Bible


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.

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Spiritual formation in Christ is an orderly process. Although God can triumph in disorder, that is not his choice. And instead of focusing upon what God can do, we must humble ourselves to accept the ways he has chosen to work with us. These are clearly laid out in the Bible, and especially in the words and person of Jesus.

–Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart.

“What is the center of Paul’s theology?” Frank Thielman asks in Theology of the New Testament. Here are some answers among theologians:

  • Grace of Christ (Thomas Aquinas)
  • Justification by faith alone apart from human effort (Martin Luther, and many Protestants since)
  • Christ and what he has done for us (many Roman Catholic interpreters)
  • Redemptive history (Herman Ridderbos)
  • Reconciliation (R. P. Martin)
  • Christ’s resurrection (Paul J. Achtemeier)
  • The apocalyptic triumph of God in the death and resurrection of Christ (J. Christiaan Beker)
  • God’s glory in Christ (Thomas R. Schreiner)
  • The contribution of Father, Son, and Spirit to salvation (Joseph Plevnik)
  • God’s graciousness toward his weak and sinful creatures (Frank Thielman)

From Between Two Worlds:

For the past five years Wayne Grudem has been teaching a “Christian Essentials” Sunday School class, which roughly corresponds to his bestselling Systematic Theology. You can listen online for free, as well as seen his teaching outline (for most of the classes).

Richard Hays. “Reading Scripture in Light of the Resurrection.” The Art of Reading Scripture, ed. Ellen  F. Davis and Richard B. Hays, 216-238. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2003.

Hays in this article calls on Christians to take on a firmer position on the resurrection: “We interpret Scripture rightly only when we read it in light of the resurrection, and we begin to comprehend the resurrection only when we see it as the climax of the scriptural story of God’s gracious deliverance of Israel” (216). To underscore the essence of the resurrection, Hays cites John Shelby Spong, who sees what is at stake in the supernatural event: take away the resurrection, and Christianity is doomed.

Modern interpretations, however, have caused the credibility of the resurrection to erode away: Rudolf Bultmann was convinced that the accounts of the bodily resurrections did not happen, and were mere expressions of the “Easter faith” of the disciples.

Luke Timothy Johnson, though not ready to give up the resurrection entirely, still followed Bultmann’s expressions of historical subjectivity, by arguing that the problem of the resurrection is a problem of history’s limited knowing. The religious experience is the foundation of knowing the resurrection.

Robert W. Funk attempted to undermine the resurrection by entirely overturning all “metaphysical” views of God, giving Jesus a “demotion,” deeming the Christ story as archaic, and denying any resuscitation of a real corpse, except in the metaphorical sense.

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Copan, Paul. “Is Yahweh a Moral Monster? The New Atheists and Old Testament Ethics.” Philosophia Christi 10, 1 (2008): 7-37.

Copan’s article is a response to the popular atheists, which he dubs as today’s “new atheists.” By this designation, he has in mind: Richard Dawkins, who attributes the sacrifice of Abraham to being “disgraceful” and “child abuse and bullying;” Daniel Dennett, who finds Jehovah a “super-man” with fickle behavioral shifts; Christopher Hitchens, who follows Dawkins and criticizes the “ethnic cleansing” of Canaanites; and Sam Harris, who casts doubts on Christianity’s morality system based on God. Copan concludes that each of these atheists have a caricatured OT God, unfairly represented by hasty notions formed from mishandling biblical texts.

In response to these new atheists, Copan begins his own evaluation of the OT God, by looking the OT, Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) texts, and the rest of the biblical works, to form a well-balanced, well-nuanced moral vision of the OT.

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“Contemporary Theories of Biblical Interpretation.” By Moisés Silva. In The New Interpreters Bible Dictionary, vol. 1, 107-24. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994.

Silva’s article provides an overview of the various theories that have shaped biblical interpretation. In the first few sections, Silva offers a layout of the developments of as seen in the context of world and church history. These developments are organized through what appears to be a non-exhaustive list of various approaches to biblical interpretation: (1) traditional, (2) historical method, (3) theological interpretation, (4) general or philosophical hermeneutics, (5) modern linguistics, (6) linguistic analysis, and (7) literary criticism. Noticeable in each of these approaches is the impact that certain intellectual movements in history had on the view of the Bible—movements like the Enlightenment, philosophy, and the rise of linguistic sciences. The cross-breeding of disciplines has become inevitable, and Silva has further shown that biblical interpretation cannot exist in an ecclesial vacuum.

Silva highlights the key figures of the twentieth century: Karl Barth offered the neo-orthodox approach for the sake of the church’s relevance in response to the rising tides of liberalism in Europe. Rudolf Bultmann emphasized the effects of myth in view of scripture, and thus, demythologized the contents of the biblical text, and Martin Heidegger’s existential philosophy became the source of Bultmann’s need to see the text on its own terms.

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