The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Jun 8, 2017

Which academic journals in biblical studies give the best peer-review feedback? (A subjective, personal account)

Within the past few months, I've highlighted peer-reviewed journals, including what I feel are the top 50 or so for biblical studies. Peer-review has been going on for at least 150 years (see this fascinating article in Physics Today on "What it was like to be peer-reviewed in the 1860s"), and remains essential for the encouraging of cutting-edge research.

For the best journals, blind peer review is key. This means that a paper is sent anonymously to peer-reviewers, without the author knowing who they are and vice versa. This virtually eliminates favoritism, and in theory allows authors to make unbiased decisions based on the quality of the article and its contribution to scholarship. 

Blind peer-review often provides the opportunity for the scholars (or their grad assistants, in some cases!) to give feedback--feedback that may even lead to the article being improved and published in another journal despite being initially rejected (this has happened to me). For us minor-leaguers, such feedback is incredibly valuable, and even bona fide scholars would do well to take notice (for a fascinating account of how Albert Einstein himself would have benefitted from peer-review feedback, see this article in Physics Today).

Now, as a service to the educational community, I'm giving you my own perspective on which journals in biblical studies give the best feedback. This will be based solely on my personal experience (and only includes journals I've submitted papers to), and may not be totally fair to some journals (e.g., if I only submitted a paper one time, 8 years ago). So keep that in mind.  I welcome personal reports from other fledging writers like myself.

Also, for the record, I've submitted a paper a total of 19 times (some of those are the same paper submitted to a different journal after rejection), and 6 of those times the paper has been accepted for publication. So basically I'm batting .316. Not sure if that's good, bad, or totally average! I have yet to be published in a clear tier-1 journal, though I have a couple of high tier-2 journals.

Note: in none of these cases should this be taken as a criticism of the journals under discussion (or "sour grapes" on my part). They have good reasons for rejecting the papers they do. Having said that, there is some subjectivity in journals, as evidence by the fact that in two cases I have had papers rejected by one journal and then published by another journal on an equal tier. Still, I gladly acknowledge that I am not a real scholar, and no doubt sometimes my writing is just not up to the level of the journals I'm submitting to. Also, obviously a journal has the right to not offer feedback, if the editors so desire. My point is simply to help those budding scholars that wish to improve their writing via feedback.

Now, here we go: To start us out, I will acknowledge Tyndale Bulletin as the greatest journal for feedback, in my humble-but-correct opinion. I have yet to be published there (it's a career goal of mine), but each time I've submitted a paper I've received feed back that helped improve it. One of those rejected papers is about to come out in another tier-2 journal, and it was no doubt improved via the feedback I received from the first reviewers in TynB. So Tyndale Bulletin is the clear winner, in my opinion. 

From tier-1 journals, Journal of Biblical Literature is the winner. The feedback was extensive, clear, relevant, courteous, and filled two whole pages (I received a "revise and resubmit" from them: still not sure if I'll do that or revise for another journal). In contrast, New Testament Studies gave me a short paragraph, basically "your writing and research were good, but the reviewers were unconvinced by your thesis." Novum Testamentum gave no feedback, only rejection. Those are the only three tier-1 journals I've had the guts to submit a paper to.

Trinity Journal is a bit of a mystery to me. The first two times I submitted a paper I received some feedback from their committee (even though the paper was rejected); the latest submission (which is being published elsewhere), for all practical purposes I received no feedback. Still, it's a prestigious enough evangelical journal that I'll probably try again some day, but only if I feel my paper is a really good fit. Also, "review by committee" is a bit tough to get by unscathed (and TJ only publishes twice a year, which probably makes it tougher to get published by them. Kudos to those who have!)

If TJ is my "unlucky" journal so far, Bulletin for Biblical Research is my "lucky" journal. Both papers I've submitted to them have been published, and both times with very good, constructive feedback which, without a doubt, made the paper better. Frankly, for young aspiring scholars, I would recommend BBR as one of the best journals to submit your initial paper to (as long as its more in the realm of NT/OT studies than theology per se).

Let me start this next paragraph with a disclaimer: JETS is one of the two top evangelical journals (the other being TynB), and well-worth trying to publish in. Having said that, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society has given me virtually no feedback, regardless of being accepted or rejected (I've had one paper published with them, not counting my rejoinder to a response to my article, and two papers rejected); however, I've seen indication that this might be changing for the better. Similarly, Westminster Theological Journal, in my sole attempt, gave me no feedback, although it's obviously a journal worth publishing in.

I have never received what I would consider "mean" feedback. However, Journal of Theological Interpretation gave me probably the toughest feedback I've encountered; I think I seriously misunderstood what sort of paper would be a good fit with them, so this is not to cast them in a negative light, but it was definitely hard to swallow! (Also, I clearly adopted a too casual style; I need to watch out for that).

Filelogia Neotestamentaria published a paper of mine, but did not give feedback (this was about 6 years ago, though). I submitted a paper to Word&World in a student competition about 7 years ago; it was rejected, with no feedback, but I did get a free year's subscription! 

Bibliotheca Sacra, obviously a very prestigious journal worth publishing in, is also somewhat of a mystery to me. I submitted a paper that directly dealt with a topic covered before in the journal, yet significantly expanded the discussion, and was told the paper was not a good fit for the journal, with no other feedback. They did, however, encourage me to submit again to the journal in the future. I honestly don't know what to make of that: does this mean they liked my writing but not my topic? Or is that simply what they say to all writers that show at least a minimum competency in writing? Regardless, I'll probably submit again sometime, but only after making sure my article is a really good fit. (And Kudos to my friend, you know who you are, who has a forthcoming paper with BibSac!)

The Bible Translator, which accepted a paper of mine within the past few months (after two revisions), gave excellent feedback. In fact, one of the two reviewers actually suggested an avenue of research that I had not considered before, and this immensely improved my paper. Kudos and thanks to BT's anonymous peer-reviewers!

Finally, I had the privilege of publishing a paper in Science & Christian Belief (put out by the Victoria Institute), and received excellent feedback (interestingly, one of the reviewers was clearly a scientist, and the other was clearly a philosopher). I spent about 12 hours revising that paper for publication, but it was worth it! (Note: I had to try to change my spelling to British spelling for S&CB; not sure how successful I was!)

So there you have it: my own limited experience on which journals have provided helpful feedback. Now, dear young doctoral student or fledgling scholar, go out and submit your papers! (And feel free to share your experiences in the comments, so long as you are courteous and fair, with no "sour grapes")

Jun 1, 2017

Bridging the gap from Biblical Theology to Jesus Christ: Some positive thoughts on David Wenkel's book Jesus' Crucifixion Beatings and the Book of Proverbs

I have the privilege of teaching Hermeneutics twice a year at Baptist College of Ministry, and one new concept I introduce them to is "Biblical Theology," namely tracing the theme of a particular book or author. In addition, for each of their hermeneutics papers I require them to demonstrate how they can "bridge-the-gap" from their particular passage to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This can be somewhat tricky. On the one hand, we must respect the original author's intention and not allegorize (and both our textbooks, Duvall and Hays' Grasping God's Word and Sire's Scripture Twisting, do an excellent job of rebuking those who assume their own "spiritual" interpretation trumps the "common sense" reading of the biblical text!). On the other hand, Jesus himself indicated that the entirety of Scripture points to him (Luke 24:27--"in all the Scriptures"). Consequently, we must not be afraid to see a deeper Christological significance in any portion of Scripture (but only after we've grasped the original meaning of the author). We must acknowledge, for example, the "plain sense" reading of Song of Solomon as a (awkward!) celebration of "smooching" (and more) between a husband and wife (avoiding the temptation to "sanitize" it), while at the same time noting that God is the lover par excellence, as evidenced by John 3:16. Indeed, the apostles themselves were not afraid to see even technically 
non-Messianic OT texts "fulfilled" in Jesus Christ (case in point: Matthew 2:15's citation of Hosea 11 which, in my opinion, is basically telling us "Jesus succeeded where Israel failed").

Enter David H. Wenkel's new book: Jesus' Crucifixion Beatings and the Book of Proverbs (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan 2017). Dr. Wenkel, with a ph.d. from the University of Aberdeen, has taught at Moody Bible Institute, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Indian Bible College. The purpose of his book is not to read Proverbs allegorically or without regard to the author's original intent. Rather,  Wenkel seeks to place Proverbs in canonical, Christological context. Thus, he states,

". . . this theme (the physical beating of fools) within the book of Proverbs has meaning related to Christ through its application to him as one who bears the punishments that a wicked fool should endure. This meaning is driven by grammatical-historical exegesis because the Proverbs apply to all sinners for whom Christ was a sinless substitute." Indeed, "The very genre of Proverbs directs the reader to apply them in an infinite number of ways. Therefore, this study argues that there is place for a legitimate application of this theme to Christ when read in a canonical fashion" (Wenkel, p. 8).

After the introduction of chapter 1, Wenkel then explores the various aspects of the "beating of the fool," both in the context of Proverbs and in the theme's broader canonical context. One key insight, for example, is his discussion of 2sam 7:14 and how the son of the Messianic king would be "chastened with the rod of men," and the covenant significance of this statement (Wenkel, p. 74). Wenkel summarizes: ultimately, "it was God's own covenantal promises that ensured his son would be disciplined through the rod" (p. 76).

Thus for anybody interested in the theology of Proverbs and/or its Christological significance (a topic that has not been explored as much as it should be), as well as a good example for how to "bridge" to Jesus Christ from the OT without allegorizing, I recommend David Wenkel's book.

May 13, 2017

Introducing a new class at BTS: "Using the Biblical Languages in Ministry" (with Logos!)

I am pleased to announce that on the week of Memorial Day, May 29th (though starting later in the day) through June 2nd, Baptist Theological Seminary (Menomonee Falls, WI) will be offering a new class, "Using Biblical Languages in Ministry," with myself and evangelist Bobby Bosler teaching.

Here is the official description:
"An overview of how a competent knowledge of the biblical languages can benefit both the study of the Scriptures and sermon preparation, especially when utilizing the tools that modern Bible software provides. Students will learn to use Logos Bible Software profitably while at the same time learning the basics of lexical semantics (and how to avoid exegetical fallacies), refreshing their knowledge of Greek syntax, and exploring the very basics of Hebrew grammar and syntax to enable them to utilize Logos with Old Testament texts."

The point of this class is to give pastors who haven't taken Greek exegesis or any Hebrew enough tools to utilize the biblical languages with Logos while avoiding exegetical, lexical, or syntactical fallacies. 

We will focus on basic lexical semantics (i.e., how words function), a super-basic, non-intimidating overview of Hebrew (for those that have never had Hebrew), hermeneutics-light, and, last but not least, how to use Logos (which will be required for the course, in addition to three modules: a Greek NT, a Hebrew OT, and the Rahlf's Septuagint). The work for this class will be very practical, "hands-on," and ministry oriented (especially focused on how Logos can be used for sermon prep, etc.)

Finally, I'm very excited about the textbooks for this class (in addition to Logos, which is sort of a "textbook" in of itself). 
1. First, we have a book by my very own doctoral advisor, David Alan Black, Using New Testament Greek in Ministry: A Practical Guide for Students and Pastors (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1993).
2. Secondly, we have a gem I recently discovered, Michael Williams' The Biblical Hebrew Companion for Bible Software Users (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015). This books is the perfect book for this type of class, and kudos to Dr. Williams for publishing something that I don't think anybody else has published yet.
3. Finally, we have D. A. Carson's Exegetical Fallacies, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1996). Although there are parts of this book I disagree with, nonetheless this remains a classic, very valuable for ministry.

May 4, 2017

More on peer-reviewed journals: The difference between "Accepted Upon Revision" and "Revise and Resubmit"

Aspiring doctoral candidates and young professors generally try to get published in the peer-reviewed journals we've been discussing. The top scholars in the world are skilled enough to be able to get published in the top-tier journals at whim (or so it seems to us mere mortals!) while the rest of us will generally see a mix of successes and failures. Currently I reckon I'm batting .353 (6 for 17) with total submissions to peer-reviewed journals (including one that was recently accepted with revision), but 0-3 with tier-1 journals (as defined in the last post), so clearly I'm not exactly D. A. Carson or Andreas J. Köstenberger or [insert name of your favorite Bible scholar who writes a gajillion books and routinely gets published in snooty German journals]! Still, I'm grateful for those journals that have published my stuff, and here's hoping that they don't regret it! 

In a future post, I'll discuss which journals have given me the best feedback (here's a preview: Tyndale Bulletin is awesome in this regard; even though I've yet to be published with them, their feedback has always been helpful). In the meanwhile, though, let me share something I've discovered, namely the difference between "accepted upon revision" and "revise and resubmit," and why you should should jump for joy at the former and probably ignore the latter.

1. "Accepted upon revision" is what you will get probably 90% of the time your paper has been accepted (no matter how good your paper is, it's probably not so good that it can't use some tweaking!). "Accepted upon revision" simply means that the peer-reviewers liked it, think it's publishable, but need to see some changes. Always pay close attention to what the peer-reviewers say and try to follow their instructions and/or recommendations (there is a difference) to a T, when at all possible. If for some reason you think the two (or more) reviewers have contradictory opinions on what you should change, or if you don't think you can institute the changes without weakening your thesis, then contact the general editor (usually he or she is the person who e-mailed you to let you know your paper had been accepted contingent upon revision).

I repeat: "accepted upon revision" is a cause for rejoicing; however, you should expect to put in quite a few more hours of work to get it published. "Revision" is usually not light. For my paper for Science & Christian Belief (here), I received fantastic feedback from the two anonymous reviewers, but since this topic was not my specialty I put in, by my reckoning, approximately 12 hours of hard work revising and implementing their feedback before it made it into the journal. But it was worth it!

2. Now, "Revise and resubmit" is a totally different matter. This is, technically, a rejection, but a rejection with a glimmer of hope. This means that at least one of the reviewers (or, possibly, the editor) sees potential in the paper. This rejection will probably accompany some helpful feedback from the reviewers. It means, however, that you have to go through the whole submission process again (potentially with different reviewers).

Now, here's the thing; I've received 3 "revise and resubmit" judgments in my career so far. With one of them I think it was less the reviewers that saw potential and more the editor (though I was immensely grateful for the positive feedback from the editor). Despite all the effort I put into that revision, the reviewers were unimpressed; in fact, I got the sense they were even less impressed than the first submission. So that one failed. Likewise an earlier "revise and resubmit" that, if I recall, was reviewed by a committee (it's tough enough trying to impress 2 reviewers; but a whole committee of them?). Same thing: no go.

Consequently, for this most recent "revise and resubmit" rejection I've received (from a tier-1 journal), I believe I'm going to ignore it and try a totally different journal. I did receive some helpful feedback that I hope to implement, but otherwise I don't believe "revise and resubmit" has much potential. The problem is that if they weren't convinced of your thesis the first time, they probably won't be convinced of it the second time, at least short of a major re-rewrite that, for all practical purposes, creates a totally different paper. Since there is a degree of subjectivity involved in the review process (which can't be avoided), you probably have a better shot with totally new reviewers at a different journal than with impressing the same reviewers you failed to convince the first time. 

So, in summary, if you get a "revise and resubmit," you're probably better off going to a new journal (after implementing any suggestions you believe are helpful). I can definitely attest that reviewers at a totally different journal may very well be more sympathetic to your thesis. However, this post represents my own personal experience; I am very interested in hearing from those who had a "revise and resubmit" and successfully resubmitted to the same journal.

Apr 20, 2017

The Festschrift is out! New Testament Essays in Honor of David Alan Black

I am happy to announce the official presentation of the Festschrift for my former doctoral advisor, New Testament scholar David Alan Black:
Click here for the publisher's page and click here for the amazon.com page.
For the last few decades, Dr. Black has combined scholarship par excellence with a dedicated heart for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Many thank to Dr. Black for his academic and spiritual mentorship!
Thanks to the editors, Daniel L. Akin (president of Southeastern) and Thomas W. Hudgins (a friend of mine, scholar and professor at Capital Seminary and Graduate school)!
The contributors and their essays are as follows:
1. Stanley E. Porter, "So What Have We Learned in the Last Thirty Years of Greek Linguistic Study?"
2. Constantine R. Campbell, "Prepositions and Exegesis: What's in a Word?"
3. Michael Rudolph, "Reclaiming Γάρ: Correcting the Conjunctive Errors of New Testament Lexicography."
4. J. K. Elliott, "Majority Text or Not: Which Criteria Should Be Adopted When Assessing Textual Variation in the Greek New Testament?"
5. Tommy Wasserman, "A Short Textual Commentary on the Lucan Travel Narrative (Luke 9:51-19:46)."
6. Maurice Robinson, "'It's All About Variants'--Unless 'No Longer Written.'"
7. Christian B-.Amphoux, "L'origine de la parole de Jésus sur la réunion du masculin et du féminin."
8. Jesús Peláez and GASCO, "The Definition and Translation of ἀλήθεια in the Gospel According to John: The Case of John 1:14, 17."
9. Israel Munoz Gallarte, "The Meaning of πίστις in the Framework of the Diccionario griego-espanol del Nuevo Testamento."
10. Alexander E. Stewart, "The Infancy Narratives and the Synoptic Problem: Reassessing the Evidence and Arguments."
11. Antonio Pinero, "The Origin of Jesus' Speeches in the Fourth Gospel."
12. Paul A. Himes [yours truly], "Wisdom and the Sojourning Saints or Christ and the Wandering Sinners? The Wilderness Wandering Motif in Hebrews as a Reaction to Wisdom of Solomon."
13. Stephen H. Levinsohn, "Contextualizando y actualizando la traducción al espanol de la gramática griega de David Alan Black."

A couple quick comments:
First of all, this is one of the most multi-cultural Festschrifts I've ever seen, with essays in 3 different languages and scholars from seven different countries represented (I repeat: seven different countries).

Secondly, I'd like to lay claim to being the first professor to have a student cite from this book in a paper, since a couple days before the official presentation of the book to Dr. Black I had a student borrow my copy to cite Dr. Rudolph's essay on γάρ.
Once again, many thanks to Dr. Black, a true scholar and servant of Jesus Christ!

Mar 31, 2017

Peer-Reviewed Journals Pt 2: The Top 50+ Academic Journals for Biblical Studies (Ranked)

[Progressively updated as I get feedback, etc.]

In part 1 of this series of posts, I highlighted what were the top Evangelical peer-reviewed journals and how to access most of them (either online or via the immensely helpful Galaxie Software at $5 a month). The focus of this post will be on the strictly academic ranking of journals (laying aside theological benefit). In part three of this series I will highlight some journals that combine scholarship with spiritual/practical benefit.

For serious graduate work, having access to the top evangelical journals is not enough. You also need access to the top mainstream journals. Some of these will still be, technically, confessional (e.g., Catholic Biblical Quarterly) while some will be technically secular (e.g., Journal of Biblical Literature), but both types will focus more on the academic quality and originality of the submitted article than on theological belief. Consequently, you will find a large variety of articles ranging from liberal to conservative, post-modern to neo-orthodoxy, feminist theology, liberation theology, devoutly religious to agnostic and atheist.

I here rank the journals according to their general academic reputation in three tiers or levels. Which ones are most likely to be cited in scholarly books? To which ones do the top scholars send their prospective articles? I will mention, however, that many articles published in mainstream journals do have the potential to help committed Christians understand scripture better. For example, in a future post, I will discuss the excellent article in German by Dieter Böhler, "Liebe und Freundschaft im Johannesevangelium. Zum alttestamentlichen Hintergrund von John 21, 15-19," Biblica 96.3 (2015), available online here. Although I disagree with the author's take on the difference between Philew and Agapaw, I still greatly appreciated his perspective on how the "sheep/feeding" language in this passage is most likely drawing from Ezekiel 34. I had never thought of that before, and Böhler makes a very good argument here. In other words, I, an independent Baptist, benefited in my understanding of Scripture from a German article in a Catholic journal!

Keep in mind that the following list represents my perspective as a North American researcher and professor, so some of the European journals are under-represented (with the obvious world-class exceptions such as Biblica and Zeitschrift für neuentestamentliche Wissenschaft).

So without further ado, here are the top journals that grad students in Biblical studies need to have access to (list subject to change; some of this is my informed opinion, but much of it is the scholarly consensus, so far as I can tell). I also list the official SBL handbook (1st edition) abbreviation next to the title (with a ? where the 1st edition did not include the journal). I rank them according to 3 tiers/levels, but within those levels they are simply listed in alphabetical order (with the exception of the first 5 in Level 1).
Feel free to post in the comments if you disagree with the rankings or have suggestions on something to add!

Level 1
These are the journals universally acknowledged as top-tier, indispensable for any serious graduate level library. Except for the first five, they are all in alphabetical order.

*Journal of Biblical Literature (JBL)--probably the most widely distributed of all, with a very wide range of topics and perspectives. Has been around since 1881!
* Biblica (Bib)--the official journal of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome; considered very prestigious (and has been around since 1920).
* Catholic Biblical Quarterly (CBQ)
* New Testament Studies (NTS)
* Zeitschrift für neuentestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche (ZNW)
Note: The above 5 are probably the "Big Five" for New Testament Studies.
Ephemerides theologicae lovanienses (ETL)
* Harvard Theological Review (HTR)
Hervormde teologieses studies (HvTSt)
Jewish Quarterly Review (JQR)--this would probably be the premiere journal for Jewish studies, and has been around since 1889!
* Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages (JNSL)
Journal of Theological Studies (JTS)
* Novum Testamentum (NovT)
* Old Testament Essays (OTE)
* Revue biblique (RB)
* Scottish Journal of Theology (SJT)
* Theologische Zeitschrift (TZ)
Vetus Testamentum (VT)
* Vigiliae christianae (VC)--probably the premiere journal for church history.
Zeitschrift für alttestamentliche Wissenschaft (ZAW)

Level 2
All of these belong in any decent library for biblical studies, and top scholars would gladly submit to these journals, especially if their article was a "niche" fit for such a journal. In this list I also include the top 3 evangelical journals.

* Bibel und Kirche (BK)
* Biblical Interpretation (BibInt)
* Biblical Theology Bulletin (BTB)
* Biblische Zeitschrift (BZ)
* Bulletin of the John Rylands Library (BJRL)
* Christian Scholar's Review (CSR)
* Church History (CH)
Currents in Theology and Mission (CurTM)--probably the premiere journal for missions
* Early Christianity (?)--although not listed in the SBL handbook, this fairly new journal may soon become tier-1.
* Estudio bíblicos (EstBib)
* Ex Audito (ExAud)
* Expository Times (ExpTim)
* Faith and Philosophy (?)--while technically not for Biblical studies per se, this can still be helpful since it is the top journal for Christian philosophers.
* Filologia Neotestamentaria (FilNet)--a journal devoted exclusively to the study of the Greek of the NT and its textual criticism.
* Hebrew Studies (HS)
* Interpretation (Int)
Jewish Bible Quarterly (JBQ)
* Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and  Roman Period (JSJ)
* Journal for the Study of the New Testament (JSNT)
* Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (JSOT)
* Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha (JSP)
* Journal of Early Christian Studies (JECS)
* Journal of Ecclesiastical History (JEH)
* Journal of Jewish Studies (JJS)
* Journal of Near Eastern Studies (JNES)
* Journal of Reformed Theology (JRT)
* Journal of Semitic Studies (JSS)
* Journal of Septuagint and Cognate Studies (?)--This journal used to be known as the Bulletin of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies; fortunately they switched their title from 24 syllables to 10 syllables!)
* Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (JETS)--probably the #2 academic evangelical journal.
* Judaica (Jud)
* Kerygma und Dogma (KD)
* Neotestamentica (Neot)
* Perspectives in Religious Studies (PRSt)
* Princeton Seminary Bulletin (PSB)
* Pro Ecclesia (ProEccl)
* Scandanavian Journal of the Old Testament (SJOT)
* Science and Christian Belief (S&CB)--technically not biblical studies per se, but is probably the most prestigious journal to deal with the intersection of science and Christianity. Published by the Victoria Institute.
* Semeia (Semeia)--a little bit of an avant-garde journal, if your methodology is just a bit too radical for other journals!
* The Bible Translator (BT)--the premiere journal for Bible translation theory and practice (a technical issue alternates with a more practical issue). Sometimes deals with some topics as exegesis or discourse analysis.
* Theological Studies (TS)
* Tyndale Bulletin (TynB)--the premiere evangelical academic journal, and apparently the most cited by mainstream scholarship.

Level 3
Although these journals still have a solid reputation for academic excellence, they are not as well-known and not as prestigious, and consequently not as likely to be cited by mainstream scholarship. Also, some of these journals are not peer-reviewed, or at least not as frequently.

* Acta Theologica (AcT)
* Andrews University Seminary Studies (AUSS)
* Anglican Theological Review (AThR)
* Asbury Theological Journal (AsTJ)
* Asia Journal of Theology (AJT)
* Australian Biblical Review (ABR)
* Bibleotheca Sacra (BibSac)--this is the oldest journal on the list, and as far as dispensational or pre-mil theology goes, it's probably the best (it's published by Dallas Theological Seminary).
* Bulletin for Biblical Research (BBR)
* Calvin Theological Journal (CTJ)
* Currents in Biblical Research (?)
* Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal (DBSJ)
* Evangelical Quarterly (EvQ)
Evangelical Review of Theology (?)
* Foi et Vie (FoiVie)
* Horizons in Biblical Theology (HBT)
* International Journal of Systematic Theology (?)
* Jahrbuch für Biblische Theologie (JBTh)
* Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament (?)--I'm really hoping this journal will get noticed and become more significant, but it's still not as well known and I've hardly ever seen it cited (though they've had some solid evangelical scholars contribute)
* Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters (?)--brand new, not mentioned in the SBL handbook, but will probably go up to tier-2.
* Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism (?)--fairly new, may move up the ladder to tier-2 soon. We'll keep an eye on how often it is cited.
* Journal of Theological Interpretation (JTI)--this fairly new journal will probably move up in the ranks soon as it continues to demonstrate its relevancy to biblical studies (currently it's the only journal I know of devoted to the "Theological Interpretation of Scripture," and it's received quite a bit of "buzz"!).
* Journal of Translation (?)--the official journal of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL); I think (though am not positively sure) that this replaced their older journal Notes on Translation.
* Journal of Translation and Textlinguistics (JOTT)
* Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (?)
Reformed Theological Review (RTR)
* Restoration Quarterly (ResQ)
* Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology (SBET)
* Southeastern Theological Review (?)--brand new (replaces the older Faith&Mission). I'm not sure if it's peer-reviewed, and it includes a lot of invited papers, but still has some immensely valuable material (like a recent issue devoted to the Pastoral Epistles, including the epic survey of scholarship by my friend Chuck Bumgardner)
* Southwestern Journal of Theology (SWJT)
* TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism (TC)
* Themelios (Them)--though technically peer-reviewed, it occasionally seems like this journal focuses more on thematic studies and invited authors. Having said that, once in a while a highly valuable, "tier-1" level article appears (I'm thinking specifically about W. Edward Glenny's recent survey of theological interpretation of the LXX)
* The Master's Seminary Journal (MSJ)--along with BSac, the best source for dispensational theology.
The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (?)
* Toronto Journal of Theology (TJT)--really more known for its book reviews than ground-breaking articles.
* Trinity Journal (TJ)
* Westminster Theological Journal (WTJ)

Mar 11, 2017

2017 Midwest Regional ETS meeting (Wheaton, IL)

I have just returned from the excellent 2017 regional meeting for the midwest chapter of the Evangelical Theological Society. This year's theme, which dovetailed nicely with last year's theme, was "Evil and the Suffering of God," with excellent and thought-provoking presentations by Dr. Andrew J. Schmutzer (Moody Bible Institute), Dr. Paul K. Moser (Loyola University), and Dr. Marc Cortez (Wheaton College).

The best line of the conference was by Dr. Schmutzer: "Apparently God is allowed to do things in Scripture that he's not allowed to do in systematic theology!" [in reference to the lamenting of God in Scripture]

For the first time, I had the privilege of participating as a judge in the student paper competition (for the undergrad side). Kudos to Kory Eastvold of Lincoln Christian University for winning the prize for undergrad students with his paper on "'What, Then, Shall We say': The Interpretation of Romans 4:1."

My own paper (attended by a grand total of 8 or so 😄 ) was entitled, "First Peter's Identity Theology and the Community of Faith: Tracing the Trajectory from Social Scientific Criticism to Biblical Theology and on to Theological Ethics."

The most helpful paper that I attended (besides the plenary addresses), in my opinion, was by David Wenkel (Moody Bible), "Eliciting an Intellectual Faith: The Paradox of High Christology in Hebrews 1:1-14." Wenkel explored the role of "paradox" within the logical argumentation of Hebrews. However, I also especially benefited from Dane Ortlund (from Crossway Books), "The Role of Teaching in Marks' Gospel" (a neglected topic since everybody always focuses on Mark as the "action" Gospel).

Also appreciated (with cordial disagreement in some cases 😄) was my friend Tim Miller's paper on "Reformed Theodicy: John Calvin on the Problem of Evil" (Tim teaches at Detroit Theological Seminary) and Tim's student, Jonathan Moreno, "A Good God in a Wicked World: Considering the Problem of Evil" (congrats to Jonathan for placing in the student paper competition for the grad level!)

As always, I appreciate the privilege of presenting a paper and pondering other papers, the fellowship, and the challenging plenary addresses (most of us presenting papers are "minor leaguers," but the plenary speakers are the major leaguers, and they always challenge me to think!)

Feb 21, 2017

The Difference between "Inspiration" and "Preservation"

I had the awesome privilege over this past weekend of ministering at Logansport, Indiana, to Hillcrest Baptist Church (with Pastor Brandon Hudson, an old Maranatha classmate of mine!). I basically gave a seminar on "How we got our Bible." The people were great, very gracious, and I had a blast!

I tried to emphasize the need to avoid both the extreme of "preservation is not taught in Scripture" and that of "preservation only applies to the King James Bible." [For a decent overview of which Scriptures passages do, and probably do not, teach preservation, see William Combs' article here]. In the process, I emphasized some key differences between the two:

1. Is supernatural (personally, directly guided by the Holy Spirit),
2. Cannot involve mistakes, 
3. Involved special people, 
4. Does not continue once the Canon is completed,
5. Involved three languages.

1. Uses secondary means (may be Spirit-led, but not Spirit-inspired; people led by the Spirit still obviously make mistakes),
2. Involves human mistakes (see, for example, 2Kings 22:8; either human error or malicious intent had let to the Word of God being temporarily set aside; however, it was not permanently lost and cannot be permanently lost),
3. Involves all Christians everywhere (of various competency!)
4. Continues until Jesus' 2nd Coming (and maybe beyond?)
5. Involves all languages

The take-away from this is that you, personally, dear Christian, are involved in preservation (i.e., it's not something unique to the KJV translators, or those of any other translation, for that matter). Every time you quote Scripture to a brother or sister in Christ, every time you teach your children God's Word, every time you witness to a co-worker, every time you memorize the Bible--in all those instances, you, personally, are involved in preservation (regardless of how "good" or "competent" you are, and regardless of whether or not you make mistakes).
So, Christian, get busy preserving God's Word!

I leave you with this quote which demonstrates that the King James translators themselves had solid grasp of the fact that their new translation was not the only preserved Word of God:
"Now to the latter we answer, that we do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English set forth by men of our profession contained the word of God, nay, is the word of God: as the King's speech which he uttered in Parliament, being translated in French, Dutch, Italian, and Latin, is still the King's speech, though it be not interpreted by every translator with the like grace, nor peradventure, so fitly for phrase, or so expressly for sense, everywhere." 
(From “The Translators to the Reader,” the preface to the King James Bible)

Jan 28, 2017

Peer-Reviewed Journals Pt 1 (and the benefits of Galaxie Software for the seminary student)

Anybody can publish (especially in an age of “e-publishing” and “self-publishing”), but whether or not what is written is worth reading is another matter altogether. For theological and biblical research, graduate school demands the highest quality of sources. This is where the concept of “peer-review” comes in to play. If a book or article has been “peer-reviewed,” this means that established scholars have read it and rendered a verdict as to its academic quality and contribution to scholarship (regardless of whether or not they agree with it). This provides a standard that (at least in theory) weeds out sloppy work, false information, and material that simply rehashes what others have said. While not a perfect system, this provides “quality assurance” at the academic level (though obviously not at the spiritual level).
            Most peer-reviewed journals are “anonymous” peer-review, which means that the articles were evaluated solely on the basis of content, not authorship. This eliminates favoritism and bias (in theory, any seminary student could be published in a mainstream journal if their work was up to par). In my next post, I will list the most important journals for graduate students to be aware of and utilize.
Many of these journals, especially the top-tier journals, are behind a “paywall,” which means they are not accessible for free unless an institution has an ATLA database subscription or something similar (ours does not). However, some journals are “partial paywall,” which means all but the last couple volumes are accessible for free online. For example, at https://www.ibr-bbr.org/bulletin-biblical-research you can access all volumes of the Bulletin for Biblical Research up through 2011. For journal websites that allow such access, my former student David Dzimianski has shown me how to search for key words and topics via google. For example, to search BBR for any articles that discuss “angels” you would type the following:   site:www.ibr-bbr.org filetype:pdf angels   Also, some journals that are “partial paywall” may not be accessible on the official website, but may be accessible through http://biblicalstudies.org.uk/articles_evangelical_quarterly.php (e.g. Evangelical Quarterly) or related sites.
            Finally, “Galaxie Software” (http://www.galaxie.com), for a recurring charge of only $5 a month, will give you fully searchable access to all or almost all of the volumes of the top evangelical journals. I believe “Logos” offers a similar option (though I am not sure if it is more expensive or cheaper than Galaxie). Also, just recently, Galaxie software added some sort of compatibility with Zotero software (I'll confess the technical details are beyond me; I don't use Zotero yet).
           I have strongly urged my seminary students to subscribe to Galaxie Software's journal library. At present they have a incredible 37 journals, fully-searchable (a few of them will not have the last two years or so available, but those become available over time). All of these are confessional journals, which means they are published by schools or organizations who would self-identify as Christian (I think almost all of them evangelical). On the one hand, the top-tier journals will be lacking (Journal of Biblical Literature, New Testament Studies, etc.). However, almost all the top evangelical journals (many of which are cited by mainstream publications, not just evangelical publications) are included, including the top two evangelical journals in the world, Tyndale Bulletin and Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (well, the top two according to my humble but correct opinion, at least!). In addition. other top academic evangelical journals include Bulletin for Biblical Research, Trinity Journal, Westminster Theological Journal, Bibliotheca Sacra, etc. At the academic level, the only major evangelical journals not included here, in my opinion, are Expository Times and Evangelical Quarterly.
      Not all journals in Galaxie's collection are of equal quality, of course (and some of them are more valuable for nostalgia or historical studies than academics per se). Having said that, there are a number of journals that, while less academic, are immensely helpful for pastoral studies or even personal spiritual reflection. In this category I would include Emmaus Journal, Faith and Mission (though since replaced with the more academic Southeastern Theological Review, also included in Galaxie), Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry (has some helpful material for non-Baptists, too, in my opinion), and Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry.
    Finally, for those interested in the debate on gender roles within evangelicalism, Galaxie Journals includes both sides with 1. Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Complementarian) and 2. Priscilla Papers (Egalitarian).
   At $5 a month, this is an incredible valuable resource for any seminary students or pastors who take their study time seriously (case-in-point: for a series of classes on the Trinity I'm presenting at Falls Baptist for the layman and laywoman, I have already utilized three journal articles I accessed via Galaxie for my research).
    Next post I will discuss what are the top-tier journals that graduate students and especially doctoral students need to have access to.

Jan 11, 2017

The latest, greatest, survey of scholarship on the Pastoral Epistles (C. Bumgardner, in the fine tradition of I. Howard Marshall)

For years, British NT scholar I. Howard Marshall was "the Man" when it came to surveys of scholarship on 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus (while contributing a substantial amount himself). Sadly, Dr. Marshall passed away recently, but it seems the baton has been passed on [unofficially] to my good friend Charles J. ("Chuck") Bumgardner, who is studying the Pastorals under Dr. Andreas J. Köstenberger at Southeastern Seminary (and had corresponded with Dr. Marshall before he passed away).

So, the latest issue of the Southeastern Theological Review, vol. 7.2 (Winter 2016), has soon-to-be-doctor Bumgardner's "Paul's Letters to Timothy and Titus: A Literature Review (2009-2015)." Bumgardner covers commentaries (including major foreign-language commentaries), articles, and essays.  This is not just a list: Bumgardner includes plenty of comments that will give the reader excellent insight into the current debates and scholarly trends of the PE.

Bumgardner spends a significant amount of space discussing Robert Wall's new commentary (Two Horizons; written with Richard Steele), Andreas J. Köstenberger's soon-to-be-released volume in the Biblical theology for Christian Proclamation series, Michel Gourgues' French commentary, the Cornerstone commentaries by Linda Belleville and Jon Laansma, and Aída Besançon Spencer's New Covenant commentary.

In addition, my takeaways from this literature review are that the following books are very significant: 1. Rick Brannan's Second Timothy: Notes on Grammar, Syntax, and Structure, which according to Bumgardner "frequently engages Runge's discourse grammar" (which is a very important work that all Greek profs should own); 2. Dillon Thornton's Hostility in the House of God: An Investigation of the Opponents in 1 and 2 Timothy; 3. Gary Hoag's Wealth in Ancient Ephesus and the First Letter to Timothy, and 4. the collection of essays in Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul's Theology in the Pastoral Epistles (eds. Andreas J. Köstenberger and Terry Wilder), a book which I personally own and have benefitted from.

(pardon the finger)
Actually, this entire issue of Southeastern Theological Review (edited by Dr. Benjamin Merkle, under whom I also had the privilege of taking Pastoral Epistles at the doctoral level) is dedicated to the Pastoral Epistles, with another article by Bumgardner on "Kinship, Christian Kinship, and the Letters to Timothy and Titus" and those others that you can see on the photo (the one article that you can't see in the photo is by Gregory J. Stiekes, "Paul's Family of God: What Familial Language in the Pastorals Can and Cannot Tell Us about the Church").

So anyways, this is a must-have issue of Southeastern Theological Review for anybody studying or teaching the Pastoral Epistles. Keep up the good work, Chuck!