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Archive for the ‘old testament scholarship’ Category

Here’s a wonderful resource that’s worth bookmarking!  The Old Testament professor at The Master’s Seminary has taught in the past on the book of Genesis.  Fortunately for all of us his lectures are online for free!

Here are the videos:

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Four Faculty Members of Dallas Theological Seminary got together to do two Podcasts to have a Biblical response on the topic of Same-Sex Sexuality.  Specifically they are responding to the arguments that some have tried to explain away the verses in the Bible that described Same-Sex Sexuality as a sin.

The four professors are Dr. Darrell Bock, Dr. Robert Chisholm, Dr. Joe Fantin, and Dr. Jay Smith who are from the Old and New Testament department of the Seminary.  I appreciate that these are scholars of the Bible giving their input on the text.  They examined the biblical passages often brought up on homosexuality.  The first video is on on material in the Old Testament while the second video is on the material in the New Testament.

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interpreting-apocalyptic-literature-an-exegetical-handbook

Richard Taylor. Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature: An Exegetical Handbook.  Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, July 27th, 2016. 208 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This book is part of the Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis series published by Kregel Publications.  Previously I have enjoyed the work on interpreting Old Testament historical books by Robert Chisholm very much and was looking forward to this volume largely because of it.  I was also excited for this volume since apocalytpic literary forms is one of the hardest to interpret in the Old Testament and as a preacher it would be helpful to think through critically and be equipped in handling passages of Scripture like the book of Daniel.

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This commentary series put out by Kregel Academic is amazing.  Last year I reviewed another commentary in this series on Exodus by Duane A. Garrett and I’ve thumb through volume one of this particular three volume series on the Psalms by Allen Ross and I’ve been blessed by the contents in them.

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A Brief History of Old Testament Criticism From Benedict Spinoza to Brevard Childs

Mark S. Gignilliat. A Brief History of Old Testament Criticism: From Benedict Spinoza to Brevard Childs.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, June 10th, 2012. 186 pp.

The author made it clear in the beginning that the intended audience of the book was for “anyone who is in interested in the Bible, its history of interpretation, and the particular problems and approaches to Old Testament studies in the modern period.”  Thus book wasn’t just written for scholars and seminarians in mind but for the larger Christian lay readers although the author admits that as he writing this his inclination was to make the work more technical.  As a result the author himself explicitly explain that he needs to write this book with more of a biographical sketch of important figures of Old Testament scholars in light of the general public’s interests for human stories.  Thus the book is divided into seven chapters with each focusing on one particular modern Old Testament scholar.  I think the book might be more appropriately titled “A Brief Survey of Old Testament Scholars” instead, lest people think it is a survey of the history of Old Testament Criticism so no one is fooled by the title since some chapters focused on more biographical contents than descriptive details of the scholar’s academic contribution.  I suppose one shouldn’t really blame the author for doing so if he can successfully get the readers to know more about these scholars rather than have the readers be bored in seeing these men as another group of dead unknown Germans scholars.

Readers of the book will notice right away how early in the history of modern Old Testament criticism that it is driven by presuppositions and philosophies that is foreign to Scripture.  The clearest and worst example of this given in the book was Spinoza (although I don’t think the author intended to do that).  I was surprised to read about how bright Spinoza was but sadden to see how far he veered away from biblical orthodoxy even among his fellow Jews.  The book noted how Spinoza’s motivation in his approach towards the Old Testament was one that began with human autonomy and the assumption that reason is in conflict and above faith, etc.  While the other scholars the book survey is less overt than Spinoza in undermining the Bible nevertheless I would say one see in varying degrees the compromises and the import of bad philosophical starting points among various scholars’ approach to the Old Testament.

The author however makes it clear that he wants Evangelicals to have a greater appreciation for these scholars and their contribution even if one disagrees with them.  In that vein I appreciated the chapter on Julius Wellhausen and the author explaining Wellhausen’s documentary hypothesis clearly and simply for the lay reader.  I learned that Wellhausen’s formulation of his documentary hypothesis was in the context of his attempt to reconstruct the original historical setting of Israel in light of naturalistic presuppositions and not just merely to break up the Scripture into parts per se.  Although I have misgivings with the documentary hypothesis I think a strength of the book is the presentation clearly and accurately of what these scholars believed.

The chapters that really stood out to me were the ones on Gerhard VonRad, William Albright and Brevard Childs.  While I have been cautious and continue to be discerning when I read anything from VonRad (or anything that others attribute to VonRad), nevertheless I have a deeper sense of respect for VonRad the man and the scholar.  I never knew until this book of the courageous stance he took against the Nazis when he was a German Old Testament scholar at the universities.  His courage is inspiring when one consider the anti-Jewish climate in Hitler’s Germany.

It was also neat to learn of biblical scholars that was shaped by the polymath William Albright whose impact on Old Testament studies is his use of archaeological findings.  By far my favorite chapter was on Brevards Childs whose canonical approach has more use for Evangelical students of the Old Testament than some of the other approaches mentioned in the book.

I must say that Christians must read this book with discernment.  I think at times the author could have been explained more of the problems with some of the scholars surveyed.  Nevertheless I felt that all these scholars has things we can learn from; the biggest encouragement from these men lives was that I want to continue to be diligent in my study of God’s Word with all my mind, strength and soul.

I recommend the book, and rate it 4 out of 5.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Zondervan Academic and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

Purchase: Amazon

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Editor’s Note: I (“SlimJim”) am away in a family trip and this is a pre-scheduled post.  Responses will be delayed.

Warfare in the Old Testament The Organization, Weapons, and Tactics of Ancient Near Eastern Armies

Available on AMAZON

This is a wonderful book by an Old Testament professor who has done his doctoral dissertation related to ancient warfare.  Given the prevalence of war in the Old Testament, this book serves as an important resource in giving the background information for our understanding of Scripture.  The content of the book is well researched and interesting.  It also helps that the book is filled with beautiful illustrations that feature ancient drawings, archaeological finds, helpful maps and contemporary painting recreating what warfare in the past must have looked like.  They are very helpful and the author Boyd Seevers did a good job coordinating what he has to say with the illustrations.

The book focuses primarily on warfare in the Ancient Near East.  The author begins with the Hebrews during the era when they entered into the promise land.  Two chapters are devoted towards Israel and their military.  This is followed by two chapters on Egypt, one chapter on the Philistines, two chapters on the Assyrians, one chapter on the Babylonians and the final chapter on the Persians.

Every kingdom’s military is presented in an organized and clear manner. Each time a certain kingdom is introduced, the author takes the literary license of giving us a fictional “eye witness” account of a warrior so we can get the idea of what it must have been like.  This is followed by discussion of the specific kingdom’s historical background, military organization (structure, military branches, etc), weapons (long-medium-short range offensive weapons and defensive measures), and strategies/tactics.  Each section and subsection is clearly labeled which makes this an easy access reference for later use.

Over all, the book has more strengths than it did weakness.

STRENGTHS

  • In the introduction the author is conscious of cultural experience with warfare and he acknowledges that he never served in the military and grew up in the United States during a time of social upheaval where serving in the military was not necessarily valued.  Realizing his limitation, the author took the initiative to share a Marine sergeant’s insight concerning war.  It was really good especially concerning tactics!  I must confessed my own biases: I myself am a Marine veteran of Iraq.
  • There were a lot of things I learned from this book that I didn’t know beforehand: The book made the point that the Babylonians and Persians seem to be generally less cruel than the Assyrians during warfare and the Assyrians tend to use a lot of psychological warfare with their opponents.  I learned what a composite bow is (a bow that was glued together of various pieces of wood which allow the arrows to go futher).
  • I appreciated the fact that Seevers cited primary sources and also important secondary sources in the study of the Ancient Near East; especially exciting for me is his reference to Yadin’s work on Old Testament warfare in light of archaeological finding.  I have been thinking about getting Yadin’s work for some time now but I have hesitated given how it is somewhat outdated; this new volume by Seevers is a much needed update on the topic.
  • The end of the book has a good list of recommended resources for further study.

WEAKNESS

  • The input of the Marine concerning strategy waned by the time we get to the middle of the book.  It would have been nice to see more insights from him!
  • Some of the colors on some of maps were clashing and hard to distinguished at time given how they were a few shade different.

CONCLUSION

I highly recommend this book for anyone with interests in the Old Testament, the Ancient Near East and military history.  Pastors and Bible Students will gain much from this work.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Kregel Publications without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

To purchase the book CLICK HERE.

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Jonah The Scandalous Love of God Youngblood

To purchase the book on Amazon, Click HERE

Jonah is one of my favorite books in the Bible.  I preached through this book two years ago and I learned a lot from it.  So in picking up this new commentary that just came out, I was looking for a work that can get more insights from the text beyond what previous commentaries have pointed out.  This commentary didn’t disappoint—as a matter of fact, I learned a lot of new things about the book of Jonah as a result of reading this book.  At this time I would say that this commentary tops them all.

The author interacts with other major books and articles on the book of Jonah.  The author did a good job with the introduction which on my Kindle indicates that it made up eighteen percent of the book.  There is a lot that is pack in those eighteen percent!  This is the first volume in a new Old Testament commentary series published by Zondervan and the editor aims to make it not just a typical exegetical commentary but one that engages with the text using the tools of discourse analysis, analysis of literary forms, canonical criticism (specifically, the canonical significance of a passage) and insights from inter-textuality.  This commentary is also immensely rich with exegetical insights one expect from a traditional exegetical commentary such as lexical details and grammatical observations.

What were some of the things that I learned from this commentary?  Since there are too many examples I will stick only to some of the highlights in the first two chapter of the book of Jonah.  One literary device the author noted that I haven’t noticed before in the book of Jonah was the use of suppression of historical and geographical detail as a rhetorical device.  Two years ago when I went through Jonah 1:3 in the Hebrew I was stuck with why there is a third person feminine singular suffix for the word fare when I was thinking of Jonah as the referent (therefore should be third person masculine singular) but the author made a good point that this was referring to the ship and therefore one must not miss that Jonah was so desperate to leave God that he paid for the whole ship’s fare.  The author also made the observation that the Hebrew verb for “go” (boa) is used in the story for opposing the movement of God as oppose to other verbs of motion which serves to imply Jonah’s unrighteous heart whenever the word appears.  Youngblood also noted that the adjective “big” appears in the book twelve times and always with reference to obstacles to Jonah and his wishes.  The author also advanced the latest view that Hesed which is typically translated as “loving kindness” actually does not refer to covenantal love but instead to action and attitude of love beyond the call of duty.  The book also made me change my position concerning the prayer of Jonah in chapter two which I originally believed was a prayer of repentance; but the author Youngblood argues that it’s otherwise and quite conclusively I must say.

Whether one is a season exegete or a new student to Biblical Hebrew, this work will be fun, challenging and informative.  If you are going to go through Jonah in great details you need this work.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Zondervan Academic and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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