Posts for Jun, 2008.

6/29/2008 11:59:00 AM

Bruce Waltke on Proverbs

Posted Sunday, June 29, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: None
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Proverbs has seen a large number of great commentaries published recently, and one of the largest is a two volume commentary by Bruce Waltke (NICOT). One of the more interesting points of the commentary is his understanding of proverbs. Most commentators think of proverbs as general principles which are not always true: they are true only in specific situations. Waltke argues that this is a terrible basis to follow: can we seriously trust God's word if it is only true some of the time? Therefore, he makes the proverbs virtually into promises: this is what will happen. This naturally leads to some problems for his understanding of the proverbs, since many of them do not seem to be absolutely true. I have only glanced at his commentary, but he has several ways of explaining them as promises.

First, he reads many of them eschatologically. That is, even if they are not true now, they will be true in the eschaton. The righteous will not always get the rewards of righteousness now, but they will eventually. This is true enough, but I wonder if onecan get this from reading Proverbs. A canonical reading will support this interpretation, but that does not seem to be the langauge and idea of Proverbs itself.

Second, he interprets some passages as being only part of a process. For example, the proverb on training one's child and they will not depart from it receives this explanation. While it is an important part, parenting is not the only part of a child's choice in what to do with their life. Hence, the proverb, while being absolute, is not absolute. But then is any proverb absolute? Are not all situations interconnected with other situations and decisions? 

Third, he simply interprets proverbs to fit his definition. The most famous example of proverbs being used in different situations is 26:4-5, which contain a flat out contradiction. One tells us to answer a fool according to his folly, the other tells us not to answer a fool according to his folly. Which is it? Waltke, in contrast to most commentators, reads the first part of each verse in light of the second part, that is, they are actually talking about two different things. We are to answer a fool to make sure they are not encouraged in their foolisheness, but we are not to answer them in a way that sinks us to the level of foolishness. They are not contradictions. We are not to decide which one to follow in each situation (the usual interpretation), instead, we are to follow both all the time. Both are absolute and both are to be followed all the time. While Waltke knows Hebrew grammar far more than I ever will, I do not think that the leading parallel phrases can be defined differently when they are stated in exactly the same terms. 

While it is an interesting idea, I do not think Walkte has the correct idea on proverbs. Having said that, it is an excellent commentary, at least on my minimal reading of it. Owners of it will not be disappointed. 

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6/24/2008 4:26:00 AM

War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century

Posted Tuesday, June 24, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Military Issues   Comments: None
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One of the benefits of being a PhD student is that I can now do book reviews for most journals (although some require you to already have your PhD in hand). Book reviews are good for everyone. It is good advertising for the publisher and author. It is a helpful feature of journals for their readers. It gives readers the opportunity to read a short summary of a book to see if they want to read it or not. And finally, it means a free book for the reviewer! I like that part. The following review is forthcoming in Bulletin of Biblical Research. If you have any suggestions on ways to improve the review, please do let me know.
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6/20/2008 7:44:00 PM

Reading and Preaching the Bible in the Worship of the Church 3

Medieval Church

Posted Friday, June 20, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Church History   Comments: None
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This book is part of a six volume series about how the Bible has been used in the church throughout the past two thousand years. I had never heard of this series until I had to read it for a class, but I quickly found it is excellent! Instead of church history through the eyes of theologians or politics, it is church history through the eyes of pastors and preaching. For me as a biblical scholar this is a great way to read church history. I've been wanting to do more reading in church history besides the standard works, such as Gonzalez and Olson, but haven't been sure what to read. Now I have my answer. Only five more volumes to get and read... Follow the link for some of the high points of this particular volume. Especially interesting is the history of the lectionary.  Read more of Reading and Preaching the Bible in the Worship of the Church 3

6/18/2008 5:40:00 AM

Biblical Theology

Brevard Childs

Posted Wednesday, June 18, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentOld Testament Theology   Comments: None
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I've been reading quite a few books recently, but I have posted only a few reviews of them on the blog recently, so to make up for lack of anything intelligent to say on my own, I am gonig to post a series of reviews. Most of these are on the Old Testament, although there are some church history books thrown in as well. The first one to be reviewed is Biblical Theology by Brevard Childs, famous for his canonical theology.
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6/12/2008 2:48:00 PM

Ashkelon in History

Posted Thursday, June 12, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentBible Geography   Comments: None
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One of the main draws of the PhD program at Wheaton is that it is free: no tuition for any PhD student. And not only that, but we also get a stipend for our first three or four years. The only requirement is that we do ten hours of TA work each week. Last year I was a TA for Daniel Master, an archaeology professor. Most of my time was taken up with grading, but I also worked on a year long project for him. He recently became the dig director at Ashkelon, following in the footsteps of Larry Stager. For the sake of knowing, he wanted me to gather all the references to Ashkelon from anyone in the world in any language up through the Crusades. At first it didn't sound too hard, but as I got into it, I realized that this was a huge project! By the time I was done, I still did not have an exhaustive list, but I had hundreds of pages of references to Ashkelon, each with a paragrph context. I had to translate some passages into English that I could not find in English (Ugaritic, Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin and Arabic would have been very helpful). I ordered obscure books from all over the US and sorted through over 800 Greek references in TLG. The Cairo Genizah had dozens of mentions of Ashkelon, but they have only been translated into Modern Hebrew. Several major battles of the Crusades happened there, so many accounts exist from Muslims and Crusaders about Ashkelon. So if you ever have a desire to know what happened in Ashkelon in history, just ask and I'll be happy to pass along lots of stories. I've picked a few of the stories for your reading enjoyment below.
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6/10/2008 11:20:00 AM

The Magi and the Gnats - Part 4

The Driving Question: Why could the magi not duplicate the third plague?

Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008 by Sam Yeiter
Categories: Old TestamentOld Testament Theology   Comments: 1
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I am terribly sorry for the delay here...but finally we get to the big question.  Please forgive, also, the lengthy footnotes...but do read them...they are quite important. Read more of The Magi and the Gnats - Part 4