Is formal study of Scripture different to personal devotional reading? How do we keep them separate? Should we?
How do I balance my academic reading of Scripture with my devotional reading? It’s a question I get from friends, students and pastors. I understand why: if we read the Bible only to write papers or deliver sermons, we may be missing the main point: the revelation of God.
But I’ll be honest with you: I don’t have separate times for academic and devotional reading. I don’t read sometimes for theological, structural, and critical analysis of the text, and other times for personal sustenance and development.
Continue reading “Academic or devotional? How do you read?”
Not just what to think but how to think on a controversial topic.
My first degree (B Th) was from a Bible college in the American Mid-West. One of the things I wasn’t prepared for was how many church people owned guns and said they would use them to protect themselves.
Guns are a big topic in the US, so it’s refreshing to see some good scholars engaging this debate. Two professors from Fuller Theological Seminary have collated the work of seven others in a new book called God and Guns: The Bible Against American Gun Culture published by Westminster John Knox Press in November 2021.
Now another NT scholar is blogging his responses. Ben Witherington III is someone I consult regularly (most recently 2 days ago). His understanding of how rhetoric functioned in the social setting of the New Testament is second to none. That’s why it was such a thrill to tour Israel with him back in 2014.
So, if you’re interested in how some good American Bible scholars think about this topic, Ben’s blog posts are your way in:
Continue reading “God and Guns”
Gordon Wenham’s excellent book “The Psalter Reclaimed: Praying and Praising with the Psalms” is free this month (Nov 2021).
Gordon Wenham’s ebook, The Psalter Reclaimed: Praying and Praising with the Psalms is free this month (November 2021).
I’ve learned heaps from Wenham about understanding the Old Testament in context. Particularly, his commentaries on Genesis (2 volumes, WBC) and Leviticus (NICOT) and Numbers (TCOT) are so insightful, and Story as Torah: Reading Old Testament Narrative Ethically (T&T Clark, 2000) makes sense of difficult passages.
In this book, he guides us to the Psalms, showing us how to:
- celebrate the God revealed in the Psalms
- present our needs to him
- read Psalms in the context of the whole story of Scripture
- understand Psalms in light of the Messiah
- apply the ethics of the Psalms
- handle the imprecatory Psalms
He then pulls it all together with a specific example from Psalm 103, before the final chapter on how the other nations fit with the Psalms.
Do you treat the Psalms as stand-alone songs? Or were they assembled in a meaningful way, so that one Psalm relates to the others around it? How do you read them in context?
Chapter 7 shows how. From Psalm 103: The Song of Steadfast Love:
Continue reading “Wenham shows us how to approach the Psalms (free book)”
What does the word ‘Christ’ mean? Joshua Jipp shows that the New Testament’s message is that Jesus is the Messiah, the God-appointed king for humanity. That’s good news.
Over 500 times the New Testament refers to Jesus as the Christ. That’s twice a chapter! It must be important.
What are we saying when we call Jesus the Christ? Is it just an alternative name? Or is it making a statement about who he is and the authority he carries? How is the Christ the centre of the whole narrative, the one who reconciles earth to heaven’s authority?
You’d think that after 2000 years we’d have something this basic sorted out, but not everyone understands the Christ as a proclamation that Jesus is the Messiah — the leader anointed by God so heaven’s reign is restored to earth.
Christology is the branch of theology devoted to studying the Christ. Understanding Christ as king is often just a minor point of Christology. That’s being challenged. For example, last year Joshua Jipp wrote The Messianic Theology of the New Testament (Eerdmans, 2020) to show this:
Continue reading “Joshua Jipp’s Messianic Theology”
Free commentary containing the 2021 blog posts on the Book of Zechariah.
Here is a free commentary on Zechariah for you to download (PDF, 1MB). It contains all our 2021 posts on Zechariah, including the introduction (below). Enjoy.
Continue reading “Zechariah: a kingdom perspective (free commentary)”
Want to hear and respond to the Gospel of Mark? Here’s a good place to start.
Good news! There’s a new commentary on the Gospel of Mark, from an author I’ve been reading. Here’s a quick introduction.
Continue reading “Mark’s Gospel in the Story of God (Tim Gombis)”
The most efficient way to study Scripture.
Rather than just discuss the new features in Logos 9, I thought you might appreciate knowing how I use Logos for researching the kingdom of God.
Continue reading “How I use Logos”
Logos Bible Software has just released version 9. If you’re pondering some quality Bible software, now is a good time. If you already use Logos, version 9 has the familiar feel we’re all accustomed to, with enhancements to explore at your leisure.
Continue reading “Logos 9 is here”
This Kiwi nails it: big picture of the kingdom, in brief.
Update 2020-11-10: The Logos Black Friday sale has this book for 1/3rd price this week.
How do you wrap your head around a topic as big as the kingdom? Here’s a great summary from New Zealand scholar, Mark Keown.
The first volume of his Discovering the New Testament surveys the Gospels and Acts. The rest of the book (pages 417–548) then pulls the whole story together as the kingdom of God.
I’m taking a break this week. I think you’ll enjoy this sample from Mark Keown:
Continue reading “Kingdom summary (Mark Keown)”
Dallas Willard wondered, “Is salvation itself a new and active attachment with God that forms and transforms our identities?”
We teach Spiritual Formation because we want disciples developing character, not just downloading information. Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline has been a favourite text, along with several from the late Dallas Willard. If you enjoyed those, check out Jim Wilder, Renovated: God, Dallas Willard, and the Church That Transforms. Continue reading “Spiritual formation as belonging”
Here it is. Our first commentary on a book of the Bible, from the perspective of the kingdom of God.
We covered Ephesians over six months. Those 50+ posts have now been compiled into a free, downloadable commentary.
As the reverse of the title page explains, you have permission to use it yourself, share it with others, use it academically — basically anything except selling it for profit.
Here’s the PDF (1 MB). This is the best format for general use. Enjoy.
Update 2022-04-18: commentary updated (typos fixed, quotations included).
For Logos users
If you use Logos Bible Software and would like to compile this as a Personal Book, here’s the DOCX (600 kb) and cover (62 kb). Continue reading “Ephesians: a kingdom perspective (free commentary)”
“A gift can be unconditioned (free of prior conditions regarding the recipient) without also being unconditional (free of expectations that the recipient will offer some ‘return’).”
The word “grace” encapsulates so much of the gospel, so I was blown away by John Barclay’s masterful study of this word: Paul and the Gift, published by Eerdmans in 2015. It’s big (672 pages), pricey (US $55), and academic, though at the time of this review it was available on Kindle for US $4.50.
If you just want a concise summary, choose Barclay’s Paul and the Power of Grace (Eerdmans, 2020, 200 pages). For me, the larger book was worth the effort. It’s a superb example of how to pursue a word study: I learned as much from his method as his content. Continue reading “On grace: John Barclay, “Paul and the Gift” (book review)”
Update 2021-02-07: Riverview College is not operating at present (COVID).
If you’re in Perth and serious about serving Jesus, would you consider devoting a year to learning how to do it well?
In twelve months at Riverview College, you could have:
- a Diploma of Ministry (10574NAT),
- leadership masterclasses from experts like Tim Healy and Aash Parmar,
- hands-on ministry experience (internship).
The Diploma studies are your deep-dive into the Bible, theology, practical skills, and personal development: six hours of lectures each Thursday. On Wednesdays you’ll be engaged with the Riverview staff, soaking up the leadership masterclasses, and serving in the internship. There are also assessments to complete for the Diploma, and you will be serving in a ministry team on the weekends as well.
This Facebook video is your invitation.
Continue reading “Time to learn? (Riverview College)”
Update 2020-06-25: The links in this article have expired.
Grappling with Galatians is a free series of podcasts by N. T. Wright, provided by Regent College (Vancouver, Canada).
There are five podcasts (A, B, C, D, E), each 2 – 3 hours (70MB MP3), accompanied by 36 pages of notes (3 MB, PDF). Or you can download the podcasts and notes in one go as a Zip file (370 MB).
While I’m not a podcast junkie, you’ll find this set helps you come to terms with what Galatians meant to the people of central Turkey who first received the letter, and therefore what it could mean for us today. Continue reading “Tom Wright on Galatians (podcasts)”
Update 2021-02-07: Riverview College is not operating at present (COVID).
Could you spend 2019 developing the knowledge and skills you need for Christian ministry?
Riverview College is offering an accredited Diploma of Ministry (10574NAT), with leadership classes and internship opportunities giving you a hands-on experience of practical ministry in one of the church’s departments.
We’d love to meet you, share all the details and answer your questions at the information night: 7pm 5 December 2018.
If you can’t wait, the Riverview College website has information about the courses, college life, and things you might want to know, so you can apply.
Logos is the most powerful and efficient Bible study tool I’ve ever used. You can use it to like a Kindle app to read biographies on your tablet (iOS or Android), or you can use for PhD research of superbly hyperlinked and fully indexed academic resources on your computer (Mac or PC).
The new version released this week has integrated all the notes I’ve made in 10 years of using Logos — more than 7,000 annotations to my Bible, covering every book except 2 John.
It’s also telling me I’ve added 43,000 highlights to other books in my library. Top five: Continue reading “Using Logos Bible Software”
A commentary might help you study better. But how do you know what to choose?
For serious Bible study, you benefit from hearing what others say about the text. But how do you know which commentaries to buy?
Several commentators have chosen their favourites at BestCommentaries.com. Like everyone, they have their bias (Evangelical, with a Calvinistic bent), but it’s still a good indicator.
And the good news is that you’ll find many (not all) of the top commentaries for each book of the Bible on sale at Logos this month (May 2018).
Which Bible book will you study next? Pick up the commentary. Continue reading “Best commentaries”
Need help with Bible study? Get an expert on your tablet.
Update 2018-03-20: Logos March Madness winners are in. I’m buying NICOT/NICNT @ US $745 (less the volumes I already have).
Serious about Bible study? It helps if you have a friend who can tell you all about the text. Ideally, this friend would know the situation the text addressed, appreciate the nuances of its language, and tell you how other people have understood it. Sounds like a big ask?
You can have friends like that with you wherever you go. They’re called commentators. Commentaries are available for whatever level of Bible study you want. This month (May 2018) could be your best chance to get the good ones.
So what level of commentary do you need?
Continue reading “Time for some commentaries”
Logos is offering Karl Barth’s entire Church Dogmatics @ US $75
Karl Barth was one of the most influential theologians of last century. His Church Dogmatics is wordy and not easy reading, but I like the way he puts Jesus the centre of everything.
Continue reading “Barth’s Church Dogmatics”
What does it mean to be a leader in God’s kingdom? God desires “Shepherds After My Own Heart.”
The best study on Christian leadership I’ve ever read is Timothy Laniak’s book, Shepherds after My Own Heart: Pastoral Traditions and Leadership in the Bible (IVP, 2006). Where many leadership books derive principles from business or bureaucratic settings, Laniak derives his from the heart of God, as expressed in the Biblical narrative. Continue reading ““Shepherds After My Own Heart””