Case-frames in Logos 6 #Logos6

First of all, Joel told me that I should post here because no one reads my blog. And that’s not very nice. But, he’s probably right. And, once I changed his blog’s tagline to “Where Joel incessantly brain vomits nonsense into cyberspace” for an entire day without him noticing while letting everyone else in on the gag.  So I suppose we’re even.

At any rate, I’m cross posting. I’ve written a post on my personal blog about what I’ve been up to for the past year, namely working on the new case-frames feature in Logos 6. Here’s a teaser and you can read the rest HERE:

Rick has already posted some of his favorite features in Logos 6. So, I thought I’d take some time to post on my favorite feature in Logos 6 while also mimicking his post title. Incidentally, I’m biased because I worked on the Hebrew data for this project. Paul Danove (whose work really inspired this feature) provided initial Greek data, and Mike Aubrey continued that work.

Case-frames provide a new way of exploring meaning within Logos 6. It may not be apparent on first glance how they do this. Here I will work from an English example to an original language example to demonstrate how this works.

Consider an English verb like “return.” This verb can have several different meanings as in the following sentences:

  1. He returned home.
  2. He returned the donkey to its pen.

In the first case, we might paraphrase “return” as “go back”: “He went back home.” In the second, we might somewhat poorly paraphrase as “bring back” (perhaps this isn’t the only possible interpretation, but this is only an example): “He brought the donkey back to its pen.”

The difference in these two meanings of “return” is reflected in the number of “arguments” that the verb takes in each example …

 

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Check out Bible Sense Lexicon “Sense of the Day”

I haven’t availed myself of my privileges here at Unsettled Christianity for quite some time. At least not since the time I changed the tagline to “where joel incessantly brain vomits nonsense into cyberspace.” Thanks to Jim for preserving that for perpetual memory, or at least until he decides to shut down his blog again.

But, I wanted to take the opportunity to put in a shameless plug since Joel is constantly doing that for his books here anyway and you’re all accustomed to it … Actually, I breakfast with Joel recently and he said I could/should.

For about two years, I was a part of a team of people who worked on a tool within Logos Bible Software called the Bible Sense Lexicon. The project was headed by Sean Boisen, who you can follow on Twitter and also involved David Witthoff who can be found there as well (our Greek counterpart Mark Keaton isn’t on social media, for shame).

The Bible Sense Lexicon is a tool that allows users to better search and explore the bible. In order to give some insight into how the tool can be useful we’ve started a feed on the Logos Academic blog called “Sense of the Day” (think Webster’s Word of the Day). Sense of the day is described as follows:

Sense of the Day is based on content from Logos’ Bible Sense Lexicon, which organizes biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words by meaning based on a variety of semantic relationships. Sense of the Day provides examples of senses in context, along with insight into their application for theology and interpretation.

Jonathan Watson of Logos academic blog notoriety has written a more extensive post introducing Sense of the Day. I’ve linked to two papers I’ve written about the BSL. But perhaps most importantly, our team writes the posts and Jonathan posts them on our behalf HERE (Yes, I linked to it twice, but it’s very, very important).

I hope you will check out some or all of the links and consider subscribing to the feed to interact with us about this new tool. You can comment on the blog or send questions via the Logos Academic Twitter account (which also posts the Sense of the Day Link) or shoot them directly at me.

And now back to your regularly scheduled program of Joel brain vomiting nonsense into cyberspace.

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Benedict XVI on the Existential Side of the Cross

On Good Friday, I thought this quote from the Pope Emeritus’ book was fitting:

In all that we have said so far, it is clear that not only has a theological interpretation of the Cross has been given, together with an interpretation, based on the Cross, of the fundamental Christian sacraments and Christian worship, but also that existential dimension is involved: What does this mean for me? What does it mean for my path as a human being? The incarnate obedience of Christ is presented as an open space into which we are admitted and through which our lives find a new context. The mystery of the Cross does not simply confront us; rather, it draws us in and gives new value to our life.

This existential aspect of the new concept of worship and and sacrifice appears with particular clarity in the twelfth chapter of the Letter of the Romans: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God, to present you bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (v. 1) ….

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Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament – Personal Thoughts

I apologize for the delay for this final post. It’s the time of year for academic conferences. I just got back from a consultation on the use of Bible software in the classroom and pastorate.

This is the third and final post in my series on Christopher J. H. Wright’s Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament from IVP-Academic. You can find my posts on the author and contents: here and here. In this post, I will give my personal thoughts on the book.

First, I will start with the good. I like the book’s focus on story. In a sense, the first chapter of the book does on a much smaller scale what John Goldingay does in the first volume of his massive three volume set Old Testament Theology. Wright begins by tracing out the story of Israel up to the point of the New Testament. I was also happy to see that he includes a section on what he calls the “intertestamental period” – Protestant terminology. I appreciated this especially in light of the fact that one of the things I thought didn’t work in Goldingay’s Old Testament Theology (vol. 1) was his lack of focus on this time period. In my opinion, the story doesn’t flow as well without reference to this time period.

I also appreciated Wright’s focus on the fact that the story of Israel is unique, but at the same time familiar. In other words, there is obviously something special going on in the history of Israel according to the authors of the Old Testament; however, the Old Testament also has a great deal to say about God being at work among the nations. Wright brings into the discussion Amos 9:7, which is a text that I always like to make mention of when teaching Exodus.

Second, I like that Wright takes a broader approach to the concept of promise-fulfillment. He makes a clear distinction between promise and prediction, which I think is helpful. He does this in connection to acknowledging the strange way that Matthew sometimes cites Old Testament passages.  Wright doesn’t go as far as someone like Peter Enns in situating Matthew’s use of Old Testament texts within Second Temple Jewish interpretation. But, he does at least make readers aware that the New Testament authors were handling Old Testament texts differently than many modern readers would and that prediction is not the best way to think about this. I do, however, wish he would have done something with the word “fulfillment” as well, though I’m not sure what word he might have used.

Third, I appreciated that Wright discusses at length the title “Son of God.” I don’t think most people I teach realize the background of this title. Learning that Israel is called God’s “son” in the Old Testament (e.g. Hos. 11:1) adds a whole new layer of depth to this title for many people that I teach, in both parish and undergraduate contexts, since they typically associate this title only with Jesus’s divinity. Wright’s discussion of this title spans about 30 pages and would be beneficial reading for many people.

In terms of negatives, I would mention two. First, the book is a bit light on critical scholarship. For example, in the section on the “inter-testamental period” Wright states:

The canonical history of the Old Testament comes to an end in the mid-fifth century, with Malachi, Ezra, and Nehemiah (p. 24).

Unless I missed it, Wright doesn’t make mention of the fact that many believe Daniel to be the latest book in the Old Testament. I realize, of course, that this may not be widely accepted by evangelicals and that, even if this is the case, Daniel is set during the Babylonian exile. Yet a brief nod to critical scholarship, at least acknowledging differences over the dating of Daniel, might have been helpful.

Second, I also didn’t like that Wright steers clear of Matthew 2:23. He steers clear of it on p. 56 and comes back to it briefly on p. 104. But, I don’t think he ever really does a good job of dealing with the text. I think this is one of the things I appreciate the most about Peter Enns’s Inspiration and Incarnation, namely he doesn’t steer clear of texts that seem exceptional, though this did lead him in a direction that many evangelicals didn’t like.

Overall, I would recommend Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament. The positive aspects of the book far outweigh the negative ones. If, however, you are looking for something more thorough, I would recommend John Goldingay’s Old Testament Theology (vol. 1) – also from IVP-Academic. He gives much more on the story and includes a final chapter attempting to do something like what Wright has done in his entire book.

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Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament – Contents

This is the second post in a review series on Christopher Wright’s Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament from IVP-Academic. You can read the author introduction here, and I will post my personal reflections on the book shortly.

I want to start by saying that I jumped over the preface for some reason in my initial reading. As I read through the book though, I started thinking: this sounds a lot like John Goldingay (a very good thing in my opinion). So, I looked at the preface to see if Wright mentioned him. Sure enough, I found this:

I came across John Goldingay’s articles on ‘The Old Testament and Christian Faith: Jesus and the Old Testament in Matthew 1–5’ in Themelios 8.1–2, (1982-83). They provided an excellent framework, first for that course, and then, with his kind permission, for the broad structure of this book …

Around the same time that I started reading Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament, I had started listening to some of Goldingay’s lectures available on iTunesU, where he references Wright’s work. So, if you like Goldingay, you may like Wright’s book too, though it’s by no means a given. I think this relationship is probably strongest in chapter one.

Wright divides the book into five chapters that are somewhat topical, though interconnected. In chapter one, he deals with Jesus and his relationship to the Old Testament story. He provides an overview of the primary and secondary histories, which might prove invaluable to some readers as a brief summary of the Old Testament story (pp. 9-27).

In chapter two, he deals with Jesus and his relationship to the Old Testament promises. Here he speaks in a particular way about the covenants made in the Old Testament, specifically the covenants with Noah, Abraham, the Israelites at Sinai, and David.

In chapter three, he deals with Jesus’s Old Testament identity. Here he primarily covers what “Son of God” means in an Old Testament perspective. Again, this chapter will be helpful to a number of readers who may not realize that “son of God” is thoroughly Old Testament language and has much more depth to it than many modern readers of the New Testament may realize.

In chapter four, he deals with Christ’s mission as servant of the Lord along with the Church’s mission in light of Christ’s mission. Finally, in chapter five, he deals with Jesus’s Old Testament values and how Jesus upholds the values of the Law, the Prophets, and the later writings. These last two chapters provide the reader with a wealth of insights related to the application in a modern context.

In all of this, I must agree with the blurb from V. Philips Long on the back cover:

This book is not a mere survey of OT Messianic proof-texts lifted out of context, nor is it an attempt to ‘find Jesus’ on every page of the OT by fanciful interpretations. Rather, it shows how Jesus himself and the NT writers understood and explained his identity, mission and significance in light of the whole of Hebrew Scriptures.

Stay tuned for the final post in which I provide my personal reflections on the book.

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Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament – Author

This is the first post in a three part series reviewing Christopher Wright’s Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament from IVP-Academic. Thanks to IVP for sending along a copy.

This book has had a long shelf-life considering it was published originally back in 1992. But, for those who, like me, have not read the book previously, the nearing 10th anniversary of publication seems like as good a time as any for a review. In this post, I will introduce the author followed by posts overviewing the contents and giving my personal thoughts.

For those interested in a fuller intro to the author, I would recommend checking out Wright’s bio on the Langham Partnership International (LPI) website. According to this bio, Wright has studied both Classics and Old Testament at the University of Cambridge. His doctoral degree is from Cambridge in Old Testament. He has taught Old Testament courses at Union Biblical Seminary in Pune and served as the academic dean at All Nations Christian College in the UK. Wright now serves as the international director of LPI. He is also an ordained minister in the Anglican church. His work, then, represents the concerns of both the church and the academy.

Wright has an impressive publication list, also listed on the LPI website. His better known monographs include the following (many also from IVP):

1992 Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament. London: Marshall Pickering; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity.

1996 Deuteronomy. New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrikson; Carlisle, U.K.: Paternoster.

2004 Old Testament Ethics for the People of God. Leicester, England, and Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press.

2006 Knowing the Holy Spirit through the Old Testament,  Oxford: Monarch Press; Downers Grove: IVP.

2007 Knowing God the Father through the Old Testament, Oxford: Monarch Press; Downers Grove: IVP.

2009 The God I Don’t Understand: Reflections on Tough Questions of Faith, Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

2010 Mission of Gods People The (Biblical Theology for Life), Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Wright has also written articles and entries for the Anchor Bible Dictionary, Tyndale Bulletin, the New International Dictionary of Theology and Exegesis, and Princeton Theological Review, among others.

Considering Wright’s educational background and publication record, Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament should provide a wealth of insight for anyone interested in the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, especially with relation to Jesus. I will examine more fully what these insights are in subsequent posts on the contents and my reaction.

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God Behaving Badly – Personal Thoughts

This will conclude my series of posts on David Lamb’s God Behaving Badly from IVP-Academic. You can read the posts on the author and contents: here and here.  Thanks again to IVP-Academic for seeding the review copy.

I will start off by saying that this week I had to make a real-time decision concerning God Behaving Badly. It just so happens, that this week I covered the issue of violence in the Old Testament in one of the introductory courses I’m teaching this semester. (I would like to attribute the timing to divine providence, but it probably had more to do with me being about two weeks behind on everything right now). So, I came upon the decision of whether I would recommend God Behaving Badly to my students – I did, but with a proviso.

With regard to the proviso, my main concern with God Behaving Badly was that I felt it lacked nuance at certain points. I’ll give a couple of examples:

In Chapter 4, Lamb suggests that the accounts in Joshua are hyperbolic – a point with which I mostly agree. Yet, even in my own recognition that texts in Joshua (and other places) may be hyperbolic, I find myself confronted with a passage like 1 Samuel 15 (I double-checked the scripture index and do not think Lamb deals with this text with regard to violence). In 1 Samuel 15, the very thing that seems to get Saul in trouble is not taking the command of Samuel literally. So, while I may suggest to my students that Old Testament texts may contain hyperbole, I do make mention that 1 Samuel 15 is a text that presents some difficulties for using that view too broadly.

Also in places, I do not feel that Lamb treats some of the more problematic texts emphasized by those who approach the issues in God Behaving Badly differently. In neither his chapter on gender nor his chapter on racism does he deal with Ezra 9-10, especially in relation to his discussion of the foreign grandmothers of Jesus (pp. 86-87). Ezra 9-10 is one of the more difficult sections in the Old Testament and is pertinent to that particular section of the book since some see the Book of Ruth as a response to that part of Ezra.

I felt this lack of nuance at various places throughout the book. So, why did I recommend God Behaving Badly to my students? And, even moreso, why do I recommend it here? I think there are two main reasons.

First, my students are undergraduates, and as such, most of them don’t require nuance at this stage. They still have courses upcoming on Pentateuch, Prophets, and Wisdom Literature where they can approach this question in more depth. In a similar way, for many general readers, I think God Behaving Badly could provide a good entryway into a number of important topics. So, I recommended God Behaving Badly to my students with the proviso not to stop their reading there. In fact, I think Lamb would agree as he states in his concluding chapter: “While all our questions may never fully be answered, we will find that Yahweh and Jesus can be reconciled and that the God of both testaments is loving.”  From this, I take it that Lamb wasn’t trying to treat every difficult text in the Old Testament, but to show how one can approach some of these difficult issues.

Second, what I think Lamb does well in God Behaving Badly is that he highlights many of the more positive texts in the Old Testament. In response to the new atheist readings of the Old Testament, this in itself is important. Someone who reads the the likes of Dawkins and Hitchens would read God Behaving Badly and realize that the new atheists are reading the Old Testament very selectively. Encountering these differing viewpoints should encourage further study of the issues.

With all of this said, I have recommended God Behaving Badly to my students and  recommend it to more general readers who follow this blog. It is a good entryway into a number of important topics. You may still leave the book feeling like you would like to read further. Yet you will at least leave the book with an awareness of many of the higher points in the Old Testament and a better understanding of the context of some difficult Old Testament texts.

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God Behaving Badly – Contents

This is the second post in my three part series on David Lamb’s God Behaving Badly from IVP-Academic. You find my post on the author here, and a post with my personal reflections on the book will follow. Here I will overview the contents.

God Behaving Badly is a short, easy read coming in at just around 200 pages. Of these, only about 170 contain prose text; the rest consist of a table of contents, end notes, discussion questions, etc. I hate to throw out estimates because I know different people read at a different paces, but I imagine that many above average readers could finish the book in a couple of days (conceivably one day if someone had little else to do).

Lamb arranges the contents of the book topically. Of course, this lends to some subjectivity; however, I think he covers most of the issues related to God’s character in the Old Testament that readers may find difficult. He devotes chapters to the following: anger, gender issues, racial issues, violence, legalism, immutability, and transcendence. I think the subjectivity becomes evident toward the end of this list. Readers of the Old Testament may find theological issues like God’s immutability and transcendence problematic, but many may not consider these problematic matters of character. In other words, immutability and transcendence do not imply immorality. Lamb does allude to the subjectivity of the topics in the opening chapter: “I realize that some divine perceptions are more controversial (angry, sexist, racist and violent) than others (legalistic, rigid and distant), but all find some basis in the Old Testament and most appear in some form in Dawkins’s quote).” With this in mind, some people may only want to read certain chapters of God Behaving Badly.

One aspect of the book’s contents that deserves mention at the outset is Lamb’s use of references from popular culture. He uses references to popular culture throughout the chapters, but what I found most helpful is that he often does this at the beginning of the chapters when laying out the particular problem at hand. Here he makes reference to comics, television, modern young adult literature and more. In the next post, I will explain where I agree and disagree with Lamb; however, even though I do not agree with him on every point, this book is still a gem for me. Over the last several years, I have found myself teaching Old Testament introductory courses in a number of places. I usually have discussions about a number of the issues that Lamb discusses in God Behaving Badly. These popular culture references will provide a lot of helpful discussion starters (especially for someone like me who Rodney had accused of being out of touch with popular culture). I find that these kinds of references really help to engage students (e.g., I have very successfully used this video of Lewis Black to enter into a discussion of canon).

In sum, if you are looking for a short, easy read on the topics listed above from an evangelical perspective, you may want to pick up a copy of God Behaving Badly.  If you teach Old Testament courses, either academically or in a church context, you may also want to get this book to give you some good discussion starters.

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