Should I study the Bible in original Hebrew and Greek? — Christian Today

Many people who move in the gifts of teaching, exhortation and knowledge love to read the Bible for all its worth and get excited about the careful study of the Bible in its original language. Should everyone follow and read the Bible the same way?

via Should I study the Bible in original Hebrew and Greek? — Christian Today

Biblical Studies Carnival–January 2015

Carnival-of-Souls Hi there ladies and gentlemen, this truly is a baptism of fire for me hosting my first carnival while working thru my inexperience with WordPress and not acquiring the computer skills that most people posses. I want to thank Dr. Phil Long for following up regarding hosting a carnival, and what a month to start! I also want to thank Jennifer Guo for reaching out to me and providing encouragement. So now without further delay, let my noobness be revealed! 🙂

Mark in a Mask?

Mark in a Mask?

This picture was posted this month by Dr. Jim West, it captures a lot of the thinking concerning The Gospel Mark in the Mummy Mask issue.

The first article is from Dr. James Tabor. His piece is tastefully done; here is most of the first paragraph.

The first any of us heard of a new discovery of the fragment of the New Testament Gospel of Mark dating to the late 1st century C.E. was in 2012. Bart Ehrman of UNC and Daniel Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary were engaged in a debate in Chapel Hill on the question “Is the Original New Testament Lost?” Wallace simply asserted his “bombshell” claim without giving any details… Our earliest physical manuscript of any part of the N.T. is a tiny papyrus fragment (3.5 x 2 inches, seven lines, front and back) from the Gospel of John known as Rylands P52, now on display in the John Rylands University Library in Manchester, UK. It is usually dated, with some controversy, between 117-150 C.E.

Please follow the link below for the remainder.

This next piece is from Aaron Adair from

The piece reveals the frustration surrounding certain aspects while still attempting to remain positive regarding an outcome.

Here’s a paragraph from his piece:

Now, I must say this. All of the claims about the fragment could be right, and I welcome it. I do hope to read the book concerning the fragment, among many others, when it is published (allegedly this year, but I doubt the timeline since the proponents have been saying it will come out in 2012, 2013, 2014, and this year). It would, at least, put to rest the possibility that Mark is a 2nd century composition (something I consider at least possible, though not necessarily probable). And perhaps textual critics will find it of use if it concerns a passage from Mark that has been uncertain in the reading. We will need to wait and see, but even once published I will be quite skeptical until others can properly review and analyze the results.

The last piece surrounding this topic comes from Dr. Larry Hurtado.

There are 2 articles from Dr. Hurtado dated 1/26/15 and 1/27/15 respectively.

This first is titled:

A First-Century Copy of the Gospel of Mark?

So, what we can ask in the case of this putative fragment of Mark is that the owner(s) enable the scholarly world to access it, so that a critical and measured analysis can be done. Until then, there is no need to ask what I think of the claim that it is a first-century fragment of Mark. No data, no opinion.

The above is Dr. Hurtado’s final statement, please click the link below to view the piece in it’s entirety.

The second is titled:

Early Manuscripts of Biblical Writings? What’s at Stake?

In light of the renewed hubbub about a supposed first-century fragment of the Gospel of Mark, I’ll offer some comments about why people get all excited (or exasperated) about the matter and other such incidents.

For any text of antiquity, scholars prize early copies, the earlier the better. In the transmission process (hand-copying) every copy to be made presented the possibility of accidental or deliberate changes (variants) being introduced. So, in principle, the closer we can get to the origin of the text, the fewer such opportunities we have to consider, and the closer we might get to the text as it originated.

The above are the first two paragraphs, please follow the link below:

Sanctified Dirt

Sanctified Dirt

Well, with a month under this year’s belt tis the season to get ready to play in the sand again. Let’s hope something really cool gets unearthed.

First up is a piece from Margreet L. Steiner who is an archaeologist living in Leiden, the Netherlands.

Her research focuses on the Bronze and Iron Ages in the Levant. She has published a large part of Kenyon’s excavations in Jerusalem. Her publications include Excavations in Jerusalem, 1961–1967, vol. 2 and vol. 3, (with H. J. Franken, Oxford University Press 1990) and The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant, with Ann E. Killebrew. (Oxford University Press, 2014).

This piece was published through

The article is titled: Site Identification: The Case of Jericho

Imagine a time three thousand years from now. New York, once the mightiest city in the world, has become a heap of ruins, a mountain of rubble and stones, decayed wood, corroded iron. Its name is hardly remembered, its days of glory forgotten.

Imagine three thousand years from now a team of archaeologists starts digging among the ruins. They conclude that once an important city was located here. But how to discover which city it was? How would they be able to identify the site?

Above are the first two paragraphs, below, the remainder can be read here:

Next we have Dr. James Tabor’s announcement regarding the Mount Zion 2015 Dig.

June 14 through July 10th 2015

Registration is now open for both student and non-student participation in our 2015 Mt Zion Excavation. UNC Charlotte is the only American university excavating in the historic Old City of Jerusalem and our site is rich with material remains from all periods of habitation–Iron Age, Herodian/Roman, Byzantine, Muslim, Crusader, and Ottoman. There is no excavation like it in all of Jerusalem.

There’s a lot more information regarding this dig at Dr. Tabor’s blog. Follow the link below:

This Spring Biblical Archeological Review turns 40, Happy Birthday BAR!

This piece is from Dr. Ellen White and is titled:

No, No, Bad Dog: Dogs in the Bible

Some scholars hypothesize that the negative feelings expressed in the ancient Near East toward dogs was because in those days, dogs often ran wild and usually in packs. Dogs in the Bible exhibited predatory behavior in their quest for survival, which included the eating of dead bodies (1 Kings 14:11; 16:4; 21:19, 23-24; 22:38; 2 Kings 9:10, 36; 1 Kings 21:23).

There is archaeological evidence, such as figurines, pictures and even collars, that demonstrates that Israel’s neighbors kept dogs as pets, but from the skeletal remains found within the Levant, the domestication of dogs did not happen until the Persian and Hellenistic periods within Israel.

Please follow the link below for the entire article:

No, No, Bad Dog: Dogs in the Bible

Click on the link below to download 21 free ebooks from Biblical Archaeology Society 🙂


Book Reviews

Book Reviews 

New & Noteworthy Books (2015) and some thoughts from Jennifer Guo:

Though I didn’t read all the new releases I was excited about in 2014 (but do not worry, the best books will not fall through the cracks and I have reviews coming of some stellar releases from the end of 2014) and I’m trying desperately to have a good balance of old books in my reading diet (to avoid the chronological snobbery C. S. Lewis so famously wrote about), I am already eagerly anticipating quite a few new books scheduled to come out this year. Below are the books I am most looking forward to and that every self-respecting bible/theology nerd should keep an eye out for (actually, you’ll see that the list is quite biased toward my primary interests. I apologize to OT nerds, those not particularly fond of Paul, and Arminians).

To see Jennifer’s list click on the link below:

Dr. Larry Hurtado book reviews:

Constantine Tischendorf: New Book

Constantine Tischendorf (1815-1874) was certainly one of the most prodigiously productive scholars of his or any other time. He was (and remains) also a figure of controversy, claim and counter-claim. In a new book on Tischendorf (and released in anticipation of the 200th anniversary of his birth on 18 January), Stanley Porter gives a short biography and an appreciative assessment of the man and his scholarly work: Constantine Tischendorf: The Life and Work of a 19th Century Bible Hunter (London: Bloomsbury, 2015).

Remaining review, click below:

J. B. Lightfoot: Unpublished Works Now Appearing

J. B. Lightfoot was perhaps the most impressive British NT scholar of his generation (late 19th century), and one of the most significant NT scholars of his day internationally. His published works remain important to consult, and some (especially his 5-volume work on “The Apostolic Fathers”) remain essential and unsurpassed. But there was a good deal of unpublished work by Lightfoot as well, hundreds of pages of biblical/exegetical work discovered by Ben Witherington in the Durham Cathedral Library in 2013. Under the editorship of Witherington and Todd Still, the first of several published volumes has appeared, presenting this previously unpublished material by Lightfoot: J. B. Lightfoot: The Acts of the Apostles, a Newly Discovered Commentary, The Lightfoot Legacy Set, Volume 1, eds. Ben Witherington III and Todd D. Still(Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2014).

Full review, follow the link below:

Wasserman on P45 and Codex W

Tommy Wasserman (long-time friend and colleague in the field) contributes a fresh study of textual relationships of Codex Washingtonianus and P45 (P.Chester Beatty I) that largely confirms the results of my own study done some forty-odd years ago: “P45 and Codex W in Mark Revisited,” in Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism: Essays in Honor of Larry W. Hurtado, eds. Chris Keith & Dieter T. Roth (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2014), 130-56.

Full review, follow the link below:

Next reviews are from SlimJim at

Christian Bioethics by C. Ben Mitchell and D. Joy Riley. Christian Bioethics: A Guide for Pastors, Health Care Professionals, and Families. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2014. 197 pp.

This is a wonderful book on bioethics from a Christian perspective. I have felt for years that there is a need for more works on Christian bioethics and no doubt this book makes a contribution. The book exceeded my expectation. I appreciated the fact that both authors’ background helped in making a contribution to the book: C. Ben Mitchell has a PhD in medical ethics in addition to his pastoral background while D. Joy Riley is a physician with a masters in bioethics. Both Mitchell and Riley serve in hospital ethics committee and have written previous on bioethical issues.

Full review, follow the link below:

Review:Charles J. Brown. The Ministry: Address to Students of Divinity.
Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2006. 112 pp.

I started reading this book during a break in ministry as a devotional to refresh my soul. I had this book for a few years now and I thought I finally get around to reading it. It turns out that the book really ministered to my heart and I was glad I read it. The book is short and is a plus in many ways: first it is the perfect size for a pastor’s devotional. Secondly, the author is concise and to the point. Thirdly, its spiritual impact is greater than its size; in reviewing this book I was pleasantly surprised how much of the book I highlighted that fed my soul. 

Full review, follow the link below:

Next are reviews from Dr. Phil Long

Book Review: Schmitt and Laney, Messiah’s Coming Temple

Schmitt, John W. and J. Carl Laney. Messiah’s Coming Temple. Updated Edition. Grand Rapids, Mich. Kregel, 2014. 248 pp. Pb; $16.99.

This book is an update to Schmitt and Laney’s original 1997 Messiah’s Coming Temple, adding three chapters and about 50 pages to the original. In addition to this new material, there are a number of new illustrations including new 3D models of the temple. All illustrations are in black and white, some of the 3D images are on Schmitt’s Future Hope Ministries website. Like the original, this is a popular level introduction to Ezekiel’s vision of a future temple. The book is designed to be read by laymen, so there is little discussion of wider scholarship on the vision.

Full review, follow the link below:

Book Review: Ralph P.Martin, 2 Corinthians (Second Edition)

Martin, Ralph P. 2 Corinthians. Second Edition. Word Biblical Commentary 40; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2014. 751 pp. Hb; $54.99.

This is the first revised commentary I have used in the Word Biblical Commentary since Zondervan took over the series a few years ago. Martin’s original 2 Corinthians commentary was among the best commentaries on this difficult letter of Paul. Zondervan’s new updated edition of the commentary will remain one of the first off the shelf for me for many years to come.

Full review, follow the link;

Last is some exciting news:

CSNTM to Digitize Manuscripts at the National Library of Greece
Press Release

12 January 2014

On January 7, the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts’ Executive Director, Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, and Research Manager, Robert D. Marcello, traveled to Athens to meet with the Director of the National Library, Filippos Tsimboglou. After meeting with the Director last September to begin discussions of a collaboration, they worked out final negotiations and signed a contract for CSNTM to digitize all the New Testament manuscripts of the National Library. This is a historic collaboration between one of the five largest repositories of Greek New Testament manuscripts and the world’s leading institute in digitizing Greek New Testament manuscripts. Approximately 300 manuscripts with 150,000+ pages of text will be digitized over the next two years. CSNTM is excited to be working with Dr. Tsimboglou and his staff on this strategic undertaking.

Please follow the link below to view the full article:

So, there it is, my first Biblical Studies Carnival in all it’s glorious noobness. I did have fun putting this together.

Next month’s Carnival will be hosted by the lovely and way more talented than me 🙂 Jennifer Guo!

Book Review–Pauline Perspectives–By N.T. Wright #SNRTG

This will be my second and final review of this volume. The first review (dated 11/16/14 on this blog) is where Chapter 4 was highlighted.

In the first review I neglected to say that this volume (as most probably already know) Pauline Perspectives is a companion volume to Paul and the Faithfulness of God.

This review includes preface and Chapter highlights.

Pauline Perspectives are chronological essays spanning 35 years; to quote  Ben Worthing III from Asbury Theological Seminary,”Reading a book like this is like going to a great feast put on by a master chef and discovering there were no ephemeral starters but all meat, and none of it half baked, but well worth chewing over and always nourishing. Bon appetit!” This reader agrees with the quote.

In the preface (page xviii) N.T. Wright explains that by no means have the articles, as it were, the same status within his developing project of Pauline theology. Wright goes on to say some articles are ephemeral, responding to particular moments and challenges. While other are loadbearing, offering a fresh account of a particular theme or set of passages and arguing the point more fully than he does in Paul in Fresh Perspectives (US Title 2005).

N.T. Wright has included after every article short autobiographical remarks in order to contextualize the writing in “real life“. Wright then expresses encouragement for younger scholars to have them see that essays and reflections do not necessarily emerge from some grand, well-organized original design, but  often proceed in fits and start in what seems at the time a fairly random fashion, only gaining such little overall coherence as they may have with the benefit of long and perhaps generous hindsight.

This volume has Four parts:

the First is titled: Oxford and Cambridge (Pages 1-76) years 1978-1993.

 Part Two: Linchfield and Westminster (Pages 77-269) years 1994-2002.

Part Three: Durham (Pages 272-451) years 2003-2010.

Finally Part Four: St. Andrews (Pages 455-592) years 2011-2013.

This review is taken from Part Three of the book (chapter 23 ppm. 379-391) and is titled: ‘Christ in you, The hope of Glory’ (Collosians 1.27): Eschatology in St. Paul (2008)

This essays a response originally published in In the Footsteps of St. Paul: An Academic; Papers Presented at the Pauline Symposium, October 11-16, 2008 (ed. Archbishop Demetrios of America and John Chryssavgis; Brookline, Mass: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2011), 19-36 Reprinted with permission.

N.T Wright in his introduction section of this chapter describes how he was particularly excited to be asked to speak about the eschatology of St. Paul.

Then (in the second paragraph of page 380) reflects upon his book Jesus and the Victory of God (1996) having given his parents a copy and explains how the word eschatology is problematic. While relating to a conversation he had with his dad who kept forgetting the dictionary meaning of the word, Quote “Ah yes’, I responded; “but that’s because the dictionary will say “death, judgement, heaven and hell’.’ ‘You’re right’ he said. ‘That’s what it does say.’ But, I replied, ‘that’s not how scholars use it today.’

Wright then informs his dad to the place in the book (pp. 202-9) Jesus and the Victory of God where he can find the different senses the word has come to bear in scholarly discussions of the New Testament.

Then goes on to explain in the introduction (pp. 380-1) that Paul stood firmly within the Jewish tradition; and that this Jewish tradition of hope was not the hope for a disembodied heaven, nor the hope for the end of the space-time universe (as was often been wrongly supposed, particularly, with Albert Schweitzer and others); and that this Jewish tradition was, on the contrary, the hope that God would act in a new way within the space-time continuum, within the world of creation itself, to put all wrongs right and to bring justice, peace and mercy to the whole created order.

Continuing, Wright explains this is essentially Jewish perception- that is not shared by the pagan world at large, though important echoes of it occur from time to time-is linked to the idea , prominent and widespread through-out the second Temple period, of a continuing exile, as predicted by Daniel chapter 9. Further unpacking is then revealed through the article.

Highlighting the conclusion (pp. 390-1) Wright explains we live in a world where once again all kinds of pagan philosophies, hopes and aspirations are flourishing. The complex contemporary culture which through the mass media is increasingly a worldwide phenomenon present as many challenges to the gospel today as the pagan world did in Paul’s day.

The whole church needs the whole Christ, Christ the Lord of Glory, Christ the Lord of the world, Christ in us the hope of glory.

The reader of this review needs to know most of the words are N.T. Wrights’. My hope is that you are now encouraged to purchase is work of art.

Book Review–Fortress Commentary on the Bible: The New Testament–By David A Sanchez, Margaret Aymer & Cynthia Briggs Kittredge #SNRTG

I’d like to thank Fortress Press for providing a digital review copy of the commentary.

I received both the Old & New Testament Commentaries close to 30 days ago and love the scholarship. I will be publishing a review of the Old Testament Commentary separately.

The editors are:

Margaret Aymer is associate professor of New Testament and Chair of Biblical Studies at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia, where she teaches courses in New Testament, exegesis, and biblical hermeneutics.

Cynthia Briggs Kittredge is the president, dean, and professor of New Testament at Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas.

David A. Sanchez is associate professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. He specializes in New Testament studies with an emphasis on the Apocalypse of John and contemporary Guadalupan iconography.

Including the above mentioned editors there are total of 28 contributors in this volume.

In the introduction the reader is invited to “study and seek conversation regarding the ancient text which is complex and compelling”. Then continues on by saying, “As biblical scholars, we wish students of the Bible to gain a respect for the antiquity and cultural remoteness of the biblical texts and to grapple for themselves with the variety of possible meanings…the Fortress Commentary on the Bible offers general readers an informed and accessible resource for understanding the biblical writings in their ancient contexts;   for recognizing how the texts have come down to us through the meditation of different interpretive traditions; and for engaging current discussion of the Bible’s sometimes perplexing, sometimes ambivalent, but always influential legacy in the contemporary world”.

The commentary has Topical Articles that set the stage on which interpretation takes place, naming the issues and the concerns that have shaped historical and theological scholarship down to the present. The articles also include issues that arise when two different religious communities claim the same body of writings as Scripture, though interpreting those writings quite differently.

The commentary has Section Introductions articles introducing the Gospels, Acts, the letters associated with Paul, Hebrews, the General Epistles, and Revelation. The reader can expect the articles to address the literary and historical matters, as wells as theological themes, that the books in these collection hold in common.

The commentary has Commentary Entries which present accessible and judicious discussion of each biblical book, with an introduction to the current thinking regarding the writing’s original context and it’s significance in different reading communities down to the present day. What follows next is a three-level commentary for each sense division of the book. This is the most distinctive aspect (in my opinion) of the commentary.

The first level is titled “The Text in Its Ancient Context“, the intent here is to convey some sense of the historical and cultural distance between the text’s original context and the contemporary reader.

The second level is titled “The Text in Its Interpretive Tradition“, which discusses themes including Jewish and Christian tradition as well as other religious, literary and artistic traditions where the biblical text have attracted interest. This level is shaped by the conviction that does not apprehend these texts immediately or innocently, rather, even the plain meaning we may regard as self-evident which may have shaped by centuries of appropriation and argument to which we are heirs.

The third and final level is titled “The Text in Contemporary Discussion” which follows the history of interpretation into the present, drawing brief attention to a range of issues. The aim here is not to deliver a single answer–“what the text means”–to the contemporary reader, but to highlight unique challenges and interpretive questions. Special attention to paid to with respect to occasions of dissonance, injurious, or even intolerable to some readers today. The goal is not to provoke a referendum on the value of the text but to stimulate reflection and discussion and, in this way, to empower the reader to reach their own judgements about the text.

The approach of the commentary articulates a particular understanding of the work of responsible biblical interpretation. The editors and contributors seek through this commentary to promote intelligent and mature engagement with the Bible, in religious communities and in academic classrooms alike, among pastors, theologians, and ethicists, but also especially among nonspecialists.

This review covers the introductory section of this commentary. It is my opinion after only 30 days of use the additional insights I have been introduced to will stay with me the rest of my life. I am and will be indebted to everyone who has made this volume possible.

Book Review–A Short Introduction to the Hebrew Bible–By John J. Collins #SNRTG

I’d like to thank the folks at Fortress Press for providing a digital review copy of this volume.

This 2nd addition has been updated and improved with respect to the first volume. As, Dr. Collins mentions in the preface, the bibliography is updated with only minor changes to the text. He also updated his analysis regarding the flood in chapter 2.

Like the first volume, this is built with the student in mind considering the general overview of subject material. There are no footnotes in this body of work which the author explains why, however there is a list after each chapter for the student to pursue.

The book is divided into 4 sections, Part One: The Torah/Pentateuch, Part Two: The Deuteronomistic History, Part Three: Prophecy, Part Four: The Writings.

Part One has 8 chapters starting with the Ancient Near East providing a sweeping overview of it’s history. Progressing to the nature of the Pentateuch Narrative, Primeval History, The Patriarchs, The Exodus, Sinai, Priestly Theology and Deuteronomy.

Part Two consists of 6 chapters covering Joshua, Judges, 1&2 Samuel and 1&2 Kings traditionally known as the Former Prophets. Broad strokes of it’s history continue in this section of the book, including how key parts of this history is marked by speeches from Joshua, Samuel, Solomon. Then explains how this history was put together through the remaining 5 chapters.

Part Three, chapters 15-20, covers all the Prophets both Major & Minor. Dr. Collins starts this section with the Ancient Near East prophetic material as a back drop to provide the student with context material regarding prophecy. Then provides the background of prophecy through Israel and it’s historical context including mentioning the prophetic book being edited with later situations in mind. Dr. Collins then explains this reasoning through modern scholarship. From this point on, he provides the student with details and time frames of the Prophets and the covenants involved.

Part Four, Chapters 21-29, are the Writings, which is explained as a catchall category. Dr. Collins also explains there are different orders of the books and provides the reader with a brief history as to how this came to be, including the differences of the Hebrew, Catholic, Protestant Greek Bibles.

I do need to mention the differences that make up the above Bibles are discussed in more detail in the beginning of the book.

Overall, I found this Short Introduction to be well worth it’s cost.

Book Review–Paul: Apostle to the Nations: An Introduction–By Walter F. Taylor Jr. #SNRTG

Again I would like to thank the folks at Fortress Press for providing a digital review copy of the volume.

Like the title of the book suggests this is an introduction about Paul and his ministry. This 300 plus (Kindle page) book has the novice in mind and does provide an excellent platform.

The author provides a section called “How to Use This Book” which gives the reader an idea of what life was probably like in the 1st Century.

The book has 2 parts, 1st part is Titled: Who was Paul and What Did He Do? The 2nd is Titled: What Did Paul Write? There’s also a “Suggested Reading” section to encourage the reader to move forward with their study.

The first part of the volume has 5 Chapters complete with pictures and study questions for reflection and discussion. The reader can expect topics such as, Historical & Political Study, The Books of Acts, How Did Paul Travel, Paul’s Social Network & How Did Paul Begin Congregations

The 2nd part has 8 Chapters also is complete with pictures and study questions for reflection and discussion. In this section the reader can expect these topics, Reviewing 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, 1&2 Corinthians, Romans, Philippians & Philemon.

I found Dr. Taylor’s book enjoyable and clear is his teaching. His scholarship is excellent.

One can purchase this volume directly from or

Book Review–The Vine and the Son Man–By Andrew Street–#SNRTG

I’d like to thank the dear folks at Fortress Press for providing a digital review copy of this volume.

I haven’t read the entire book up to this point, but I can say that the body of work in this volume has the backdrop of Second Temple Judaism with all of it’s complexities woven into Psalm 80.

The introduction is amazing in it’s detail with clarity to the reader. It really sets the tone and scholarship of book. Here’s an excerpt of Chapter 1 “The psalm begins by imploring God as the Shepherd and leader of the flock of Israel…” As the author continues through v. 16 he states “The ambiguity of the verses lies in the connection between the vine, the stalk and the son/branch. Are they truly parallel, that is, are the stalk and son/branch simply different ways to refer to God’s people? Or do the son/branch and the stalk refer to a leader of the people? So there is a taste of what one can expect, the author then goes into the Text Critical Issues, Date and Providence, Redaction, The Vine and the Man Relationship and Royal, etc.,  just reading the introduction and most of the first chapter should have most readers hungry for more.

This volume is now available through Fortress Press

and at Amazon