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.

Apr 28, 2023

Write outside of your comfort zone (lessons from a NT specialist publishing an article in Themelios on David's census)

A funny thing happened when I, as a newly minted  New Testament PhD with a top Greek scholar as my mentor, interviewed to teach at Baptist College of Ministry in Menomonee Falls, WI.

"Can you teach Hebrew?" they asked.

"Of course I can teach Hebrew! No problem. Duh!" was my response [ok, I didn't quite put it that way, but you get the point that I tried to project confidence]. Inwardly, however, I was experiencing a slight panic, since to my shame I had neglected my Hebrew Bible during my years pursuing a doctorate at Southeastern.

As it turns out, in addition to teaching two semesters of Biblical Hebrew, grammar and syntax, on a two-year rotation, they also asked me to teach Hebrew History every Fall, another class totally outside of my specialty. (It would be another year before I would get the opportunity to teach a New Testament class! This is proof that the Lord has a sense of humor, or at least irony).

Yet I can confidently say that all three of those classes grew on me, and in turned helped me grow academically and spiritually. My first time teaching Hebrew was extremely rough (nothing like having your students correct your lectures from the textbook . . .), but I eventually began reading my Hebrew Bible more consistently as well as studying the secondary literature on the Jewish Scriptures with more gusto.

In addition, this gave me an opportunity to pursue an issue that had bothered me since I wrote a paper on it during my college years: the oddity of David's census.

The result, after years of publishing material on the New Testament, is my first ever published article on the Hebrew Bible: "Failure to Atone: Rethinking David's Census in Light of Exodus 30," Themelios 48, no. 1 (April 2023): 47–62 (I had presented an earlier draft of this paper at the ETS regional meeting at Moody Bible Institute a few years back). The entire issue of Themelios can be downloaded here (it is an interesting issue, and I would heartily recommend Jonathan Cheek's article on Genesis 3:15 and Kevin DeYoung's well-written, critical review of S. Wolfe's The Case for Christian Nationalism). Scroll down for the abstract of my article.

So, dear reader (especially those of you who are academic nerds like me), here are some practical lessons from all that:

1. Don't neglect your Hebrew Bible, even if you specialize in Greek! All Scripture, not just the New Testament, was supernaturally inspired by God in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, and if you have the ability, then you should read all of it in the original languages.

2. In addition, for those of us who aspire to be professors, you should not neglect your Hebrew Bible because you never know what you're going to be asked to teach, especially when working for a smaller college and/or seminary. Whether adjunct or full-time, you should be willing to be flexible. (And it goes without saying that you should anticipate occasionally preaching from the OT, as well)

3. Be willing to study areas of biblical studies and theology that you are not as comfortable or proficient with. God can use the lacunae in your curriculum vitae to grow you!

4. If you find a topic that you are passionate and/or curious about, don't be afraid to pursue it, even if it lies outside of your specialty. With humility, of course, because you are treading on ground where others, not you, are specialists. But still, many of the same principles that apply to writing a NT article apply to writing an OT article. You just have to overcome a disadvantage in regards to your familiarity with the secondary literature (and, of course, you have to ensure that you have adequately brushed up on your Hebrew syntax!).

Thank you to Themelios, the anonymous reviewer(s), and editor Brian Tabb for allowing me to publish in their journal.

By the way, for any Hebrew scholars reading this, can anybody tell me why MS Word keeps wanting to rearrange my Hebrew words to create gibberish? I've used both Tyndale and SBL unicode fonts, and I think I've downloaded all the drivers, but this is still occasionally a problem!

Abstract of my article: "Various interpretations have been offered on how David sinned in taking the census of 2 Samuel 24, but too few have seriously grappled with the implications of Exodus 30:11–16 or the structure of 2 Samuel 21–24. Taking Exodus 30:11–16 as the starting point, this article argues that David was supposed to take the census, and that, as with the situation with the Gibeonites in 2 Samuel 21, David’s role was meant to be that of one who atones for the nation’s sins, turning away God’s wrath. The final section answers potential objections such as the role of Joab."