Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Justification and Politics?

I'm currently reading through Douglas Campbell's Deliverance of God as mentioned in my previous post. So far it's been pretty good but one consistent critique that I've encountered in virtually every review I read of this book is its length. One particular scholar, Beverly Roberts Gaventa, summarizes this critique as such in Christian Century:

"This is a book that deserves to be read, but virtually every conversation I have heard about the volume has touched on its formidable length (some of which is in small print). Campbell insists that his project requires such length if he is to bring down the citadel of Justification theory. I fear that the length is self-defeating, as it means that only the most determined specialist will work through to the end, and Campbell will have lost the readers he most wants to persuade."

On some levels, I think I can agree, I'm currently on page 305 and he's still clearing the ground, so to speak, so that he can eventually lay down his own interpretive framework, namely, an apocalyptic reading of Paul. Be that as it may, it's been very instructive so far and in this subsection titled 'Justification and Liberal Political Individualism,' Campbell looks into John Locke's political theory to see how the Justification paradigm fits with Locke's own program, furthering its own agenda while circumventing the need to have a tight connection to the Pauline texts themselves to establish the paradigm as viable. In one subpoint, Campbell lays out a pretty strong critique:

"In addition to its enjoyment of four significant affinities with liberal politics — individual contracts, the notion of consent, the privatization of religion, and the characterization of all human relationships in terms of a discourse of currency — Justification is unable to protest very vigorously against liberal politics ... Special revelation associated with either the Scriptures or the Christian dispensation is limited to the private sphere and constrained by the individual's need for faith alone. And tradition and institutional control are repudiated as not genuinely religious. Moreover, Justification finds it notoriously difficult to generate any significant ethical observance from its converts (indeed, it arguable cannot generate this). The theory is hostile to any religious activity beyond faith, labeling it derisively as "works." The ecclesia constituted by the theory remains similarly weak; it is fundamentally individualist, confessional, and voluntarist, rooted in consent. It can ask very little from its converts. And these limitations raise a frightening prospect."

I'm still on this chapter, so we'll see where this all leads. Meanwhile, it seems that the axe that Campbell is grinding is getting bigger and bigger...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reading list

There's been a few comments here and here about books and what we might be reading in the upcoming year. I also have a few books that I've purchased (either a long time ago or recently) that I've been meaning to read. As always, I'm willing to bet I won't be able to read all of these books, but at least I can try!:

Paul Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther

This is a book I won from a giveaway at this blog, and I'm looking forward to reading this book. I was set on taking a class next semester on John Calvin and the Gospel of John with Dr. Steinmetz here at Duke, but due to some circumstances that will not be the case. I've been interested in the theological impacts of the Reformation on NT studies for some time now, and I suppose this is a good book as any to get an introduction to one of the giants of the Reformation. Afterwards, I may buy this book to make up for not taking Steinmetz's class.

William Baird, History of New Testament Research, Vol. 1

I've been meaning to read through both volumes (third volume is supposedly in the works) to get a better handle on what people have said, where people have gone, and what people are saying now to better understand the landscape of NT research. I don't imagine it to be a stimulating book, but I still intend to work through it bit by bit.

Wayne C. Booth, et. al., The Craft of Research, 3rd. ed.

I read this before, but I think it would be good to read it again as I gear myself up for thesis research in the Fall semester of 2011. I'm planning to just read the relevant portions to help me be a better writer.

Douglas Campbell, The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Reading of Justification in Paul

This is required reading for my Pauline theology PhD seminar next semester, but I've been meaning to read this book anyway. The Galatians seminar this semester (and its required reading of Martyn's AB commentary) I think has given me a good vantage point into the 'apocalyptic reading' of Paul that Campbell proposes here.

Bruce J. Malina, The New Testament World, Insights from Cultural Anthropology

I obtained this book as review copy from WJK press and it's about time I got around to doing a review for it.

J. Louis Martyn, History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel

I read this book a couple years ago, and at the time, to be honest, a lot of it went over my head. I couldn't quite grasp what Martyn was getting at, but after a few years reading through various books on the GJohn, etc., I think it's time that I read this book again. Plus we just finished reading through all of Martyn's AB commentary on Galatians and I feel confident that I can trace his thoughts a bit better this time along. Also, I'm considering taking Joel Marcus' Greek Exegesis of GJohn next semester and this may be a required reading for that class.

Mark Noll, Turning Points, Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity

I bought this book a long time ago and I've been meaning to read it. Christian history has always been a fascinating subject to me, and I think this will be a light book to read from time to time, to get myself away from monographs and journal articles.

Whew, that's a long list, and this doesn't even include a bunch of required readings in my upcoming classes. Hopefully I'll be able to get through most of the readings.

For my readers out there, are there any recent biographies on Christian figures of the past worth reading? This year I finished one on Bonhoeffer and one on G.E. Ladd, and they have both been very good books to read apart from the typical NT studies related things I immerse myself in. Any suggestions are welcome!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Pronunciation: \ˈtōm\

1. a book, esp. a very heavy, large, or learned book.
2. a volume forming a part of a larger work.

From time to time, I've seen various books referred to as "tomes," but I don't think any of them comes close to this one:

Amazing! The book comes in at 1248 pages (at least that's what Amazon says, though the page numbering actually ends at 1218 [probably earlier unmarked pages = 30 pp.]), with four parts that are broken down into 21 chapters. I'm really excited to start on this "tome," as I was given permission by Dr. Campbell to enroll in his PhD seminar on Pauline theology for the Spring semester. I've done work on Corinthians, Galatians, and 1 Thessalonians, but not much on Romans, so this should be an exciting but also challenging class to help me think after Paul's thoughts.

I hope I can walk away from this with some measure of confidence that I have grasped a little bit more of Paul's theology. From what I heard, Campbell has an interesting take on it which should make our classes very interesting. He mentioned in the introduction to the book that this work is over ten years in the making, so it's no surprise that it is so hefty. I was already intimidated by books that come in at pages number counts such as 535, 718, 740, 741, and 876, but this one is at 1248! Hope I can get through this in a timely manner...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


First there was this ultra-funny Old Spice commercial:

Then there's this, New Spice:

HT: Near Emmaus

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Non-canonical Gospels

There's always talks about what Gospel actually has "real" data in terms of the historical Jesus, more accurate historically, etc. etc. And one document outside of the canon is the Gospel of Peter, which I just read today from the NT Apocrypha (it's not that long, so if you're interested go here to get the Greek text). In this document, there is an interesting little section:

9.34. Early in the morning, when the sabbath dawned, there came a crowd from Jerusalem and the country round about to see the sepulchre that had been sealed. 35 Now in the night in which the Lord's day dawned, when the soldiers, two by two in every watch, were keeping guard, there rang out a loud voice in heaven, 36 and they saw the heavens opened and two men come down from there in a great brightness and draw nigh to the sepulchre. 37 That stone which had been laid against the entrance to the sepulchre started of itself to roll and gave way to the side, and the sepulchre was opened, and both the young men entered in.
10.38 When now those soldiers saw this, they awakened the centurion and the elders - for they also were there to assist at the watch. 39 And whilst they were relating what they had seen, they saw again three men come out from the sepulchre, and two of them sustaining the other, and a cross following them, 40 and the heads of the two reaching ot heaven, but that of him who was led of them by the hand overpassing the heavens. 41 And they heard a voice out of the heavens crying, 'Hast thou preached to them that sleep?', 42 and from the cross there was heard the answer, 'Yea'.

I've heard this passage being referred to from time to time to show the fantastic nature of these "later" Gospels, in particular with respect to a talking cross. I was just reminded by Brian LePort that one scholar, Mark Goodacre recently blogged about this. His suggestion is "that we conjecturally emend the text from σταυρον to σταυρωθεντα, from "cross" to "crucified", so that it is no longer a wooden cross that comes bouncing out of the tomb but rather Jesus, the "crucified one" himself." I haven't personally looked at the Greek text yet, but this is an interesting post that has generated some discussion, so go and read the Gospel of Peter if you're interested and join in the discussion at the NT Blog.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quote of the Day

Francis Watson on Paul and Habakkuk:

If it seems self-evident that the apostle and the prophet can have little or nothing in common, this betrays the continuing influence of a hermeneutic according to which texts are addressed to and contained by their immediate circumstances of origin, and that all subsequent usage marks a deviation from their "original meaning". In the present discussion, the limitations of this hermeneutic have become clear at point after point. The text of Habakkuk explicitly presents itself as written for a future of unknown duration; it privileges the reader over the author, and confines its reference to an identifiable historical situation toa single allusion to the "Chaldeans". It is the same "canonical process", but at a more advanced stage, that leads to the incorporation of this book within the larger collection of the Book of the Twelve. While the arrangement of the book is designed to reflect the unfolding canonical history, it also expresses the conviction that these products of earlier historical situations continue to lay claim to the present, and that their pastness is to be subsumed in the message they address to the present. There is clear continuity between the text's orientation towards its future reader and the logic of the larger canonical collection. Indeed, since we possess the text of Habakkuk only within the canonical Book of the Twelve, and as part of that larger book, the attempt to restore the entire book to a Sitz im Leben within the obscurity of "pre-exilic" Judah can only be regarded as historically naive and hermeneutically perverse."

How many?

Language, לָשׁוֹן, γλῶσσα / διάλεκτος, ܠܶܫܳܢܳܐ, sprache, lengua, 언어

These are some of the languages that I've interacted with over the years and while learning a new language is hard, I suppose it's also rewarding to be able to read something in a language that looked like scribbles just a few months ago. I'm just wondering where this will end... I'd much rather be very good at a few languages than knowing a little bit of many, but with PhD applications, ability to interact with a broader scope, etc., it seems like having "acquired" numerous languages is more advantageous. This is hard though! The more I get into one language, the more I'm prone to neglecting another and then I start wishing I had some type of time-freezing machine so I can just study these languages for 5000 hours in one day. One of my professors amazes me with the ease at which he moves from one language to another, not just in terms of translations, but its linguistic tendencies, idioms, etymological background, etc. He seems to be pretty comfortable at all of the following (and this is probably not even exhaustive!): French, German, Greek, Latin, Syriac, Aramaic, and Hebrew! I hope someday I can know half as much as he does...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hab. 2:4

I've been reading through some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and today in particular, I was reading through 1QpHab (A commentary on Habakkuk) and found something interesting with regard to Habakkuk 2:4. The tradition of this text is not unanimous, as seen in the differences in the MT and LXX:

MT (2:2-4)
2 Then the LORD answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. 3 For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. 4 Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.

LXX (2:2-4)
2 And the Lord answered me and said: Write a vision, and clearly on a tablet, so that the reader might pursue them. 3 For there is still a vision for an appointed time, and it will rise up at the end and not in vain. If it should tarry, wait for it, for when it comes it will come and delay. 4 If it draws back, my soul is not pleased in it. But the just shall live by my faith.

Hab. 2:4b in particular is cited three times in the NT: Rom. 1:17, Gal. 3:11, and Heb. 10:38 with all sorts of interesting questions surrounding those passages. It makes me think that this verse in Habakkuk was received in various but also in important ways, evinced, for example, by how Paul goes to it twice in important discussions regarding Law and faith. Now, how does this connect to the Dead Sea Scrolls? While the translators and early NT writers seemed to take this verse as an interesting point of departure for all sorts of discussions, the 1QpHab has only three lines about this verse that's relatively straightforward:

Col. VIII, 1-3
1 This refers to all those who obey the Law among the Jews whom 2 God will rescue from the place of judgment, because of their suffering and their loyalty 3 to the Teacher of Righteousness.

This is interesting because with Paul and the other witnesses, the big deal is with the "subject" of the faithfulness, i.e., individual believers, a Christian community, God, etc. But here, the focus seems to be on none of that, but rather on being loyal to the Teacher of Righteousness. It just made me wonder how else the Dead Sea community modulated faithfulness as faithfulness to their Teacher.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Does anyone else think transliterations of original languages (e.g. Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, etc.) in books are cumbersome? Not that I know every word in those languages but these wanna-be Romanizations are annoying!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Book review

New Testament Apocrypha, Volume One: Gospels and Related Writings

Editor: Wilhelm Schneemelcher
Translator: R. McL. Wilson
Publisher: Westminster John Knox, rev. ed., 2003
Paperback: 560 pp.

WJK (Thoughtful Christian)

Thanks to Emily Kiefer and the team at Westminster John Knox for this review copy. I already had volume 2 of the NT Apocrypha and was hoping to get my hands on the first volume, so this is a very welcome addition to my library.

From the Table of Contents, I can see that this book is well organized. It first begins with a General Introduction by Schneemelcher on things such as the history of the NT canon, apocrypha, testimonies of the early fathers, the history of research in apocryphal literature, and an introduction to non-biblical material about Jesus. These first 70-some pages are very helpful for one to gain some knowledge about this topic. Then it is divided into twelve sub-sections, each devoted to specific materials from the perspective of various scholars.

They are divided into: (I) Isolated Sayings of the Lord (Otfrid Hofius), (II) Fragments of Unknown Gospels (Joachim Jeremias and Wilhelm Schneemelcher), (III) The Coptic Gospel of Thomas (Beate Blatz), (IV) Jewish-Christian Gospels (Philipp Vielhauer and Georg Strecker), (V) The Gospel of Philip (Hans-Martin Schenke), (VI) The Gospel of the Egyptians (Wilhelm Schneemelcher), (VII) The Gospel of Peter (Christian Maurer and Wilhelm Schneemelcher), (VIII) Dialogues of the Redeemer (various), (IX) Other Gnostic Gospels and Related LIterature (Henri-Charles Puech and rev. Beate Blatz), (X) Infancy Gospels (Oscar Cullmann), (XI) The Relatives of Jesus (Wolfgang A. Bienert), and (XII) The Work and Sufferings of Jesus (various). These chapters contain some very interesting books that we might have heard of (from say... a certain movie?) such as the Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Truth, Gospel of Philip, Gospel of Mary, Protevangelium of James, and more.

At the beginning of each chapter, there is an overview of some important topics such as the literature (e.g. different editions, translations, etc.), attestation, tradition, genre of text, provenance, theological themes, relationship to canonical Gospels, etc. [each chapter varies because not all contain any relevant information for each sub-topic]. Overall, this is an excellent volume that will be of benefit for anyone interested in the canonical and non-canonical Gospels. There is a wealth of information from a whole array of scholars that are contained in this book. I have some interest in possibly pursuing some research in this topic so this is a very important volume that I will start digging into bit by bit in the coming months.

Verdict::Recommended! (Granted that this is not really a "book" but more of a reference volume.)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Spring '11

Here at Duke, it seems like there's a mad rush to get into the classes of your choice, and it was no different this week as registrations opened up for the Spring semester. I had my eye on a bunch of classes and it looks like this will be my coursework for the upcoming semester:

Calvin and the Interpretation of John with Prof. David Steinmetz
Exegesis of Acts with Prof. C. Kavin Rowe
Seminar on NT and Ancient Greco-Roman Philosophy with Prof. C. Kavin Rowe
Greek Exegesis: Synoptic Gospels with Prof. Mark Goodacre
[informal] Readings in Syriac with Prof. Lucas Van Rompay (hopefully...)

There was a Greek Exegesis in the Gospel of John by Prof. Joel Marcus that was super tempting, but due to schedule conflicts, this is how it ended up. There's still a few kinks that needs to be worked out, but I think this will end up being my classes for the Spring. I'm loving the classes this semester, but am also excited for the Spring semester!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Review copies

Checked the mail today and got two books for review copy. Big thanks to Emily Kiefer and the generous folks at Westminster John Knox, I received these two books:

New Testament Apocrypha, Volume One: Gospels and Related Writings, Revised ed. Edited by Wilhelm Schneemelcher, trans. R. McL. Wilson

The New Testament World, Insights from Cultural Anthropology, Bruce J. Malina

It's been a while since I received books for review, so I'm excited to have received these two titles. Both of course are books in fields I am interested in (i.e., NT vs. the non-canonical Gospels and the sociological background of the NT), so these two books should be welcome additions to my library. Look for reviews in the upcoming weeks.

Friday, October 15, 2010

What's up, Michelangelo?

I always wondered why some sculptures of Moses, including this one from Michelangelo, looked like this (do you see what I see?):

Moses has horns!?! I learned today that it was due to a mistranslation of the Latin Vulgate of the theophany described in Exodus 34. Exodus 34:29 reads, "Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God." The word "shone" here is the verb קָרַן which is a very rare verb in the OT (which can cause translation problems as we can see here). In one sense, it can mean "to send out rays" but in another "to display horns." The Latin Vulgate translates this verse as: "cumque descenderet Moses de monte Sinai tenebat duas tabulas testimonii et ignorabat quod cornuta esset facies sua ex consortio sermonis Dei." The verb here is translated as cornuta which is a derivation of the word cornu for "horn." I guess it's too bad for Moses that one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance didn't read Hebrew...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Why not Cain's?

Have you ever wondered why Abel's sacrifice was acceptable to God but not that of Cain? You might have heard these answers that I've heard: (1) Cain's attitude was wrong, or (2) Cain did not offer his very best. As I see it, I don't think the text actually says any of that explicitly (though I guess you could argue that the explicit mention of Abel bringing the "fatty" portion or "firstlings" of his flock is an implicit criticism of Cain doing otherwise...) Anyway, I'm currently reading through this book on the Septuagint, and I must say, this is a very fascinating subject! I never knew that there were so many text-critical issues surrounding the LXX and with my interests in intertextuality, I think getting to know the LXX a bit better will do me some good. For instance, see how bringing the LXX into our discussion sheds (or darkens?) light on the issue:

Genesis 4:6-7
6The LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? 7If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it."

This is a pretty straightforward passage of the narrative, and I never thought much about it, but its meaning is actually much more difficult to figure out than evidenced in our translations. For example, here is verse 7:

הֲל֤וֹא אִם־תֵּיטִיב֙ שְׂאֵ֔ת וְאִם֙ לֹ֣א תֵיטִ֔יב לַפֶּ֖תַח חַטָּ֣את רֹבֵ֑ץ וְאֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ תְּשׁ֣וּקָת֔וֹ וְאַתָּ֖ה תִּמְשָׁל־בּֽוֹ׃

οὐκ ἐὰν ὀρθῶς προσενέγκῃς ὀρθῶς δὲ μὴ διέλῃς ἥμαρτες ἡσύχασον πρὸς σὲ ἡ ἀποστροφὴ αὐτοῦ καὶ σὺ ἄρξεις αὐτοῦ

The English translation above follows the MT, but the Hebrew in verse 7 is awkward and difficult, so they often rely on the Greek text, which also show evidence that the translator himself had a difficult time with his Hebrew text:

"If you offer correctly but do not divide correctly, have you not sinned? Be still, his recourse is to you, and you will rule over him."

Very different from our regular English translations, no? As Jobes states, "Part of the translator's motivation, undoubtedly, was a desire to understand why God should be upset with Cain for bringing an offering that is approved in the Mosaic legislation. His rendering may be evidence of an ancient interpretation to the effect that the reason Cain's offering was defective was that he failed to follow the proper cultic rituals." So why not Cain's? Maybe he did it wrong afterall.

Friday, October 1, 2010

What do you want to know?

In my Greek Exegesis of Galatians class, Dr. Eastman informed us early in the semester that the author of our main textbook, J. Louis Martyn, has agreed to come to our class the last week of class for an informal discussion/interview where we will get to dialogue with a premier NT scholar. She asked us this week to start thinking about some questions that we might want to bring up, and as our class is only about eight or nine people, I think there will be plenty of time for everyone to get their fair share of questions in. So I thought, I could elicit some questions from all you fellow bibliobloggers and blog about it afterwards as a small gift to you. Does anyone have anything they would like me to raise with Dr. Martyn? Of course there's no guarantee that I will ask everything, but still, I'm curious to know what you guys are thinking.

Ask away!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Logos giveaway

For all my blog readers, if you're interested, per Logos:

Logos Bible Software is giving away thousands of dollars of prizes to celebrate the launch of Logos Bible Software 4 Mac on October 1. Prizes include an iMac, a MacBook Pro, an iPad, an iPod Touch, and more than 100 other prizes!

They’re also having a special limited-time sale on their Mac and PC base packages and upgrades. Check it out!

That is all.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Sabbath

For my OT interpretation class, my professor assigned a PDF chapter out of a book titled, The Ten Commandments: Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church by Patrick Miller, a retired professor from Princeton Seminary, and just as Dr. Portier-Young said, his chapter did not disappoint. I'd like to quote to you a short section from the chapter on the Sabbath:

"The people of ancient Israel were far more concerned about release from toilsome labor than about ensuring that the work got done. For those who think that divine judgments of Genesis 3 created a fixed order that cannot be ameliorated, the Sabbath command is one of the things at work in God's way to offset their force. The power of work to control human life is forever relativized in the Sabbath. There is no eternal assembly line in the community that lives by these guidelines. The Sabbath helps to guard against one of the primary idolatries to which many, if not all, are prone: idolizing our work by making it the center value and meaning for our lives. The Sabbath relativizes human work and makes it possible regularly to set aside our goals and plans, our ambitions and accomplishments, to think and care about the God who created us and God's work, about God's plan and our place in it. The Sabbath, therefore, is both a safeguard against one of the central ways in which we violate the First Commandment and also a barrier against the constant inclination to justify ourselves and to define ourselves by our work, what we do. The Sabbath cuts human beings loose from their work and calls them to do nothing but give praise to God. It is a constant reminder—and exemplar—of what the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism says is the goal of human existence: "to glorify God and to enjoy him forever." (emphasis original)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Know that phrase!

I've been really enjoying Dr. Eastman's Greek Exegesis of Galatians class, and if you've looked through this text in Greek, there are a few phrases that biblical scholars have been wrestling with for... oh, I don't know, decades? I might be wrong, but it seems like the debate will never end. Anyway, here's two phrases that you might be familiar with:

(1) ἔργων νόμου
(2) πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

The first phrase, most often translated as "works of the Law" occurs seven times (if I'm counting correctly) in the NT: Rom. 2:15, 3:20, 3:28; Gal. 2:16, 3:2, 3:5, and 3:10. The problem lies in what Paul actually meant by "works of the Law." Is it some type of legalistic adherence to Jewish law, customs, traditions, etc. as the Reformers have understood Paul? Or is it the food laws, circumcision, etc., that are the "markers" or "badges" of the ones in the covenant? In addition, this phrase is very odd and the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls with 4QMMT (one of the texts from the find), we now have another understanding of the phrase "works of the Law" or מעשי התורה.

The second phrase, most often translated as "faith in Jesus Christ" is actually not as neatly translatable as it seems in the popular English versions. It occurs in this construction five times in the NT: Rom. 3:22, Gal 2:16, 3:22, 3:26, and Phil. 3:9. It is in what's called the genitive construction and in this particular case, most often understood as objective genitive (i.e., faith in Jesus Christ, where Jesus Christ is the object of the faith) or subjective genitive (i.e., faith[fulness] of Jesus Christ, where Jesus Christ is the subject of the faith). Plenty of ink has been spilled on this topic and while the traditional view of seeing it in objective genitive relationship prevailed for a long time, recently the subjective genitive has been gaining support.

Why am I bringing this up? Well I'm still trying to wrap my mind around this whole debate and wanted to know what you all thought about these phrases. We haven't hit either of these phrases yet in my seminar class, but I'm looking forward to the lively debate.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Desert Spirtuality

In my class called Introduction to Christian Spirituality, we're currently in a section regarding the "Desert Fathers" and the spirituality that they showed and taught. One of our readings for this week comes from John Climacus who lived around 6-7th century CE, writing a book titled Κλίμαξ or Scala Paradisi in Latin, meaning the Ladder of Divine Ascent. We're only reading a portion of it, but it was interesting to read what I was used to seeing from Reformers & Puritans almost a thousand years before they said it:

Let us fear the Lord not less than we fear beasts. For I have seen men who were going to steal and were not afraid of God, but, hearing the barking of dogs, they at once turned back; and what the fear of God could not achieve was done by the fear of animals. Let us love God at least as much as we respect our friends. For I have often seen people who had offended God and were not in the least perturbed about it. And I have seen how those same people provoked their friends in some trifling matter, and then employed every artifice, every device, every sacrifice, every apology, both personally and through friends and relatives, not sparing gifts, in order to regain their former love.

I wonder if the Reformers & Puritans and others of the "Western" Christian persuasion read the Desert Fathers?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Say 'ma'?

ܝܶܫܘܽܥ ܕܶܝܢ ܐܷܡܰܪ ܠܗܴ̇ܝ ܐܱܢ̱ܬܬܴܐ. ܗܰܝܡܳܢܘܽܬܷܟܝ ܐܱܚܝܰܬܷܟܝ. ܙܶܠܝ ܒܰܫܠܴܡܳܐ

If you know Hebrew, you would know my post title means, "Say what?". I say that because at least some words (like 'what' for example) are the same in Syriac (thankfully), and therefore, you'd be thinking "say what?!" as you read (or saw) the above script (at least that's what I thought when I first started reading Syriac last week!) This is my first attempt to type one verse from the NT Peshitta (anyone know from where?) in Syriac, and I have to say, this is tough! Dr. Van Rompay started to pick up the pace, so I better get to studying.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What's in a letter?


These are all letters that are short for certain hypothetical documents that according to source criticism, redactors have used to form certain documents of the Old Testament (e.g. the Pentateuch) and the New Testament (e.g. the Gospels). Obviously I'm not at the level of a, say, Julius Wellhausen, but still, these hypothetical sources still confuse me at best and annoy me at worst. How do scholars posit such a certainty of these documents when as far as I know, no independent sources apart from the current "redactional" states (i.e. the forms as it is appropriated in the Scriptures) exist? I'm currently in an OT interpretations class, and the lectures have been very stimulating so far, but when it comes to the issue of Documentary Hypothesis, I've never been fully convinced no matter where I hear it (not when I heard it first at Talbot and not now at Duke). Is there something to these conclusions through source-criticism that I'm not getting? I guess I'm not too terribly off-track on some levels because even one Professor here at Duke, Mark Goodacre, rejects "Q."

Anyone else have any thoughts on this? What's your take on source-criticism in general, and these specific sources specifically?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fall 2010

Tomorrow begins my first day of class as an MTS student at Duke Divinity. Thankfully my Talbot degree got some introductory classes out of the way, so unless something changes drastically in the next few days, this looks like my schedule for the Fall semester:

Greek Exegesis of Galatians
Christian Spirituality
Old Testament Interpretation
Elementary Syriac

It's been a while since I started classes at a new school, I'm pretty excited! Wish me luck for the first week.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

New school

To all my patient readers, thank you for not deleting me from your blog rolls! In the past month, we packed twice, had three wedding receptions, went on our honeymoon, shipped our cars, moved into a whole new city across the US, so please forgive the month-long silence. Anyway, I'm starting school finally this week and here's my prospective schedule so far:

Greek Exegesis of Mark with Dr. Joel Marcus (waitlisted...)
Greek Exegesis of Galatians with Dr. Susan Eastman
Old Testament Interpretation with Dr. Anathea Portier-Young

For my fourth class, it's still a toss-up I guess depending on what they let me do, but I guess if I can get my way, it might be:

The Septuagint with Dr. Melvin Peters
Elementary Syriac with Dr. Lucas Van Rompay

Some words of appreciation go out to various people I've met through online venues, a few who I don't even know their names/blogs, and one John Anderson who is a Duke-MTS alumnus who helped me from time to time along this whole process. Much appreciation to all of you!

And finally, I also need a job.

From now on, blogging will be from Durham, North Carolina!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Weird writings

Every now and then, I come across some very bizarre statements from ancient documents, and today I ran into one.

This is a fragment from Clement of Alexandria:

But those who set themselves against God's creation because of continence, which has a fair-sounding name, quote also those words which were spoken to Salome, of which I made mention before. They are contained, I think (or I take it) in the Gospel according to the Egyptians. For they say that `the Saviour himself said: I came to destroy the works of the female'.
--Strom. iii.9.63

What's up with the Egyptians?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Eyewitness Testimony

I'm reading through Bauckham's book, and in a subsection titled Eyewitness Testimony, he says some things which I found helpful. I'm somewhat puzzled that critical scholars tend to pit the Synoptic Gospels against the Gospel of John in terms of history and theology and regarding this issue, Bauckham briefly comments:

"The vital importance that was attached, in Greco-Roman historiography, to the firsthand testimony of eyewitness participants in the events, and the way in which the Gospels reflect this concern, has been highlighted recently in Samuel Byrskog's Story as History—History as Story, and I have discussed the Gospels in this light at length in my book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. So a brief treatment will suffice here. The historiographical ideal, which meant that strictly speaking one could write only contemporary history, history that was still within living memory, was that the historian himself should have been a participant in many of the events and that he should have interviewed eyewitnesses of those events he could not himself have witnessed. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, for example, praises the historical work of Theopompus of Chios because "he was an eyewitness (αὐτόπτης) of many events, and conversed with many of the eminent men and generals of his day" (Pomp. 6). In a literary context of this kind John's Gospel would seem readily to meet the contemporary requirements of reliable historiography, probably better than the Synoptic Gospels. Its claim, whether authentic or not, is to authorship by a disciple of Jesus who notes his own presence (in the third person as was the normal historiographical convention) at key events in the story he tells, and makes it plain that he belonged to a circle of other disciples from whom he could be reliably informed of other events. Widespread failure to recognize that this Gospel's claim to eyewitness testimony is at least a straightforward historiographical one (doubtless it has also a theological dimension) has resulted from the influence of the dictum that this Gospel is theology, not history, and consequent isolation of it from its literary context in ancient historiography."

Monday, July 19, 2010

Blogging and the 'biblioblog' dilemma

There's been some recent discussions here, here, and here about what biblioblogs should and should not be doing, and with the proliferation of blogs, one might be inclined to quickly remove a blog that has not posted anything recently regarding biblical studies. Unfortunately, I think I fall under that category, and I hope my readers have not removed me from their feeds! With graduating two months ago, to wedding planning, to moving, etc., there's been absolutely no time for me to really think about anything interesting in biblical studies, so apologies to my readers if they've been seeing a huge drop-off in anything interesting lately. I hope as I enter back to school in the Fall at Duke, I'll have some more interesting thoughts, but until then, bear with the random musings!

Friday, July 9, 2010


What would Jesus have looked like? (WWJHLL)

Here are some popular and past depictions:

Many popular depictions show Jesus with light-brown hair, sharp blue eyes, and a well trimmed beard with very European features. One of the pictures above even shows an Asian depiction of Jesus. In Popular Mechanics 2002, they think he looked more like this:

I suppose that does more justice to his Palestinian roots, it was just very different than any other depictions of Jesus I've seen.


HT: Justin Taylor

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The age of digital readers

It seems that the past few years has brought on a whole new age of reading: the age of digital readers. Some of the devices vying for your reading pleasure:

1. Sony PRS-900

2. Barnes & Noble Nook

3. Apple iPad

4. Amazon Kindle 2 and Kindle DX

I'm not really that serious in buying one, but I suppose it would be nice to have one instead of carrying all my books, not to mention the ability to access the hundreds of journal articles I have on my computer on one portable device. However, I have not really had a chance to actually mess around with any of these devices and from what I can tell there are some shortcomings of these devices. First, if they are quick, full-color with multi-touch capabilities (e.g., iPad), the battery life is very low, the price is very very steep, and for reading, they would be terrible for your eyes. Anyway, I think iPad is not really meant to act as an e-reader. Second, if they are basic and focused on reading (e.g., the other devices), the response times are slow and most of them lack any ability to mark up the books (though I might be wrong here). The only exception I think is the Sony PRS-900 with its stylus; unfortunately, this device only has a 7-inch display, the response times seem slow, and the book store is Sony's instead of an already well-established source like Amazon. Who reads books without marking them up?

I guess if I could have it my way, it would be something like the Kindle DX that is less than $200, with a stylus, with SD-memory support, and strong PDF support. Does anyone own one of these devices that want to weigh in?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Find that quote

I'm currently reading through this book on the historical Jesus, and in Luke Timothy Johnson's critique of Darrell Bock he says this:

"My complaint here is not nitpicking concerning Bock's prose. It cuts to the heart of his enterprise. He is not expressing himself clumsily; he is committing historiographical fallacy. The fact that other Jesus questers (including Crossan, Meier and Wright) regularly commit the same fallacy does not make it any more acceptable. As Chesterton once remarked, "a fallacy does not become less of a fallacy merely because it has become a fashion."

I tried to Google that quote from Chesterton (he didn't provide any references on it) and got nothing. I'm just curious, does anyone know where that quote is from?

Saturday, July 3, 2010


When I think of the word "carnival," I just think of something like the picture above, with some fun games and ferris wheels, but in literary terms, I learned that it has been used in a different way to understand a given text. I'm trying to read books that introduce different "criticisms" of the New Testament, and the book that I'm currently reading is James L. Resseguie's Narrative Criticism of the New Testament. I'm not sure if I can agree with all the tenets of narative-criticism that I've read so far, but it's still interesting. In a subsection titled, "Carnivalesque," Resseguie says something about carnival that I want to quote in full:

"Carnivalesque is a concept, popularized by Mikhail Bakhtin, that highlights the upside down, inside out, top to bottom, inverted world of carnival. Carnival predates Christianity and expresses "life drawn out of its usual rut" and "the reverse side of the world ('monde à l'envers') in which everyday social hierarchies are turned upside down and mocked by normally suppressed voices of the culture. Carnivaleque is prominent in the passion scenes of the Gospels, where symbols and actions mock a staid, authoritarian society and provide the transforming regenerative power for an alternative society. Opposites that underscore the relativity of all structure and order are paired in carnival: king with slave, crowning with de-crowning, exaltation with debasement, and sacred with profane. Similar opposites are paired at the crucifixion: an innocent man dies while an outlaw goes free (Barabbas); the sun fails at noon; the temple veil is torn from top to bottom; a carnival procession mocks the king, which, in turn, mocks the triumphal processions of conquering heroes; a cross serves as a throne; jeers (carnivalistic laughter) deride while ironically affirming truth. The images of carnival are linked to the paradox of death and rebirth. Carnivaleque is never simple negation but has a second, positive level of meaning. The downward, negative movement that characterizes the crucifixion world of abuse, curse, debasing, profanation, mockery, and death contains within it the regenerative power of an upward, positive movement of rejuvenation, renewal of life, and transformed symbols of power. In this sense, carnivalesque is like a U-shaped plot with a downward turn that moves upward to a new stable condition."

Friday, July 2, 2010

How things have changed...

During my last semester at Talbot, my professors were mentioning that much of the journal databases at the Biola Library were being changed to digital format, with no hard copies being available on site. It's amazing how much things have changed over the years, and I'm grateful that through my student ID, I get access to a bunch of library databases through Biola as an alumni. Unfortunately, the access they provide of theological journals only go to say, 2004, 2005, 2007, etc., at the very least a couple years old (which is huge I think in terms of recent scholarship). Great news! I just checked my Duke ID, and it seems that their database is much more vast as well current (this is not a knock on Biola, but just shows the level of research/endowment available and accomplished at Duke). Not only that, I already have access to their library database and e-journals, even while still living 2500 miles away from campus. How things have changed! For the better that is (at least in my opinion). I must admit, sometimes I just download a bunch of articles and completely forget about them... I suppose I will get to them sometime. Are any of you avid downloaders of journal articles?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New journal

The first publication of a new journal, Student Journal for New Testament Studies, is now available here. It seems that students (either advanced undergraduate, masters, and doctoral level) are the sole contributors to this new journal, and while that might mean a "watered down" level of scholarship(though even that might not even be true) in comparison to journals like JBL, NTS, and the like, it seems like a good place to see what kind of research are being done by students around the globe. Go take a look!

HT: DukeNewt

Monday, June 21, 2010


I've been reading the recently published biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas, and I have to say, Bonhoeffer was one legit dude. He finished his PhD by age 21, with his doctoral dissertation Sanctorum Communio (a theological study of the sociology of the church) and finished at age 23 his habilitation, a post-doctoral degree which is basically another PhD (arguably even more research-focused, with stricter rules on publishing, lectures, etc.) with Akt und Sein. He was eventually hanged for his involvement with the plot to assassinate Hitler during WWII. Near the end of his life, he was almost finished with his magnum opus, Ethics, eventually compiled/editted by his best friend Eberhard Bethge. I'm almost done with the biography, and I have to say, Bonhoeffer was an amazingly unique individual with immense intellect as well as a pastoral heart and love for people. I am going to start reading through his various works soon, and as a way to whet your appetite for his thoughts, I will quote the opening lines of Ethics here:

"Those who wish even to focus on the problem of a Christian ethic are faced with an outrageous demand--from the outset they must give up, as inappropriate to this topic, the very two questions that led them to deal with the ethical problem: 'How can I be good?' and 'How can I do something good?' Instead they must ask the wholly other, completely different question: 'What is the will of God?'"
--Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


In case you dropped by thinking this to be a blog post about the Evangelical Theology Society (by the way, my former professor Dr. Clint Arnold is the president-elect this year), sorry, that's not the group I'm talking about.

I'm talking about the wonderful group we all are familiar with, the Educational Testing Service, raking in millions (maybe billions!?) of dollars through standardized tests like APs, SATs, and GREs. Although I already took the GREs, I might take it again in the future so I've been studying vocabs and in one of the practice questions, the right answer to a blank was "ludology." What the heck is ludology? I went to, Merriam-Webster, and MSN Encarta dictionary, and ALL of them said this word does not exist. It was only after I typed it in Google that I got "study of games (esp. videogames)." What the!

These kinds of words better not show up on the GRE.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The New Bridge Illustration?

Do you guys remember the bridge illustration? It was a simple evangelism tool that was developed a long time ago, and it looked something like this:

It was especially helpful for cross-cultural ministries because it was simple, clear, and interesting (well... opposed to just reading a bunch of words on a page, I suppose). Anyway, I just saw this on my Google Reader feed, and well... it seems like the old method is out and you better bring a sketchbook with you with a full script for the details.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Quote of the Day

I've been reading through N.T. Wright's first volume, and in the chapter dealing with important symbols for Israel, Wright says this regarding the temple:

"But the Temple was not simply the 'religious' centre of Israel--even supposing that a distinction between religion and other departments of life could make any sense at the period in question. It was not, shall we say, the equivalent of Westminster Abbey, with 'Buckingham Palace' and the 'Houses of Parliament' being found elsewhere. The Temple combined in itself the functions of all three--religious, national figurehead and government--and also included what we think of as the City, the financial and economic world ... When we study the city-plan of ancient Jerusalem, the significance of the Temple stands out at once, since it occupies a phenomenally large proportion (about 25%) of the entire city. Jerusalem was not, like Corinth for example, a large city with lots of little temples dotted here and there. It was not so much a city with a temple in it; more like a temple with a small city round it."

I guess this is nothing really new, I just liked the way Wright put it at the end.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A break... sort of.

So, I finally walked yesterday, graduating from the Talbot School of Theology with an MA in New Testament. I originally started out as an MDiv and was probably about two-thirds of the way done, but I wanted to focus on biblical studies and not do all the practical theology, so here I am. I will be heading to Durham, NC soon to look for an apartment in the Fall, so please pray for us that we'll be able to find a decent place for us to begin a new family together! What else will I be doing? Well, as one of my classmates said yesterday, "I'm going to inhale books during the time off." I don't know about that kind of speed, but I do have a bunch of books I wanted to read, as well as get a chance to think more about potential research topics for my thesis at Duke. Oh, and I might take the darn GRE's again for my future PhD apps, so if anyone has any good tips (for verbal), please share your wisdom.

Anyway, some books on queue:

What are you reading these days?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Say what?

Though I've learned a lot from the many scholarly articles and monographs that I read this year thus far, sometimes, I do understand what John Piper meant, when he said, "Using technical jargon that only insiders understand and that often conceals ambiguity." There are times that I feel like I'm reading pages and pages of one long sentence, to eventually be plopped down onto a conclusion which I'm not quite sure how the author arrived at.

Anyway, on this thought, it made me think of a few funny videos that pokes fun (well, the first one I think was serious, but the second was not) at "technical jargon" that seems to mean nothing and say nothing. Enjoy the monographs my friends, but do remember, sometimes it's just better to say it in 5 words instead of 500 (oh and apologies in advance for some foul language in video #2):

Friday, May 21, 2010


I'm sure you have heard the cliche, "Do not judge a book by its cover." Well, the more I read/buy books, the more I'm convinced that the cliche is oftentimes wrong. I mean, who doesn't like the way this book looks on the outside? Regardless of whether or not you read the book, you gotta admit, it's a cool cover. One other book that I recently added to my wish list, is one I saw on my Google Reader feed, from a review by Andy Rowell, who is a ThD student at Duke.

Here's the cover:

The book is hot off the press (April 2010) and I have to admit, I didn't really read what Andy had to say about it, the cover just got me. Not to mention Tim Keller wrote the forward to the book. Seems to me, sometimes a book should be judged by its cover.

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What's next?

When I first began at Talbot about 5 years ago, I started out as an M.Div student, going part-time while working full-time at a bank. I took Saturday classes and night classes, not really enjoying the PT (practical theology) classes while loving the biblical studies classes (systematic theology was ok... I think I liked it more before seminary). My goal was never to be some senior pastor at a church later on, I just liked teaching the Bible and wanted to just make a living doing that. Took a year off after some difficult family situations, and after a few Greek exegesis classes, my goals changed completely: I just loved reading all these texts, monographs, articles, etc. that I recognized that things were changing in my own heart. In about a week, I will finish my time at the Talbot School of Theology, get hitched this summer to my super awesome fiance, and get ready to move across the US to attend Duke Divinity School for their MTS program in the Fall. I'm still not exactly sure where this will all lead (I am shooting for a PhD, but you all know how hard that is.), but what I do know is this: I love studying the New Testament critically and if I can get paid doing that, count me in.

What's next? Not sure. All I know is something at Durham, North Carolina. Other than that, only God knows.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fall 2010

I'm studying for my Hebrew final right now, but also began to look at some of the course listings for Duke for Fall 2010 after I got an email from the director of admissions. Some of these classes are doctoral seminars but they do allow MTS students with permission, so I'm hoping to get into some of them!

Here are some of the possibilities:

(1) New Testament Colloquy: Intertextuality in the Book of Revelation
(2) Exegesis of Luke with Dr. Kavin Rowe
(3) Exegesis of Romans with Dr. Douglas Campbell
(4) NT Theology with Dr. Kavin Rowe
(5) Greek Exegesis of Mark with Dr. Joel Marcus
(6) Greek Exegesis of Galatians with Dr. Susan Eastman
(7) Pauline Anthropology with Dr. Susan Eastman
(8) Questions in the Study of Ancient Judaism with Dr. Joel Marcus
(9) Studies in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha with Dr. Anathea Portier-Young

I'm hoping I get to take at least a few of these classes.

Until then, יְשׁוּעָתָה לַיהוָה

Thursday, May 13, 2010


When I took a class on the history of rock and roll at UCLA specifically focused on The Beatles, I found out just how pervasive their lyrics/songs were, even decades after their time. I started seeing/hearing references and allusions to The Beatles and it became clear to me that they were even more influential than I had previously imagined. It seems to me that the culture of ancient Greece as well as the Roman adaptations of it in the Roman Empire had a similar impact on Western culture. In my class on the cultural context of 2 Corinthians, we talked briefly about the different gods being worshipped in the city of Corinth in the first century. One of them is Asclepius, the god of healing:

Also, here is Hermes:

Do you notice anything? One of the primary symbols for Asclepius is his rod, a rod with an intertwining serpent. And relatedly, Hermes also carries a caduceus, a serpent with serpents in double-helix formation with winged tips. Both of them look very similar to the modern symbol for medicine.

I visited the website for Yale School of Medicine and this is at the top banner:

Interesting, no?
Seems that long before The Beatles were taking us by storm, the Greeks have been influencing the centuries following.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Right now, I feel like I am in a...

Swamp! If you look at the monthly blogpost counts on the right side, you can see that as the months went on in 2010, my posts went from 12-7-6-6 to currently 1 in the month of May. Not that I live to blog, but I do like to read and think through things from time to time, and blogging helped me with that, but unfortunately, I've been swamped with a lot of school work. Here's what's been on my plate the past two weeks:

(1) Write a research paper on apocalyptic literature for a backgrounds class
(2) Write a research paper on the Greco-Roman concept of parresia
(3) Read Suetonius' De vita Caesarum and write a paper on it
(4) Read and critique a collection of essays from E.A. Judge titled Social Distinctives of the Christians in the First Century
(5) Read and write a review of Ronald Hock's The Social Context of Paul's Ministry
(6) Read and critique Timothy Savage's monograph Power Through Weakness: Paul's Understanding of the Christian Ministry in 2 Corinthians
(7) Read and write a paper on "Peter's Declaration of Jesus' Identity in Caesarea Philippi" in Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus
(8) Read and write a paper on Christianity in the Greco-Roman World
(9) Hebrew final. Yay.

Dang. This is the most reading and writing I've ever had to do in such a short span... most of it is good reading, but still, I feel very swamped right now. So in case you were wondering if I was getting lazy, there you go.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Back on the map?

With the retirement of Richard Bauckham and the departure of Bruce Longenecker to Baylor University, the University of St. Andrews in Scotland took a huge hit in terms of strength of faculty. It seems like one man has put them back on the map:

Bishop Nicholas Thomas Wright, better known as N.T. Wright in New Testament scholarship, has been elected as the Research Professor/Chair in New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews. See the school's announcement here, the announcement of his retirement from the See of Durham here, and a Times Online article here.

What do you think this will do to the number of postgrads trying to get into the school? With the poor funding overseas, I basically gave up seriously thinking about applying to the U.K. for a Ph.D, but I guess one can dream... Who knows? All I know for now is University of St. Andrews is back on the map!

HT: Near Emmaus

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


With the recent hoopla on the iPad, iPhone OS 4.0, the new MacBook Pro, and possible leak of the next iPhone model... I started thinking that maybe a new religion has formed right under our noses.

Their god:

He has revolutionized the world as we know it. Changed the way we laugh, changed the way we listen, changed the way we do life. If you were to ask even the most distant pagan who they admire as a leader of a movement, it would be him.

Their holy temple:

According to some statistics, some 170 million people have gathered to worship in 2009 to tithe upwards of $700 million per week. They even have priests at this temple, who are called "specialists." Unlike many of the subscribers to other religious movements, these specialists can answer anything and everything about their religion. It would be a shock if you did not frequent this temple at least once this past year, and quite possibly a shock if you did not ponder buying at least some bauble from this magnificent temple. They have a particularly powerful evangelistic model, where no proselyte has ever been asked to evangelize, yet driven by pure love, almost every single proselyte has probably at least once uttered the powerful words, "It's better than PC."

Their scriptures:
They have a powerful indoctrination method, a digital scripture called iTunes. It gives access to anything from what-to-do (apps), what-to-watch (movies, tv), what-to-listen (podcasts, music), what-to-read (books), etc. Unlike so many of the holy writings of other religions, iTunes is fun, interactive, modern, and most of all, hip. Once you've used it, will one rarely turn away to another.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I love Wheaton!

I was pretty bummed that I couldn't attend the Wheaton Theology Conference which seemed to have a stellar line-up of scholars. Especially because my fiancee's house is so close to there, I could've easily just visited her and had a nice place to stay/rest at (with her permission of course!) while I attended the conference. Thankfully, it's all online! If you're a "nerd" as one of my professors likes to call people like me (he also includes himself in that group), go here and enjoy!

HT: Near Emmaus

EDIT: Oops, the link that was marked "here" above was not right, I fixed that now. Apologies.

Friday, April 16, 2010


I've been reading through C. Kavin Rowe's Early Narrative Christology: The Lord in the Gosepl of Luke lately. I had heard that he's been doing excellent work and as you can see from his Duke profile, it's pretty obvious that he's one of the young bright NT scholars in the world. I corresponded briefly with Dr. Richard Hays at Duke and he also pointed to Dr. Rowe's works for my own interest in the biblical studies department at Duke.

"Jesus is κύριος from the inception of his life. This is not simply an "anticipation" or foreshadowing of Acts 2:34-36, though it is that. More importantly, that Jesus' very existence and his identification as κύριος are coextensive means that κύριος is in a crucial way constitutive of his identity. The root idem in identity is proper here: for Luke there is no point at which Jesus is not κύριος. Lukan christology, therefore, does not allow for a separation between Jesus and his identity as ὁ κύριος."

Monday, April 12, 2010

I wish...

the entire Loeb Classical Library was on my computer in digital form! I really hope someone starts creating some kind of software that has them all... Anyway, does anyone know how I can get access to translations of Stobaeus? He seems to have collected a bunch of sayings from Greek authors, and I can find the Greek texts alright, but can't seem to find any English translations. If anyone knows anything, let me know!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Maundy Thursday

This year, it happens to fall on that odd day we call April Fool's. Well, today happens to be a much better day than that: Maundy Thursday, the day that Jesus enjoyed the Last Supper with his disciples.
I always wondered why they called it "Maundy", so I just did a little bit of digging regarding the origin of the name. There are various theories, but I think there was one that was particularly fitting: It is a derivation of a word from Old French, mandé from the Latin mandatum. This happens to be the first word from John 13:34 in Latin:

Mandatum novum do vobis, ut diligatis invicem; sicut dilexi vos, ut et vos diligatis invicem.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.

There are two other important statements from the Gospel accounts that are titled after the first word that appears in Latin: (1)The Magnificat, the Song of Mary in Luke 1:46-55 and (2) The Benedictus, Song of Zechariah in Luke 1:68-79. So, in my opinion, the Latin verse origin of Maundy Thursday seems like a good guess. Also, if we follow the Gospel accounts of Jesus' activities, John 13-17 happens to fall on Thursday, so that seems to fit. Of course this is all in the realm of conjecture, but better than April Fool's.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How did the disciples...

know what Moses and Elijah looked like? I never gave it much thought but today, I just started wondering about this scene in Mark 9:2-10 (pars. Matthew 17:1-9, Luke 9:28-36) when Jesus took his inner circle (Peter, James, and John) up to the mountain where he talks with Moses and Elijah in transfigured form. I don't know if this is an irrelevant question, but honestly, in a day without pictures or videos, how would you be able to identify someone a thousand years past? Would they tell their children, "Look son, if you ever see a man with a long white beard with a cool staff, he's Moses, and if you ever see a man wearing a garment of hair with a leather belt, he's Elijah"...? Or did Jesus say, "By the way guys, this is Moses and Elijah, say hi"? I might be missing something altogether, but this was very odd to me as I was reading the passage today... Anyone have any thoughts?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

BibleWorks 8, Part 3

Now that I've spent a few weeks using BibleWorks 8, I am ready to add the final thoughts to my series of blog posts (Part 1 and Part 2). In a word, BibleWorks 8 is... genius. I loved the interface in BW7 and I love it even more now with the added tabs in the analysis window. For anyone wanting to do serious work in original languages of the Bible, I don't think it gets any better than BW8. That being said, I've also used Logos and while BW8 is geared for working in the biblical texts (hence the name I suppose), its lack of a "library" per se stunts its potential. But, that doesn't mean they don't offer any additions (which they do) as modules, which you can buy here.

The ease and user-friendly nature of this program makes it a huge bonus and well worth every penny you'll pay for the program. One cool thing about BW8 is 'Ermie,' an external resource manager that allows you to get your hands on some of the tools that are not installed in BW8. This is probably selfish, but since I am very interested in doing research in Greco-Roman literature with its relationship to the New Testament, I wish somehow the LCL would be available and searchable within BW8 (I know, I know, there's no program that does that, as far as I know, but still...). If there is a program that contains LCL (searchable), you let me know! Anyway, BW8 is lightning fast and if you add to that some modules for some extra cash like BDAG and LSJ, this is one application you won't do without.

Regardless, paying a few hundred dollars for anything is not an easy task, but if you are serious about doing biblical studies in the original languages, this program is a must. Hopefully you have some rich friends or family who can buy this program for you as a present for your birthday or Christmas. The more I work with the program, the more I wonder what biblical scholars did in the hey-days before any of these programs were available. Here's a snapshot of what you get when you highlight the 'Resources' section of the program:

Pretty impressive, no? It's amazing just how much stuff you get with this one program. I know (as I've shown above) that we always want more than what we get, but honestly, BW8 comes jam-packed with a slew of resources and translations to keep you busy for a while.

Again, I'm very thankful to Jim Barr and the awesome folks over at BibleWorks, first for making an awesome program and second for sending me a review copy. Hopefully these blog posts will have helped some of you sitting on the fence to go out and purchase this program, and if I have any other thoughts or new surprises I find in the program, I will definitely post that up as well.

Grade: A++
Price: $349 (Full Version), $149 (Upgrade from BW7)
System: PC (Windows XP, Vista, 7 / Mac users can use through other means)