Satan: Accuser or Executioner?

I had the privilege today of interviewing Dr. Ryan Stokes of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He told me about his research on satan (both a noun and a verb in biblical Hebrew). Stokes has concluded that the Satan in the Hebrew Bible is not an accuser but actually is Yahweh’s executioner. The article on this topic is in the June 2014 issue of Journal of Biblical Literature. My interview with him is here on MAP.



The Numbers

On average about 25,000 people died of starvation today.
On average about 287 Christians were martyred today.
On average about 9,315 people died today due to lack of basic sanitation and clean water.
On average 500 people died today due to war.
On average about 2,000,000,000 Christians argued about homosexuality today.
Wonder how low the first 4 numbers would be if the last one were not so high.

Equivalence in Bible Translation

Dr. Yancy Smith of BLI has written an article on the usefulness of “equivalence” in Bible translation in the Missio Dei Journal.

“Since the era of Eugene Nida, evangelical Bible translation has been revolutionized by his notion of dynamic or functional equivalence. Powerful theological and theoretical concerns, however, call into question its usefulness and its catholicity. This article explores and questions the usefulness of the equivalence model of translation in Christian mission from the standpoint of incarnation.”


Review: Prison Bible from Bible League International

I want to thank Bible League International for the chance to review this.

One of the immediate things you notice is the list of endorsements found at the beginning. This gives you a real sense of the scope of this project. This is an international situation with international dreams. Bible League, in producing the Prison Bible, seems to have aimed at prisons and prisoners the world over. The Prison Bible, based on the Easy-to-Read Version (a rather fresh translation), aims to bring relevant topics to prisoners. I do not simply mean “plan of salvation” clichès, but actual topics aimed at prison life. You and I are likely never to know what it means to live inside of a prison. The best we can do is to watch Oz or Orange is the New Black. This is a world foreign to us.

The topics are presented at the beginning of the book and divided into 4 sections. They are 1.) Becoming a Follower of Jesus; 2.) Following Jesus in Prison; 3.) Preparing for Release; and 4.) Following Jesus Outside of Prison. These sections contain, between them, 100 different sub-sections. These sections include topics such as relating to authority (A24), coping with mental health (A34), Jesus or the prison code (A48), and several on one’s release from prison (A61-A72). Each of these topics are present in simple English, speaking directly (and actively) to the person who reads it. The topics aren’t sugary, but uses “in real life” language. Again, I am not, or have I ever been a prisoner; however, these topics are interesting to me in different ways.

It also includes,

  • Approved for prison ministry use
  • Contains complete Easy-to-Read Bible
  • 52 Lessons written especially for inmates, ideal for individual or group study on topics such as God Loves You; Controlling Anger; Relating to People in Authority; and more!
  • Scripture helps on how to deal with negative emotions
  • Bible reading plan
  • Address book for friends and family
  • Word List & Bible Maps
  • Bible is on a fourth grade reading level making it easier for all audiences to read with understanding

My wife asked, when reviewing it, “why does one need a prison bible.” My simple answer is this: we don’t. We do not need one that simply lays out “you need Jesus” but doesn’t really tell the reader anything beyond that. However, this bible does more than that. This bible speaks to the topics of prisoners and their daily lives. It is not simply enough to say “here, read the Gospel of John and you will be a Christian.” Great, but they are still a Christian inside of a prison. The fact remains, we have 2.5 million prisoners in the United States. Some of them are no doubt Christian, but they must live (sometimes the rest of their lives) in prison around other prisoners in an environment unfriendly to Christianity. If your prison ministry simply includes conversion but not development then you are doing it wrong. That is why The Prison Bible from Bible League International is needed. It is a prison ministry in of itself.

Datenbank “Septuagintazitate im NT”

I shall have to use this for my dissertation

Um die Textgeschichte der neutestamentlichen Schriftzitate zu erschließen, entstand am Institut für Septuaginta- und Biblische Textforschung der Kirchlichen Hochschule Wuppertal/Bethel in den Jahren 2007 bis 2011 mit Unterstützung durch die Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft eine Datenbank, die für Zitate und zitierte Stellen eine Vielzahl von Varianten/Texten aufnahm.

via Datenbank | Kirchliche Hochschule Wuppertal/Bethel.

The Prison Bible from Bible League

Co-Author and Bible League International Global Publisher John Andersen comments, “We made The Prison Bible specifically for prisoners. It is a tool which cannot only be used by prison ministries on a global scale, but by prisoners at whatever spiritual stage they find themselves in. We believe God will raise leaders from among the imprisoned population who will use The Prison Bible to disciple many in an unprecedented way.”

I have a copy, but due to the water crisis in West Virginia, I have not yet had a chance to write about it. Here is the press release.

I did get a chance to flip through it and it looks like something you, prison ministries or not, will need.

Also, you’ll note on my sidebar an icon for Bible League. Let me heartily recommend them to you.

Christmas Shopping for that Inmate in Your Life

Bible League International will release The Prison Bible in January 2014. The Prison Bible is the Easy-to-Read Version with 52 lessons made especially for inmates. In addition to Scripture lessons that walk through various parts of the gospel of John, readers get serious content dealing with anger, violence, and mental health. There is also significant attention to preparing inmates for life after prison. The Prison Bible  is available for pre-order until the end of the year for less than $5. Click the pic to see the promo video.


Review of Novum Testamentum Graece: Greek-English New Testament, 28th Edition (NRSV-REB Edition)

Hendrickson brings to us a delightful gift. Included for the first time in a Greek-English interlinear is the Revised English Bible. This less-travelled road makes all the difference in deciding which NA-28 to purchase, in my opinion.

The NA-28 is the most recent update to the Nestle-Aland production of a critical Greek New Testament, but it includes only changes made to the Catholic, or General, Epistles (James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1–3 John, and Jude). The NA-28’s website reads, “the Catholic Letters were revised according to a fundamentally new concept which in the long run will be adopted for the entire edition.” The focus on changes, then, should occur on the Catholic letters and have been discussed by various scholars in a myriad of publications. One may be hesitant to purchase the NA-28 based only on a few changes although one of those changes includes the adoption of the Editio Critica Maior, a particularly nice evolution in the NA series. Other revisions or changes include the marginal apparatus of references, a revision of non-Greek version citations, as well as a revision of patristic citations.


The various endings of Mark (English)


The various endings of Mark (Greek)

However, what I consider quite special about this version of the NA-28 is the inclusion of the Revised English Bible alongside that of the NRSV (which replaces the now outdated Revised Standard Version found in earlier NA editions). Unfortunately, the REB has not found it’s place in the American audience just yet. The REB, published in 1989, is the descendent of the 1960’s New English Bible and is itself based on the NA-27. It clears up some of the poor readings in the New English Bible as well as providing a nice, almost conservative, counterweight to the NRSV when it comes to certain translation issues like inclusive language (notably, Psalm 1). The literary quality of the REB is, in my opinion, a vastly superior one compared to many recent translations. While some of the Britishisms of the REB may slow the American reader,  the lack of Evangelicalism (such as what is found in the NIV) presents a doctrinal neutral text. Finally, as with the NRSV which is endorsed by the National Council of Churches, a U.S.-based organization, the REB is endorsed by the Joint Committee of the Churches, a U.K.-based ecumenical organization including many Protestant churches as we well as the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church.


Very portable

I was concerned with size and the layout. After all, other Greek-English diglots are bulky with just one English translation. To add a second one is to tempt the scales. However, the size is no larger than what you might hope for in a hand-held bible. The layout places the Greek on one side of the page with the English translations on the other, all synced together. The NRSV is in plain font while the REB is in italics. Section headings and section parsing are taken from the NRSV. Missing from the English part is the critical apparatus detailing how other versions translated certain phrases and words (when compared to the RSV).

The NA-28 is step in redesigning the entire NA Greek New Testament. Not only does it adopt the Editio Critica Maior with changes to the Catholic Epistles, but it includes two English translations to showcase various methods of translation. It is profitable for the scholar and the autodidact alike and finally gives due consideration to the REB. 

Below is a brief vlog review as well:


BT2013 just finished up in Dallas, TX. Bible translators and consultants, ethnologists and musicologists, and biblical studies scholars all met and presented papers on topics ranging from the history of Indonesian Bible translation to translation strategies for clause chaining languages. It was fun. I learned a lot. I got a t-shirt.

Some papers, handouts, and PPTs from BT2013 have been posted on MAP.


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A Septuagintal Theology? @brianleport @tmichaellaw

Brian LePort, my arch-nemesis and all around bad guy, asked this morning about the last two pages of T. Michael Law’s book, When God Spoke Greek.1 He has asked other theological questions regarding the Septuagint before, so this is nothing new.

In the last two paragraphs of the book, (p171), Law speaks to the need of returning to the Septuagint for theological exploration. Is there room for theological exploration? What might a theology based on the Septuagint mean for the Christian Church?

I guess it’d look like much of the first four centuries, Christologically speaking I mean.

It would be interesting, however, to see how modern dispensationalists would read Jeremiah and Daniel. Would they get the same, super secret-but-revealed-by-Alex-Jones meanings? What would be the canon-within-the-canon for Old Testament books? Would we read Baruch and Wisdom with an eye to gender-equality in the Church, given they feminize an attribute of God?

How would we quote Isaiah 9.5-6?

What about Canon order?

How might we read Matthew if Sirach was in our Protestant bibles? Or Revelation with Tobit? But, this isn’t really Septuagintal theology, so much as canonical theology. If we follow the NETS, could we finally read the Psalms of Solomon?

Or, would we all be Orthodox?

  1. He is the Joker to my Batman, the Lex to my Superman, the South Pole to my North Pole. He is the Khan to my Kirk, the Benedict Arnold to my George Washington, the Thomas to my Mark.

Blog Tour, When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible

This post is part of the blog tour. I am reviewing/reflecting on the first two chapters. I must note that I am quite biased to this book, having read an early draft, the final draft, and having my name mentioned in the acknowledgements. Equally so, I am partial to the LXX and have long been a user of the New English Translation of the Septuagint.

It is not enough to hope all Christians understand the role the Greek translation of the Jewish Scriptures played in the life of the early Church. We know, sadly, the knowledge of the Greek Old Testament is very limited in the West in both the Church and (while less so) the Academy, but this has slowly given way. In recent years, several authors (Dines, Rajak) have written to demonstrate the validity, usefulness, and importance of the Septuagint. Admittedly, many of these recent works have fallen on deaf ears because they were written to the Academy, complete with stilted rooms of dusty Greek, podiums of big words, and boards of information not easily digestible. This is not to say T. Michael Law has written expressly to the laity and autodidacts among us. Rather, he has written an immensely approachable — and enjoyable — book to be used by a wide range of readers including lay and academic.

Law’s first chapter is appropriately named “Why This Book?” Simply put, he argues, the Septuagint is the reserve bank of Christianity. We are indebted to it not just for New Testament theology, and Christian theology, but so too certain translative images, such as the coat of many colors. He moves on to give four reasons why this book, his book, is need. He believes one area left uncovered is the role of the “Septuagint in the Christian story.” (4) In this book, he promises to keep the Christian story in the proper place in relationship to the Septuagint. His second chapter begins in earnest this present study. In ten short pages, Law gives a concise history of how Greek became the lingua franca of the world. This is a much needed background for those who need to understand the “why” of translating the Hebrew into the Greek.

It is refreshing to see such a book. It lacks a theological agenda, but places the Septuagint at the front of Christian theology. It is because of the Septuagint Christians could developed their theology in such as a way as it did. Further, we in the West tend to forget the East (Orthodox) still use the Septuagint as their biblical text. T. Michael Law writes with the ease of a well polished author and the skill of an academic. His prose is remarkable in that it delivers the needed punch without making the reader go round after round trying to figure out what he is saying.

Having read ahead, I can unequivocally state When God Spoke Greek will become the standard introduction to the Septuagint and should equally serve as an introductory text to New Testament and early Christian doctrine.

As a side note, I am personally glad to see such a book. It values the academic lever but finds its balance with an address to the laity. When I was a King James Onlyist, I was told the LXX was a figment of the imagination of the second or third century. I didn’t believe it, and it was in part due to this line of reasoning within the movement I was able to finally leave. 

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