Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Quote for the day

“Think of the church at large. What divisions! Think of the different bodies. Take the question of holiness, take the question of the cleansing blood, take the question of the baptism of the Spirit - what differences are caused among dear believers by such questions! That there are differences of opinion does not trouble me. We do not have the same constitution and temperament and mind. But how often hate, bitterness, contempt, separation, unlovingness are caused by the holiest truths of God’s Word! Our doctrines, our creeds, have been more important than love. We often think we are valiant for the truth and we forget God’s command to speak the truth in love. And it was so in the time of the Reformation between the Lutheran and Calvinistic churches. What bitterness there was than in regard to the Holy Supper, which was meant to be the bond of union among all believers! And so, down the ages, the very dearest truths of God have become mountains that have separated us.”—Andrew Murray in Absolute Surrender

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

It's still Winter

It snowed most of last night; just a light one, amounting to about 1.5 inches. But, it sure was beautiful. Andy took this picture of the front of the building this morning after he finished sweeping/shoveling the walk.

Quote for today

In a book I was reading over the weekend, the author made a comment about our conception of angels, especially the Valentine's day type. You know which ones I'm talking about; they have the little wings and diapers on. I thought his critique of the "Gerber baby" angels was too priceless not to post...

Those were not Gerber babies that sang around the manger the holy night Christ was born; those were mighty, warring heavenly beings singing in awe of the sacrifice of the great King.

Just once some Christmas I would like to see a real angel show up on top of the tree just as I plugged in the light—bam!—nuclear glory radiating, instantly frying the Christmas tree into a skeleton of smoldering sticks; everyone in the family slain spiritually, unable to move for hours under the weight of the angelic presence. A true "touched by an angel" episode and a Christmas to remember!—Francis Frangipane

Monday, January 29, 2007


Finally, 2 months late, but I think it might be here. This morning was 8 degrees F; a nice crisp day. We were at Debbie's parents last night and came out to about an inch of fluffy snow on the car. When we went for our walk last night, the temperature was about 12 F, the sky was clear and the moon was reflecting off the snow. As we walked, the snow crunched under our feet. A few deer were feeding in the woods. What more could you ask for?

This morning on the way to work, there was ice on the lake, white snow on the ground, not too windy. A beautiful day for a walk. It's a good thing it didn't snow enough to go snowshoeing, or I would never have come in to work...time to bring out one of my favorite quotes (from Space for God).

"When rain turns to ice and snow I declare a holiday. I could as easily resist as stay at a desk with a parade going by in the street below. I cannot hide the delight that then possesses my heart. Only God could have surprised rain with such a change of dress as ice and cold...

"Most people love rain, water. Snow charms all young hearts. Only when you get older and bones begin to feel dampnesss, when snow becomes a traffic problem and a burden in the driveway, when wet means dirt--then the poetry takes flight and God's love play is not noted.

But I am still a child and have no desire to take on the ways of death. I shall continue to heed water's invitation, the call of the rain. We are in love and lovers are a little mad."

Quote for today

As [C.J.H.] Wright [Deuteronomy, NIBC, pp. 50-51] aptly notes,

the contrast is not between visible and invisible, or between spiritual and material, but between the visible and the audible. Idols have “form” but do not speak, Yahweh has no “form,” but he decisively speaks. Idols are visible but dumb. Yahweh is invisible but eloquent.

As we have seen, the words of Yahweh are the means by which his presence is manifest in Israel. So, making an image would be an attempt to actualize Yahweh’s presence in a manner that is, first of all, contrary to the means he desires. It would be an attempt to substitute the speaking Yahweh who confronts, rebukes, demands, and challenges. Attempting to represent Yahweh with a lifeless image would serve to ‘gag’ him.”—Vogt in Deuteronomic Theology and the Significance of Torah

Friday, January 26, 2007

Brief review of Bonhoeffer “Reflections on the Bible”

As you can see from the quote of the day for the last week or so, I have been reading Reflections on the Bible. It is a short little book, only 128 pages, of selections from many of the volumes in the Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Works series. The book was put together in celebration of Bonhoeffer’s one hundredth birthday in 2005; since the English translations for some of the Works aren’t done yet, the quotes are direct translations from the German edition.

I must say, I am ambivalent about the book. In many ways, it is a wonderful distillation of Bonhoeffer quotes. In other ways, it is far too short, and I would have chosen some other writings to include instead of what they chose. Of course, that is the nature of a short anthology–everyone has their own favorite passages and wants to see them included. Since I didn’t choose them, I will find something “better” that should have been included.

The other thing is the price; at a list price of $9.95 for 128 pages it seems overpriced. But, when the alternative is to buy all 17 volumes of Bonhoeffer’s Works ( or Werke since some are still only in German), and then find the time to read them–and mark the best passages…Well, $9.95 suddenly doesn’t seem too bad.

Although I enjoyed reading it, I probably won’t keep the volume in my library, but will pass it on. After all, why should I have the short one when I have the English volumes of Works already (and bookshelf space is at a premium in our house)?

<cheap plug>
So, watch for it to appear on the Used Books section at Eisenbrauns in the next few days—which reminds me, you definitely should subscribe to our RSS feeds : )
</cheap plug>

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Quote for the day

God said—and we know it from the Bible—”See, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). This is what God made come true at Easter. Would not this message appear even more impossible, strange, bizarre than the whole story of King David, which is almost harmless by comparison?

The only thing left is the decision whether we are willing to trust the word of the Bible or not, whether we are willing to let ourselves be held by it, as by no other word in life or in death. And, I believe, we can find true joy and peace only when we have made this decision…—Bonheoffer in Reflections on the Bible

<idle musing>
Hmm...we not only accept Easter, but say our faith hangs on the empty tomb. But, David, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, etc., didn't really exist? Doesn't there seem to be a disconnect here?

Jesus said "And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” Matthew 22:31-32 (RSV)

So does that mean that:
a. Jesus didn't know what he was talking about?
b. God is a liar?
c. We know better, because we live in the 21st century?
d. Bultmann was right, after all?
e. none of the above
f. all of the above
g. ???
</idle musing>

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Quote for the day

If I am the one who gets to decide where God will be found, then I will always find a god there, a god who some way or other is the kind of god I am looking for, a god I like, a god appropriate to my own nature and personality. But if God is the One who says where he will be Found, then this will very likely be the place that at first does not at all fit my own nature and character, a place I probably will not like at all. This place is the cross of Jesus. And those who want to find God there must take their place under the cross, as demanded by the Sermon on the Mount. This does not at all correspond to our nature; it is exactly contrary to it. But this is the message of the Bible, not only in the New Testament but also in the Old Testament (Isaiah 53!). in any case this was the understanding of both Jesus and Paul: in the cross of Jesus the Scripture, that is, the Old Testament, is fulfilled. Thus the whole Bible is permeated by the divine intention of being that word in which God wants to be found by us. No place that seems pleasant to us, or that at first even seems reasonable to us, but a place in every way strange to us, totally alien to us. Precisely there is the place God has chosen to meet us.—Bonheoffer in Reflections on the Bible

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Instant Greek?

There is a very interesting post at Better Bibles Blog about "Sunday School Greek."

The premise, put forward by Hank of Think Wink, and warmly received by the ESV Bible blog is that eve[r]yone in the church could learn Greek and Hebrew in Sunday School. And then people could decide for themselves all the sticky translation issues. The democratization of exegesis! We might wake up one day and find out that the world really is flat.

<idle musing>
Right! On the basis of how much Greek and Hebrew? I am all in favor of people learning the languages, after all, I was a Greek and Latin teacher, but let's be realistic about expectations here. One of the hardest things already about a language is managing expectations. A person outside of a consistent, almost daily, classroom setting has to be very highly motivated to learn a language, any language.

Furthermore, you can't do exegesis well with only 1-2 years of Greek or Hebrew, let alone judge translational issues. Not infrequently there are textual issues, as well as language issues. How many second year Greek or Hebrew students use the critical apparatus and understand what it means?

I have seen some of the translations that first and second year students come up with! Phooey, I remember some of my own!

By all means, learn the languages, at least enough to understand how to use the tools. But, don't assume that because you know a little of the language you can correct the translators. More accurately, you begin to understand the semantic domain of a word in the Greek/Hebrew and understand why the translations might disagree on the exact English word or phrase chosen.
</idle musing>

Quote for the day

Or—I might as well go ahead and ask myself now—am I perhaps already living so much within the framework of my own principles that I might not even notice if one day God should withdraw his living word from me? Perhaps I would just continue living by my own rules, but God’s command would no longer be with me. God’s command is God’s personal word to me for this day for my life here and now; it is, to be sure, not today one thing and something else tomorrow that God wants of me. In itself, God’s command is one. But the decisive difference is whether I obey God or live by my own principles. If I am satisfied to live by my own principles, then I cannot understand the psalmist’s prayer [Psalm 119:19]. But if I allow God himself to direct my way, then I am totally dependent on the grace that reveals itself to me or withholds itself from me, then I tremble at every word I receive from the mouth of God, tremble at the prospect of the next word and whether I will be maintained in grace. Then I am bound by grace in all my ways and decisions, and no false certainty can lead me astray from this living communion with God.—Bonhoeffer in Reflections on the Bible

Monday, January 22, 2007

Quote for the day

We have been getting together with Debbie's parents every Sunday evening to read from The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life, a classic from 1875. We have been reading from 1-4 chapters each time and discussing them. There were some real gems last night, but here is one of them:

The standard of practical holy living has been so low among Christians that the least degree of real devotedness of life and walk is looked upon with surprise, and often even with disapprobation, by a large portion of the Church. And, for the most part, the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ are satisfied with a life so conformed to the world and so like it in almost every respect, that, to a casual observer, no difference is discernible.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Out of Ur has an excellent article by Scot McKnight about the emerging church. Definitely worth the read.

Here are his main points, but take the time to read the whole thing. Don’t let the stereotypes you are hearing blind you to what God is doing amongst the emerging.

Following are five themes that characterize the emerging movement. I see them as streams flowing into the emerging lake. No one says the emerging movement is the only group of Christians doing these things, but together they crystallize into the emerging movement.

Prophetic (or at least provocative)
One of the streams flowing into the emerging lake is prophetic rhetoric. The emerging movement is consciously and deliberately provocative. Emerging Christians believe the church needs to change, and they are beginning to live as if that change had already occurred. Since I swim in the emerging lake, I can self-critically admit that we sometimes exaggerate.

Mark Twain said the mistake God made was in not forbidding Adam to eat the serpent. Had God forbidden the serpent, Adam would certainly have eaten him. When the evangelical world prohibited postmodernity, as if it were fruit from the forbidden tree, the postmodern "fallen" among us—like F. LeRon Shults, Jamie Smith, Kevin Vanhoozer, John Franke, and Peter Rollins—chose to eat it to see what it might taste like. We found that it tasted good, even if at times we found ourselves spitting out hard chunks of nonsense. A second stream of emerging water is postmodernism.

The emerging movement's connection to postmodernity may grab attention and garner criticism, but what most characterizes emerging is the stream best called praxis—how the faith is lived out. At its core, the emerging movement is an attempt to fashion a new ecclesiology (doctrine of the church). Its distinctive emphases can be seen in its worship, its concern with orthopraxy, and its missional orientation.

A fourth stream flowing into the emerging lake is characterized by the term post-evangelical. The emerging movement is a protest against much of evangelicalism as currently practiced. It is post-evangelical in the way that neo-evangelicalism (in the 1950s) was post-fundamentalist. It would not be unfair to call it postmodern evangelicalism. This stream flows from the conviction that the church must always be reforming itself.

A final stream flowing into the emerging lake is politics. Tony Jones is regularly told that the emerging movement is a latte-drinking, backpack-lugging, Birkenstock-wearing group of 21st-century, left-wing, hippie wannabes. Put directly, they are Democrats. And that spells "post" for conservative-evangelical-politics-as-usual.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The reformation

<idle musing>
Over the last year or so, I have been reading in different books that the reformation is over. There are various reasons advanced for it, such as postmodernism, or the "new" perspective on Paul, or this or that. Let me advance a slightly different reason.

I think the reformation is over for Evangelicals because they are just as much an administratively top heavy church, complete with their own "popes" as the Roman church is.

When I was in college we had a speaker in chapel once who talked of the "papacy of the popular paperback." That stuck with me, not just because of the alliteration, but because he spoke the truth. Well, I can say we have moved beyond that. Yep, it is no longer the papacy of the popular paperback, it is now the hegemony of the hottest hardback (I should copyright that!). As evangelicals, we have advanced to hardcovers! Isn't that a stride forward for the kingdom!

I would say the semper reformandum is no longer the cry of the Evangelical, or protestant for that matter, church. It is now "protect the status quo!" Let me keep my powerbase and extend it—all for the kingdom of God, of course! Is it not interesting that the very things that the late pre-reformation popes were accused of (loose sex, ostentatious living, building earthly kingdoms) are the very things that are now engulfing the big names in Evangelicalism? God is not mocked.

And where is the new reformation? Same place it always is, among the unnoticed things, the simple things. Look at the emerging church and the house church movement. That is where the new reformation is happening. Sure, they are less than perfect, but so was the 16th century reformation, and every one before and after it. But, if attacks from the established powers are any indication, it stands in the same tradition. Mind you, in a generation or three, this reformation movement will become the establishment and will probably end up persecuting and attacking the next reformation.
</idle musing>

Friday, January 19, 2007

Quote for a Friday

God’s word is sown not in my intellect but in my heart. Not as something to be analyzed to death but as something kept alive in our hearts like the word of a beloved friend or member of the family that rests gently in our heart even when we are not consciously aware of it—this is the goal of the word that comes to us from the mouth of God. If I only keep God’s word in my intellect, then my thoughts will often be occupied with other matters, and what God has to say to me will miss its target. So we are never finished with God’s word when we merely read the Bible; it must penetrate deep within us, dwell in us like the Most Holy Place within the sanctuary, so that we do not go astray in our thoughts, words, and deeds. It is often better to read only a little in Scripture and wait until it has penetrated deep within us than to know a lot about God’s word but not ‘treasure it in our hearts.’”—Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I am trying to prepare the next Scholar's Source for press. Normally it is a pretty straight forward procedure, everything announced in the last 3-4 months gets included. Then it is just a matter of deciding which ones to feature, usually a pretty easy decision. But this time...

The first catalog of the year is always our software update, so I have to set aside space for all the software. And, we always have 7 pages of Eisenbrauns titles. All this is normal stuff, but this year there seems to have been more books than normal. I have reduced the featured books to a minimum, almost everything is line listings, and I am still 2 pages over–and that is without adding any software! And, with all those extra line listings, the index will take an extra page, too...

Maybe we should do like the Oxford English Dictionary does with the 2 volume edition, include a magnifying glass. Then I could reduce the type and get all the listings on fewer pages. What do you think? I didn't think you'd agree. Oh well, back to slicing and dicing...

The sayings of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings which are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.

For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Qohelet (Ecclesiastes) 12:11-14 (RSV)

(extended) Quote for the day

"We come unconsciously to recognize two sets of actions. The first are performed with a feeling of satisfaction and a firm assurance that they are pleasing to God. These are the sacred acts and they are usually thought to be prayer, Bible reading, hymn singing, church attendance and such other acts as spring directly from faith. They maybe known by the fact that they have no direct relation to this world, and would have no meaning whatever except as faith shows us another world, 'an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.' (2Co_5:1)

"Over against these sacred acts are the secular ones.They include all of the ordinary activities of life which we share with the sons and daughters of Adam: eating, sleeping, working, looking after the needs of the body and performing our dull and prosaic duties here on earth. These we often do reluctantly and with many misgivings, often apologizing to God for what we consider a waste of time and strength. The upshot of this is that we are uneasy most of the time. We go about our common tasks with a feeling of deep frustration, telling ourselves pensively that there's a better day coming when we shall slough off this earthly shell and be bothered no more with the affairs of this world.

"This is the old sacred-secular antithesis. Most Christians are caught in its trap. They cannot get a satisfactory adjustment between the claims of the two worlds. They try to walk the tight rope between two kingdoms and they find no peace in either. Their strength is reduced, their outlook confused and their joy taken from them.
I believe this state of affairs to be wholly unnecessary. We have gotten ourselves on the horns of a dilemma, true enough, but the dilemma is not real. It is a creature of misunderstanding. The sacred-secular antithesis has no foundation in the New Testament."—A.W. Tozer in Pursuit of God

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Bless your kids!

Debbie and I have great kids. We love them dearly and pray for them regularly. They both love Jesus and aren't afraid to say so. I'm sure those of you who have kids feel the same way about your kids.

Jim Martin has a great post (part 1) on how to bless your kids here.

2. Prepare them for the battleground, not the playground. Some parents constantly buy their children toys, gadgets, candy, McDonald’s, etc. The kids then get into their high school years and the pampering continues. Only now, the toys are much more expensive. What does that communicate to these children?

Meanwhile, other parents prepare their children for life on the battleground where a spiritual battle is taking place. These parents realize that children need more than toys. They need to be equipped for life so that they will survive the difficulties and trials they will face.

3. Deal with your issues. There are no perfect human beings. Yet, if you don’t deal with your own issues (your sins, your insecurities, your feelings of inadequacy, etc.) these can impact your children. They may end up having to deal with some of the very issues which you would never grapple with.

I look forward to the remaining 5.

Quote for the day

“…has it not again and again become terribly clear in all that we have said here to each other that we are no longer obedient to the Bible? We prefer our own ideas to those of the Bible. We no longer read the Bible seriously, no longer read it as against us but only as for us.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Reflections on the Bible

<idle musing>
It is so much easier to read the biblical text and find what I want, rather than what God is trying to say to me through it. When Bonhoeffer says against us, he means against our flesh, against our ideas, against all that would exalt itself against God.

Proof texting is a dangerous game, in doing it, we remove a word from its context and re-form it into our word instead of a word from God. We take the Holy Spirit breath away from it and breath on it the breath of hell instead. That is what Bonhoeffer saw happening, the church ceased to stand against the wickedness of society and instead endorsed it—even Nazi theology. But, before we condemn the German church, let's look at ourselves. When was the last time we even stopped to think before indulging in something that society would say is "normal?" We need to stop and ask what God says is normal, taking our definition of normal from the scriptures, instead of from the scripts that society reads to us all day and night.
</idle musing>

Monday, January 15, 2007

ANE Thought and the OT, part 3

This is the third and final post concerning John Walton’s Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament and will discuss part 5: People. This is by far the longest section of the book, constituting over 1/3 of the book (over 100 pages). He divides it up into 6 chapters: 2 concerning how the ancients understood the past, with a good chapter on historiography; 3 concerning the present, including divination and omens, cities and kingship, and law and wisdom; and finally, one concerning the future.

The chapter on historiography is very good, nothing earth shattering, but a good overview. The chapter on divination and omens has two interesting “Comparative Explorations” which I will comment on.

The first one, on pages 257-258, takes Jeremiah 31:33 and re-examines it in light of ANE traditions. The metaphor of “writing on one’s heart” is well known from scripture and is usually interpreted as a metaphor for memory or intimate familiarity. The problem is that in Jeremiah 31, YHWH is the one doing the writing, not the individual. Walton claims that this should cause us to look at the divination texts for a context, since it was believed by the ancients that the deities wrote on the exta of animals. He argues that NTN and KTB as verbs, with a preposition and QEREB and LEB as the objects, reflects the same idea as the deities writing on the exta of animals. He is quick to point out that there are significant differences, but the point is that YHWH writes torah on the hearts of his people. “People with the law written on their heart become a medium of communication. Writing on the heart replaces not the law, but the teaching of the law. The law on stone had to be taught and could be ignored. The law on the heart represents a medium of modeling, in which case it is not being ignored.” (italics his). A provocative interpretation.

The second “Comparative Exploration” begins on page 262 and discusses Joshua 10:12-15, the sun and moon standing still. He says we should examine the text in light of the world of omens, instead of physics. To that end Walton refers to the Mesopotamian celestial omen texts and compares the verbs used there with the ones in Joshua. His conclusion is that it refers to a non-propitious day, with the sun and moon both at the horizons, although opposite ones. He refers to his article inFaith, Tradition, and Historyfor more details–an Eisenbrauns book I haven’t read!

In the chapter “Law and Wisdom,” he offers an alternative understanding of Job, based on the shurpu incantation series. Walton claims that what Job’s friends are trying to do is convince him that he should make a blanket confession, thus placating the deity and being returned to favor. Or, to put it another way, say you were wrong somewhere so that the god stops persecuting you and instead begins to bless you. Just exactly what the adversary was saying: Job serves god for the benefits only! Righteousness didn’t matter, just rewards, the classic do ut dar [I give that I might be given] as the Romans used to say. “This modification, rather than offering a revised theodicy, seeks to reinterpret the justice of God from something that may be debated to something that is a given.” (page 308)

The final chapter, on death and life after death, reviews the little that we know (outside of Egypt) about what the ancients thought about the afterlife. He concludes that the Israelite view was very similar to the Mesopotamian view, bleak.

He ends the book with a postscript and an appendix listing the major Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Canaanite gods. The bibliography runs about 10 pages and is quite thorough. A scripture, foreign words, modern author, ancient literature, and subject index are also included.

I found the book a delightful read and a good synthesis. I know (as does Walton) that many don’t believe we can make a synthesis of this type, but I disagree. It is better to try to create a synthesis, acknowledging how much we don’t know, than to wait until we have enough data—whatever that means—to attempt it at a later date.

Quote for today

"Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and the servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all.

"When religion has said its last word, there is little that we need other than God Himself. The evil habit of seeking God-and effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the 'and' lies our great woe. If we omit the 'and', we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing."—A.W. Tozer, Pursuit of God

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Grand Liberation!

“I threw myself into the work in a very unchristian and rather arrogant manner. A mind-boggling ambition, which many have noticed about me, made my life difficult and separated me from the love and trust of my fellow human beings. At that time I was terribly alone and left to my own devices. That was really a terrible time. Then something different happened, something that has changed my life, turned it around to this very day. I came to the Bible for the first time. It is terribly difficult for me to say that. I had already preached several times, had seen a lot of the church, had given speeches about it and written about it—but I had still not become a Christian, I was very much an untamed child, my own master. I know, at that time I had turned this whole business about Jesus Christ into an advantage for myself, a kind of crazy vanity. I pray God, it will never be so again. I had also never prayed, or at least not much and not really. With all my loneliness, I was still quite pleased with myself. It was from this that the Bible—especially the Sermon on the Mount—freed me. Since then everything is different. I am clearly aware of it myself; and even those around me have noticed it. That was a grand liberation.”—Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Quote for a Saturday

“The Divine life within us comes from God, and is entirely dependent upon Him. As I need every moment afresh the air to breathe, as the sun every moment afresh sends down its light, so it is only in direct living communication with God that my soul can be strong.”—Andrew Murray

Friday, January 12, 2007

Forthcoming Greek and Hebrew tools

These wide margin or loose-leaf editions have recently been announced. You might find them useful:

Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia
Wide Margin Edition
Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart, Forthcoming March 2007
lvii + 1574 pages, Hebrew
ISBN: 9781598561999
List Price: $69.95
Your Price: $52.46
This is based on the standard edition, but with a wide margin for notes.


Novum Testamentum Graece
Wide Margin Edition
27th edition
Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart, Forthcoming March 2007
812 pages, German, English, and Greek, Cloth
ISBN: 9781598562002
List Price: $59.95
Your Price: $53.96
This is a wide margin edition of the NA 27 Greek text.

Greek New Testament with Dictionary (Loose-leaf) Loose-Leaf Edition
Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart, Forthcoming March 2007
600 pages, Greek
5 hole-punched pages, 8.5 x 11
ISBN: 9781598562019
List Price: $39.95
Your Price: $37.15

I saw page proofs of these at AAR/SBL in Washington in November. They use the same fonts and pagination as the original, just with more space for notes.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

More from CT

Christianity Today recently posted an interview with N.T. Wright, here's a good reflection on Gnosticim:

The Gnostic conspiracy theory says that orthodoxy hushed up the really exciting thing and promoted this boring sterile thing with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And of course there's a great lie underneath that. In the second and third centuries, the people being thrown to the lions and burned at the stake and sawed in two were not the ones reading Thomas and Judas and the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Mary. They were the ones reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Because the empire is perfectly happy with Gnosticism. Gnosticism poses no threat to the empire. Whereas Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John do. It's the church's shame that in the last 200 years, the church has muzzled Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and turned them into instruments of a controlling, sterile orthodoxy. But the texts themselves are explosive.


There is a very good excerpt from Christianity Today entitled Dethroned. Here's a short quote, but you really should read the whole thing:

When I started getting interested in politics and national affairs, I once again was brought up short by the claims of Jesus. To affirm that Jesus Christ is Lord is to acknowledge that no political leader, party, flag, nation, or ideology can share lordship over my life. The one who confesses Christ alone as Lord cannot simultaneously affirm utmost loyalty to another idea or person.

This realization has constricted my understanding of politics. I've learned to fear the seductive power of political ideologies, the temptation to idealize political leaders, and the amoral bloodlust of partisan politics. Perhaps I have overreacted.

My study of German churches under Nazism has certainly formed my understanding of how disastrous the confusion of loyalties to God and country can become. But especially around election time, I feel my blood run hot for politics once again—so a reminder that Jesus Christ is Lord is very timely.

Quote for today

“Worship is more than just singing. Worship is an entire life devoted to living in a way that honors God. It is any decision we make that demonstrates Jesus Christ is the Lord of our lives. The definition of worship is simple: it is any act that tells God he is important to us. And as we live our lives in a way that brings honor to God, we transform every place we are – every part of our lives ndash; into a place of worship. To put it another way, everywhere becomes a sanctuary, and there are always seats available for us to fill…” jacket of a church’s worship CD

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Dose of Tozer for today

Ryan (our son) called us last night asking for prayer for a difficult meeting he was going to. While I was praying for him, my eyes happened to glance at a beaten up old copy of Pursuit of God that was sitting on my bookshelf. Here is what I opened to:

The doctrine of justification by faith--a Biblical truth, and a blessed relief from sterile legalism and unavailing self-effort--has in our time fallen into evil company and been interpreted by many in such manner as actually to bar men from the knowledge of God. The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a jar to the moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego. Christ may be 'received' without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is 'saved,' but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God. In fact he is specifically taught to be satisfied and encouraged to be content with little.—A.W. Tozer, Pursuit of God, chapter 1

<idle musing>
Incidentally, the meeting was about that very thing!
</idle musing>

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, continued

I'm reading Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament right now, and this is part 2 of my impressions.

A brief recap from last time:
The book is divided into 5 parts:
1. Comparative Studies
2. Literature of the Ancient Near East
3. Religion
4. Cosmos
5. People

Last time I mentioned parts 1 & 2 and a brief note on part 3. One thing I failed to mention is that the bibliography in the book is great. The footnotes are very helpful, pointing to sources for further reference.
<cheap plug>
Of course, John is a longtime Eisenbrauns customer and it shows in the breadth of his sources.
</cheap plug>

The section on Religion deals with the state cults as well as personal deity/family religion. It is very interesting reading; a good introduction for those new to ANE and OT studies. John is well aware of the dangers inherent here, for example this quote on prayer: “Most of us would have trouble making such distinctions [between true piety and prudence] in the roots of our own prayers and should be reluctant to draw conclusions from the literary prayers that are preserved from the ancient world.” (page 146). His emphasis is on defining in what ways the ancient Israelites were in continuity with their neighbors and in what ways they were not. To that end, there are periodic “Comparative Exploration” boxes throughout the book. These take a topic that is being discussed and highlight how the ANE and Israelite outlooks were similar and different.

I just finished the Cosmos section and John does a good job of highlighting how differently we think from how the ancients thought. We think in terms of substance—dirt, rock, iron, flesh, but the ancients thought in terms of function—“In other words, something exists when it has a function, not when it takes up space or is a substance characterized by material properties. . . The physical aspects of the cosmos did not define its existence or its importance; they were merely the tools the gods used for carrying out their purposes. The purposes of the gods were of prime interest to them.” (page 167)

He has several “Comparative Exploration” boxes related to Genesis 1 in this section. This is one of his main interests, as reflected in the NIVAC Genesis commentary that he did and in at least one forthcoming book on the cosmology of Genesis (not yet announced). I’m not a big fan of the NIVAC series, but I might have to get the Genesis volume after reading this book. The information in the book is sufficient for his purposes, but it piques my interest for further reading.

Part 5 is People; I hope to read that section this week and post on it over the weekend.

Monday, January 08, 2007

New Interpreter's Bible on sale

For the next 10 days, Eisenbrauns is offering the New Interpreter's Bible at 40% off, both print and electronic version.

To purchase, or see the graphics, go here

Here's what's on sale:

"The New Interpreter's Bible, volume 1: General and Old Testament
Articles; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus"
by Terence E. Fretheim, Walter Brueggemann, and Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.
New Interpreter's Bible - NIB 1
Abingdon, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0687278147
List Price: $70.00 Your Price: $42.00

"The New Interpreter's Bible, volume 2: Numbers, Deuteronomy,
Introduction to Narrative Literature, Joshua, Judges,
Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel"
by Thomas B. Dozeman, et al.
New Interpreter's Bible - NIB 2
Abingdon, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0687278155
List Price: $70.00 Your Price: $42.00

"The New Interpreter's Bible, volume 3: 1 and 2 Kings,
1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, Esther,
Additions to Esther, Tobit, Judith"
by Choon-Leong Seow, et al.
New Interpreter's Bible - NIB 3
Abingdon, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0687278163
List Price: $70.00 Your Price: $42.00

"The New Interpreter's Bible, volume 4: 1 and 2 Macabees,
Introduction to Hebrew Poetry, Job, Psalms"
by Robert Doran, et al.
New Interpreter's Bible - NIB 4
Abingdon, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0687278171
List Price: $70.00 Your Price: $42.00

"The New Interpreter's Bible, volume 5: Introduction to Wisdom
Literature, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Book of Wisdom, Sirach"
by Richard J. Clifford, et al.
New Interpreter's Bible - NIB 5
Abingdon, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 068727818X
List Price: $60.00 Your Price: $36.00

"The New Interpreter's Bible, Volume 6: Introduction to Prophetic
Literature; Isaiah; Jeremiah; Baruch; Letter to Jeremiah;
Lamentations; Ezekiel"
by David L. Petersen, et al.
New Interpreter's Bible - NIB 6
Abingdon, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0687278198
List Price: $70.00 Your Price: $42.00

"The New Interpreter's Bible, volume 7: Introduction to Apocalyptic
Literature, Daniel, Twelve Prophets"
by Frederick J. Murphy, Daniel L. Smith-Christopher, and Gale A. Yee
New Interpreter's Bible - NIB 7
Abingdon, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0687278201
List Price: $60.00 Your Price: $36.00

"The New Interpreter's Bible, volume 8: General Articles on the
New Testament, Matthew, Mark"
by M. Eugene Boring and Pheme Perkins
New Interpreter's Bible - NIB 8
Abingdon, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 068727821X
List Price: $60.00 Your Price: $36.00

"The New Interpreter's Bible, volume 9: Luke; John"
by R. Alan Culpepper
New Interpreter's Bible - NIB 9
Abingdon, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0687278228
List Price: $60.00 Your Price: $36.00

"The New Interpreter's Bible, Volume 10: Acts, Introduction to
Epistolary Literature, Romans, 1 Corinthians"
by Robert W. Wall, N. T. Wright, and J. Paul Sampley
New Interpreter's Bible - NIB 10
Abingdon, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0687278236
List Price: $70.00 Your Price: $42.00

"The New Interpreter's Bible, volume 11: 2 Corinthians, Galatians,
Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians"
by Richard B. Hays, et al.
New Interpreter's Bible - NIB 11
Abingdon, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0687278244
List Price: $60.00 Your Price: $36.00

"The New Interpreter's Bible, volume 12: Hebrews, James, 1 and
2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John, Jude and Revelation"
by C. Clifton Black, et al.
New Interpreter's Bible - NIB 12
Abingdon, Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0687278252
List Price: $60.00 Your Price: $36.00

"The New Interpreter's Bible: Complete Twelve Volume Commentary
on CD-ROM (Windows and Mac)"
Abingdon, CD-ROM. English.
ISBN: 0687019990
List Price: $780.00 Your Price: $468.00

Quote for the day

This is the final quote from the Conversations of Practice of the Presence of God:
“Brother Lawrence felt it was a great delusion to think that the times of prayer ought to differ from other times. We are as strictly obliged to adhere to God by action in the time of action, as by prayer in its season. His own prayer was nothing else but a sense of the presence of God, his soul being at that time insensible to everything but Divine Love. When the appointed times of prayer were past, he found no difference, because he still continued with God, praising and blessing Him with all his might. Thus he passed his life in continual joy.”

Sunday evening reading

Last night we got together with Debbie’s parents again to continue reading through The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, reading more 5 chapters. We are now half way through the book, which is very strong on faith. Here are a few excerpts:

Your idea of faith, I suppose, has been something like this. You have looked upon it as in some way a sort of thing, either a religious exercise of soul, or an inward gracious disposition of heart; something tangible, in fact, which, when you have got, you can look at and rejoice over, and use as a passport to God’s favor, or a coin with which to purchase His gifts. And you have been praying for faith, expecting all the while to get something
like this, and never having received any such thing, you are insisting upon it that you have no faith. Now faith, in fact, is not in the least this sort of thing. It is nothing at all tangible. It is simply believing God, and, like sight, it is nothing apart from its object. You might as well shut your eyes and look inside to see whether you have sight, as to look inside to discover whether you have faith. You see something, and thus know that you have sight; you believe something, and thus know that you have faith. For, as sight is only seeing, so faith is only believing. And as the only necessary thing about seeing is, that you see the thing as it is, so the only necessary thing about believing is, at you believe the thing as it is. The virtue does not lie in your believing, but in the thing you believe.

When a believer really trusts anything, he ceases to worry about that thing which he has trusted. And when he worries, it is a plain proof that he does not trust. Tested by this rule how little real trust there is in the Church of Christ! No wonder our Lord asked the pathetic question, “When the Son of Man cometh shall he find faith on the earth?” He will find plenty of activity, a great deal of earnestness, and doubtless many consecrated hearts; but shall he find faith, the one thing He values more than all the rest?

<idle musing>
Scary indictments, yet I fear only too true. The book was written in 1875, but it feels like it could have been written yesterday (apart from the archaisms in the language). We could substitute programs for activity, and it would describe the average church today.
</idle musing>

It seems strange that people, whose very name of Believers implies that their one chiefest characteristic is that they believe, should have to confess to such experiences. And yet it is such a universal habit that I feel if the majority of the Church were to be named over again, the only fitting and descriptive name that could be given them would be that of Doubters. In fact, most Christians have settled down under their doubts, as to a sort of
inevitable malady, from which they suffer acutely, but to which they must try to be resigned as a part of the necessary discipline of this earthly life.

<idle musing>
Ouch! And we’re only halfway through the book! Stay tuned for next week’s installment, or buy/download the book for yourself and read it.
</idle musing>

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Brother Lawrence on sanctification

“Our sanctification did not depend upon changing our works. Instead, it depended on doing that for God's sake which we commonly do for our own. He [Brother Lawrence] thought it was lamentable to see how many people mistook the means for the end, addicting themselves to certain works which they performed very imperfectly by reason of their human or selfish regards. The most excellent method he had found for going to God was that of doing our common business without any view of pleasing men but purely for the love of God.”— Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

<idle musing>
Wise words. God is there in the ordinary, taking it and making it holy. We need to let go of the Greek dichotomy of secular and sacred. In the biblical world view, all is sacred, since all was created by and for God.
</idle musing>

Friday, January 05, 2007

Latest on Renee

I appreciate all the prayers that have been offered. This will probably be the last I post on this, unless the situation changes.

Happy Friday morning! Renee has just come off the magnesium sulfate that decreased the contractions. She's pretty happy to be off the IV, and might get a wheelchair ride down to the nursery! Now she will be monitored for the few hours to see how she does on her own. If the contractions do not flare up we will be able to go home, hopefully yet today, with an oral drug to inhibit the contractions. She'll be placed on bed rest for a couple weeks. The baby could be born safely today but would have to stay in the hospital for a week after its born.


We've had peace so far as long as we do not look to the right or the left at the potential worries, but keep our eyes straight ahead on Jesus who isn't worried. Renee says she keeps running into this wall of peace. I guess that would be the strong fortress.

Quote for the day

“Brother Lawrence said that many do not advance in the Christian progress because they stick in penances and particular exercises while they neglect the love of God which is the end. This appeared plainly by their works and was the reason why we see so little solid virtue. He said there needed neither art nor science for going to God, but only a heart resolutely determined to apply itself to nothing but Him and to love Him only.” —Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Update on Renee

I just received an e-mail from Joel & Renee:

Renee is doing well, the contractions really settled down and the doctor is excited about that. She will receive another shot for development of the baby's lungs this morning, and have to wait another 24 hours on the magnesium sulfate IV til we see if [we] can go home.

It looks hopeful that we'll go home tomorrow, but Renee will be on moderate bed rest, whatever that means. Now she can only get up to use the bathroom. Which is quite the process considering all the hoses and cords, and that the medication is making her weak.

I'm glad I'm here to help. With some sleeping pills and Tylenol she was finally able to sleep last night despite the nurses checking on her and the bright computer lights. We wish we were here having a baby, but its best if Sweet Pea comes full term.

Moderate bed rest with a 21 month old son? Hmm...We really do appreciate all your prayers.

Eisenbrauns' January Sale

For January, Eisenbrauns is having a clearance sale!

To help make room for all those great new titles coming in 2007, we are offering 17-77% off on 59 titles that are overstocked. The sale is limited to the quantity on hand, first come, first served, so hurry.

To see all the sale items, please visit:

I'm not making money on most of these, so you probably won't find a better deal anywhere else. For example:
eBible Platinum Edition on CD-ROM (Windows)
Thomas Nelson, CD-ROM. English.
ISBN: 0785250247
List Price: $399.99 Your Price: $136.99 (66% savings and about $100 cheaper than anybody else!)

Tozer on the self

The recent Tozer quote over on Jim West's blog led me to scanning back through Pursuit of God over the weekend. I ran across this quote:

"For sin has played many evil tricks upon us, and one has been the infusing into us a false sense of shame. There is hardly a man or woman who dares to be just what he or she is without doctoring up the impression. The fear of being found out gnaws like rodents within their hearts. The man of culture is haunted by the fear that he will some day come upon a man more cultured than himself. The learned man fears to meet a man more learned than he. The rich man sweats under the fear that his clothes or his car or his house will sometime be made to look cheap by comparison with those of another rich man. So-called 'society' runs by a motivation not higher than this, and the poorer classes on their level are little better…

"This unnatural condition is part of our sad heritage of sin, but in our day it is aggravated by our whole way of life. Advertising is largely based upon this habit of pretense. 'Courses' are offered in this or that field of human learning frankly appealing to the victim's desire to shine at a party. Books are sold, clothes and cosmetics are peddled, by playing continually upon this desire to appear what we are not. Artificiality is one curse that will drop away the moment we kneel at Jesus' feet and surrender ourselves to His meekness. Then we will not care what people think of us so long as God is pleased. Then what we are will be everything; what we appear will take its place far down the scale of interest for us. Apart from sin we have nothing of which to be ashamed. Only an evil desire to shine makes us want to appear other than we are."—A.W. Tozer, Pursuit of God, Chapter 9

What more is there to say?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Jerusalem view

Lawson is back to blogging again, and has a good post from Jerusalem, where he is leading a group of seminary students. Here is a snippet from a very good post concerning the theological only view of the biblical text:

They rightly realize that faith cannot be tethered to the ephemeral whims of scholarly fashion. Unfortunately, they choose to ignore that insisting on the historical character of biblical truth does not necessitate enslavement to scholarly fads—unless one assumes naively (and many them do) that "the latest is the greatest" mistaking present trends for perennial truth. Similarly, to rate historical truth highly in theological interpretation doesn't necessitate historiography being a "tether" or "basis" for faith. Historical study typically enriches and enlarges, often correcting and focusing interpretations the truths already clearly implied in the text. They also get it right that the Bible's primary reference is to theological truth, but again, they ignore the centuries-old recognition, going all the way back to the Church Fathers, that the Bible refers to theological truth by means of historical reference. It is a mediated revelation: truth comes via historically shaped texts to alert, investigating, thoughtful faith. St. John says "The Word became flesh" not "The Word became text."

He has more, have a read.

Prayer request

I just received a phone call from Debbie. Renee (our daughter) is on her way to the hospital in Duluth (2 hours away from where they live in Grand Marais, MN). She is in labor, six weeks early. I would appreciate your prayers.

Update: The doctors have given Renee something to cause the contractions to stop. Apparently, they don't want the baby to be born yet. She is going to stay in the hospital overnight and then return home. I appreciate the prayers that people offered. If anything changes, I will post it here.

Quote from Brother Lawrence

“He [Brother Lawrence] said that as far as the miseries and sins he heard of daily in the world, he was so far from wondering at them, that, on the contrary, he was surprised there were not more considering the malice sinners were capable of. For his part, he prayed for them. But knowing that God could remedy the mischief they did when He pleased, he gave himself no further trouble.” —Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New blog

I promised him I would wait until there was more than one post up before I announced it...Eisenbrauns acquisitions editor, John Cook, in association with one of his sons, Colin, has started a new blog entitled Beginning of Wisdom.

Here is how he describes it:

Having enjoyed a Latin Proverb of the Day blog and noting that nobody is doing anything similar for ancient Near Eastern wisdom literature, Colin and I have launched a new blog (mainly he picks the proverbs to discuss and I write up the post after we've discussed it over dinner).

Be sure to add it to your blogroll and check it out often. John is an excellent Hebraist and a good teacher as well.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Quote for the day

Over the weekend, I re-read the "Conversations" in The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. It is a delightful little book, and I will be posting quotes from it over the next few days. Here's the first one:

“Instead of taking faith for the rule of their conduct, men amused themselves with trivial devotions which changed daily. He[Brother Lawrence] said that faith was sufficient to bring us to a high degree of perfection. We ought to give ourselves up to God with regard both to things temporal and spiritual and seek our satisfaction only in the fulfilling of His will. Whether God led us by suffering or by consolation all would be equal to a soul truly resigned.”

What I'm reading now

As you probably gathered by the quote from the afterword, I have finished Bonhoeffer's Ethics. I am currently reading Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament . As I read it, I will be making brief comments; here is the summary of the first 100 or so pages.

The first part, consisting of 2 chapters, deals with comparative studies and examines the historical uses, both those who have attempted to defend the historicity of the text and those who have sought to show it wasn't historical. Walton defines a third alternative, which is his purpose, illuminating the text in order to avoid exegetical missteps.

The second part is a brief summary of the available literature from the ANE, complete with bibliographical references for those who wish to go deeper. The summary fills the purpose of the book fine, but if you are really interested in the wealth of material available, then Sparks, Ancient Texts for the Study of the Hebrew Bible is a better source.

The third part, where I am currently reading, consists of 3 chapters on the religion of the ANE. I found this quote, relating to the function of gods, especially interesting:

“Since their ontology was function oriented, a god who does not function or act fades into virtual nonexistence.” – page 94.

<idle musing>
Hmm, how is that different from now? Most people in the U.S. are functioning atheists (including many christians). They don’t believe that any deity can affect their lives on a day to day basis, so for all intents and purposes, a god doesn’t exist. Their ontology is strictly self-oriented and self-contained. The only time they trot out their god is for patriotic events, or in an emergency, or Sunday, or to impress others with how religious/ethical/moral they are. Far cry from real Christianity, at least as portrayed in the biblical text, where God is a daily reality and prayers are offered and answered.
</idle musing>

New Year's Eve

Last night we went over to Debbie's parents place for dinner and to watch the new year come in. After dinner, we decided to read a chapter in a book that we had read the first chapter in on Christmas Eve, each of us taking a turn reading about a page out loud. Well, it turned into 4 more chapters, and we probably would have read another 1-2, except the neighbors came over.

The book is an old Christian classic called The Christian's Secret to a Happy Life, available just about everywhere, including online. We were reading from the Barbour edition. Here are a few choice quotes:

A keen observer once said to me, “You Christians seem to have a religion that makes you miserable. You are like a man with a headache. He does not want to get rid of his head, but it hurts him to keep it.”

The greatest burden we have to carry in life is self. The most difficult thing we have to manage is self. Our own daily living, our frames and feelings, our especial weaknesses and temptations, and our peculiar temperaments, our inward affairs of every kind, these are the things that perplex and worry us more than anything else, and that bring us oftenest into bondage and darkness. In laying off your burdens, therefore, the first one you must get rid of is yourself. You must hand yourself and all your inward experiences, your temptations, your temperament, your frames and feelings, all over into the care and keeping of your God, and leave them there. He made you, and therefore He understands you and knows how to manage you, and you must trust Him to do it.

“According to our faith,” is always the limit and the rule.

But this faith of which I am speaking must be a present faith. No faith that is exercised in the future tense amounts to anything. A man may believe forever that his sins will be forgiven at some future time, and he will never find peace. He has to come to the now belief, and say by faith, “My sins are now forgiven,” before he can live the new life. And, similarly, no faith which looks for a future deliverance from the power of sin, will ever lead a soul into the life we are describing. The enemy delights in this future faith, for he knows it is powerless to accomplish any practical results. But he trembles and flees when the soul of the believer dares to claim a present deliverance, and to reckon itself now to be free from his power.

Sight is not faith, and hearing is not faith, neither is feeling faith; but believing when we can neither see, hear, nor feel is faith; and everywhere the Bible tells us our salvation is to be by faith. Therefore we must believe before we feel, and often against our feelings, if we would honor God by our faith. It is always he that believeth who has the witness, not he that doubteth.

On the whole, a most enjoyable way to bring in the new year! We plan on reading about a chapter each week together.