Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘craig blomberg’

5.5.  This post is dedicated to all the men who have endured a pregnant woman’s nesting phase.  It hits with little or no provocation or warning.  When it comes, it comes.  On a related note, there is not a speck of dust in our entire house, so feel free to come over and eat off our floors.

5. The Society of Biblical Literature has recently announced the publication of the SBL Greek New Testament.  This critical edition of the Greek New Testament was edited by Michael W Holmes and differs from the standard NA/UBS text (for those interested, I generally use the UBS, mainly because I hate the font in the Nestle-Aland edition) in more than 540 places.  If you are a Logos Bible Software user, you can get a free download.  You can go here to see other free download opportunities.

4. Okay, let’s get to business.  The NIV 2011 has been officially released; with a copyright date of 2010.  Love it.  If you go to biblegateway.com and use the NIV, you will be using the updated edition.  The word on the street is that the physical copy will be released in March 2011.  I appreciated the Translators’ Notes (pdf, drafted by Craig Blomberg) which helps explain some of the Committee’s decisions.  It was well written and is a helpful look at the ins-and-outs of Bible translation.  You can also view quick comments from Doug Moo, who chaired the Committee. 

3. The most interesting aspect of the NIV 2011 (in my opinion) is the partnership with Collins Bank of English, who have tracked trends in the English language for quite sometime.  If you read the Translators’ Notes given above, you’ll see how this helped the Committee through the process.  This aids in avoiding purely personal and anecdotal evidence in changes in the English language, which is especially crucial considering the Committee is largely made up of middle-aged (or older), highly educated people- not exactly a representation of the English speaking world.  This was an ingenious idea, and I’m glad the Committee went this route.

2.  The Gospel Coalition and Bible Gateway are teaming up to offer a translation forum called Perspectives in Translation.  The format is this: there is a question issued (e.g., how should Romans 1:17 be translated?) and various scholars offer their opinions in a concise format.  Love the idea, not sure I love the implementation.  Let me lay it out for you: 

  • First, there isn’t a main page that has links to the various questions and answers.  The outcome is that it’s a pain in the rear to find things.  There ought to be a page with each question (such as the one above) and links to the answers given.  That would seem to be an obvious approach, so I’m not sure who fell asleep on that one.  To be frank, it’s a mess.
  • Second, there isn’t a ton of interaction between the contributors.  I was looking forward to scholars debating (in a friendly way, of course) some of these issues. 
  • Third, there are Bible scholars contributing, but no linguists.  One of the common mistakes lay people make is assuming that someone who knows Greek or Hebrew is qualified to translate.  But understanding how languages work is a pretty crucial aspect of translating any document into any language.  But, maybe I’m not giving these particular scholars enough credit.

Lest anyone think I’m completely down on this forum, I’ll say that I do love the idea and think it can improve.  I did enjoy Moo’s post on Romans 1:17 (and I agree, I doubt the average person would know what “from faith to faith” would mean).

1. For those interested in comparing the NIV 2011 (©2010) to the TNIV and the NIV 1984, you are in luck.  You can view them side-by-side-by-side at Bible Gateway.  But big kudos need to go to Robert Slowley, who has spent a ridiculous amount of time working on some comparions.  If you want a basic look at comparing the three versions in the NIV family, check out this link.  Another interesting comparison page provided by Robert: the 250 most changed verses.  If you want to see more, check out this roundup of links from Mark Stevens, as well as John Dyer’s page of comparisons.  These help explain an apparent discrepancy.  The Committee claimed that they kept about 95% of the original NIV, yet some of the numbers being quoted are more like 60%.  The Committe kept 95% of the same words, but 60% of the verses went unchanged.  I say that just in case anyone is confused, it was on John’s page that I realize where these numbers were coming from.  Thanks to Robert Slowley and John Dyer for putting the time in to track these changes, and thanks to Mark Stevens for bringing various links together in one helpful post.

Read Full Post »

I figured I’d continue my “5 Scholars” gimmick series with some thoughts on scholars who I wish would write more for a non-academic audience.  This is a follow-up to my “Must Read” and “Good Read” lists.  Some of these guys have already written some things for a non-academic audience, but would benefit many by writing even more.  In my opinion, it takes a certain skill to write for laypeople, a skill not all Bible scholars (or scholars of any stripe) are blessed with.  These five, however, have what it takes to make it work, and I hope they do so in the future.  Anyway, without further ado, here we go.

(1) Craig Blomberg.  Blomberg is a favorite of mine.  He’s a solid Bible scholar; writes nothing flashy or earth-shattering, but consistently churns out quality books.  I’ve previously reviewed his Jesus & the Gospels and Neither Poverty Nor Riches here at BBG.  Both of these books can be read by lay people (especially the one on the Gospels), yet are bulky and detailed enough that I’m not sure many would be drawn to them.  The same goes for his The Historical Reliability of the Gospels.  Perhaps I’m wrong, but I feel like his books could be read by laypeople, but don’t target them. 

Books I’d like to see

  • Blomberg is excellent on parables, perhaps a scaled down version (i.e., not 300+ pages) of what he’s previously written
  • A lay introduction to Jesus, focusing less on scholarship and more on the Gospel accounts (maybe condense sections 3-5 of his Jesus & the Gospels)
  • Of all the scholars I read, Blomberg could pull off a Jesus/Gospels Q & A better than anyone.  I could see him sitting down in a room with 20 laypeople, answering questions in a way that would be informing and transforming.  I’d love to see him do something like this, addressing questions of interpretation, historicity, etc.  This may be something better done on his blog, but either way, I think it’d be great. 

(2) Douglas Moo.  For my money, Moo is one of the finest NT scholars out there.  I place his Romans commentary as my personal favorite, his James commentary is up there with the best, and I’d bet his Colossians/Philemon commentary is just as good.  Granted, he has written lay level commentaries on Romans and James, but I’m learning that commentaries are not as popular amongst laypeople as perhaps they once were. 

Books I’d like to see

  • An Intro to Paul, something along the lines of what Michael Bird accomplished and Anthony Thiselton tried to
  • Some of D A Carson’s best stuff are his expositions on sections of Scripture (Sermon on the Mount, for example).  I could see Moo doing something like this on a section like Romans 5-8, or maybe the intersection of faith & works.
  • I’ve heard Moo is writing a book on creation and the environment.  Again, if anyone could write a book like this detailing what the Bible teaches about God’s creation to a lay audience, I think Moo could do it.
  • A book on Bible translation.  As the chairman of the committee responsible for the upcoming NIV2011, Moo could do everyone in the church a service by writing about how translations are done, what sorts of issues are involved, why it’s more complicated than it looks, etc.

(3) Bruce Waltke.  Waltke is a gifted communicator with a passion for the church.  He openly admits that he writes for the church more so than the academy.  The only problem is that his books tend to be huge and detailed, something that makes them far less accessible to laypeople (you know, the ones who actually comprise most of the church) than to scholars &/or trained pastors.  His OT Theology weighs in at 1000+ pages (and took me forever to review), and his Proverbs commentary might be the best around, but is 2 Volumes totalling 1300+ pages.

Books I’d like to see

  • A condensed version of his OT Theology
  • A book on biblical wisdom, not so much an intro to wisdom literature, but a look at what it means to live wisely in a biblical sense in the 21st century
  • A similar book on the Psalms, what can the Psalms teach us about how we live, worship, etc.

(4) Gordon Wenham.  I feel like Wenham is often overlooked when discussing the best OT scholars out there, but if I were to list some of the best Pentateuch commentaries, he’d be near the top for Genesis, Leviticus and Numbers (the latter being one that could reach a lay audience).  He has written Exploring the Old Testament: A Guide to the Pentateuch, which could hit a lay audience if it weren’t so textbookish. 

Books I’d like to see

  • His Leviticus commentary is quite good, I wonder if he could write a book on the theme of sacrifice in the Bible, culminating in Jesus (and I’d love to hear his thoughts on Hebrews)
  • I’d love for someone to write a book taking a few major themes of the Pentateuch (3-5) and showing how they set the stage for what comes in the rest of the Bible.  I’m thinking of themes like: creation, blessing, sacrifice (see above), covenant.  Wenham would be a great scholar to write such a book, and could probably do it in a non-scholarly fashion.

(5) Peter O’Brien.  O’Brien has written some of the best Pauline commentaries out there.  His commentaries on Philippians, Colossians and Ephesians are either the best for those individual books are darn close.  It is clear he has a desire to explain the text for pastors and teachers in a way that is biblically faithful and responsible.  Yet, he’s written almost nothing for the lay person to read. 

Books I’d like to see written

  • Philippians and Ephesians both have a lot to say about the church, since O’Brien has written excellent commentaries on both, I bet he could do something along these lines
  • Moore Theological College has posted 100+ O’Brien sermons/lectures online.  Could any of these be turned into smaller books of expositions?  I’ve listened to his series on Romans 8 and I think so.
  • Like Douglas Moo above, I think he could write an excellent lay level Intro to Paul.

Is there anyone I’m missing?  Any other book ideas (which, by the way, is another post I’d like to write)?

Read Full Post »

Special thanks to India of Broadman & Holman for a review copy of this book.

Over a year ago, I noted that Craig Blomberg’s Jesus and the Gospels is the single best book on… well… Jesus and the Gospels.  I also noted that a new edition would be coming out later that year, which I’m now happy to review.  My feelings regarding the book haven’t changed at all over time.  I’m just as excited about it now as I was when I first read it 10 years ago. 

The book is divided into 5 main sections: Historical Background for Studying the Gospels, Critical Methods for Studying the Gospels, Introduction to the Four Gospels, A Survery of the Life of Christ and Historical and Theological Synthesis.  Each section can be read on their own and out of order, though of course it is helpful to take the material in the order given.  The book is “textbookish,” which shouldn’t be surprising since it was written as a textbook.  Blomberg does a phenomenal job of weaving through debates in a concise but informative manner, along with giving suggestions for further reading.  He offers his opinions when there are differing options, but he represents other viewpoints well and doesn’t force his reading on the text.

I’ll select two sections to highlight.  First, his opening section on the historical background is extremely helpful, especially for those who have little knowledge of the culture and historical circumstances in which Jesus was born, lived and died.  Whether Blomberg’s discussing the Maccabean Revolt or the religious groups in 1st century Israel (Pharisees, Sadducees, etc), the reader walks away with a clear understanding of the major players and events that form the backdrop of the Gospels.  And- this is very important- you won’t find yourself nodding off like you did in ancient history class (or was that just me?).

Second, Blomberg’s Survey of the Life of Christ functions as a wonderful mini-commentary on the Gospels.  Blomberg deals with issues of historicity and harmonization (perhaps a bit more than I would), as well as offering thoughts on each episode in the life of Christ as seen in the Gospels.  I’m consistently impressed with just how much information is fit into a relatively short space, with attention given to distinctives in each Gospel, interpretive options and short, but crucial, exegetical notes.  You won’t have all your questions answered in this section, but you’d be surprised just how many are. 

There are probably a few places where I disagree with Blomberg on matters of interpretation, but honestly I can only think of 2 off the top of my head.  1) Blomberg sees Jesus’ death as happening in 33AD, whereas I lean (ever so slightly) to a 30AD date.  2) I don’t think the Temple “clearing” (Blomberg’s preferred term) found in John 2 is a separate event from the one seen toward the end of the Synoptic Gospels.  That’s it.  These aren’t exactly the issues denominations divide over.  Like I said, I’m sure there’s probably more, but that’s all I can came up with at the moment.

There will be some who own the 1st edition and will be wondering if they need to get the 2nd edition.  I’m not sure you need to run out and buy it right away if you own the 1st, but I’d make room in my budget to update it at some point.  And if you don’t own this book in any editon, you should.   It would be helpful if this book existed in paperback in order to drop the price a bit.  If it were a tad cheaper, I could see this book used in a church class (as it is, it certainly could be, I just know people in my church will struggle with the thought of dropping $30 on a book). 

So who would benefit most from this book?  Honestly, pretty much anyone can.  Laypeople will find this book an accessible guide to Jesus and the Gospels.  The only section that may not interest most laypeople would be the Critical Methods chapter, but it wouldn’t be because it’s over their head.  Pastors and teachers couldn’t ask for a better book to help them in their personal study and preparations to teach the material.  As I’ve said in the past, I’ve been using this book for years and see absolutely no reason to stop now.  Simply put, I’ve yet to find a guide as reliable as Blomberg or a book as well-written.

Read Full Post »

Craig Blomberg has recently written a book review of N.T. Wright’s book, “Justification.”  You may find the shorter review here, and a longer, scholarly review here.  The book under review is the latest in a series of exchanges that are best known to be between Wright and John Piper.  The exchanges concern the proper Biblical understanding of justification, and the consequences of said interpretation.  Even if you are not well acquainted with the debates over what is called the “New Perspecitve” on Paul (I am only lightly read on them myself), I think you will find Blomberg’s review helpful and insightful, per his custom.

Read Full Post »

I set out this year to read some books from outside my normal genre, biblical studies (especially commentaries), in order to broaden my horizons a bit.  I read a number of books I thought were excellent, some of which have been reviewed (click our “Book Reviews” tab and check them out).  But, I thought I’d point out my favorites from this year.  Note well: these books may not have been published in 2008, but I read them this year for the first time (hence the title “New Reads” rather than “New Books”).  Here they are, in no particular order.

Jesus Made in America, by Stephen J Nichols

I loved this book.  I certainly had some disagreement- the Puritan lovefest, some (but not all) of his criticisms of modern Christian music and movies- but overall Nichols succeeded in showing how American views of Jesus have shifted throughout the generations, often influenced by culture rather than the Bible.  I came away from this book challenged about my own understanding of who Jesus was/is, and not so confident of our own ability to understand Him without cultural baggage making its way into the process.  Jesus Made in America has catipulted Nichols into my “authors I must read” category (in fact, I’m finishing another book of his right now).

An Old Testament Theology, by Bruce Waltke

I’ve been working on a multi-part review of this book for some time, due partly to its massive size and partly to my busy schedule.  Don’t let my last review of this book deceive you, it’s an excellent read and a learning experience well worth the time.  Students of the OT won’t be surprised by this, however, as Waltke’s reputation precedes him.

Neither Poverty Nor Riches, by Craig Blomberg

I’m getting to this book about 10 years later than I should have.  Blomberg, as usual, was informative, challenging and enjoyable.  For anyone interested in ministering to the poor, this is a must read.

Worship Matters, by Bob Kauflin

I’m not a worship leader.  I have no musical gifting whatsoever.  But I’m convinced that worship through music is an integral part of the teaching aspect of the church, so as a Bible teacher I’m fascinated with how we can better use worship to teach people about God.  Bob Kauflin helps us in this area, and gives tons of great insight in practical matters for worship leaders as well. 

Theology in the Context of World Christianity, by Timothy Tennent

This is the only book on this list I haven’t reviewed.  Full disclosure: Tennent was one of my professors at Gordon-Conwell, and one of the finest lecturers I’ve ever heard.  I can’t think of anyone more qualified to write this book.  Tennent is a top-notch missiologist with a strong concern for a theologically grounded approach to missions.  I remember in classes how he would plead for us to listen to the non-Western church and learn from how they “do theology.”  This book helps us do that very thing, by letting us see theology through the eyes of the global church.  This has impacted me in a powerful way; I felt like I never really understood hermeneutics until I studied missions.  It has made me a better student of the Bible.  Anyone interested in theology and/or missions ought to read this book.  I look forward to his next project, a Trinitarian Missiology.

Okay, I’ll stop there.  There were other good ones, to be sure, but these stand out for me.  As for 2009, I have a number of books I’m looking forward to reading, but especially G K Beale’s We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry.  I’ve been jonesing to read this book since I first heard about it, and thanks to Adrianna at IVP, I now have a copy and will be writing a review sometime in the future.  I’m getting excited just thinking about it!

What about you?  What have been your favorite books of 2008?

Read Full Post »

Book Review: Neither Poverty nor Riches

Special thanks to my friends Clark & Bryn for buying this book for me as a gift.

How often is it that a book can be considered timely almost 10 years after it was published?  I’d say it’s true of Craig Blomberg’s Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions (New Studies in Biblical Theology).  As is characteristic of Blomberg’s writings, you come away from this book with greater confidence that you understand what the Bible actually says about money and possessions.  That isn’t to say it’s always an easy book to read, there’s a lot crammed in these 253 pages (not including bibliography and index).  This isn’t really a devotional type book, though it certainly has its moments of practical application, which is often quite challenging. 

Survey of the book

Blomberg argues that the Bible’s teachings on money and material possessions can be summarized in Proverbs 30:8- “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.”  “There are certain extremes of wealth and poverty which are in and of themselves intolerable” (p245, italics original).  I like the word choice here- “intolerable.”  In other words, making a lot of money isn’t sinful, nor is being poor.  However, since it is intolerable for both extremes to be in place, it is the responsibility of the people of God to ensure that does not happen.

Blomberg surveys the biblical data: the Pentateuch and Historical Books, Poetical and Prophetical Books, Intertestamental literature, Jesus’ teachings, the early letters and Acts, and ends with Revelation.  Blomberg notes that there are times when material possessions are a sign of favor from God, though we can’t always assume that because one has material wealth that they are blessed by God.  In fact, Blomberg argues that there is a shift from the old covenant to the new in regards to material blessing.  “The covenant model that assumes material reward for piety never reappears in Jesus’ teaching, and is explicitly contradicted throughout” (p145).

I had started to write a full review at this point in the post, but realized that it quite frankly was going to be too long.  So, despite my penchant for long review, I just simply want to highlight a couple quotes to give you a flavor of his book.

“Even within the Old Testament economy, however, material blessing was never viewed as an end in itself.  An abundance of resources was to be shared with the nations and particularly with the needy” (p83).

“It goes too far to say that one cannot be rich and be a disciple of Jesus, but what never appears in the Gospels are well-to-do followers of Jesus who are not simultaneously generous in almsgiving and in divesting themselves of surplus wealth for the sake of those in need” (p145). 

Blomberg also makes an interesting point regarding Jesus’ participation in, and seemingly endorsement of, lavish celebrations (such as weddings and large celebratory meals).  “There is room for periodic celebration of God’s good, material gifts, even at times to a lavish extent.  But these celebrations will be the exception, not the norm” (p145).  This seems backwards from how we often think, since we often hear “the poor will always be with you” as we use our money for ourselves.  Yes, there are times to celebrate and that celebration may include generous use of money and resources.  But those times of celebration are to be limited, and the poor remembered frequently, not the other way around.

On pages 211-212 Blomberg gives an excellent summary of Paul’s teaching in regards to money & wealth, which I’ll quote in full here:

Right from the outset of his letter-writing career, Paul is eager to remember the poor (Galatians).  The Thessalonian Christians may have been more impoverished than many of the Pauline churches, but that gives them no right to be idle and depend solely on ‘welfare’ from others (1 and 2 Thessalonians).  The church at Corinth is torn apart by wealthy house-church leaders who expect their riches to buy them all the privilege and influence it did when they were pagans (1 Corinthians).  Instead Paul calls on them to give as generously as less well-to-do believers have already done to meet the needs of the acutely poor in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians).  It seems the Corinthians and others eventually agreed and give generously (Romans).  Christian freedom should produce liberating relationships and accountability structures (Philemon and Ephesians).  Christian workers should be grateful for financial support from fellow believers but not depend on it (Phillipians).  And ultimately, the Christians with material possessions must recognize their seduction and avoid their snare by giving generous quantities of them away (the Pastorals).

A couple questions for further clarification

There’s so much more to say, as I haven’t even mentioned some important portions of the Bible’s teachings and Blomberg’s treatment of them (Acts, James and Revelation come to mind).  But since this is getting long enough, I figured I’d hit two main questions I have.  One is a critique, one is something left unanswered.

First, the critique.  At points, due to the lack of space, Blomberg doesn’t argue clearly enough.  One place that stood out to me was in his discussion of 2 Corinthians 9:6-11, where Paul says, “whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”  Blomberg claims, “contra ‘prosperity theology,’ Paul’s primary referent cannot lie in the material realm” (p196).  Now, I’m not necessarily disinclined to agree, but I do think he needed to offer up more argument for this than he does.  After all, most people reading these verses will probably not come to the same conclusion.

Second, I can’t help but wonder what the definition is of “rich” and “impoverished.”  It seems to me that these terms are somewhat relative.  There is no internationally accepted definition.  So, the extremes of wealth and poverty are “intolerable”- but relative to what?  Wealthy and impoverished compared to whom?  Our neighborhood?  Our town or city?  Or country?  Christians around the world?  What we do in practice depends partly on the answer to this question.  Truth be told, according to some American politicians, my wife and I are in poverty.  We don’t feel impoverished, though we’re acutely aware of the lack of expendable income at points.  But, I suppose compared to some, we are impoverished.  On the other hand, if our reference point is, say, global Christianity, we’re practically swimming in money.  Blomberg doesn’t really address this question, nor should he have necessarily down so, but I’d love to get his thoughts on it.

Some final thoughts

While this book does not major on application, there is certainly plenty of it sprinkled about.  Blomberg does favor a “graduated tithe.”  In other words, if we’re supposed to give out of our surplus, then the more surplus one has, the more they’ll give.  I’m inclined to agree.

But let me make a point that may derail the review slightly, but I feel I ought to hit on it.  When one hears the concept of a graduated tithe, that those with greater surplus ought to give greater amounts, one is likely to think “socialism.”  Now, I finished reading this book a few months ago, but opted to wait until after the elections to write this because I wanted to avoid the potential “Danny thinks the graduated tithe is a good idea, he must be voting for ___.”  This would be, of course, typical of American Christians, who view such things through the lens of politics rather than the church.  It is the church’s job to help the poor.  Wealthy Christians are called to help their brothers and sisters in need- that is undeniable.  Whichever way we vote, we are called to help.

(So much for this review not getting long, huh?)

In the end, this is a fabulous book, one that I’d recommend to anyone interested in the subject.  If you’re actively involved in ministry to the poor of your society, I’d suggest you pick this book up and let Blomberg take you on a guided tour of the biblical teaching on the subject.  If you’re not involved, or don’t support any such ministry, you probably ought to read this book as well.  I’m thankful I did.

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30 other followers