A few weeks ago I had an early morning meeting that required me to get up and leave home way before it was light. As I walked out my front door, I noticed for the first time that, not only was the world still shrouded in darkness, but it was also shrouded in fog. This immediately brought back strong memories of the years I lived in California’s Central Valley where heavy fog at certain times of the year was commonplace. And most of those memories were not pleasant.A few weeks ago I had an early morning meeting that required me to get up and leave home way before it was light. As I walked out my front door, I noticed for the first time that, not only was the world still shrouded in darkness, but it was also shrouded in fog. This immediately brought back strong memories of the years I lived in California’s Central Valley where heavy fog at certain times of the year was commonplace. And most of those memories were not pleasant.
Which is the best Greek text to use when translating the New Testament? Some people argue for a “majority text” (a text like the one that lies behind the KVJ or the NKJV but none of the other major translations). What are the arguments that have been put forth in favor of the superiority of the Byzantine (majority) text of the Greek New Testament? How would you respond to someone who insisted that the majority text approach is correct?
Over the past three years I have had the privilege of serving as a part-time pastor in a local church here in Southern California. Though I’ve been in ministry for several years and have even spent significant time in ministry overseas, these past few years have constituted a re-education in the gospel. Here is what I mean: “The gospel” is a phrase that Christians often use without fully understanding its significance. We speak the language of the gospel, but we rarely apply the gospel to every aspect of our lives. Yet this is exactly what God wants for us. The gospel is nothing less than “the power of God” (Rom. 1:16). In Colossians 1:6, the apostle Paul commends the Colossian church because the gospel has been “bearing fruit and growing...among [them] since the day [they] heard it.” The apostle Peter teaches that a lack of ongoing transformation in our lives comes from forgetting what God has done for us in the gospel (2 Peter 1:3–9). If we are to grow into maturity in Christ, we must deepen and enlarge our understanding of the gospel as the way God transforms us.
People often get up-tight when they first learn of the existence of variations in the text of the Greek New Testament, but their concerns are baseless. The text of the New Testament is far-and-away the most attested and stable text of any ancient document. In fact, if you question the stability of the text of the New Testament, you probably ought to disregard just about everything you think you know about ancient history since almost all the important historical manuscripts from which such history is derived are from copies that are far later and of far poorer quality than are our New Testament manuscripts. I recently discovered a convenient way to demonstrate this!
How did this world we live in get to be such a crazy place? And will 2013 be as crazy as 2012? Will it be filled with fiscal cliffs, slaughter of innocents, and nations bombing other nations? It started in the Garden of Eden when the serpent tempted Eve and Adam and they yielded.
Disneyland's Candlelight Processional on Main Street U.S.A. was surprisingly focused on Christ. Beautifully performed musical selections were interspersed between the readings based on the biblical narrative of Jesus’ birth, life, and death. Yes, his birth, life, and death. Disappointed that Jesus’ resurrection was not explicitly mentioned (Maybe next year, Disneyland), but pleasantly surprised by any mention of Jesus’ life beyond his birth. Many moments were just plain worshipful. Part of that worship was seeing the biblical narrative heard by thousands each night.
Oh! Little town of Newtown, how still and sad we see thee lie. Newtown. About 100 miles from the little town where I grew up. That Connecticut bedroom village where local industries long manufactured fire hoses and folding boxes. The town where the game Scrabble began. The bucolic community where pizza places are called Carminuccio’s and elementary schools are called Sandy Hook. The New England hamlet where names of streets describe its pastoral landscape, names like Head of Meadows, Boggs Hill and Deep Brook.
The Christmas story is about Jesus being born into the family of Mary and Joseph. Have you ever considered what other options there were for which type of family Jesus could have been born into? We could explore these possibilities by asking, “What early life experiences do we think could best prepare Jesus for his later public ministry?” Let me suggest a context for this kind of musing. Imagine you were invited to observe that special planning session in eternity past when the Godhead considered creating this world and mapping out a plan for our redemption. Of course this couldn’t happen, but pretend this divine session was like one of our committee meetings. The topic on “today’s” agenda is “What is the best early life experience preparation for Jesus to be formed for his distinctive divine-human role as Messiah and Savior of the world?”
The custom of giving gifts at Christmas probably began when wise men arrived from the east with lavish gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the newborn King. These important, wealthy and educated men had traveled far with camels and servants to find and worship the newborn King of the Jews. But there were not three of them.
Con Campbell’s new book, Paul and Union with Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012, 479 pages, $34.99 softcover) is one of the most important books I’ve read in a long time. I predict that scholars and serious students of the Bible will be referring to this book for years to come. The reason is simple: Campbell has meticulously and even-handedly taken one of the Apostle Paul’s central themes, union with Christ, and has painstakingly examined it both through an exegetical and a theological lens.
I just returned from the Evangelical Theological Society annual meetings in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where I picked up a copy of D. A. Carson’s new little book, Jesus the Son of God: A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misunderstood, and Currently Disputed (Crossway). On the taxi ride from the airport to the conference, I briefly tried to share the Lord with a taxi driver named Hassan. We were about a minute into the conversation when Hassan commented rather ardently, “We Muslims believe that Jesus is a prophet, and not the son of God.” I explained to him that Christians don’t believe that God had physical relations with Mary that led to her pregnancy, as many Muslims assume and consider blasphemous. The problem for dialogue with Muslims like Hassan is that many Muslims think that is precisely what we Christians mean when we use the expression “Son of God” in reference to Jesus—which, of course, we don’t. So what if you were a Bible translator in a Muslim country and knew that many of your readers would make the same assumption that Hassan did about the expression “Son of God”? Perhaps you should change the words “Son of God” to something else that is proximate in meaning but less offensive. Or maybe you shouldn’t…
Are you studying Greek and need to be reminded that it is worth all the work? Or have you spent the time learning the basics of the Greek language and want to being to learn how to apply it to Scripture? There is a new book that nicely combines the study of New Testament Greek and a devotional reading of the Bible.
Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays. Somehow I seem to be lacking the creativity gene necessary to enjoy thinking up and assembling an ingenious costume. For me that process is not enjoyable; it is a laborious chore. It wasn’t always that way. Of course, as a young child, we don’t have much of a choice about whether we dress up for Halloween or what we wear. Our parents make those choices, and their primary criterion for a costume seems to be cuteness. And how hard is it to make a little child look cute?
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!
A few weeks ago I put up a post with the title: “Something About the Book of Romans that will Really Help You ‘Get’ It.” (Click HERE to read it.) I rounded out that article with a list of questions from Romans to help people see the importance of the ethnic issues going on in the background of the letter to the Romans. Some people expressed surprise that there were so many questions in the book of Romans—it’s not something that they had noticed before. Well, there are a whole lot more questions in Romans than the ones I listed. Questions are one of the ways Paul moves his argument forward. Do you want to see how many questions there are?
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,
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.
A few weeks ago during the Scripture reading in church I was captivated by one of the verses read. It captured my thoughts to such an extent that I had a difficult time concentrating on the sermon. The words of the verse resonated in a deep place in my heart. The verse was John 14:5. In verses 1-3, Jesus is talking about going to prepare a place for the disciples in his Father’s house, a place where they will always be with him. Verse 5 is Thomas’s response to Jesus’ words in verse 4 where Jesus says, “And you know where I am going and how to get there” (NLT). In his candid frustration, Thomas bursts out with this reaction: “‘No, we don’t know, Lord,’ Thomas said. “We haven’t any idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?’”
John 7:53-8:11, often described as “The Passage of the Woman Caught in Adultery” (passage de adultera), is famous for several reasons. The pleasant reason is that it is one of the most dramatic displays of the grace of God in the Bible. But there is also a more difficult reason that needs to be addressed: this passage was likely not in the original version of the Gospel of John, but was added later at an undeterminable time and for an unknown reason. How should the church treat this passage?
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.”
Where is one place that you can go in Jerusalem to see possible remains of King David’s palace, Nehemiah’s wall, Hezekiah’s tunnel, the Pool of Siloam and royal tombs? That would be the City of David, which is the name given to the small spur of land that extends southward from the Temple Mount. I want to share with you five highlights from this small area.
I wince when I look at the photo. Don and I are standing in the sun with our firstborn son, flanked by Don’s elderly grandparents. Grandpa has just lifted up our son toward heaven to give thanks. All of us are beaming with joy. And I am wearing a very short dress.
Below is an excerpt from a commentary I'm writing on the Greek text of Philippians. The section I've copied is a rough first draft treating a key Christological phrase from 2:6. The commentary will be part of a series called The Exegetical Guidebook to the Greek New Testament (B&H Publications). It's aimed at seminary grads and pastors who have actually learned and retained their Greek...like Talbot students, we hope! You can get the abbreviations from Murray Harris's volume on Colossians, but they should be familiar to NT students (e.g., TDNT = "Kittel," etc.). Enjoy!