Posts Tagged ‘Douglas Moo’

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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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)?

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What Happened to Onesimus?

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a sermon on Philemon until the other day.  In fact, I think the only time I’ve ever heard it referenced is using v6 (“I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith”) to support evangelism, which sounds like a reasonable application in some English translations (notably the NIV), though probably not the actual meaning.  At any rate, until I heard a two-part Doug Moo sermon, I’d never heard someone exposit the text.

There are probably a couple reasons for this: it’s very short, Paul doesn’t outright condemn slavery like we might want him to, and we don’t know the ending to the story.  We have no biblical reference to Philemon’s reaction to Paul’s letter.  Did he take advantage of the Roman laws which would permit him to punish severely, even with death?  Did he set Onesimus free?  Did Onesimus return to his position as slave, but with the fellowship of his newfound brothers and sisters in Christ?  All of these, and probably more, are possibilities.

I don’t think we can come to a strong conclusion to this question, though I think I lean toward Onesimus being set free by Philemon.  I’ll look at 3 points of evidence, though the 3rd is the one that is most intriguing to me.

  1. Toward the end of his letter to the Colossians, Paul tells them that he is sending Tychicus to them (probably the letter carrier), along with Onesimus.  Let’s assume for a second that this is the same Onesimus we encounter in Philemon.  Is this a clue that he was set free and became a part of Paul’s ministry team?  That’s possible, though I tend to think that Philemon and Colossians were sent together (notice that many of the same people send their greetings at the end of both letters).  I should note that it is possible that Philemon was written earlier, and Colossians would be evidence that Philemon was emancipated.  I just don’t think that’s the most natural way to understand this connection.
  2. Ignatius, writing sometime around 110AD, refers to the bishop in Ephesus, Onesimus.  Is this the same Onesimus?  That certainly is possible.  If Onesimus was a fairly young man when Paul wrote to Philemon, it is possible that this could be the same man, though 50 years older.  Unfortunately, there is no certainty these refer to the same person.  Onesimus was a relatively common name, though I think more study can be done on this (maybe it has been, I don’t know).  Onesimus means “useful” or “profitable,” which makes sense since he was a slave.  Were most people with the name “Onesimus” slaves?  If so, what are the chances there would be a bishop with that name?  If it is a slave name, then I’d argue this makes the likelihood of them being the same person greater (though I wouldn’t die on this hill).
  3. One thought I’ve had but have never really encountered (but I may have forgotten) is considering the implications of the very existence of the letter.  If Philemon rejected Paul’s request to accept Onesimus back as a brother (even if he didn’t grant him full emancipation), would this letter still exist?  Would it have been copied and circulated?  It’s not as if this were a public letter in the sense of 1-2 Corinthians or Galatians (though Philemon apparently wasn’t the only person to read it).  One of those letters would have been much more likely to be copied, even if it didn’t have the effect Paul would have liked.  All it would take would be for one house church to agree with it, copy it and distribute it.  Paul’s letter to Philemon, on the other hand, would probably not exist if Philemon refused to grant Paul his wish.

We still cannot say for sure what happened.  I suppose it’s possible that someone else had access to this letter and copied it, though I still think the same issue applies: if the situation ended poorly, why would anyone keep it?  I think the evidence points toward there being a “happy ending.”  What exactly that “happy ending” is… well… that’s harder to tell.  Was he returned to Paul?  Was he granted freedom and stayed with Philemon and his household?  Was he kept on as a slave, albeit with an entirely different relationship to his master?  We’ll never know, but I’m betting he ended up with a far better result than if Paul had never written the letter to begin with.

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Moo on Romans 5-8

Note: We, along with everyone else in our missions training school, are memorizing Romans 8 this fall semester.  Since our desire is not simply to recite words, but to understand and implement what Paul is teaching in this chapter, we will be periodically posting thoughts, insights or questions from a variety of sources to provoke thoughtful interaction.

“At the risk of oversimplifying a complex section and obscuring many other significant connections, we may view the main development of chaps. 5-8 as a ‘ring composition,’ or chiasm:


            A.  5:1-11                                 assurance of future glory


                        B.  5:12-21                   basis for this assurance in work of Christ


                                    C.  6:1-23         the problem of sin


                                    C.’  7:1-25        the problem of the law


B.’  8:1-17                    ground of assurance in the work of Christ, mediated by the Spirit


            A.’  8:18-39                             assurance of future glory”



“In chaps. 5-8, then, Paul invites the Christian to join with him in joyful thanksgiving for what the gospel provides—a new life given to God’s service in this life and a certain, glorious hope for the life to come.  …the person who has experienced the gospel as the justifying act of God (cf. 1:17) is assured of finding that gospel to be truly ‘God’s power for salvation’ (cf. 1:16)—power for dedicated Christian services in this life and for deliverance from all the forces of evil and of judgment in the next.”

— Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, pages 294-295

What do you think of Moo’s understanding of the structure of these chapters?  Does this help you understand the flow of thought in Romans 8 any better?  Moo splits up chapter 8 into 2 main sections (vv1-17, vv18-39), how do you think they relate to each other?

For anyone interested, Dr Moo has made some of his shorter writings available online at his website (you can also find a link to the right).

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