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Posts Tagged ‘Gordon Fee’

Live Like an Atheist

A prayerless life is one of practical atheism.

Gordon Fee, Paul, the Spirit and the People of God, p149

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Ethics for Paul, therefore, is ultimately a theological issue pure and simple- that is, an issue related to the known character of God.  Everything has to do with God, and what God is about in Christ and the Spirit.  Thus: (1) the purpose (or basis) of Christian ethics is the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31); (2) the pattern for such ethics is the Son of God, Christ himself (1 Cor 4:16-17; 11:1; Eph 4:20), into whose likeness we were predestined to be transformed (Rom 8:29); (3) the principle is love, precisely because love is at the essence of who God is; (4) and the power is the Spirit, the Spirit of God.

Gordon Fee, Paul, the Spirit and the People of God, p106

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Some time ago I mentioned that my copy of Biblica’s The Books of the Bible was en route to my home.  I thought a review would be in order, since I’ve now had a few months with it.  You’ll recall that this Bible (TNIV available for all of $9; premium edition for $15) has all chapter and verse numbers removed, with the text presented in one column.  In addition, the books that are traditionally divided into two (e.g., 1 & 2 Kings) are now presented as a unit, since book length in the 21st century is no longer bounded by the limits of scroll making.  Also, footnotes (e.g., “Some manuscripts…”) have been changed to end notes.  In short, as little as is possible is put between you and the text as it was written centuries ago.

I love this Bible, and have been commending it to just about every class I’ve taught since I received it.  As many have asserted, and rightly in my opinion, having verse and chapter divisions are no help to our reading and understanding a text on its own terms, especially when these divisions were not the author’s intention.  We don’t read other books, letters or articles in this manner, why should we read the Bible differently?  Why atomize that which the author intended to be read as a whole?  For more on this, you’ll do well to read what Gordon Fee has to say (rant?) about it.

More subtly, I’ve found that I really enjoy reading this Bible more than my traditional Bibles; there is something refreshing about it.  As hard as I might try, I have difficulty divorcing myself from my modern reading habits, where “good reading” is (wrongly) equated with quantity: How many chapters did I read?  How much did I get through?  Having verse and chapter numbers is no help to slaying the quantity over quality dragon.  Even more, it’s simply refreshing to read a text as it was written.  It’s much easier to pick up the flow of thought and what the author is saying, while much more difficult to insert artificial stopping points (i.e., the end of a chapter) where they weren’t intended.

The order of the books is also changed, which is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it is wonderful to have things arranged with a view towards chronology and understanding, rather than simply size and genre.  On the other, if you know your traditional Bible well, prepare to spend lots of time in the table of contents.  Luke doesn’t follow Mark anymore (and actually, Luke-Acts is put together), and John’s gospel is way towards the end.  The benefit of having a book order that helps in overall flow and understanding far, far outweighs the inconvenience of the 30 extra seconds it takes me to find 2 Peter or Zechariah.

I will say as well that this will not serve as a good “reference Bible,” as it were.  If you’re trying to locate a text, or quote a text for a paper, sermon, or class, you’ll get a little bit of help from the dim text at the bottom of the page that gives the chapter and verse range, but that’s all.  Don’t throw away your traditional Bible.  It is quite entrenched in Christendom, and you will still need it.

In my edition, there are introductions before each book as well as introductions to the major Biblical “chunks”: OT, NT, Pentateuch, etc.  These are immensely helpful, and wonderfully written.  It’s almost like having a smaller version of How to Read the Bible Book by Book embedded in your Bible.  Frankly, this Bible would be worth it for the introductions alone.

In summary, I can hardly commend this Bible strongly enough.  The major downsides fall under categories that exist only for efficiency-obsessed Westerners, which is another way of saying that there aren’t any downsides.  Debatable downsides include that this is only available in TNIV (great for me, but there are some who dislike this translation), and I’m sure some will take issue with the order of the books.  However, the upsides are huge, and all available for the price of a large pizza.

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5.5.  This post is dedicated to my self-respect, which I released when I watched a few episodes of American Idol in a row.  Does it matter that one of the contestants (who made the top 60) used to go to my church?

5.  Louis over at Baker Book House Church Connection (longest blog title ever?) posted some of the titles to be released this year by Baker Publishing.  The highlights for me are Victor Hamilton’s commentary on Exodus, G K Beale’s NT Theology, and Craig Keener’s Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts.

4.  Also in the world of publshing, Fortress Press is offering a 40% off sale of all their titles through the month of March (HT).  Fortress publishes a lot of stuff I couldn’t care less about, but they also publish a number of N T Wright’s best volumes.  If you’re a commentary collector, this could be a good time to purchase something from the Hermeneia series (although even at 40% off they’re still expensive).

3. The active and passive sides of God’s love.  Or, what makes Gordon Fee cry.

2. I need some music recommendations.  I have Christmas gift cards (iTunes, maybe even my Amazon gift card) to use, and would like to update some of my music.  By “update” I don’t mean it has to be new.  In fact, I generally am not a fan of the latest music.  I’ve already purchased some: finally got Mutemath‘s debut album (which has extra live tracks on iTunes) and Lettuce‘s Rage, per the recommendation of my co-blogger, Brian.  I’m leaning towards The Rocketboys, but also have enough money left over to get something else.  Some Stevie Wonder?  Any great blues guitarists (big fan of Stevie Ray Vaughan and old Clapton stuff)?  Great classic rock?  So many options…

1.  Our friends over at Sojourn Community Church have released another album, The Mercy Seat/The War, half Jamie Barnes songs and half Brooks Ritter.  Have a listen!

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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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New Interview, New Bible

It’s probably not new, but “new to me” counts towards my naming trend.   I recently watched this interview of Gordon Fee by Mike Feazell of Grace Communion International.  In it, Fee discusses his latest commentary on Revelation, though he arguably devotes equal time to how we ought to read the Bible.  For readers of Fee, much of what he says will sound familiar, but I still found it to be a refreshing half-hour very well spent.

I was particularly intrigued by his comment that Biblica (formerly IBS) has published a TNIV without verse and chapter designations in the text, allowing the reader to read the text naturally, as it was intended to be read (and originally written!).  For $9 (c.f., $44 on Amazon!), this is probably one of the best Bible study tools available.  Mine is in the mail.

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A conversation over at Marcus’ blog reminded me of a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time.  I’ve wanted to do a list of must-read scholars for a while, but have never been sure how to approach it.  Do I do a list of the best?  Most influential?  Most interesting?  Do I restrict it to OT scholars?  NT scholars?  Theologians?  Do I go completely subjective and list my favorites, or do I include those with whom I’m less enamored?  Will anyone even care about my stupid list?  These are the questions in my mind…

I’ve opted to consider my main audience for this blog: the average churchgoer.  I know people from my church read this blog who are not academically trained but are still interested in learning from Bible scholars.  They may not know Greek and Hebrew, but they desire to glean from the insights of those who do.  So I’ve decided to tailor this list to this (somewhat imaginary) group.  Because of this, I will leave off scholars who have made a major impact on scholarship but are less helpful to the layperson (the Rudolf Bultmann types).  I’m also sticking to my area of “expertise” (if I may be permitted a moment of hubris), which mostly NT & OT scholarship (so no systematic theologians).  The list is presented in no particular order.

Allow me to make a couple other notes:

  • I’m weighing more heavily toward the NT side of things.  This is for 2 main reasons: 1) I know NT scholarship better than I do OT scholarship, and 2) most of my favorite OT scholars have written little for the layperson in mind (I’m thinking of Gordon Wenham and guys like that). 
  • I’ll give a couple reading recommendations for each scholar, in case my reader(s) want(s) to dig deeper.
  • The scholars on this list are invited to mention their inclusion on their resume or CV.  You’re welcome. 
  • If you think this is just an excuse to talk about scholars and books, you know me very well.  =)

(1) Gordon Fee.  Come on, if you’ve been reading this blog for more than 5 seconds you knew Fee was making the cut.  In fact, I’d have to turn in my charismatic membership card if I didn’t include him.  I appreciate any man who writes the book on exegesis, but insists that exegesis is merely the first step in applying the Bible to the life of the church.  I also appreciate any scholar whose lectures are more like sermons.  I heard a line from his daughter, theologian Cherith Fee Nordling, about Fee that sums up what I appreciate about him (paraphrase): my father loves the Lord and loves the Bible, but never in reverse order. 

Layperson reading suggestions:

Academic reading suggestions:

(2) Christopher J H Wright.  It’s funny, 6 months ago I may not have included Wright.  But the more I read his stuff, the more I want to give him a high-five (see my previous post for an indication).  In some ways, he’s an interesting bird- how many OT scholars are also missiologists?  A Cambridge PhD who trained church planters in India and now heads up John Stott’s ministry organization?  This is my kind of guy. 

Layperson reading suggestions:

Academic reading suggestions

(3) Richard Bauckham.  Bauckham has actually written less for the layperson than the rest of the scholars on this list, but I wanted to include him anyway because he’s one of the few scholars refered to as “groundbreaking” that may actually deserve the title.  Mind you, no one is really groundbreaking.  When I mentioned in a class at my church that Bauckham had written a book defending the eyewitness connection to the Gospels, I was met with “no duh” stares.  It’s not his conclusion that is groundbreaking, it’s the manner in which he makes his case that sets him apart from so many others.  Bauckham is the toughest read on this list, but may well be worth the trouble.

Reading suggestions

(4) D A Carson.  This is not Carson’s first appearance on this blog.  There are few scholars who have made so much of their work accessible to the church, as you can see here on his resource page at The Gospel Coaltion website.  This son of a church planter in French Canada has planted churches, travels around the world every year speaking in churches and conferences, teaches and advises students, yet still finds time to write somewhere around a million books a year.  He cranks out a book faster than I write a blog post.  If I had to pick one scholar on this list for the average layperson to read I think Carson would be it, not because he’s the best scholar but because he does the best job of communicating to the audience I’m aiming for.  Note: this list of books is highly selective, there are many more I could include.

Layperson reading suggestions

Academic reading suggestions

(5) N T Wright.  I’ll confess, I’ve been debating whether or not I should include Wright on this list.  If we’re talking about most interesting, he’d easily make the list.  Everything he writes is worth reading, even if he’s dead wrong (note, over 1100 people went to a conference at Wheaton centering on Wright’s scholarship).  Wright is brilliant- sometimes brilliantly right, and sometimes brilliantly wrong.  I’ve put it this way: Wright is a classic pendulum swinger.  He’ll notice an over-emphasis on something, then in attempt to correct this problem he’ll go too far in his emphasis.  If you know that going in, you’ll do well in reading him.  Anyway, I love reading his stuff, but you must always read with discernment.

Layperson reading suggestions

Academic reading suggestions

So there’s my list; maybe on another post I can give my “near miss” category (I’m at 1300+ words already though).  I’d love to hear thoughts from others out there, either about the people on this list or others you think should be included.

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