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Posts Tagged ‘Biblical Training’

5.5.  This post is dedicated to the word “manya,” my daughter’s favorite word.  What started as the word for “milk” (spoken in the manner of an Asian tonal language) has now branched out to “Michael” (her uncle), “banana,” “balloon,” and even “clean up” (as in The Clean Up Song).  Seinfeld fans may even recall Manya from The Pony Remark (fair question, Jerry, fair question).  It’s amazing what this one little word can do.  Manya is the David Grohl of my daughter’s vocabulary. 

5. Not sure how many of our readers have heard of Meredith Kline, but he was an Old Testament professor at Gordon-Conwell a number of years ago; I went to Gordon-Conwell at the same time as his grandson Jonathan.  There is a website up dedicated to him, which includes the audio from classes he taught at a church, including his Kingdom Prologue.  I think I’ve tried 3 times to read that book, but could hardly get 5 pages without losing him.  Maybe his audio is a little… less dry.

4. Zondervan is giving away a copy of Klyne Snodgrass’ commentary on Ephesians, if you’re lucky.

3.A Caution for Expository Preaching” by Iain Murray (HT).  I’m a fan of expository preaching, though I think there are good and bad ways to do it.  Murrary does a good job here. 

2. Another interesting scholar/preacher you should listen to is Rikk Watts.  Watts is an NT professor at Regent College in Vancouver, and used to preach at a church called The Rock Garden.  You can check out his sermons here, especially if you’re into quirky Pentecostal New Testament scholars.  Included are sermon series on Mark, 1 Corinthians, Revelation, Isaiah… you get the picture.

1. It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned my love for biblicaltraining.org.  They now have Darrell Bock’s Life of Christ class online, free as usual.

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In the comments of a previous post, Marcus asked what books I’m using in my study of Ezekiel.  For those who know me, it doesn’t take much to get me talking about books, especially commentaries.  But I thought I’d use this as an opportunity to stress how I use commentaries and other resources in the process of studying a book of the Bible.  Obviously commentaries serve well as resevoirs for “quick answers,” but are even better used over a long period of study.

I want to put all of this in context.  Sometime in the fall, I decided to embark on a prolonged study in the Book of Ezekiel.  I picked Ezekiel for a few reasons: of the major prophets, it’s the one I know the least; I’ve often found it confusing; I wanted to justify my purchase of Daniel Block’s two volume commentary; and Ian Boxall’s commentary on Revelation convinced me that Ezekiel was important to John’s Revelation. 

So here are the steps I am taking in my study of Ezekiel.  Mind you, I’m actually only 7 chapters in; I’m moving intentionally slow (and I took a bit of a break when my computer died).  I also don’t want to give the impression that I really think of studying the Bible in a mechanical, step-by-step process.  The crucial thing about these steps is that I never jump forward, but I may move backward.  That is, just because I move on to a new step doesn’t mean I won’t go back and redo a previous one.  But I try not to get ahead in the process, for reasons I’ll explain as I go. 

The one step I’m leaving out of the list is actually the most important.  I pray a lot as I’m studying, through every step.  Not only do I pray the words of Scripture (which can be difficult in a book like Ezekiel), but I pray that the Spirit of God give me wisdom as I go.  If, after all, He inspired the book, I’d rather seek His insight than anyone else’s.

Read the Text

Sounds obvious, huh?  It doesn’t get any more basic and necessary than this.  I try to read the entire book every now and then.  I read large sections at a time, then narrow down to smaller sections as I see them (chapter divisions in Ezekiel are generally pretty good, though chapters can be grouped together, more on that in a second).  I’ve been using the TNIV, though when I start to look at smaller chunks of verses, I compare other translations.  For this study, I’ve opted not to do my own translation work, or at least not the entire book.  I’ve done that before for other books, and will continue to do so.  But, honestly, it would take me far too long to study Ezekiel if I tried to translate the entire thing. 

Break Off Natural Sections

As I noted above, chapters can be grouped together to form units.  For instance, chapters 1-3 go together, with chapter 1 and chapters 2-3 forming subunits.  Chapters 8-11 all go together.  And so on.  This is something I may adjust as I spend more time in the text, if needed.  These sections are the ones I study, so on my computer, there are separate documents for Ezekiel 1-3, 4-7 (4-5 & 6-7 go together), 8-11, etc.

Make a Rough Outline

My outlines are never super detailed, just enough to give me an idea of the flow of a passage.  When I broke down the vision of chapter 1 into 3 main parts (Vision of the 4 Living Creatures vv4-14, Vision of the 4 Wheels vv15-21, Vision of the Glory of YHWH vv22-28), it helped me make sense of what was otherwise a mess in my mind.  Again, I’m always willing to correct this outline, but I find it a good place to start.

Taking Notes & Asking Questions

Using my outline, I begin to take notes on what I think is important.  For example, in chapters 2-3 there is some ambuguity as to the identity of ruach, which can mean breath, wind or S/spirit.  I look at the text and come up with my own thoughts, and try to see if there is anything significant to it.  I note repeated phrases, of which there are many in Ezekiel (e.g., “then they will know that I am YHWH”).  I also write out any questions I have that I may not be able to answer myself, or that I’m unsure of the answer.  I was a bit confused by the 390 and 40 day periods in Ezekiel 4, so I made a note to check it out when I hit the commentaries (again, after I tried to come up with possible answers myself).  This step can take quite a while.

Theological Reflection

After I do the above (which would be termed “exegesis”), I begin writing out some of my thoughts on what the text teaches about God.  There may be a particular phrase that sticks out, an important action, etc.  I’m already thinking about this stuff as I’m taking notes, but now I spend more time thinking on it.  This is important for two reasons: the Bible teaches us about God (duh) and, in my opinion, the theology of the text is the key to hermeneutics.  In other words, if I can determine what a passage is teaching about the unchanging God, I will have a much better shot at faithfully applying a text that is written in a foreign language, to a foreign people living in a foreign world.

Application Ideas

This is where I write out some thoughts on how a text might be preached or taught.  I’m consistently going back to this, sometimes weeks after I’ve finished a section.  This area is a struggle, especially on the personal level, because I seek to apply it to my life before I go tell anyone else how they should live.  The first 3 chapters of Ezekiel really kicked my butt.  I was so powerfully struck by the immensity of what Ezekiel experienced, I couldn’t get it off my mind.  I remember going out for a run (don’t laugh) and realizing that I had actually been walking around aimlessly for 30 minutes, thinking about Ezekiel’s call.  Needless to say, I’ve had the tendency to become consumed with the book. 

Anyway, all that to say, applying a text is much harder than many assume, which is probably why Ezekiel doesn’t get preached on very often (unless you opt for “what’s the vision by the Kebar River in your life?”).   Maybe somewhere down the road I’ll dive into this even more, but this is already getting long enough.

Using Outside Resources

You’ll notice that this is the last item on this list (yes, we’re at the end).  When I was in school, I would always try to do my own exegetical work before I looked at anything else.  I would translate, diagram, work on syntax, etc, without looking at BibleWorks (only cheaters use it) or commentaries (or at least I tried, sometimes I’d get stuck and look something up, only to realize I probably could have figured it out myself).  In my experience, commentaries work best when you have already thought through a text yourself and are looking for specific insights.  Very few commentaries are so well written that you can just pick them up and start reading, gaining incredible wisdom.  Doing that virtually guarantees you’ll learn next-to-nothing.  But if you know what you’re looking for when you start, you’ll glean much that is useful.  I also check out a few other resources, which I’ll give below.

Commentaries

The two Ezekiel commentaries that I am using are Daniel Block’s previously mentioned two volume commentary in the NICOT series and Iain Duguid’s volume in the NIV Application series.  Both are outstanding.  I was already familiar with Block’s, and had heard good things about Duguid’s.  I have to be honest, I was skeptical at first, but am now a huge fan (so is my wife, for what it’s worth).  Although his space is limited, especially in comparison to the ginormous Block, he makes the most out of it, even including things missed by Block.  Once in a while his practical insights are a bit of a stretch, but I think they’re designed to get the reader thinking rather than suggesting sermon bullet points.  If you can’t afford Block, then I strongly recommend Duguid.  Even if you can afford Block, I’d strongly recommend Duguid.

Block has pretty much everything you’d want in a commentary.  He doesn’t just comment on the text, he interacts well with other writers, brings in helpful historical background and, best of all, takes time to discuss the theological implications of the text.  This commentary is worth the hype.

I also own John Taylor’s commentary in the Tyndale series, but haven’t looked at it much.  I go back and look through it every so often, but there’s little in there that isn’t already covered by the other two.  My wife was using this one until I got Duguid for Christmas.  If I were living near a library that carried commentaries, I’d probably look at Allen, Zimmerli and Greenberg, but I don’t so I don’t.

Other Books

Every so often I consult a book that isn’t a commentary.  I would probably take a look at an OT introduction if I liked any.  I’ve poked around Bruce Waltke’s OT Theology to see what he says about Ezekiel, but for the most part, I stick to the commentaries. 

Online Classes

Another helpful resource is BiblicalTraining.org, which we’ve plugged multiple times.  Douglas Stuart has a lecture on Ezekiel, but it’s only 19 minutes, which is too short for anything more than a basic orientation.  On iTunesU, there is an entire prophets class for free taught by John Goldingay at Fuller Seminary.  His lecture on Ezekiel comes in close to 80 minutes, so naturally he covers more ground than Stuart.  Goldingay is left of where I am, but often has much that is helpful.

Sermons

I’ve mentioned before that Ezekiel is rarely preached on, at least in my circles.  I’ve found a few online; you can check out The Gospel Coaliton site for some examples.  Like commentaries, I won’t listen to anything until I’m done doing my own work.

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So there you have it, far more than you ever wanted to know about my process of studying a book of the Bible.  This process is always subject to revision, so if you have anything to add, I’d be happy to hear it out.  Let me end with this:

The more time I spend in Scripture, the more amazed I am at the treasures contained within.  I’ve spent years now studying the Word (and I have the school debt to prove it!), but on a consistent basis I find myself feeling like a novice.  It’s humbling to jump back on the bunny slopes, but humility’s definitely a good thing.  I had no idea Ezekiel, the book and the prophet, could be so compelling, challenging and God-exalting.  Lord help me (literally) if I ever lose the excitement I feel today.

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In preparing for my own teaching, I’ve been listening to some more lectures from Dr Douglas Stuart’s OT Survey course, provided free by Biblical Training.  He has one lecture in particular called Three Kings, contrasting David with Saul and Solomon.  In it, he argues that when the Bible says, “The LORD has sought out for himself a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), it is referring to David not being a syncretist, unlike the other two.

My immediate reaction was, “where is there evidence that Saul was a syncretist?”  After all, it isn’t obvious in the narrative.  There are many faults of Saul explicitly detailed, but worshipping other gods isn’t one of them.  Stuart, however, argues that this was the case.

In 2 Samuel 2, Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth, was crowned king and set up as a rival to David.  “Ish-bosheth” means “Man of Shame.”  Stuart’s argument is that no one would name their son “Man of Shame,” that this is a later scribal change to his real name.  His real name is to be found in 1 Chronicles 9:39, “Ishbaal.”  This name means “Man of Baal.”  This, of course, could be taken to mean “Man of the Master/Lord,” referring to God himself.  Or it could be taken to refer to the Canaanite deity, Baal.  Stuart’s argument is that the latter is more likely, since it helps explain why he is called “Man of Shame” in Samuel (scribal change, possibly to avoid the use of the name of Baal in one of the king’s sons, though I think very well could be debated).  Thus, Saul himself was a Baal worshipper, going so far as to name one of his sons in honor of the pagan god.

Proving Solomon’s syncretism proves to be a much easier exercise.  1 Kings 11:4 says, “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of his father David had been.”  Here Stuart sees a clear echo of the description of David in 1 Samuel 13, and I’m inclined to agree.

So what set David apart from these two kings, what made him a man after God’s own heart, was the fact that he held “exclusive trust” (Stuart’s term) in YHWH.  For all of David’s faults, and there are many, he never wavered from his faith that God alone was his hope.

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Twelve Tribes of IsraelA friend of mine is taking Dr Douglas Stuart’s OT Survey course at Gordon-Conwell right now and is studying for the final (you can actually access these lectures for free here).  One of the questions on the final is regarding the allotments of land for each tribe.  My friend’s question was regarding whether Benjamin is considered a southern or northern tribe (I vote south, since that’s where they ended up in the split- 1 Kings 12:21-24).  But then he brought up the tribe of Simeon, who geographically is in the southern portion of Israel, but seemed to end up siding with the north in the split.

So then, what happened to them?  Clearly they couldn’t takes sides with the north but keep their land in the middle of Judah, the powerful tribe of the south.  I think the answer can be seen in 2 Chronicles 15:9, when it says Asa, King of Judah, “assembled all Judah and Benjamain and the people from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who had settled among them, for large numbers had come over to him from Israel when they saw that the LORD his God was with him” (TNIV).  This implies that the people of Simeon probably relocated to the north when the 12 tribes split into 2 kingdoms.  Some of those people came back when they realized they were on the wrong side.

If we were paying attention back when we were reading Genesis, we may have forseen something like this.  Before Jacob died, he “called for his sons and said: ‘Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come'” (Gen 49:1).  Here are the appropriate verses for our topic (vv5-7):

Simeon and Levi are brothers- their swords are weapons of violence.  Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.  Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel!  I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel.

So Jacob predicted these tribes would be dispersed, but this was fulfilled in different ways.  For Levi, his descendents became the priests of Israel.  Levi wasn’t alloted a specific plot of land, but cities throughout the land from which to minister.  Simeon, on the other hand, was alloted a plot of land in the middle of the tribe of Judah.  Some might consider that a fulfillment of Jacob’s words, but I think there’s more to it than that.  The tribe of Simeon, as implied by the 2 Chronicles passage mentioned above, seemed to scatter themselves by leaving their land and joining the northern tribes.

For me, checking into this was a good reminder of the coherence of the Old Testament.  It also reminds me of how Jacob’s prophesies in Genesis 49 sets the stage for some of what happens in the rest of the Old Testament narrative, but that’s another post for another day.

Note: I got the picture from eBibleteacher.com, which offers up images for free.  I checked the site to make sure I could use it, but it was hard to find that kind of info on the site.  At any rate, the site offers free images; I highly recommend checking it out.

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The spring is one of my favorite times of the year in our training school because it means our unit on Revelation is finally here.  I enjoy teaching it so much largely because it gives me an excuse to study it and learn more deeply (I hope) the life-changing truths of this book.  It is also one of the biggest challenges in teaching; you never know what kind of background everyone has coming into the class.  Over time I’ve collected a list of resources, so I’ll share them here.

Before I get to them, though, I must give credit where credit is due.  The single most profound influence on my understanding of Revelation comes not from a book but from a professor at Gordon-Conwell, Sean McDonough.  I took his Exegesis in Revelation class a few years back and was amazed at Dr McDonough’s ability to make the text come alive and make sense.  This isn’t surprising, given that he has studied under G K Beale and Richard Bauckham, though he doesn’t mind charting his own course when necessary.  That doesn’t mean that I always agreed with him; I still remember his look of disappointment when I told him I differed from him on the Millennium.  But all in all, his teaching was full of humility, reverence and pastoral insight; I stand in his debt.

bauckham-revelationThe single best book I’ve ever read on Revelation is Richard Bauckham’s The Theology of the Book of Revelation.  Though it’s short (160+ pages), it packs a lot of good stuff in there.  In my experience, many people coming into a study of Revelation want to know about details.  The problem, however, is that it’s easy to miss what Revelation is actually about because you spend all your time wondering about some small portion of it.  This is where Bauckham’s book comes in handy.  It clearly and concisely demonstrates the major themes of the book and what it teaches about God and His relation to this world.  Phenomenal book.

My favorite commentary is still G. K Beale’s commentary in the NIGTC series.  It contains a wealth of information, especially in regards to the use of the OT in Revelation.  If you don’t know Greek, this will be an extremely difficult read.  If you do know Greek, it’ll still be a bit of work to get through, but well worth your time.  Another beale-revelationdetailed work is David Aune’s 3 volume commentary in the WBC series.  For my kind of teaching, it’s value is less than it would be for someone doing prolonged exegetical work.  I use it as a resource here and there rather than a constant guide.

As far as shorter commentaries go, I’ve been using Ben Witherington’s work in the NCBC series.  It’s one of his better commentaries, in my opinion, and a good counterpart to Beale’s massive work.  Hendrickson recently sent me a review copy of Ian Boxall’s commentary in the Black’s series (Kathy of Hendrickson informed me that they’re coming out with paperbacks of this series, so you might want to wait to purchase it).  I haven’t worked all the way through it yet, but I’ve been thoroughly impressed thus far.  It has replaced Witherington as my “portable commentary.”  Look for a review in a few weeks.  Boxall’s work boxall-revelationreplaces G B Caird’s commentary, which I also own.  I like this one a lot, but most of his good insights have been incorporated into others’ works so I only use it when I run into divergent views and I’d like another opinion.

There are other commentaries I don’t own, but would love to.  Robert Mounce’s in the NICNT series has been an evangelical standard for some time, for good reason.  Grant Osborne wrote the Revelation commentary for the BECNT seriesThe Denver Journal (Klein, Blomberg, & Hecht- which sounds like a good law firm) ranks it above Beale as the top detailed commentary on Revelation, so that has to count for something.  For some reason, though I’m with Osborne over Beale on the Millennium, I’ve still found Beale’s to be more helpful.  Perhaps more time with Osborne could change this, however, so if anyone wants to buy me a Cinqo de Mayo present…

One last commentary I’d like to get my hands on is Craig Keener’s commentary in the NIVAC series.  People I trust rave about this commentary; I regret that I haven’t used it much.  Maybe that could be a Memorial Day present…

Beale and McDonough cowrote the Revelation portion of the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament.  Naturally, since I think so highly of their work on Revelation, it’ll come as no surprise that I have a great nt-use-ot1appreciation for their insights here.  And if I haven’t mentioned it already, this book is worth every penny you would spend on it.

For those interested in studying apocalyptic literature in general would do well to consult Mitchell Reddish’s book Apocalyptic Literature: A Reader (which you can often find for cheap at CBD Warehouse sales) and John Collins’ The Apocalyptic Imagination, which we used in seminary.  Reddish has also written a good commentary on Revelation, but in a series is so expensive that it isn’t worth purchasing (seriously, someone needs to inform the Smith & Helwys folks that there’s a recession going on).

I’ve been pleased with the quality of resources on the internet for studying Revelation.  There is always Dan Wallace’s outline and discussion of Revelation.  Wallace is a dispensationalist and teaches at Dallas Seminary, which means I certainly have my disagreements, but I recommend folks read him for his clarity and to get the dispensational side of things.  For an audio teaching, I advise you to listen to Craig Blomberg’s teaching on Revelation as part of his NT Intro class (I’ve mentioned this in my post on 1 Peter resources as well- you can get the idea that I recommend the class).

But perhaps an even greater surprise is the quality of sermons you can find on Revelation from top notch scholars.  Most pastors avoid teaching on Revelation, which, in my opinion, sends the message to the church that it is a book not worth diving into.  After all, if my pastor won’t touch it, why should I?  But, in fact, the message of Revelation needs to be heard.  Tom Schreiner, of Southern Seminary in Louisville, has been preaching on Revelation at Clifton Baptist Church.  You can access the audio of their sermons here (but I can’t promise they’ll be there forever).  The Gospel Coalition website hosts a number of sermons by various preachers, including some by D A Carson on Revelation.  I haven’t listened to all of these, but I’ve been working through his 7 part series on Revelation for a missions conference a few years back.  You can also listen to the audio from a weekend conference hosted by Desert Springs Church and taught by the aforementioned G K Beale (scroll down a bit and you’ll see it).

As an end to this post, I’ll pass along a piece of wisdom from my previously mentioned professor, Dr Sean McDonough.  He remarked that studying Revelation is 50% orientation and 50% perspiration.  In my experience, he’s right.  If you can have a good approach to reading this enigmatic book, you’ll find it is not as difficult as you previously thought.  But, it will require time and effort, perhaps moreso than any other biblical book.  It is not an easy read, both because it is difficult to understand at points and because it contains a convicting message for the church of God.  Read it, study it, be confused by it, allow that confusion to drive you to read it again.  May you be changed forever by this world changing book.

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We’ve begun a new unit in our training school, moving on to the NT Epistles, focusing on 1 Peter.  In the class we use Fee & Stuart’s How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth as our base text (along with its companion volume, How to Read the Bible Book by Book), which has 2 chapters dedicated to studying epistles, one on exegesis and one on hermeneutics.  One of these days I hope to get around to writing more about HTRTBFAIW (yes, I can type that out rather quickly), but for now it’ll suffice to say that I think it’s the most helpful entry level book for teaching the basics of studying the Bible.

But there are other resources I’ve been using in my teaching prep for 1 Peter, and I thought I’d recommend a few for our readers.  Note well: if I were focusing on a more academic study of the book, I’d use far more resources than what I’m putting here.  Since this is a part-time job for me, and I no longer have access to a wealth of commentaries and books like I did at seminary, I can only use what I have at home.  It just so happens that I have some good resources on 1 Peter.

As far as commentaries go, the two I’m using the most are Karen Jobes’ 1 Peter in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament and Thomas Schreiner’s New American Commentary on 1 Peter (this volume also covers 2 Peter and Jude).  This is the first time I’ve really used Jobes’ work, and I have been very pleased thus far.  She’s a very clear writer, which helps sort through the technical issues she deals with.  Schreiner’s commentary is not as technical, and he’s more limited in his space, which keeps him from diving into issues like one might want.  For instance, in dealing with the term “exiles” (or “foreigners”, etc), Schreiner simply dismisses Elliot’s view (see below) as “not compelling,” whereas Jobes gives a more nuanced treatment of the issue.  Like I said, it’s hard to knock Schreiner on this, since he has less space to work with.  Also, for those who have read Schreiner’s works before, it’s not surprising that he takes a strong Reformed reading of the letters (which tends to show up more in 2 Peter than 1 Peter).

Two other commentares I own, but aren’t using as much, as John Elliot’s 1 Peter in the Anchor Bible series and Paul Achtemeier’s commentary in the Hermeneia series.  Elliot’s is interesting, but honestly not all that helpful.  Or, better said, the benefits of his commentary are found in others, and it’s less helpful for someone teaching a 4-week class at church.  He does offer up an interesting argument for Peter’s readers actually being literal exiles (or people displaced from Rome to the provinces mentioned in 1 Peter), rather than seeing the term metaphorically as most have done.  Achtemeier’s still is the best technical commentary, in my opinion.  I’m using it less than Jobes and Schreiner mainly because I don’t have the time to dig as deeply as I’d like.  But in the past, I’ve really enjoyed his commentary, even when I disagree with him rather strongly (such as on the authorship issue).

I’ve used other commentaries in the past, but no longer have access to them.  I Howard Marshall’s commentary in the IVPNT series is really good; I’m disappointed it’s not available on the Bible Gateway site, where some of the commentaries from this series are available for free.  This is the best of the non-technical commentaries, in my opinion.  In the “semi-technical” category, many really like Peter Davids’ commentary in the NICNT series.  To be honest, when I’ve used this commentary in the past, I’ve been disappointed.  But, other people love it, so maybe the problem is with me.  The same goes for J Ramsey Michaels’ commentary in the Word Biblical series.

For more thoughts on 1 Peter commentaries, check out Cousin Jeremy’s post on his own website from 12/06, where he deals with a few more than I do here.  You can also check out the list at Best Commentaries, including forthcoming volumes (I’m most excited about Hafemann’s).

While called a “commentary,” the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament is a commentary of a different sort, as the name indicates.  I haven’t used this a ton just yet, but will in the next week or two and have high hopes.  The 1 Peter section was written by D A Carson, who is one of the better evangelical scholars out there.

As far as dealing with background issues, besides the commentaries, I’m a big fan of Craig Keener’s Bible Background Commentary on the New Testament and David deSilva’s Introduction to the New Testament.  Both of these scholars are excellent at providing cultural information that most of us would never know.  Another interesting take on the culture of the early church is Bruce Longenecker’s Lost Letters of Pergamum, a fictional story that takes place during Domitian’s reign (in the 90’s AD).  Longenecker attempts to show the nature of life under persecution for the early church, which is appropriate for studying 1 Peter (though the nature of the persecution for Peter’s readers in the 60’s is a bit different).

For resources online, you can check out Dan Wallace’s First Peter: Introduction, Argument, and Outline.  It functions as an intro comparable to what you’d find in a commentary, only on a smaller scale but longer than what you’d find in a study Bible.  He’s done this for the whole NT, and I recommend them for those wanting to get a grasp on each of the NT books.  I also listened to the two-part lecture from Biblical Training by Craig Blomberg in his Introduction to the New Testament class.  Blomberg is one of my favorite writers and pretty much everything he does is helpful.  He is not, however, the most engaging speaker I’ve ever heard, but it’s hard to be engaging over an audio recording.  I didn’t listen to Robert Stein’s lecture on 1 Peter, so I can’t comment on it, but I figured I’d link to it so others could check it out if they’d like.

So, that’s about it.  I wonder if anyone reading has any thoughts on resources for studying 1 Peter, particularly non-commentaries (though thoughts on commentaries are welcome, too).  Has anyone heard any good sermons on 1 Peter?  Since I don’t use study Bibles I can’t comment on them, but if anyone has used one for 1 Peter, what did you think?

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For our Resource of the Month, Brian and I have opted to use biblicaltraining.org and its free access to seminary classes.  One nice aspect for me is the chance to listen to Douglas Stuart’s Old Testament Survey class, which was a favorite at Gordon-Conwell but one class I did not take.  I’ve enjoyed the lectures immensely, which give you a good idea of Stuart’s engaging personality and desire to show the relevance of the Old Testament to the life of the church.

As I was listening to his lecture on the Prophetical Books (lecture #23), he made a point about the dating of the Law and the Prophets that I did not know.  It was (is?) a fairly common assumption within the world of Old Testament liberal scholarship for years that since the prophets do not quote the Law, the Law must have not been written yet.  The thought is that the Law must have been written after the prophets, perhaps with the authors of the Law using the prophets as their guide.  After all, if the prophets accuse Israel of breaking the covenant, wouldn’t they have quoted from the covenant itself in order to make their case?

But Stuart points out that while in our culture lawyers would point to specific laws and quibble over the precise interpretation of the actual wording to make their case, this was not the method used in the time of ancient Israel.  To make his point, he shows that other cultures in Mesopotamia did not quote their laws in court either.  Drawing on Driver and Miles’ study (I don’t know the exact date, but probably written 100 or so years ago), The Babylonian Laws, he notes how, for example, though Hammurabi’s Law Code (which existed before Moses’ Law) was placed in the center of every city, it was not quoted in trials in those very cities.

Thus, the argument that the prophets did not quote the Law in their accusations against Israel loses its foundation.  Stuart goes on to point out that the concept of “legal citation” didn’t really begin until the Roman period.  It is anachronistic (there’s your vocab word for the day) to argue that the prophets would have to refer to the Law if they needed to make their case.  Unfortunately, Stuart claims, there are still some scholars argue using “100-year old data.”

I commend this class to you, I’ve really enjoyed it.  Dr Stuart is an easy professor to listen to, and a true servant of the church.

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