Think you know Greek?

Think you know Greek?  Here is and interesting quote by the dean of scholars F. F. Bruce on language and lexicons.

As for lexicons, those by Brown-Driver-Briggs, Buhl and Baumgartner serve me well in the Hebrew field, supplemented by M. Jastrow’s Dictionary for post-biblical Hebrew. Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon deals primarily with classical Greek, but no student of the New Testament can afford to ignore classical usage.

I have met students who claimed to ‘know Greek’ on the basis of their acquaintance with the Greek New Testament; even if that latter acquaintance were exhaustive, it would no more amount to a knowledge of Greek than acquaintance with the English New Testament would amount to a knowledge of English.

There is a story told of A. S. Peake writing a Greek word on the blackboard of his Manchester classroom, and one of his students saying, ‘You needn’t write it down, Doctor; we know Greek.’ To which he replied, ‘I wish I did.’ To know a language, even an ancient language, involves having such a feeling for its usage that one can tell, almost as by instinct, whether a construction is permissible or not, or whether a translation is possible or not. Translation is not simply a matter of looking up a word in a dictionary and selecting the equivalent which one would like to find in a particular passage.

It is this manifest mastery of Greek usage which makes William Kelly’s New Testament commentaries, especially those on Paul’s epistles, so valuable. ‘And you know what is restraining him now,’ says the RSV of 2 Thessalonians 2: 6, following some earlier interpreters. This construing of ‘now’ with ‘what is restraining’ Kelly describes as a solecism, pointing out that the ‘now’ is ‘simply resumptive’. Kelly is right. But how did he discover that the construction of the adverb with ‘what is restraining’ is a solecism? No grammar-book or dictionary would tell him that; it was his wide and accurate acquaintance with Greek usage that made it plain to him, an acquaintance which is the fruit of long and patient study.

F. F. Bruce. In Retrospect: Remembrance of Things Past/Posthumous Edition (London: Pickering & Inglis, 1980), p. 293.

Sad news on Clark Pinnock

He has informed people he is in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s.   In a personal note to friends he wrote:

Dear Tom and John:

I want to inform you that I am now middle stage Alzheimer’s. I will not be able to do my writing etc. I am 73 years now, and I’ve enjoyed my biblical three score and ten. I am not bitter. I have had a good life. I’ll meet you over Jordan if not before.

You are free to make this news known.

With love,


Pinnock is a theological giant who has contributed much to Christian Theology.  In particular, he contributed to the development of Open Theism or the Openness of God theology, which he considered most faithful to Scripture.

In part:

Open theology rejects traditional theologies that portray God as an aloof monarch. Influential theologians of yesteryear often portrayed God as completely unchangeable, ultimately all determining, and irresistible. By contrast, Pinnock says the biblical vision presents a loving God who seeks relationship with free creatures. “The Christian life involves a genuine interaction between God and human beings,” he says. “We respond to God’s gracious initiatives and God responds to our responses . . . and on it goes.”

The future is not entirely settled, according to Open theology. This means that while God knows all possibilities, God does not know with certainty what free creatures will actually do until creatures act. Classic views of God’s foreknowledge are incompatible with creaturely freedom, says Pinnock. “If choices are real and freedom significant,” he argues, “future decisions cannot be exhaustively known.”

Open theology does affirm that God is all knowing. God knows all things knowable. Believers should not understand divine omniscience as the idea God possesses exhaustive foreknowledge of all future events, says Pinnock. After all, future possible events are not yet actual.

So sad to hear of this – Alzheimer’s is such a hard and difficult sickness for both the one who has it and for family and caregivers.  Usually one of two things tends to happen: either the person gets violent because they do not know what is going on or they become totally incapacitated.  So it is sad to hear of this happening to someone of Pinnock’s stature.

latest RBL reviews

Some of the following reviews are some of the better ones I think people would be interested in reading and learning from:


Peter J. Leithart.  Deep Exegesis: The Mystery of Reading ScriptureReviewed by Matthew Gordley.

John Oswalt.  The Bible among the Myths: Unique Revelation or Just Ancient LiteratureReviewed by Claude Mariottini.

Kenneth E. Bailey.  The Cross and the Prodigal: Luke 15 through the Eyes of Middle Eastern PeasantsReviewed by Robert O’Toole

Stanley E. Porter and Mark J. Boda, eds.  Translating the New Testament: Text, Translation, TheologyReviewed by Douglas Moo


alert: about the SPS issue

The Assemblies of God has a website called Ministry Direct dot com – has occasional live conversations with George O. Wood one a random set of questions drawn from AG constituents – TODAY there will be a session at 3:30 CST and I have been informed Dr. Wood will address the issue with regard to what we’ve been talking about with Tony Jones and all – so if you want his side of the story – listen in!!

Brian LePort put up a great summary of Wood’s response to Tony Jones, et. al.  Makes me wonder what all the fuss was about and shows the drastic gap of difference in character and leadership ability between Wood and Jones, Sanchez-walsh, et al. 

Well, time for us to all move on!

Center of Pentecostal theology?

Brian LePort asked if there is a center or core aspect of Pentecostal Theology.  In the comments too he asked what might be the difference between a pentecostal and say an Charismatic Anglican?  The following is how I responded:

Brian – if I may offer a suggestion here I would say the difference is one with respect to time and theology – time in that typically Pentecostals are those who are a part of groups that started prior to 1960, which is when the Charismatic movement began when Anglican pastor Dennis Bennett started preaching about his experience of Spirit Baptism – theology in that Pentecostals typically assert the initial physical evidence of the Baptism of with the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues such that they would assert: no tongues no baptism, whereas with Charismatics, they do not always take such a strong stand and suggest tongues is merely “an” evidence of Spirit Baptism.

So with time again, while both P’s and C’s related to the Azusa Street Revival in 1906, Charismatics also have their roots in Bennett’s 1960 sermon. It might seem nitpicky but really one is only Pentecostal if one is part of a group that was birthed out of the 1906 revival and agree that tongues are the “initial physical evidence of Spirit Baptism.

I wrote a couple of posts on my blog about this a couple of years ago: and

They aren’t perfect but I think they get at the basic issue.

So back to the original question I would suggest the heart or the core of Pentecostal and Charismatic theology is the experience of the Holy Spirit and that that is the single unifying factor for all P’s and C’s world-wide.

Speaking in tongues is not the center because it is merely a sign or a work of the Spirit – and is just that – a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit which the AG describes as “the initial physical evidence” of Spirit Baptism – rather the ongoing evidence is the life lived in, and empowered by, the Holy Spirit.

if you haven’t already you really should read Vinson Synan’s work The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition: Charismatic Movements in the Twentieth Century
(Eerdmans, 1997) – along with Keith Warrington’s Pentecostal Theology: A Theology of Encounter (T&T Clark, 2008).

I hope this helps

So to reiterate – I see the core of Pentecostal theology as that of experience or encounter with the Holy Spirit.

is Pentecostalism dead?

in the conversations going on over the gaffe between Assemblies of God leadership and the leadership of the Society for Pentecostal Studies over the invitation of Tony Jones to present a paper at the last society meeting located at an AG University, (mainly because he openly supports gay marriage)(well, at least a former leadership) I noticed an interesting comment on the article by former SPS President Arlene Sanchez-Walsh where she accuses SPS of lacking academic freedom and thus just being an echo chamber where everyone is just talking to themselves (which many Christians tend to do anyways).  Anyways, one of the comments to the article caught my attention.  The commenter “Bruce W” avers:

According to C. Peter Wagner…

Pentecostalism was dead as of its 100th anniversary in 2006. Wagner should know since his movement is rapidly consuming the tendency.  It would be interesting to read something about that on this forum. There’s no question as to the facts.

Posted by BruceW on March 19, 2010 at 6:30 AM

I am curious as to these “facts.”  I have never heard this before.  So far as I know, from a global perspective, Pentecostalism is the single largest expression of the Christian religion in the world behind Catholicism.   And last I understood, this is still the case.  So I am curious as to this assertion from Wagner (who’s teachings I largely do not support) that Pentecostalism is dead.

I took a special DMin level class on the history and future of Pentecostalism (as an MDiv student) with Grant Wacker, a leading Pentecostal scholar out of Duke in 2006 and I don’t remember him saying anything about Pentecostalism being dead or even being in the throes of death.

I don’t know, has anyone else heard this before?

Review on the Ten Commandments

Nijay Gupta has a really good review of Patrick Miller’s commentary The Ten Commandments: Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church in the Interpretation Series.   Miller is one of my favorites when it comes to stuff on the OT.  I was first introduced to his work when I took an exegesis of the Psalms class at Fuller NW in Seattle (I attended their a year before switching over to AGTS).  Miller writes good stuff.  He’s a solid OT Scholar who also has the ability to write in a pastoral and relevant way.  I am really looking forward to getting into this work on the Ten Commandments when I get a chance to pick up the book.

Here is an excerpt from Gupta’s review:

One thing I appreciated about what Miller emphasized was that the Decalogue is not just a bunch of commands that precede the rest of the law.  They present the ideals of what God wants for his covenantal people.  They are not meant to be taken in a legal sense, but more of as a vision (here he would find much agreement with John Goldingay).  The rest of Scripture is a working out of what it means to obey and live according to these “WORDS.”  When it comes to murder, for instance, the ideal is not “Don’t murder.”  Rather, God is showing the kind of person that his people are NOT.  It is as much about identity than it is about actions.  That is why it should not be so confusing that “the ten commandments” are not all commands, but a variety of prohibitions and commands with various forms of expression and not attempting to be universal, but exemplary.  They are comprehensive in the sense that they cover all the major aspects of life (and covetousness is the catch-all, isn’t it!).  

Makes me want to run right out and get it right now!

recent book acquisitions!

WTS Books acquired:

Bruce Waltke.  Finding the Will of God: A Pagan Notion? (Eerdmans, 1995).

Tim Keller.  The Reason for God (Riverhouse Books, 2008).

Catherine Mowry LaCugna.  God For Us: The Trinity and Christian Life (Harper Collins, 1993).

Thomas McComiskey (editor).  The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository Commentary (Baker Book House, 2009).


Amazonian acquisitions:

Wolfhart Pannenberg.  Jesus: God and Man (WJK, 1968) – used $10.00

Donald McLeod.  Shared Life (Christian Focus, 2000).

James L. Kugel.  How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now  (Free Press, reprint, 2008). used $10.00


I have yet to obtain Kugel or Pannenberg (P came today) as I got them through second hand sellers through Amazon so there is no way to track the order to know where it is.