Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Feels like college all over again... sort of.

As a biology major in college, I took many science classes, and specifically in chemistry and physics, we would always deal with the metric system. In chemistry we had to unlearn our everyday U.S. system of yards, feet, inches, pounds, and Fahrenheit, to acclimate ourselves with nanometers, kilograms, Celsius, Kelvin, and pascals. It wasn't hard, but it was just a hassle to deal with all the new units of measurement when we don't even use it here on a day to day basis. I wished so badly during college that they would just universalize this whole darn system. And these days, I noticed something even in the world of biblical studies that I found interesting:

In quoting from a passage in the Bible, the American, the British, and even the Canadian scholars seem to have different methods!

If we wanted to reference Psalm 119:105...

U.S. : Ps. 119:105
U.K. : Ps. 119.105
Canada : Ps. 119,105

What is the deal? Just use one system...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Review copy!

Thanks to Emily from Westminster John Knox Press for this review copy! I'm pretty excited because this is my first book received to review and even if I didn't get approved, I probably would have just bought it myself. I will be sure to post a full review once I read through this book during this week.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

NEEDED: Your input yet again

In my previous post regarding the letter to the Ephesians, I received some very good feedback on OT use in Ephesians. Now, I am well on my way to thinking/writing through Isaiah in Ephesians 2:11-22. I hope I can yet again rely on some feedback on articles, books, and monographs on OT use in the Gospel according to Mark. I'm thinking specifically Isaiah 5:1-7 in the parable of the tenants found in Mark 12:1-9. So far I've looked at:

Steve Moyise and Maarten J.J. Menken, Isaiah in the New Testament

and a few journal articles in NovT of the dialogue between John Kloppenborg and Craig Evans on this passage.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Just one word?

Do you guys like tattoos? I'm not much of a big fan, but seems like tattooing a word from the Bible (or a verse) is a big trend that's catching on in our churches today [at least where I'm from!]. My encounters with the ink:

(1) When I went to New Orleans after Katrina, we met a lady there who tattooed the Greek word ἐλεέω (eleeō, lexical form of the word meaning "I have mercy") I think on her wrist, mistakenly thinking that it was the noun form for "mercy" which is actually ἔλεος (eleos). It was kind of funny and sad at the same time...

(2) I have a friend who is a social worker who is very concerned about social justice. She is doing some great things in the community, and on her forearm, she has the tattoo מִשְׁפָּט (mišpat), which I guess is the closest word to (social?) justice she could find in the OT.

So, if you were allowed just one word, what would you tattoo, where would you put it, and why?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Letter to the Ephesians

For any of you guys out there, do you know of any recent journal articles, books, and commenatries that deal well with OT use in Ephesians? I'm thinking specifically Ephesians 2:17 (Is. 57:19). Immediately only O'Brien's commentary and Beale/Carson's commentary come to mind!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Third Person

I think it's fair to say that in most of the conversations I've had or heard regarding the Christian life, with respect to the Trinity, topics regarding the First Person (i.e., God the Father) and the Second Person (i.e., God the Son) far outweigh any discussions about the Third Person (i.e., God the Holy Spirit). I'm not sure if that just means that my own life is severely deficient in this regard, but I'll go ahead and assume that is true for most other Christians as well. I don't know if it just means that our perception of the Spirit is that he is weak, but I was working through Mark 1:1-13 for my Gospels exegesis class and I saw something interesting:

Mark 1:9-12
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." And the Spirit immediately drove him out (ἐκβάλλει) into the wilderness.

I wanted to focus on the word, ἐκβάλλει, which literally means to drive out or cast out. This is the only place as far as I can tell in the NT and LXX, where the Spirit is shown to ἐκβάλλει _______. Why did Mark choose this word? I've looked through R.T. France's NIGTC commentary and this is what he says:

"Whereas Matthew and Luke speak here of the 'leading' of the Spirit, Mark uses the more vivid verb ἐκβάλλει; the historic present adds to the immediacy of the impact. While it would be an exaggeration to say that ἐκβάλλω always suggests violence, it normally implies at least the possibility of resistance... The use of ἐκβάλλω also reinforces the OT concept of the Spirit of God as a powerful force (cf. Mi. 3:8)."

I want to do a study on this particular word sometime to see if any Greco-Roman lit. uses it to describe the actions of any particular deities, but for now, it seems that the Third Person of the Trinity is no wimp to be ignored in our conversations!

Friday, September 11, 2009


Nine eleven. Is there any other date in the 21st century that has been so world-changing as that day in 2001? Everyone that knows me knows that my memory is terrible, and yet I distinctly remember where I was, what I was doing, and can recall to this day watching all of it on TV in disbelief.

We just started talking about Zeitgeist in my class, which is a fancy German word for the 'Spirit of the age.' An example of Zeitgeist in the US would be the 'Sexual Revolution' of the 60s, the 'Red Scare' of the 40-50s, etc. There's been some other blogging about 9.11 by Nick Norelli and Brian LePort here, and I guess my attempt to add to that discussion is: how has that day altered the Zeitgeist of our world? Your country? Your life?

We will never forget.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Don't you wish you had an unending supply of...

gift cards?? I had a couple from Borders I forgot about, so I ordered:

(1) UBS Reader's Greek New Testament
A couple of my NT classmates had them, so I guess I should follow suit.

(2) Surprised by Hope, N.T. Wright
I was reading this book on the plane on my way to Africa, and it was very interesting until I lost it in London! So here I am.

A poll

This is a picture of some of the books that I am currently reading, and my question for you all are: how much time do you spend reading?

How many hours do you read a week?

Let the voting begin!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"No one has arisen greater..."

This is how Jesus describes John the Baptist in human terms in Matthew 11:11 (as well as its parallel in Luke 7:28). We just began a full blown discussion and exegesis of the Gospel according to Mark, and right out of the gates in Mark 1, John the Baptist enters the scene as no insignificant figure. I'm guilty of probably overlooking the significance of JB in most of my studies in the Gospels (i.e. 'just get to Jesus already!'-mentality). Some things I've read today:

"Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness toward one another, and piety toward God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body: supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now, when [many] others came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise,) thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it would be too late. Accordingly he was sent as prisoner, out of Herod's suspicious temper, to Macherus, the citadel I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God's displeasure to him."
Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 18:116-19

"John the Baptist thus appears in these verses [i.e. vv. 2-8] as both of supreme significance, as the subject of some of the most stirring prophecies of the OT, the first embodiment of the age of eschatological fulfilment, and at the same time in the clearly subordinate role of the herald and footman, sent on ahead to prepare for the arrival of the sovereign."
R.T. France, The Gospel of Mark, NIGTC

"...this suggests that Mark's intention in using the Baptist material is not primarily to indicate that John bore witness to Jesus (as in the Johannine material) but rather as a foil to indicate who Jesus was not. This is accomplished in part by distinguishing Jesus' and John's activities and correcting the false impression of the outsiders about their identities, and in part by having Jesus in two key places (Mk 9 and 11) give testimony to who John really is, a testimony that balances that of John to Jesus in chapter one. This suggests that for Mark, John is the beginning of the gospel, not merely because he was seen to be Jesus' forerunner, an Elijah figure, but also because Jesus bore witness to John."
B. Witherington III, "John the Baptist" in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels

Let the unfolding of the gospel begin!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

New season begins with a pop... sort of.

College football season is back! Hoping my alma mater UCLA can do a little better this year and not be completely overshadowed by our crosstown rival. I know every year has its highlights and drama, but I've never seen a season begin with such a bang:

After Boise State romped Univ of Oregon 19-8, running back LeGarrette Blount, who in August claimed that his team "owe[d] that team an ___ whuppin'" gave in to his emotions, punching Byron Hout right in the jaw. Just about a day later, Oregon suspended Blount for the remainder of the season (bowl games included) which effectively ends his college football career.

If this is any indication of the level of intensity this year is going to bring, count me in! (minus the unsportsmanlike conduct.)

Friday, September 4, 2009

California dreamin'

When I talk to people outside of Southern California, they think sunny skies, palm trees, amazing weather, and the beaches. My friends from LA who move elsewhere always get the, "Why did you ever move out of there? It's so nice!" Oh, and they especially think earthquakes. Be that as it may, I think they forget, SoCal is basically a urbanized desert with a whole bunch of trees/shrubs that are ready to burn.

While the Florida Panhandle has the hurricane season, the Midwest has the tornado season, we got the fire season:

Not so dreamy now is it?


Thursday, September 3, 2009


I'm reading through David deSilva's Introducing the Apocrypha and I just finished the chapter on Judith. I'm not ashamed to be an evangelical Christian, but I admit, the fact that important writings found in the Apocrypha have been largely ignored in our churches is hugely disappointing. While reading Judith, for some reason I thought of Nietzsche when he said, "In revenge and in love woman is more barbarous than man."

Judith's triumph over Holofernes was very descriptive:
Judith 13:6-10
She went up to the bedpost near Holofernes' head, and took down his sword that hung there. She came close to his bed, took hold (ἐδράξατο) of the hair of his head, and said, "Give me strength today, O Lord God of Israel!" Then she struck (ἐπάταξεν) his neck twice with all her might, and cut off (ἀφεῖλεν) his head. Next she rolled[!] (ἀπεκύλισε) his body off the bed and pulled down the canopy from the posts. Soon afterward she went out and gave Holofernes' head to her maid, who placed it in her food bag.

For a strongly male dominated society, this story of a heroine (i.e. Judith) was very interesting, and as DeSilva mentioned in a section titled, 'Judith and the Place of Women in the Intertestamental Period':

The Book of Judith has deservedly attracted the attention of scholars interested in the roles, limitations, and ideology of women in the Second Temple Period...She is not the stereotypical widow, weak and in need of protection. Rather, she stands as the head of her household in the absence of Manasseh, her departed husband, and is introduced with her own genealogy (8:1)"

I guess even the Jews of the Second Temple period knew not to mess with the ladies?