Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thomas Schreiner's Galatians

So it's finally here, Schreiner's commentary on Galatians in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series (ZECNT). With a sermon on Gal 4:21-31 coming up, I immediately put this to work. Here are some of my scattered thoughts about the commentary:

1) Very stylish cover and page layout (I'm not bothered by the small margins). There are on average five footnotes per page (often more), where he interacts with specific authors on grammatical/historical points. There are a few excurses on the obvious Galatians flashpoints (justification, works of law, faith in/of Christ, Lev 18:5, law of Christ, Israel of God).

2) For the introduction, three sentences are given to authorship, six pages to the letter recipients (prefers a South Galatia readership), five pages to the situation Paul is addressing, three pages on the issue of empire in Galatians, and sixteen pages on the opponents' background and beliefs (Jewish? Pagan? Etc.). Other issues are addressed as well, but these were the most interesting to me.

3)I'm not a 'Paul guy,' but the bibliography and author index seem pretty well-rounded to me, although Campbell's The Deliverance of God is a surprising omission.

4)The frequent text boxes, shaded areas, and clear divisions help the reader track the discussion. The graphical layout and structural outline of the text do a great job at tracking the argument, which is essential for a letter like Galatians.

5) The concluding "Theology in Application" sections were often helpful, while not overly stimulating.

6) When talking about Greek, very little jargon is used (I couldn't find any "epexegetical, resumptive, protasis-apodosis, etc."), and any jargon used is explained, ex. "adversative conjunction 'but'" (p. 348).

8) The closing 'Themes in Galatians' contains great summaries Galatians.  You see, there's that emphasis on clarity this series holds to.

7) I'd compare this with the BECNT series.  While ZECNT may not be as detailed as BECNT, it matches it with clarity and a holistic approach.  And the theology/application emphasis in ZECNT isn't found in BECNT or even Pillar.

My impression: The focus on the flow of the argument (which the series obviously strives for) is commendable and Schreiner does it well. While some will surely miss in-depth, scholarly discussion on every individual word, Schreiner gives you Galatians as a whole. Pastors would do well to pick this up, and scholars would do badly to pass it by.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

2 Maccabees reflection--almost

So what does one do when they fail to complete an academic writing assignment? Throw it up on a blog! And so I follow this rule that I just made up.

This was supposed to be a reflection on 2 Maccabees, but the deadline was a little to quick for my writing habits. Yet, instead of locking this up in a mausoleum, I set it free on the net. So here it is.

Perhaps the most emotionally gripping passage in 2 Maccabees is chapter seven with the persecution of the mother and her seven sons. Yet, in the midst of the vivid descriptions of the barbarous torture of the family, the theological theme of atoning martyrdom is brought up. While the references to atoning martyrdom in this passage are brief, I will argue that the concept arose out of the Jewish experience of persecution and the defilement of the temple. In this brief reflection the first part will examine the material in 2 Maccabees (especially chs. 5-7), and then conclude with a discussion of the role of atoning martyrdom with Jesus in the New Testament gospels.
The context for the development of atoning martyrdom begins in 2 Maccabees 5 with the invasion of wrathful Antiochus from Egypt to Jerusalem in 5:11. After his great slaughter, he, led by Menelaus, entered the temple and seized the temple vessels and votive offerings (5:16). While the text does not explicitly say, it can be reasonably inferred that this action caused the temple to be defiled. Following this, the narrative aside (5:17-20) makes it clear that the nation was under God’s judgment, which also implies that they were defiled because of sin.
Turning to 2 Maccabees 6, the Hellenistic culture is violently forced upon the Jewish nation. This includes the debauchery of the people in the temple, and the forbidden elements offered on the altar. If there was any question of the defilement of the temple from the previous chapter, it is obvious that the nation is defiled, thus rendering it unable to offer means of atonement for sin and purification.

End of text

Maybe someday I'll finish it, but I'm not holding out hope.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Prefatory shots across the proverbial bow

1) The term "community" has been that itch in my upper-middle back that I can't reach. It annoys me. I don't know why it's there. Now, it probably is my Henry Roberts-esque inclination towards order and understanding, but I just want to know what the blessed word means. For all the times I've heard "we're a community of x" or "we're building more community through y and z," one part of me gives a vocal cheer while another gives a subconscious query. What is a community? How many communities can one be a part of? I'm not issuing a public moratorium of the term, but expressing my personal ignorance as to the term's significance and extension.

2) How do you meaningfully show appreciation for friends?

3) And now for the topic we've all been waiting for: Church. Question: Why do churches insist on creating new program after program, when other churches/ministries in the area may already have a similar program in place? Why not simply join forces in a particular ministry area. I see many advantages to this (and a few cons, naturally); so why isn't it done more?

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Blogging Cornucopia

Don't call this a comeback.

How come every semester feels like the busiest semestre you've ever had? (I know I spelled "semester" wrong, but I like it that way better). I only had 12 units, but it felt like the greatest amount of work in my academic career. It wasn't brute work heavy (my Spring 2007 semester gets the award for that one, when I had both OT Theology and Minor Prophets with Dr. Talley) or reading heavy (that was my Spring 2008 semester with Dr. Lunde's NT's use of OT). My Advanced Greek Grammar course with Dr. Carson was the most demanding all-around, but it ended up being one of the most fulfilling classes I've done since OT in NT (and it doesn't hurt that Carson truly liked my final paper). For my Gospel Criticism class I had to prepare an hour-long lecture on the theology of John, which required a lot of organization and preparation on my part, which are definately my personal weaknesses. So that proved to be a good challenge that I learned a lot from. So much good was done on the academic front over the past few months.

This was also the most heartbreaking semester I've had. In my first year at Trinity (2008-9), I had a faculty advisor. It was his first year teaching there, and we became fairly close because of our weekly meetings. Even when I had the Fall '09 semester off I'd still meet with him monthly to keep in touch and update him on my new marriage. He was a careful listener and was never short of direct questions and careful advice. However, in October his wife was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. He took leave the rest of the semester, so I was unable to visit with him.

When I returned (and he resumed his teaching duties) to Trinity in Spring '10 I took a course with him, and I was able to meet with him a couple times each month. He was noticably more tired, but he still showed great interest in my relationship with my wife, my schooling, and the youth ministry we were involved in. But there was always a stretch of about 2-5 minutes where he would stop asking questions and become quiet. I'd finishing answering his questions and become quiet. Then one of us would start sniffling and tearing up, then the other would do the same. And for those 2-5 mins. we'd just cry. He'd then start telling me about his 5 year old daughter, how she cries at night. Or how thin and weak his wife was getting, how the coughing wouldn't stop, or how she was showing signs of improvement--but the following weekend she'd be in the ICU. Two weeks before she died, he asked me how I spend my time with my wife, if I actively make time to hang out with her, and how important it is that I do so. At the time neither of us knew what was going to happen in two weeks, but what I did know was that I was hearing the heart of a man speaking from the most far-off place imaginable. So when she died two weeks later, everything he said to me took on much more substance.

The memorial ceremony was amazing. The Trinity chapel was packed full, so I felt like an imposter, never having met or even seen her. The ceremony consisted of a bold prayer (by Dr. Osborne), a recitation of 1 Cor 15 (Dr. Schnabel), a moving reflection on death and Jesus' victory over it (Dr. Yarbrough), and a final recitation of the Lord's prayer (Dr. Pao). A close relative (her sister, I recall) gave a wonderful recollection of the life of a mother, wife, missionary, and daughter of God.

That's all for now.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

10 Years, 6 Strings

Yes, the title gives it all away. I have now been playing the guitar for 10 years. So much has gone into it, and so much has come from it. And so, in order to celebrate in the spirit of rock 'n' roll roll self-indulgence, I will fulfill one of my dreams: give an interview. I don't know how many hours I've spent with guitar magazines over the years, but my favorite parts were the interviews with the musicians about their music. Sure, this is pretty lame; but when you do something for 10 years, you can celebrate however you want. Deal? So stay tuned.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Thoughts from Mark

So we had our first lecture on the actual text of Mark. Here are some issues I want to pursue further (not necessarily limited to Markan studies):

-The 'fresh perspective of Jesus,' which deals with Jesus' anti-empire stance and mission. How much of the New Testament is a critique of Rome and empires in general?

-The role of literary criticism as opposed to historical-critical biblical study. Does literary criticism of the gospels undermine or unnecessary ignore the historical references/issues?

-And my personal favorite: the New Testament's use of the Old Testament.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A reason to pray: School

I start back at school today! So much joy mingled with uncertainty! Here's what's on my plate for the next four months:

Greek Exegesis I with Grant Osborne
New Testament Theology with Grant Osborne
Advanced Greek Grammar with D.A. CArson
Criticism of the Gospels with Grant Osborne
Current Issues: Mark with Te-Li Lau

So I'm pretty set on changing to the MA in NT, unless my talks with Dr. Yarbrough and Dr. Pao change my mind.
I probably won't change my degree. Woopee!