Purpose:

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.

May 22, 2015

"If the foundations be destroyed . . ." [DON'T SAY THAT!!] Or, why context remains indispensable for legitimate Bible study

 For both the Spring semester and Summer School (which just concluded today at BCM), I had the privilege of teaching Hermeneutics to a total of 25-30 students. I had a fabulous time! The student's were very engaged with the topic, and I can think of only one other class that I could possibly be more excited about (1 Peter). Our main textbook was Duvall and Hayes' Grasping God's Word, with Sire's Scripture Twisting as also required reading.

As I stress with my students, properly studying the context of any passage remains essential. Even Proverbs—possibly the one book in the Bible where you could grab a couple verses and not be too concerned about what precedes and follows—even in Proverbs the reader must understand the ongoing conflict between "Lady Wisdom" versus the "Strange Woman," as well as how the entire book must be read in light of 1:7.

A perfect example of the importance of context is in how well-meaning Christians quote Psalm 11:3—"Boy, this country [or church, or society, or local coffee shop] sure is going downhill fast! You know, if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Indeed, how many messages have been preached with that as the tagline, generally focusing on what the "foundations" are and how we need to get back to whatever they are?

Friend, if we truly pay attention to what Scripture is saying, you'll understand that true believers are not supposed to be saying "if the foundations be destroyed . . ." Consider the entire Psalm. In verse 1, we have the basic theme: David trusts in the Lord. Then, immediately following, we have discordant voice introduced: that of "Naysayers," the ones who wish David to abandon hope and join them in their doom and gloom philosophy.  "Flee to the mountains," they say. With parallelism in verse 2—"The wicked are bending their bow, they're getting ready to shoot!" Why? "To shoot at the righteous."

Here's the key—the "Naysayers" are still talking in verse 3! In other words, verse 3 is not the theme of the Psalm, the message we should take to heart. Rather, verse 3, "If the foundations be destroyed . . ." is the very statement David (and the Psalm) rebukes!

The (perhaps well-meaning) "Naysayers," then, are bemoaning the fact that everything's crumbling, and they've thrown up their hands in despair—"It's too late! The foundations are destroyed! What can good people do about it?"

Listen to King David's rebuke—"The Lord is in his holy temple, his throne is in the heavens, God's eyes are quite aware of what's going on, and God will take care of things!"

My friends, when you state (whatever the circumstances), "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?", quite possibly you have allowed yourself to join the side of the "Naysayers" and are seriously questioning the Sovereignty of God! So long as the Lord is in His sacred temple, so long as God reigns from heaven, the question is absurd at best and dangerously close to sacrilege at worst.

This is not to downplay or in any way minimize true, Biblical Lament. I have made it a point to introduce legitimate Lament to my students as an under-neglected genre (with thanks to Dr. Heath Thomas of Southeastern who radically changed my thinking on this matter). True Biblical Lament cries out to God in despair, even questions God, yet does so from the perspective of faith.

Psalm 11:3, however, is not Lament; rather, it is whining, a "woe is us" attitude that focuses on the deterioration of society (or whatever) and forgets God has called us to a sacred mission to be the light to the world. In other words, when we bemoan the fact that the light seems to be going out in the world, we are actually bemoaning our own failure with the suggestion that God himself has not adequately equipped us.

Context, then, remains essential to any legitimate study of the Bible. Yet many preachers and teachers strip verses out of their context as if it didn't matter, as if those verses could appear anywhere. Folks, the Holy Spirit has inspired location just as much as content! As an example of the absurdity of being able to conduct legitimate interpretation without context, I play a little game with my Hermeneutics students: I have them divide up into teams, then try to guess the location in the Bible, the significance, and the application of the following passages (#6 is especially difficult—no student has successfully guessed or interpreted it yet!) Also, one of these is not actually from the canonical books but from the Apocrypha (Brenton's translation; all others are in KJV English); can you guess which one? Some of these are actually kind of easy, some are tough.

Let's Play: Guess that Context!

1. And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels.

2. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes:

3. Thy disciples fast not

4. Insomuch as God hath delivered us from great perils, we thank him highly

5. The mountains were not found.

6. bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth

7. And thy meat which thou shalt eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it.

8. So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley.

Apr 30, 2015

Academic Ghost Writing and Teacher-Student Interaction

Yesterday, I read for the first time two fascinating articles by a former "academic ghost writer," i.e., the professional guy (or gal) who writes papers for desperate (or lazy) students, for a fee. The two articles, by David Tomar, are "The Shadow Scholar: The Man Who Writes Your Students' Papers Tells His Stories" (on the Chronicle of Higher Education site: click here) and "Detecting and Deterring Ghostwritten Papers: A Guide to Best Practices" (on The Best Schools site: click here). The former article is under a pseudonym of Ed Dante (but both articles are by the same author). Academic ghost-writing, unlike plagiarism, is virtually undetectable since each paper is custom-tailored to an individual student's needs (for a price, of course). Based on his own account, I'm quite prepared to hail Mr. Tomar as the most scholarly guy alive! Who else can boast that they written papers, on various levels (yes, including the doctoral level) on history, philosophy, psychology, sports management, theology, sociology, maritime security, and, ironically enough, ethics?!

The saddest part of his article "The Shadow Scholar" is this statement here:
"I do a lot of work for seminary students. I like seminary students. They seem so blissfully unaware of the inherent contradiction in paying somebody to help them cheat in courses that are largely about walking in the light of God and providing an ethical model for others to follow. I have been commissioned to write many a passionate condemnation of America's moral decay as exemplified by abortion, gay marriage, or the teaching of evolution. All in all, we may presume that clerical authorities see these as a greater threat than the plagiarism committed by the future frocked." 
(by the way, on a related note: ghost-written sermons have been advertised in magazines from the time before the internet, so let's not assume preachers always do their own work, either)

Those of us who teach theology or biblical studies should not be so naive as to assume the temptation isn't there, or that Christians can't fall into that trap (while a grader at Southeastern, I once caught a student blatantly plagiarizing; on a book review assignment, they had basically just cut and pasted text from a blog that was reviewing the same book).

 In his article "Detecting and Deterring," Tomar categorizes his clients into 3 major groups: 1. "English Language Learners" (those whose native tongue is not English and often can find nobody to help them learn), 2. "Composition/research deficient students" (those who, in Tomar's words, represent the " tragically overlooked prevalence of students at the undergraduate and even graduate levels who simply lack the skills or knowledge to produce university-level writing or research"). The 3rd category is simply the "lazy student."

So what's the solution? In his second article, Tomar provides a number of helpful hints for both preventing and spotting such papers. It's the "deterring" part I wish to focus on. I have no wish here to diminish the theological significance nor dismaying irony of a Bible student cheating. Yet part of the problem is most likely a disconnect between teachers and students, including a lack of awareness concerning which students are struggling and how to help them. While we can't necessarily help the third category, the "lazy student," for the first two categories the faculty of a school should have a system in place for detecting and assisting those students most likely to struggle (Southeastern, my doctoral alma mater, has a dedicated "Student Writing Center" staff to assist just that type of student as well as anybody who just needs another person to look over their work). These students can easily be detected early on in college or seminary and directed towards resources that will help them improve. 

Furthermore, a teacher's enthusiasm for his or her subject may very well translate into willingness on the part of the student to actually study. As Tomar notes in "Detecting and Deterring," "I have also generally observed that students are more motivated to cheat in contexts where professors aren’t particularly motivated to teach." Indeed, "When the professor demonstrates passion for the material, this helps to create a moral dilemma about cheating that has more to do with the student/teacher relationship than with the notion of academic integrity. In reality, this relationship weighs heavier on the conscience."

Also, here's a thought (quite the radical one for Christian educators!): perhaps teachers should be willing to go the extra mile with their students, taking extra time to give them some pointers on their papers? (especially in undergrad) I'm not suggesting that teachers do their students' work for them, but our job is, after all to teach (and, biblically-speaking, to mentor). Yeah, spending 30-minutes with a student explaining the difference between a "devotional" commentary and an academic one, or why calling those of other theological persuasions an "idiot" is unacceptable in their paper, may take away some valuable time from writing my next killer article on "Social Scientific Perspectives on the Allegorical Interpretation of St. Ronald of Wendysia," but which activity, ultimately, is going to matter more to the Master?

At the methodological level, I have an idea I might start implementing. Instead of just requiring students to turn in their paper, I may require, from now on, that students turn in their research notes as well (I know, I know, some students, as well as major scholars, prefer to research as they write, so this might not work; differently people are wired to write in different ways).

One more final thought: In the second article, Mr. Tomar states, "When I worked as a ghostwriter, lazy students helped me to make my living but it was the lazy professors that made my life easier. The task of pretending to be a student in somebody’s class is greatly simplified when the professor takes no special steps to differentiate the course, its content, or its assignments from the many millions of other courses that have been taught on the same exact subject from time immemorial." Based on that, I have to conclude that someday, Mr. Tomar's former job may be outsourced to robots. No joke! Already a medical researcher, using a random text generator website, was able to get an article accepted by 17 medical journals! (click here for the story, and thanks to my Dad for sending me the link) Now, all 17 of those journals were "Pay-to-publish" journals that prey on those who are desparate; but that's precisely my point! Some teachers (or grad assistants) may pay as much or less attention to the papers they get than the editors of those "journals" do! Coupled with the superior capacity of computers to research the internet (let's not forget that recently IBM's "Watson" computer beat two champions at Jeopardy), the dawn of "AI Writers" may very well be upon us. Very soon "HAL2016" may be able to generate a B+ paper for next year's freshman . . . (and, personally, I'm looking forward to the first Baptist sermon written by a robot)








Note about peer-review journals

Apr 16, 2015

Guest essay by John R. Himes--An Alumni Reflects on the Closing of Tennessee Temple University

I have asked my father, John R. Himes, to post some thoughts on the recent closing of Tennessee Temple University, his college alma mater. At one point TTU boasted an enrollment in the thousands and was a premiere Baptist school. As of a few years ago, it was down to a few hundred, and now it has completely closed its doors, sending its students to Piedmont International University (click here for the news story). Why the drastic change? My father shares his thoughts.

The Demise of Tennessee Temple: A Cautionary Tale of a College

By John R. Himes


In 1976 when I graduated with my BA in Bible, Tennessee Temple College was a wonderful bastion of revival, soul-winning and fundamentalism. Sure, it had its problems. I’ve wondered many times why I did not have to take a course in Baptist history or polity, since it was ostensibly a Baptist school. But overall it was a very exciting place to be spiritually. At its peak, it had an enrollment of 4 or 5 thousand.

The governing church, Highland Park Baptist (HPBC), was large (at one point one of the largest churches in the U.S.) and promoted revival. Its pastor and the president of the school was Dr. Lee Roberson, a man unparalleled in his devotion to holy living and revival. We heard famous sermons such as “Prayer, Asking and Receiving” by John R. Rice, and “Payday Someday” by R. G. Lee, and saw revival with hundreds of students and others crowding the aisles.

Temple also had a wonderful emphasis on world evangelism. There was a missionary conference every Fall, sometimes attended by over 200 missionaries. It was through a missionary from Japan at this conference that God called me to be a missionary. HPBC then supported our ministry for 33 years in Japan, for which I thank God. However, it was through this connection that I eventually began to see a slide in the Christianity of the school and church.

After Dr. Roberson had retired and been replaced by *------* after a short time with another interim pastor, we visited the church on furlough. I thought *------* to be a great preacher, but a strange choice for the job since he was from the GARBC orbit rather than the Southwide Baptist Fellowship crowd with which many Temple graduates fellowshipped. Furthermore, many thought he was a poor administrator, and this turned out to be arguably so.

To me as a missionary the moment that defined the future for Highland Park Baptist Church came when a young missionary from South America showed his furlough slides in a training union and said, “We practice direct evangelism and do not advocate lifestyle evangelism.” Afterwards *-----* rose and excoriated the young missionary for this statement, saying, “All the evangelism we do at Highland Park is lifestyle evangelism.” This not only was rude and dismissive toward the young missionary, but inaccurate, since at that time HPBC was using a robot program to “cold call” people’s homes and deliver a taped salvation message! This event caused me to avoid presenting my furlough report at HPBC for many years after that.

In addition, Tennessee Temple’s treatment of alumni was somewhat cold. It seemed to me that they rarely ever reached out to alumni except to ask for money; twice they offered an alumni directory for sale for $100 (this is in stark contrast to the school I received my MA from, which always keeps me up-to-date and provides a much easier way to keep in contact with other alumni).

As time went on, Tennessee Temple drifted further and further from its alumni, who were largely independent Baptists. One furlough some years ago two friends and I visited the campus and entered the gymnasium where we had spent many happy hours working out. After we exited we were approached by a man who wondered what we were doing there, identifying himself as the new athletic director. When we said we were alumni, and two of us were independent Baptist preachers, he said, “I’m not sure what an independent Baptist is. Please explain it to me.”

That encounter typifies to me the primary reason for the demise of Tennessee Temple. Not too long after that it was announced that the college and church were joining a different ecclesiastical orientation (though still Baptist). Thus, the college left its roots. This process may not cause the demise of a college if it occurs over many years, as witness the fate of a school like Princeton which started out as a conservative Presbyterian school. However, in the case of Tennessee Temple, the process of departing from the positions of the alumni and supporters began shortly after the retirement of its founder, Dr. Lee Roberson.

From the point when the board unwisely hired a man from outside of the base of support of the school, the demise of the school was only a question of time. The final letter to the alumni announcing the news of the “merger” with another school (after said news had been published in the Chattanooga newspaper) sadly noted that in trying to save the school 17,000 brochures and letters were sent to alumni. Less than one percent of the alumni responded.

Apr 2, 2015

A Slightly Expanded Exegetical Discussion on why I Believe Babies go to Heaven

Generally I stay away from controversial theological topics (my desire is for this site to be a resource), but I felt I'd expand a bit on Dr. Danny Akin's brief discussion of why he believes babies go to heaven (click here; and thanks to my Doctorvater David Alan Black for mentioning this on his blog); I'm aware of counter-arguments to some of Dr. Akin's thoughts, so I want to expand a bit more on a few of his statements and mention a couple other relevant verses. (Dr. Akin is a theologian and scholar, president of my Alma mater Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and an excellent preacher)

This is, of course, a highly charged discussion at times, and also one that is not explicitly discussed in Scripture. Theologically, the debate can go either way: the inherent goodness and mercy of God, on the one hand, and the total depravity (however defined) and sin nature of all human beings from the moment they are conceived on the other hand. Furthermore, I cannot discern any theological positions that automatically fall on either side of the debate; both Calvinists and Arminians, for example, could take either position (one could argue, though, that the belief in regeneration prior to faith [which I do not hold to] might make this position a bit easier to defend).

Nonetheless, while Scripture does not directly discuss the topic, there are a few textual hints that seem to imply a certain "age of innocence" where a child may not be held accountable for their sin nature, or rather is held accountable but receives the mercy of God. First of all, we have such general statements as that in Isaiah 7:16, a particular prophecy will occur "before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good" (KJV; NET has something similar, "before the child knows how to reject evil and choose what is right"). All this proves, of course, is that at a certain stage, a "child"  is clearly distinct from an adult in his or her ability to make moral choices. Nevertheless, keep that distinction in mind as we look at some other verses, and this will play a key roll in our discussion of Revelation 20:11-15. (The Hebrew word for "child" here is na-ar, which seems to be a fairly broad word applicable to various ages, but context seems to indicate a very young age).

For me, 1 Kings 14:13 is also significant. As God curses Jeroboam's line for their wickedness, he declares through the prophet that of all his line, only this little child will be properly buried (Hebrew yalad, much more frequently referring to newborns and young babies; see, for example Genesis 21:8, Exodus 1:17, 2 Samuel 12:21-22; however, Genesis 4:23 may be a counter example, unless Lamech was bragging about killing a child!). Why, then, would this young child (perhaps still a baby) be given a peaceful  and proper burial in contrast to the rest of Jeroboam's line? Because "he is the only one in whom the Lord God of Israel found anything good" (NET; the KJV has "because in him there is found some good thing toward the LORD God of Israel"). Since this is a yalad, it is doubtful that the child or baby has had time to manifest a godly character (though a counter-example might be Samuel). What, then, is the "good" that God has seen in him? Context would seem to indicate the lack of wickedness that characterized the rest of Jeroboam's family, i.e., a sort of innocence. None of this denies the fact of Adam's sin imputed to our DNA (or whatever; I'm a Biblical studies guy, not a theologian, so pardon the inexact language). Rather, this may simply indicate that at a certain level the child was considered innocent. Once again, by itself this does not prove that babies go to heaven, but it's evidence that needs to be taken into consideration.

The most cited passage, of course, is 2 Samuel 12:15-23 where David quits weeping when the child dies and declares to his surprised servants that "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me" (KJV; the NET has "I will go to him, but he cannot return to me"). Now, granted that David is not necessarily divinely inspired in what he says (in the way that the narrator is), and granted that David is probably referring to the afterlife in general, not necessarily a New Testament concept of "heaven" per se (this is a common counter-argument). Having said that, I see no other way to read the expression other than that David believed he actually would be in the presence of his child someday. The contrast "going to him" vs. "coming to me" seems to indicate this is not simply David saying "just like him  I'm going to die"; furthermore, the total loss of his child (with no hope of seeing him again) would certainly not have given David reason to stop weeping or begin to comfort his wife (and Dr. Akin makes this point in the link above). Regardless of David's own knowledge of the afterlife compared to our own, at the least he obviously did not consider his infant to be suffering in hell. 

In the New Testament, two passages are significant (both of them discussed by Dr. Akin). In Luke 18:15-17, Jesus says that "of such is the kingdom of heaven" (KJV; the NET has "the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these") in regards to little children (or, perhaps, babies or infants, though the parallel passage in Matthew 19:14 uses the broader paideia). Those who have toddlers in the house, of course, may be making an incredulous face right now, but nevertheless Jesus saw something distinct in children and/or babies--a "child-like faith." The counter-argument is that Jesus may not actually be saying "babies enter into the Kingdom of Heaven," but rather "those who have trust/faith like babies/children enter into the Kingdom of Heaven" (see verse 17). [note: I will take "Kingdom of Heaven" to broadly refer to the sphere of those who belong to God, including the temporary state in heaven and the eternal state of the New Jerusalem and New Earth] Yet consider the nature of the statement; would Jesus' declaration ring true if, in fact, children/babies did not go to heaven but rather were suffering in hell? This would be akin to saying "You have to be as famous as a football player to get into that club" when, in fact, football players are categorically not allowed to enter a particular club. Would it make sense to say "You have to be like a little child to enter into the Kingdom" when all those who die as a little child cannot possibly enter into the Kingdom? [I am loosely referring to those at too young an age to understand or accept the Gospel; I think the same line of thought might apply to those mentally unable to grasp the Gospel, i.e., mental toddlers, no matter what the age, but that's a discussion for another time] In other words, the effectiveness of Jesus' statement seems to presume that those who die as infants or little children do indeed populate the Kingdom of Heaven.

Finally (and I credit Dr. Akin for bringing this passage up, because I hadn't really thought of it), Revelation 20:11-15 indicates that the basis of eternal torment in the Lake of Fire is the evil works one has done, not the acquisition of a sin nature per se. Since infants, at least, cannot "choose the good or the evil" (remember, we saw that all the way back in Isaiah 7), consequently infants are not included in this group. In other words, here's my logic: 1. Isaiah 7:16 indicates that there is an age before which one can make moral choices; 2. Revelation 20:11-15 indicates that sinners are judges on the basis of their moral choices; 3. Consequently, infants are not included in the judgment of Revelation 20:11-5.

I trust this has been a helpful expansion of Dr. Akin's arguments that takes into account potential counter-arguments. In the end, those of us who are able to "choose the good and refuse the evil" must nevertheless trust in the saving power of the crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus Christ to save us from our sins; no other hope for salvation exists. For those who have died before they could "choose the good and refuse the evil," I also trust that Jesus' precious blood, through the grace of God, has washed away their old nature and regenerated them. To paraphrase Charles Spurgeon's quote (which Dr. Akin gives in his paper), "Mother and father, if you have a baby who has died, and yet you yourself have not repented and accepted Christ as your Savior, how horrible it would for your child to be enjoying the benefits of eternal fellowship with God Almighty and His Son, Jesus Christ, while you yourself suffer justly for your sins? Repent, and turn to the Resurrected Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, trust in Him alone for your salvation, the One who died on the cross for your sins and my sins yet rose again on the 3rd day by the power of God--'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved' (Acts 16:31)."


Dear reader, if you wish to post a comment, whether in agreement or disagreement, please keep it relevant and courteous.


Mar 5, 2015

Some thoughts on prayer from 1 Peter

Generally I prefer to stick to discussing "academic resources" and what not, but who says academic studies can't be practical and spiritual? I recently had the privilege of preaching from 1 Peter 4:7-11 in BCM chapel, as well as teaching a 7-week course at 5pm every Sunday on 1 Peter to many church folk. One major item has stuck out to me in my recent studies: attitude impacts your prayer life!

Consider two passages. In 1 Peter 3:7, when discussing the husband's relationship to his wife, Peter exhorts men to respect/honor their wive's feminine-ness [the word there is not the normal word for "wife"], etc., lest their prayer lives be hindered. Yet the word "hinder" (both KJV and NET) is too wimpy, in my opinion, to accurately render the Greek. The word ekkoptw only occurs three times elsewhere in the NT, Matthew 5:30, Matthew 18:8, and 2 Corinthians 11:12--you can look those passages up and judge for yourself why I think "hinder" is too weak, lacking other semantic data! Thus, men, if you fail to honor/respect your wife, your prayer life will potentially be cut off! 

Secondly, take a look at 1 Peter 4:7. We are to be "self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of prayer" (NET--I agree with the NET here when it translates the preposition eis as "for the sake of"). In other words, proper mental attitude (or, perhaps, lifestyle in general?) seems to have a direct effect on prayer. Thus Wayne Grudem, in his Tyndale commentary, aptly states, "Christians who realize the end of the age could happen at any time should act in a certain way: therefore keep sane and sober for your prayers" [with the idea that this is "to assist your prayers"] (Grudem, p. 173).

In other words, attitude and/or action matters when it comes to your prayers, attitude regarding both the world around you and other people (especially one's wife!).


Feb 19, 2015

Hermeneutics: The Two Great Dangers, The Law of Hermeneutical Authority, and Resources for the Student and Teacher

Of all the classes I've had the privilege of teaching, I am by far the most passionate about Hermeneutics (which, I'm happy to report, is required for all college students here at BCM, both guys and gals, as is Greek). I strongly hold to the presupposition that we can understand God's Word as it was meant to be understood, but that on the other hand it will usually take some work. Thus a little child can understand John 3:16 in any modern translation and trust Christ, while a myriad of scholars will write a cornucopia of academic articles on what in the world "Saved Through Childbearing" means (1 Tim 2:15; and even the Apostle Peter admitted that the Apostle Paul could be difficult to understand--2 Peter 3:16).

The ultimate goal of Hermeneutics is to understand the Word of God. Yet in the process, two great dangers (even sins, if we're not careful) loom in front of us. On the one hand, we must avoid at all costs the devil's trap of asking "Has God really said  . .?" if, indeed, God has clearly spoken (Genesis 3:1). Yet the other side of the coin is that we must absolutely avoid saying "Thus saith the Lord" if God has not spoken! In other words, the danger of Ezekiel 22:28 is just as serious as Genesis 3:1. To claim to speak God's Word on a topic while distorting the actual meaning can be just as serious as outright ignoring what God has said.

If God's Word truly is sacred yet occasionally difficult, we can expect various levels of disagreements on the adiaphora, the non-essentials. Nevertheless, no excuse exists for misinterpreting God's Word through lack of study or exalting one's own opinions over the plain sense of Scripture. The ultimate example of hermeneutical incompetence, and one that I show to my students, is the popular YouTube clip arguing from the alleged Aramaic behind Luke 10:18 that President Obama is the Antichrist (no, I am not making that up).

Bad hermeneutics, though, can have more serious consequences than just another round of "let's name the Antichrist or date the rapture." Second Timothy 2:15-18 seems to imply that a failure to "rightly divide" God's Word leads to the errors of Hymenaeus and Philetus, who began to teach seriously wrong theology. Consequently, I am stressing to my students something I call the "Law of Hermeneutical Authority"—namely "The authority of your claim that 'Thus says the Lord' is diminished in direct proportion to your mishandling of the meaning or application of a passage of Scripture." In other words, dear students of Scripture (and I speak to myself here as well), you cannot make dogmatic claims on meaning or application if you are manhandling the Word of God to suit your needs or opinions. God's Word is authoritative when it is properly understood. Quoting Scripture is cheap; anybody can do that (as does the devil himself, as well as his human minions). The question is: are we understanding this particular passage in Scripture as it was meant to be understood? If not, there goes any claim to authority on that passage. (At this point I will briefly stress the difference between "meaning" and "significance"--the former will always stay the same, while the latter may change to a certain degree from person to person, and sometimes as the Spirit leads, but it will always be grounded on the former).

This does not mean that anybody is perfect! All of us, at some (or many) points in our lives, will definitely mess up in our interpretation. Jesus Christ remains the only infallible interpreter of the Word (after all, he is the Word). Nevertheless, we must cultivate an attitude of respect towards the Bible, coupled with a determination to study matters out.

With that in mind, I'd like to share with my readers some of the resources that have been a great help to me in teaching this class.

First of all, our main textbook is Grasping God's Word, by Duvall and Hays (3rd ed.; Zondervan, 2012). This book is easily-readable, meant for college students--not technical, yet solid and very practical. Unlike the majority of textbooks out there, it actually has an entire chapter on the Holy Spirit! (Definitely a point in its favor). Furthermore, this book truly resonated with a lot of what I personally wanted to stress in class. I do disagree with much of chapter 1 (being a Byzantine-text guy, among other things), but this could not even come close to deterring me from requiring this excellent book for my students.

I am also requiring my students to read all of the fantastic Scripture Twisting by James Sire. This book does a very competent job of exposing the hermeneutical fallacies of cults and extreme fringe groups; the discussion on "Worldview Confusion" is especially helpful.

For my own personal study, I made it a point to purchase both Cracking Old Testament Codes (eds. Sandy and Giese) and A Complete Literary Guide to the Bible (eds. Ryken and Longman) since we will be covering a lot of material on genre in the class (as well as backgrounds, language, theology, etc.)

One book that has surprisingly challenged me in an "outside-of-the-box" kind of way is Peter J. Leithart's Deep Exegesis: The Mystery of Reading Scripture. If you, dear reader, feel that you have a basic grasp of hermeneutics, and you already own Grasping God's Word or something similar, then go ahead and buy Leithart's Deep Exegesis—it will make you think!

Some other useful sources: Grant Osborne's The Hermeneutical Spiral is considered a classic for seminary-level work.  For those of a more dispensational persuasion, Roy B. Zuck's Basic Bible Interpretation is very helpful (and was the textbook of choice with the previous teacher of BCM's hermeneutics class), while Graeme Goldsworthy's Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics is a bit more of a reformed persuasion, though both Zuck and Goldsworthy would be worthy additions to your library and have their own strengths. Also, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, by Klein, Blomberg, and Hubbard, is a useful book; for advanced studies, I must needs put a plug in for Invitation to Biblical Interpretation by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Richard D. Patterson.

Though most of the students will probably have taken Greek by the time they get to class (but very few will have had Hebrew, which I also teach at BCM), I will be showing them how to do very simple word studies via Strong's numbers (while stressing that meaning is derived from both context and semantic range, not either in isolation). For backgrounds, I am pointing them to the various excellent sources out there, including Second Temple literature and other primary sources (for secondary sources, I am especially fond of The New Testament in Antiquity by Cohick, Green, and Burge, and Backgrounds of Early Christianity by Everett Ferguson).

Naturally, NT use of the OT, a sub-division of hermeneutics, has a whole host of books that you should be aware of; nevertheless, that is another post for another time.


Ideally, a knowledge of Hermeneutics should go hand-in-hand with competency in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. Nonetheless, hermeneutics is the foundational class; it will not matter how well you know the original languages if you fail to treat Scripture and its original authors (both divine and human) with the respect and reverence they deserves. Hermeneutics does not give you all the answers, but it does teach you which questions to ask!

Feb 5, 2015

For those thinking they might be interested in a doctorate . . .

The internet abounds in advice for prospective doctoral students in Biblical studies, and some books are bouncing around out there as well (see, for example, the fine work by Nijay Gupta, Prepare, Succeed, Advance). Nevertheless, a couple of conversations I've had with students lately have convinced me to add my own two cents to the mix (keep in mind, dear reader, every experience is different, and my perspective is necessarily colored by my educational background!).

Background--I am very fortunate and blessed. I'm not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, and Theological German totally humbled me, but nevertheless I graduated with a Ph.D. in New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary under scholar David Alan Black, had my dissertation published by Wipf&Stock, and today am teaching some bright young kids [can I call them that? Sounds weird, I'm only 34] at a Bible college.

Before we get started, please understand that a Ph.D. (at least in the States) is, minimum, a 3-year degree, but more likely a 4-5 year degree. I took 5 years for mine: 2-3 for the classwork, over half a year for comps and prospectus, and roughly 2 and a half for actually researching and writing my dissertation--I was slowed down a bit by deciding to re-write my prospectus, but that actually worked out for the better.

First of all, pray and seek the Lord's will--I happen to hold to the audacious idea that the Lord actually cares what we do with our life, and that he will lead and direct us. At the very least, we should avoid boasting "Tomorrow I will go to such-and-such a school, write a killer dissertation that rocks the scholarly world, and gain many accolades!" Such an attitude is simply asking for trouble (James 4:13-17). For myself, I began seriously praying about the Lord's will in a teaching career somewhere around my junior year in college. From there on out, the Lord providentially directed me down the right path, for which I am grateful.

Secondly, give heed to your grades. For most of us, our grades probably get better as we go along (studying the subjects we wish to study!). It should go without saying, however, that if you are only getting consistent B's in an MA or M.Div., you need to seriously buckle down and work harder. A "B" is frowned on in doctoral studies (though not unforgivable). At Southeastern, a "C"would result in a meeting, and a second "C" resulted in an automatic dismissal, as I recall. So if you're struggling with getting top-notch grades in either college or grad school (especially the latter), I have just one question for you: "If the footman tire you, what of the horseman?"

Thirdly, schools matter (but not as much as you might think): I went to a small independent Baptist college, then a very small (but accredited) independent Baptist seminary, and by the Lord's grace was able to study under some of the top New Testament scholars at one of the largest Protestant seminaries in America for a Ph.D. Now, I teach at a small independent Baptist Bible college that is not accredited; nevertheless, I work with some bright young souls who love Jesus and for whom a doctorate might open up special avenues of ministry. On the one hand, accreditation matters (I was asked point-blank about my school's accreditation when applying at Southeastern), yet nevertheless it is not the ultimate decision-maker. A good friend of mine is research assistant to a top NT scholar, yet only had TRACS accreditation [which is usually not too highly regarded], though he did have a Th.M. (which helped). One of my old profs did not have an accredited degree, but was accepted to Trinity's doctoral program on the second attempt after putting together a killer application which included, if I remember correctly, a state senator for a reference! (he defended successfully and has taught for 20+ years).

Having said that, to get into a top-tier school such as Duke or Princeton, you will need more than a degree from "Bubba Himes' Backyard Seminary and Garage Sale," no matter how good your referents! In some cases, you might have to be willing to take an extra MA from your target institution just to qualify. A lot of it will depend on denominational affiliation and contacts. Once again, if the Lord desires you to get a Ph.D., he will direct.

If you feel that your M.A. or M.Div. will not be adequate to get you into a good doctoral program (i.e., something other than "Bubba Himes' "Pay-me-by-credit-card-online-and-write-on-a-bunch-of-stuff then-print-out-your-degree" seminary), then consider pursuing a thesis-based Th.M. from a different school to increase the chances of being accepted. This will introduce you to higher-level research while significantly beefing up your application. A Th.M., from what I understand, will probably take 2 years though is doable in less (a year for classwork and a year for writing).

Fourthly, be well read. You should not be considering pursuing a Ph.D. in New Testament if you don't know anything about the Verbal Aspect Theory debate. If the Gospels are your passion, make sure you know who B. H. Streeter and J. Griesbach are. Don't expect to study theology at the highest level if you've never cracked open Karl Barth. As a side-note, you should be pouring in a lot of energy into the original languages (at least for Biblical studies majors)--my entrance exam for Southeastern involved sight-translating a passage in Greek and parsing every verb, with no helps at all.

Fifthly, study the schools, and be familiar with the major movers and shakers within each school. Before stepping foot on Southeastern, I had read material by Black, Robinson, and Andreas Kostenberger (and after I got there I was influenced by the other scholars). Do not even think about applying to Duke unless you know who Richard Hayes is (and have read some of his material). If you wish to study New Testament or Greek at Dallas, be thoroughly familiar with the work of both Daniel Wallace and Darrell Bock (among others). Know the strengths of each school--for many, Westminster Theological Seminary is the school of choice for apologetics. Trinity and Wheaton are probably well-balanced in all areas. I felt Southeastern had fantastic opportunities in New Testament (Greek, Biblical Theology, and Textual Criticism), which is why I applied there. If you wish to study Dispensational Theology, then Dallas is probably your best choice. You should also be considering European schools and their strengths (though with a somewhat different model of study--others, including my Doktorvater--blog about this, and they know more than I do)

However, with that in mind, please know that it's the scholar, not the school. At the doctoral level, you must decide who you wish to study under and why! For me, my targets were always either Dr. David Alan Black or Dr. Maurice Robinson. I was privileged to work under both of them: I had Dr. Black as my Doktorvater, and I worked as grader and occasional substitute teacher for Dr. Robinson. Nevertheless, ultimately I was applying to study under a person, first and foremost (though the sad irony is that I never actually got to take a class under Dr. Black, other than official mentorship; nevertheless, what I got was better than a class).

One more small point--have a solid financial plan! I didn't, and it hurt me in the long run (though--news flash!--the Lord always provides and keeps me from starving!)

For those with more questions, feel free to e-mail me, and I'll try to assist from my limited perspective. Hopefully, in the future I'll post on actually surviving the doctoral program itself.










Jan 16, 2015

Some Resources for Studying and Teaching the Pastoral Epistles (and Some Odds and Ends)

How many professors can claim that they co-taught a class with their father? Yet this is exactly what I had the privilege of doing in December. In our 4th block (a two-week block), my father, retired missionary John Rice Himes, and I taught an upper-level college class on the Pastoral Epistles. Below are some excellent resources for studying this trio of books.

But first, some odds and ends! These past few weeks I have been working through two very unique and fascinating books. First of all, Markus Barth and Verne H. Fletcher, a long time ago and in a different era, wrote an under-recognized and sadly neglected monograph called Acquittal by Resurrection: Freedom, Law, and Justice in the Light of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1964). The book focuses on, among other things, the primacy of Christ's resurrection within the doctrine of justification (both Christ's and ours). The authors try to make their thesis apply to modern ethics, as well (though the discussion of capital punishment is, I believe, more convincing when applied directly to believers rather than society as a whole). Furthermore, the first chapter or so interacts with various modernistic views of the resurrection and does an excellent job of dismantling them (with plenty of quotable material).

Secondly, in two weeks I will begin to teach Hermeneutics, a class about which I am wildly excited (like a kid in a chocolate factory, I've been telling folks!) My textbooks are Grasping God's Word by Duvall and Hays, together with Scripture Twisting by James Sire. However, in preparation for this class, I've been reading and been greatly challenged by Peter Leithart's Deep Exegesis: The Mystery of Reading Scripture (Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press, 2009). A couple comments. First of all, Leithart is a very good writer. Not many writers can make reading theological and biblical studies a pleasure, but Leithart does that. Secondly, Deep Exegesis is provocative: it's making me think outside my comfort zone! His treatment of Matthew's "Out of Egypt I have called my Son" citation has really made me stop and ponder. Finally, I really think Leithart takes a few good points and then overextends them. In particular, I think he needs to better nuance "meaning vs. significance" (though it is in the discussion of post-event significance that this book really gets interesting), as well as offer at least some-safe guards regarding personal interpretation. Having said that, I am very, very grateful that I got this book before I started teaching, since it's turning out to be extremely interesting and thought-provoking.

Anyways, on to the Pastorals! My own contribution to Pastorals scholarship is just one article on the imperatives in the Pastorals (Filologia Neotestamentaria vol. 23, 2010). However, I did have the privilege of taking the class at the doctoral level with Dr. Benjamin Merkle, who has published quite a bit on the topic (I especially recommend his article in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 121, "Are the Qualifications for Elders or Overseers Negotiable?") By the way, check out my friend Chuck Bumgardner's blog at this link Chuck is currently doing doctoral work on the pastorals under the mentorship of Dr. Andreas Köstenberger, and he quite often posts helpful material on the PE).

First off, our textbook for these college students was the very accessible Tyndale New Testament commentary by Donald Guthrie. It's a bit dated, but is still an excellent blend of accessible scholarship and theological discussiion, thus suited for Bible college students. I would recommend it to any Christians who do not have a theological degree yet are interested in studying these three books.

In addition, I highly recommended the following three commentaries to my students (these are, in my opinion, the "big three" of evangelical commentaries): William Mounce's Word Biblical Commentary (WBC); George W. Knight III's New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC); and Philip H. Towner's New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT). A close fourth (though possibly more influential) is I. Howard Marshall's International Critical Commentary (ICC). I would also mention Dr. Andreas Köstenberger's commentary in the revised Expositor's Bible Commentary.

As far as articles and monographs, in addition to Dr. Merkle's article mentioned above, I would first and foremost recommend the excellent article by John K. Goodrich, "Overseers as Stewards and the Qualifications for Leadership in the Pastoral Epistles." Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 104 (2013): 77-97. Basically Dr. Goodrich reads the lists of pastoral virtues in light of the role of the overseer in ancient Greco-Roman society. I really think he's onto something here, and I required all of the students to read and discuss it. In addition, I would draw your attention to Andrew B. Spurgeon, "1 Timothy 2:13-15: Paul's Retelling of Genesis 2:4-4:1" in JETS 56 (2013). I know, I know, "not another article on saved-through-childbearing?! When will it ever end!" Nevertheless, this one almost has me convinced. Spurgeon draws heavily from the interrelation of Adam, Eve, and God in Genesis 2 to conclude that "saved through childbearing" actually refers to the reconciliation of Adam and Eve through God's graciousness (i.e., it answers the question--why would a woman ever want to have children after the curse?) I can't do it justice in a short blog post, but it's worth reading (for me, 1 Timothy 2:15 remains "the toughest verse ever," which is why I intend to include it on next semester's Hermeneutics final exam, bwahahahahah!!).

A couple books worth mentioning, very quickly. Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul's Theology in the Pastoral Epistles, eds. by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Terry L. Wilder has a host of helpful articles by various authors. In addition, Ray Van Neste, Cohesion and Structure in the Pastoral Epistles (JSNTSup 280; London: T&T Clark, 2004) has become very influential among evangelical scholars. Finally, I would also mention George W. Knight's The Faithful Sayings in the Pastoral Epistles (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker 1979), an older but very significant monograph.


Dec 18, 2014

Resources for Studying and Teaching the Epistle to the Hebrews

Updated 1/13/15, some corrections made
During my doctoral studies, I had the privilege of taking the Epistle to the Hebrews with George Guthrie from Union University (Jackson, Tennessee). How I have the fantastic experience of going through a directed study with one of the seminary students here at BCM. So, what am I requiring him to read and what should you, dear reader, give heed to for serious study of this great epistle written by Apollos . . . I mean "nobody knows," though my good Doktorvater can make a persuasive argument for Pauline authorship--yes, there is still a remnant! :)

Anyways, at this point in time, it seems the near unanimous consensus of conservative scholars is that Peter O'Brian's Pillar NT commentary on Hebrews is currently the cat's meow, i.e. the best! And so far I've been fairly impressed--so if you have limited funds and can only afford one commentary, this may be your best bet.

However, I'm also partial to my teacher, Dr. Guthrie's own NIV Application Commentary (don't let the series title irk you; this is one of the rare commentary series that actually cares about the spiritual well-being of the reader/student). In addition, F. F. Bruce in the NICNT is considered a classic. Also worth mentioning is Donald Guthrie in the always-accessible Tyndale series. Another notable within conservative scholarship would be David Allen in the NAC series (though I can't speak for this particular commentary, I have a very high open of the NAC series in general--however, one colleague at BCM told me that he felt Allen's discussion of possible Lukan authorship was very persuasive).

For more rigorous study, the three top critical/technical commentaries are (in my opinion): William Lane (WBC), Harold Attridge (Hermeneia), and, for the truly adventurous, Ceslas Spicq's two-volume French commentary.

By the way, I'm requiring my student to read all of O'Brian's, as well as some of Lane's and George Guthrie's commentaries, In addition, my student was asked to do a book review on one of these three worthy monographs: George Guthrie on The Structure of Hebrews: A Text-Linguistic Analysis, L. D. Hurst, The Epistle to the Hebrews: Its Background and Thought, or David Allan's Lukan Authorship of Hebrews. (He chose Allan on Lukan Authorship; looking forward to seeing what he has to write).

Here are some other worthy monographs: David Alan Black, The Authorship of Hebrews [if you want to read a defense of Pauline authorship, you'll have to read either my Doktorvater or Eta Linnemann; but there is still a remnant!]; Albert Vanhoye, La Structure Littéraire de L'épître aux Hébreaux [note: this is an extremely influential text!]; and David DeSilva's The Letter to the Hebrews in Social-Scientific Perspective, which I am currently reading. A book that I would like to get some day is Amy L. B. Peeler's You Are My Son: The Family of God in the Epistle to the Hebrews (currently 100 dollars on Amazon!)

As for articles (many of which are available for free online), I am having my student read the following: 
1. George H. Guthrie, "Hebrews in Its First-Century Contexts: Recent Research," pages 414-443 in The Face of New Testament Studies: A Survey of Recent Research (ed. Scot McKnight and Grant R. Osborne; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2004)--this essay gives you a good grasp of the history of scholarship in Hebrews. 
2. David Alan Black, "Literary Artistry in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Filologia Neotestamentaria 7 (1994) and David Alan Black, "The Problem of the Literary Structure of Hebrews: An Evaluation and a Proposal," Grace Theological Journal 7 (1986)
3. Harold W. Attridge, "'Let us Strive to Enter That Rest': The Logic of Hebrews 4:1-11," Harvard Theological Review 73 (Jan-April 1980) 
I felt those give my student a decent overview on the various issues involved in the study of the Epistle (and we have barely touched the warning passages yet! Speaking of which, you should be aware of the book Four Views on the Warning Passages of Hebrews, put out by Kregel and edited by Herbert Bateman IV).

This is barely scratching the surface of all the fantastic material out there on a fantastic epistle/homily! And, as a bonus, there's a brand new article coming out in the next JETS by Craig Allen Hill entitled "The Use of Perfection Language in Hebrews 5:14 and 6:1 and the Contextual Interpretation of 5:11-6:3." Looking forward to reading it.

Dec 4, 2014

The Original Languages: Primary Everywhere Except your Local Congregation (or: Some Odd Advice From a Biblical Languages Instructor)

I initially wanted to entitle this post "Take your Greek and Hebrew to Chapel, but not to Church," but that would not accurately reflect what I'm trying to say (I don't actually have a problem with anybody taking their Greek or Hebrew to church). Furthermore, let me just emphasize that Scripture in the original languages, Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, is THE final authority, and no translation (no matter what language) has any right to equal authority (though naturally all translations have authority in the believer's life to the extent that they accurately reflect the meaning of the originals).

Furthermore, I have encouraged my Biblical Hebrew students to incorporate their Hebrew into their own personal daily study of Scripture (currently I'm trying to incorporate reading from Greek, Hebrew, English, and German Scriptures into my own study).

Here, however, is my point: the seminary student, within the local congregation, should be available to minister and serve alongside his or her brothers and sisters, and this is most easily done with a Bible in the same language as everybody else. You never know when you'll be called on for public reading of Scripture, or to council, etc. If you're in a Spanish-speaking church, and you can read Spanish, then bring a Spanish Bible and use it primarily. If you're in a South Korean church, bring a Korean Bible (to the extent that you can use it). If I were to visit Japan again, I would take my Japanese Bible and use it primarily anytime I was with Japanese believers. In other words, in that circumstance, the Japanese would trump the Greek and Hebrew, simply because I want to be a blessing to others. Naturally the Greek and Hebrew may be alongside, and I can refer to it as necessary, but I'll read from the Japanese.

We see this principle in the New Testament itself. When quoting the Scriptures, what did the Apostles and other divinely inspired authors use? The Septuagint, the version most likely available to the audience! Some exceptions exist (I'm convinced at one point Peter corrects the LXX to better reflect the Hebrew), but that's a story for another time.

Here's my point: when you are studying Scripture with others, in order to be a better blessing, be willing to read from the same language as them (and long-term missionaries--there is no excuse for not reading out of the Scriptures in the native language if you've been there a few years; may I just brag a bit on my doctoral adviser, mentioning that he's capable of reading Scripture out of what seems like a gajillion foreign languages, and his place of residence is still Virginia?).

Now, some people could translate on the fly, so I'm not necessarily talking to them; if you're called on to read Scripture publicly and it's not obvious that you have a different language in front of you, then this probably does not apply. This post is mostly directed as seminary students.

This is one of those bizarre posts that is less a resource for other Christians and more my own weird opinion. Just a thought, though; be willing to worship and read Scripture with other believers in their own language--take your Greek and Hebrew (they are the final authority for doctrine, after all), but don't be afraid to read along in the plain old English, Japanese, or Spanish!

Nov 20, 2014

Let's not swing the pendulum to far to the other side (or, why downplaying the individual component of the Gospel is a bad idea)

I will be the first to acknowledge, gladly, that the Gospel has an important communal/corporate component to it--we are saved into a new, holy nation (1 Peter 2:9), and we are not saved  for ourselves, but rather to glorify God in good works (Ephesians 2:10). Nevertheless, there has been some "blog-chatter" recently that is a bit critical of Gospel-talk that focuses on the individual. Now, granted, the expression "have a personal relationship with Jesus" is not a biblical expression per se, and reducing witness to a simple "receive your 'get-out-of-hell-free' card" would be a crime against the Gospel.

Having said that, first of all, the individual component of salvation permeates Scripture. For example, the expression "have a personal relationship with Jesus" may, when properly articulated, simply reflect the Biblical teaching about God knowing his children and us knowing [i.e., having a relationship with] him (e.g., Jeremiah 9:24; Nahum 1:7; 2 Timothy 2:19). Secondly, an individual's fear of judgment can indeed play a role in conversion--otherwise there would be significantly less warning of ultimate judgment in Scripture. So we see with the book of Jonah, assuming the conversion of Nineveh was genuine (and I see no reason to doubt the prima facie reading of the text, though the conversion of the city did not seem to have any long-term impact). In other words, "I'm afraid of God's righteous judgment and I want to have a relationship with Jesus" can very much play a role in conversion, though obviously the core understanding of the Gospel cannot be boiled down to that.

My point is this--there is both a personal and corporate component to the Gospel; you, individually, need to be "born again" [not a very "corporate" statement in John 3!], but this is not just about you! (Indeed, not even primarily about you) The Gospel results in joining a new "holy nation" and letting your light shine 
out  (together with a myriad of other lights) so all can see your good works and glorify God. Both the individual component and the corporate component are essential to our theology.

At the academic level of this discussion, let me recommend an excellent article by a friend of mine, Josh Chatraw, "Balancing Out (W)Right: Jesus' Theology of Individual and Corporate Repentance and Forgiveness in the Gospel of Luke," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 55 (June 2012): 299-322. [not yet available on-line]. N. T. Wright, of course, is one of the more well-known evangelical scholars, and has written a lot of fantastic material on the resurrection of Jesus (the one area where I would definitely recommend him, though he's always worth reading regardless of what he's writing on). Chatraw's basic point is simply that, while Wright has a healthy emphasis on "the corporate nature of repentance and forgiveness in the Gospels," nevertheless he has "swung the pendulum to far in the opposite direction with the effect of under emphasizing Jesus' teachings on individual repentance and forgiveness" (p. 300). 

I believe Chatraw's exegesis well supports his thesis, and I would suggest that this is a lesson to carry into the pulpit and the less-academic discussions as well. The Gospel has both an individual and corporate aspect--let's not neglect either!

Oct 6, 2014

Resources for studying and teaching Hebrew History (plus, a list of every single relevant JETS article)

This semester, my first semester at Baptist College of Ministry (Menomonee Falls, WI), I have the privilege of teaching Hebrew History, Elements of Hebrew Grammar, and English Composition and Rhetoric (the basic research class), along with a directed study with a seminary student on the Epistle to the Hebrews. For Hebrew History, I have taken to studying the topic with a vengeance, so much so that about a week ago I woke up in the middle of the night having been dreaming of the Assyrians! (It was not, need I mention, a pleasant dream?) Although Old Testament is certainly not my specialty, I have had a fantastic time compiling resources and lecturing and interacting with my class of 33. I figured this would be an excellent time to share with you, dear reader, what are some of the best texts to examine for Hebrew History (from Abraham to A.D. 70). In addition, I have compiled a list of every single relevant article from the Journal of the Evangelical Society (I did not use any search engines for this; I basically examined every single issue and typed out any relevant article).

Key Ancient Sources
Naturally, the Old Testament itself is your main text. If you can get ahold of the annals of the Assyrian or Babylonian Kings, these will occasionally be relevant. Naturally, for the 1st century, Josephus takes pride of place since he personally saw the Jewish War unfold and was intimately familiar with Jewish life and customs of that time. First and Second Maccabees (the latter is not a continuation of the former; they both tell the same story in a different way) remains essential for understanding the era after the division of Alexander the Great’s empire.  The Dead Sea Scrolls and various apocryphal books (e.g., Wisdom of Solomon), as well as Philo, can give you a window into Jewish thought (especially Alexandrian Jewish thought) of the first century and the years preceding it. By the way, as a guide to studying Jewish Second Temple Literature, may I recommend the fantastic book by Larry Helyer, Exploring Jewish literature of the Second Temple Period (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2002).


Old Testament Theology
May I just mention here that Bruce Waltke and Charles Yu, An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2007, retains pride of place as one of the best Old Testament books I own? Seriously, folks, this book provides some fantastic theological insights into Israel’s history from a solid evangelical perspective.

Textbooks, histories, introductions, etc.
First off, our textbook, Eugene Merrill’s Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel (2nd ed; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2008), an excellent work by a solid evangelical scholar. One caveat: it only goes up to the return from exile.

For a very handy quick reference, I have benefited greatly from John Sailhamer’s Old Testament History (Zondervan Quick Reference Library; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1998).  

We also have F. F. Bruce’s Israel and the Nations: The History of Israel from the Exodus to the Fall of the Second Temple (revised by David F. Payne; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1997) as well as the very helpful Holman Bible Atlas: A Complete Guide to the Expansive Geography of Biblical History, both of which go up through New Testament times (I’m requiring the Holman Bible Atlas in addition to Merrill’s book for my students).
Let me also recommend Ian Provan; V. Philips Long; and Tremper Longman III’s A Biblical History of Israel (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 2003) and K. A. Kitchen’s On the Reliability of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich. Eerdmans, 2003). Meanwhile, if you need an Old Testament Intro, pride of place in my library goes to Eugene H. Merrill, Mark F. Rooker, and Michael Grisanti’s The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament (Nashville, Tenn.: B&H Academic, 2011). I’m slightly biased, since I got to grade for Dr. Rooker for one semester (while Dr. Robinson was on sabbatical) and enjoyed interacting with him.


Key Journals
For students of Hebrew History, here are some key journals to look out for (besides the obvious general journals like JBL, JETS, BBR, Tyndale Bulletin, etc.)
Biblical Archaeological Review
Jewish Bible Quarterly
Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament (brand new!)
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
Journal of Semitic Studies
and
Old Testament Essays

Relevant JETS Articles
As a service to my students, since our library currently does not have EBSCO, I went through and listed every single article in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society that dealt with Hebrew history (these are available for free up until 2011 from www.etsjets.org) Here they are (please let me know if I missed any!) I did not use any search engine; I did this the “old fashioned” way.
(you should be able to search within this blog post for any particular articles that would be helpful for your research).

Akers, Matthew. "What's in a Name? An Examination of the Usage of the Term
'Hebrew' in the Old Testament." JETS 55 (December 2012).
Aling, Charles F. "The Biblical City of Ramses." JETS 25 (June 1982).
Aling, Charles F. "The Sphinx Stele of Thutmose IV and the Date of the Exodus." JETS 22 (June
1979).
Allen, Ronald Barclay. "Elijah the Broken Prophet." JETS 22 (September 1979).
Amaya, Ismael E. "The Bible and God's Revelation in History." JETS 14 (June
1971).
Archer, Gleason L. "AN Eighteenth Dynasty Ramses." JETS 17 (March 1974).
Arnold, Bill T. "The Amalekite's Report of Saul's Death: Political Intrigue or
Incompatible Sources?" JETS 32 (September 1989)
Arnold, Clint E. "Sceva, Solomon, and Shamanism: The Jewish Roots of the
Problem at Colossae." JETS 55 (March 2012).
Battenfield, James R. "A Consideration of the Identity of the Pharaoh of Genesis
47." JETS 15 (June 1972).
Beale, G. K. "The Use of Hosea 11:1 in Matthew 2:15: One More Time." JETS 55
(December 2012).
Beck, John A. "Why Do Joshua's Readers Keep Crossing the River? The
Narrative-Geographical Shaping of Joshua 3-4." JETS 48 (December 2005).
Beitzel, Barry J. "Herod the Great: Another Snapshot of His Treachery?" JETS 57
(June 2014).
Billington, Clyde E. "Goliath and the Exodus Giants: How Tall Were They?" JETS
50 (September 2007).
Block, Daniel I. "Israel's House: Reflections on the Use of BYT YSR'L in the Old
Testament in the Light of Its Ancient Near Eastern Environment." JETS 28
(1985).
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Deuteronomic Domestic Ideology." JETS 53 (September 2010).
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Block, Daniel I. "'What Do These stones Mean?' The Riddle of Deuteronomy 27."
JETS 56 (March 2013).
Block, Daniel I. "Recovering the Voice of Moses: The Genesis of Deuteronomy."
JETS 44 (September 2001).
Bruno, Christopher R. "'Jesus Is Our Jubilee' . . . But How? The OT Background
and Lukan Fulfillment of the Ethics of Jubilees." JETS 53 (March 2010).
Bullock, C. Hassell. "Ezekiel, Bridge Between the Testaments." JETS 25 (March
1982).
Chase, Mitchell L. "The Genesis of Resurrection Hope: Exploring Its Early
Presence and Deep Roots." JETS 57 (September 2014).
Chávalas, Mark W. "The Historian, the Believer, and the OT: A Study in the
Supposed Conflict of Faith and Reason." JETS 36 (June 1993).
Chávalas, Mark W. "Recent Trends in the Study of Israelite History." JETS 38
(June 1995).
Cheung, Alex T. M. "The Priest as the Redeemed Man: A Biblical-Theological
Study of the Priesthood." JETS 29 (September 1986).
Christensen, Duane L., and Marcel Narucki. "The Mosaic Authorship of the
Pentateuch." JETS 32 (December 1989).
Chisholm, Robert B., Jr. "The Chronology of the Book of Judges: A Linguistic
Clue to Solving a Pesky Problem." JETS 52 (June 2009).
Chisholm, Robert B., Jr. "In Defense of Paneling as a Clue to the Chronology of
Judges: A Critique of Andrew Steinmann's Reply." JETS 53 (June 2010).
Chisholm, Robert. "When Prophecy Appears to Fail, Check Your Hermeneutic"
JETS 53 (September 2010).
Collins, John J. "Prophecy and Fulfillment in the Qumran Scrolls." JETS 30
(September 1987).
Culver, Robert D. "The Old Testament as Messianic Prophecy." BETS 7 (Summer
1964).
Curtis, Edward M. "Structure, Style and Context as a Key to Interpreting Jacob's
Encounter at Peniel." JETS 30 (June 1987).
Curtis, Edward M. "The Theological Basis for the Prohibition of Images in the Old
Testament." JETS 28 (September 1985).
Dalman, Rodger. "Egypt and Early Israel's Cultural Setting: A Quest for Evidential
Possibilities." JETS 51 (September 2008).
Davids, Peter H. "What Glasses Are You Wearing? Reading Hebrew Narratives
through Second Temple Lenses." JETS 55 (December 2012).
Day, Adam Warner. "Eating Before the Lord: A Theology of Food According to
Deuteronomy." JETS 57 (March 2014).
Dean, David Andrew. "Covenant, Conditionality, and Consequence: New
Terminology and a Case Study in the Abrahamic Covenant." JETS 57 (June
2014).
DeRouchie, Jason S. "The Blessing-Commission, the Promised Offspring, and the
Toledot Structure of Genesis." JETS 56 (June 2013).
Dillard, Raymond. "The Reign of Asa (2 Chronicles 14-16): An Example of the
Chronicler's Theological Method." JETS 23 (September 1980).
Donaldson, Terry L. "Levitical Messianology in Late Judaism: Origins,
Development and Decline." JETS 24 (September 1981).
Dumbrell, William J. "The Content and Significance of the Books of Samuel:
Their Place and Purpose within the Former Prophets." JETS 33 (March
1990).
Dumbrell, William J. "The Purpose of the Books of Chronicles." JETS 27
(September 1984).
Dyck, Elmer. "Jonah Among the Prophets: A Study in Canonical Context." JETS
33 (March 1990).
Emmrich, Martin. "The Case against Moses Reopened." JETS 46 (March 2003).
Emmrich, Martin. "The Symbolism of the Lion and the Bees; Another Ironic Twist
in the Samson Cycle." JETS 44 (March 2001).
Enns, Peter. "William Henry Green and the Authorship of the Pentateuch: Some
Historical Considerations." JETS 45 (September 2002).
Ferguson, Paul. "Nebuchadnezzar, Gilgamesh, and the "Babylonian Job.'" JETS 37
(September 1994).
Freeman, Hobart E. "The Problem of the Efficacy of Old Testament Sacrifices."
BETS 5 (Summer 1962).
Ferris, Paul Wayne, Jr. "The Manna Narrative of Exodus 16:1-10." JETS 18
(September 1975).
Graves, Michael. "The Public Reading of Scripture in Early Judaism." JETS 50
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Greene, Joseph R. "The Spirit in the Temple: Bridging the Gap Between Old
Testament Absence and New Testament Assumption." JETS 55 (December
2012).
Grisanti, Michael A. "Recent Archaeological Discoveries that Lend Credence to
the Historicity of the Scriptures." JETS 56 (2013).
Goswell, Greg. "The Order of the Books in the Hebrew Bible." JETS 51
(December 2008).
Goswell, Greg. "The Temple Theme in the Book of Daniel." JETS 55 (September
2012).
Groningen, G. Van. "Interpretation of Genesis." JETS 13 (December 1970).
Groningen, G. Van. "Joshua-II Kings: Deuteronomistic? Priestly? Or Prophetic
Writing?" JETS 12 (March 1969).
Harbin, Michael A. "Jubilee and Social Justice." JETS 54 (December 2011).
Harris, Laird. "Chronicles and the Canon in New Testament Times." JETS 33
(March 1990).
Harris, R. Laird. "Continuity in the Old Testament Historical Literature." JETS 14
(September 1971).
Harris, R. Laird. "Factors Promoting the Formation of the Old Testament Canon."
BETS 10 (Winter 1967).
Hauser, Alan J. "Unity and Diversity in Early Israel before Samuel." JETS 22
(December 1979).
Hawkins, Ralph K. "The Date of the Exodus-Conquest Is Still an Open Question:
A Response to Rodger Young and Bryant Wood." JETS 51 (June 2008).
Hawkins, Ralph K. "Propositions for Evangelical Acceptance of a Late-Date
Exodus-Conquest: Biblical Data and the Royal Scarabs from Mt. Ebal." JETS 50 (March 2007).
Hays, J. Daniel. "Reconsidering the Height of Goliath." JETS 48 (December 2005).
Hays, J. Daniel. "The Height of Goliath: A Response to Clyde Billington." JETS
50 (September 2007).
Heck, Joel D. "Issachar: Slave or Freeman? (Gen 49:14-15)." JETS 29 (December
1986).
Hellerman, Joseph. "Purity and Nationalism in  Second Temple Literature: 1-2
Maccabees and Jubilees." JETS 46 (September 2003).
Hilber, John W. "Theology of Worship in Exodus 24." JETS 39 (June 1996).
Hildebrand, David R. "A Summary of Findings in Support of an Early Date for the
So-Called Priestly Materials of the Pentateuch." JETS 29 (June 1986).
Hill, Andrew E. "A Jonadab Connection in the Absalom Conspiracy?" JETS 30
(December 1987).
Hill, Andrew E. "The Ebal Ceremony as Hebrew Land Grant?" JETS 31
(December 1988).
Hill, Andrew E., and Gary A. Herion. "Functional Jehovah-ism and Social Control
in the Early Israelite Monarch." JETS 29 (September 1986).
Hill, Joseph A. "The Bible and Non-Inspired Sources." BETS 3 (Fall 1960).
Hoffmeier, James K. "What Is the Biblical Date for the Exodus? A Response to
Bryant Wood." JETS 50 (2007).
Hoffner, Harry A. "Ancient Views of Prophecy and Fulfillment: Mesopotamia and
Asia Minor." JETS 30 (September 1987).
Horton, Stanley M. "Critical Note: A Suggestion Concerning the Chronology of
Solomon's Reign." BETS 4 (October 1961).
House, Paul. "Investing in the Ruins: Jeremiah and Theological Vocation." JETS
56 (March 2013).
Howard, David M., Jr. "Sodom and Gomorrah Revisited." JETS 27 (December
1984).
Howard, David M., Jr. "'Three Days' in Joshua 1-3: Resolving a Chronological
Conundrum." JETS  41 (December 1998).
Howard, David M., Jr. "The Transfer of Power from Saul to David in 1 Sam 16:13-
14." JETS 32 (December 1989)
Jeffers, Adrian. "Ideal Versus Real History in the Book of Joshua." JETS 12
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Johnson, Adam. "A Temple Framework of the Atonement." JETS 54 (June 2011).
Johansen, John H. "The Prophet Hosea: His Marriage and Message." JETS 14
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Johnson, Benjamin J. M. "What Type of Son is Samson? Reading Judges 13 as a
Biblical Type-Scene." JETS 53 (June 2010).
Kaiser, Walter C., Jr. "The Davidic Promise and the Inclusion of the Gentiles
(Amos 9:9-15 and Acts 15:13-18): A Test Passage for Theological
Systems." JETS 20 (June 1977).
Kaiser, Walter C., Jr. "Is It the Case that Christ Is the Same Object of Faith in the
Old Testament? (Genesis 15:1-6). JETS 55 (June 2012).
Kaiser, Walter C., Jr. "The Old Promise and the New Covenant: Jeremiah 31:31-
34." JETS 15 (March 1972).
Kaiser, Walter C., Jr. "The Present State of Old Testament Studies." JETS 18 (June
1975).
Karlberg, Mark W. "The Significance of Israel in Biblical Typology." JETS 31
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Kessler, John A. "The Shaking of the Nations; An Eschatological View." JETS 30
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Koorevaar, Hendrik J. "The Exile and Return Model: A Proposal for the Original
Macrostructure of the Hebrew Canon." JETS 57 (September 2014).
Kuruvilla, Abraham. "The Aqedah (Genesis 22): What Is the Author Doing with
What He Is Saying?" JETS 55 (September 2012).
Lee, Chee-Chiew. "G'YM in Genesis 35:11 and the Abrahamic Promise of
Blessings for the Nations." JETS 52 (September 2009).
Longman, Tremper, III. "The Literary Approach to the Study of the Old
Testament: Promise and Pitfalls." JETS 28 (December 1985).
Luc, Alex. "A Theology of Ezekiel: God's Name and Israel's History." JETS 26
(June 1983).
Lunn, Nicholas P. "Allusions to the Joseph Narrative in the Synoptic Gospels and
Acts: Foundations of a Biblical Type." JETS 55 (March 2012).
MacRae, Allan A. "Abraham and the Stars." BETS 8 (Summer 1965).
Martens, Elmer A. "Tackling Old Testament Theology." JETS 20 (June 1977).
Master, Jonathan. "Exodus 32 as an Argument for Traditional Theism." JETS 45
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McComiskey, Douglas S. "Exile and Restoration from Exile in the Scriptural
Quotations and Allusions of Jesus." JETS 53 (December 2010).
McFall, Leslie. "The Chronology of Saul and David," JETS 53 (September 2010).
McFall, Leslie. "Do the Sixty-Nine Weeks of Daniel Date the Messianic Mission
of Nehemiah or Jesus?" JETS 52 (December 2009).
Merrill, Eugene H. "Name Terms of the Old Testament Prophet of God." JETS 14
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Merrill, Eugene. "Old Testament Scholarship and the Man in the Street: Whence
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Merrill, Eugene. Sabbatai Zvi and Jewish Messianism." JETS 16 (September
1973).
Merrill, Eugene. "The Sign of Jonah." JETS 23 (March 1980).
Neiderhiser, Edward A. "2 Samuel 20:8-10: A Note for a Commentary." JETS 24
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Newman, Robert C. "Daniel's Seventy Weeks and the Old Testament Sabbath-Year
Cycle." JETS 16 (December 1973).
Nichols, David. "The Ancient Near East 853-745 B.C." JETS 18 (December 1975).
Niehaus, Jeffrey J. "Covenant: An Idea in the Mind of God." JETS 52 (June 2009).
Niehaus, Jeffrey J. "Covenant and Narrative, God and Time." JETS 53 (September
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Niehaus, Jeffrey J. "God's Covenant with Abraham." JETS 56 (June 2013).
Niehaus, Jeffrey J. "Joshua and Ancient Near Eastern Warfare." JETS 31 (March
1988).
O'Brian, David. "David the Hebrew." JETS 23 (September 1980).
Parry, Jason Thomas. "Desolation of the Temple and Messianic Enthronement in
Daniel 11:36-12:3." JETS 54 (September 2011).
Patterson, Richard D., and Michael E. Travers. "Nahum: Poet Laureate of the
Minor Prophets." JETS 33 (December 1990).
Patterson, Richard D. "An Overlooked Scriptural Paradox: The Pseudosorites."
JETS 53 (March 2010).
Patterson, Richard D. "Holding on to Daniel's Court Tales," JETS 36 (December
1993).
Patterson, Richard D. "The Old Testament Use of an Archetype: The Trickster."
JETS 42 (September 1999).
Payne, Barton. "The Arrangement of Jeremiah's Prophecies." BETS 7 (Fall 1964).
Payne, J. Barton. "Faith and History in the Old Testament." BETS 11 (Summer
1968).
Payne, J. Barton. "The Goal of Daniel's Seventy Weeks." JETS 21 (June 1978).
Peterson, Brian. "Ezekiel's Rhetoric: Ancient Near Eastern Building Protocol and
Shame and Honor as the Keys in Identifying the Builder of the
Eschatological Temple." JETS 56 (December 2013).
Petrovich, Douglas. "The Dating of Hazor's Destruction in Joshua 11 by Way of
Biblical, Archaeological, and Epigraphical Evidence." JETS 51 (September
2008).
Pierce, Ronald W. "Male/Female Leadership and Korah's Revolt: An Analogy?"
JETS 30 (March 1987).
Proffitt, D., III. "Moses and Anthropology: A New View of the Exodus." JETS 27
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Rea, John. "The Time of the Oppression and the Exodus." BETS 3 (Summer 1960).
Reist, Irwin W. "The Theological Significance of the Exodus." JETS 12 (December
1969).
Rhoads, John H. "Josephus Misdated the Census of Quirinus." JETS 54 (March
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Rogers, Cleon. "Moses: Meek or Miserable?" JETS 29 (September 1986).
Rowley, Matthew. "The Epistemology of Sacralized Violence in the Exodus and
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Ruthven, Jon. "A Note on Elijah's 'Fire from the Lord.'" JETS 12 (June 1969).
Sailhamer, John H. "The Messiah and the Hebrew Bible." JETS 44 (March 2001).
Scanlin, Harold P. "The Emergence of the Writing Prophets in Israel in the Mid-
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Schnabel, Eckhard J. "Israel, the People of God, and the Nations." JETS 45 (March
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Schultz, Arnold C. "Frontier Issues in Contemporary Theology: The Old
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Smick, Elmer B. "Old Testament Cross-Culturalism: Paradigmatic or Enigmatic?"
JETS 32 (March 1989).
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Sprinkle, Joe M. "Law and Narrative in Exodus 19-24." JETS 47 (June 2004).
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Steinmann, Andrew W. "The Chronology of 2 Kings 15-18." JETS 30 (December
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Steinmann, Andrew W. "Literary Clues in Judges: A Response to Robert
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Steinmann, Andrew W. "The Mysterious Numbers of the Book of Judges." JETS
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 Tanner, J. Paul. "Daniel's 'King of the North': Do We Owe Russia an Apology?"
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Tanner, J. Paul. "Rethinking Ezekiel's Invasion by Gog." JETS 39 (March 1996).
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Ulrich, Dean R. "The Framing Function of the Narratives about Zelophehad's
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Vogt, Peter T. "Social Justice and the Vision of Deuteronomy." JETS 51 (March
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Walton, John H. "New Observations on the Date of Isaiah." JETS 28 (1985).
Walton, John H. "The Decree of Darius the Mede in Daniel 6." JETS 31
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Walton, John H. "The Four Kingdoms of Daniel." JETS 29 (1986).
Warning, Wilfried. "Terminological Patters and Genesis 39." JETS 44 (September
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Wood, Bryant G. "Hittites and Hethites: A Proposed Solution to an Etymological
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Wood, Bryant G. "The Rise and Fall of the 13th-Century Exodus Conquest
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Young, Rodger C. "Tables of Reign Lengths from the Hebrew Court Recorders."
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Young, Rodger C. "When Did Jerusalem Fall?" JETS 47 (March 2004).
Young, Rodger C. "When Did Solomon Die?" JETS 46 (December 2003).
Young, Rodger C. "When Was Samaria Captured? The Need for Precision in
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