I am thrilled to have the opportunity to draw your attention to the relatively new website for Asia Reformed Ministries. I have twice been with them to teach pastors, and the work they are doing is cause for great rejoicing. The darkness stands no chance against the one they proclaim.
The section on Deuteronomy from God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology has been excerpted and published in the latest issue of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (SBJT).
Stephen J. Wellum, Editorial: Reading Deuteronomy for God’s People Today, 3–5
R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Has Any People Heard the Voice of God Speaking … And Survived?, 7–17
James M. Hamilton Jr., The Glory of God in Salvation through Judgment in Deuteronomy, 19–33
Peter J. Gentry, The Relationship of Deuteronomy to the Covenant at Sinai, 35–57
John D. Meade, Circumcision of the Heart in Leviticus and Deuteronomy: Divine Means for Resolving Curse and Bringing Blessing, 59–85
From Condemnation to Righteousness: A Christian Reading of Deuteronomy: Jason S. DeRouchie, 87–118
A.B. Caneday, “Anyone Hung Upon A Pole Is Under God’s Curse:” Deuteronomy 21:22-23 in Old and New Covenant Contexts, 121–36
Book Reviews, 139–57 — includes reviews by Stephen Wellum, Jarvis Williams, Matthew Hall, and James Parker
The entirety is available as a free PDF.
A version of this review was published in the most recent issue of Themelios.
Timothy J. Stone, The Compilational History of the Megilloth. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 2. Reihe 59. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013. 258pp. Paper. $94.
What is the Megilloth and what difference does the history of its compilation make? The Megilloth are the “five small scrolls” (Ruth, Esther, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, and Lamentations) in the third section of the tripartite Hebrew Bible referred to as the Writings (Law, Prophets, and Writings). The issue of how these scrolls came to be grouped together is related to the wider question of when and how the Writings began to be considered in relationship to one another. Some think that the Old Testament canon was not closed until after the time of Jesus, and this view is often accompanied by the idea that the Writings are a random collection into which later rabbis sought to introduce meaningful organization.
Tim Stone makes a historical and exegetical case for the view that these five small scrolls were intentionally grouped together into a meaningful arrangement as the canon was being formed and that “the tripartite canon was likely closed within mainstream Judaism sometime considerably prior to the end of the first century C.E.” (3). Stone builds on the work of Brevard Childs, Roger Beckwith, Julius Steinberg, Christopher Seitz, and others. He first discusses the question of Canon and Compilation, contending that “Canonization is not a dogmatic judgment passed down from above, but rather one at work in the canonical process” (13). Using the assembling of the Twelve Minor Prophets into a meaningful whole and the strategic arrangement of the Psalter as points of comparison for what he argues about the five small scrolls, Stone develops “compilational criteria” that he employs to analyze the relationships between the five small scrolls: 1) catchwords at the end or beginning of juxtaposed books; 2) framing devices such as inclusios; 3) superscriptions; and 4) thematic considerations (33). Discussions of the collection and arrangement of the Writings follow, and these set up the exegetical probes Stone uses to test and confirm his theories. Ruth and Esther receive chapter length treatment, and then the Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, and Lamentations are sounded before Stone summarizes his findings.
Stone helpfully sets out three theses that outline his project (9). I will shorten these theses further, allotting only one statement for each: 1) the tripartite canon of the OT was closed well before the end of the first century [AD]; 2) there are only two main arrangements of the writings before the eleventh century C.E. (after which orders proliferate): those found in BB 14b and the MT; and 3) the five small scrolls are purposefully arranged (with slight variations) and sit in the middle of the Writings, preceded by a wisdom collection, followed by a national-historical collection.
I am enthusiastic about the confirmation Stone provides for an early closure of the OT Canon and the purposeful arrangement of those books. His project is a stimulating contribution to the pursuit of canonical biblical theology. As intriguing as his suggestions are, however, and as much as I agree with him that the canonical context of a biblical book should influence its interpretation, I hold vastly different conclusions on the meaning that results from consideration of the canonical context of books such as Esther, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes. Stone’s view is that the canonical context of the book of Esther results in the conclusion that Hadassah (the character named Esther) is “an assimilated Jew who has forgotten Israel’s God” (173). Privileging other canonical material, I would see Hadassah as a model of biblical femininity, a faithful Jew who trusts God and makes the best of a bad situation. This example illustrates the inevitably subjective, perspectival nature of the necessary task of looking beyond the boundaries of a particular biblical book for wider canonical context.
On the matter of the organization of the five small scrolls, Stone proposes a chiastic structure:
Song of Songs
Ruth is positive, Esther negative; the best Song is matched by the worst; and at the center of the chiasm stands Ecclesiastes, the only book in the collection that “lacks a main female character” (206–207).
Some of the interpretive conclusions Stone draws, such as the idea that Mordecai and Esther are made to appear in a negative light by virtue of the way their actions differ from those of Daniel and his friends in Daniel 1–6, seem speculative and unwarranted. I am remain unconvinced that the author of Esther intended his audience to derive a negative conclusion about Esther and Mordecai because their circumstances were different than those of Daniel and his friends.
This point about authorial intent leads to a wider difficulty with the project of deriving meaning from the arrangement of the biblical books—and I say what follows as one who seeks to do canonical biblical theology and believes that English translations should adopt the tripartite order of the books of the Old Testament. In my view, the biblical authors were “carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:21), with the result that the final form of what they wrote is what should be regarded as inspired by the Holy Spirit. With this, the controlling concern in interpretation is what the Spirit-inspired biblical author intended to communicate. So unless it can be shown that the author of Esther, for instance, consciously composed Esther to be read against the backdrop of Daniel 1–6 and as a foil to Ruth, intended meaning is being attributed to someone other than the biblical author. It seems impossible to establish that an inspired prophet such as Ezra was responsible for the arrangement of the canonical order of the books, though there is strong evidence that Ezra may have done just that. If we cannot be certain that the Spirit inspired a prophet to organize the books into meaningful arrangement, then it seems we are considering the history of the reception and interpretation of the books and their arrangement rather than interpreting the intended message of the biblical author(s).
 Timothy Stone taught for two years at Zomba Theological College in Malawi as a PCUSA mission co-worker and now serves as a visiting professor at Eastern University. The Compilational History of the Megilloth is a revision of his doctoral thesis done at St. Andrews.
Here are some ideas for Christmas and/or birthday gifts for the pastor, theologian, missionary, evangelist, seminarian, or teacher/student of the Bible in your life. Last year I posted a list of books from the SBTS Faculty in 2013, and I’m following it up with this list of books from the SBTS Faculty in 2014.
I may have missed something. If so, please bring it to my attention and I’ll update the list.
It’s an honor to serve the greatest cause with these great men. List alphabetical by author’s last name.
Gregg R. Allison, Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment
Dan Dewitt, Jesus or Nothing
Dan Dewitt, The Owlings: A Worldview Novella
Duane Garrett, Exodus
James M. Hamilton Jr., Ezra and Nehemiah: Rebuilding People and Wall
James M. Hamilton Jr., With the Clouds of Heaven: The Book of Daniel in Biblical Theology
James M. Hamilton and Thomas R. Schreiner, (contributors), Adam, The Fall, and Original Sin
Michael A. G. Haykin, George Whitefield
Michael A. G. Haykin, Patrick of Ireland
Michael A. G. Haykin and C. Jeffrey Robinson Sr., To the Ends of the Earth: Calvin’s Missional Vision and Legacy
Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones, Proof
Jonathan Pennington and Stephen Wellum (contributors), Heaven
Thomas R. Schreiner, editor, with James M. Hamilton Jr., Michael A. G. Haykin, Gregg R. Allison, Shawn D. Wright, and Bruce A. Ware (contributors), Shepherding God’s Flock
Zane Pratt, M. David Sills, and Jeff K. Walters, Introduction to Global Missions
Mark A. Seifrid, 2 Corinthians
Donald S. Whitney, Finding God in Solitude: The Personal Piety of Jonathan Edwards. . .
Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
May the Lord bless your study, and may the Lord bless the administration, faculty, students, graduates, and supporters of SBTS and similar schools seeking to advance the gospel. If you’d like to know more, head on over to sbts.edu.
Are you planning to read through the Bible in a year?
Have you felt lost in the vast architecture and artistry of the Bible’s massive spaces and intricate designs?
One of my motivations in writing God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology was to provide a resource people could use alongside their daily Bible reading. I mention that in the “Strategy for Reading This Book” that precedes the first chapter, and Chris Dendy has taken that cue and created a Through the Bible in a Year reading program that pairs daily Bible Readings with relevant sections from God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment.
This plan will enable you to take a guided tour through the Bible using the God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment reading plan. With it you can accompany your daily Bible reading with related sections of God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment to see key connections with other Scripture, literary structure of the passage you’re reading, and broader thematic developments.
My prayer is that many will grow in their understanding of the Bible by experiencing its power and glory first-hand.
Read the Bible. And if you need help understanding it, get a book like this one that will take you through the Bible and draw your eye to the way its authors deployed their artistry to display God’s glory.
The God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment Bible Reading Plan is available free in three formats.
Printable: This format can be printed (front and back), and then you can fold the pages in half to make a small booklet. This document has been updated to make it easier to print.
Digital: This format presents things in the order they should appear if you don’t plan to print the pages front and back and fold them in half.
Kindle: If you have the Kindle version of GGSTJ, this one provides your readings.
Is there any book more important than the Bible? When you come to the end, is there anything you will wish you had given more time and energy and mental effort to reading and understanding?
Don’t waste your life.
Read the Bible.
Behold the glory.
Build your life on the book.
When I pray at the beginning of class, I often thank God for all the people who make it possible for us to sit in that classroom and devote ourselves to the study of God’s Word. Praise God for the parents, spouses, friends, and family members, and praise God for everyone who gives so that we can teach and study. We are grateful for you. We pray for you. As the students prepare for ministry, they are serving you.
Thank you for making our work possible.
If you’d like to join us in this great cause, go to this page and click the “Donate Now” button.
My love has gone across the sea
To find a country far and fair
He sailed into the gilded west
And lo, my heart will never rest
Until my love returns to me
Or I set out to find him there.
Come home, come home! I sing to thee
My love, come home and rest thy head
I’ll watch for you the winter long
And sing for you a summer song
And if you can’t return to me
Then I will sail to you instead
Through tow’ring wave and shriek of gale
I’ll aim my vessel ever west
And steer it by the cord that bound
My heart to yours, until you’re found
And should you find my body pale
And wrecked upon the loamy shale
Rejoice, my love, and call me blessed!
In death, my love, I loved you best
Before we had kids, my sweet wife and I got a dog. I knew I didn’t know anything about how to train a dog, so I bought Dogs for Dummies, and set to work. The book was entertaining, brief, and insightful. It advocated concentrated, reinforced, rewarding (as in, give the dog treats when he does what you want him to do) training time with the pup. We were in a season of our lives where I could carve out 30 minutes a day to spend with Spurgeon, and though his behavior wasn’t perfect, he was a very good boy.
My experience with that book makes me very excited that my friend Ben Phillips of SWBTS Houston is the author of the new version of the idiot’s guide to the Bible. Ben has a lot of personality, a lot of energy, and best of all he’s an evangelical. What a blessing that the publisher got someone who believes the Bible to write a guide to the Bible!
I suspect you’ll see this book in all the major bookstores, and I trust you’ll join me in asking the Lord to prosper his word. May this book help that great cause.
“to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children . . . Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
–Ephesians 4:12–16, ESV
Louis Markos makes an important point against the use of gender-neutral language in Bible translations:
Over the last several decades, this postmodern deconstruction of masculinity and femininity has, I believe, been fostered by the widespread acceptance of gender-neutral language. Many recent Bible translations (NRSV, NLT, CEV, NIV 2011) have adopted such language, despite the fact that God himself (Gen. 5:1–2) refers to the human race by the name of the first man, Adam. McDowell and Stonestreet do not use one of these translations (they use the ESV); still, I think their own use of gender-neutral language has the unintended consequence of downplaying the sexual complementarity on which strong and fruitful biblical marriages rest.
I suspect that the usage of “man” to refer to humanity in the English language resulted from the influence of the Bible.
If I’m reading a document from another time and place that has been translated into my language, I want to read the words they used so that I can see how they conceived of the world. I don’t want their way of conceptualizing the world re-shaped into the way the world is conceptualized by the pc police in this time and place. If that happens, I won’t have any suspicion that the world was seen differently in that time and place.
Once again, the best remedy for this is to learn and use the biblical languages. If you can’t do that, stick with a literal translation.
My esteemed colleague Dr. Rob Plummer writes:
For years, I watched many of our formerly zealous Greek students slowly apostatizing from the language they once loved.Partial solution….. www.dailydoseofgreek.com.On October 1, I will start a daily email service, delivering a link to a free 2-minute video of me reading/translating from the GNT. I’ve made these videos using a tablet with some fun new “screen cast” technology.Sample “daily dose” videos are on the website, as well as twenty-five brief videos covering the basics of Elementary Greek. It’s all free – and hopefully a means to strengthen God’s servants for more faithful study and teaching.If you think the website/emails might be helpful to others, please share the link:www.dailydoseofgreek.com.
Robert L. Plummer, Ph.D.Chairman, New Testament Department
Professor of New Testament InterpretationThe Southern Baptist Theological Seminary2825 Lexington RoadLouisville, KY 40280
Human sexuality is hotly disputed today, with many now contending that “gender” is a set of learned behaviors that have no intrinsic basis in a person’s sex. The idea is that being born with male body parts doesn’t require a male to obey Paul’s command to “act like men” (1 Cor 16:13), just as being born with female body parts would not require a female to be ladylike (cf., though, 1 Cor 11). Telling a boy not to act like a girl is offensive to those who conform to prevailing opinion in our culture, which would also teach children that “transgender” is normal.
The Bible teaches, however, that God made man male and female, and the Bible clearly stipulates that males and females have gender roles assigned according to sex.
The most basic aspect of this is something our culture is at war against: the way that men are to be fathers and women are to be mothers, God having created male and female such that they have the requisite biological equipment to fulfill these roles.
The very terms used to describe the man and the woman in Genesis 1:27 reflect the way that God made man and woman to correspond to one another, to complement one another. In the language of Genesis 2:18, God made the woman “according to the front of him.”
The anatomical and biological glory of the way male and female complement one another in God’s good creation (Gen 1:31) is reflected in the terms used for male and female in Genesis 1:27. Here’s an embed from Google Books showing the TDOT entry on zachar, the term used for “male” in Genesis 1:27–the relevant portion is in the first full paragraph, beginning with “The etymology,” and be sure to read the third full paragraph as well on the Genesis 1:27 term for “female”:
The language Moses chose to use reinforces what Bible readers have always concluded from these texts: God made man male and female, and he intended them to complement one another. The correspondence between them is built into the biological specifics of what God made and reflected in the linguistic realities of the biblical text.
However the culture might try to redefine sexuality and gender roles, God’s creation is clearly seen, and his word is firmly fixed.
Thanks to Andy Naselli, you can read the last page of With the Clouds of Heaven: The Book of Daniel in Biblical Theology online. Check it out.
And the first review I’ve seen is in an Australian Christian Newspaper called New Life (on page 15). Naturally, I disagree with him where he disagrees with me (because that’s what we do, isn’t it?), but I’m thankful for the positive review.
This poem comes at the moving conclusion of Andrew Peterson’s fourth and final book in the Wingfeather Saga, The Warden and the Wolf King:
The world is whispering–listen child!–
The world is telling a tale.
When the seafoam froths in the water wild
Or the fendril flies in the gale,
When the sky is mad with the swirling storm
And thunder shakes the hall,
Child, keep watch for the passing form
Of the one who made it all.
Listen, child to the Hollish wind,
To the hush of heather down,
To the voice of the brook at the stony bend
And the bells of Rysentown.
The dark of the heart is a darkness deep
And the sweep of the night is wide
And the pain of the heart when the people weep
Is an overwhelming tide–
And yet! and yet! when the tide runs low
As the tide will always do
And the heavy sky where the bellows blow
Is bright at last, and blue
And the sun ascends in the quiet morn
And the sorrow sinks away,
When the veil of death and dark is torn
Asunder by the day,
Then the light of love is the flame of spring
And the flow of the river strong
And the hope of the heart as the people sing
Is an everlasting song.
The winter is whispering, “green and gold,”
And the heart is whispering, too–
It’s a story the Maker has always told
And the story, my child, is true.
We think so highly of this poem that Andrew Peterson somehow got Armulyn the Bard to write for him that we’re memorizing it together.
Our family relished the re-read-aloud of the first three volumes in preparation for the fourth, and the capstone did not disappoint. My oldest son has read the first three volumes so many times that when we read back through them, I would finish a chapter, and he would tell me the title of the next! We had to put contact paper over the cover of the third book because it was worn out from use. I’m pretty confident that before long this fourth volume will look as books do when they’re constantly in the hands of young readers. Binding no longer crisp and tight, dust jacket torn and loose fitting, pages softened and browned at the edges. Books are beautiful when they’re new, but well-used books earn another kind of beauty: the love they’ve been shown gives them a velveteen rabbit kind of grandeur. (A fitting comparison/compliment, don’t you think, for the proprietor of The Rabbit Room who writes books whose covers have to be held together by contact paper?)
We praise God for Andrew Peterson. The Lord has used his music and his fiction to bless and deepen our lives. If you haven’t read the Wingfeather Saga series, you should.
Mike Wittmer, a fellow premillennialist, once asked me what the millennium does. Why is it there?
As I was pondering the Big Story of the Bible in preparation to preach an overview kind of sermon recently, the thought began to take shape in my head that the millennium provides another point of contact–a typological point of contact–between Adam and Jesus. Consider the parallels:
Adam was in the undefiled garden, living before God in Eden. The garden was invaded and defiled by Satan. Adam and Eve did not withstand the temptation but sinned and were expelled from God’s presence.
In Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 Paul discusses the way that Adam was a type of the one to come, Jesus, whose obedience would match and overcome Adam’s disobedience. Paul also makes clear that whereas in Adam all die, in Christ all shall be made alive.
In his first coming, Jesus obeyed where Adam disobeyed and gave life where Adam gave death.
At his second coming (Rev 19), Jesus will cleanse the land of the serpent and his seed, restoring creation to an Eden-like state. The thousand year reign of Christ in Revelation 20:4–6 matches the thousand year life-spans of Adam and other pre-flood figures (cf. Gen 5).
Having reigned for a thousand years in an undefiled, cleansed creation, Jesus gets another chance to succeed where Adam failed. Adam lived in undefiled purity and innocence but sinned at Satan’s instigation. Having established a millennial kingdom, a golden age of undefiled innocence, Jesus has subdued the earth, filling and ruling over it as God commanded Adam to do, when Satan is released from the pit (Rev 20:7).
We are not told where Cain got his wife at the beginning, and we are not told where Satan got his followers at the end. But we can see a clear contrast between Adam and Jesus:
Adam in Eden failed to stand before the Satanic revolt. He sinned and was exiled from God’s presence.
Christ at the end of the millennium will stand fast against the Satanic revolt. He will conquer and bring about the new heaven and new earth, the new Jerusalem, the new and better Eden.
It seems, then, that the point of the millennium is to begin the renewal of creation that will be completed once Christ has triumphed in circumstances similar to those under which Adam was conquered. Adam sinned in Eden, but Jesus will overcome Satan at the end of the edenic millennium. Whereas Adam was driven from the garden, the conquest of Christ opens the way for the edening of all creation, in fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose.
“No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Rev 22:3–5).
In the mystery of God’s providence, we have the efforts of Ezra and Nehemiah to thank for our Savior’s birth, life, death, and resurrection. God saved us through Jesus, and we see God’s sovereignty in tension with human responsibility as we consider how Ezra and Nehemiah worked to ensure that there would be a Joseph and a Mary so there could be a Jesus. They didn’t know that would be his name, but it was concern for him, hope for him, that drew Ezra and Nehemiah back to the Scriptures, kept them on their knees, compelled them to call the people to repent, and caused them to seek the rebuilding of people and wall.
Is there anything more important than the Bible? Jesus said Scripture can’t be broken, and he prayed that the Father would sanctify his people in the truth, then said, “Thy word is truth.”
God’s people need God’s word.
The word doesn’t work like a magic formula, however. We don’t just pass our eyes over a meaningless series of symbols. No, for the word to work it has to be understood.
To understand the Bible we need biblical theology.
Why? Because biblical theology enables us to understand the trees as they stand in the forest, and it enables us to see the shape of the forest formed by all those trees.
Biblical theology helps us see how the biblical authors understood the Scriptures and their own situations. Biblical theology shines the light on how later authors picked up the storyline started by earlier authors of Scripture, summarizing and interpreting it in their use of symbolism, imagery, typology, and significant patterns.
God has spoken to us in his word. We want to understand what he has said. God’s people need to hear his voice.
Are your ears trained to hear him?
We want to do biblical theology because we want to know God and love God’s people by giving them the fullness of what God has revealed in our preaching and teaching.
Join us at the next SBTS Alumni Academy for two days (Jan 8–9, 2015) of biblical theology. If we are to teach the nations to obey everything Jesus said, we have to understand what it means.
Register here, that all the ends of the earth might fear the Lord.
I love Jason Duesing’s writing. I started to excerpt his first and last paragraphs, then urge you to go read the whole thing.
I decided not to excerpt them because they are so much more powerful in the context of the whole.
If you wonder what seminaries have to do with taking the gospel to the unreached, you MUST read this.
If you wonder why we should go to the unreached, you MUST read this.
The gospel is the only hope the lost have. If they perish without Christ, consider what they face.
Read. Reflect. Pray. Go. Send.
Christ comes soon.
Broadman and Holman allowed me to put an excerpt of my new book on Ezra–Nehemiah on Christianity.com. The chapter excerpted deals with how to live a wartime lifestyle on a millionaire’s budget. Here’s a bit:
Can you imagine slaughtering an ox a day? I don’t know how big Nehemiah’s herd of oxen was, but he referred to a twelve year period of time in 5:14. Twelve years multiplied by 365 days per year is 4,380 oxen. He either had a herd big enough to sustain that or he had the money to buy that many oxen. He also slaughtered six sheep per day, and in twelve years that’s 26,280 sheep.
This is enormous wealth. Nehemiah trusted God and loved God’s people, so he did not exploit the privileges of his office. But I see no indication at all that he felt the slightest bit guilty about having the means to sacrifice an ox, six sheep, and enjoy “all kinds of wine in abundance” every ten days (Neh 5:18). There are poor people in the land. Nehemiah does not give any indication that he feels wrong about being extravagantly wealthy while others are poor.
The rest is here.
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