Articles by Gary T. Manning, Jr.



  • Talbot Magazine

    Streamlining Seminary

    Innovative New B.A. + M.A. Program Prepares Students to Enter Pastoral Ministry More Quickly

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    Several students have taken advantage of one of Talbot’s newest programs, an innovative combination of two degrees: a bachelor’s degree in biblical and theological studies with a concentration in preaching and pastoral ministry (B.A. PPM), and a master’s degree in Christian ministry and leadership with a specialization in preaching and pastoral ministry (M.A. PPM).

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    My friend Ken Berding wrote a recent blog post explaining his concerns about using The Message. As he pointed out, people often treat it as a Bible translation, when it is actually a very loose paraphrase. One of Ken’s observations is that The Message routinely adds meaning to or subtracts meaning from the original Greek and Hebrew text. While doing detailed work in the Greek New Testament and in several English translations, I have repeatedly found this to be true.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    In Jesus’ Shepherd Discourse in John 10, Jesus contrasts himself with “the thief.” “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it in abundance.” If you hear this verse quoted in a sermon, or see how people use this verse online, you will usually hear that the thief is Satan. But is that what Jesus meant?

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    In Philippians 3:8, the apostle Paul compares his religious credentials to knowing Jesus. The difference could hardly be more emphatic: “knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” is of “surpassing value,” but Paul’s past success is like σκύβαλα (skubala). σκύβαλα is commonly translated as rubbish, refuse, or garbage, but sometimes more strongly as dung, in both ancient and modern translations (Vulgate, Tyndale, KJV, NET). Some have suggested another four-letter translation, stronger than dung. While teaching Greek, I used to say that σκύβαλα is the closest thing to a swear word you can find in the New Testament - and I was repeating something that I had heard or read quite a few times. C. Spicq's Greek lexicon even suggests that σκύβαλα should be rendered crap. But is it true? Is σκύβαλα a swear word, or maybe a rude word? Or is it unobjectionable?

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    It is commonly claimed that when Jesus used the phrase “I am” (ἐγώ εἰμι, ego eimi), he was making a direct reference to the name of God in the Old Testament, YHWH. There is some truth to this, but I want to suggest three important caveats to this claim: “I am” (ἐγώ εἰμι), by itself, is not a code for the name of God; “I am” is only intended to refer to deity in some of Jesus’ sayings; Paying too much attention to the “I am” part of the sentence distracts readers from paying attention to the rest of the sentence.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    I am the very model of a Doctor of New Testament, I exegete pericopae in weather fine or inclement, I know the difference between a codex and a Chester B, and even if a manuscript is Byzantine or Westerly.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    “Geologist claims Jesus was married… and had a SON: Expert says he has proof son of God was buried in 'family tomb' along with wife Mary and his brother” screams the headline. The sensational headline, along with the release date on Easter weekend, should be our first warning to take the announcement with a grain of salt. To understand what these claims are, we need to go back to a (widely discredited) documentary, “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” released by documentarist Simcha Jacobovichi in 2007.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    The message of Easter is much more important than its chronology. Still, people often ask me questions about chronology in the Gospels. In my earlier post, I answered questions related to the date of Easter and the apparent difference between the chronology found in John and in the Synoptic Gospels. Today, I answer a few questions related to the "three days and three nights."

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    The exact chronology of Easter is not the most important thing to think about during Easter week, but students often ask me questions about chronological issues in the Gospels. Here are two common questions: What is the probable date of Jesus’ crucifixion? In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus dies the day after Passover. But in John, it seems like he dies on the Passover. Can these be reconciled?

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    Merry Christmas! Today, November 18, is Jesus' birthday, according to a few ancient sources. A few years ago, I came across an interesting article about the date of Jesus' birth by Paul Meier, a prominent New Testament scholar. Here is a summary: We celebrate Jesus' birthday on December 25, but it is quite unlikely that he was born on that day. That date was picked out in the fourth century, possibly as a replacement celebration for the winter solstice or other pagan holidays. Paul Meier suggests a birthday in November. This is based on two pieces of data....

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    The release of the movie Left Behind has again drawn attention to the Christian belief in the rapture. The movie tries to portray the chaos in the world as millions of Christians suddenly disappear. This image has interested Christians for quite a while. I recall watching the Thief in the Night series of movies back in the 1970s (the Antichrist had sideburns!). But I am interested in a question that is often overlooked: what is the point of the rapture in the Bible?

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    1The teacher said, “Hear now the parable of the foolish weightlifter. 2A certain man wished to become stronger and to run and not grow weary. So he went to the gymnasium, paying the gymnasium-master three obols.a 3The man began lifting bars with weights upon them, first one talent,b then two. But he was not able to lift three talents. 4So the man said to himself, “Soul, your arms are very sore. You are not able to lift so many talents.”

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    Reza Aslan’s new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Random House, 2013), is in most ways a typical attempt to paint a new picture of Jesus. Because so many hundreds of books of this type have been published, Aslan’s book would most likely not have received significant attention at all, except for two factors. First, a botched interview of the author on Fox News caused a huge surge of interest, making his book an overnight best seller. And second, Aslan is a very good writer. His primary teaching role, after all, is as a professor of creative writing at UC Riverside. Aslan is able to take a lot of important historical background and present it in a riveting manner, accessible to most readers.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    Recently, while reading through the minor prophet Haggai in the LXX (the Greek Old Testament), I noticed a phrase that looked familiar: “before a stone was laid on a stone (λίθον ἐπὶ λίθον) in the Temple of the Lord…” (Hag 2:15). Hmm… where had I seen λίθον ἐπὶ λίθον before? Yes: in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, when he describes the coming destruction of the Temple buildings: “Do you see all these things? I tell you the truth: there will not be a stone left on a stone (λίθος ἐπὶ λίθον) here; all will be torn down” (Matt 24:2; see parallels in Mk 13:2, Lk 19:44).

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    The latest news on historical Jesus research can now be found in… Popular Mechanics? I’m used to perusing Popular Mechanics to see flying cars, homemade submarines, and ads for power tools. But Popular Mechanics published a reconstructed picture of Jesus (quite a while ago, but I just noticed it!). I’ll show you the picture and explain it in just a bit. But first, I want you to see some of my favorite portraits of Jesus. My students have become accustomed to seeing these non-traditional pictures of Jesus decorating my powerpoint lecture notes. This picture of Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (from the Via Latina catacomb, ca. 340-350) was painted by a Roman, so Jesus and the woman both have Roman hairstyles and clothing. No beard on Jesus!

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    This morning, I began teaching Greek sentence diagramming to my students in Introduction to Exegesis. Some students love diagramming, but probably more dread it, at least at first. I picked some sentences to diagram from John 1, mainly because the students had just translated this passage a few weeks ago. One sentence in particular, John 1:12-13, reveals that nerdy analytical approaches such as Greek diagramming can help understand passages of Scripture better. Here’s the diagram (with a translation below for non-Greek readers) ὅσοι δὲ ἔλαβον αὐτόν, ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τέκνα θεοῦ γενέσθαι, τοῖς πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ,

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    Last week, I posted my initial take on the so-called "Gospel of Jesus' Wife." My first point was that it was "too early to tell" whether the manuscript was genuine. In the last twenty years, forgers have produced some amazingly convincing forgeries, so scholars have become cautious about all archeological finds.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    According to an article in the Washington Post, an ancient manuscript claiming that Jesus had a wife has just been discovered. I’ll tackle this new discovery with some Q&A. What is this new find? Karen King, the Gnostic scholar who published the manuscript, has titled it the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife (see the scholarly article here). It is a very small fragment, only 12 partial lines, of an ancient Gnostic book. The fragment, written in Coptic, dates from the fourth century, but it is a copy of an older book, perhaps written in the late second century. According to the fragment, Jesus refers to “my wife.”

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    Earlier this semester, my good friend Ken Berding and I were discussing the different views on Romans 7:14-25 and decided that we would each write a blog post summarizing our reasons for holding opposing views on the passage. Last week, Ken gave a great defense of the view that Romans 7:14-25 is autobiographical and is thus about the Christian struggle with sin. I found Ken’s reasons 3, 6 and 7 very strong (Ken also gave a fine experiential discussion of that struggle in an earlier post). As Ken pointed out, there are many smart people on both sides of this issue, so this is not a “slam-dunk” interpretational problem. Throughout Christian history, there have been several opinions about what Paul meant in this passage. The two main options are 1) Paul is referring to his own experience as a Christian, and therefore the general Christian experience; or 2) Paul is referring to the experience of a pre-Christian Jew trying to obey the Law.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    I often get questions from students about the best translation of some verse. Usually, the difference is between "literal" translation (such as ESV or NASB) and "dynamic" translation (such as the NIV or NLT). These two types are also called "formal" (because they try, when possible, to follow the forms and word order of the original Greek or Hebrew sentences) and "functional" (because...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    I grew up hearing and reading the Bible during the transition from the King James Version to NASB and NIV. In my church setting, the transition was mostly welcomed, except by a few godly old-timers who were certain that our prayers were more acceptable to God if they included a generous portion of thees, thous, and Elizabethan-era verb endings. The KJV had the interesting effect of making some very ordinary words into technical religious terms, since the words dropped out of ordinary use in the centuries since the KJV was translated. One of those words is grace. Interestingly, the NASB, the NIV, and even (often) the NLT continue to use this word to translate the Greek word χάρις (charis), even though the meaning of grace in English has changed over the centuries.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    As the father of eight children, I have spent a lot of time with Dr. Seuss. It's scary that I can quote pages of Cat in the Hat from memory. But my time in Dr. Seuss occasionally pays off when I study the Bible. You see, Dr. Seuss was a political cartoonist in the 1930s and 40s, and political cartoons are ideal analogies for understanding symbolism in Revelation (an idea that I got from Dr. David Scholer, one of my doctoral advisors at Fuller). What is interesting, and what makes this relevant to the study of Revelation, is that Dr. Seuss' cartoons were immediately obvious to readers when they were printed, but are difficult to understand today unless we study history.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    When I teach or preach from the Gospels, I always bring in relevant aspects of the historical and cultural background. Including such details not only helps us in our interpretation of the scene, but also helps us retell the story well – an essential part of preaching from narrative passages. Several passages in the Gospels involve soldiers. Movies about Jesus, and most sermons about Jesus, portray all of these soldiers as Romans. We sometimes get the idea that there were centurions on every street corner. But is this the case? I have pulled together some of the information that we have about soldiers in Judea and Galilee in the first century, and included a few comments about each scene in the Gospels involving soldiers.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    As a resident of Hawaii most of my life, one of the conversations that I have often had with visitors was about what to see when they came to Hawaii. I would tell them to get out of Waikiki, to be sure to visit Hanauma Bay early in the morning, and to try our local plate lunch, among other things. Hawaii is a great place to visit anyway, but hopefully my tips made the trip more enjoyable. I do something similar when I talk to people about the Gospel of John. John is a beautiful book that will bless and delight; but I have some tips that I hope will add to the reader’s enjoyment. Here they are – six questions that make up my traveler’s guide to the Gospel of John.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary T. Manning, Jr. — 

    Students often ask me about a saying from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: “… if your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness” (Matthew 6:22-23). It’s an interesting saying to study, because it requires us to look carefully at the context, at the Old Testament background, and at some unusual Greek and Hebrew idioms. More importantly, once the passage is understood clearly, it illuminates a key kingdom principle.