Peter Gentry on the Biblical Languages

LXX Studies

PGentryThe following article is reproduced from The Gospel Witness 65.6 (1986): 22 (102) with permission. The Gospel Witness is a publication of Jarvis St. Baptist Church in Toronto, Ontario that would devote one issue per year to Toronto Baptist Seminary. Dr. Peter Gentry taught the biblical languages faithfully at Toronto Baptist Seminary from 1984–1999 and 2008–2017, and he still teaches at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Enjoy!


By Professor Peter Gentry

During the past fifteen to twenty years many Bible colleges and seminaries have reshaped their curricula and programmes, cutting content-oriented requirements like Biblical languages, church history, exegesis of the original text and systematic theology in favour of method-oriented requirements such as Christian education, counselling skills and psychology. Certainly a balance between content and method must be maintained, but the present trend tends toward highly skilled communicators and counsellors with nothing to say.

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Pentecostal Theology (New Book)

There is a new systematic Pentecostal Theology out – it’s by systematic theologian Wolfgang Vondey Professor at Regent University and also UK Birmingham.

pentecostal theologyHere is what my friend Monte has to say about it:

It is explicitly identified as a systematic theology book. Yet not in a traditional structure, and to be sure, Vondey does not strive to touch all normally identified areas of a single volume systematic theology. Let me briefly describe what he covers, and why.

After the Introduction and Chapter 1 titled “Prolegomena to Pentecostal Doctrine,” the next five chapters (“Part 1: “Full Gospel Story”) Present a theological exposition of the Pentecostal Fivefold Gospel:
Ch. 2, “Saved: Meeting Jesus at the Altar”
Ch. 3, “Sanctified: Participating in the Life of God”
Ch. 4, “Baptized: Transformed by the Holy Spirit”
Ch. 5, “Healed: Manifesting Signs and Wonders”
Ch. 6, “Commissioned: Enacting the Coming Kingdom.”
Then in Part 2 (“Full Gospel Theology”) Vondey appropriates the five Christological motifs of the Full Gospel, to the theological construction of five selected theological foci.
Chapter 7: Creation: Spirit, Redemption, and Cosmology
Chapter 8: Humanity: Divine Image, Human Agency, and Theological Anthropology
Chapter 9: Society: Civilization, the Common Good, and Cultural Theory
Chapter 10: Church: Mission, Movement, and Ecclesiology
Chapter 11: God: Pentecost, Altar, and Doxology
Conclusion: Living the Full Gospel

Hence, each of these five chapters comprises five sections, each section examining one the respective foci through the prism of one of the Christological motifs. For example, following is how this approach works out in Chapter 7 (“Creation”):
1. “Creation as the economy of salvation”: Christ as Saviour
2. “Creation as the materialization of sanctification”: Christ as Sanctifier
3. “Creation baptized in the Spirit”: Christ as Spirit baptizer
4. “Divine Healing and the fullness of Redemption: Christ as Healer
5. “Creation and the renewal of the cosmos”: Christ as Coming King
Vondey’s greater purpose is to suggest a theological method for constructing systematic theology; namely, a method retrieved from the historical repository of Pentecostal spirituality and its theological tradition. Incidentally, when you glean through Vondey’s footnotes, you will discover that the majority of his sources are, Pentecostal theological sources. While the book clearly demonstrates ecumenical cognizance and aims, he has intentionally retrieved most of his sources from within Pentecostal scholarship, in order to demonstrate the theological maturation of contemporary Pentecostal scholarship. So, in this book, Vondey has not attempted a full-blown one-volume systematic theology. Rather, his main attempt, as I understand it, is to suggest a methodology to build on.

Let me close by suggesting how his suggested method be utilized, if we were to go further with its implications. Recall that Chapter 11 presents a theology of God (“God: Pentecostal, Altar, and Doxology”) Vondey does so through the same methodology; hence the chapter also comprises five sections:
1. God who saves
2. God who sanctifies
3. God who Spirit baptizes
4. God who heals
5. God who reigns
Therefore, we can just as well appropriate the Pentecostal Christological motifs to a more explicit exposition of God as Triune: God/Son/Holy Spirit who saves, sanctifies, Spirit baptize, heals, and reigns. We can explore how the Fivefold Gospel can shape any given doctrine or theological issue. For example, note how this method was, in fact, earlier suggested in the John Christopher Thomas’s edited volume, Towards a Pentecostal Ecclesiology:
1. Church as Saving Community
2. Church as Sanctifying Community
3. Church as Empowering Community
4. Church as Healing Community
5. Church as Missionary Community

To conclude, let’s revisit Chapter 11’s title: “God: Pentecost, Altar, and Doxology.” Translating the Pentecostal Christological motifs as verbal descriptions of the triune God— thus sermonically shapes the chapter. So functioning like an “afterglow,” the Conclusion proper is just beautiful. It is particularly beautiful through its final suggestion that the whole book’s thrust leads to one important implication: “Pentecostal theology is at heart a liturgical theology” (p. 281). By doing so, I suppose, the book closes with a challenge or rather invitation towards a newly emerging and promising foray within Pentecostal studies; namely, the constructing of Pentecostal liturgical theologies, or Pentecostal theologies of liturgy. This invitation, of course, should recall to mind Hollenweger’s insightful yet not so often well-known thesis (from his book, The Pentecostals) that: “The main contribution of Pentecostalism to world Christianity is not, as often and wrongly assumed, pneumatology. Rather, it is, liturgy.”

(shared with permission from here).

A Fresh new Pentecostal Systematic Theology is really needed so it is great to see this put out….


The Fallacy of Letting Go

One Pentecostal's Journey

Let it Go! Contrary to what you might think, this blog is not about a certain song that won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2014. Instead, I am referring to a phrase that Americans commonly use in response to a person’s pain. These words are often spoken when the listener believes it is time for the one in need of care to simply move on. This phrase may be heard when someone is experiencing a loss, and the listener deems that the grieving has continued long enough.

Unfortunately, those three words “let it go” may unintentionally inflict more pain on the bereaved. They imply that the bereaved has the power to instantly release the pain. These words may communicate, “It’s your own fault that you are hurting.” In some instances, the griever may hear that the pain is not important, demonstrating a lack of respect for the other.

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typical mistakes NT Greek students make

From Dave Black:

The biggest mistakes students make are:

  • Failing to be able to read Greek aloud. (English pronunciation is much harder than Greek.)
  • Forgetting their paradigms.
  • Looking at the word (rather than the morpheme) as the minimal unit of meaning in language.
  • Believing that immersion means speaking Greek with a native Koine speaker. (There ain’t none.)
  • Getting frustrated when listening to the smart guys recite Greek. (Be yourself. Do your best. Race at your own speed. Remember 1 Cor. 12:6: “God is the one who works all things in all people,” so there’s no need ever to compare yourself with anyone else. Trust Him for the results.)
  • Believing that it has to be hard. (Greek grammar is actually very logical and perfectly learnable. It’s us teachers who most often get in the way.)
  • Failing to focus on the big picture. (As in: THE GOAL. It isn’t just using Greek to help you read a commentary. It’s to be able to read and understand the text without even translating it.)

Friend, if you’re struggling to learn Greek, you’re not alone. I lasted a mere three weeks in my beginning class at Biola before dropping. Way over my head! A year later, I was teaching 11 units of Greek at the same university. To master Greek, your brain is required to work in brand new ways, such as constructing new cognitive frameworks. Take a tip from an old geezer: Focus on your goals. Enjoy moments of fresh discovery. Get surrounded (there are many teachers who are using my grammar. Check them out on YouTube when you need a change of pace.) Make peace with your imperfections and/or lack of language aptitude. At the same time, no excuses! What matters in the long run is not aptitude but commitment!

F. F. Bruce and W. E. Vine

I think it would be cool if someone took time to update it, you know… in service to the church.  😁

A Word in Edgewise

Most pastors I know, and a few laypeople, have a particular book in their library.  It is typically referred to as “Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.”  It was originally published in four volumes but is available now in a single volume.  Vine’s refers to W. E. Vine.

Recently a friend of mine, Frank Couch, sent me some information which I find compelling and likely true, but I’ve never read it before.  It is in a document from Robert F. Hicks, and it indicates that when Vine was writing his now-famous book, F. F. Bruce, who was destined to become one of the finest NT scholars of his age, was hard at work with him. Vine's expository dictionary

Hicks it seems is now in charge of the works of the late W. E. Vine.  He knows Vine’s immediate family and his personal secretary, John Williamson.

Hicks came to understand through his contact…

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Hosanna! or Crucify Him!?

It is often taught and preached (we go always go with what preaches, right? 😉 ) that the same crowd that sang “Hosanna!” is the same crowd that cried out “Crucify him!”  Well…

Marc Turnage, Director of the Assemblies of God Center for Holy Lands Studies, says, not so fast…  He writes in part:

Most Christians have heard at least one sermon stating, “The crowds that cried, ‘Hosanna’ on Palm Sunday cried, ‘Crucify’ on Good Friday.” But there is evidence in the Gospel narratives that Jesus’ death was primarily incited by Jerusalem’s religious leaders. Many of the common people would be receptive to His teaching in the temple during Passion Week and would mourn His arrest and crucifixion.

Funny how this works.  Jesus was a man of the people.  He came to seek and save the lost not to lord it over people and put many burdens on them.  It’s usually the people who love the liberator and the leaders that hate him is it not?

Jesus came to serve and to set people free.  The leaders wanted to control the people and often put heavy burdens on them.

I’m wondering if there is a case of true leadership verse false leadership going on here as well…

True leadership serves others and sets them free to truly be.  False leadership is self-serving and seeks to control others and how they live.

True leadership is humble and lowly, seeking only to serve.  False leadership is proud and haughty, and exalts itself over others.

Jesus exhibits the characteristics of a true leader.  The Jewish leaders (Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, experts in the Law and so on) they were not true leaders, they were false ones.

May this Palm Sunday be a reminder that Jesus Christ, our true leader, is also our Lord and our King.

Let our hearts truly sing:

Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!