Posts for Jul, 2008.

7/29/2008 9:50:00 AM

Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present

Posted Tuesday, July 29, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Military Issues   Comments: None
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I recently finished the book mentioned in the title by Michael Oren. It is an excellent book on the history of the Middle East from the US's perspective. The main point of the book is in the title: the US has always viewed the Middle East with a mixture of power, faith, and fantasy. The power is the military might, all the way from the confrontation with the Barbary pirates to the second Gulf War. The faith is the missionary movement and the influence from reading the Bible. The stories about the early missionaries are exciting and somewhat chilling. The Middle East just seems to attract strange people. The fantasy is the unreal image that the Middle East holds over American's view of the land of the Bible and the 1001 Arabian nights. America has always had difficulty in the region because of the interrelation of these three aspects. The first part of the book is best as he talks about history that is not discussed very much, but once he gets past WW2 he goes much quicker, althought this quick picture of the past sixty years was helpful as a grand overview. If you want help to understand the Middle East tody, this is a great book to read. This is also a great book to see how we can learn from history and how while things change greatly over time others never seem to go anywhere. The book is worth it just to read the stories about hte missionaries. Highly recommended!

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7/28/2008 7:21:00 PM

Jeremiah and Josiah's Reform

Posted Monday, July 28, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentJeremiah   Comments: None
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One of the odd facts surrounding Jeremiah is that he never mentions Josiah's reform. Shouldn't Jeremiah have been excited about it? He was alive and seems to have been active during the time period. Why didn't Jeremiah praise Josiah and the reforms? This oddity has produced a number of speculative theories. But the more I thought about it the less odd it became in my mind for two reasons. One is a parallel: Isaiah and Hezekiah. Hezekiah enacted similar reforms to Josiah, but we read nothing about them in Isaiah. Why not? Which leads to a second reason: the purpose of the prophets. Prophets go from central to peripheral in the course of the OT. The earliest prophets, such as Abraham and Moses, are the center leadership. The next group of prophets are still associated with the central government, but are not the center themselves, such as Nathan and Gad. But by the time we get to Elijah and Elisha and the writing prophets, we mostly have prophets who speak from the outside (there are exceptions, and in postexilic times the prophetic role seems to return to a more central role, it seems). But the peripheral prophet works to challenge sinners and abuse; in other words, the prophets come in when the times are evil. Hence, if the king is enacting reforms, there is little role for peripheral prophets. They are needed most when the king and leaders are opposed to God. Hence, it is not surprising that Jeremiah does not mention the reforms: that was the not the time when prophets were in action.

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7/26/2008 9:31:00 AM

New Greek Audio Bible

How Shall They Hear

Posted Saturday, July 26, 2008 by Brian Beers
Categories: BibleGreek   Comments: None
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Logos - Greek Audio BibleIn my final year of Greek in seminary I found New Testament Greek Vocabulary, an audio recording of the Greek word frequency lists. And my score on the vocabulary tests improved. Since that time I have been looking for audio of the Greek New Testament that I can bear to listen to. There has been a freely available version out for a few years, but now there is a new one on the horizon. Logos has a new Greek Audio Bible in the works, but it has a karaoke twist to it. As you listen to the text, Libronix will highlight the text of the passage.

Currently Logos is finding out if enough people are interested in a, to publish it. When I signed up to show my interest, there was only 25% of the necessary interest. Now it is up to about 75%. Head on over there, see a video of it in action reading John 3:16 and 1 John 2:1, and sign up for it too. I am eager for this to be published.

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7/23/2008 11:12:00 AM

ETS Presentation

Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Hermeneutics   Comments: 1
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I received the happy news this morning that my proposasl for a paper at ETS in Boston has been accepted. Here is the title and the abstract. I'll probably post the full paper in a few months.






The Theological Interpretation of Scripture (TIOS), focusing on the importance of the hermeneutical significance of the canon and reading the Bible in a theological manner, has been gaining popularity recently, giving rise to a variety of articles, books, and commentaries. But there has been little reflection from evangelical biblical scholars. Should evangelicals embrace TIOS? Should it cause them concern? This paper will give a short history of TIOS, present the beneficial aspects of TIOS for evangelical biblical scholars, discuss some potentially unbalanced directions taken by some TIOS advocates, and briefly evaluate the recent TIOS commentaries in the Brazos and Two Horizons series from the perspective of evangelical biblical studies.

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7/19/2008 10:38:00 AM

Theological Introduction to the Psalms

Posted Saturday, July 19, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Psalms   Comments: None
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McCann Jr., J. Clinton. A Theological Introduction to the Book of Psalms. Nashville: Abingdon, 1993.


This is an excellent introduction to the Psalms as a book for today. McCann wrote this book in order to “assist readers to hear the book of Psalms itself” (9). While mentioning critical views and questions about Psalms, he spends the majority of his time determining how the Psalms are relevant for us today.


The book is easy to read, which makes sense since it written by a professor with extensive pastoral experience. It is also fairly short, making it a relatively quick read (I actually read the entire book on a plane ride from Chicago to Seattle). The chapters are filled with illustrations and applications like a good sermon rather than an academic work. But this is no fluffy devotional work: McCann knows what he is talking about and presents solid insight into the Psalms. The intended audience seems to be a student, a pastor, or a lay person, although a scholar could derive much of value from this book as well. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the Psalms. Follow the link for a summary and critique of the book.

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7/14/2008 3:08:00 PM

Walter Brueggemann the Eastern Orthodox

Posted Monday, July 14, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Comments: 1
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On the way to Cornerstone we listened to a lecture and question and answer time by Walter Brueggemann, one of my favorite Old Testament theologians. These lectures can be downloaded for free from, a great site which also gives away a free audio book each month (July is the Practice of the Presence of God). He has many great ideas, although he takes almost all of his ideas too far in my opinion. I disagree with much of what he says, but he helps me think about the Old Testament in new and very helpful ways. Anyway, in this lecture he talked about how we are each scripted into a certain script by our surroundings: family, friends, culture, etc. The Christian life is all about being re-scripted into a different script. The problem is that we always have a tendency to go back to our old script, and so we always have to be re-scripting ourselves. Nothing unusual in this statement besides different wording. I didn't think about this lecture much once we got to Cornerstone, until something brought it to mind a few days later. We camped next to an Eastern Orthodox group, who had set up a tent with several icons. Several times a day they would hold services in the tent with various readings of the Bible, creeds, and other theological formulations. I didn't think much of this either, until it dawned on me the connection between the two: the Eastern Orthodox services were a way to re-script themselves. They would spend time each day reminding themselves of theology and the reality of God through these procedures. Essentially it is not all that different of a goal from the evangelical daily bible reading and prayer: the point is to re-script ourselves into the proper script. Now, I am not advocating that we become Eastern Orthodox: while I admire their goal, I am not as happy with their means. But it is also good to remember that daily Bible reading is nowhere commanded in the Bible: it is no doubt a good idea, but the option was not even available to most Christians through church history. But however we do it, we must be often re-scripting ourselves out of the script of the culture that surrounds us and into the script of the Gospel.

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7/7/2008 7:11:00 PM

Miroslav Volf at Cornerstone: Us and Them

Posted Monday, July 07, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Culture and Theology   Comments: None
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I just got back from a week camping in the hot Illinois sun at Cornerstone Music Festival, a Christian Rock/Alternative Festival. I've always wanted to go it, but since it is rather a far drive from Seattle, I had never gone. But now that we are in Chicago, it is much closer. And not only that, but a friend of ours plays in a band who did several shows there, so we got to spend the week with some good friends whom we have not seen for quite some time (Hi Tim, it was great to see you!). But Cornerstone is not just for the young adults, it cultivates a distinct family atmosphere, offering lots of activites for kids and older adults. One of the highlights of the festival for me was the seminars, for which the brought in some high-class speakers, most of whom had PhD's in their field and were quite well published. My favorite sessions were given by Miroslav Volf, a professor at Yale Divinity School. He gave a three session series on Us vs. Them. Follow the link for a short summary of this fascinating presentation.He was a great speaker and did a great job in an unusual environment. He said this was the first time speaking at a music festival like this, and after speaking for about a minute he stopped to inquire whether the noise in the background was his breath on the microphone or a drum beat from another stage (it was the latter).  Read more of Miroslav Volf at Cornerstone: Us and Them

7/7/2008 1:23:00 PM

The Magi and the Gnats - Part 5

An attempt at application.

Posted Monday, July 07, 2008 by Sam Yeiter
Categories: Old TestamentTheology   Comments: None
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Some of you, Charlie in particular, thought this post series was finished...but that was only wishful thinking.  In this, the last in this series, I attempt to provide some thinking about the application of this paper.  I have not forgotten those of you who have commented on the previous entries.  I will do my best to respond to you within the next 2 months.  Actually, in Charlie's case, this may provide some manner of response.



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7/2/2008 6:39:00 AM

On the Origins of War: Donald Kagan

Thoughts from an evangelical perspective

Posted Wednesday, July 02, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Military Issues   Comments: 3
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A friend recently loand me this book and wanted to know what I thought. I put it off for a few months but I finally got around to skimming it recently and found it quite interesting. The main question of the book, reflected in the title, is the following: why do we go to war? To discover an answer the author (a professor at Yale) looks at four wars (Peloponnesian War, First World War, the Second Punic War, and the Second World War) and one almost-war (Cuban Missle Crisis). He looks in some detail (the book is 600 pages, and most of it is looking at these events) at these wars and tries to discover why the wars happen (or didn't happen). He comes up with two conclusions, one broad and one specific. The broad conclusion is that peace does not just happen; it must be preserved with large amounts of effort. The wars happened because not enough energy was expanded in trying to keep the peace. For me as evangelical this makes perfect sense. Ever since the entrance of sin, peace does not come naturally, since sin has corrupted everything that is good. If we want peace, we must strive to keep it. Of course, various caveats would need to be made, such as the exact definition of peace, but overall the point is a good one. But the specific conclusion by Kagan is more disturbing. He says the best way to keep the peace is by having a very strong military and using force. Chamberlain's appeasement before WW2 is his parade example, but he shows in the other wars the same theory. He thinks that before WW1 broke out England should have put a draft into effect and raised a huge army to show Germany that any plan they put into practice to dominate England would be foolish. After the first Punic War Rome made Carthage bitter but did not demolish their military strength. While pragmatically this view might work (I emphasize the "might work," I am not entirely convinced of that), it does not fit into a Christian worldview very easily. Much more needs to be done in encouraging peace in a more constructive manner, rather than beating them down so badly they cannot respond.
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