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.

Oct 24, 2015

What I'm requiring my "Intro to NT Exegesis" students to read

I'm grateful for the privilege of teaching the grad class "Intro to New Testament Exegesis" this year at Baptist College of Ministry and Baptist Theological Seminary (10 students in the class). At the seminary level, I'll be alternating between Biblical Hebrew and NT Greek Exegesis classes every other year. This semester is a bit of an experiment, but here's what I'm having them read:

First off, the following three textbooks: 
1. Richard J. Erickson's A Beginner's Guide to New Testament Exegesis, which I felt was overall the most accessible, user-friendly, and well-rounded (narrowly beating out Gordon Fee's classic work), despite the fact he gives credence to "Q" (sort of).
2. Secondly, to give them a basic intro to textual criticism, they need my own Doktorvater's book New Testament Textual Criticism: A Concise Guide.
3. Finally (and this is the more experimental choice), I'm requiring them to read the brand new Discourse Grammar of the New Testament by Steven R. Runge. I like what I see in this book so far, and discourse analysis is extremely important, but this might be a bit too much for them to chew for now. We'll see. I might replace it next time around with the fantastic Advances in the Study of Greek by Constantine R. Campbell (though this book also is a bit heavy).

I'm focusing on a number of topics in this class, including background, lexical semantics, textual criticism, and the debate over the verb tenses.
1. For the verb tenses, I'm making them read Andrew Naselli's "A Brief Introduction to Verbal Aspect in the New Testament Greek" (Detroit Seminary Journal vol. 12), since it's a decent overview of the topic (though I suspect I'm less swayed by Porter's views than Naselli). In addition, I'm making them read both Frank Stagg's classic "The Abused Aorist" (JBL vol. 91) and Charles Smith's "Errant Aorist Interpreters" just to get the point across that they should not be basing a theological point on the Aorist tense! (the other tenses, maybe, but not the Aorist!)
2. For background studies, I have them read Stanley Porter's "Why the Laodiceans Received Lukewarm Water" (Tyndale Bulletin vol. 38). I stress repeatedly, in multiple classes, that a knowledge of the background of Laodicea (the problem with the water supply) helps avoid misunderstanding Jesus' point in Revelation 3. Of course, common sense helps a bit too: imagine you're living in Asia Minor, as a farmer, before the advent of the air conditioner. Why in the world would you think of "cold water" as a bad thing. Jesus' point is that, unlike refreshing cold water or therapeutic hot water, the Laodiceans, like their lukewarm water supply, are worthless and vomit-inducing. A failure to stop and think has caused many a pastor to preach this as if "cold" = "opposed to God" and "hot" = "on fire for God," with the odd theological result that somehow God prefers unbelievers dead-set against him to "lukewarm" believers. (I was delighted, however, to recently hear an excellent sermon by an evangelist that "gets it," referring specifically to the background of the city in his sermon; I believe this was the first sermon on this passage in 10+ years that I've heard that "got it right." Naturally the Holy Spirit can use even a relatively poor/lightweight sermon, provided it's not heretical, but I do believe He's grieved when we don't do our homework in our sermon prep!)
3. For lexical semantics, I have them read an excellent (and in-depth) article by Eckhard Schnabel on "The Meaning of Baptizein in Greek, Jewish, and Patristic Literature" in Filologia Neotestamentaria vol. 24. Schnabel, by giving us an extensive survey of the word in Greek literature, once for all puts to rest the idea that that baptizw is somehow a "technical" term that needs to be transliterated instead of translated.
4. Finally, I bring in some of my own textual biases and introduce them to the textual work of Maurice Robinson, specifically his "The Case for Byzantine Priority" in TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism vol. 6 and his "Rule 9, Isolated Variants, and the 'Test-Tube' Nature of the NA27/UBS4 Text" in Translating the New Testament: Text, Translation, Theology, eds. Stanley E. Porter and Mark J. Boda (Eerdmans, 2009).

There are, of course, quite a few more sources I would recommend for exegetical study, not least of which would be some helpful background resources such as the classic work by Everett Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity and Burge, Cohick, and Green's The New Testament in Antiquity. In choosing a textbook for this class, I was actually very disappointed in how few good options there were. I felt I was limited pretty much to Erickson, Fee, Guthrie/Duvall (Biblical Greek Exegesis: A Graded Approach . . .), and Blomberg/Markley (A Handbook of New Testament Exegesis), and none of them felt "right," though I ended up going with Erickson. Hopefully there are some enterprising and budding scholars out there that would rise to the challenge! Specifically, I'm looking for something that focuses on block diagramming and the interplay of various clauses. Guthrie/Duvall deal with that, but in their own way, with what I consider a more "advanced" discourse-centered style of block-diagramming. That's all good and well, but I'm looking for a more "basic" system of block-diagramming.

Ultimately, for this class, the building blocks for New Testament Exegesis are (as I see it) a solid competency in Greek, a humble yet informed perspective on textual criticism, and understanding of words and their meanings (meaning is determined by the interplay of context and semantic range, not etymology), carefulness with the tenses, ability and desire to research the background of a text, a basic understanding of the flow of the discourse, and, most importantly, a love for the Word of God!

Anyways, a great class, with great students, and a great topic: the New Testament in Greek! More the Lord bless the teacher and the students!


  1. Regarding your difficulty in finding a suitable text for your 'Intro to NT Exegesis' Class, the Bock/Fanning Interpreting the New Testament Text (http://www.amazon.com/Interpreting-New-Testament-Text-Introduction/dp/1581344082/) could work. Chapter 4 contains sentence diagramming.

  2. Thanks! Somehow I missed that before I started teaching this class, but I'll check it out.