Posts in the category “Old Testament.”

Conditional and Hyperbolic Language in the OT Prophets: Where are we now?

Posted Monday, December 11, 2006 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: None
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This was a somewhat pleasantly feisty session by Michael Grisanti. He spoke on a paper by Robert Chisholm about conditional prophecies (this paper was also given at the NW ETS Regional meeting last year as the plenary session) and a book by Brett Sandy about hyperbolic language in the prophets. Chisholm views the majority of prophecies in the OT as conditional, with Jonah as a classic example. He thinks that there almost always is an implied “if” in the prophecies. Grisanti took issue with this and said that while there are some conditional prophecies, the majority of them are not. Sandy claims that the OT prophecies contain more hyperboles than usually acknowledged, and Grisanti had essentially the same reason: much of what Sandy noted is good, but he takes it too far.

The feisty part was during the question and answer time, as Chisholm was in the audience. Eugene Merrill had some negative words about Chisholm’s proposal, to which he responded, after making a comment that they could continue to disagree with each other at home since their offices are right next to each other at Dallas. He said that Deuteronomy 18 refers only to short-term unconditional prophecies, but not long term prophecies or conditional prophecies. He also noted Daniel’s prayer implies conditionality, since if it was unconditional then he would just have assumed it would have happened. Conditions are bound up in the Mosaic covenant: If you repent, God will bless you.

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The Old Testament as History

Posted Friday, December 22, 2006 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: None
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The last report is actually a collection of presentations from the Old Testament as Historical Literature study group. The focus this year was a book that came out at ETS last year by Peter Enns: Inspiration and Incarnation. The book was interesting, I thought, but not excellent. But it has gotten a lot of attention and multiple book reviews, with the reviewers strongly stating their opinions either for or against the book. In this series of presentations, Peter Enns gave a talk, and then three others responded to specific aspects of his book (but I only went to the first two responders). It was a very full session, with people spilling out into the hallway, and many of the top evangelical OT scholars were present.

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Floods in the Desert

Posted Sunday, December 31, 2006 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: None
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The desert in Israel does not get much rain, and so when it does rain, the ground does not know what to do with it. We lived in the desert during the winter for a few months, and we didn't see any flash floods, although we did see some new creeks come into existance that were not there before. The old time kibbutzniks told stories about cows being swept away by flash floods. But in this recent video from Israel you can see a true to life flash flood. I found it here. Read more of Floods in the Desert

January, 2007

Friends with a nose

Fun with Ugaritic

Posted Wednesday, January 17, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: 1
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All langauges have a vareity of idioms that sound really funny to speakers of other languages. Semetic languages have their share. One example is the use of "nose" to refer to anger. When Exodus 34:6 says that God is "slow to anger," the Hebrew phrase is that he "has a long nose." When people get angry, their nose gets hot. But then last night I was reading the Ugartic tale "Baal and Yam" and discovered another unusual idiom. Baal gets angry with Yam, but the literal Ugartic is that he "became friends with his nose." So be careful about getting cozy with a nose! Read more of Friends with a nose

Old Testament Theology Devotionals

Posted Thursday, January 25, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: None
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I try to avoid reading really big books because they take too long to read, but I do make exceptions. Old Testament Theology: Israel's Gospel by John Goldingay has been a very good exception, in spite of the fact that it is only volume one of the a projected three volumes(the third is not yet published) and this volume all by itself is 900 pages. The author goes over the history of Israel in the OT in this first volume and analyzes various theological trends and points in the texts. Therefore, he skips over most of the laws, poetry and prophecy in this book and covers them in the next two volumes. Goldingay is also not exactly the most conservative author around, as he treads closely to open theism and does not sound like he would sign an inerrancy statement. But he has great things to say! I'm only on page 300 right now, and I'm thinking that I will be reading this book for a long time, but this has been one of the funnest theology books I have read for quite some time. I have been essentially reading it like a devotional book, since Goldingay has so many applicational and relevant points for belivers today. He does a masterful job drawing implications from the text and putting together various ideas, as well as having fun in his writing. For example, he kept on referring to wisdom in Proverbs 8 as "Ms. Insight." One of the points he was making in the section on Abraham was that most of Genesis after Genesis 12 is full of challenges to God's promise to Abraham. While I had seen this before, I had seen it so clearly presented, including the idea that Abraham was supposed to be a blessing to all people, but instead he started out bringing grief to Pharaoh and others. But God is faithful to fulfill his promises, even when he seems to take his time. I highly recommend this book to help you systematize your thinking on the OT as well as to be challenged and encouraged in your personal walk with God. Read more of Old Testament Theology Devotionals

February, 2007

Old Testament Survey

Posted Sunday, February 04, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: 2
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I love the Old Testament and one of my goals in life is to get everyone else to love the OT as well. One of the way I have started doing that recently is to teach an OT survey class at the church where I serve. I have gone through it twice now, once with an adult Bible Study and once with a High School Sunday School class. They each went about 12 weeks, during which we surveyed (briefly) the entire OT. I made notes for each section which included the plot as well as theological themes which I think are relevant today. I am planning on posting these notes, not in the hope of teaching, but in hope of getting input about the themes. I want to make the OT relevant, so any themes I have missed that are important I want to include. But I also do not want to include things that I should not. So if you have anything to add or take out, please comment! Read more of Old Testament Survey

Genesis 12-35

Posted Sunday, February 11, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: None
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The survey continues on with Genesis 12-35. There are far fewer theological themes present in these chapters than the previous eleven, but the narratives are still fundamental to the rest of the Bible and to our lives today. However, Abraham is not necessarily a role model for us. Read more of Genesis 12-35

Joseph (and Judah) - Genesis 36-50

Posted Sunday, February 18, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: 8
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The series continues ever onward with the conclusion of Genesis. I do see the primary point in this section as the sovereignty of God, but I no longer take such a high view of Joseph as I used to. He does not start out well, as most recognize. But then he simply toys with his brothers when they come to him. When his brothers are worried about Joseph after Jacob dies, we usually think that they were being overly worried. But I think they had justification! Finally, Joseph set up the very structures that allowed massive Israelite slavery a few years down the road. Before Joseph, there was no large central government in Egypt, after him there was. One of the indirect causes of the bondage was the foundation laid by Joseph. By the way, this is one aspect of Joseph we see in history: there is an increase in centralization about the time of Joseph in Egypt. While there are good points about Joseph, he is no pure character. The real star of the story in my book is Judah, who starts off very bad but gets "redeemed" over the rest of the story. Read more of Joseph (and Judah) - Genesis 36-50

Exodus 1-18

Posted Friday, February 23, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: None
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The plot progresses ever onward with the story of the Exodus. This is the last chunk that we take at a slow speed before things accelerate quickly with the next lesson. Read more of Exodus 1-18


Posted Tuesday, February 27, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: None
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Our tour of the coastal plain continues with a visit to Gath, the hometown of Goliath. Gath was one of the five major Philistine cities and one of the two inland Philistine cities. It so happens that the three oceanside cities are still occupied today while the two inland cities are deserted and there has actually been extensive debate about whether these sites are accurate or not. Gath occupied an important place between the coastal road and the Shephelah, the lowlands entrance to Judah. The view from the top of Gath is superb, as one can see in all four directions a fairly significant distance (although there is a constant haze in Israel). Gath played a role in the Ark narrative in 1 Samuel. David's boss lived there(1 Samuel 27), but David later returned and took the city (1 Chronicles 18:1).  It was eventually taken by Aram (2 Kings 12:17) and Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26). Read more of Gath

March, 2007

Exodus 19-Deuteronomy

Posted Friday, March 02, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: None
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The survey speeds up considerably with this section, where cover everything Mt. Sinai through Mt. Nebo and all points in between. In the future I think I might break up this section into two different units,  but I am not sure where I would split it. But there are so many key ideas here for futher biblical thinking and living that it seems important to spend more time on them. Read more of Exodus 19-Deuteronomy

Joshua, Judges, Ruth and Job

Posted Friday, March 16, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: 2
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Three of my favorite OT books are covered in this section - Joshua, Judges and Ruth. I love their stories, the messages they present and the way they communicate those messages. I have developed a series of three sermons on Ruth which I have enjoyed presenting several times. Each of the sermons focuses on one of the main themes of the book by going through the entire book. So essentially I preach the entire story for three weeks in a row, but emphasize different aspects each time. For example, one of the sermons is a first person sermon from the perspective of a formerly bigoted Moabite-hating worker who is employed by Boaz, and for that sermon I leave out the entire encounter between Ruth and Boaz at the threshing floor. By the way, the connections between Ruth 3 and Genesis 19 (story of Lot and his daughters) are fascinating. I have also tacked Job on here for lack of anywhere else to put it. Job was my father's favorite book, but I have not caught the Job charm yet. I still like the book, but it is not one of my favorites. Read more of Joshua, Judges, Ruth and Job

1 & 2 Samuel and Psalms

Posted Thursday, March 29, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: None
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I have joined Psalms to 1 & 2 Samuel for obvious reasons, although it does cut down considerably on how much time I can spend on Psalms. I have arranged the survey to proceed chronologically, so that is the main reason I have stuck in the poetic and prophetic books at the appropriate time slots. I see Samuel as divided into three main sections with three main points. The first main point has to do with the power of YHWH as opposed to other Gods. This is seen in such things as the Ark narrative and the breaking of Dagon and the answered fertility praryer from Hannah to YHWH and not to Baal. Then the next major section is a defense of David's kingship. He did not kill his way to the throne, but he was actually almost killed by the king. And when the king died, David was as far away as possible. The third major section has to do with David's rotten fathering and a challenge to future kings to train their boys in a godly manner rather than the style demonstrated by David. All three of these have good applications for us today, I think. Read more of 1 & 2 Samuel and Psalms

Goliath on His Face

Posted Friday, March 30, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: 3
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Someone asked me recently about Goliath falling forward. If he just got hit in the head with a slingstone (which would have been going very quickly and was the size of a grapefruit) why did he fall forward and not backward? Well, I had never thought of this before so I looked at the text a little bit. The Hebrew says that he fell on his face. Well, the first thing I thought of was that people fall on their face to worship. And then as I thought a little more, I recalled the statue of Dagon falling down before the ark of the covenant. I checked the Hebrew wording, and it is almost exactly the same: both fall on their face to the ground. What is the point? Both are showing by their body action who God chose. YHWH is more powerful than the god of the Philistines. YHWH's champion is more powerful than the champion of the Philistines. The people of YHWH can be confident as they face other countries that YHWH is more powerful than any other contender, no matter how strong they appear. And this superiority even Dagon and Goliath recognize by falling on their face before YHWH and his man (anointed one in later terminology). Read more of Goliath on His Face

April, 2007

1 Kings – 2 Kings 13, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon

Posted Wednesday, April 04, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: None
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This stage of the journey begins the journey into the divided monarchy. I spend most of the time on Solomon and his writings, although I do go briefly to the rest of the Kings selection. I think that all three of Solomon's writings are important for our day and age, especially Proverbs. Therefore, I spend a fair amount of time with the concept of wisdom and  how we are to live the Christian life. Speaking of Solomon, I also point out how the narrator in 1 Kings 10:23-29 shows that Solomon directly disobeys almost every law given to kings in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. Read more of 1 Kings – 2 Kings 13, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon

May, 2007

Leave Lot at Home

Abram’s Disobedience in Bringing Lot to Canaan

Posted Wednesday, May 02, 2007 by Sam Yeiter
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: 1
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There are many questions I have about Scripture that I am certain the (human) narrator knew the answer to, but declined to share.  Other times, I feel pretty sure he did not.  But on some occasions, I wonder if perhaps the narrator did know the answer, and did share his conclusion, but just not in the straight forward way we might hope.  I think I have an example of this third scenario. 

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July, 2007


Posted Thursday, July 12, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: 2
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The Shema is a central passage for the Jews, many of whom still recite it daily even today. But Deuteronomy 6:4 is a very difficult verse to translate, since there are only six words, four of whose relationship to each other is unclear. I preached on this passage recently and thought I would pass along two notes from my study. I did not arrive at these conclusions by myself, but I borrowed them from a JETS article by Dan Block several years ago on the topic. These two different readings than the norm present a fairly different picture of the verses.

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October, 2007

The Problem of War in the Old Testament

Posted Saturday, October 13, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentMilitary Issues   Comments: None
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The best introduction to the literature on war in the Old Testament easily is The Problem of War in the Old Testament, by Craigie. Not only is it easy to read, it is short (just over 100 pages), and easily available on Amazon for only a few dollars.  I would recomment this book to anyone interested in the topic. He provides a great introduction to the data about God as Divine Warrior and to the war texts of the OT, as well as previous research on the issue. 

All that being said, I'm not sure that Craigie actually offers a viable solution to the problem. Here are some of the main points of the book.

1. War is always fundamentally evil.

2. God can be called  the Divine Warrior because of accomodation to human language.

3. The OT contains so many stories about war because Israel was a state and states must fight. 

4. For a final conclusion about war he proposes a position between just war and pacificsm. He finds arguments against both sides compelling and so does not go with either side.  He says it is a matter of mystery, like divine sovereignty and human responsibility.

But I am not sure these are all that helpful. I agree that war often is evil. But is it fundamentally evil? The divine accomodation point is the weakest point for me. Sometimes this kind of language is used. But we don't see God being called the divine murderer. Or the divine rapist. Or the divine thief. As far as epithets, there doesn't seem this kind of process. His final conclusion is also unhelpful. I agree that the issue is difficult, but someone must say something about the topic, and appealing to mystery I think does not work in this situation. But perhaps my feelings on these things will change as I continue to study. 

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November, 2007

Honor your father and your mother

Posted Thursday, November 08, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: 2
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In our Deuteronomy class today Dan Block reminded us that Deuteronomy was primarily addressed to the head of the household. This has a variety of implications, but one that he pointed out was that this means the command to honor father and mother is not directed to children. This command is addressed to adult children, not to young children (although there is certainly a principle involved that is relevant). But the command is primarily for those of us who are older: we are the ones commanded to honor our parents. We have a difficul time with this in North America, as all too often what happens is that when the parents get old we just put them in a nursing home and dread visiting them. Instead, we need to honor them throughout our whole life, and as Christians we need to set the example in this area.
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January, 2008

Reading the Old Testament in Antioch

Posted Monday, January 14, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentChurch HistoryHermeneutics   Comments: None
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Robert Hill: Reading the Old Testament in Antioch

A central part of the history of the early church is the dynamic between Antioch and Alexandria, a dynamic which exists to this day, albeit under different names. But as useful as this handle is for speaking in broad terms, does it accurately reflect the situation? This book sets out to present how the Old Testament was viewed in Antioch, specifically in the commentaries of the primary Antiochenes. 

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Israelite Religions, Richard Hess

Posted Monday, January 28, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentArchaeology   Comments: None
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This is simply a massive work by Richard Hess, combining insights from a wide range of fields. The bibliography itself is fifty pages long! Hess sets out to examine what religion actually was for the ancient Israelites, using the Bible, extra-biblical literary sources, and archaeology. The reason this topic is highly debated is because there seems to be ideas of what Israelite religion was, depending on which source you examine. The Bible seems to be mostly a monotheistic document, focusing on YHWH and Jerusalem. But then there are also inscriptions like the Kuntillet 'Arjud texts which describe YHWH having a consort, and a temple at Arad which seems to serve two gods. How does all this fit together? Hess argues against a two position view, in which there is the official religion (as seen in the Bible) and then a popular religion which was actually followed by the people (as seen by archaeology and inscriptions), pointing out that this dichotomy is not as clean as it is presented to be. For example, the Lachish and Arad letters are thoroughly Yahwehistic. And the Bible itself mentions service of other gods by Israelites. Hess argues for a continuum, without strict lines between the positions. There were people who followed YHWH, and there were those who followed Baal, and there were those in between. The book is really  more of a reference work that something you just sit down and read (note the subtitle: An Archaeological and Biblical Survey), so it is helpful to have on your shelf and turn to when you have a question about a specific text or idea. He also includes a very helpful section on why he rejects the Documentary Hypothesis, including a whole paragraph list of various ways people take the sources today differently than Wellhausen. When there are this many different ideas, then perhaps one should go back and reexamine why we even started down this path. Overall, this would be helpful both to scholars studying preexilic religion in Israel and for teachers of the Bible who are interested in what else is going on in Israel during the time of the Bible. One of my personal goals is to make the Hebrew inscriptions more known among evangelicals, and Hess discusses many of them in this book. I highly recommend this work! Read more of Israelite Religions, Richard Hess

The Darker Side of Samuel, Saul and David

Posted Friday, January 18, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament1 Samuel   Comments: None
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One of the benefits of going to ETS/SBL is to be able to hear famous authors and then to be able to know more about them when you read their books. It is even better when you can know someone personally and then read their book. I have had this opportunity as I read through a book by Dr. Jerry Vreeland, who was my own professor at Northwest Baptist Seminary. He is familiar to many readers, as he has contributed several posts to this blog over the years (see in particular his post on scratology ). This work has been many years in coming, as I heard an early form of it in a class Brian Beers and I took on 1 and 2 Samuel several years ago. The key characteristic of this book which makes it different from most other books in this area is that is has a relatively negative view of Samuel, Saul and David. This feature of itself is not unusual, as a variety of works have gone this direction recently, but what is unusual is that this is the only work I know of written by a theological conservative who takes a darker view of the three. If you want to be challenged in your thinking of David, then this is the place to turn. The book is filled with great insights as well as much practical application. For just one random example, he points out how the Philistine lords are presented as bumbling idiots in the Ark Narrative (1 Samuel 4-6). But these same idiotic lords are the ones who eventually bring Saul down. The implications about Saul are patent. Another interesting feature of this work is that Vreeland is textually conservative: he follows the MT where very few others do (Samuel is known  for being textually corrupt). He even tenatively takes the MT reading at 1 Samuel 13:1 (Saul was one year old when he began to reign and reigned for two years), viewing the one year as the first year of his reign being the good year and then after the second year the doom was written on the wall. Overall, this is an excellent work and well worth your study, either devotionally or as part of a wider study of 1 and 2 Samuel (although this volume only covers 1 Samuel). While you won't agree with everything Vreeland writes (and he probably wouldn't want you to agree with him in everything!), you will certainly be challenged and encouraged. And at the very least it is a nice change from the usual sugar-coated hagiographic evangelical devotional literature on David. Buy this book and enjoy it! Read more of The Darker Side of Samuel, Saul and David

February, 2008

The center of the Old Testament?

Posted Tuesday, February 12, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: None
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I've been slowly reading through Walter Brueggemann's OT Theology. It is an important work, since it is being called the first postmodern OT theology. Whenever I finish it I will post my thoughts on the book. But he made one point that I wanted to post about now. He was arguing aginst seeing a center to the OT, which has been a common view. Some view the center as Christ, or at least salvation history. A famous attempt was made by Eichrodt to see covenant as the center. Hasel argues against a center, along with many others, because no one idea can fit all the OT, particularly the wisdom literature. The only other option is to go with some unhelpful idea like God, which is true enough but not very helpful as a model. But Brueggemann argues against a center not only because there isn't one, but because even the idea is wrong-headed. If there was a center, then it would allow the OT to be controlled intellectually, which is not the point of the OT. The OT is to be encountered intellectually as well as emotionally and with the will. It is to work on us not simply through an intellectual theological point, but directly by means of the poetry and narrative and prophecy. This kind of thinking, as long as it does not lead too far to the other end of the spectrum and deny theology any role at all, is helpful for American evangelicals who have been overly influenced by a focus upon intellectualism.
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January, 2008

David and Goliath (again)

A Cheater?

Posted Thursday, January 10, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament1 SamuelMilitary Issues   Comments: 4
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While watching Dave and the Giant Pickle the other day with my daughter, a question occured to me. Did David cheat? I at least know that David was not the major under-dog that we learn in Sunday School. Slingers were an important part of armies in the ANE and were deadly accurate. And they did not throw pebbles around, but good-sized rocks that weighed quite a lot. A hit from one of these 100 mile an hour stones the size of a grapefruit would incapacitate most enemies. But did David cheat? He was going out to a duel, which seems to have somewhat stylized rules. The other duels we see in Scripture contain only hand to hand warfare, such as the tales of David's mighty  men or the 24 man fight at the pool of Gibeon. But David does not do that: he instead goes with the distance weapon, ala Indiana Jones, who when faced with yet another whip wielding enemy decided enough is enough and just shoots him with his gun. One mitigating factor is that the Philistines do not call for a re-do, but one suspects that they would have been a little scared to see which other rules the Israelites were going to break. Anyone have any thoughts?
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War in the Hebrew Bible: A Study in the Ethics of Violence

Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentMilitary Issues   Comments: None
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Susan Niditch wrote this book as an attempt to describe the complex attitudes toward war in the Old Testament. Instead of taking a developmental approach as many do, she instead sees seven different ways war is viewed in the OT and thinks that these views often coexisted. She helpfully categorizes several ways that war is viewed in the OT, although I wouldn't necessarily agree with all of her examples and shades of meaning. She writes from a mixture of postmodern where she enjoys seeing diversity and allowing everyone their view along with the modernist historical-critical view. She also seems to work with the presupposition that all warfare is bad, and perhaps even that all violence is bad.

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February, 2008

Tower of Babel

Is everything you know about it wrong?

Posted Friday, February 08, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: None
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The latest issue of JETS (December 2007) has some interesting articles. The first is entitled "A Historical Reading of Genesis 11:1-9: The Sumerian Demise and Dispersion under the Ur III Dynasty" by Paul Penley. This fascinating article argues for the a known historical reading of the Tower of Bable, i.e., an event that we actually know about. Instead of being simply a historical event that happened a long time, Penley (a PhD student at Trinity) says that the story refers to the fall of the Ur dynasty. Here is how he gets there. Read more of Tower of Babel

January, 2008

The Mission of God

Christopher Wright

Posted Thursday, January 31, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentMissionsHermeneutics   Comments: None
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            Wright wrote this book due to his concern for missions and its relation to the Bible. While growing up, he heard missions proclaimed using proof-texts such as the Great Commission. He became discontented with this approach, especially when he did his academic studies in Bible and did not talk about missions at all. This book is an attempt to relate God, his people, and missions in a more biblical fashion. Wright argues for the basic idea of the Bible being missional: namely, God’s mission, not our mission (Wright uses missions for cross-cultural missions and missional for anything relating to mission). He shows through this book how God’s mission can be used as a basic hermeneutic to read the Bible, not as an alien hermeneutic imposed on the text but as a natural hermeneutic arising from the text itself. Since this is an excellent book, I have included a short overview of the argument of the book. The book is well worth reading. 

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April, 2008

Reader's Hebrew Bible

Posted Monday, April 21, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentHebrew   Comments: None
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I noticed recently that Zondervan has published a Reader's Hebrew Bible . This looks to be an excellent tool for all of us who were not born in Israel several thousand years ago. The format of the book is the Hebrew text (basically the same as BHS) at the top and running helps on the bottom. The helps include both glosses on rare words (all words that appear less than 100 times, I believe), and some morphological help for complicated words. This allows one to read through the text without flipping the lexicon and paradigms trying to deciper a word. This book does not replace BHS, since there is no text critical information included. But this would be a great book to get after one finishes Hebrew classes and needs to just keep reading to retain the language. This cuts down the painfulness of reading and makes it a pleasure (or at least a lot closer!). It would be a great gift for someone graduating from seminary. Broad reading of the text is very important both for retaining one's Hebrew skills as well as for understanding the OT, and I strongly encourage as much reading as possible for those I teach. The other major pathway to easier reading is to use a computer program, like Bibleworks (or Biblespade !). I read a chapter a day of the OT, and whenever I don't know a word, I simply scroll the mouse over the word and a lexicon definition pops up. But Bibleworks is a lot more expensive than this book, and it is always nice to hold a book in one's hands. And since the glosses in the reader's bible are designed for the context, there is no need to go searching through a lexical entry to try and find the appropriate entry. Buy this book and start reading some more Hebrew!
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June, 2008

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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May, 2008

Replaying King David: The Campaigns of King David

Christian Games

Posted Friday, May 02, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentBible GeographyMilitary Issues   Comments: None
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My dad left me a legacy of game playing. He played detailed war games throughout most of his life and left them all to me. Since my family refuses to play them with me, they don't get unpacked very often (I do play a lot of Catan with the family, though!). I am always interested in games that involve the Bible in some way. People stopped playing Bible trivia games with me a long time ago, but there are some excellent games out there that help in understanding the Bible. I came across a seemingly comphrensive list recently that is well worth looking at, since it includes games of complexity levels and quality. I am particularly interested in Credo , a game that allows one to play a role in the eary church councils and argue for one of the Christological views. But it is apparently impossible to find.

 A game that just came out a few months ago I was able to find and acquire. The name of the game is the Campaigns of King David. I've only played it a few times, but it is quite fun. It is a game based on the nations around Israel during David's time. There can be two to five players. Two players play Philistia and Judah, and each additional player plays Aram, Phoenicia, and Moab. The game is fairly extensive, with 20 or so pages of rules. The turn order is completely random, which injects a fun element into the game. There might be several turns of excess food, and then a famine for a few turns, for example. There might be five battle episodes before a time to raise new armies. While the two player game is rather lame, more players give a real feel for what the politics of the time period were like and what David and other kings actually faced. A full game with five players would probably take six or seven hours (I've not actually finished one yet), so it is not a game for the weak-willed, but it is a great game to help introduce the geography and politics of the time period. And you can get the random "Ark of the Lord" card to help you in battle!

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April, 2008

A Nose, Noses, and Proverbs 30:33

Posted Tuesday, April 15, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: None
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The Hebrew of Proverbs 30:33 has a fun aspect that does not come through in English. Here is the verse in Hebrew and a literal translation.

כי מיץ חלב יוציא חמאה ומיץ אף יוציא דם ומיץ אפים יוציא ריב

For the pressing of milk brings out butter and pressing of the nose brings out blood and the pressing of anger brings out strife.

The verse is highly parallel, as each clause uses the same verbs: press and brings out. The second and third clause have another parallel: the word "anger" is actually the plural of "nose."

I'm quite sure that all of this is rather meaningless, but it was interesting, right? 

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A Vegetarian Reading of Job

Posted Thursday, April 03, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentHermeneutics   Comments: None
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Dan Block told me about an amusing "vegetarian" reading of Job by David Clines his in commentary a few months, so when I saw the commentary for a decent price on ebay, I couldn't pass it up. Here is a summary of the vegitarian reading of Job (pages l-lii in the Word commentary series). There are three places in Job where animals play a major role. First, Job owns many animals. They are the outer edge of his possessions. But there is no eating of meat in the narrative of the book, only the labor of the animals is mentioned. While vegetariansim is not taught here, it does fit. Second, Job offers sacrifices for his family. This clearly does not fit with vegetarianism. But note that the sacrifices do not work (his kids die). So perhaps the sacrifices at the end of the book don't work either, and it is actually his prayer that works. Here is a turning over of the effectiveness of animal sacrifice. Third, animals appear often in God's speech at the end of the book. Wild animals are more important than tame animals because they remind humans of the "inexplicability of the world as it has been created." Pretty goofy what people can come up with sometimes.
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Wheaton Dissertation Proposal

Posted Friday, April 04, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentMilitary Issues   Comments: None
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Here in the PhD program at Wheaton we have three major oral examinations, each one before most of the PhD professors (Block, Moo, Spencer, Beale, Treier, Perrin, Schultz, Larsen, Kalantzis, Greenman, Bullock, etc.). The first is the interview, half of which is talking about who we are and why we want to go to Wheaton and half of which is defending your idea for a dissertation. The third is the dissertation defense at the very end of the process, where one defends the final result before the second reader, the external reader, and any of faculty who have read it. The second exam is the one I went through yesterday, the defense of the proposal. I wrote my proposal, went through six drafts with Dan Block, and presented a ten page summary of my idea and fifteen pages of bibliography. After a half hour of grilling and fifteen minutes of talking it over, they decided that it was acceptable. Of course, no one has yet failed this step of the process. Now that I have passed this hurdle, I can finally start writing this thing. My topic, for anyone who is interested, is the ideologies of warfare in the Torah.
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Life in Biblical Israel

Posted Saturday, April 26, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentArchaeology   Comments: None
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King, Philip J., and Lawrence E. Stager. Life in Biblical Israel. Library of Ancient Israel. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001.

This book is simply an amazingly broad and comprehensive study of life in ancient Israel. While the book is written in prose like a traditional book, the deep structure is that of an encyclopedia. If one wants to learn about any aspect of life in ancient Israel (and most likely see some gorgeous pictures in relation to it), then one can simply turn to the table of contents and immediately find it. This book is very useful to have one’s shelf within easy reach at any given moment.

King and Stager wrote this book to illustrate what life was like for both the average Israelite as well as the elite. This area of interest was neither of much interest previously nor able to be studied until the rise of archaeology, since so much of the Bible has to do with the elites. So King and Stager write using archaeology, other ancient Near East cultures, and the Bible to show the reader what life would have been like in ancient Israel.

The first main chapter (chapter 2) is about the Israelite house and household, covering domestic architecture, family relationships, food, and illness. The third chapter covers farming, animals, water sources, arts, and travel. The fourth chapter looks at royal architecture, urban water sources, and warfare. The fifth chapter examines clothing and adornments, music, dance, and literacy. The last chapter is about sacred sites, ritual objects, religious practices, death, and the afterlife.

The pictures are another strength of the book. This is one of the most beautiful books on the Old Testament I have ever read. It seems that every other page had a color photo illustrating some point the authors were talking about. Some of these were essential to understanding the description, such as the photo of how keys worked in the ancient world (33). The chart of pottery types and Hebrew words was helpful in visualizing what they would have looked like, very useful as one reads about seemingly dozens of different types of jugs and jars in the Old Testament (144-145).

There are many interesting tidbits in the book along the journey that may or may not be true. They theorize that anointing kings with oil came from a remedy for head lice (75) (a correlation vs. causation problem?). They identify the “price of a dog” in Deuteronomy 23:19 as related to a healing cult centered around dogs rather than relating to prostitution (83). Ekron produced a thousands tons of oil every year (96). Grape production requires a stable society, since it is a multi-year process (98). The apparel of women did not differ much from that of men, although they do recognize there must be some difference because of the laws against dressing like the other gender (272).

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The Magi and the Gnats - Part 1

Exodus 8:16-18 - Introduction and Locating the Text

Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008 by Sam Yeiter
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: 1
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            In current Evangelical circles, there are few, if any, who would deny that there is at present a cosmic battle between God and Satan, and thus a battle between those who would follow God and those who would follow Satan.  Paul affirms this in his letter to the Ephesians, but the majority of the time we are not able to see this battle as it progresses.  Individual Christians may disagree over what constitutes spiritual warfare, and yet would affirm that we see it taking place in scripture.  Some notable examples would include Paul’s persecutions (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18 cf Acts 17:1-9), Elijah’s battle with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18), Eve’s seduction by the Serpent (Genesis 3:1-6), and the life and ministry of our Lord (Revelation 12:1-6).  These, and many more, receive attention in Scripture, but none, with the exception of the crucifixion, resurrection and return of Christ, measure up to the account of the plagues in their length, scope and grandeur.

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May, 2008

The Magi and the Gnats - Part 2

Our First Question: Why would the Magi want to duplicate the plagues?

Posted Tuesday, May 06, 2008 by Sam Yeiter
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: None
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This installment of The Magi and the Gnats deals with my first question: Why would the magi want to duplicate the plagues.  This seems obvious, perhaps, but this post also takes a look at magic and religion, and may offer you an insight you've not considered before.... Read more of The Magi and the Gnats - Part 2

The Magi and the Gnats - Part 3

Our Second Question: Did the Magi actually duplicate the plagues?

Posted Tuesday, May 20, 2008 by Sam Yeiter
Categories: Old TestamentOld Testament Theology   Comments: 2
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As we continue (I just killed a gnat...our office is infested with them) we continue, we come to a hotly contended issue.  Did the magi really duplicate the plagues?  Everyone has an opinion here...share yours. Read more of The Magi and the Gnats - Part 3

June, 2008

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

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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August, 2008

The Tree of Life: An Exploration of Biblical Wisdom Literature

Posted Sunday, August 03, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: None
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Murphy, Roland E. The Tree of Life: An Exploration of Biblical Wisdom Literature. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.


Roland Murphy has written a very helpful introduction to wisdom literature in the Bible and somewhat beyond. The book includes the usual discusses of the classis wisdom books of the OT: Proverbs, Job, and Qoheleth. Beyond these he also includes surveys of Ben Sira and the Wisdom of Solomon. He concludes the book by looking at wisdom’s echoes in other parts of the Hebrew Bible, the theology of wisdom literature, and Lady Wisdom. The book seems to be designed for those with a basic background in Old Testament who desire to know more about wisdom literature.

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June, 2008

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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July, 2008

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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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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August, 2008

Left handed slander from Rashi

Posted Tuesday, August 12, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentHumor   Comments: None
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I was just reading Rashi's commentary on the Song of the Sea and came across some left-handed slander. Here is the text on which he (Rashi) is commenting: Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power; your right hand, O LORD, crushes the enemy (Exodus 15:6). Rashi says on the verse, in a loose paraphrase: the two mentions of the right hand indicate that when Israel does the will of the Omnipresent one, the left hand is made into the right hand. I.e., a wonderful thing happens: one's useless left hand becomes a glorious right hand!Sorry to all you left-handers out there.

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