Evangelical Textual Criticism wants to get the word out for the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon, which is freely accessible online:

However, the name ‘Comprehensive’ is fully justified. On this site you can find primary texts in all the early and middle forms of Aramaic. You have electronic versions of the Peshitta (OT and NT), Old Syriac, Christian Palestinian Aramaic versions, and of course the Targums.

What’s more, the editions are normally the best available editions. The editions of the Targums are far better than those you might pay for in a printed edition like that of Sperber. Each word of the text is linked through to a lexicon, so that you can look at that word in all other early Aramaic dialects.

Okay, so they haven’t produced a Newsletter since 1996, and the format takes some time to get used to, but the content is amazing.


Tim Challies offers some solid suggestions for reading: 1) Read. 2) Read widely. 3) Read deliberately.  From Read More, Read Better:

More than any other question that comes in via email, I’m asked this one: “How do you read so much?” While granting that I do read a lot, I think it bears mention that there are lots of people who read as much as I do or a lot more. The difference is that I write about what I’m reading, so you’re more aware of it than you are with most of these voracious readers.

Every year or so I sit down to write out a few thoughts on reading. I’m doing so again today, offering a few thoughts on how you can read more and read better. This is adapted from a list I created a couple of years ago. Actually, what I’ll do is write today about how to read more and read more widely and then tomorrow we’ll work on reading better.


In discussions surrounding liberal arts education, John Newman’s The Idea of a University is widely known to be a central piece of work, upon which all other ideas have been developed since the mid-nineteenth century. One writer comments: “modern thinking on university education is a series of footnotes to Newman’s lectures and essays.” The following are some key points in Newman’s The Idea of a University.

The importance of theology in university curricula is stressed as a branch of knowlege:

Religious doctrine is knowledge. This is the important truth, little entered into at this day, which I wish that all who have honored me with their presence here would allow me to beg them to take away with them. I am not catching at sharp arguments, but laying down grace principles. Religious doctrine is knowledge, in as full a sense as Newton’s doctrine is knowledge. University teaching without theology is simply unphilosophical. Theology has at least as good a right to claim a place there as astronomy.

All other knowledge is dependent on theology:

Religious truth is not only a portion, but a condition of general knowledge. To blot it out is nothing short if I may so speak, of unraveling the web of ‘university teaching.’

And knowledge is its own end:

When I speak of knowledge, I mean something intellectual, something which grasps what it perceives through the senses; something which takes a view of things; which sees more than the senses convey; which reasons upon what it sees, and while it sees; which invests it with an idea. It expresses itself, not in a mere enunciation, but by an enthymeme; it is of the nature of science from the first, and in this consists its dignity. The principle of real dignity in knowledge, its worth, its desirableness, considered irrespectively of its results, is this germ within it of a scientific or a philosophical process. This is how it comes to be an end in itself; this is why it admits of being called ‘liberal.’

Christ and Caesar: The Gospel and the Roman Empire in the Writings of Paul and Luke. By Seyoon Kim. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008. 228 pages. Paperback, $24.

Give back to Caesar the things that are of Caesar, and to God the things that are of God. These were the weighty words, which divided Christ’s kingdom from that of Rome, which at the time was under Tiberius’ rule. In recent years, there has been a surge of scholarly interests regarding the tension between the imperial rule and the kingdom established under the reign of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. With Christ and Caesar, Seyoon Kim, professor New Testament at Fuller Seminary, provides an analysis and assessment of recent trends that juxtaposes Christ and the Roman Empire in the canonical writings of Paul and Luke.

The book is divided into two main sections—one for Paul and another for Luke. Rightly framing both of these sections is Paul’s clash with Caesar in Acts 17:6-7, where Paul and his companion Silas are accused of “acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” The tension is thus assumed to exist. Kim gives an account of the developments of research. As early as 1971, E. Judge described Paul’s possible subversion of Roman edicts, by proclaiming a future parousia, which hailed Jesus as ruler. Since the eighties, scholars concluded by examining the Thessalonian letters that the inhabitants of the city had deep commitments to the imperial cult, especially toward honoring the Roman benefactors (Donnfried, et. al.). Currently, scholars are pointing to a parallelism of cultic ideology: for instance, the parousia of Christ in 1 Thess 4:17, resembles a majestic ceremony, strikingly similar to descriptions of imperial visits, suggesting that the coming of Christ will conquer the earthly realm as well as Rome. There are also implicit counter-imperial tendencies in Thessalonians with the offering of a different eschatology (Harrison), or with a criticism of Roman aristocracy (A. Smith). Wright identifies Phil 3:20-21 to contain a proclamation that Jesus is Lord, and Caesar is not. Kim notes these developments in historical studies.


As I get ready to start my dissertation, I am finding Joan Bolker’s Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day both very insightful and comforting. The humor keeps the life of a writer more bearable. I came across these strategies for completing the first draft:

  • Sit down with all your writing, hold your nose, and read through everything you’ve written several times, looking for different things: 1) materials that stand out, and 2) dominant themes.
  • Read for interesting or annoying questions that occur to you as you go through what you’ve written.
  • Read for organizational markers.
  • Read in order to organize, marking themes with codes, numbers, letters, or colors.
  • Read to extract a provisional outline.
  • Read through and put a check in the margin to anything that’s interesting, or seems like it might have potential, or even seems terribly wrong.
  • If you find recognizable paragraph in the mess, try summarizing each of them in a single sentence.

The Early Christians in Ephesus from Paul to Ignatius. By Paul Trebilco. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2007. 826 pages. Paperback, $85.00.

Paul Trebilco’s work represents a substantial endeavor in describing the ancient urban life of Ephesus in light of its early Christian believers. The purpose is two-fold: to first look at the life and activity of the early Christians, and second, argue that there was not a single body of believers in Ephesus, but a number of believing groups or communities. Trebilco’s erudition of ancient Ephesus is undeniable from the introduction, which explains how recent interests in Ephesus have sparked in the form of historical undertakings in cultural studies, sociological dimensions, cultic presence, and new archaeological findings. The scope of Treibilco’s research is not in any way a wholesale assimilation into any one of these historical approaches. The difference in Trebilco’s voluminous work is his careful examination of the biblical texts connected to Ephesus. Trebilco takes these canonical sources seriously enough to allow them to tell the history of ancient Ephesus.


Ben Witherington has reviewed The New Testament in Antiquity–A Textbook. He remarks:

Without question, most scholars, including many Evangelical scholars, will see this volume as reflecting either a pre-critical or overly conservative approach to the New Testament data when it comes to issues of authorship, date, audience, sources and the like. For example, the traditional view on the authorship of all the NT books is generally advocated (even when documents, such as the Gospels, are formally anonymous), though objections to these views are noted, and efforts are made to mitigate their force. […]

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