Saturday Sillies

If Mexicans celebrated the 4th like Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Happy 4th of July to my fellow Americans!

Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Second Letter to the Corinthians (Logos Edition)

Mark A. Seifrid. The Second Letter to the Corinthians.  Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014. 579 pp. $50.00.
Logos | Amazon

2 Cor SeifridThe Pillar New Testament Commentary series is one of the best mid-range commentary series. Written by some of the finest NT scholars of our day, these commentaries are informed by the most rigorous scholarship but avoid the overly technical details that might not interest the typical preacher, teacher, and interested lay reader. One of the newest volumes in the series is Mark Seifrid’s contribution on 2 Corinthians. I love this series and every new volume catches my attention, but I was especially excited for this volume because I have tremendous appreciation for Seifrid’s work as a Pauline scholar. I am grateful to Logos Bible Software for providing a review copy of the Logos edition, and will comment very briefly on the commentary itself before moving on to the unique benefits of having this commentary in Logos.

In the introduction, Seifrid first provides a background into what prompted Paul to write 1 Corinthians, themes therein that impact the interpretation of 2 Corinthians, and the issue that prompted the writing of 2 Corinthians. Next, Seifrid offers some brief comments on the vexing issues of Paul’s opponents in Corinth and the purpose of 2 Corinthians. Here, he argues that a minimal mirror-reading of the opponents is best and that “[i]t is the Corinthian misunderstanding of the apostle and the Gospel that is finally at the center of the argument” (xxix). He subsequently addresses the integrity of 2 Corinthians and contends that although the theory of it being a composite letter should not be rejected outright, it is not likely to be true. The introduction concludes with a few comments on the theology of the letter. Whereas some commentaries begin with an overly lengthy and technical introduction (~100 pages) that can be difficult for nonacademic readers to plow through, Seifrid’s introduction in this volume suffers from the opposite by being too brief. At a mere ten pages in a commentary proper of 500 pages, it would have been appropriate and helpful to have a more robust introduction. The introduction would have benefited on a more detailed treatment in any of the four sections, but especially in the theology section. Here Seifrid offers brief comments on the fundamental issue at stake, namely, the marks of a true apostle. I found it surprising that clear themes in the letter (such as salvation) were not noted and expounded upon.

In terms of the commentary proper, it’s in general more theological than is typical. And because it is theological, it should be a surprise that his own theological position at times comes through. One place this can be strongly seen is in his treatment of 2 Corinthians 5:21. Here Seifrid describes Paul understanding of reconciliation to God as forensic (260), Christ’s “place-taking” as exclusive and substitutionary (262), and the righteousness of God as “simultaneously God’s act of judgment and the justification of God” (264). Interestingly for Protestants, Seifrid notes that Paul’s language of justification here “cannot rightly be reduced to the area of an imputed righteousness. He speaks of the human being created anew in Christ” (265, italics original). He goes on to make two concluding observations from the above points. First, while stressing that for Paul justification is extrinsic and forensic, Seifrid warns against the Protestant error of wrongly assuming that justification becomes the Christian’s inherent possession. “Justification is not found in a bare declaration (which must be believed to be effective, in any case) but in a relation, an apprehension or grasping of the crucified and risen Christ” (266, italics original). The second observation Seifrid makes is that the usual Protestant understanding of justification as the imputation of Christ’s righteousness must be grounded in a more comprehensive understanding of salvation. Interestingly, Seifrid gives preference to union with Christ over and against an ordo salutis as the construct in which justification is to be located.

Because most commentaries are grounded on exegesis and largely neglect theology, the more theological nature of Seifrid’s commentary on 2 Corinthians can be seen as a strength. This commentary is a worthy addition to the library of any serious lay student of the Bible, as well as teachers, preachers, and even scholars. Most would benefit a more exegetical and technical commentary in addition to this one, such as George Guthrie’s volume in BECNT (currently in pre-pub status on Logos, which means you can get it for cheaper than what the price will be once it’s fully funded).

Why Logos?
It was just a mere months ago that I was a full print snob, including for commentaries. But I’ve come a long way recently in seeing the value of being able to access your books anywhere, especially commentaries and academic books. But there are many varieties of digital books; what makes Logos stand out? It is the power of a Logos library and the way all your resources are connected. I’ll admit that I can’t resist a good Kindle deal here and there, but for the most part I now try to keep my digital book purchases to Logos so that every new digital book purchase is added to the Logos system and increases the power of my library. If you own a resource that is referenced, you can either hover over the resource for which a pop-up of the cited text will display, or you can click on the resource which will open it in a new tab in Logos. Of course, the flip side is that if you buy a book in the future that references this commentary, you will be able to reap the benefits of being able to access the cited portions with two clicks.

In the screenshot below (click to enlarge the picture) I had clicked on footnote 15 and then clicked on 1 Clem. 47:1-7 within the footnote. You can see that Logos opened 1 Clem. 47 in a new tab. This feature is more valuable for academic books since they have way more footnotes and citations.

Logos 2 Cor Footnote

Of course, you might not be reading this commentary cover-to-cover or coming directly to a particular portion of the commentary. You  might be studying a particular passage of 2 Corinthians using the “Passage Guide,” in which case this volume would show up in the “Commentaries” section. I think these are the two main features that would distinguish a Logos commentary from commentaries on other digital platforms. Watch the video below for some unique things you can do with Logos commentaries. You can also check out the video here for information specific to the Pillar New Testament Commentary series.

Thanks to Logos Bible Software for the review copy!

Purchase: Logos | Amazon


SBL 2015 – Tentative Schedule

As a first-time attendee, choosing sessions is painfully difficult; in just about every time slot there are several sessions I’d love to attend. So this isn’t really a tentative schedule because there are several time slots for which I have not been able to make a decision. Feel free to chime in and help me decide :) I’ll be at part of ETS as well, so if anyone else is also attending both and would like to hang out in the “in between” time, let me know! I do plan to attend a few IBR sessions on Friday if they’re open to the public

Saturday, Nov. 21

8:15AM – 9:00 AM
Annual Meeting Orientation (Hosted by the Student Advisory Board)

9:00AM – 11:30 AM
Review session of Paul within Judaism (ed. Nanos & Zetterholm)


Portraits of Jesus in the Gospel of John with Craig Koester, Graham Twelftree, Tom Thatcher, Matthew Novenson, and Alicia Myers.

11:45AM – 12:45 PM
SBL Women Student Members Networking Session

1:00PM – 3:30PM (this one’s really tough)
A Review of the John, Jesus and History Project (with the likes of Helen Bond and Mark Goodacre)

Reviews of J. A. Harrill, Paul the Apostle and M. Novenson, Christ Among the Messiahs (with luminaries such as John Barclay and Paula Friedrickson)

Trinity in/and the Bible (includes Matthew Bates and Wesley Hill!)

4:00PM – 7:00PM
IBR Scripure and Doctrine Seminar


Letters of James, Peter, and Jude in the Context of Second Temple Jewish Literature

7:00PM – 8:00 PM
SBL Presidential Address

Sunday, Nov. 22

9:00AM – 11:30AM
Blogger and Online Publication section


Jesus Remembered in the Johannine Situation – Jewish-Johannine and Roman-Johannine Dialogues

Student Lounge Roundtable – Maximizing Your Time

Orthodoxy and Heresy Reconsidered (Extent of Theological Diversity in Earliest Christianity)


Paul, Poverty, and the Powers (Pauline Soteriology)

4:00PM-6:30PM (again, really tough. lots of good sessions here)

A Preposition You Can’t Refuse
Panel Review of Michael Gorman’s Becoming the Gospel
Theology and Ethics in Hebrews
Paul in the Second Century

Monday, Nov. 23

7:00AM – 9:00AM
SBL Women Members Breakfast

9:00AM – 11:30

Intertextuality, Rhetorical Criticism, and the Pauline Letters
For Paul, Do Jews Have to Become Christians to be Saved?
Panel Review of John Barclay’s Paul and the Gift

11:00AM – 12:45PM
What I’m Telling My Graduate Students (hosted by the Student Advisory Board)

Panel Review of Francis Watson’s Gospel Writing (Joel Willitts, Mark Goodacre, Richard Burridge, Jonathan Pennington, and Jens Schroeter!!!!)

4:00PM – 6:30PM
Panel discussion of Larry Hurtado’s 2013 JTS Paper “Interactive Diversity: A Proposed Model of Christian Origins”

Tuesday, Nov. 24

Scripture and Eschatology in 1 Corinthians (Matthew Malcolm, BWIII, Roy Ciampa, Craig Keener, Linda Belville!! I had actually been leaning towards leaving Monday evening, until I saw Dr. Malcolm’s post about this session).

Well, there you have it! I still have a few decisions to make before my first annual Bible Nerd Fest :)

Interpreting the Prophetic Books: An Exegetical Handbook (Gary V. Smith)

Gary V. Smith. Interpreting the Prophetic Books: An Exegetical Handbook. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2014. 224 pp. $22.99

Interpreting the Prophetic BooksThe Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis from Kregel Academic is a six-volume series (with two volumes yet to be released) designed primarily to help seminary students and pastors exegete and preach from the Old Testament. Each volume covers one of the major genres found in the OT (narrative, law, poetry, wisdom, prophecy, and apocalyptic) and follows a similar six-chapter structure from introducing the genre all the way to putting together a sermon. In the latest addition to the series, Gary V. Smith offers a primer on interpreting the prophetic books of the OT.

The first chapter provides an orientation to the genre of prophetic literature by providing an overview of the three temporal categories of prophecy (narrative, eschatological, and apocalyptic) and the genres according to which prophecies in these three categories were organized (judgment speech, covenant lawsuit, trial speech, disputation, oracle against foreign nations, woe oracle, summons to repent, salvation oracle, proclamation of salvation, sign acts, hymns, and visions). Because most prophecies are written in the form of poetry, Smith also spends some time on two key characteristics of Hebrew poetry: parallelism and imagery. Chapter 2 briefly highlights the main themes of each prophetic book and notes the common themes across the entire genre (e.g. God’s wisdom and sovereignty, His covenant relationship with Israel, oracles of judgment and promises of salvation, the coming Messianic King, and the eschatological day of the Lord). In chapter 3, Smith introduces the basic skills and tools necessary to prepare for faithful interpretation of the prophetic books. He provides an overview of the historical setting, introduces the false prophecies of the ancient Near East, and briefly addresses how to use textual criticism and biblical commentaries.

With the preliminary groundwork in place, the next chapter provides an overview of the interpretive process, focusing on six key interpretive issues in prophetic texts that deal with the future: whether a text is literal or metaphorical, whether it’s limited by its context, whether it’s conditional or unconditional, whether it’s about the near or far future, difficulties between a prophecy and its fulfillment in the NT, and the difficulty of some prophecies not being fulfilled. Next, chapter 5 addresses sermon preparation, discussing “how we can systematically move from an inspired prophetic message to an inspirational sermon that will change the lives of people today” (143-144). Finally, chapter 6 provides two examples to demonstrate how the process taught in this book work practically. Here Smith takes first Isaiah 31:1-9 and then Jeremiah 23:1-8, working step by step through the process outlined in the previous chapter.

Interpreting the Prophetic Books is a helpful primer on studying and preaching/teaching the  prophetic books. For those unfamiliar with this portion of the canon and/or the process from study to sermon, this book provides a helpful guide to the main features of the genre of prophecy, key tools for interpretation, and a step-by-step guide to crafting a sermon. It’s an excellent guide for the beginning Bible student/teacher/preacher as well as the layperson serious about studying the Bible. Those more advanced will likely not pick up any new insight and will at many points long for more detail and depth. But the book cannot be faulted for brevity since the aim of the series is to provide short introductory handbooks. Nevertheless, the brevity is especially stark in this volume since it covers such a huge portion of the OT (17 books!) in around 200 pages, whereas the other volumes in the series cover much fewer books.

Thanks to Kregel Academic for the review copy!

Purchase: Amazon



Common Grace and the Gospel (Cornelius Van Til, K. Scott Oliphint ed.)

Cornelius Van Til. Common Grace and the Gospel. Ed. K. Scott Oliphint. 2nd ed. Philllipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2015. 328 pp. $17.99.

CGIn this second edition of Van Til’s 1972 volume Common Grace and the Gospel, Van Til expert Dr. K. Scott Oliphint offers a helpful and lengthy foreword and clarifying footnotes that illuminate this important work and provide a valuable aid for its comprehension, especially for those less familiar with Van Til’s thought. Van Til is probably most known for epistemology and apologetics, yet Oliphint in the foreword notes that “the foundation for everything Van Til sets forth is his thoroughly biblical and Reformed theology” (vii). Furthermore, Van Til begins his thinking about everything, including common grace, with the ontological trinity; “the reality of God as God must be the assumption and controlling reality behind everything else that is said” (ix, emphasis original). Oliphint spends the bulk of the foreword explaining and discussing the three themes that permeate Common Grace and the Gospel: fearless anthropomorphism, concrete thinking, and limiting concepts.

Read the full post »

A New Blogging Venture

I’m excited to announce that I have just joined the team at Exegetical Tools. Check out the announcement over there, browse the site, and subscribe or add it to your feedreader! If you enjoy my site then I’m sure you’ll enjoy Exegetical Tools. You’ll see some things similar to my content, but it’s more polished and professional (since I often do more casual posts). The contributors all hold degrees in biblical studies and are working on postgraduate degrees, so I’m feeling a bit of “imposter syndrome” (it’s good practice for ETS/SBL, right?). In addition to regularly highlighting academic books in biblical studies and providing quality book reviews, Exegetical Tools is working on resources for learning and retaining the biblical languages. I do hope to see the site become a sort of an evangelical hub for biblical studies, and I’m excited to be a part of it. So subscribe to the site and share it with all your nerdy friends :D

Women Biblical Scholars – Guest Post

I was honored to have been invited by Women Biblical Scholars to contribute an autobiographical guest post highlighting how I became interested in biblical studies, who/what nurtured my passion and studies, and where I’m going. I was a bit squeamish about it because I don’t like writing about myself and am rather terrible at it, but I was very honored because this site is doing fantastic work highlighting the work of female biblical scholars. I regularly read the interviews they post and watch the videos they share. All who are interested in biblical studies in general should subscribe to Women Biblical Scholars (because the work they highlight is good work, period), but especially those interested in the work of women in the biblical studies guild.

I’d like to highlight something I forgot to mention in the post because it is a significant piece of my “academic” journey, and now that I’m a member of SBL and going to the annual meeting this fall it’s a bit funny and interesting. In the guest post I mention that my first brush with theology and biblical studies happened through internet searches. That is indeed true. I had had no exposure to Christianity before my “Damascus Road experience,” so I knew nothing about Christianity. Later on when I realized how much wacko stuff there was on the internet (in general, of course, but specifically in this case, related to Christianity) I marveled at how God had protected me and how it was a miracle that I had not lost my faith or become a heretic.

There was another experience, also within my first year as a Christian, that could have produced the same result. Right after I became a Christian it was time to sign up for the next semester’s courses, and I was shocked and elated that there was going to be a course on Christian Origins and New Testament. Since I was, obviously, at a secular university, I could not believe that there was going to be a course on Christianity. Of course at that time I was not aware of critical scholarship, and I assumed that everyone who studied the Bible (academically) was Christian. Well, this was the type of course that’s a bit of a boogyman among evangelicals – the kind of course that sometimes turns Christians away from the faith and/or turns them into liberals. Again, in later reflection I was profoundly grateful for the Lord preserving my faith. Not only that, but this secular NT course can in large part be credited with my bible-nerdery. Now that I’m a member of SBL, in this sense things have come full circle. What triggered this memory is that the preliminary annual meeting program recently became available online, and I saw that professor’s name under a board meeting.

Anyway, if you’d like to read more about my path from atheist to wannabe biblical scholar, check out the post on Women Biblical Scholars.

Saturday Sillies – Where are you REALLY from?

This video went semi-viral a while back, but for some reason it’s making a small comeback on Facebook so I thought I’d post it here for those who haven’t seen it. It’s hilarious. And it’s brilliant. I have a killer British accent, so if you ask me where I’m really from, you just might get this response :P

Conference Season 2015 – An Announcement and Poll

I received word earlier today that I won the SBTS ETS Women’s Scholarship. I initially did not enter because I assumed it was just for SBTS students, but then a few weeks ago I received a direct message from them on Twitter encouraging me to apply. Well, I’m very glad that happened! And I’m very honored to have been chosen. Thanks for running this scholarship, SBTS!

A few weeks ago I posted that I’d be going to SBL for sure, but was still unsure about ETS. Well, of course now I’m going! So I need to decide what to skip, because going to the entirety of both SBL and ETS would require skipping Tuesday classes twice, which I think would be a bad idea. But I will include it in the poll for kicks. The main decision I’m trying to make is whether to miss the first day of ETS or the last day of SBL. I’d especially like input from those who have attended both meetings. Please do also comment if you have good reasons for your choice of what I should do. Thanks! And see ya’ll in Atlanta :)

A Unique Online Learning Opportunity

Have you had a desire for formal theological education, but do not have the means to pause your life for a few years and move to a different city/state? While many seminaries are starting to develop online courses and degree programs, recently Ridley Online caught my eye. For those not familiar with Ridley College, it is a leading evangelical institution in Australia with certificate as well as undergraduate and graduate programs. It is the home of many internationally renowned scholars past (e.g. Leon Morris) and present (e.g. Michael Bird, Brian Rosner). I imagine it to be similar to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in the way it combines academic rigor  with ministry focus; world-class scholarship in service of the worldwide Church and mission to the lost seems to be at the heart of its ethos.

So, why did Ridley Online catch my eye recently when I’m already “taken” (I’ll be starting an M.Div at TEDS this fall)? It’s because I saw a Facebook post from Ridley with a picture of Craig Blomberg. Soon after I saw one with Lynn Cohick. These are renowned NT scholars who do not teach at Ridley (the former is at Denver Seminary and the latter at Wheaton). With every other online program I’ve seen, all the courses are taught by the faculty of that institution. That’s expected. That’s normal. For me, if I was going to do online, I’d pick the school with the best professors. On that basis alone, Ridley would be high in the running. But with Ridley Online, in addition to Ridley’s own world-class faculty you would get to take classes from internationally renowned professors from other institutions, such as Jesus and the Gospels with Craig Blomberg.

So, even though Ridley Online is not an option for me, I wanted to check it out. There are currently two sample lessons available to try: one from Interpreting Old Testament Poetry with Dr. Andrew Abernethy and another from Paul and Corinthian Christianity with Dr. Brian Rosner. I did both, and one common feature of the video lectures is engaging, clear content with helpful written elements on the video and no distracting elements. From the website, below are the general elements across all online courses:

  • video input from the main teacher, addressing key points or demonstrating skills
  • guided reading expectations and resources
  • individual reflection and learning activities
  • interactive elements, such as discussion forums that allow you to connect with other students and with teachers.

The first lecture from the Paul and Corinthian Christianity sample is a sweeping overview of the cross and 1 Corinthians. In the screenshot from this lecture (below) you can see how the lecture videos are not just the professor speaking, but superimpose Powerpoint elements to aid learning. The text below identifies the five characteristics of Paul’s apocalyptic thinking as identified in Douglas Harink’s Paul Among the Postliberals.


Following this video is a lecture transcript and a learning exercise (with reading, word-study, and a written summary assigned. The OT Poetry sample lesson has a quiz instead of these exercises, showing a diversity of learning activities and evaluations). There is also a link to a discussion board. The next two videos are exegetical demonstrations on 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, the first being English exegesis and the second being Greek. This allows the student to choose what suits them based on language skills. The introductory material at the beginnings of these two videos are identical. After the introductory material you see a manuscript on screen as Dr. Rosner walks/talks/marks through the text. Below are screenshots from the ends of the exegesis videos.

Eng Ex

Grk Ex

At the end of this sample lesson are suggestions for further reading.

I was very impressed with the sample lesson. Mike Bird said a while back that Ridley Online would be “gucci to the max”, and it has lived up to that description. In addition to quality video lectures, learning activities and evaluations, online discussions with fellow students well as professors, Ridley as a whole (and by extension Ridley Online) recently developed a partnership with Logos Bible Software (check out the Ridley Logos Library). The extremely well-done online content, the opportunity to study with the some of the best scholars in the world (both from Ridley and beyond), the prestige of the Ridley name, as well as its ministry focus make Ridley Online an ideal avenue through with to pursue online theological education at your own pace, in your own context. Try the sample lesson here, and find out more about Ridley Online here.

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