Monday 28 June 2010

Six of the Best 7: Books on Biblical Interpretation at an Intermediate Level

This is the seventh in a series of ‘Six of the Best’ books in a particular area related to engaging with Scripture which are first posted on the website of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. This one looks at books on biblical interpretation written at an intermediate level.

Having already suggested some books for beginners on interpreting the Bible (here), the following titles are among the best written at an intermediate level; they’re more demanding reads, but will help you if you’re already off the starting blocks and want to take things further.

Jeannine K. Brown, Scripture as Communication: Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007).
Focuses on the act of communication between author, text and reader; this is a very good middle-weight textbook overview of hermeneutics.

J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible, 2nd edn. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005).
A very good, and highly recommended, ‘workbook’ type of introduction to exegesis and application – though it tends to be a little simplistic, I think, in its discussion of moving from the Bible to today.

Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel-Centred Hermeneutics: Biblical-Theological Foundations and Principles (Leicester: Apollos, 2006).
Written self-consciously and unashamedly from a perspective which privileges the ‘gospel’ and the discipline of biblical theology as a means of seeing how Scripture hangs together as one, unified work.

William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L. Hubbard Jr., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 2nd edn. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004).
An excellent large volume, which is broad in its scope. Like the others in this list, it’s not for beginners, but I would recommend it as the best all-round mid-level volume on biblical interpretation.

Dan McCartney and Charles Clayton, Let the Reader Understand: A Guide to Interpreting and Applying the Bible, 2nd edn. (Philadelphia: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2002).
A mid-level textbook, covering most of the important topics.

Robert Plummer, 40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2010).
A good resource for concise answers to questions, organised in four main sections: getting started (on text, canon, and translation), approaching the Bible generally (on interpretation and meaning), approaching specific texts (focusing particularly on the Bible’s literary types), and issues in recent discussion.

If you have come across other good books on biblical interpretation at this ‘intermediate’ level which are not listed here, let us know what they are and why you have found them helpful.

Previous entries in this series:

Books for beginners on interpreting the Bible
Books on biblical themes
Books on biblical worldview formation
Books on the biblical story
Books on the biblical genres
Books on preaching biblical genres

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Encounters 33 (June 2010) – The Psalms and Mission

The June 2010 edition of Encounters from Redcliffe College is devoted to the Psalms and mission. This follows the launch event of the Centre for the Study of Bible and Mission and the delivery of a lecture (on that occasion) by Gordon Wenham on ‘The Nations in the Psalms’. That lecture is included in this issue of Encounters, along with responses from Tim Davy (Centre for the Study of Bible and Mission), Eddie Arthur (Wycliffe Bible Translators), and David Spriggs (Bible Society). In addition to other articles on the Psalms and mission, the edition includes the excellent chapter on ‘Praying the Psalms’ from Ian Stackhouse’s book, The Day is Yours: Slow Spirituality in a Fast-Moving World (Bletchley: Authentic, 2008).

Tim Davy
Editorial: The Centre for the Study of Bible and Mission

Gordon Wenham
The Nations in the Psalms

Tim Davy
The Nations in the Psalms and the Psalms in the Nations: A Response

Brian Russell
Psalms 1-2 as an Introduction to Reading the Psalms Missionally

Eddie Arthur
Reflections on the Nations in the Psalms

David Spriggs
The Nations in Isaiah 40-55

Name withheld
Missionary Attrition and the Psalms of Lament

Tony Hughes
A Missional Reading of Psalm 47

Ian Stackhouse
Praying the Psalms

Book Reviews


Intégrité: A Faith and Learning Journal is published twice a year by the Faith & Learning Committee and the Humanities Division of Missouri Baptist University.

The journal examines historical, philosophical, theological, cultural, and pedagogical issues related to the integration of Christian faith and higher learning. They note that ‘intégrité’ is a French word translated into English as ‘totality’, ‘integrity’, ‘honesty’, commenting that John Calvin considered ‘intégrité’ as whole-hearted or integrated commitment to God.

It’s not clear whether the journal has ceased publication, since the most recent volume appears to be 8, 1 (Spring 2009), available here, but previous issues are available on the same page.

As an indication of content, articles in 8, 1 (Spring 2009) are as follows:

James F. West
Quae res Excelentia? Virtus, Veritas, Excelentia

Cordell P. Schulten
Imago Dei: Made in God’s Image to be Lords, Stewards or Servants of Creation?

Mary C. Bagley and Craig Bodenschatz
Dusty Books and the Talking Fawns Who Tell Their Tales: The Enigma of C.S. Lewis

John J. Han
Departing the Corporeal World: O’Connor’s Neoplatonic Idea of Redemption in ‘A Good Man Is Hard to Find,’ ‘The River,’ and ‘The Displaced Person’

C. Clark Triplett
‘The Perverse Core of Christianity’: A Review of Two Recent Works on the Radical Materialist Theology of Slovaj Žižek

Book Reviews

Sunday 20 June 2010

Global Missiology

Thanks to Tim Davy (over at Bible and Mission) for drawing attention to Global Missiology – ‘a quarterly publication of contributions from international researchers, practitioners and scholars who have a global perspective’ – with freely-available articles. Check through their archives for some interesting theological reflection on mission, contextualisation, and more besides.

Friday 11 June 2010

David Naugle on Kingdom Living: Developing a Biblical View of Life

The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview recently came to the end of a 17-part series by David Naugle on ‘Kingdom Living: Developing a Biblical View of Life’ (see below for the individual entries and his summaries).

Naugle has written more fully on worldview in a number of places, but these 17 short articles provide an uncomplicated introduction to the three essential themes of creation, fall, and redemption that he sees at the heart of the biblical worldview.

Such a worldview, he notes in the first article in the series, takes the whole of Scripture into consideration – from Genesis to Revelation. It also provides a way of tackling the problem of dualism, what Naugle refers to as ‘the tendency to divide life itself up into airtight compartments of the sacred and the secular’, leading to a ‘false, fragmented approach to Christianity’ which ‘hands huge chunks of life over to the kingdom of darkness’.

‘In place of this sinister dualism, a Biblically-based worldview offers a fresh, motivating vision of wholeness. It embraces the entirety of life. It redefines the nature of sacred and secular in terms of obedience and disobedience respectively. It brings the totality of life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Christianity is concerned about the whole person, the whole of life, and the whole world! For God is not a God of dualism, but of unity, integrity, and completeness.’

1. Introduction to the Christian Worldview
Every human being is shaped by his or her worldview. For Christians, understanding the worldview one holds is especially critical because a biblical worldview is shaped by Jesus Christ himself.

2. Where On Earth Are We?
Every human being is shaped by his or her worldview. One of the critical elements of the biblical worldview is that God created the heavens and the earth. Christians must understand the origins, nature, and purpose of the universe in which they live.

3. Who On Earth Are We?
Every human being is shaped by his or her worldview. Christians cling to a biblical worldview that explains the origin and purpose of the human species.

4. Why Are We Here?
Human beings are shaped by their worldviews. The biblical worldview holds that God created human beings, and that he did so for specific purposes. Understanding these reasons is critical for Christian living.

5. Man, Woman, Marriage
The biblical account of God creating man and woman provides unique and intimate insight concerning the purpose God has ordained for humankind. Humans were created in the image of God, a fact that carries highly significant ramifications for all theaters of life, particularly concerning human understanding of spirituality and marriage.

6. Humpty Dumpty: What’s Gone Wrong?
As in the famous nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty, humanity has had a great fall. With the entrance of sin into the world through Adam and Eve, the plans God had for his creations were shattered like poor Humpty Dumpty. Fortunately for humanity, however, God provides a way for us to be put together again.

7. The Spread and Escalation of Sin (Genesis 4-11)
The opening chapters of Genesis provide the framework for understanding the rest of Scripture, and, indeed, the rest of human history. The sin of Adam and Eve resulted in the distortion of a good creation, as demonstrated through the stories found in Genesis 4-11.

8. The Fall in the New Testament: Jesus and Paul
Naugle discusses the New Testament depiction of sin as revealed in the teachings of Jesus and Paul.

9. A Theology of Creation and the Fall
Only through the lens of a biblical worldview can one pursue Kingdom living. In order to develop a biblical worldview, one must first determine an orthodox theology of creation and the fall.

10. Introduction to the Covenants
The overarching story of the Christian Bible is the story of redemption. The book of Genesis describes the creation of the world by God, the fall and distortion of this creation through the sin of mankind, and the subsequent promise God makes to redeem his creation – which he does! The biblical covenants illustrate the gracious, faithful, and loving character of God.

11. The Covenants with Noah and Abraham
Human beings are sinful; the biblical accounts of the flood and the Tower of Babel illustrate this sad fact. In his mercy, however, God has been working since the fall to redeem his creation. Part of how he accomplishes this goal is through covenants formed with Noah and Abraham.

12. Sinai, Davidic, and New Covenants
Since the entrance of sin into the world, God has been working to restore his creation. This process of redemption has been achieved through covenants, such as the ones made at Sinai and with David and culminating with the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.

13. Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God
The Old Testament ends with a note of expectation: the people were waiting for the kingdom of God. Finally, John the Baptist announced the arrival of the Lamb of God and the kingdom of heaven.

14. Redemption in John and Paul
In the books of the New Testament, there is theological diversity. What unifies the theology of the New Testament is the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

15. Ethics and Eschatology
Christian faith is rooted in the belief that Jesus Christ came as a human being and that he will come again as an eschatological judge and king. This belief informs how Christians live their lives.

16. Christianity and Culture
Christians must determine how they are to live in the world, despite the deep divide between the Christian community and the secular world. While Scripture warns against worldliness, it also exhorts believers to engage the culture rather than retreat from it. Different Christian traditions have approached this problem in different ways.

17. Redeeming Vocation
Lay Christian believers often feel as though they are second class citizens in the Kingdom of God compared to those who serve as missionaries or pastors. This spiritual dualism is one of the things that the Protestant Reformers worked to correct, and we must again work to return to a biblical understanding of vocation.

Journal of Theological Interpretation 4, 1 (2010)

The latest issue of one of my favourite periodicals – Journal of Theological Interpretation – is now out, with the following contents:

Kathryn Greene-McCreight
Introducing Premodern Scriptural Exegesis

Robert Louis Wilken
Interpreting the Bible as Bible

Claire Mathews McGinnis
Stumbling over the Testaments: On Reading Patristic Exegesis and the Old Testament in Light of the New

Bogdan G. Bucur
Sinai, Zion, and Tabor: An Entry into the Christian Bible

Bill T. Arnold
Deuteronomy as the Ipsissima Vox of Moses

Gene L. Green
Relevance Theory and Theological Interpretation: Thoughts on Metarepresentation

R. W. L. Moberly
“Interpret the Bible Like Any Other Book”? Requiem for an Axiom

Richard S. Briggs
Humans in the Image of God and Other Things Genesis Does Not Make Clear

Seth Heringer
Review Article: The Practice of Theological Commentary

Christopher B. Hays
Review Article: Bard Called the Tune: Whither Theological Exegesis in the Post-Childs Era?

Many of the essays have their origins in papers presented to The Theological Hermeneutics of Christian Scripture Group of the Society of Biblical Literature (see here), which explores ‘the hermeneutical innovations and theological implications of the location of critical biblical interpretation within the confessional communities of the Christian tradition’.

Thursday 10 June 2010

Biblical Theology for Life Series

I’ve been interested to see that Zondervan have plans to publish a ‘Biblical Theology for Life’ series. Two volumes have been announced as forthcoming later this year, and both of them look excellent:

Christopher J.H. Wright, The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, forthcoming 2010).

In The Mission of God’s People, part of the Biblical Theology for Life series, author Chris Wright offers a sweeping biblical survey of the holistic mission of the church, providing practical insight for today’s church leaders. Wright gives special emphasis to theological trajectories of the Old Testament that not only illuminate God’s mission but also suggest priorities for Christians engaged in God’s world-changing work.

In The Mission of God’s People, Chris Wright shows how God’s big-picture plan directs the purpose of God’s people, the church. Wright’s pioneering 2006 book, The Mission of God, revealed that the typical Christian understanding of ‘missions’ encompasses only a small part of God’s overarching mission for the world. God is relentlessly reclaiming the entire world for himself. Wright emphasizes what the Old Testament teaches Christians about being the people of God. He addresses questions of both ecclesiology and missiology with topics like ‘called to care for creation,’ ‘called to bless the nations,’ ‘sending and being sent,’ and ‘rejecting false gods.’ As part of the Biblical Theology for Life Series, this book provides you – whether you’re a pastor, teacher, or lay learner – with first-rate biblical study while at the same time addressing the practical concerns of contemporary ministry. The Mission of God’s People promises to enliven and refocus the study, teaching, and ministry of those truly committed to joining God’s work in the world.

Jonathan Lunde, Following Jesus, the Servant King: A Biblical Theology of Covenantal Discipleship (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, forthcoming 2010).

In Following Jesus, the Servant King, Jonathan Lunde presents a biblical theology of discipleship that gives the ‘big picture’ of God’s relationship with humanity. In biblical terms, Jesus is the King who demands righteous obedience from his followers, and Jesus is the Servant who provides the grace that enables this obedience. Lunde presents a view of Christian discipleship that is grounded in an informed Christology of Jesus, the Servant King.

Throughout the Old Testament and into the New, God not only demands righteousness from his people but also showers on grace that enables them to act. Jesus, of course, provides the ultimate fulfillment of these twin aspects of God’s relationship to humanity. In biblical terms, Jesus is the King who demands righteous obedience from his followers, and Jesus is the Servant who provides the grace that enables this obedience. So what does it mean to follow Jesus? What does God expect from his followers, and how can they be and do what is required? Jonathan Lunde answers these and other questions in his sweeping biblical study on discipleship. He surveys God’s interaction with his people from Eden to Jesus, paying special attention to the biblical covenants that illuminate the character and plans of God. He offers Bible students and teachers – such as pastors, missionaries, and lay leaders – the gift of practical biblical teaching rooted in the Bible’s witness on the vital topic of discipleship.

Monday 7 June 2010

Six of the Best 6: Books on Preaching Biblical Genres

This is the sixth in a series of ‘Six of the Best’ books in a particular area related to engaging with Scripture which are first posted on the website of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. This one looks at books which explore the significance of preaching the different literary types in the Bible.

‘Genre’ is crucial not just for our reading and understanding of Scripture, but for our appropriation of it for today – whether in personal reading or in teaching others. An earlier ‘Six of the Best’ (found here) was devoted to books on handling the different biblical genres in our reading of Scripture. As a follow-up, the resources listed here all explore the significance of the literary variety in Scripture for preaching, working on the assumption that a passage from 1 Chronicles will be preached differently from a passage in 1 Corinthians, that preachers best serve their congregations by making sure to do justice to the nature of the text itself (whether narrative or poetry or letter), rather than squeezing everything into the same sort of shape. Don’t be put off by the word ‘preaching’ in the titles; these books are helpful not just to ‘preachers’ but to all those who want to apply Scripture appropriately for today.

Jeffrey D. Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007).
Seeks to give attention to the rhetorical dynamics of the biblical literary types, with suggested implications for preaching, where the goal is to reproduce the intended effect of the text not just its ideas.

Charles H. Cosgrove and W. Dow Edgerton, In Other Words: Incarnational Translation for Preaching (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007).
Probably the most demanding of the books in this list. The key to their approach is in the phrase ‘incarnational translation’ in the subtitle; they seek to suggest how the text might have been presented – not just in terms of the sense of the passage, but also in terms of its form – if it had been written in the contemporary preacher’s own place and time.

Scott M. Gibson (ed.), Preaching the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2006).
A collection of essays by different contributors, covering between them the major genres of the Old Testament as well as some other topics (e.g., preaching the Old Testament in the light of its culture, preaching the Old Testament evangelistically).

Mike Graves, The Sermon as Symphony: Preaching the Literary Forms of the New Testament (Valley Forge: Judson, 1997).
Similar in concern to Arthurs’ book (above), but more narrowly focused on the New Testament.

Sidney Greidanus, The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text: Interpreting and Preaching Biblical Literature (Leicester: IVP, 1988).
Explores the interpretation and preaching of four main biblical genres: Old Testament narratives, prophetic literature, gospels, and epistles.

Thomas G. Long, Preaching and the Literary Forms of the Bible (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1989).
A relatively short but significant treatment of five genres: Psalms, Proverbs, narrative, parables, and epistles.

Previous entries in this series:

Books for beginners on interpreting the Bible
Books on biblical themes
Books on biblical worldview formation
Books on the biblical story
Books on the biblical genres

Sunday 6 June 2010

Fruitful Practices 3

See the earlier posts:

Fruitful Practices 1 – Seven Themes of Fruitfulness
Fruitful Practices 2 – A Descriptive List

Gene Daniels, ‘Describing Fruitful Practices: Relating to Society’, International Journal of Frontier Missiology 27:1 (2010), 21-26..

Following an earlier article outlining and describing eight ‘fruitful practices’, Gene Daniels explores in more detail those practices relating to society.

Society 1: Fruitful workers communicate respect by behaving in culturally appropriate ways
A worker’s attitude toward the host culture sends powerful messages. Fruitful workers behave in culturally appropriate ways in major cultural domains such as clothing and food, especially in regards to hospitality. The key is sensitivity to the local setting, not necessarily whole-hearted adoption of local practice.

Society 2: Fruitful workers address tangible needs in their community as an expression of the gospel
Good deeds often help workers gain a good reputation in the host community. Fruitful workers make clear that their good deeds are an expression of the gospel; otherwise, local people may assume that the worker is simply a good person or is trying to earn religious merit.

Society 3: Fruitful workers relate to people in ways that respect gender roles in the
local culture

Gender roles, and the taboos associated with them, are potent issues in the Muslim world. While maintaining a biblical perspective on these issues, fruitful workers strive to understand gender roles in their local context and demonstrate respect for these social norms.

Society 4: Fruitful workers mobilize extensive, intentional, and focused prayer
Fruitful workers invite others to join them through committed intercession for themselves and the people they are engaging. They recognize that this can be as important as inviting people to join the team that lives in the host culture.

Society 5: Fruitful workers pursue language proficiency
Workers who are able to freely and clearly communicate in their host language(s) are much more likely to be fruitful. Fruitful workers carefully consider questions concerning language choice, such as whether to use heart or trade language, sacred or secular language. By learning language, they also gain a deeper understanding of culture, making language proficiency fruitful across a number of different dimensions.

Society 6: Fruitful workers take advantage of pre-field and on-field research to shape their ministry
Fruitful ministry is shaped by many different streams of information, including ethnography, linguistics, and history. Workers who conduct research or actively reflect on the research of others are more fruitful than those who base their ministries on preconceived ideas of the patterns of ministry in their sending countries.

Society 7: Fruitful workers build positive relationships with local leaders
By sensitively and carefully relating to local authorities, including non-Christian religious figures, workers gain respect and good standing in their host community. Those who are intentional about choosing their relationships with local leaders are more likely to be fruitful.

Christian Business Faculty Association

According to its website, the Christian Business Faculty Association ‘exists to assist and encourage Christian business faculty in the study, integration, teaching, and application of Biblical truths in service to the academy, students, and the business community’.

They sponsor two academic journals, which caught my interest:

Christian Business Academy Review
This is ‘devoted to promoting Christian business education through publication of faith-based articles that focus on Creative Instruction… Curriculum Development… Professional Issues… and Research in Business Education’. Five issues are available to download.

Journal of Biblical Integration in Business
This provides ‘a refereed forum for discussing faith-learning-life links in business’, where ‘faculty and business practitioners are encouraged to share their perspectives on how to best equip college students to live out their Christian faith in the workplace’. Several issues up to 2006 are available to download.

Wednesday 2 June 2010

Michael J. Wilkins on Discipleship 1

Michael J. Wilkins has published a few books on the topic of discipleship, from the focused and academic…

Michael J. Wilkins, The Concept of Disciple in Matthew’s Gospel As Reflected in the Use of the Term Μαθητής, Supplements to Novum Testamentum LIX (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1988), republished with an additional chapter as Discipleship in the Ancient World and Matthew’s Gospel (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1995).

… to the bigger and broader overview…

Michael J. Wilkins, Following the Master: Discipleship in the Steps of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992).

… to the more popular and practical…

Michael J. Wilkins, In His Image: Reflecting Christ in Everyday Life (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1997).

More concise and accessible are a pair of articles he has published, which are available online:

Michael J. Wilkins, ‘Disciple, Discipleship’, in Walter A. Elwell (ed.), Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1997).

Michael J. Wilkins, ‘Disciple-Making for Changing Times and Changing Churches’, Enrichment (Winter 2008), 41-46.

I’ll summarise the thrust of each of these in a further two posts.