I knew that would get your attentions. See HERE.
I just got the new Continuum catalogue in the post and I found some very interesting new titles.
An Introduction to the Study of Wisdom Literature (Stuart Weeks) – I took a course on the LXX with Dr. Weeks and he is absolutely brilliant. He knows ancient Near Eastern literature better than anyone I know.
Ecological Hermeneutics (DG. Horrell et al). This is a project that has been in the works for many years on biblical, historical and theological perspectives on ‘ecological’ hermeneutics. Should be the best thing out there right now in this field.
The Historical Jesus: A Guide for the Perplexed (Helen Bond). Helen studied at Durham with Jimmy Dunn and has been teaching at Edinburgh for a while now. She is really excellent at historical backgrounds of the Gospels and is the perfect person to write this piece. I am thinking about getting a copy of this myself…
Paul: A Guide for the Perplexed (Timothy G. Gombis)
The Minor Prophets in the New Testament (S. Moyise and M.J.J. Menken, eds.) This continues the series which includes Isaiah and Psalms in the NT.
Who is this son of man?: The Latest Scholarship on a Puzzling Expression of the Historical Jesus (LW Hurtado and P. Owen, eds.)
The Audience of the Gospels (E.W. Klink III, ed.) This is an update of Bauckham’s edited book on this topic.
Jesus and Paul: Global Perspectives in Honor of James D.G. Dunn (B.J. Oropeza, C.K. Robertson, D.C. Mohrmann, eds.) This is Dunn’s second FS, but not his last one!
Paul’s Parallels: An Echoes Synopsis (Continuum, 2009), by P.E. Terrell, is a massive reference resource of nearly 1000 pages. What is it? It is a series of tables that place every Pauline pericope alongside “like-minded” texts that either influenced Paul’s thoughts or simply stand within the same thought-world (esp. Jewish texts) and show thematic resonances.
I will try to do a few posts on this resource, but I can offer some quick thoughts. Firstly, this is not the first resource of this kind, but it is certainly the most thorough attempt. When a Pauline text is placed within an OT context, sometimes Terrell lists out several chapters of, e.g., Leviticus or Exodus. This is useful as you are given a large amount of OT context and also it keeps you from having to look it up in another Bible.
Secondly, each pericope is titled to give you a sense for the nature of the “parallel” – as in “bear burdens of others” (1 Cor 9.21; Matthew 5.3-6; Gal. 6.2; Isaiah 53.4; Jer. 31.32).
Thirdly, and perhaps most surprising of all, the whole text of Acts kicks off the book and echoed parallels are given esp. with a view towards the life and ministry of Paul. This information is certainly novel and not previously worked through by other similar reference books.
More to come, but I can see this will be a very handy tool for researchers. My first thoughts are that I could probably find some of these parallels within the Pauline corpus using Bibleworks and word/phrase searches. Where Terrell’s work shines is, for example, parallels to the Gospels where there is an overlap of ideas, but not of terms (things you can’t account for in Bibleworks).
Wait for part II….
Confession: I have not read this massive book (400+ pp.) cover-to-cover. However, I have read several chapters and the book is so patterened that you get a sense of its quality right away. I must conclude, at this point, that this book is a real treasure-chest of insight and plumbs the depths of the theology of the Decalogue while also offering plenty of examples and reflections perfect for sermon-preparation. This is the first book in a new series of the Interpretation from WJK and it has certainly whet my appetite for the further books on The Lord’s Prayer (C. Clifton Black), Prophecy (Ellen Davis), Eschatology (Bruce Fisk), Sermon on the Mount (A.K. Grieb), The Apostle’s Creed (R.W. Jenson), Miracles (Luke T. Johnson), and an Introduction to Christian Scripture (R.W.L. Moberly). Wow!
OK, back to Miller (WJK, 2009). The book works, basically, through each commandment chapter-by-chapter, but the first chapter considers commandments 1-2 (following the protestant tradition) together. In each chapter, Miller explores the Pentateuchal context of the commandment and offers a basic meaning. He is quick to point out, though, that it is rarely clear exactly how to understand the commandment in and of itself. There is a constant filling out of their meanings and intentions as one progresses through Scripture and sees how God’s people deal with such matters alongside God’s verbal and physical responses.
Thus, after the initial defining, he traces the themes of that commandment through the rest of the OT and then also into the NT. One thing I appreciated about what Miller emphasized was that the Decalogue is not just a bunch of commands that precede the rest of the law. They present the ideals of what God wants for his covenantal people. They are not meant to be taken in a legal sense, but more of as a vision (here he would find much agreement with John Goldingay). The rest of Scripture is a working out of what it means to obey and live according to these “WORDS.” When it comes to murder, for instance, the ideal is not “Don’t murder.” Rather, God is showing the kind of person that his people are NOT. It is as much about identity than it is about actions. That is why it should not be so confusing that “the ten commandments” are not all commands, but a variety of prohibitions and commands with various forms of expression and not attempting to be universal, but exemplary. They are comprehensive in the sense that they cover all the major aspects of life (and covetousness is the catch-all, isn’t it!). I think it is appropriate to compare this approach to the Decalogue to Paul’s language in 1 Corinthians 1.6-11 where he lists a series of evil-types (thieves, greedy, revilers, etc…) and claims that they will not inherit the kingdom: ‘And that is what some of you used to be. But you were…made holy…’ (1 Cor. 6.11). Similarly, the God of Israel shows his people who they are not, and who they are.
But this kind of insight led Miller to point out something important. We think of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount often as an intensification of the morality of Torah – don’t even lust, don’t even become angry. I can see now, through Miller’s well-articulated NT sections, that Jesus was not pushing Torah beyond its own vision of identity and morality. He was simply helping his audience to see what Torah envisioned all along. Just focusing on not murdering or not stealing was never what the Decalogue was about. But it is human nature to create a line and toe it. Jesus, like any good prophet, was shocking his audience out of their apathy and legalism, helping them to recognize that they should (and eventually though the Spirit could) obey the fullness of the commandments. The Jewish people were not special because of their morality. Their morality flowed from their proximity to a holy God who was one.
Well, I could go on about Miller’s fine work, but I think I will leave it to a few insights I picked up.
-When it comes to the commandment about having no other gods (Exod 20:3), Miller considers that this is not just about monotheism as a doctrine, but about allegiance and loyalty. For the positive side of commitment and what it means, he points to Ps. 46:1-2: ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.’ This is a helpful reminder, because I think we often tick this box and say, “OK, I don’t worship other gods of Hinduism or Islam, so I am covered.” But, this is about all of life and how we make our choices about who to trust.
- no images. This could be no images of foreign gods or no images of Israel’s God. If it is the latter, it is about several issues. One is that it could be seen as an attempt to control and domesticate God: ‘The Lord chooses the manner of divine revelation and appearance’ (p. 50). Israel’s God, rather, is less of an ‘image’ God than a WORD God (p. 52) -’the word of God is how the Lord is revealed and present’. Miller also points out an important economic dimension – often gods are made of gold and silver. This can be seen as a waste or a flaunting of riches, ‘icons of excessive wealth’ (p. 56). I had never thought of this, but it is reasonable and also applies to us today and how we spend our money (even on expensive church equipment and buildings, sometimes for the sake of showing off).
If I don’t end up doing another post on this, let me conclude with this: Miller is a highly respected OT scholar, but he has done something very significant here for the church and it should be read and digested by ministers, leaders of all kinds, teachers, and anyone wanting to understand better the God of the Bible and what he wants for our lives. Order it for your library!
Growing up, I had the NIV Study Bible for church. I never knew there were any other study Bibles and mine served me well for many years. Now I am in a position where I will be teaching an introduction to the Bible and, because good whole-Bible textbooks are difficult to come by, I have leaning towards working from a good study Bible.
The new ESV Study Bible from Crossway shows great promise. It is very large (almost 3000 pages) and has received a lot of praise since its release. Here are some factors I consider and how the ESVSB ranks: scholars, book introductions, book notes, book charts/excurses, back matter, and maps.
There are a good number of recognized scholars involved in this Bible’s book material including Desmond Alexander (Genesis) John Currid (with N. Kiuchi and Jay Sklar, Leviticus), Gordon Wenham (Numbers), Iain Provan (1-2 Samuel), Gordon McConville (Ezra, Nehemiah), C. John Collins (Psalms), David Reimer (Ezekiel), David W. Baker (Zepheniah), Gordon Hugenberger (Malachi), Michael Wilkins (Matthew), Frank Thielman (1 Corinthians), Scott Hafemann (2 Corinthians), Simon Gathercole (Galatians), Sean McDonough (Philippians), Clinton Arnold (Colossians), Colin Nicholl (1-2 Thessalonians), Grant Osborne (James), and more.
There is a decent amount of diversity represented here (within Evangelicalism), but I noticed virtually no Methodist scholars and mostly Reformed and Baptist folk.
The book introductions (to each Biblical book) are very important, as this orients the book to the reader who may know very little or nothing about the content and how to make sense of it. What would you say in a few pages to aid the reader in understanding? Here, the ESVSB doesn’t skimp and I appreciate that. For example, with Genesis, Alexander gives a one-page discussion on author and date (quite conservative on these issues). Another two pages address Genesis in the Pentateuch and also the arrangement of the book (two charts are given, one on the ‘generations’ motif and another on the genealogies). A short paragraph covers the themes of the book and more attention is given to ‘key themes’.
A full page treats ‘History of Salvation Summary’, while the next page works through ‘Genesis and History’. The remainder of the intro deals with ‘Genesis and Science’, ‘Reading Genesis in the 21st Century’, and there is a map and book outline on the last couple of pages. This is certainly the most extensive intro I have seen in a study Bible!
Not all of the intros are as detailed. Genesis’s is 10 pages; Numbers (8pp.); 1 Samuel (6pp.); Matthew (5pp.); Acts (7pp.); 2 Corinthians (4pp.); Revelation (10pp.). Though there is some variation, as you can see, overall we see 6-8 pp. with charts and maps.
The actual bottom-of-page study notes are nothing spectacular, but trustworthy (from an evangelical theology) and useful for lay-readers. They deal with all the main issues and often there are charts that explain things further and supplement the notes. The notes are overall more conservative than I would want, but I am probably not the ideal reader of the study Bible.
As I just mentioned, this book is littered with helpful charts and excurses. The charts sometimes deal with structural issues, parallels between books, timelines, etc… I think that it is this sort of teaching material that sets the ESVSB apart from its competitors.
In the back, you will find a host of helpful essays: overviews of Biblical doctrine and ethics, hermeneutical advice, how to read ‘theologically’, the canon, reliability-of-Bible issues, NT use of OT, reception of the Bible, History-of-Salvation info, etc…
There is also a selective concordance and a Bible reading plan.
These book supplements are very useful for classroom use and will make the ESVSB more attractive for church Bible studies and sunday school material.
I like visuals in any book, and for Bible study maps are so crucial – especially readable, colorful maps. There are a number of explanatory maps scattered throughout the study notes (from the ‘Boundaries of the Promised Land’ to ‘Solomon’s Administrative Districts’ to ‘The Empires of Daniel’s Visions’ to the path of ‘Jesus’ Arrest, Trial, and Crucifixion’).
I rate the scholarship a “B,” recognizing some real A+ scholarship, but a lot of B and C scholarship as well. I get a bit frustrated when study notes tend to focus on apologetic issues (defending historicity and such) rather than on the meaning, theology, and/or application of the text. What we teach Christians by this is that we read the Bible to defend it. That leads to historicity and ‘authenticity’ obsessions and, while such issues are important, they can become idols that distract us from really engaging with God. What I want is a theological study Bible (for my students). For apologetics, I will send my students to Tremper Longman and Craig Blomberg’s books. I want the study Bibles to sparkle with theological gems. Alas, I know that a study Bible should do both because people want an all-in-one resource. Well, as far as it goes, the ESVSB does alright.
When it comes to Teaching and Learning materials I give it an “A.” They have worked hard to offer stunning visuals and plenty of contextualizing information.
In the end, I probably won’t require this as my classroom study Bible, in part because I prefer the NRSV translation. However, I am sure I will turn to the tables and charts in the study Bible for teaching material.
I recently got the Fortress 2010 catalog. Here are some biblical studies highlights:
John Rogerson apparently has an OT theology book: A Theology of the Old Testament: Cultural Memory, Communication and Being Human.
Luke Timothy Johnson’s The Writings of the New Testament is coming out with the 3rd edition- what’s new? There is mention of it being ‘carefully updated’ and having ‘new student-friendly format and features’ which at least involves ‘a new design’ and ‘study and reflection questions’.
Paul N. Anderson has written an introduction to the Gospel of John called The Riddles of the Fourth Gospel. Apparently this was designed to work as a textbook.
Richard Pervo has a new book on the legacy of Paul called The Making of Paul: Constructions of the Apostle in Early Christianity.
The catalog lists Magnus Zetterholm’s Approaches to Paul as new. I did already read this book and it is very useful as a short history of interpretation of Paul on the issue of his stance towards Judaism. In fact, David Horrell and I both have written reviews on this for RBL. Do go over and check it out.
My friend Peter Oakes has written a very important new book called Reading Romans in Pompeii. Because of how preserved Pomeii is and all that we call learn about urban life from this ancient city, it offers the Biblical historian a great resource for learning about the world of the early Christians under the Roman Empire. Oakes has spent considerable time in Pompeii researching and learning, trying to provide an idea of how the Roman letter readers would have taken and applied Paul’s teachings.
Another new gem seems to be the resource called Documents and Images for the Study of Paul by Neil Elliott and Mark Reasoner.
The April issue has this interesting article by Susan Eastman: Sin’s Wages and God’s Gift in the Divine Economy: Reflections on Romans 7 and the Cleansing of the Temple in John 2:13-17
I am very happy to inform you that the final essay I have commissioned has been scribd: ‘N.T. Wright for Everyone: The Historical Jesus’ by Kevin Hanks. It is a fine summary.
If you are looking for the previous essays, see below
Since we are on the topic of Durham (where Tom Wright is Bishop, of course), if you are going to the conference and want to talk to me about making the right decision by applying to do a PhD there, send me an email (ngupta1[a*t]ashland.edu) and I would be happy to chat with you. Remember, though, that Wright neither teaches (regularly) at Durham nor supervises theses. However, with John Barclay, Stephen Barton, William Telford, Lutz Doering, Francis Watson, and Walter Moberly (OT) – you can’t go wrong!
I am excited to tell you that I have begun reading Patrick Miller’s The Ten Commandments from WJK in the Interpretation series. I am currently preparing lectures on Exodus and the Decalogue, so this is very timely for me! It is a whopping 400 pages – a book with gravitas in many respects! It is not a historical or a history-of-religion study at all, but a theological-pastoral study that is based on exegesis, but does not work like a commentary. It is largely based on his lecture notes, so it has a sermonic feel to it, without being preachy and cliche.
For teachers and preachers, not only are his exegetical thoughts and theological points cogent, but his illustrations and canonical perspectives are insightful and refreshing. I have only finished the first chapter, but I imagine that I will be done in no time if the rest of the chapters are as engaging as the first! More to come…