Dave Black’s advice on Doctoral work

well, to the propsective doctoral student is here.

an excerpt:

Here’s something else I tell prospective students. All other things being equal, you will want a university doctorate rather than a seminary doctorate. I am not saying that seminaries do not offer excellent Ph.D.s, and I am certainly not saying that students should not earn their doctorates from SEBTS. But, I think, mature students fare less well in the typical seminary curriculum than in the more research-oriented program in most universities. The irony is that your favorite professor might very well teach in a seminary, in which case it will be obvious where you ought to study! When I ended up in Basel it was largely because I didn’t want to suffer through the busy work of the typical U.S. seminary Ph.D. program, and I most certainly did not want to get my theological education second hand. I was not disappointed on either count. Basel was for researchers who could work independently.

I have heard this too – study at a University if you can.  I think you should go where ever God tells you to go but then God desires a relationship with us, not a religion (he might be the big boss upstairs, but then again, most people don’t have a relationship with their boss do they?) So, hey, if you go to a University or to a Seminary, I think God will be pleased with you and bless you either way!!

That said, based on your career goals, if you want to teach then yeah, I’d say shoot for earning a University degree as much as possible.  Go where the greats went!

I have a book on the Synoptic Gospels too written by Dr. Black’s Doktorvater, Bo Reicke.  I need to pick it up again and learn from him!  🙂

Bible Study (exegesis) tip for the day

I posted asking for thoughts about the differences between Isaiah 42:1-2 and Matthew’s quoting of the LXX edition in Matthew 12:15-21 the other day and one friend commented:

Brian, the answer is the difference between meaning and significance. The Hebrew word in Isa 42:4 means “island.” In many contexts, like this one, its significance is the far reaches of the earth. The same concept is present in Zeph 2:11.

I then commented:

thanks for commenting – that is a huge thing isn’t it – even those to the ends of the earth are awaiting (a hopeful expectation?) the coming of Jesus into their lives and nations and societies. When he comes either through the proclamations of a missionary or by his literal presence), they will bow down to him. WOW. Am I missing anything with what you are saying? This is deeply moving to me. lol!

My friend followed up in an email note:

I know you are into translation issues, but this is an important point to understand: good translation of a word is not necessarily good interpretation of its meaning. We may translate a word and understand it to mean “branch” but it may refer to a tree, a river, or a genealogy. Meaning is not just found in the word itself, but also in context.

Let’s all repeat that out loud together: good translation of a word is not necessarily good interpretation of its meaningMeaning is not just found in the word itself, but also in context. Say it over and over til you get it!  Type it out on a sheet of paper and tape it to the wall in your study area!  🙂

That reminds me of a basic principle in Bible study: context is always king in iterpretation – and good interpretation flows out of observation – so unless you know what the text is saying in it’s context, you may not know what it means or what is being said!

Thanks for the tip!


on that note, this looks like a really interesting book!   And I may very well pick up Michael Gorman’s book on Elements of Exegesis soon, though the one by Craig Blomberg looks pretty good too!  🙂

on cars (or on what’s my ride?)

Mark wants to know what I drive:

While it’s listed as one of Consumer Reports 10 worst cars on the road our 2006 Suzuki Forenza (ours is blue) has been a great car and has not had any mechanical problems whatsoever and only the basic repairs/replacement that come with normal usage.  What I guess it says about us has more to do with practicality than other things – but had we thought ahead, about kids, we probably would have gotten a slightly larger car such as an SUV of some sort or a van.  Ah well.

and what I would prefer – well as we all know a picture says a thousands words!  lol!

help a pastor out! :-)

the computer I have Bibleworks on is having “issues” so I am not able to use it at the moment til I can get it fixed (I am also away from my BDAG and BDB and Holliday at the moment) – so those who do have it or who are well read in the biblical languages and exegesis help me out.

I working on Isaiah 42:1-4 for this Sunday and it is quoted in Matthew 12:15-21 – my main focus will be on verse 4 of the OT text which is verse 21 of the NT text but they read differently in the NIV (not sure if they are the same in the LXX):

Matthew 12:21 of the 2010 NIV reads: 21 In his name the nations will put their hope.

The last line of the 2010 NIV Isaiah 42:4 reads: In his teaching the islands will put their hope.

Why would they go with “the islands” for the Isaiah verse?  Why “in his teaching”?  Did Matthew reinterpret the verse?  He couldn’t have possibly made a mistake could he??!! lol!

Seems kind of odd though I suppose that immediately means “the nations” in some sense.

Very interestingly, the Isaiah text of the NASU reads: And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law;

The same in the ESV reads: and the coastlands wait for his law.

The NLT reads: Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction.

Uh oh…. has the NIV botched this reading if the others and even the NLT got it differently?

I am intrigued by the Isaiah text in the CEV:

4He won’t quit or give up until he brings justice everywhere on earth, and people in foreign nations long for his teaching.

Well, this is the kind of stuff biblical exegesis is made of – and what students deal with in exegetical papers – figuring what the reading should be and what it means and why, etc.

So, help me work it out!  🙂

Pentecostalism and Scholarship Can Coexist!

Charisma Magazine interviewed Gordon Fee noting him as the first person with a Pentecostal background to earn a PhD in Biblical Studies.   You should read it!

If I manage to go further into biblical studies academically Fee would certainly be an inspiration along with Craig Keener, Ben Aker, the late Gary B. McGee, Keith Warrington, Gerald Hawthorne and a host of others out there who are Pentecostal biblical scholars or theologians.  I want to share a few quotes:

For the most part, though, Pentecostals remain resistant to—or indifferent toward—theology and scholarship. After all, modern Pentecostalism was birthed in spiritual experience, not intellectualism. As the movement spread, Pentecostals simply didn’t see a need for theological pursuits. “We don’t need scholars; we just need the Holy Spirit!” has been the mainstream Pentecostal cry for the last 100 years.
And this is a crying shame!  It gets so frustrating to see this – the anti-intellectualism going on in Pentecostalism with regard to biblical studies – to me it reveals quite a bit of insecurity.   Fee goes on to note:

The question is not do we need Bible scholars, but are we willing to embrace them?” Fee responds. “If we are willing to embrace someone with a Ph.D. in history, why not embrace someone with a Ph.D. in New Testament studies, which, after all, is a branch of history?”

Fee adds: “Having a Ph.D. has not stopped me from being Spirit-filled.”

And why should it?  Are we not a people of the Spirit?  Pentecostals need to realize we are all believers empowered by the Holy Spirit to engage the biblical text.  Yes, we Pentecostals need to embrace biblical scholarship not keep it at arms length.

On the issue of women in ministry (which we all know means women as lead pastors/elders) the article states:

Yet the arena of biblical interpretation, or “textual criticism” as it’s known in scholarly circles, can be a minefield of controversy. Fee has found himself repeatedly and unwittingly in the center of the debate over the role of women in ministry. After years of battling the issue, Fee is weary of confronting it. But he is adamant: God does gift women for ministry.

“It’s a given,” he says. “The real question is, Which comes first, gender or gifting? What [opponents of women in ministry] are trying to tell me is that gender comes above gifting. How can that be? The Spirit gives the gifting. If a woman stands and prophesies by the Spirit, and men are present, does the Spirit not speak to them? Come on! How dumb can you get?

His advocacy, Fee says, is on behalf of the Holy Spirit rather than women. “The Spirit is gifting women,” he says, “but many evangelicals are not prepared to adjust because of the ‘box’ they’re in.

“I’ve been blacklisted over this issue,” he adds. “People have said, We can’t have Fee speak because he’s pro-women.’ I am pro-Holy Spirit! I just can’t get over that some people think gender comes before gifting.”

And Fee just helped me with something here!  Yes, Yes, Yes!  Pentecostals aren’t necessarily pro women in ministry as they are pro living the Holy Spirit empowered and gifted life! This is the issue.  The Holy Spirit of God empowers all people irregardless of race, class or gender to do and to speak and live out the Word of God both in the church universal and in the world.   Thank you Dr. Fee for standing up for all people, especially the Pentecostals.

Great. Great article!

HT: Nick

Psalm 100: A good thanksgiving Psalm!

Here it is in the newly updated 2011 NIV:  (cut and pasted from Biblegateway.com)

Psalm 100 (New International Version, ©2010)

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 
2 Worship the LORD with gladness; 
come before him with joyful songs. 
3 Know that the LORD is God. 
It is he who made us, and we are his[a]; 
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving 
and his courts with praise; 
give thanks to him and praise his name. 
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; 
his faithfulness continues through all generations.


0.Psalm 100:3 Or and not we ourselves


on translations

this is my quick response to Mark as he wonders if formal equivalence translations are less faithful translations:

Mark, you are on the right track – the whole question comes back to Fee and Stuart in their book How to Read the Bible for All its Worth – in their chapter on translations they talk in simple terms about translation – do we translate what Paul said, or do we translate what Paul meant? (but in our case we can say do we translate the meaning of the text or just the basic wording of the text and let others figure the meaning?) Some prefer to translate the meaning thus the more dynamic translations – others prefer just to translate what is said and leave the meaning up to being discerned by the reader hence the more formal equivalence or literal translations – still yet others prefer a mix thus the translations like the NIV – so you can see a whole host of issues coming up with these approaches – and the example of the Greek sarx is a good example – do we go with “flesh” or “sinful nature” and why? for obvious reasons one is less interpretive than the other, but could there be instances where it is fair to translate sarx as sinful nature and have it reflect what is trying to be said?

In my personal view as I have tried to share in other comments and maybe even on my blog, I see more dynamic translations as reflecting a more mature understanding of the languages and how they work and it reflects the concern to get the meaning across to the reader of the receptor language. Reading more literal translations makes some feel like they are reading their Greek or Hebrew Bibles but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is accurately translating the meaning of the text in question.

That’s my $0.02!

on 2 Corinthians

I have been reading Timothy Gombis’ new book The Drama of Ephesians: Participating in the Triumph of God (IVP, 2010), and it has really been doing a number on me, and in me.  lol!  I LOVE this book!  I have a fuller review forthcoming but there has been so much of this book I have wanted to blog on but if I did, there’d be a copyright violation (since I’d quote so much of the book that is worth quoting and talking about)!  🙂

Anyways, in reading chapter 5 in this book he is talking about Paul and his approach to ministry and leadership.  As I read it, I finally think I understand why 2 Corinthians as a whole tends to be under represented in biblical studies.  We love to talk up 2 Cor 5:21, especially in the recent debates going on at this years ETS and other conferences between NT.Wright, Schriner, Theilman and Mike Bird among others (did Wright actually admit despite his writing to the contrary that salvation is not based on merit?!) – but how much of the rest of this theologically under represented and rich letter gets noted in any leadership conference, theological seminar or other venue?

Gombis notes Paul as the Apostle of weakness and that it is only through our weakness and dependency on God that we can experience his power or that God’s power them becomes fully manifest – listen to that carefully: it is only when we are completely and utterly and fully dependent on God and function in our own weakness that God’s power is made complete in us or that his power is fully manifest – this is true biblical and Pauline leadership.

Gombis confronts modern evangelical notions of leadership ability as firmly rooted in idolatry – many have given over to worldly notions of leadership that stand on stark contrast to what we see in Paul the Apostle.  Frankly, it is possible and more than probable, Paul would not be most people’s first choice to pastor any modern large congregation in any denomination, anywhere.  Why?  Well, he wasn’t a strong leader with a strong personality (something modern leaders want, expect, and demand), he operated out of weakness and not strength; he relied completely on God and on the Spirit’s power (most moderns, we rely on our knowledge, understanding, education (proper understanding of the Greek and Hebrew, etc), training and so on, not always on God or the power of the Holy Spirit) – one of the first ministry positions Debbie and I interviewed for, I knew very soon into the interview there was no way we’d be considered as I knew the pastor had it predetermined what he was looking for and that was a strong leader, which I am not.

Let’s face it, probably for many pastors and leaders, a deep sense of inadequacy leads us not to fully rely on God and the manifest power of the Spirit, but to run to the nearest MDiv, DMin or PhD program for better training, afterall we want to be equipped the best we can right?  🙂   I mean really now, who appreciates the idea that suffering validates true ministry in the Spirit, and that it is primarily through suffering God mediates the gospel to the those whom we minster?

Nien!  🙂  It is through strong effective leaders God mediates his gospel power!  People of good standing and strong character, well dressed and well spoken, well organized and without any flaws, well educated and on and on!  No weakness allowed, no flaws, no poor speech or speaking skills, none of that right?  And probably too, many of us would not last long in a congregation lead by weak leadership would we?  or leadership that was perceived as weak….

Well, that’s what I realized about 2 Corinthians anyways.