5/30/10

Getting (Theological) French, Pt. 4

In the 4th edition of my Getting (Theological) French notes, I take a look at conjunctions. There are 21 basic conjunctions and they are provided here in a nice, alphabetized table. The links for the previous installments of these notes are located in a table at the foot of this post, so, check those out too. Enjoy!




+ Link: "Getting (Theological) French, Pt. 1"
+ Link: "Getting (Theological) French, Pt. 3"
+ Link: "Getting (Theological) French, Pt. 2"

Getting (Theological) French, Pt. 3

Here is the 3rd installation in my study notes for Getting (Theological) French. In this set, I offer you 1,200 of the most popular French vocabulary words. Each French term is provided and then followed by its English equivalent. Enjoy! (Please do not modify this work without the author's consent. Thanks.)

5/29/10

Getting (Theological) French, Pt. 2

Here's the second installation of my Getting (Theological) French notes. Basically, I offer a bibliography which contains literary, digital and audio resources. Enjoy!

A Reader's Hebrew and Greek Bible, Pt. 5

With this 5th installment in my series of reviews on Zondervan's A Readers Hebrew and Greek Bible, I focus on the Aramaic portions of the text. Putting the 5 reviews together, I have about 25 minutes of review time, which you can watch via vodcasts. Here are links to the other reviews: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. Like what you see? Well, go get your copy HERE. Thanks to Zondervan for this great resource!


A Reader's Hebrew and Greek Bible, Pt. 4

In the fourth portion of my review of Zondervan's new A Reader's Hebrew and Greek Bible, I take a look at the Hebrew portion of the book. In the next, fifth and final vodcast, I will take a brief look at some of the Aramaic portions. For now, check this out, go get YOURS and then come back and have a look around the site. Grace and peace. - TMWH

5/28/10

A Reader's Hebrew and Greek Bible, Pt. 3

In the 3rd portion of my 5-part review of Zondervan's new 1-Volume A Reader's Hebrew and Greek Bible, I look at the features of the Greek New Testament. Check it out (and the previous ones too!). And don't forget to buy yours here: Zondervan RHGB.

5/27/10

Glenn Beck, Please, Shut Up!

It has already been mentioned on several other blogs recently but since I'm such a huge fan of Glenn Beck (tongue-in-cheek), I thought I'd weigh in too. Once again, the nonsensical Beck with all of his twisted theology and out of whack history, has given his -2 cents on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Instead of me recounting the entire rant in type here for you, just go ahead and listen to the video.

Adding to some points that have already been made (e.g. that the Apostle's Creed was not the product of Nicea but rather, the Nicene Creed was, that the DSS were not from the Constantine era but rather centuries before, that the DSS do not contain ANY NT documents but rather OT ones (all of which were rejected for canonical inclusion), and that neither the canonization nor binding of the Bible happened at Nicea), I wish to shed some light on the matter.

First, the significance of the DSS comes first and foremost in the fact that they tell us about the period of 2nd Temple Judaism. Again, there are no New Testament documents among the DSS manuscripts. So, Beck, you are way off base here when you are speaking about "scripture" and the precise importance of the DSS. Second, the texts really have nothing to do with the Jesus Movement. In fact, what they show has to do with ancient Jewish sects (e.g. the Essenes) and how they lived and thought. This is a far cry from having anything to do with the Constantinian era!!! Third, while the DSS may well be the greatest archeological find ever, they really reveal nothing ground-breaking in terms of "Christian heritage." So much for your history-object lesson Glenn! Fourth, the DSS contain a host of manuscripts that both shed light on and prove the reliability of the Hebrew & Aramaic portions of the Hebrew Bible (especially from a text-critical standpoint). Indeed, they add credibility to the much later Textus Receptus of the MT which underly a great majority of our English translations. Glenn, it looks like you're just a little more than a handful of centuries off (forward and backward) on your theories, so, please, just shut up already! Fifth, if you had just made an analogy without trying to act like you knew what you were talking about, you might have made sense. But alas, as usual, you let your ignorance and arrogance run the show and for that, many people are now stupider than they were before they listened to you (which I suppose is often the case)! Sixth, it was the Essenes, which may sound a little like the last half of "Constantine" that are responsible for the scrolls! These are people who lived many centuries before a thought of Constantine ever existed! Seventh, among the DSS there are thousands of MSS that are non-biblical, which today are certainly not considered Scripture. Eighth, it has been proven time and again that 7Q4 and 7Q5 (which you, Mr. Beck probably have never even heard of!) have no relationship to the Gospels and as such, had no part to play in the formation of the Nicene Creed nor any other creed. I think you should stop reading religious conspiracy novels like those by Barbara Thiering and start getting your facts straight before you speak about such things! Ninth, the scrolls were hidden during the first century CE in a time of revolt...centuries before Constantine was around; this had nothing to do with Constantine or anyone else during his time corrupting religion and forcing people to ban their faiths! Tenth and finally, if I were you, I would be careful about depositing things in my child's body...you might just get in big trouble for that!


Oh, and one last thing. I know that there are many of you nationalistic Christians out there who love Mr. Beck. Even when he has challenged the heart of the Scriptures and I have called it out on me, I have had so-called Christians come back and accuse me of being in the wrong, not him. I anticipate that may happen again. Whatever! It is time for Christians in this country to stop worshiping the idol of politics and the idols of political voices. I think it is high time to get Beck off air, send him out into the wilderness where his voice cannot be heard and to shut him up. It never ceases to amaze me that people will hang on every word of a figure like Glenn Beck and defend him to his death (by the way, hey Liberty University, have you repented yet?) but not take the time to really see through the shallowness of what he says and does. Come on Christians, get your acts together! Do your homework and stop relying on this bungling bag of hot air for your facts! We've got a lot riding on all this and we need to stop giving our pearls to swine!

5/26/10

Getting (Theological) French, Pt. 1

I recently noted that I would be launching my Theological French website, Getting French very soon. Leading up to that, I will periodically publish posts, study guides, resources and more that will ultimately be part of that site. So, here's the first installation, which focuses on pronouns. Enjoy!

Great Books, Great Prices!

Last weekend I picked up over $400 worth of books all for $60, check out this list:

* Craig Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary

* Ched Myers, Who Will Role the Stone Away? : Discipleship Queries for First World Christians

* Robert F. Capon, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus

* Richard Bauckham, The Gospels for All Christians: Rethinking the Gospel Audiences

* James D. G. Dunn, Christianity in the Making: Beginning from Jerusalem

* James D. G. Dunn, Jews and Christians: The Parting of the Ways A.D. 70 to 135

* J. Harold Greenlee, A Concise Exegetical Grammar of New Testament Greek

* Ralph P. Martin, Carmen Christi: Php. 2:5-11 in Recent Interp. and in the Setting of Early Christian Worship

* Ralph Earle, Mark: The Gospel of Action

* Martin Hengel, Crucifixion

* Anthony Deane, The World Christ Knew

*Peter Schmiechen, Christ the Reconciler: A Theology for Opposites, Differencies and Enemies

* Harold E. Wicke, Mark

* Molly D. Meinhardt, Jesus: The Last Day (BAR Essay Publication)

* Charles L. Allen, Meet the Methodists: An Intro. to the United Methodist Church

As a gift, a friend gave me: Ken Wilson, Mystically Wired: Exploring New Realms in Prayer

Overall, this was a pretty good book weekend!!!

5/25/10

Summer & Fall Courses


Here's a list of my summer and fall courses that are coming up, all of which I'm looking forward to with great anticipation!!!

* Summer - Interpretation of Mark - Dr. David Bauer
* Fall - Exegesis of Romans - Dr. Ben Witherington
* Fall - Exegesis of 2 Corinthians - Dr. Fred Long
* Fall - Exegesis of Deuteronomy - Dr. Lawson Stone
* Fall - Old Testament Research Methods - Dr. Lawson Stone

5/20/10

The New & Improved Pisteuomen


Hey everyone, I hope you like the new changes around here. The first thing you'll notice is that the site is much more clean-cut than before, which also means that it's a bit more user-friendly. One of the tricky parts of the site is the scrolling link bar at the top of the page. You can navigate Pisteuomen's links but moving your cursor over the tiny black symbols to the left and right of the links. Pretty simple! Anyway, some minor updates will be made here and there over the next few weeks but nothing else major. So, have a look around! Also, now that the semester is over, I will post several more vodcasts on Zondervan's A Reader's Hebrew and Greek Bible, so, be on the lookout for that.

Grace and peace,
-Michael

5/19/10

Aramaic of Ezra 4-6 (Screencast)

In addition to the screencasts I've done on the Aramaic portions of Daniel (to prepare for my Aramaic final exam), I've also now put online my screencasts of the Aramaic portions of Ezra (4:8-6:18) and you can access them here (just below) or soon at the GettingAramaic website.








Aramaic Quiz (Daniel 2 Vocab)

In preparation for my upcoming final exam for my Aramaic class, I have been using some modules I've created to help me study and I thought I'd share them. Here's one of them (also being added to GettingAramaic). This is a quiz over the vocab (verbs) of Daniel 2. It is highly interactive. It keeps track of your correct answers and incorrect answers, gives you your grade percentage and allows you to print off your results. Pretty nifty! (*Note that it is an .exe file. Therefore, on some machines that have virus programs, when you attempt to open it, it will tell you that it has a virus. IT DOES NOT HAVE ONE! I would not upload stuff w/my name on it that contained something of that nature. Anyway, it is free to use. Download it by clicking on the screenshot.) This will also be added to the GettingAramaic website.

5/18/10

Daniel 3-4 (Aramaic) Screencast

In addition to the previous screencasts of the Aramaic portions of Daniel 2:4-29, I have now produced screencasts on chapters 3-4 of Daniel (all of this in preparation for an upcoming final exam). So, here are the Aramaic portions of the Book of Daniel (Daniel 3-4). Following this, I will post screencasts on Ezra 4-6 as well. I will also post these to the Getting Aramaic site, so, go check that out!







Daniel 2:4-49 (Aramaic) Screencast

In preparation for an upcoming exam, I am posting some screencasts that I have done on the Aramaic portions of the Bible. Here is the Aramaic portion of the Book of Daniel (Daniel 2:4-29). Following this, I will post screencasts on Daniel 3 & 4 as well as Ezra 4-6. I will also post these to the Getting Aramaic site, so, go check that out!







5/17/10

"On God and Gender" Or: "Hey Rachel Held Evans, Come Study Greek With Me"

Around a decade ago, when I was working on my MDiv, I was confronted for the first time with inclusive language policies. One of my Bible professors at the time was so adamant about un-gendered language, especially for God, that if you referred to God with the pronoun "He" in her class, you were at risk of being kicked out of that class session and docked points. Inclusivity was the battle cry and if you transgressed you would be wounded in one way or another.

At that time I was still young in my biblical studies career and found it challenging to navigate through the issue. I had always heard God referred to as "He" and it was a little jarring to hear otherwise. It was somewhat illuminating to realize that, in fact, there are places in Scripture where feminine metaphors or imagery is used of God. Recently, in a blog post titled "Is God a Man?", by Rachel Held Evans, she too makes this point. Two more degrees in biblical studies and many years later, however, I'm not so convinced by some of the additional arguments that proponents of inclusive language, especially those advocating for this when speaking of God, carry any validity.

For example, in her post, Evans makes 3 points which, at various junctures, contradict one another, and at other points just do not hold interpretive water. Now, although I am posing some challenges here, let me say that I am NOT joining the chorus of voices calling Rachel a heretic and neither am I attempting to cast aspersions on her. I do not know Rachel personally but what I do know of her is that, at this point in time, she has garnered a bit of attention and has a lot of folks turning an ear to her.  I also know that she has an interest in God's Church and God's people.  So, instead of damning her, I would actually like to note that my retorts are meant to be edifying. Even more, I would like to extend a sort of invitation to Rachel, which I will do at the end of this entry.

Getting back to my main point, I will say that when I read Evans's post, I was struck especially by the arguments given in points 2 and 3. Point 2, which brings up the feminine imagery related to God in the Bible, also says "...while God is often referred to as Father, and Jesus was certainly a man, the Hebrew word for Holy Spirit is a feminine noun frequently connected with images of childbirth and nursing (John 3:5; cf. John 1:13, 1 John 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18)." Now, let me point out the obvious here first: Evans appeals to Hebrew and then cites all New Testament verses. Any first-year Bible College or seminary student knows that the New Testament we have is not Hebrew but rather Greek (yes, there are a few Latinisms and Semitisms here and there). Secondly, arguing that the grammatical gender of a noun is significant in determining its meaning is an exegetical error. Again, most first-year (or maybe second-year) language students know this. Here's an example of where this argument really falls flat: Yes, Evans is right that the Hebrew word רוח (ruach) is grammatically feminine, but what about the Greek counterpart πνευμα (pneuma), which is neuter? (Note: Although I am keenly aware of them, for ease of use, I'm not including breathing marks or accents in Greek and vowel pointings in Hebrew words in this post.) If we follow this logic we would be forced to argue that the feminine spirit lost her femininity somewhere in the change from Hebrew to Greek and became non-gendered; therefore, no gender is important. But wait...in John's Gospel, which Evans cites, when we come to 16:7, we find that the Spirit is called ο παρακλητος (o parakletos; The Comforter), which is a masculine noun with a masculine article. If one correlates grammatical gender with physical/sexual gender, then they would be thinking: Wow, so either A) The Spirit changed from female to neuter to male (and thus lost his femininity along the way); or B) The Spirit is all three at once. Obviously, both lines of thinking are wrong. What we must remember is that grammatical gender refers to grammatical gender and that's that! Grammatical gender does not determine physical/sexual gender. Native English speakers commit this exegetical fallacy pretty frequently.

Now, in point 3 I was a little taken aback because Evans wrote this: "Finally, (and as Mimi points out), the self-naming of God in Scripture is 'I AM WHO I AM'—a name without gender. I suspect that’s because, though God is a person, God is not a human being like us." Why was I taken aback? Because this line of reasoning is incredibly problematic. It is so because it directly contradicts the previous approach Evans was attempting to take, that is, applying grammatical gender to physical gender. In short, in the previous point Evans wanted to argue that the grammatically feminine word "ruach" in Hebrew had bearing on the physical gender of the Holy Spirit. The passage that Evans is citing, the one with the "I AM WHO I AM" statement is Ex 3:14. The Greek version(s) of the Old Testament, referred to as the LXX or Septuagint, say(s) this: εγω ειμι ο ων (ego eimi o on). Evans says that here the name of God is ungendered. Impossible. In fact, all four of these words have gender! Any guesses as to the grammatical gender? Masculine! That's right, all four of these words are masculine in grammatical gender. In Hebrew we get היהא רשׁא היהא (ehyeh asher ehyeh). In terms of grammatical gender, these are called "common," which means that in a given context the referent could be either masculine or feminine. That leads us to ask, however, who/what is the referent in this verse? Well, it is clear! The verse begins with אלהים (Elohim), a name/noun whose grammatical gender is masculine. This would mean, then, that the "I AM" statement is, grammatically speaking, understood to be masculine. Further, in Hebrew, there is no "neuter" or "non-gendered" gender, so, to make the claim that I AM WHO I AM is "a name without gender," is simply wrong.

In the end, one cannot argue that grammatical gender is determinative of meaning for the feminine Spirit but has no meaning or bearing whatsoever on "I AM WHO I AM"; that's a form of exegetical or interpretive cherry-picking. The fact is, grammatical gender is not determinative of meaning in either case! Further, the arguments that Evans attempts to make from a grammatical basis in this post of hers are, to put it kindly, all deeply flawed. In the end, I'm left wondering what the demographic that Evans is consistently appealing to, that is, burned-out Christians, ex-Christians, and young believers (she is also promoting a book about this very thing on her site as I write), are left to make of this? I have to think that they're somewhat confused. I myself, one with 4 degrees in biblical studies, am left scratching my head trying to figure out what sort of Trinitarian God this is?  How do folks begin to make sense of the notion that God is "Father" but that God's self-naming act renders God genderless, and then also that the Spirit is feminine while Jesus is male? Well, an understanding of biblical languages, just as I have briefly shown here, really can help cut back on such confusion.

What to make of all of this then? Well, it might be easy enough to join in the chorus of voices who are anti-Evans, after all, I am disagreeing with her. But I have a different idea. I would like to invite Rachel to come study Greek with me at the Conversational Koine Institute. I recognize Rachel's platform. I also recognize her gift for writing and relating to folks. And I also recognize the benefit, for those who engage and use the Bible, especially in public settings, of building up skills in biblical languages. That's what we do at the Conversational Koine Institute and I'm certainly willing to help her in that regard.

5/15/10

Getting (Theological) French


On August 31st I am set to take my French exams, so, this summer, I will spend some time preparing (gotta love having exams before the semester even starts!). In addition to my Getting German, Getting Greek and Getting Aramaic sites, I also hope to launch my Getting French site. I have a number of French study books but today I received in the mail K. Janet Ritch's Reading French: A Guide for Students of Religion and Theology. The book seems easy enough to follow and appears to have a nice layout. Anyway, next week I have Greek and Aramaic exams, so, I'll have to wait to get to the French but be on the lookout for a new language website launch in the next few months (hopefully).

5/14/10

Ku Klux Klan & Mark's Gospel

So, last night as we were working through the LXX text of Daniel 7, we came across an interesting term in verse 19, that is, the word κυκλόθεν. Of course, this adverb comes from the noun κύκλος, which means "circle." So, in Dan. 7.19, we read of an image of a beast stomping or trampling around in circles. In the Gospel of Mark, we get a different adverbial form (I'm not sure if the nounal form appears in the LXX or New Testament) in 3.34. There, were read: "καὶ περιβλεψάμενος τοὺς περὶ αὐτὸν κύκλῳ καθημένους λέγει..." A literal reading is something like: "And he was looking around at those circle-sitting (or, sitting in a circle) around him and he said..."

You may have already made the connection but it is this idea of "circling" (κύκλῳ) that originally contributed to the name & practices of the infamous Ku Klux Klan. However, the Klan members actually cannot be credited with creating the name. In fact, they took it from the college frat that was in existence long before (dating back to 1812) at the University of North Carolina, named OKA or Old Kappa Alpha, which stood for "circle of brothers." So, this "Greek Fraternity," actually did base its name on an ancient Greek word.


In the beginning, what is now known as the KKK, began as a social club who loved pulling pranks. Quickly, though, their agenda got more serious and in addition to looking after southern widows and orphans, they began striving to marginalize dark-skinned folk, especially at the voting polls. They soon realized that to be taken seriously, they would have to resort to violence and hate crimes. As you can see in the picture, the Klan is notorious for circling around a flaming cross (a ritual "call to war," based on the Scottish burning of St. Andrews' cross) in their meetings. In conformity with the group title, "the circling clan," leaders often made up similar nicknames for themselves such as Grand Cyclops. Before too long, these "monsters" and ethnocentrists were staging rallies and "calls to war" against southern blacks.

Anyway, its amazing what sort of rabbit trails an ancient Greek word can send one on but I thought this was interesting enough to post about. In contrast to the hate-based meetings of the clan members, though, it might be beneficial to remember that in Mk. 3 when Jesus speaks of those "circle-sitting" around Him, it is in a context where He is naming all persons--Jews, Gentiles, males, females, sinners, saints and all alike--as His family members! What a wonderful truth and image! And what a wonderful notion to compare to what the picture the author of Revelation paints when he speaks of all God's people "circling" around His throne, every tongue tribe and nation together, praising and glorifying Him (Rev. 5.11; 7.11).

5/11/10

Why The Church Needs Scholars!

One of the things I've realized throughout my first year of PhD work is just how much the average Christian and just how much the church relies on (often without ever acknowledging that they do) and takes for granted its scholars, those who have devoted their lives to studying the Bible. I've experienced resentment of the church as a scholar and I've also experienced resentment of the academy as a pastor and congregant. But the fact remains, the average person, who wants to stay on the "milk level" of study, often despises or looks down on scholars when, in fact, they wouldn't even be able to read their "English Bibles" if it weren't for the faithful who've committed their lives to study and research. Basically, the logic boils down to something like this (which is VERY simplistic): No scholars = No Bible = No Church. So, the next time you see or hear someone bashing scholars, print off the following manuscript (a mock papyri with uncials, which is what the original text would've looked like, except it would've been quite a bit messier) and have them read, translate and interpret it. I'm not on an academic high horse here, all I'm saying is, I've come to realize just how indebted we all are to our Bible scholars and that the Church needs to do a better job of recognizing and appreciating that! I'm grateful for the many who've gone before me and who've given their lives to helping us preserve our sacred story.

5/8/10

In the Mail

For my independent study with the great David Bauer this summer, I have designed a course titled The Interpretation of Mark. I just received some of my books for that class in the mail, here are four of them (with a 5th added, Through Mark's Eyes, just for fun and not necessary for class):


5/7/10

A Reader's Hebrew and Greek Bible, Pt. 2

In Pt. 2 of my review of Zondervan's A Reader's Hebrew and Greek Bible, I give my first up-close look at some of the features of this Good Book. Check it out and be on the lookout for several more upcoming posts!


5/6/10

A Reader's Hebrew and Greek Bible, Pt. 1


Yesterday, I received my wonderful review copy from Zondervan of the new one volume A Reader's Hebrew and Greek Bible. From this standpoint of aesthetics, this book is simply beautiful! (When I opened the box, that fine-grain, European leather smelled wonderful; it was like sitting in a new car!) So, over the next couple of weeks or so, I am going to do several review posts of this Bible--along with some screencasting--here on Pisteuomen. We'll look at the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts, survey some of the wonderful tools this Bible has and I'll show you some of the great things about this version compared to others. At any rate, keep watch for those posts and in the meantime, you can get your copy of this new Zondervan resource by clicking the following link: Zondervan's, A Reader's Hebrew and Greek Bible.

5/4/10

What Noah's Flood Really Looked Like

Here, the 19th century, renowned French artist Gustaf Dore imagines the scene of Noah's flood narrative that we leave out of childrens' bibles in this etching: