The major contribution of each volume, however, is a thorough discussion of the most important themes of the biblical book in relation to the canon as a whole. This format allows each contributor to ground biblical theology, as is proper, in an appropriate appraisal of the relevant historical and literary features of a particular book….
Textual criticism is a specialized practice with lots of symbols, methodologies, and esoteric knowledge. Moreover, in order to be extremely skilled at textual criticism, one must have access to manuscripts to study or at least see them physically, which some scholars have the opportunity to do. But the best most of us can do is use the critical apparatus of our Greek New Testaments to see the variants and try to discern the original reading….
Preparing a sermon on difficult texts can be extremely time-consuming. In Philippians 1, what does Paul mean when he says “I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my salvation” (1:19)? How should the difficult Greek phrase τοῦτο φρονεῖτε ἐν ὑμῖν ὃ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (2:5) be understood? What does the word ἁρπαγμὸν mean in 2:6? To give one more example, what about everyone’s favorite word in Philippians, σκύβαλα – just exactly how strong is that word? For each of these exegetical problems, and the many more you would find in almost every paragraph of Philippians, you might need to consult a few commentaries and a couple lexicons, assuming you’re working from the Greek….
In 1977, E. P. Sanders wrote his landmark Paul and Palestinian Judaism, which argued that second temple Jews did not believe in meriting salvation by works, but believed Jews were included in the covenant by grace and kept in by works. Thus, Judaism, like Christianity, was a religion of grace. Since Sanders’ work, Pauline studies has not been the same. Some followed Sanders’ view of Judaism, including James Dunn who applied these results to a re-reading of Paul, dubbed the “New Perspective on Paul.” Paul did not rail against Jews trying to merit salvation, but against those who tried to use boundary markers or separation from Gentiles to prove (or vindicate?) their right inclusion in the covenant….
Each year many of us start afresh on our Bible reading plans. Sometimes we choose a new one and sometimes we choose the excitement of a new plan. There are lots of different plans, and each one has its benefits and drawbacks.
But one of the challenges to a plan that goes through the entire Bible is that the Old Testament is so foreign and inaccessible to those without formal theological training (and even then, of course, who has the Old Testament mastered?). This problem becomes especially discouraging when you hit Leviticus and it begins describing in repetitive detail the various kinds of sacrifices….
You’re sitting at home enjoying a nice show when your doorbell rings: it’s a Jehovah’s witness who wants to share with you about how Jesus is a god. How do you respond? Do you tell him you’re busy and shut the door? Do you engage in a debate with him? Do you pull out your Greek New Testament to discuss the grammatical complexities of John 1:2? There are many reasons we as Christians and academics should know Greek grammar solid, and this is only one of them. Of course each Christological passages in the Bible require careful exegesis and close attention to the language used, otherwise how would we know whether our theology of Christ is actually grounded in what the biblical authors wrote?….
Vern Poythress is a true “Renaissance man.” He earned a PhD in math from Harvard. He studied linguistics with SIL. He knows philosophy quite well. And of course, he has a PhD in New Testament, which he has taught for a very long time at Westminster Theological Seminary. I had the pleasure of taking a hermeneutics course with him and it was a true tour de force of how various academic disciplines overlap….