Tag Archives: Zondervan

Review: Creation Care

Do Christians need to be concerned about the creation? Isn’t it all just going to burn up anyway when God recreates it anew? Aren’t all those climate fanatics just being a bit, I don’t know, fanatical? Douglas and Jonathan Moo have written a book to encourage God’s people to care for his creation “by showing that the created world remains important in God’s purposes throughout the story of redemption” (126).

Summary

The book has three sections: 

(1) Queuing the Questions

“What role does the non-human creation play in God’s plan?” (23). How does it relate to our proclaiming the gospel, and why should we be involved? The Moos write that through our involvement we (1) address current challenges facing creation, (2) serve as witnesses to God’s kingdom before the members of the world, and (3) confirm Scripture’s witness of our vocation as “keepers” of God’s creation (26-27). 

Biblical theology summarizes and synthesizes “the teaching of the Bible using its own categories and with attention to its redemptive-historical movement,” it’s books make up one book, and it addresses people in today’s world (35). But along with the Bible’s teaching, we are also influenced by culture and science. The goal of theology is “the formation of Christian character and the practical living out of biblical values” (42). Culture can help us see things that we have taken for granted or haven’t noticed in the biblical text (it can also make us blind to what is there), and science can help inform us on how God’s creation “keepers” can care for his creation.

(2) Arriving at Answers

God created the world as “very good,” but he is the divine Creator and the “very good” world is the non-divine created. This does not give a lowly status to the world. Relationships where one person idolizes the other and treats the other as a god/goddess are harmful. So dethroning the creation from a divine status shifts people away from pantheism and toward being able to know the creation and to live in it as God’s creation. We are not gods who can use the earth according to our whims.

“In what ways do we prevent others from perceiving creation’s testimony to God when we fail to care well for creation, to enact justice, and to ensure that the abundance of the earth is shared with all?” (60).

Some say God surely wouldn’t allow creation to crumble because of our doing. Is it unreasonable to think that he wouldn’t allow humanity to suffer for the consequences of trashing his creation? Israel was put into exile for not giving proper rest to God’s land (God just let Israel use the land, Lev 25:23). The false prophets of Jeremiah’s day told Israel that neither famine nor sword would come. The people continued sinning, and in the end judgment did come (111-112). The suffering of creation, as with us, is only temporary, and it will end when Christ returns. But he hasn’t returned yet, and it’s been 2,000 years since he left.

“The incarnation furthermore reveals a God who binds himself to all of his creation” (115).

As the Moos note, in the tenth edition of the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report in 2014, they (speculatively) estimate “that between 1970 and 2010 the total number of wild mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish around the globe dropped fifty-two percent….The decline of terrestrial animals alone was thirty-nine percent” (199). This is “speculative” because it is hard to be so accurate with animals species and just how many animals there are, but the fact remains that even if the number were down to twenty-five percent, that is an astounding—a shocking—figure. Out of all the earth’s years, in just 40 years we have lost 25%, perhaps even 52%, of all our animals due largely in part to the ways of globalization and consumption.

But isn’t it all going to burn anyway? Doug Moo refutes that idea by spending some time leading the reader through 2 Peter 3. He briefly goes through some Greek and determines that verse 10 should read (as it does in the ESV, NIV, NET, and CSB), “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.” The day of the Lord will not burn everything down but will expose the earth and the earth-dwellers to the majesty and terror of God. Nothing will stand in his way from seeing them in all their hatred for him (see Is 26.21).

The heavens and earth will not be destroyed and made brand new, but like us when we receive our resurrected bodies, it will all be renewed. The authors say, “The imagery we should have in our minds is not a log consumed in our fireplace but the piece of ore turned into a precious piece of metal” (164).

Even if the world is going to burn and be completely recreated, the one whom we serve created it all. Playing a small part in letting half of his animals die is to say, “We don’t care about your animals,” even if the Psalmist does. Psalm 104.21 says, “The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God.” In fact, all of Psalm 104 is about God’s delightful (even if also terrifying) creation.

(3) Reflecting on Relevance

Douglas and Jonathan Moo have given us a great theological work on caring for God’s creation. They give practical examples of how interconnected everything is, such as how a demand for beef, biofuels, and animals feed causes trees to be cut down for cattle farms or other means. The lack of trees means a decline in biodiversity, increased risks from erosion and extreme weather, and the climate changes due to the “loss of moisture-enhancing trees.” Forests seize carbon dioxide, and losing forests means large concentrations of carbon-dioxide rise into the atmosphere, which brings changed weather patterns and acidification.

Coral reefs give life to a quarter of all marine life. Due to pollution, fishing techniques (like trawling), warming seas, and acidification (from the air-riding carbon dioxide, a quarter of which is absorbed into the oceans), projections say coral reefs could disappear by 2050.

Recommended?

Will we ever see a direct result of our careful, caring actions? Possibly not. But, as the authors point out, at the height of the slave trade numerous Christians refused to buy or use sugar that had been made at the cost of another human’s life (226). None of those acts ended the slave trade, but it may have been one of the proper ways to follow Christ at that time. Paraphrasing Alister McGrath, instead of merely looking at creation, knowing and believing and that all of the earth belongs to God, we can behold it. We can appreciate his artistry and care for the earth, the animals, and for us (179). Maybe you’re on the fence about climate change. Perhaps you’re adamantly opposed to it. Maybe you’re all for it. In either case, pick up this book. Something needs to be done. Or, when Isaiah told him that the Lord would bring judgment, should we be satisfied as Hezekiah and think, at least there “will be peace and security in my days”?

Lagniappe

  • Authors: Douglas and Jonathan Moo
  • Series: Biblical Theology for Life
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (February 27, 2018)

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Disclosure: I received this book free from Zondervan. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

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Review: John (ZECNT)

The Gospel of John is a favorite among many. Rather than reading short bits of narrative with generally short teachings, John is filled with long teachings and little narrative (take John’s Farewell Discourse, which extends from John 13-17!). John is shallow enough for a child to understand, but deep enough for scholars to spit out huge tomes and never know all that John means. Since each generation needs fresh exegesis, Edward Klink has given us his interpretation of John’s Gospel in the new ZECNT series. Klink reveals his theological cards early on in his 54 page introduction:

“‘Scripture’ is a shorthand term for the nature and function of the biblical writings in a set of communicative acts which stretch from God’s merciful self-manifestation to the obedient hearing of the community of faith.” While such language might not be common vernacular in an introduction to an exegetical commentary, it should be, for the object of interpretation demands to be treated according to its true and sacred nature. Not to treat this Gospel as Scripture is itself a form of eisegesis, and it is a disobedient hearing of the (canonical) text’s own claim and of the God by whom it was authored. (25)

Klink notes that the Scriptures have their own genre—holy Scripture. The way God (or, here, the Gospel) speaks determines how we read Scripture:

  1. The Gospel speaks in time-and-space history, and history must remain subservient to the God of creation.
  2. The Gospel speaks in literary form, and the words must stay subservient to the Word.
  3. The Gospel speaks about the things of God, and theology must be defined by the person and work of God himself, the true subject matter of the things of God. (25)

Our doctrine of Scripture guides us to see God through “the work and person of Jesus Christ by the empowering Holy Spirit” (31).

Klink doesn’t try to historically reconstruct the event of John’s Gospel (besides John 2.1–11), because “each Gospel must be interpreted for the individual Gospel’s role or contribution to the one gospel, not in a manner that combines their events but in a manner that prepares to hear in unison their individual roles in the symphony of the gospel” (36).

Klink says (rightly) that the Bible is not a window to what is inspired; it “is the locus of revelation” (29). Our texts do refer to historical people, places, and events, but rather than seeing the Bible as a window to the inspired events, in God’s Word “God is giving divine commentary on his own actions in history” (29). “The meaning is derived from the text which speaks about an event” (34).

Commentary Divisions

The ZECNT commentaries divide each section into seven parts: Literary Context, Main Idea, Translation and Graphical Layout, Structure, Exegetical Outline, Explanation of the Text, and Theology in Application. I giver a fuller explanation of each section on my review of Grant Osbourne’s Matthew volume. Though I don’t always find the Translation and Graphical Layout section to be helpful, each of the other sections, especially the Main Idea (which compresses the passage into a brief sentence) and the Theology in Application (and which brings out helpful insights), are extremely useful.

Klink’s Interpretations

I can’t rehearse all Klink says, but here is a taste.

1.1: “The Word” is not common in the NT as a reference to Christ. John explains his use of the term throughout John’s whole Gospel (87).

Klink distinguishes historical contexts, narrative contexts, and cosmological contexts. In 7.27-28, Klink says

The reverberations from the prologue are crying out to the reader, who is well aware that Jesus is the Word-become-flesh, the light of humanity, the one “from above,” who was “in the beginning” with God. The cosmological identity of Jesus, so visible to the reader, remains completely veiled to the Jerusalemites. The one these interlocutors call “this man” the reader has been told is “God” from the very beginning of the Gospel (1:1). (370)

In the historical sense, the Jewish leaders know his physical ancestral lineage. In the cosmological sense, “they have no idea who he is or whose ancestral lineage they have challenged by their unbelief,” and within the narrative, Jesus rebukes their unbelief and prideful opposition to him. They should know better.

12.40:God is the cause of the unbelieving response to Jesus, not merely the judge of it.50 If the depiction of God as the cause of unbelief makes God look unjust, we must look not for resolution in the doctrine of God alone but in the presentation of God provided by his Son, Jesus Christ, who perfectly exemplifies the mercy and grace of God” (560). 

John 17: The pericope of John 17 “concludes Jesus’s farewell speech by setting the theological (cosmological) context of Jesus’s entire ministry and the work God will continue to do” (705).

Other Matters

Outside sources?

In his section on “Text Verses Event” (34-36), Klink says the location of revelation “is not the event behind the text but the text as Scripture, so that revelation is located in the text in a manner that includes not only the recorded account but also the interpretation . . . of the account” (34). As he goes on to argue, the author has included specific events, themes, and words for a reason, and as well that same author has decided not to include other events, themes, and words.

Klink says “To try to reconstruct what is not revealed in Scripture, unless the text gives implicit warrant, potentially creates a different story than the narrative.” (35). The author has already given us his perspective on the event in his narrative; why go looking for another perspective?

While I agree that “There is no better place from which to access what is real and true than from the words of Scripture,” and that “the reader is actually in a preferred position, beyond even those who were present at the historical event,what does this mean when it comes to using other documents to place the text in its historical timeframe (36)? Is it to the scholar’s detriment to use ANE documents to understand the thinking of the ancient Israelite? How much of the intertestamental period are we to (or not to) understand?

I am in much agreement with what Klink says here, but because he doesn’t give a specific example as to what he means (such as those seen in my questions above), I’m not sure how far to take what he says. Right now it appears to me that it is helpful to read historical documents (such as the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Greek and Roman writings, etc.) to situate us in the 1st century AD thought-world with the knowledge that Scripture is the revelation from God and of God.  

Recommended?

There are an enormous amount of commentaries on John, do we, do you, need another one? I’ll be honest, I haven’t read most of them, but “every generation must exegete Scripture in and for the church” (11). Klink emphasizes the use of one’s imagination (cf. John 7.1–13), and this is something that many theologians, commentators, interpreters, pastors, and Bible teachers need to learn (myself included). Imagination is required both in application and in interpretation. Klink’s commentary reminds me of Mark Seifrid–by looking at the text as a whole unit within the whole canon, Klink is able to see through and around the exegetical issues. He brings in nuances and twists of words (3.5–7). Klink is a humble interpreter, and he has written this volume primarily for pastors, bible teachers, and students. I hope this volume will be read widely.

Lagniappe

  • Series: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
  • Author: Edward W. Klink III
  • Hardcover: 976 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (December 6, 2016)

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Disclosure: I received this book free from Zondervan. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

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The Paraclete

What does “Paraclete” (παράκλητος) mean? In an in-depth look at “the Paraclete” in his commentary on John, Edward Klink says that the term for the Paraclete occurs only five times in the NT, and all five of those occurrences are within John’s writings (14.16, 26; 15.26; 16.7; 1 John 2.1), and the search for an equivalent Hebrew term is a lost cause.1 Klink notes the various ways Paraclete is translated in different translations: “Comforter” (KJV), “Advocate” (NRSV; NEB; JB; NIV), “Counselor” (HCS), and “Helper” (NASB; ESV).

The traditional scholarly opinion has been to see παράκλητος as having a legal or forensic meaning—thus, the term “advocate.” Yet scholars admit that John adds to this meaning by giving the word the connotations of “teacher” and “helper.” To define παράκλητος as “advocate” forces the word into one narrow definition from what John actually means. Some scholars have pushed back against the legal language saying that the term is “better interpreted . . . [for] a prophetic role or office.”2 While the term “‘could appear in legal contexts’ . . . when it did it was used ‘as a supporter or sponsor.’”3 Inevitably translators will have to choose one word as the primary meaning.

Klink, on the other hand, doesn’t translate παράκλητος, but transliterates it as the Paraclete “to avoid limiting or muting aspects of the identity and multifaceted function of the Paraclete that are core to its (his) identity.”4 Instead of looking to a historical or religious background to understand the Paraclete, Klink prefers to look to the foreground. John, and thus, Jesus, is teaching us about the Holy Spirit (John 14.26). He is developing a doctrine for his readers.

“The figure and function of the Holy Spirit cannot be defined by the history of religions, for it requires not only sensitivity to the Gospel’s own multifaceted portrayal but also the foregrounding depiction from the rest of the biblical canon — the primary source for offering a conceptual interpretation of the Spirit’s person and work.”5

In this in-depth section Klink gives three aspects of the Paraclete for his reader to understand ahead of time.

  1. The Paraclete is still to come.

John 14.26: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

The Holy Spirit comes (proceeds) from both the Father and the Son and will do so soon at a future time. But the Spirit has surely been at work prior to the future point of his coming (cf. 1 Cor 12.3).

“It is significant that the Paraclete can only come when Jesus departs (16:7), for it suggests that his coming is a direct consequence of the saving work of Christ without which he could have no place or function at all. The Paraclete is therefore symptomatic of the era to come in the new covenant and the new life in Christ, the Spiritual life.”6

  1. The Paraclete has a special relationship to the disciples. “Without exception, the functions ascribed to the Spirit are elsewhere in this Gospel assigned to Christ.”7
    ..

    • All will know the Paraclete just as the disciples had the privilege of knowing Jesus (14.7, 9).
    • The Paraclete will indwell the disciples and remain with them just as Jesus is to remain in and with the disciples (14.16–17, 20, 23; 15.4–5; 17.23, 26).
    • The Paraclete as the Spirit of truth (14.17; 15.26; 16.13) will teach and guide the disciples into “all the truth” (16.13), just as Jesus is the truth (14.6; cf. 1.14).
    • The Spirit bears witness to Christ (15.26) and glorifies Christ (16.14), just as it is Christ from whom the Paraclete receives what he makes known to the disciples (16.14).8
  1. The Paraclete has a unique role in the world to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (16.8). The world cannot “see” Jesus (5.43; 12.48); the world cannot see the Paraclete. The legal/forensic language comes in to play here because the Paraclete is both witness to Jesus (15.26; 16.14), but he also assists “the disciples in their witness in the world, since his witness takes place through their own.”9 The Paraclete is the Spirit of truth (14.17) who points to the one who is “the way, the truth, and the life; 14.6).

The Mission of the Trinity

There is an extremely close relationship between the Paraclete and Jesus. Not only do they share (some of) the same functions, but Jesus expressly states that the Paraclete is “another Helper” (ἄλλον παράκλητον; 14.16).10 Jesus too was a Paraclete, albeit one different from the Spirit (cf. 1 John 2.1).

Here we see how the Son and the Spirit can belong together (as God) and participate in the same work (the mission of God) and yet be different persons and have different assignments or functions, thus allowing for a distinction in purpose, a unity in function, and an equality in essence. And the relationship among the Trinity is gifted to us by means of the Spirit—the Paraclete, for at his departure (cross, resurrection, ascension) Jesus gives us “a share in his filial relationship with the Father by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.”11

The title Paraclete “refers to the ministerial office of the Trinitarian God in the world, occupied by both the Son of God and the Spirit of God.”12 It refers to both the Spirit of God and to the Son of God, the one who is “the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known,” Jesus Christ (1.18). This Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in him. The Father sends the Spirit to his people in Jesus’s name (14.26). It is in this intimate relationship that believers—people, humans—are included. In fact, Jesus concludes his prayer to the Father by saying “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (17.26). Jesus is in believers, and the love which God shows to his Son is shown to his sons and daughters in Christ.


1 Edward Klink, John (ZECNT), 632.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid., 632-33.

6 Ibid., 633.

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.

10 “The adjective ‘another’ (ἄλλον) signifies ‘another of the same kind.’” (634).

11 Ibid.

12 Ibid., 635.


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The Farewell Discourse (John 13-17)

What is Jesus’ farewell discourse and why did John place it in his Gospel? The farewell discourse has a long history of interpretation, and Klink sets out to place this substantial discourse into its proper literary place in John. In his commentary on JohnEdward Klink suggests that there are four substantial monologues in John’s Gospel:

  1. The Identity of (the Son of) God (5:19–47)
  2. The Shepherd and the Sheep (10:1–21)
  3. The Hour has Come (12:20–50)
  4. The Farewell Discourse (13:31–16:33)

All four of these monologues occur during Jesus’ public ministry. The monologues “provide robust insight into the identity of Jesus and the work given to him from the Father.”1 As well, the monologues carry along the plot, “depicting in great detail God’s own argument and explication of his person and work in the world.”2 In one way, the farewell discourse is just another monologue, but Klink argues that the farewell discourse is much more complex than that. It is not a typical monologue. “Like the Gospel as a whole, the farewell discourse employs ‘a composite of various literary forms.’”3

Klink refers to the farewell discourse as “bilingual”— it is a dialect of the testament genre (see below), and it speaks with several other Jewish and Greco-Roman literary idioms.

The Testament

Most scholars agree that the farewell discourse illustrates a common literary pattern called a testament. Testaments are found in the OT in the farewell and blessing of Jacob to his children (Gen 47:29–49:33), Joshua’s farewell to Israel (Josh 22–24), and David’s farewell speech (1 Chr 28–29), and even the book of Deuteronomy.4 We can see a larger use of the testament genre in the intertestamental period with the pseudepigraphical work Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.

Klink quotes Raymond Brown on the origins of the testament genre: “The common situation is that of a great man who gathers together his followers (his children, his disciples, or the people) on the eve of his death to give them instructions that will help them after his departure.”5 John’s farewell discourse has many parallels with “farewell” speeches, but there is more going on here than just a testament. Klink describes two other “pressures” that distinguish the farewell discourse from the testament genre.

Dynamic Movement

Relying on the observations of Parsenios, Klink notes that the farewell discourse relies on “dynamic movement”:

In the standard testamentary farewell scenes, there are no exits; the speakers typically wait for death to come to them on a deathbed (see e.g., Gen 49:33). In the Fourth Gospel, by contrast, the entire farewell discourse, stretching from 13:1–18:1, is centered around two dynamic exits, that of Judas at 13:30 and that of Jesus, announced at 14:31 and executed at 18:1 . . . . These exits are readily recognizable in ancient drama, however, where exits and entrances profoundly affect narrative development.6

Exits can create a frame around a scene or a specific character (like an inclusio) to emphasize a certain theme or teaching.7

Ancient Consolation

Consolation literature used “therapeutic methods” to console their audience, and usually so because of an impending death. Klink lists three main functions of consolatory literature.

  1. With the knowledge that the beloved speaker will be departing, a replacement is offered to the remaining group. It is through this replacement “the departed figure remains present. In John the replacement is ‘another paraclete’ (14:16), who is the functional presence of Jesus for his disciples (14:18 – 21).”8
  2. The sorrow that would come from such a loss (e.g., think of the sudden loss of a parent, spouse, child, or friend) is preempted because it is predicted beforehand. Because of this the disciples can prepare themselves for their future loss of Jesus. “In John the departure of Jesus and the trials to follow are clearly articulated and explained (15:18 – 16:4).”
  3. Those who are left (i.e., the disciples) are encouraged to remain faithful since the pain of grief can lead one to give up hope and abandon one’s task. “In John the disciples of Jesus are exhorted to remain and bear fruit (15:1 – 16).”9

Not only does the farewell discourse proper (13:31 – 16:33) offer all three of these consolatory elements, but befitting ancient consolation even further, the entire farewell section of the Gospel (13:1–17:26) also contains the opening context of a symbolic meal (13:1–30) and a closing “prayer of departure” (17:1 – 26).10

The Reason for the Farewell Discourse

By the time Jesus gives his farewell discourse, his public ministry has ended. He “gathers his intimate disciples around a symbolic meal and instructs them for the last time concerning his person and work and their corporate identity and work as his disciples.”11 Jesus will soon be leaving. He will be beaten, mocked, and crucified, but he knows he will be resurrected and will ascend to the Father. “Jesus addresses their questions and fears, but he also exhorts them to stay the course, which involves remaining in him by the Spirit.”12 With his death on the horizon, “Jesus uses the farewell discourse to explain what is to come and where he must go.”13

Although he will be gone, Jesus explains his departure in two ways.

1. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the only way to the Father, and in his absence he prepares a place for his disciples (14.3–6). He provides the route—the path—they will take by pouring out his Spirit upon them to walk in the way of the Lord—to die to themselves and serve others. He leaves so that the disciples can eternally be with the Christ and the Father whom no one has ever seen.

2. Jesus’ absence “allows him to be more fully present with his disciples (14:18; 16:7).”14

Only after his departure will he and the Father come and make their home with them (14:23), enabling the disciples to do greater works (14:12), to pray effectively by the use of his name (14:13–14; 16:23–24), and to be intimately united with him (15:1–11), having his peace (14:27) and sharing in his suffering (15:18–21) and ultimately his victory (16:33).15

The future is bright, though it must first be darkened. What is to come is good and necessary. It is part of God’s plan and mission to the whole world (Gen 12.1–3). The farewell discourse is given to guide Jesus’ disciples through the dark skies of Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion, and death to his post-resurrection appearance and after his ascension to the Father. There will be a “new dispensation of God and his people,” which will now include Gentiles into the one who is the true vine (John 15:1).16

Outline for the Farewell Discourse

The discourse proper consists of six significant and developing thematic statements by Jesus . . . that are framed by what is functionally a prologue (13:31–38) and an epilogue (16:25–33).

The Farewell Discourse (13.1–17.26)

A. Introduction: The Love of Jesus (13.1–30)

B. The Farewell Discourse (13.31–16.33)

Prologue (13.31–38)

STATEMENT 1: “I Am the Way and the Truth and the Life” (14.1–14)

STATEMENT 2: “I Will Give You the Paraclete” (14.15–31)

STATEMENT 3: “I Am the True Vine” (15.1–17)

STATEMENT 4: “I Have Also Experienced the Hate of the World” (15.18–27)

STATEMENT 5: “I Will Empower You by the Paraclete” (16.1–15)

STATEMENT 6: “I Will Turn Your Grief into Joy” (16.16–24)

Epilogue (16.25–33)

C. Conclusion: The Prayer of Jesus (17.1–26)


1 Klink, 58.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid., 571.

4 “The entire book of Deuteronomy can rightly be described as Moses’s farewell speeches to Israel” (571). Both Deuteronomy and John demonstrate their respective covenants “between God and his people (Deuteronomy, the old covenant; John, the new covenant)” (571).

5 Ibid., 572.

6 Ibid.

7 Judas’ exit in John 13:30 signals “that what follows is the beginning of the farewell discourse, with its conclusion signaled again when Jesus himself exits at 18:1” (572).

8 Ibid., 573.

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid.

11 Klink, 574.

12 Ibid.

13 Ibid.

14 Klink, 575.

15 Ibid.

16 Ibid.


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Review: Hebrew I (Zondervan Online Lectures)

(See bottom of my review for the Discount Code)

As I’ve mentioned before, I took Elementary Hebrew at SBTS this fall semester. Before I started the course, I knew two things about my teacher, Peter J. Gentry. First, he was brilliant at Hebrew. Second, he was tough. This was a graduate course, and he treats it as such. Zondervan had just begun to have online courses (35 now), so I spent the rest of my summer going through these videos.

The Zondervan Academic Online Course for Hebrew I is taught by Miles Van Pelt. Van Pelt teaches at Reformed theological Seminary, has contributed to the new A Biblical Theological Introduction to the Old Testament, but is most known for his Basics of Biblical Hebrew works.

The course is self-paced, but it must be completed within 12 months. It is 16 units long with each unit following a four-part structure: Overview, Study, Review, and Assess, and ends with a midterm. Hebrew II is also made up of 16 units and ends with the final.

Class Lectures

  1. Alphabet and Vowels
  2. Syllables and Pronunciation
  3. Nouns
  4. Definite Article and Conjunction Waw
  5. Prepositions
  6. Adjectives
  7. Pronouns
  8. Pronominal Suffixes
  9. Construct Chain
  10. Numbers
  11. Introduction to Verbs
  12. Qal Perfect – Strong
  13. Qal Perfect – Weak
  14. Qal Imperfect – Strong
  15. Qal Imperfect – Weak
  16. Waw Consecutive

In these videos, Van Pelt take you through morphology and helps answer the question: “How does this language work?” Rather than rote memorization, he shows how the grammar works. Why do certain vowels change when a word becomes plural? Which vowel does a consonant take? Why? Beginning Hebrew with this understanding makes Hebrew much more possible.

After taking a physical class (50 minutes, 4x a week) with a physical teacher directly in front of me, one value with these videos is that you can replay them as many times as you want. I usually understood what was going on in my class, but there was one particular class (#16) that boggled my mind. After coming home and watching one of the lectures, I saw the subject from a different angle, and it all made sense. 

The red shows you what is new in the lesson.

Time: 30-40 minutes.

The lectures are front-loaded with information so that when you begin learning Verbs you know all of the morphological rules for many of the changes you will see. Working on the nouns will make the verbs easier (as they can look very similar). As you progress, the tiny rules really begin to add up when you start translating sentences and the Bible. Some rules seem too small to deserve any room in your memory, but let me assure you—they are not insignificant. Those initial rules are the most important. If you don’t memorize them in the beginning, when you do realize you were mistaken, you’re going to be in deep (and you’ll have to learn all of those rules anyway). 

I say this because, with Hebrew being my first biblical language, and being the first language I learned where morphological rules were taught to me, I thought, “Big deal? This can’t be too difficult to remember.” Even though I did take the time to learn the rules, I am still constantly having to refresh my memory over these minute details. They are crucial, and Van Pelt is excellent at explaining the rules of Hebrew morphology and grammar.

Vocabulary

The vocabulary program used was developed by Cerego. It shows you the vocabulary word, lets you hear the pronunciation, and it tracks which words you are strong in and which ones you are weak in. I found the system to be pretty fun, actually. Each unit ends with a quiz. There is a keyboard system to know how to type each consonant and vowel, but it has a steep learning curve and is pretty clunky if you don’t know all of the hot keys. 

Audience

Those who will do this will either need to be self-learners or motivated enough to become self-learners. These could be pastors, students, or anybody who wants to learn/re-learn biblical Hebrew. You could use this for yourself, as a group study, or a class at church. Professors could use it and integrate it into their classrooms alongside their courses or as a new online program. As classes are slowly going the way of online learning, schools can implement these courses too. 

Recommended?

  • Pros:
    • Replayable.
    • 9+ hours of video.
    • Words and forms are written out and explained.
    • Often a fuller explanation given than what is found in the book. 
    • Van Pelt is clear in his teaching, and by teaching morphology, the later grammar and forms make better sense.
    • The course is a fraction of the cost of an actual seminary course.
  • Cons:
    • As far as I can tell, you can’t ask questions.
    • Sometimes I think they focus more on small matters that may not matter much.
    • More expensive than if you were to buy only the Grammar and Workbook (and other helpful material). 
    • You have access to the course for only one year.

Van Pelt writes out what changes occur in forms of words (e.g., from nouns to adjectives) and why they occur.

The best way to learn any language is to have a teacher right in front of you who can answer every question you might have, but those who aren’t able to go to seminary have to rely on books to learn Hebrew, and you can’t ask books questions. This is a good midway. Van Pelt writes out rules and words in front of you and helps you see why changes happen. I’ve seen Van Pelt clearly explain an few unclear sections from his book—something I would have remained perplexed on my own. Most of the grammar that you would find in the Grammar book is found here, but you will need the Workbook so that you can practice, practice, practice. The Workbook has helped me immensely in my own class this semester.

Lagniappe

This course discount code will get you 15% of of the course price: SPENCER

  • See my review of Zondervan’s Greek I online course. 

Disclosure: I received these lectures free from Zondervan. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

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Review: NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible

CBSB

It’s been said that the Bible was written over a period of 2,000 years by 40 different authors from three continents, in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek). And it was Augustine who said, “The Bible is shallow enough for a child not to drown, yet deep enough for an elephant to swim.” The Bible presents clearly the Gospel message for all to be saved (even children can understand it’s message), yet there are also those details that make the Bible equally difficult to understand. Those details may come in the form of oblique sacrifices in Leviticus, funky kings and countries in 1-2 Kings, or weird beasts and historically detailed prophecies in the book of Daniel.

The Bible doesn’t come with a “How-to-Read” manual. Abraham was born more than 4,000 years ago, and the New Testament was completed just less than 2,000 years ago. We shouldn’t expect to be able to understand everything on our own. You might recall that at the end of last year I reviewed the NIV Zondervan Study Bible. At a whopping 2,912 pages, it is focused on the Bible’s storyline.

Now Zondervan has come out with another quality study Bible, the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (CBSB). Authored by John Walton (OT) and Craig Keener (NT), this study Bible’s one purpose is

to increase your understanding of the cultural nuances behind the text of God’s Word so that your study experience, and your knowledge of the realties behind the ideas in the text, is enriched and expanded (v).

Both Walton and Keener are masters in the cultures of the Old and New Testaments. There are 74 charts and 64 maps throughout the CBSB to help bridge the gulf that lies between the world of the Bible and the world of the modern reader. I’ve been asked to review the notes and layout of one book, so I chose Daniel (I’ve posted links to reviews of other Biblical books in the CBSB under the Lagniappe section).

Daniel

Intro

The Introduction to Daniel spans a short two pages covering the historical and literary setting of Daniel. The date debate on Daniel is not solved here, and it is only briefly touched upon. Walton points out that Daniel is not named as the author, and he is uncertain of the date of writing given that “many narrative traditions were preserved orally, perhaps even for centuries before being committed to writing,” though “there is not reason to question the authenticity of the accounts in the book” (1414).

The first excursus touches on stories of courtiers (e.g., Daniel, Esther, and Joseph). These stories, played out in different ways, encourage their readers to reman faithful to God in foreign lands.

Notes & Excurses

I have long wondered why, in Daniel 4, after Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in and told him that he was the felled tree, Nebuchadnezzar proceeds to walk out on his roof twelve months later and proclaims, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” Did he forget what Daniel said one year prior?

In Daniel 1.1, Walton notes how Nebuchadnezzar reigned for 43 years. Babylon, which had “suffered destruction” by Assyria, was “literally rebuilt” by Nebuchadnezzar. “In fact, most of the city of Babylon that has been uncovered by modern excavators was from Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. Thus, the Chaldean kingdom was primarily his creation, and it crumbled only a generation after his death” (1415). Nebuchadnezzar rebuilt the great Babylon, but he forgot who he was before Yahweh, the great true and sovereign King.

Neo-Babylonian Empire

Walton notes in Daniel 4.4 that the phrase “I, Nebuchadnezzar” and what follows after parallels different Akkadian literature which “tells of a king’s act of pride (failing to heed the gods’ instructions given through omens) that leads to disaster and repentance. It was published for the benefit of others.” The end of Nebuchadnezzar’s tale (Dan. 4.34-37) both reminds and warns others that Yahweh reigns supreme. However, even with this warning, King Belshazzar didn’t listen (Dan. 5.18-23) and because of that, he paid a price. Despite having a huge party in belief that the gods would save them from the oncoming Persians, they didn’t. 

Daniel 2.1, Nebuchadnezzar summoned his astrologers and miscellaneous men quickly because dreams with bad omens needed rituals to be performed to prevent the calamity. The quicker these rituals were performed, the better.

Nebby's Statue

What is meant by “seventy ‘sevens’” in Daniel 9.24? After looking at the significance of a seven year (Sabbatical) cycle in Leviticus 25.3-4, Walton notes that “special attention is paid to the first Jubilee cycle (v. 25, “seven ‘sevens’”) and to the final sabbatical cycle (v. 27)” and suggests that these numbers carry a symbolic significance. Support can be seen in “several verbal and thematic links between Daniel’s prayer and Lev 26:27 – 45 . . . and the apparent understanding of Jeremiah’s 70 years in terms of sabbatical cycles in 2Ch 36:20 – 21.”

Walton notes the symbolic use of weeks and Jubilee cycles in intertestamental Jewish literature (e.g., 1 Enoch 91; 93; the Testament of Levi 16 – 18; and the Book of Jubilees). “There are also examples of the symbolic use of seven and multiples of seven (including time periods) in Babylonian and Ugaritic literature. These symbolic schemas are intended not as strict chronologies but as a way of expressing the significance of history” (1443). 

Zoroastrianism

Lagniappe

Resources

Infographics

Reviews of Bible Books in the CBSB

Buy it on Amazon or Zondervan!

Disclosure: I received this book free from Zondervan. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

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Review: Locating Atonement

atone

Random. Recapitulation. Satisfaction. Penal Substitution. Moral Influence. Christus Victor. What encompasses the meaning of “atonement”? Did only Christ’s death bring atonement? Does Christ’s incarnation, perfect life, death, resurrection, and ascension contribute to his atoning work? To whom does the atonement extend? Do we have to choose just one theory or are we allowed to mix and match?

Locating Atonement, edited by Oliver Crisp and Fred Sanders, are a collection of essays from the third annual Los Angeles Theology Conference. Rather than discussing which atonement theory (or theories) work the best, the speakers at the LATC were asked to address the relationship between the atonement and other biblical doctrines. How does the atonement work within the web of biblical doctrine in Christian theology? If placed beside the doctrine of the Trinity, or creation, or human suffering, or the image of God, what would the atonement add to understanding of these doctrines? 

“No doubt theologians should focus on giving a proper account of particular doctrines, their shape, their dogmatic function, and so forth. But theologians should also pay attention to the relationship between different doctrines in the wider scheme of Christian theology” (14)

The Atonement and . . .

Chapter 1 (External works of the Trinity) – Adonis Vidu sets the atonement within the oneness of the Trinity – there are no works that the Father does that the Son and the Holy Spirit are not involved.

[T]he whole Trinity is active in the death of Jesus, not just the Father punishing the Son. The whole Trinity is present to us in a new way in the human nature of the Son, taking upon itself, in this new human nature, our penal death (42).

Chapter 2 (Creation) – Here Matthew Levering critiques Nicholas Wolterstorf’s critique of satisfaction theories on the atonement and his belief that Jesus rejected the OT reciprocity principle. After this Levering draws upon Aquinas and offers an account of reciprocal justice as grounded in the created order.

Chapter 3 (Image of God) – Ben Myers argues that the church fathers had a consistent and rational explanation for the atonement, one that was rich in christology and the human condition.

Chapter 4 (Wisdom) – This was by fay my favorite chapter as Strobel and Levenson show that “the atonement is the doctrinal elaboration of the movement and action of God incarnate for us through death into resurrection; it is doctrinal reflection on who God is and how he is for us in the descent and exaltation of Christ” (89). He shows how God’s wisdom, which is foolishness to the world, defeats death in the grotesque death and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Chapter 5 (Covenant) – Jeremy Treat views the atonement through covenant. Sinners are reconciled to God through the death of Christ, the one who fulfulled the covenant obligations and who took on himself the covenant curses, and we are now brought together as family.

Chapter 6 (Incarnation) – R. Lucas Stamps argues for the necessity of Jesus’ two wills (a.k.a. “Dyothelitism”) for the atoning work as God-Man as it better explains Christ’s “divine intention and human obedience” (138).

Chapter 7 (Punishment and Retribution) – Hill and Jedwab focus on the viability of penal substitution, that the B was punished by A in place of C. B = the Son; A = the Father; C = sinners. If the previous sentence is any indication, this essay is quite analytical.

Chapter 8 (Divine Wrath) – In their essay, Yang and Davis respond to objections against divine wrath and then present their own understanding of divine wrath along with some reasons why we as Christians should see God as possessing this attribute.

Chapter 9 (Shame) – Shame is separate from guilt. “Shame is ‘I am bad.’ Guilt is ‘I did something bad.’” Christ took on our humanness. He began his human life in shame. He associated with the shameful. He died the ultimate shameful death. Mark McConnell shows that Jesus took on our shameful stats as sinners before God so that we could have Christ’s life, strength, and obedience.

Chapter 10 (Human Suffering) – Bruce McCormack relates the atonement to human suffering saying that, at best, human suffering is an analogy to Christ’s sufferings.

Chapter 11 (Eucharist) – Eleanor Stump writes about the atonement in relation to the Eucharist where one reenacts their original surrender to God, though it is more like the renewal of a marriage vow. It strengthens a Christians perseverance to finish to the end. Of all of the essays, I think this one had the least to do with its intended topic.

Chapter 12 (Ascension of Christ) – Michael Horton shows how the ascension is a crucial aspect of Christ’s atonement. It was after the ascension that Pentecost happened where the Holy Spirit came and filled the believers. Christians are united to Christ by the Spirit, the one “who brings the powers of the age to come into this present age” (235).

Recommended?

This book will likely be over your head unless you are in seminary, or you have graduated seminary, or you are well-versed in atonement theology. If you are, then this book is right up your alley. But if you are like me and you haven’t read much theology on the atonement, this book will be more difficult for you. But I can’t give this book the boot simply because of my lack of experience on the theology of atonement (and philosophy, and patristic theories, etc).

For those who have a rich interest in atonement theology, there is so much detail and nuance to be understood, to be grasped, worked and wrestled with. I’ll warn you that this is dense, it’s not always easy to read, and having a different author for each essay varies the quality, but if you have a good handle on atonement theology, you will enjoy this book.

Lagniappe

Buy it on Amazon or from Zondervan!

Disclosure: I received this book free from Zondervan. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

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