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.

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
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
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
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
Block, Daniel I. "'You Shall Not Covet Your Neighbor's Wife:' A Study in
Deuteronomic Domestic Ideology." JETS 53 (September 2010).
Block, Daniel I. "Will the Real Gideon Please Stand Up? Narrative Style and
Intention in Judges 6-9." JETS 40 (September 1997).
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
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
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
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
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
(September 2007).
Greene, Joseph R. "The Spirit in the Temple: Bridging the Gap Between Old
Testament Absence and New Testament Assumption." JETS 55 (December
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
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
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
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
(September 1969).
Johnson, Adam. "A Temple Framework of the Atonement." JETS 54 (June 2011).
Johansen, John H. "The Prophet Hosea: His Marriage and Message." JETS 14
(September 1971).
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
Karlberg, Mark W. "The Significance of Israel in Biblical Typology." JETS 31
(September 1988).
Kessler, John A. "The Shaking of the Nations; An Eschatological View." JETS 30
(June 1987).
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
(December 2002).
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
(December 1971).
Merrill, Eugene. "Old Testament Scholarship and the Man in the Street: Whence
and Whiter?" JETS 54 (March 2011).
Merrill, Eugene. Sabbatai Zvi and Jewish Messianism." JETS 16 (September
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
(September 1981).
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
Niehaus, Jeffrey J. "God's Covenant with Abraham." JETS 56 (June 2013).
Niehaus, Jeffrey J. "Joshua and Ancient Near Eastern Warfare." JETS 31 (March
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
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
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
Pierce, Ronald W. "Male/Female Leadership and Korah's Revolt: An Analogy?"
JETS 30 (March 1987).
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Sep 6, 2014

Review of Defending Hope: Semiotics and Intertextuality in 1 Peter by Justin Langford

Note: I was not given this book; rather, I purchased it with my own money (like almost all of the books I review) which means I can review it any way I want, bwahahahahahhahaha!!! [JUST KIDDING! I'll try to be fair.] Also, as a personal preference, I will always have at least a little bit positive and a little bit negative to say, my reasoning being that even Bart Ehrman is a zippy read and can contribute to the discussion, while only Scripture itself is inerrant (so only Scripture would get a perfect review by me!).

Dr. Justin Langford, at the time of publication, is an adjunct NT professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. His book Defending Hope: Semiotics and Intertextuality in 1 Peter (Eugene, Oreg.: Wipf and Stock, 2013) seems to be a revision of his dissertation. I also had the privilege of hearing him speak at last Fall's ETS in Baltimore, and I look forward to interacting with his work on 1 Peter more in the future.

Defending Hope focuses on a branch of study known as "Semiotics" and its relation to the NT use of the OT in First Peter, especially 1 Peter's citation of Isaiah (or allusions, echoes, etc. of Isaiah). As Langford states early on, "The fundamental assumption behind intertextual study is the belief that 'no text exists in a vacuum'" [quoting Fewell, Reading between Texts] (xv). Yet Langford bemoans the fact that "no standard or agreed-upon method exists for doing such studies" [re.: "methodological applications of intertextuality"](p. xv). Consequently, Langford proposes using "semiotics" to pave the way forward. Thus, early on, he states, "The purpose of this study, then, is to explore the use of semiotics as an overarching method for doing biblical intertextual studies" (p. xvi). Soon after, he defines "semiotics" as "a broader term [compared to semiosis] referring to the scientific study of signs and sign systems" (p. xvii).

In the first chapter, Langford focuses mostly on a history of the theory and application intertextuality, eventually narrowing in on the history of intertextual studies in 1 Peter (noting also key dissertations such as Edward Glenny's discussion of NT use of the OT in 1 Peter). At the end of the chapter, he declares, "The importance of this book lies in both the application of a semiotic method for interpreting intertextual references and the treatment of Isaiah in 1 Peter" (25).In chapter 2, Langford focuses on developing a methodology for his study, stating that he will follow linguist Stefan Alkier--1. "Establishing a theory of textuality based on semiotics, 2. perform[ing] an intratextual investigation of 1 Peter, and 3. perform[ing] an intertextual investigation of the use of Isaiah in 1 Peter." Later in the chapter he focuses on the work of C. S. Peirce, Pierce's concept of "universe of discourse," and the concept of an "encyclopedia (including the role of "cultural knowledge," see p. 46).

In chapter 3, Langford focuses on "The Textual Universe of 1 Peter," which includes both the "epistolary" and "rhetorical" outlines of 1 Peter (Langford includes some helpful charts comparing various scholars). In chapter 4, "Opening the Encyclopedia of 1 Peter," Langford the social, historical, and cultural background of 1 Peter. After this, he focuses on how citations function in 1 Peter  (which texts are cited [LXX? Masoretic?], how they were cited, etc.).

Finally, in chapter 5, Langford discusses "'Signs' of Hope in 1 Peter." He (mostly convincingly, in my opinion) follows the thread of "hope" all throughout the quotations, allusions, and echoes of Isaiah in 1 Peter. He states,
      "A semiotic investigation of the use of Isaiah in 1 Peter demonstrates the integral role of the book of      
      Isaiah in the composition of the epistle. As the dynamic object, the book of Isaiah motivated the
      generation of numerous Isaianic signs in 1 Peter. The signs all point to one specific aspect of the book of
      Isaiah, their immediate object, and in doing so create an interpretant. Each interpretant was described in
      the sections above, and most of these interpretants were determined to communicate the idea of hope.
      While each interpretant communicates in its own right a picture of hope for the audience, the cumulative
      force of all the interpretants points to a message of hope, one that saturates almost every section of this
      short epistle" (p. 124; see also his excellent chart on page 125).

Now for critique: on the (very) plus side, this is a worthy addition to the panoply of scholarship on 1 Peter. Langford gives us a unique contribution (1 Peter, Isaiah, and semiotics), he delves deeply into the realm of semiotics, and artfully focuses on Isaiah in 1 Peter.

I believe that, for the most part, Langford demonstrates his thesis on hope in 1 Peter via Isaiah. Indeed, chapter 5 alone is worth the price of admission. Furthermore, Langford demonstrates excellent scholarship, interacting with almost all the major sources [with one major exception, noted below]. At an affordable price (thanks to Wipf&Stock's publishing model, of which I am also benefiting), it would be almost inexcusable for any budding scholar on 1 Peter or (more generally) NT use of the OT to not own this book. Let me stress again, this is an excellent discussion of 1 Peter's use of Isaiah.

And now for some quibbles (and please, dear reader, don't let the length of my discussion detract from the fact that this is a mostly positive review, and you should buy this book if you're serious about researching 1 Peter). First of all, I felt that for what the author was trying to accomplish this book was way too short. We do not see near enough discussion of the concept of hope in Scripture in general (what I feel would be a necessary precursor to discussing hope in both Isaiah and 1 Peter; however, Langford does clearly know the difference between concept and word, and he does discuss the concept of hope in the relevant chapters; I just think he could have done more, including a more clear definition of hope), and we do not enough discussion of the original contexts of the various Isaiah passages. I think this book would have benefited from another 50 pages (and yes, I know what it's like to have to add material to a book, so this is not just an armchair quarterback speaking!). In addition, I felt Langford could have segued into a more comprehensive "theology of hope" in 1 Peter.

Secondly, there is already an entire article devoted to the concept of "hope" in 1 Peter, and Langford does not cite it (John Piper's "Hope as the Motivation of Love: 1 Peter 3:9-12" on NTS vol. 26); now I know, I know, it's easy to nitpick and always find some obscure source that an author doesn't cite (I anticipate this if anybody reviews my own book on 1 Peter), and, to be fair, Piper does not focus on any of the passages that Langford focuses on (see Piper's article here). Nevertheless, I feel there is enough overlap in topics for at least a mention--after all, the whole point of the book is to provide an intertextual discussion of hope in 1 Peter, and New Testament Studies is a major, top-tier journal.

Thirdly, occasionally the author hurries over a statement that should need much more explanation, or at least a footnote. For example, on page 95, he states, "the formula pistos o logos . . . found in 1-2 Timothy and Titus reflects a phrase found in the Qumran Book of Mysteries that refers to a prophecy." Even without the controversial assertion "reflects a phrase . . ." I would expect a footnote for this (the only footnote in the paragraph is at the very first sentence). Another example: the whole socio-political situation of the recipients (metaphorical? literal? both?) of 1 Peter deserves more than the one paragraph he allocates on page 90 (if I'm missing something, I apologize, but that's all I saw in a thorough reading of the book), especially since this ties directly into the necessity of hope.

Finally, a complaint that is not unique to Langford's book: Scholarly, technical books need indexes!!!!!! Please let me repeat that: scholarly, technical books need at least a subject index and a Scripture/ancient sources index! This should not be optional! (but, as I said, a lot of books coming out these days, including revised dissertations, sadly do not have any).

In conclusion, though, let me state Langford's Defending Hope  is an excellent book on 1 Peter. It gives us an excellent introduction to semiotics, a decent discussion of intertextuality, and a fantastic overview of the concept of hope weaved throughout 1 Peter's use of Isaiah. Let me emphasize again, concerning the last point, Langford succeeds masterfully, and may my critique not detract from my praise.

I did not receive this book in exchange for a review; I purchased it with my own money, and it is well worth the price!