit of church. If co-workers are discussing biblical concepts, it is church. This definition is at once freeing and scary. Freeing because I don’t have to be concerned about putting on a “church face,” but scary because it makes the presence of God more immanent—everytime two or more are gathered! That’s pretty immanent.
What do you think? Am I all wet here?
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
However as the Kingdom grew, so did the desire to control and monitor all that was happening. Around the year 300 A.D. the spontaneous expansion of the church led by the Holy Spirit was formalized into an institution largely governed by a professional clergy class. For 1700 years Institutional Christianity has shifted from being a priesthood of all believers to becoming one of the world's major religions.
God has certainly not ceased to work through His Church, but in a real sense, his divine methods and purposes have been substituted for man-made religion, programs, dogmas and a divided Body.
. . . We have turned Christianity into a religion. Complete with hierarchy in our churches, organizations and institutions. We have added rules, regulations, expectations, and interpretations which govern the simple commands of Christ and the apostles. Isn't this the same kind of stuff Jesus condemned the Pharisees?. . .
Today we get bogged down in a never-ending debate about who, what, when, and where, and how things can and should be done. Instead of just doing what Christ said to do, we now have formal written documents, clauses, guidelines, interpretations, and definitions for everything. Clutter.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Walker attached ultrasonic sensors to his bike and rode around Bath, allowing 2,300 vehicles to overtake him while he was either helmeted or naked-headed. In the process, he was actually contacted by a truck and a bus, both while helmeted—though, miraculously, he did not fall off his bike either time.
His findings, published in the March 2007 issue of Accident Analysis & Prevention, state that when Walker wore a helmet drivers typically drove an average of 3.35 inches closer to his bike than when his noggin wasn't covered. But, if he wore a wig of long, brown locks—appearing to be a woman from behind—he was granted 2.2 inches more room to ride.
My experiences while living in Minneapolis confirm his findings. I didn’t tally it, and I certainly didn’t have ultra-sonic sensors! But, when I wore a helmet (which was usually), the traffic would give me less space; when I forgot my helmet, they would give me more space, or slow down until they could. It wasn’t something I consciously kept track of, but rather a general impression.
Another scary site I ran across the same day is cyclehelmets.org. I hadn’t seen these data before, but they certainly were enough to make me reconsider my stand on helmets. The fact that a helmet can actually lead to more brain damage because of torsion was especially scary.
Based on these sets of data, I have decided to begin, once again, to ride without a helmet. As I said, this is not something I do lightly and frivolously, since it can affect my life in a very real way on a daily basis, but I think the data lead to that conclusion. I am not going to become an “anti-helmet evangelist,” but if people ask why I no longer wear a helmet, I will tell them.
Friday, May 18, 2007
The claims, counterclaims, personality cults, purpose of footnotes, etc., has been enlightening. But, through it all, one thing has bothered me. The people involved in this debate (if it is a debate) are all learned, knowing at least one, if not more, inflected language. Jim knows Greek, speaks a fluent German, yet he fails in English. I am not picking on Jim, the others involved have also overlooked a very basic error in the whole thing.
My Latin and Greek teaching background is crying out, and I can't hold it in any longer! The topic was entitled "Who to cite." Now, students, what basic rule of English does this violate?
What, you don't know? Please, students, what is the subject of the sentence? That is correct, it is not stated, but implied. Now, class, what is the object of the verb? Again, you are correct, but how can a subjective case pronoun be the object of a verb?
Exactly! It can't; so what is the correct form of the word?
Class...class...hello; anybody there? Yes, you, the old codger in the back of the room. That is correct, we need to resurrect the word "whom" in order to clarify that the object of the verb is the person being cited! So the correct title should be "Whom to cite."
While we are on the topic, there is a homonym for cite that has made an appearance in this debate by mistake; what would that be? That is correct; site, a homonym with a very different meaning. Don't you just love English?
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Thank you Jim. I was wondering what to put on sale for the next 10 days; now I know. I'm putting 15 books from the Intervarsity Press Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series on sale! Of course, you had better be careful, these books (culled from over 1000 years of church tradition) could be dangerous—after all, they are published by a "fundamentalist" publisher, which means they are fundamentalist themselves and therefore have no value, except to steal your brain away :)
You can see all the dangerous titles here.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
"Part I: Texts" appeared originally in 1970 as AOAT 5/1; "Part II: Commentary and Appendices" originally appeared in 1983 as AOAT 5/2. We will soon go to press with the reprint, which will be in the usual quality Eisenbrauns hard cover printing and binding; and we want to make a special offer for those who are willing to preorder the books.
Through July 31, 2007, special pricing is available on
Normal prices will be:
Set: ISBN 978-1-57506-139-9. $169.00
Volume 1: ISBN 978-1-57506-137-5. Pp. xx + 341. $85.00
Volume 2: ISBN 978-1-57506-138-2. Pp. xxxiv + 542. $110.00
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Anyway, his central thesis is that the first quest ran aground when it hit the realization that Jesus was an eschatological figure and not the rational 19th century man they were looking for—see Schweitzer's book. The second quest was started in 1953 and continued until the summer of 1968 when student unrest on the campuses and "ban the bomb" took over everyone's interest. Zahl claims that the second quest didn't die because it hit a logical wall, but because interests turned elsewhere. Since most of the questers had lived through the eschatological experience of WW II, they didn't have a problem with Jesus as an eschatological figure. Enter the third quest. According to Zahl, the third quest is a reaction to the Holocaust on the part of Christians. The Jesus they are looking for, and finding, is continuous with Second Temple Judaism. So continuous, in fact, that one is tempted to say "What's the problem? Why did Jesus get crucified?"
If Jesus is continuous with Second Temple Judaism, then Christianity must have been a creation of his followers, or more precisely, Paul. According to Zahl, this cheapens not just Christianity, but also Judaism. There has to be a difference, and he claims that Jesus was the first Christian (hence the title of the book), and that he was not continuous with Second Temple Judaism, but in stark opposition to it. Here he calls in the testimony of Flusser. Now, I must admit that the reason I even read the book is because I noticed he referred to Flusser a lot, so I enjoyed his appeal to Flusser.
Based on his reading of Flusser, Zahl is calling for a fourth quest, as a resurrection of the second, unfulfilled quest. This is where the book got boring. He paints the third quest far too broadly, ignoring the subtle distinctions within the various questers involved in the third quest. To see the nuances of the third quest, I recommend reading Mark Goodacre's recent summary (which I can't find right now).
In summary, Zahl has some good points, but he tends to oversimplify a bit. But, at 134 pages, it is worth a quick read. He has some good insights, having studied under Dunn, Kaesemann, and other luminaries of both the second and third quest. Being a pastor, he brings in some good pastoral perspective to the various quests also.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Too bad there isn't a hand in the picture to show the size better, but it is about 6 inches long. Hey, she was thinking of me :)
Thursday, May 10, 2007
We act as if holiness were either outdated or something that characterizes only a small (if important) part of our lives.
This is partly due to our quest for cultural relevance, which is defended in the name of winning others to Christ. If we talk about holiness with unbelievers, won't that present just another hurdle for them to overcome on their way to Christ? For this and other reasons, we are rapidly forsaking our historic commitment to holiness. Recent polls show that many self-described evangelicals march in moral lockstep with mainstream American culture in practices of divorce, spousal abuse, extramarital sex, pornography consumption, materialism, and racism, just to name a few. While we tip our cap to the importance of holiness, many in our culture don't view us as morally different in any meaningful way—except to see us as hypocrites.
I believe one crucial ingredient to healing our moral confusion is the recovery of the biblical idea of holiness, which includes private morality but so much more—the very life of God in us. Holiness is not just for advanced Christians but stands at the beginning and center of God's call on our lives: "Be holy, because I am holy" (Lev. 11:44; 1 Pet. 1:16).
If you have read this blog very long, you know that one of my burning passions is to see scriptural holiness in the lives of Christians. This article is a good start to pointing out that it is all God's grace, power, and mercy; none of the strength, power, or accomplishment comes from me.
Along those lines, I just started Ken Collins' new book The Theology of John Wesley in which he does a good job of articulating the fact that it is all God's holy love that allows a Christian to live a holy life, but more on the book later as I get into it further.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
It will carry 70 pounds, but so far I haven't had more than about 30 on it. I have been using it to go to the grocery store. I used it once without the bag to get gas for the lawnmower. I strapped the gas can to it with bungy cords and rode to the gas station. It must have looked pretty funny to people seeing it, but it worked.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
It is more difficult to take 10 people and grow a body of Christ to 150 than it is to transplant 200 or 300 people and then grow that congregation to 5,000. A crowd draws a crowd. From day one if you have all the bells and whistles, 5 full time pastors, a youth program, and a charismatic speaker with spiked hair (a shot not aimed at anyone in particular) and you don't mind putting the smaller community churches out of business, it will be harder to stop attracting a big crowd...
It is more difficult to preach a sermon to 100 people than to 8,000 people. Of course, there are some of my emerging co-laborers who don't believe in preaching per se. I believe in proclamation of the new reality, the calling of truth into being, and my thoughts on expository preaching are already out there. My point here is that preaching to 100 people you actually know and live with is a lot harder than preaching to 8000 people, 99% of whom you don't know. It is not that it is harder to be vulnerable in a larger crowd. It is that in a space of 100 people you are more vulnerable when so many know you. You are naked.
That's just an excerpt. I'm sure he's going to get burned in the comments, but that doesn't mean he's wrong!
|What American accent do you have? |
Your Result: The Inland North
|What American accent do you have?|
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz
Again, no surprise for someone who spent more than 35 years of their life in Wisconsin/Minnesota/Chicago...
Monday, May 07, 2007
| You scored as Anselm. Anselm is the outstanding theologian of the |
medieval period.He sees man's primary problem as having
failed to render unto God what we owe him, so God becomes
man in Christ and gives God what he is due. You should read
'Cur Deus Homo?'
Which theologian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com
Hmmm...I have a harder time with this one. I never really thought of myself as agreeing with Anselm that much. The Calvin and Edwards is funny; me, the Wesleyan/Arminian. Oh well, they must not have considered classic Wesleyanism, but the modified free-will versus classic free-grace version.
Have fun finding out whom you agree with...
I have been reading Caragounis’ The Development of Greek and the New Testament. In pages 247-261 he takes issue with the traditional rendering of AMPELOS as vine in John 15, noting (correctly) that the meaning of AMPELOS was changing from that of vine to vineyard and KLHMA from branch to vine, while AMPELWN, the Attic word for vineyard, fell into disuse. He cites evidence from the papyri, as well as Hellenistic authors, all of which contain occurrences that endorse his rendering. Further, there is the use of AMPELOS in Revelation 14:17-20, which he says should be translated vineyard, given that there is a winepress in it. He also examines the Church Fathers, who continued to use the older Attic meaning of vine, but, as he points out, they were classically trained and consciously writing Atticizing Greek. Further, he argues that Athanasius was trying to use the vine/branch simile as a Trinitarian argument; the later Fathers simply followed in his steps. So far, so good. He seems to have an airtight case—or does he?
As Caragounis himself points out, this section of John is modeled after Isaiah 5, the song of the vineyard (KEREM in Hebrew). What is conspicuous by its absence is any reference by him to the Septuagint. We know that the gospel writers were heavily dependent and strongly influenced by the Septuagint rendering of Hebrew words. So, how does the Septuagint render the Hebrew KEREM in Isaiah 5? Not by AMPELOS, but by the Classical word AMPELWN. That’s right, throughout the entire song of the vineyard, the Septuagint translates KEREM with AMPELWN.
Not content to just look at Isaiah 5, I consulted Hatch & Redpath’s Concordance to the Septuagint, to see what was listed as the Hebrew equivalent for KLHMA, AMPELOS, and AMPELWN. Here are the results:
KLHMA: never used to translate GEFEN (vine).
AMPELWN: KEREM, over 70 times; GEFEN, only once (Jer 5:17)
AMPELOS: KEREM, 4 times (twice in Leviticus, once each in Numbers and Song of Songs); GEFEN, over 50 times
Based on the Septuagint evidence, I would say that the traditional rendering of John 15 as vine/branch is correct. But, how should Revelation 14 be translated, then? Perhaps Caragounis is correct in wanting to translate it as vineyard, but I have two problems with that. First, it isn’t at all obvious from the text that the winepress is in the vineyard. In fact, it appears that the winepress is outside of it, since it says that the winepress was EXWQEN THS POLEWS, not EN AMPELWNI/AMPELWi. Second, I would still prefer to stick with the Septuagint evidence, and simply say it is synecdoche, the one vine representing the whole earth/vineyard.
As I read Caragounis, I have found that this is typical. At first glance, his ideas seem reasonable and an improvement on the traditional understanding. But, when I dig below the surface, I find that he is reading evidence in such a way so as to endorse his theory.
By the way, the book is huge (over 700 pages, with over 100 pages of bibliography). If you choose to read the book, a background in Classics would be helpful, and some experience with Byzantine wouldn’t hurt (I’m weak there). His command of the literature is immense, from Epic all the way through to Modern Greek. The conclusions he draws from that knowledge are frequently overstated, which is why it will take me another 3 months or so to finish it!
Saturday, May 05, 2007
| You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical |
in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables
you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are
totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance
of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of
obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly
by John Wesley and the Methodists.
What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com
Hey, that one is a no-brainer!
UPDATE: I had to cut the graphic, otherwise the text wouldn't fit the window. Poor John Wesley, his portrait is now missing :)
Friday, May 04, 2007
My co-worker, John, has allowed his blog to go fallow. I asked him about it the other day, and he told me that he was too busy. “Besides,” he said, “I’m not opinionated enough to write a blog.” Hmm. . .then I saw where Intervarsity Press has a blog for their editor, Andy Le Peau. He starts out his first post with this: “To write a blog, you need to have an interesting personality or provocative opinions. I have neither.” Of course, he goes on the say that he realized he has both.
So it goes. It seems that those of us who continue to blog have strong opinions, and aren’t afraid to state them. Or, maybe in some cases, such as Dilbert we have a ghost writer do it for us. Is it wrong to have strong opinions? I don’t think so. It just lays a heavier responsibility on us to make sure that our opinions are worth reading and considering.
Ah! Therein lies the rub. Because we are so opinionated, we think our opinions are automatically worth reading. A little humility might not hurt.
What do you think?
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Viola points out that we must seek to understand the semantic differences that Christians emply when describing spiritual experiences. ”Rather than hone in on the specific rhetoric that one employs, it is better to seek to hear and understand the reality of another's experience. And to realize that they may describe it in a way that is foreign (and sometimes irritating!) to our ears.”
In much of our work across denominational lines, we run up against this type of conflicting theological jargon. It becomes very easy to get caught up in the language others use to describe spiritual truths and experiences. Language then becomes a barrier between us. We end up judging one another on the basis of the kind of language we are using to basically describe the same kinds of things!
Language. A wonderful tool, and a double-edged one, too. We know what we are trying to say; why don’t they get it? Communication is about trying to understand what the other person is saying before answering them. Easy to say, but hard to do. Maybe that’s why the New Testament says that love covers a multitude of sins.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
I remember reading that Luther once said he had so much to do that day that he had to spend at least 3 hours in prayer to make sure he got it done! Probably apocryphal, but it illustrates the point.
I know I frequently get caught up in doing and forget to just “be.” God wants us to be His, not be doing, just be. Too easy; I’d rather prove to God that I’m good at doing—right! When will I ever learn? Me without God = failure. Me, subservient to God = Peace (in the Shalom sense).
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
By now you are probably wondering if I have finally lost it, or you are convinced I lost it and this confirms it. So, what am I talking about? I am talking about some of the accusations floating around about the emerging and house church movements. Dan Kimball addresses the issues here He has just listed his core beliefs, very orthodox ones and then he continues:
It feels like there are certain types of people [who] seem to love to focus their ministries and lives on pointing out things they don’t agree with. So when they have been making a big deal about something they disagree with, but only to find it is really not there if you look closely or talk to the person – they then start making even crazier accusations and start pulling from almost anything to make a case through association. Your name begins with a “D”, so you must be aligned with the “d”evil etc., is practically what happens with some of the things I read. I just hope they don’t keep crying out “wolf” so often, that then when a real wolf comes, no one will listen as they have lost their credibility. We do need to be watching for “wolves” as Jesus and Paul both warned the church about (Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29), but I think we are crying wolf and attacking our own fellow sheep who happen to like experimenting in wearing their wool in different styles or like coloring their wool different colors, but they are not wolves - they are fellow sheep. But because they are not monotone white wooled all-the-same-look sheep, they get attacked as though they were a wolf.
I wish what he says here were not true. A short time ago I saw a fundraising letter from a well-known preacher. He was claiming that the number one problem facing the church today was the emerging movement. He asked for donations to fight this heresy, emphasizing the urgency and requesting immediate funds. Call me cynical if you want, but I can’t help but think he needed a heresy to get his constituents to fund his ministry.
What ever happened to the faith-based ministries of the 1800’s where they never asked for funding from man, but from God alone? Sorry folks, if you need to ask for funding, there must be something wrong with your prayer-line. Last time I checked, God was still in the business of answering believing prayer. I suspect that the marketing department has more input into what some ministries say than the prayer department does.
6. Team up with someone else. Beyond providing accountability, it is more enjoyable for most people to work with at least one other person. When I was a Ph.D. student I met with my two pastors and another Ph.D. student to read Greek together most Friday mornings at a coffee shop. This was always one of the highlights of the week, and we often ended up having rich theological discussions based on what we were seeing in the Greek text. I was thrilled to find another group here in Winona Lake that meets every Thursday morning to read Greek one week and Hebrew the next. These times are an invaluable way to maintain and improve one's knowledge of the language.
I can vouch for that. It is easy to fool yourself into thinking you “get it” when you are reading by yourself. The group reading times are a good way to test your knowledge—and have a good time reading as well. I don’t think we get into theological discussions as much as we share bibliography and grammatical insights. Of course, what do you expect when two of us work for Eisenbrauns?