Book Review: Handy Guide to NT Greek

Handy GuideIt is with thanks to the kind folks at Kregel Academic that I have the chance to do this review of Doug Huffman’s  (Biola) The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek: Grammar, Syntax, and Diagramming (The Handy Guide Series) (Greek Edition) (2013).

As I see it, this little book (112 pages and 7.4 x 5.1 x 0.3 in) is somewhat the NT Greek “equivalent” of Ron Williams’ Hebrew Syntax book.  Both, in my estimation should be on the pastors desk pretty much at all times.

This book is for that pastor or bible teacher, even student who has completed at least one year of Greek and is into their second year and beyond as a support to busy pastors and teachers as a “useful tool and a ready reference” to encourage continued study of NT Greek beyond seminary and or Bible college life.  Its sized to be of similar size to the GNT (either UBS or NA) so that it would basically always be attached to it (more or less).  It is not a grammar and not intended to replace a grammar but to supplement personal study of the GNT and or aide in teaching or preaching preparation.  This is assuming pastors and teachers are working directly from the GNT.  Again, this Handy Guide presumes rudimentary knowledge of NT Greek and is designed for review and further study of grammar, syntax and or diagramming.

The book is laid out in 3 parts: Part 1 covers “Greek Grammar Reminders” (with enough English to be managable). This section basically gives a rundown of what one might see in a standard grammar yet in a very simplified form and basic explanations that go with each of the major categories such as with Nouns, Adjectives, Adverbs, First, Second, Third declensions, etc.  Charts abound throughout as well for all the various paradigms.

Part two summarizes Greek syntax in the form of “usage guides” for the various cases (for example).  As an example, for the Aroist, he lists constative, ingressive, culminative, epistolary, proleptic, dramatic, gnomic.  So in a way it is a super selective and compact version of Wallace’s GGBB.

Part three covers phrase diagramming.  The general purpose of diagramming is to better understand the flow of thought in any given passage under study.  Huffman covers technical, phrase, semantic and arching diagramming.

It really is a useful tool and ready reference and I would say don’t hesitate to pick it up and if I were to teach second year Greek or higher, I would certainly consider this a required text.

Blessings,

Book Sale: Zondervan’s Counterpoint series

For a LIMITED time (til the end of February), Zondervan has its Counterpoints in Bible and Theology series on a $3.79-$3.99 sale for Kindle users!! And…  they are all in one way or another well worth the thinking Christian’s time and money.

Here might be some of the more pertinent ones (IMO):

Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?: 4 Views (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Three Views on Creation and Evolution (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Four Views on the Historical Adam (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Four Views on the Book of Revelation (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Four Views on Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

I hope you get a couple and read them and learn from them!  -Blessings.

on Pentecostal Hermeneutics

For those who may be wondering how Pentecostals go about interpreting the Bible – the Assemblies of God’s Enrichment Journal, which goes out quarterly to all licensed and ordained ministers in the Assemblies, but that can also be viewed online, has an article (written about 10 years ago) by Roger Stronstad summarizing different elements or currents trends of Pentecostal Hermeneutics.  I hadn’t seen it so it was interesting even for me to read – I was familiar with some of it but not all of it.  lol.

In the article you’ll see one call the “pragmatic” hermeneutic.  This portion gives you a little bit of history as to how the whole thing got started, well, at least a key even that seemed to really catapult the movement forward in a significant way.  There were workings of the Holy Spirit going on all over the world at the time, but this and other events leading to the Azusa Revival seem to be the most well known.   It is interesting too that this is listed first in the summary because really, the heart of Pentecostal theology, which can be really diverse with no one single simple definition, is pragmatics (used here in the sense of relating to practical considerations).  In too many ways, its both a good and a bad thing.

Here is an excerpt:

As Martin Luther is the fountainhead of Lutheranism, John Calvin of Reformed Theology, and John Wesley of Methodism, so Charles F. Parham stands as the fountainhead of Pentecostalism. Parham was not the first to speak in tongues. In one sense that honor goes to Miss Agnes N. Ozman.  In another sense, the birth of the Pentecostal movement is the climax to the growing swell of charismatic experiences among various revival and Apostolic Faith movements. What makes Charles F. Parham the father of Pentecostalism, Topeka, Kansas, the locus of Pentecostalism, and Agnes Ozman, the first Pentecostal, is not the uniqueness of this experience, but the new hermeneutical/biblical understanding of this experience.

Charles F. Parham bequeathed to the Pentecostal movement its definitive hermeneutics, and consequently, its definitive theology and apologetics. His contribution arose out of the problem of the interpretation of the second chapter of Acts and his conviction that Christian experience in the 20th century “should tally exactly with the Bible, [but] neither sanctification nor the anointing that abideth … tallied with the 2nd chapter of Acts.” Consequently he reports, “I set the students at work studying out diligently what was the Bible evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost that we might go before the world with something that was indisputable because it tallied absolutely with the Word.” He tells the results of their investigation in the following words: “Leaving the school for three days at this task, I went to Kansas City for three days services. I returned to the school on the morning preceding Watch Night service in the year 1900.

“At about 10:00 o’clock in the morning I rang the bell calling all the students into the Chapel to get their report on the matter in hand. To my astonishment they all had the same story, that while there were different things occurring when the Pentecostal blessing fell, the indisputable proof on each occasion was, that they spoke with other tongues.”5

In Parham’s report we find the essential distinctives of the Pentecostal movement, namely, (1) the conviction that contemporary experience should be identical to apostolic Christianity, (2) the separation of the baptism in the Holy Spirit from sanctification (as Holiness movements had earlier separated it from conversion/incorporation), and (3) that tongues speaking is the indisputable evidence or proof of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Well, be that as it may, I find it all very interesting and really, given the context, I don’t think you can really blame Parham for wanting to know what was the source of the Apostles zeal.  I think too his quest for “Bible evidence” is evident of the times he lived in – people were big then on wanting empirical evidence for things and in this case it morphed a bit in to wanting “physical” evidence for knowing without a doubt one is in fact baptized in the Holy Spirit.  Agree or disagree with this approach, I don’t think we can fault them for that.  He was a man of his time really.  And this is really the root of much Pentecostal theology and understanding of Spirit Baptism – that there is going to be “evidence” for it.

Well, feel free to give it a read and or let me know what you think.

Blessings,

Dave Black on Matt 6:33

Dave Black reflected on his blog about what Jesus might have meant when he said “seek first the kingdom of God.”  I thought it was really good and wanted to share with you here:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

7:15 AM Jesus repeatedly emphasized that following Him meant radically changing our priorities. What did He mean when He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God”? Here are some ideas:

1) Seek first the kingdom of God vocationally. Ask tough questions about your employment. Are you where God wants you to be? If so, are you using your occupation to advance God’s kingdom?

2) Seek first the kingdom of God maritally. Have a Great Commission Marriage. Put the kingdom first in your married and family life.

3) Seek first the kingdom of God geographically. The issue of where we live has everything to do with the kingdom. Let’s be open to God’s guidance. Unlike our secular counterparts, we can no longer select a place to live based merely on comfort, affordability, good schools, etc.

4) Seek first the kingdom of God ecclesiologically. I strongly urge you to find a church home that shares your urgency for the kingdom and global missions. Traditional wisdom dictates that we are to seek a church on the basis of buildings, programs, convenience, and, regrettably, personalities. As a result, church life becomes inwardly-focused, and we fail to become the presence of the kingdom in society. When Becky and I joined our church in Roxboro, NC, we did so largely because of its clear and consistent vision to be a part of the kingdom initiative of God. It seeks to manifest the values of Jesus’ upside-kingdom. It gives high priority to missions. Our goal is to strive as authentically as  possible to incarnate the life and teachings of Jesus in our corporate and individual lives.

5) Seek first the kingdom of God financially. Jesus calls us to avoid the rat race of consumerism and materialism. Let’s reexamine our lifestyles to see how we can free up dollars for the kingdom.

6) Seek first the kingdom of God physically. Obesity and self-indulgence characterize many American evangelicals. It never occurs to us that avoiding overeating is a way to serve the kingdom. As disciples we are called to set aside physical comfort and devote our bodies to God as living sacrifices. I struggle constantly to keep my weight under control. But I must maintain good physical condition if I am to be able to walk long distances in Ethiopia.

7) Seek first the kingdom of God ministerially. Every believer is a fulltime “minister.” Churches can do much more to utilize qualified volunteers who essentially pay themselves to serve. We must change the emphasis in our churches from hiring professional staff to equipping “laypeople” to be the church.

8) Seek first the kingdom of God institutionally. Let’s ask, “How can we use our corporate resources most effectively and sacrificially for the kingdom?” Take our church buildings. Surely we can do a better job in constructing and utilizing church properties so as to channel more resources into missions and service to the needy. I once read of a congregation of 4,000 in Oregon that, instead of building a new sanctuary, established a separate corporation to build a self-supporting convention hall that the church uses free of charge. Another example: Missionary organizations can separate overhead costs from money raised for missionaries. In other words, money contributed to missionary causes would go entirely to these causes, while all overhead costs (including salaries for executives) would be raised separately.

9) Seek first the kingdom of God intellectually. Has Christ’s lordship had any effect on your thought life? What you read? Your attitudes? Sometimes it is easier to read books about the Scriptures than to read the Scriptures themselves. What makes us think that commentaries or websites are more important than the Word of God? We neglect the Bible to our own peril. I often remind my students that 99 percent of what I know about God and the Christian life I learned from reading my Bible rather than books about the Bible. God does not ask us to forego reading books by human authors (goodness, I’ve written my share of them), but His lordship is not visible in our lives until we prioritize His Word.

These are some practical ways by which we can seek first the kingdom of God. I’m sure many others could be mentioned. Seeking first the kingdom of God means that our time, our money, our very selves are available to God, to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to the world. It’s not a matter of simply attending church or participating in endless rounds of programs. It’s about changing the world by becoming what Jesus intended the church to be: a servant to the world. “The church is only the church when it exists for others,” said Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Christ calls us to pour our lives into the needy world that surrounds us. He promises us that as we do this, we will find that His yoke of service is easy and His burden is light. If you live this way, you will find His promise — as Becky and I have — to be true.

I’ll tell ya, I really like how Dave thinks!  To be sure, he is such a blessing to those who know him, are in his classes and or read his blog.

Blessings,

Neufeld thoughts on the Revelation

Henry Neufeld taught recently on the book of Revelation and shared some of his reflections about that experience:

  1. I’m more convinced than ever that we need to read Revelation more for theology and spiritual growth and less for trying to lay out timelines for the end of the world. I find good theology and good principles in many of these passages even if we continue to disagree on the specific referents.

  2. I have a great deal of sympathy for the preterist position, even though that is not precisely what I believe. Symbols generally do find credible referents in the immediate time and place. The problem with the preterist position, in my view, is that it is easy to leave all the book’s other lessons in the past as well. Revelation spoke to its own time, but it also speaks to the future.

  3. Revelation is possibly the most violent book in the New Testament. But it’s not about the violence. It’s about God’s faithfulness.

  4. Revelation is an unfolding of the gospel. It begins with Jesus with his church/people, and it ends with Jesus with his people. The rest assures God’s people that God is paying attention and is with them even when he doesn’t appear to be.

  5. In teaching Revelation we need to emphasize the persecuted church more. When you get to the fifth seal, for example, and the souls under the altar are asking “How long oh Lord?” it helps if we understand what persecution was and is like. I have always discussed persecution as an historical phenomenon. This time I spent more time discussing the present and what some of these passage might mean viewed from the perspective of people suffering persecution right now. Like Hebrews, Revelation speaks to people suffering or soon-to-suffer great hardship. We American Christians, in our ease, are likely to have a hard time hearing the message.

  6. The most important thing a Bible teacher can so, I believe, is teach people how to study for themselves. It’s not about getting across all of my beliefs or particular interpretations. What people need is to find a way to experience God for themselves—to hear God’s voice—through the pages of scripture.

I think these are some good thoughts!  I have never taught on the book of Revelation before, but I really like Henry’s reflections here.  Additionally, I agree with David Alan Black that Henry’s last point is his most important point.  :-)

Reader’s Greek New Testament – a Photo Review

Through the kindness of friends and family, over the last year I was able to one, replace my copy of Zondervan’s A Reader’s Greek New Testament: 2nd Edition and, two, for Christmas get the UBS Greek New Testament Reader’s Edition With Textual Notes.  In this post I’d like to share them with you via a few photos.  Basically, I am just posting one photo comparing them from the outside, and one each from the inside so you can see the text and the apparatus where the lost of words occuring 30 times or less are listed.  Words occuring more than 30 times are in a lexicon in the back.

I found the differences in the vocab lists in the apparatus interesting. While the UBS edition simply list the most common gloss so as to not slow down the reading; the Zondervan edition gives several meanings for most words.  Also interesting, the UBS edition has the vocabulary words in list format, whereas the Zondervan edition lists them in a more prose format.  The paper for the UBS edition is thicker and sturdier, while the Zondervan edition is thinner not unlike the paper in a typical Bible.  This probably explains the thickness differences.   The UBS edition has two ribbons, the Zondervan edition only one ribbon.

In my personal opinion, the UBS edition is easier on the eyes to look at.  It is the standard UBS text with the definitions listed in lieu of the textual apparatus.  The Zondervan edition is based on that text which underlies the NIV Translation and the text is based on a different script than the UBS.  The definitions are italicized.  It can seem a bit “busier” if you will.

Well, I hope this helps some.  Blessings!

Here are a few photos:

This one compares the sizes:

sizes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the UBS edition:

photo 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the Zondervan edition:

photo 2

Reading the through Greek New Testament

For those interested and or brave or disciplined enough to give it a shot – Dan Wallace has a blog post offering a graded approach to reading through the Greek New Testament.

You can check it out here: Reading through the Greek New Testament

He recommends a good resource to help the process along too: A New Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament

Blessings,

QOTD: Carson on Philippians

basicsThe Kindle edition of Don Carson’s book, Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Baker Academic), is on a temporary $4 sale.

Here is a good quote from chapter one (worth the price of the $4 Kindle edition alone).

I would like to buy about three dollars worth of gospel, please. Not too much— just enough to make me happy, but not so much that I get addicted. I don’t want so much gospel that I learn to really hate covetousness and lust. I certainly don’t want so much that I start to love my enemies, cherish self-denial, and contemplate missionary service in some alien culture. I want ecstasy, not repentance; I want transcendence, not transformation. I would like to be cherished by some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don’t want to love those from different races— especially if they smell. I would like enough gospel to make my family secure and my children well behaved, but not so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged. …

Carson, D. A. (1996-04-01). Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Kindle Locations 44-50). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I preached through a large part of Philippians when we were at the Grand Canyon and it sure was a challenging book to say the least!  I think its one that every church needs to go through verse by verse.  It so integral to the life and health of the congregation – what can be more important that building one another up in the faith and promoting unity for the sake of the gospel??  But and However, in order to get to that place, most congregations have a lot of work to do – you know – work out their salvation with fear and trembling.  No, silly, not trying to earn one’s salvation but learn to work out personal differences and setting aside personal agendas and following the model of Christ himself, the humble obedient servant, the one who’s attitude we must emulate if the gospel is going to impact not just our communities and the world, but also our own community of faith and our own hearts.  

That bears repeating – the ONLY WAY the gospel will go forth in our own hearts and in our own communities, really and truly, is for each person and for the whole congregation to take on the attitude of Christ, becoming humble obedient servants – to Christ, to one another, and to the gospel – SO THAT the gospel may go forth.  

St Paul was a man of singular passion – Christ and the gospel – that was it, nothing else mattered.  NOTHING.  

I wonder, is it the same for us?  Don’t tell, show me!  :-)  

Blessings. 

on the household codes

I know Rachel Held Evans drives a lot of folks batty but I thought this particular post was really really good.

She talks about the household codes in the letters of Paul and Peter.

It steps on a lot of toes.

Here are a couple pretty key points I though were worth consideration:

Jesus changes everything.

and

Paul is not simply talking about equal access to salvation here; he is talking about the creation of a new family where the social and religious lines that once separated men from women, slaves from the free, Jews and Gentiles vanish in the Household of God. 

also,

So when Peter and Paul introduce Jesus to the household, everything changes. Rather than placing the male head-of-house at the sovereign center, Peter and Paul place Jesus Christ at the center. And with Jesus Christ at the center, all the old boundaries break down and the hierarchies begin to blur.

It is hard for us to recognize it now, but Peter and Paul were introducing the first Christian family to an entirely new community, a community that transcends the rigid hierarchy of human institutions, a community in which submission is mutual and all are free.

finally…

Given the context, it seems clear that the ultimate purpose of the Christ/Church metaphor is intended to point men and women toward more mutuality, not more hierarchy,

Suffice it to say, there is some good stuff here.