No more review books

not at least until I get some up and going – I guess I thought I’d be able to get some books for review – read them and get up a review and so on, well, and humiliated to have to admit there are some review books that have been on the shelf waiting to be read and reviewed for months (e.g., 6+ months) – this is not right (and not fair to the publishers who so graciously sent them along).  So until I can get significant amount of reading and reviewing done soon, no more review books!  (except of course those won in contests or those sent gratis by authors or those who are generous).  I sort of do have the hope I can plow through and get a lot done before the end of the year.

RBL Additions

The following are some of the more pertinent additions to the Review of Biblical Literature list:

Richard Bauckham.  Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness TestimonyReviewed by Stephen J. Patterson.

John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed.  In Search of Paul: How Jesus’ Apostle Opposed Rome’s Empire with God’s KingdomReviewedby Elliott Maloney. 

Mary Healy.  The Gospel of MarkReviewedby Francis J. Moloney

Judith M. Lieu.  I, II, and III John: A CommentaryReviewed by John Painter

 

John Bevere’s Breaking Intimidation

Due to some situations our church has been facing as of late, we were advised to read John Bevere’s book Breaking Intimidation: Say “No” without feeling guilty, be secure without the approval of man (Charisma House, 1995, 2006).   

Breaking IntimidationMany of my blog readers will probably think this sort of stuff is absolute silliness but ah well, let them.  Bevere’s book Breaking Intimidation is a really important book for many pastors and leaders to read.  While most often used in the context of ministry one can easily apply the concept to nearly any and every other situation from intimidation in the workplace, the home, the school or the community. This issue applies to all people as well because the spirit of intimidation is just that, a spirit and not a attitude or a disposition.  It is a spirit, therefore, even those with strong personalties and strong spiritual lives can be faced with or succumb to a spirit of intimidation, and a controlling spirit is not among only those with strong personalities, it can come from more quiet people too.  It is also not limited to men or women.  It does not take much – one can easily unwittingly submit to a spirit of intimidation without realizing it.  In my case, I was both unwittingly and somewhat aware of my giving into it.  The person I am dealing comes across as pretty intimidating and it takes a bit of effort for me to stand up to it.  Really, I need the Holy Spirit to help me deal with it.   What happens is when we do give into a spirit of intimidation is we loose (0r give up) our spiritual authority given to us in Christ (cf. Ephesians 1) and the gifts within us become dormant and we are not able to be free or hear from the Lord in our relationship with him (also that spirit then takes our authority and begins to use it agianst us).   To overcome intimidation we have recognize  what is going on and then repent for giving in, submit to the Lord and then pray against the intimidation, thenit will begin to break.  Reading this book will help you learn what the spirit of intimidation is (not unlike a jezebel spirit – it’s a controlloing spirit that does not want to be the leader but wants to control the leader and manipulate him or her so as to assert it own will and keep the leader from doing what God wants him or her to do), how to identify it, and how to break free of its grip on your heart and life.   Get it and begin your new life of spiritual freedom today!  Seriously. 

RBL Additions

The following are some of the more interesting book reviews added to the RBL list:

A. Philip Brown II and Bryan W. Smith, eds.  A Reader’s Hebrew BibleReviewed by Hallvard Hagelia.

Bryan M. Litfin.  Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical IntroductionReviewed by H. H. Drake Williams III.

I. Howard Marshall.  A Concise New Testament TheologyReviewed by Edward J. McMahon II.

Book Review: This is your Brain on Joy

brain on joy 2Thanks to the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger’s program I got a copy of Dr. Earl Henslin’s This is your Brain on Joy:A Revolutionary Program for Balancing Mood, Restoring Brain Health, and Nuturing Spirituality (Thomas Nelson, 2009) and I am quite glad I did!  This is a really interesting book to read. 

The basic premise is that the healthier your brain is, the healthier you are and the less healthy your brain is, the less healthy you are, especially in regards to one’s emotional, mental and spiritual health.  These are connected because whereas stronger brain health allows for stronger mental, emotional, and spiritual (and realtional) health, weaker brain health leads to a significant breakdown in one’s mental, emotional, and spiritual (and relational) health.  The health and state of your brain has direct correlations with the health of the rest of your person

One blurb is:  [I’ve editied this with brackets [ ] to clarify some points for this review].

In this book, Dr. Henslin couples recent scientific studies [about brain health] with findings from his own clinical practice [counseling], [that allows him to] offer specific therapies [nutritional, supplemental, medicinal (if needed)] for specific problems [each area of the brain that is having a problem can be treated in a specific way to bring it back to health].  Most doctors and therapists have only a broad based approach, but This is your Brain on Joy [reveals that] what [often thought to be some emotional, mental or physical problem] is likely a brain problem for many who suffer from various spiritual, relational, emotional, and physical aliments, includding addictions, ADD/ADHD, eating disorders, and or phobias. 

What makes this so interesting is that we can now realize that what might often be confused as demon posession/oppression, spiritual laziness/apathy/lethargy, lack of ability to focus, social awkwardness, just plain stupid, etc, may actually be a simple problem a malnutritioned brain. 

Here’s how it works.  If you picture your brain like a house of sorts, the brain is sectioned in types of rooms and each section has it’s own unique function that when all are healthy and balanced allow for overall brain health, which in turn allows for a strong sense of overall wellbeing in those people with healthy brains. 

So, for example, the pre-frontal cortex (that’s the front part of your brain) is in two parts, the happy side (left) and the ruminating side (less happy)(right).  Those with less activity on the left side are the more melancholy folks we meet in life.  The Eyores and Puddleglums.  While they may be thoughtful and appreciative of things, they are not always happy people and can tend to seem moe negative, unlike the more “happy-go-lucky-like-to-laugh-a-lot-and-have-a-lot-of-fun” folks who have more activity on the left side of their pre-frontal cortext.   The thing of it is, while the left side folks are viewed as the more desireables in life, especially among the single ladies who want the spontaneous and fun boyfriend, both are in some degree unhealthy – there is need for a balance.  It reveals that no brain is perfect, no not one, each has there weaknesses

So how is the balance attained?  Well, before I get to that, the first five chapters of the book (the first section) Henslin discusses all these facets of how the brain works and how that is connected to a person’s overall sense of health and well-being.  He also offers various nutritional, supplemental, and if necessary, medicinal suggestions that can help a person attain the best brain balance possible. 

How do they do this?  How can they know what parts of the brain is/are having a problem?  This is where the science comes in.  Dr Henslin works with Dr. Daniel Amen, of the Amen Clinics.  Amen has developed a way to scan the outer and inner workings of the brain so as to determine where the least or most activity is going on, creating what are called SPECT (single photon emission computerized tomography) images.  With these images it can be inferred as to why a person is (for example) depressed, or showing ADD symptoms and the like.  The possible reason a person may be dealing with deep level depression is because the deep limbic system in the brain is too active.  The what?  The deep limbic system, that deep place in the brain, when too active, sparks feelings of sadness and despair, even hoplessness.  Decrease activity there and likely the person will be able to come out of his or her deep level depression.  Likely, that is with nutritional, supplemental, and (temproray) medicial help.  Combined with counseling and the person could be well on their way back to a normal life in not too long.   Well, it’s not a magic wand… but being sure a brain is well nurished is going to be key to a person’s overall health and well being. 

So, before you cast out that demon of depression, be sure this person lives on an healthy diet (right fats, right carbs, low sugar), has good supplements (especially a good dosage of Omega-3’s fats (fish oil) – everybody should be working to increase Omega-3 fats into their diets (i.e., high potency fish oil), everybody), and getting some exercise.  If after all this and some heavy duty counseling and the Holy Spirit’s leading among the counsel of several others, well, then, only then, might something deeper like a spiritual problem be considered. 

The second section, Dr Heslin talks about each area of the brain and things one can be doing to promote health inthat area to obtain an overall sense of health and well being.  At the end of each chapter he offers suggestions in the areas of supplements, nutrition (mood balancing foods), music, movies (you’d be surpised how movies can help a person’s mood, especially happy/fun ones – watching your favorite movie can be as good (and valuable) as spending time in prayer or Bible reading if needed – I know that sounds really unspiritual but it is true), exercise, reading, and of course some scriptures to consider and prayers to pray for the spiritually inclined.  This is how the balance can be achieved (or, at least, worked towards). 

So to reiterate what might often be confused as demon posession/oppression, spiritual laziness/apathy/lethargy, lack of ability to focus, social awkwardness, just plain stupid, etc, may actually be a simple problem of the brain.  And often this problem can be corrected with appropriate nutrition, supplements, and or meds, if needed, a solid exercise program and the like.

Get the brain book – think about it.

Book Review: Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek

linguistics22Thanks to Dave Black for this complementary (and autographed) copy of Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek: A Surevey of Basic Concepts and Applications (Baker Books, 1995).   

Dave Black is professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina and is also a farmer!  Here is his blog if you want to learn more. 

You can find some more of Dave Black books here

You can go to my initial postabout the book when I recieved to to see a portion from the introduction on what we can gain from learning about linguistics as it relates to learning NT Greek. 

Reading this book has reinforced in my mind the importance of having even a basic sense of lingusitic principles as they relate to language learning and acqusition.  Language is more than just words and concpets and ideas – it is communication– without it, no one would understand anyone else and perhaps there would not be much understanding of anything really.  Knowing or understanding aspects of lingustics will help in this area.  And to the language student, it will help in understanding the natue of the biblical languages and how they work, which in turn will help one understand the Bible in more profound ways than before.

The purpose of the book was to “concentrate on a linguistic approach to New Testament Greek, weaving together literary, grammatical, and linguistic concerns” (ix).  Black avers “More than ever before, lingusitics is becoming an indispensible element in the theory and practice of New Testament interpretation” (ix).  So this book is his contribution to the discussion of the interrelations between linguistics and New Testament Greek grammar” (xiv). 

The breakdown of the book is as follows: there is an introductiondiscussing the value of linguistics and NT Greek (1-22) where the reader learns that lingusitics isn’t just for that person who is looking to translate Bibles in some remote far away jungle but its also for every person interested in better understanding language and also NT Greek.  

Next we learn about phonology (23-52) (that branch of linguistics dealing with speech sounds) where you learn about plosives, fricatives, glides, and continuants, which are names for the kinds of sounds made.  From there one learns of phonemes, allophones and the suprasegmental features of sounds.   All this can, in some facet, help one catch on to the various literary features of the Greek New Testamentsuch as the use of alliterations, rhythms for poetic and rhetorical analysis of the NT such as the Christ hymn of Philppians 2:6-11 (p.51).  

After phonology comes morphology, the study of words (or units of meaning) (53-94).  Morphology has to do with the derivation of words or how they are formed to create meaning.  Here we learn parts of a word: prefixes; roots; affixes and suffixes.  We learn of derivational and inflectional affixes along with allomorphs.  In addition, there are additive morphemes, prefixed morphemes, and even zero morphemes!   When one can engage in the morphological analysis of nouns and verbs we better understand how words are formed and what their patters are, which in turn can aid in vocabulary acquisition.  This way we are not limited to just rote memorization as most of us are.  You’ll know how a word is formed and whythus easing memorization of the word and others like it (same word class).   In addition, we now know the real usefulness of Bruce Metzger’s Lexical aides for Students of New Testament Greek (1974).

Moving on, the next chapter is on syntax which focuses on how words are combined to form phrases, clauses and sentences. Here we learn the differences between structural and lexical meanings to get to the total linguistic meaning of an utterance (97).  We also learn of structure and content words and how they help build sentences.  If we say “ship sails today” it make no sense, but if we add a structure word such as “the” we can get “The ship sails today” or “Ship the sails today” to help make sense of the words (98).   In this chapter we also learn about immediate consituent analysis, and transformational grammar along with the nature of the Greek sentence and its patterns.  All this will help us know how to analyze a sentence so we know what it is saying to get at its meaning.  

One of the more intriguing chapters for me was the next chapter on semantics (120-141).  Semantics deals with determining the meaning of individual words.  Words have meaning but they need context to help supply that meaning.  If we use the word “turkey” lots of meanings come to mind, a kind of meat, a country, a kind of bird, a score in bowling, an obnoxious child, etc.  Lots of possibilities.  But soon as I say “I had turkey for lunch,” we know which meaning of “turkey” is referred to, though then we may want to know if it was deli meat turkey or the meat right from the bird, but still, words need context to have meaning

So, in this chapter we learn about etemology, whether a word is found in it’s nature or through convention and usage (121).  The thing we have to be careful about here is etemologizing, or as Gordon Fee advises, “don’t get derivation happy.”   This is when we insist that the meaning of a word is based on its derivation.  The all too famous word people do this with is “εκκλησια.” 

Often folks take εκ (a preposition meaning “out of”) and the root καλ (to call) and combine them to think εκκλησια means the church is a group of “the called out ones.”  Then we go off theologizing about how special the church is as a called out people, a separate people, separate from the world (after all we are not to be of it, right?) and go on and on, when this is classic etemologizing.  The reality is, in the NT εκκλησια simply refers to an assembly of people defined by membership, as opposed to οχλος (the crowd).  So, meaning is most often based on useage and not derivation per se (sometimes, but very rarely – form and meaning are not always directly connected). 

So, one has to be careful not to confuse historial information with contemporary usage – historial information can help provide comparison and background information but not the meaning of a word – so becareful on that one (122).  So enough about that – want more?  Get the book! 

The rest of the chapter gets into words and concepts, sematic meanings, rhetorical language.  You learn about synonyms, hyponymns, opposites, and so on.  It’s all good stuff and by the way, the book is meant to be read and not consulted – you need to read it from beginning to end to understand how it all works together

There is a chapter on the history of Greek and here you get a rundown on how it all developed.  See my recent post about linguistics and translation where I reflect on part of this chapter in relation to Greek itself – it may not be quite what Dr. Black was intending but it’s a connection I made. 

The final chapter is on discourse analysis (170-197) and here you get a great quick overview of the book of Philippians through the use of discourse analysis.  What is discourse analysis?  Much of what goes on up to this point is analyzing the smaller parts of language: sounds, words, phrases, sentences.  Now, we analyze the larger parts, the whole unit in which the smaller parts fit.   Whereas syntax analyzes prhases and sentences, discourse analysis anlyzes whole paragraphs and books.  What are we looking for?  Cohesion and Coherence.  We want to know how the sentences link together into larger syntactical units (171) and also make sense of that unit or text. 

That about sums it up!  This is a great book and quite useful!  Please consider getting and reading it!  Thank you Dr. Black for allowing me a copy to reivew – it was a great pleasure!  Be Blessed!

notable additions to the RBL list

The following are what I would see as some of the more notable book reviews added to the RBL list – notable for the author of the book, its content or the reviewer.  If it is highlighted in bold, it meets one of those categories.

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The Review of Biblical Literature is a publication of the Society of Biblical Literature (http://www.sbl-site.org).

*****
The following new reviews have been added to the Review of Biblical Literature and listed on the RBL blog (http://rblnewsletter.blogspot.com/):

Gerald L. Borchert – Worship in the New Testament: Divine Mystery and Human Response
http://www.bookreviews.org/bookdetail.asp?TitleId=6648 Reviewed by Tony Costa

Thomas L. Brodie – Proto-Luke: The Oldest Gospel Account: A Christ-Centered Synthesis of Old Testament History Modelled Especially on the Elijah-Elisha Narrative – http://www.bookreviews.org/bookdetail.asp?TitleId=6054 Reviewed by Gerbern S. Oegema

Neil Elliott – The Arrogance of Nations: Reading Romans in the Shadow of Empire
http://www.bookreviews.org/bookdetail.asp?TitleId=6481 Reviewed by Ben Witherington III

Benjamin Fiore – The Pastoral Epistles: First Timothy, Second Timothy, and Titus
http://www.bookreviews.org/bookdetail.asp?TitleId=6157 Reviewed by Matthew D. Montonini

Joseph A. FitzmyerFirst Corinthians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary
http://www.bookreviews.org/bookdetail.asp?TitleId=6687 Reviewed by Anthony C. Thiselton

Wouter J. Hanegraaf, ed. – Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism
http://www.bookreviews.org/bookdetail.asp?TitleId=6316 Reviewed by David E. Aune

Andreas J. Kostenberger and Scott R. Swain Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel
http://www.bookreviews.org/bookdetail.asp?TitleId=6661 Reviewed by Mary Coloe

******

Some reviews forthcoming.

The following are some forthcoming book reivews:

Gregory Koukl’s Tactics (forthcoming Zondervan, Feb 2009)

Comfort and Driesbach’s The Many Gospels of Jesus (Tyndale, 2008 )

Menzies et al.  Spirit and Power: Foundations of Pentecostal Experience (Zondervan, 2000)

Frank Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit: A Global Pentecostal Theology (2006). 

Edit to add:

Craig S. Keener’s The Spirit in the Gospels and Acts: Divine Purity and Power (Hendrickson, 1997).

These will be put out in the coming months.

Review of Biblical Literature has a new blog

But… its a blogger blog.  Why?  Ah well.  It’s here: http://rblnewsletter.blogspot.com/

About it they write:

Following the pattern of Bryn Mawr Classical Review (http://www.bmcreview.org/), each book reviewed will be listed in a separate blog entry. Note also that the comments function is currently enabled. We invite authors, reviewers, and RBL readers to comment on reviews, understanding that we will adhere strictly to the following guidelines: (a) all comments will be moderated by the RBL managing editor; (b) anonymous comments will not be allowed; anyone submitting a comment must provide his or her full name; (c) only comments that advance discussion of a book or review will be posted; (d) comments that contain personal or ad hominem attacks of any kind, that disparage any individual or group, or that do not relate directly to the book or its review will be declined. We trust that the RBL blog will enable readers to engage in positive interaction concerning the books we review or the reviews we publish. However, the comments function may be disabled at any time, should experience teach us that it is not achieving its purpose. If you have any questions about or suggestions for the RBL blog, please contact Bob.Buller@sbl-site.org.

Here are some of the more interesting newest additions of reviews:

James D. G. Dunn.  The New Perspective on PaulReviewed by J. R. Daniel Kirk

Paul Rhodes Eddy and Gregory A. Boyd.  The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus TraditionReviewed by Ken Olson

Anthony C. Thiselton.  Hermeneutics of DoctrineReviewed by Dirk J. Smit

TNIV Reference Bible: Renaissance Leather Edition – a written review

So I have a video review in process of being edited – it’s perfectly nerdy and bilbiobloggish! 

But, since then I have had some time to interact with the new TNIV Reference Bible and so far, I really like it

tniv-reference1The thing I like most so far is the layout – I’m coming to really like the single column layout – it’s a lot easier on the eyes than the standard two-column layout, though most of us are used to the two column style.   The cross-references are on the outer edge of the page, which is really great since sometimes they in the inner side and get caught down in the fold and that makes it too hard to see sometimes.   It looks like they somehow set it up so the references start from the middle of the page and work out (up or down).  What I mean is the references are centered in the middle of the page so that on some pages with only some references, the list is short leaving room for marginal notes.  However, there are pages where there are a significant number of notes leaving little if any room for marginal notes.   (See the picture in Nathan’s review for an example).

Another feature I like and I think really contributes to the process of Bible study is the paragraph layout.  I have the International Inductive Study Bible and while it is in the single column layout, they did not section out the text in paragraph format, but rather in a verse by verse layout.  Why is this important (the paragraph lay out)?  Because the biblical text flows in units of thought and whether one agrees with where the editors chose to close one thought and begin the next (side note: I’ve often noticed commentators segmenting the text a verse or two different than the average Bible) the point is, it really helps the average pastor or person studying the Bible to have the text laid out in paragraph form, especially for the Inductive Method.  (If you want to learn more about what I am talking about here, consider David L. Thompson’s Bible Study That Works, Evangel Publishing House, 1994 – this little book is an absolute gem!).   Also, it helps when preaching through a book, one know where the next section begins, etc.

I also like the Topical Ties segment located at the bottom of most pages.  What are the Topical Ties?  It is a topcial reference system inteded to complement the cross-reference system highlighting various topics found in Scripture.  To me it seems like having a condensed Nave’s Topical Bible right in your main Bible.   It’s should be noted, this is NOT a study Bible in the technical sense, but I think in some ways it is a great study Bible!  How so?  Because of the strong cross-reference system and the topical ties system.   It helps you study the text of Scripture on your own!   The study notes in most study Bibles are typcially background based (a very good one is the new NLT Study Bible, with few exceptions, its notes are second to none (that is, in my opinion.) 

Here are some Topical Ties to consider: (picked at random)

Deut 32:22 Fire of judgment from God. Ge 19:24-25. Nu16:35 <—–> 2 Ki 1:9-12.  (arrows here indicate addtional verse (or verses to consider).

A survey of these verses show that in some cases, fire is used to in God’s judgment against wickedness or disobedience, and so on. 

Acts 22:14-16 Baptism in the early church.  Mt 28:19.  Ac 16:31-33 <—–> 1 Co 1:13-17

Based on these verse we see that baptism is part of the process of being saved though not necessarily required for salvation – it symbolizes our inclusion in the larger Body of Christ (as does faith).

So these are just a couple examples of Topical Ties.  Perhaps later I’ll have to follow one through from beginning to end to see how it develops and what comes of it. 

Finally, I think the Dictionary of TNIV terms at the end of the Bible, before the maps, will come in handy for quite a few folks, even myself when I need a reminder or come across a term I am not familiar with.  The descriptions are short and to the point.  They are not intended to be exhaustive.  That is what a Bible Dictionary is for! (e.g., Eerdmans or some other).

Here are a couple of examples:

Firstborn Oldest son and the possessor of special priviledges.  In the Old Testament the term often described the priviledge and favor God granted to Israel (Ex 23:19).  In the New Testament, the term is applied to Jesus (1 Co 15:20) and to believers (Jas 1:18).

Kingdom of God God’s rule over all creation as the Creator (Ps 103:19; 145:11-13).  His special rule over Israel is also sometimes referred to as his “kingdom” (Ex 19:6; 1 Ch 17:14; 28:5: 29:11; 2 Ch 13:8; Ob 21).  The kingdom of God as God’s special rule in the hearts of believers and his gracious restoration of the goodness of the creation was initiated through the coming of Christ and will be consummated when Christ returns to bring his saving work to completion. 

If I were to list some weaknesses of the TNIV Reference Bible: Renaissance Leather Edition, the main one would be that the thinness of the paper allows it to flold a little too easily – I have already had to unfold a few page corners here and there I don’t remember folding.   I hope too, the paper lining on the inside of the leather cover does not soon begin to pull away.  Hoepfully it has been glued well enough to stay strong for a long while. I already see some fraying on the smyth sewn binding so I hope it won’t continue to be a problem. 

It might be fine leather Bible, but still, care and attention will be needed to see that it lasts. 

Thank you Zondervan for this review copy of the latest TNIV Reference Bible: Renaissance Leather Edition – it is and has been and will be a tremendous blessing!