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Archive for November, 2010

5.5. This post is dedicated to November 26, the due date for Baby #2, which has come and gone without a visit from the stork.

5. I think everyone and their mother has commented on the recent Evangelical Theological Society meetings, specifically the sessions involving Tom Schreiner, Frank Thielman, and N T Wright on Wright’s view of justification.  As far as I’m concerned, the best thing that came out of it was the clarification of Wright’s view of future justification.  You can see a recent post on Between Two Worlds that ably explains the details of the discussion.  Maybe we can now stop talking about it for a while.

4. Here’s an interesting interview over at Charisma with Gordon Fee regarding his life as a Pentecostal Bible scholar. (HT)

3. I make a vow to you today: if I see Jane Austen in heaven, I’ll be giving her a piece of my mind on behalf of all men.

2. I have been reading John Jefferson Davis‘ new book, Worship and the Reality of God, for review and have been challenged at numerous points already.  Here is a quote from page 64:

The evangelical Protestant tradition has been characterized as generally having a low ecclesiology; the New Testament, however, has a high and ontically weighty ecclesiology, because it has a high Christology.

1. I rarely post about sports here (an amazing feat of self-control, might I add), but I reserve the right to pipe up about it once in a while.  Here are 5 guys who maybe should have made the NFL Network Top 100 list:

  • Steve Largent, WR- set all sorts of records (since broken by Jerry Rice, ranked #1) without a better-than-average QB.  His was the biggest omission.
  • Warren Sapp, DT- Derrick Brooks made the list from the same Tampa Bay defense.  If I had to pick one, I’d pick Sapp.
  • Ray Guy, P- I know, I know, a punter will never make this list.  But considering he’s the best football player whose feet actually touch the ball on a consistent basis, I’ll give him a shout out.
  • Charles Woodson, CB- one of the better defensive players in the NFL for 13 seasons, including winning Defensive Player of the Year last year (granted, it should have gone to Darrelle Revis, but it still counts for something).
  • Ken Houston, S- I realize that most good cornerbacks can become great safeties, but I was still surprised to find only a couple safeties on the list.  Safety is still a legit position in the NFL, and Houston made 12 straight Pro Bowls.
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Westminster Bookstore is having a short (1 week) sale on Roy Ciampa and Brian Rosner’s 1 Corinthians commentary in the Pillar series.  Ciampa, as some of you know, was one of my NT profs at Gordon-Conwell, and I’m sure this commentary is very good (along with the 12 million other very good commentary on 1 Corinthians).  I first read this at Nick’s blog, so click the link to his blog, then from there click the link to Westminster Bookstore.  If you purchase it after clicking on Nick’s link, he’ll get a kickback or something.  Help a brother out.

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Special thanks to Connie at Crossway for a review copy of this book.

For all the time I’ve spent studying Scripture, I hate to admit that I have a fairly weak theology of Scripture itself.  The truth is that I’m probably not alone.  It had been a long time since I had read something about the nature of Scripture, particularly of a more technical bent.  Enter D A Carson (I know, I’ve read a lot of Carson this year- I have many years of catching up to do).

Collected Writings on Scripture by D A Carson is just that, collected writings on Scripture written by D A Carson.  Included are 10 articles; the first 5 covering a variety of topics related to the Bible and the study of it (originally published between 1983 and 1997), the last 5 being a collection of book reviews of 9 books released from 1981 to 2007.  It may seem odd to some that one would include a series of book reviews in a collection of writings, but they reveal as much about Carson’s understanding of Scripture. 

The first chapter, “Approaching the Bible,” is probably the only one that could be read with relative ease by a layperson (despite Carson’s claim to the contrary in his preface).  It was originally written as the opening essay for the New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, released in 1994.  This essay would be the most broadly useful, one that could be passed around to church members wishing to understand better the nature of the Bible and how it is best interpreted (note: it can be downloaded as a pdf here, although it looks a bit awkward). 

The next four chapters are a bit of a tougher read, though still quite rewarding.  I’ll admit that I found my eyes crossing a bit during chapter 2 (“Recent Developments in the Doctrine of Scripture”)- though don’t ignore the warning to evangelicals at the end of the chapter-, but was reinvigorated during chapter 3, “Unity and Diversity in the New Testament: The Possibility of Systematic Theology.”  The latter chapter is a must read for those of us who find ourselves suspicious of systematic theology (myself included).  Pastors could easily take the insights from this chapter and make them more digestible to their congregations.

I found chapter 4, “Redaction Criticism: On the Legitmacy and Illegitimacy of a Literary Tool,” to be my favorite, surprisingly so.  “Surprisingly” because chapters on methodology, specifically a method I’ve found to be used with far too much confidence by some scholars, are rarely the most exciting.  Yet after giving 20 reasons to be cautious of redaction criticism, Carson still argues that it has its place in Gospel study.  (Side note: the extended Morna Hooker quote on page 160 is worth multiple readings.)

In the fifth chapter, entitled “Is the Doctrine of Claritas Scripturae Still Relevant Today?,” Carson jumps into the worlds of historical theology and epistemology in admirable fashion.  For those familiar with his works on postmodernity, such as The Gagging of God, this chapter will cover familiar territory. 

The book reviews deal with a handful of books I’ve never heard of, and a few more well known authors (Marshall, Enns and Wright).  After offering a summary of their contents, he interacts (often critiquing) their contents in rather entertaining fashion.  For the most part his reviews would be seen as “negative,” meaning he has serious concerns with the books reviewed.  The notable except is Jeffrey Sheler’s Is the Bible True?.  His disagreements doesn’t lead him beyond the bounds of appreciation, however.

One of my concerns about this book is in these book reviews.  It’s not that I find them unworthy of their inclusion in this collection of essays; on the contrary I find them to be brilliant.  Carson writes with candor and wit, deconstructing false premises, refuting historical revisionist tendencies and kicking over sand castles built on bad logic.  Considering the vast majority of book reviews I read in the world of biblical scholarship are formulaic and predictable, I appreciate Carson’s willingness to forego convention and get to the heart of the matter.

My concern lies not with Carson’s reviews themselves, but that readers from my generation (roughly 40 and below) may skip over the more dense chapters on methodology and the nature of Scripture to grab a ringside seat for the fight.  My generation is one that loves to pump our fist in the air, rallying behind our champion as he goes toe-to-toe with the “bad guys.”  My concern is that the scholars, both actual and wannabe (my choice of the latter term over “aspiring” is intentional), of my age group are more adept at poking holes than patching them.  We have been taught to think critically, engage thoughtfully, examine assumptions, etc.  And I’ve seen firsthand many who were quite skilled at doing just that.  Unfortunately, many of those in my generation are cowards.  They can point out the flaws of others, but won’t stick their neck out long enough for anyone to return the favor. 

But Carson is not like my generation.  To be sure, the first portion of the book devotes plenty of space to critiques.  But the function is not merely negative (why so-and-so is wrong).  Carson offers positive arguments for how to approach Scripture.  In other words, he isn’t simply arguing against something, he’s arguing for something.  Building a strong case often requires both, though I fear many can only do the former.  Thankfully, Carson provides a model for making a case, not just deconstructing one.

I do recommend this book, particularly for students and pastors who need some assistance thinking through their understanding of Scripture, both its nature and the study of it.  The first chapter and the review of Sheler’s book would probably be the only sections easily read by a layperson, though with time and a knowledge of theological terms one would benefit greatly from it.  In all, D A Carson’s Collected Writings on Scripture is worth the time and effort.

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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.

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