Biblical Studies Carnival 171 (May 2020)

I am happy to host the Biblical Studies Carnival this month! Our previous Biblical Studies Carnival 170 was hosted by Peter Goeman at PeterGoeman.com.  He did an excellent and thorough job, and you can check it out here: https://www.petergoeman.com/biblical-studies-carnival-170-april-2020/ Thank you Phil and Brent for the privilege. The Biblical Studies Carnival is a way to highlight a month’s worth of articles, blogs, videos, etc. for different fields involving or connected to biblical studies. Phil and Brent are always looking for volunteers, particularly for July and August.

Next month’s host is Jim West at Zwingli Redivivus (https://zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com/). I am looking forward to his post!

On New Testament Studies

Richard Fellows wrote an article on Paul’s companions, titled, “Chuza and Joanna as Andronicus and Junia, prominent apostles.” In this post Fellows dives into great detail about these two companions of Paul. He provides charts with the Semitic names, Latin names, and Greek names, providing reasons for the name selection. You can check it out here: http://paulandco-workers.blogspot.com/

Gary Greenberg (bio here), recently published another book titled  The Case for a Proto-Gospel: Recovering the Common Written Source Behind Mark and John. In Gary’s own words, “It is, to the best of my knowledge, the first systematic study of every incident in the Gospel of John (except for speeches, discourse and “I Am” sayings) that cross-references almost every incident in the Gospel of Mark (except for speeches, discourses, parables, doublets and most exorcisms) and establishes a direct literary relationship between both gospels, both as to story content and substantial sequential agreement in story order.” Not only would the book be a wonderful addition to your textual studies, he is also blogging a series discussing this proto-gospel.

In her blog, ENGENDERED IDEAS, Dr. Lyn Kidson shared a post titled, “Temple Prostitutes or Virtuous Priestesses?” In this article, Dr. Kidson sets out to dissect James’ speech to the early church (see Acts 15:22-29). She examines the four prohibitions and seeks to understand James’ injunction against fornication. You can read more here: https://engenderedideas.wordpress.com/2020/05/24/temple-prostitutes-or-virtuous-priestesses/ You can also follow her on Twitter, here: https://twitter.com/lyn_kidson In addition, here is a list of her work: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lyn_Kidson

Phil Long of Reading Acts is continuing his series through the book of Revelation. For the latest posts on Revelation, see:

In addition to his Revelation series, Phil has also posted several helpful reviews!

 

On Greek

Here are some helpful articles, videos, and other resources to help with Greek studies.

Ariel Sabar writes an interesting article on the supposed oldest fragment of Mark’s Gospel. Sabar provides the backdrop of the fragment while working through the weaving web of theft and deception. You can read about that here: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/06/museum-of-the-bible-obbink-gospel-of-mark/610576/

Peter Williams writes about the new Nestle-Aland, Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th rev. ed., “If I were just allowed one book to assist my study of the New Testament, this edition, with its 114 year history, would be it.” Williams’ article is detailed, providing an examination of the “main changes,” “comparative statistics,” and “versional citations.” But, warns Williams, “For quick orientation to the witnesses in a variation unit I will reach for my NA28 first, but might still regularly consult NA27.” That is, don’t throw away your NA27! Williams provides a detailed examination of this monumental work to NTTC. Learn more about it here: https://marginalia.lareviewofbooks.org/peter-williams-on-the-nestle-aland-novum-testamentum-graece/

The Patrologist recently began a series through the book of Ecclesiastes on YouTube. In the videos, he reads the Greek out loud, provides comments on the syntax, and helps the viewer gain more from the passage. You can check his videos out here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKvJmmtC1JYVLMdTTT98bAw

In addition to those videos, the Patrologist also offers many helpful blog posts on his blog, The Patrologist, which can be examined here: https://thepatrologist.com/ You can also follow him on Twitter (which I highly suggest you do, should you be a Twitterite) here: https://twitter.com/ThePatrologist

Brent Niedergall has also been busy producing several helpful posts for Greek studies. First, Brent shared a post titled “NFM and Textual Criticism,” in which he discusses “a method that makes classifying manuscripts into text-types a simple and objective task.” Read on here: https://niedergall.com/nmf-and-textual-criticism/ And for a free resource, check out https://github.com/jjmccollum/jude-nmf In another post, Brent discusses discouragement from BDAG, overviewing several citations host of primary sources, particularly as they relate to Fragment 144. Learn more about that here: https://niedergall.com/fragment144/ Finally, Brent produces part 1 of a study on διότι. Brent attempts to determine a deeper understanding of this word that appears 22 times in the GNT. Read part one here: https://niedergall.com/dioti-deep-dive-part-1/

On Hebrew

Daniel Gurtner shared a fascinating article (with accompanying video) by Ariel David on how researchers read a Torah scroll heavily damaged without opening it. In addition to the fascinating method (they used a particle accelerator), this method offers hope for future scrolls that may be too brittle to unroll. Check it out here: https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/.premium.MAGAZINE-particle-accelerator-to-help-read-dead-sea-scrolls-too-fragile-to-unroll-1.8821595

Joan Taylor, Dennis Mizzi, Marcello Findanzio share their discoveries of missing texts. They begin their wonderful post, “We really didn’t mean to find any missing texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls.” Read how they were able to use multispectral imaging to decipher texts. Here is the article: https://scroll.in/article/962810/how-my-team-and-i-accidentally-discovered-text-on-the-dead-sea-scrolls You can learn more about Joan and her team here: https://dqcaas.com/the-international-network-team/ as well as keep up with their research here: https://dqcaas.com/

John Meade shared a fantastic article, combining Hebrew and textual criticism for the Easter celebration. In the article, he reminds us of the need for an ethical and intentional scholarship when he writes, “The Bible’s authentic textual history won’t be confirmed by sensational discoveries. It will be confirmed by patient study and analysis of the evidence we possess and by responsible discoveries of provenanced artifacts, like the well-known Dead Sea Scrolls.” You can read the article here: https://equip.sbts.edu/article/resurrection-really-happened-textual-criticism-easter/

On Rabbinic/Judaic Studies

A special thanks to Bob MacDonald for passing this along. Celebrating their seven-year anniversary, TheTorah.com features a host of “academic and rabbinic scholars.” While the link provided offers “reflections” of each of the scholars. The benefit, however, is in the links under each individual. If you conduct research in this field, you will want to check this out: https://www.thetorah.com/blogs/seven-years-of-critical-torah-study-scholars-and-rabbis-reflect

Here are the list of scholars, by clicking on each name you will be taken to their reflection which provides a link to the author’s page:

Prof. Cynthia Chapman posted a helpful (and detailed) study of Ruth and her transition to an Israelite. At the end of the post Dr. Chapman writes, “As family members tuck into the cheese blintzes, they should realize that through the shared ingesting of the flour-based crepes, they are reaffirming their kinship ties in a way reminiscent of Boaz and Ruth’s simple meal of roasted wheat dipped in sour wine.” For more, see: https://www.thetorah.com/article/the-substance-of-kinship-how-ruth-the-moabite-became-a-daughter-in-judah

Book Review: “Before the Throne: Reflections on God’s Holiness”

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Before the Throne: Reflections on God’s Holiness

Allen S. Nelson IV, Before the Throne: Reflections on God’s Holiness (Perryville, AR: Allen S. Nelson IV, 2019), 210 pages.

I connected with Allen on Twitter some time ago. I saw one of his Tweets, and I liked what I read. As I observed Allen on Twitter, I was impressed with his desire to serve God and help the church. Though he has helped in many ways, his most effective work comes from his pen. In addition to this book, Allen Nelson has authored From Death to Life: How Salvation Works. He also blogs at ThingsAbove.Us.

An Overview of Before the Throne

Allen Nelson wrote this book to help believers (and unbelievers) receive a glimpse of the holiness of God.  In the preface, Allen remarks “Offering these meditations from the perspective of one writing in the 21st century is my way to warm the modern reader’s heart toward the greatness and glory of God.”[1] Allen’s book does just that.

Displaying his preacher-roots, Allen structures each chapter in an alliterated fashion. Ranging from undoubtable to unquenchable, all focus on the holiness of God. As Allen examines each facet of the holiness of God (a task he readily and regularly reminds us can only be done on a finite basis), he does so by examining two passages

 

of Scripture: Isaiah 6:1-7 and Revelation 4:5-11. That is, his book is written by expounding upon and extrapolating the truths from two passages of Scripture, all from a book that describes or displays the holiness of God.

The chapters are around 18-20 pages in length. At the end of each chapter, Allen provides several questions for “Group Discussion or Family Worship.”[2]

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The Group Discussion or Family Worship. (p. 24)

 

In addition, Allen also cites additional Scripture for discussion and meditation.[3]

 

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Scripture Review for further discussion and meditation. (p. 82)

Strengths of Before the Throne

From my perspective, Allen’s most significant contribution in this work is his ability to take the weighty Puritans and deep preachers of this age and bring them down to the average layman. This task is impressive, for the Puritans were deeply spiritual and incredibly academic. It takes work to read them, even for academics. Yet, Allen translates their thoughts in such a way that the grandmother in the pew can grasp the holiness of God.

Another strength of the book is that it helps whet the appetite. As a pastor, I long for our people to know the holiness of God. And Allen’s work helps encourage that hunger for holiness. Each chapter provides a different glimpse of the holiness of God, and each chapter increases your hunger for holiness.

A third strength is Allen’s work in the Questions for Group Discussions or Family Worship. The questions are good questions, not the typical, “What does this mean to you?” questions often found in Bible studies. They are deep, thought-provoking, and soul-searching questions. As a father, I appreciate this as well because our family observes family worship. With that said, I think it would be better for maturing children (10 years old and upward).

The fourth strength of Allen’s work is the humility through which he writes it. Throughout the book, Allen acknowledges his inadequacies to write upon the holiness of God, not because of a lack of writing ability, but because of the incomprehensibility of God’s holiness. For instance, he writes, “It is impossible to comprehend God as He has revealed Himself to us in Scripture without understanding His holiness.”[4] His humility is also displayed in instances such as his footnote on page 21.

A final strength is the length of the book. Allen could have easily written a large tome or even volumes on the holiness of God. But Allen’s work is a little over two-hundred pages. This makes it more accessible to the average individual in the pew.

Opportunities of Before the Throne

The book is accessible for the layman, but this work shows that Allen is a capable theologian. I believe that he would benefit the church to devote a considerable treatment to God, not just His holiness, but all of His qualities and attributes.

Another opportunity that might help make the work even more practical is a glossary of terms. Though he defines uncommon words in the text, it might help increase the vocabulary of the average Christian.

Who Should Read Before the Throne

Everyone should read this book. For the pastor, it is a healthy reminder of Who our God is. Additionally, Allen distills the implications for pastoral and ecclesial ministry. In a convicting statement, Allen writes, “We’ve created an atmosphere of entertainment in the church today because we have found God boring.”[5]

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“It is impossible to comprehend God He has revealed Himself to us in Scripture without understanding His holiness.” (p. 26)

Pastors, including myself, need to be reminded of the importance of following God’s command for His people, which undoubtedly includes church services (see Leviticus 19:2).

Sunday school teachers and small group leaders should read it well. In fact, they can purchase the book and use the group questions in the back! The lofty thoughts of which Allen writes will enable these individuals to minister on behalf of a thrice-holy God.

The average Christian should read this as well. When I say “average” I do not in any way mean that in a derogatory fashion. I simply mean the common Christian, the man who works at Walmart, the lady who manages the bank, the teacher, the mechanic, and so on. This book, as I have mentioned, it accessible to those without theology degrees.

Lastly, this book is for someone who is not a follower of Jesus Christ. Reading this book, saturated with Scripture, will provide you a glimpse into the greatness of God. I pray, as I know Allen does too, that this book will be a tool to bring you into a saving relationship with God.

Concluding Remarks

I want to thank Allen for his work in this book. My own soul has benefited from it, and now members of our church are benefiting from it as well.

Resources from Allen Nelson

You can follow Allen on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/cuatronelson

For Allen’s sermon, visit his church’s website here: http://www.perryvillesbc.org/

For Allen’s other writings, see this website: https://thingsabove.us/

____________________

[1] Allen S. Nelson IV, Before the Throne: Reflections on God’s Holiness (Perryville, AR: Allen S. Nelson IV, 2019), 1.

[2] For example, see page 24.

[3] For example, see page 82.

[4] Nelson, Before the Throne, 26.

[5] Ibid., 181.

Lessons I learned from the Birth of Our Son

It has been several weeks since I have completed a single post. My personal goal is to publish a blog at least once a week (on Thursdays) and if I am able to twice a week (on Tuesdays). However, our family recently added a fourth child to the mix, Calvin Knox. The last three weeks have been a trial and a half! From the rough labor to the unknown problems, little Calvin’s arrival has brought a great deal of stress to our family.

Now, this is not to say that we do not love him. We adore him!

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Soren holding Calvin for the first time.

He has already been such a blessing and wonderful addition to our family. Our other three children absolutely love him, and my wife and I enjoy simply staring at his cute, old-man looking face. But with his arrival came a lot of stress.

First, we think the labor was difficult for him. My wife spent over 21 hours in labor, and it seems that his head was a little crooked in the birth canal. In addition, the doctor had to use a vacuum to get Calvin out. Calvin’s head, as you can imagine, had a lot of trauma. The doctor assured us, though, that he would be fine and the swelling would go down within a few weeks.

Second, several of his toes are fused together. My wife and I find it adorable, but the doctor was concerned that there might be an underlining genetic issue.

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This is Soren’s hearing test. It was one of many tests this little guy endured.

They told us that everything looked good with his vitals and that he would probably need light surgery to correct the fusing. Again, it seemed that everything would be fine.

Third, while we were at the hospital, one of Calvin’s pediatricians requested an ultrasound of his kidneys. We were not aware of this, and my wife and I became very nervous. All three of our other children never had an ultrasound of anything on them, and so we began to worry about our little boy. The pediatrician explained that she wanted to check on his kidneys because Calvin’s tummy was extended, there may be a problem with his kidneys. Everything checked out fine, though.

Fourth, while we were at the hospital, Calvin seemed to be feeding well. He only lost a small amount of weight, and everything looked as though he were doing fine. At the first post-hospital appointment (Monday morning), however, Calvin had lost a significant amount of weight.

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My sweet wife, Hannah, holding our second son and fourth child. 

He was not getting enough milk, and the doctor was very concerned. The pediatrician found that his mouth was small, the roof of his mouth was high, and his suck was weak. He would have difficulty eating, and though she offered several suggestions to help the little fella, she suggested we talk to a pathologist.

Fifth, at the next appointment (Thursday of the same week), Calvin’s temperature was low (96). With the coronavirus, only Hannah was allowed to accompany Calvin, and when I received a call, Hannah was upset. She said the doctor was sending Calvin to the Shriner’s Hospital in Greenville for possible sepsis. At this point, my wife and I were extremely worried about Calvin. It seemed for every step forward he took three steps back. My mom drove to pick up our three older children, while Hannah and I went to Shriner’s. Again, because of the coronavirus, only one parent was allowed. My brave wife accompanied our little boy, while I waited in the parking lot.

This period was unsettling. I was away from our other children, our newborn son, and my wife. I was completely helpless. I recently completed a study through Psalm 119 of the word affliction. Two of the verses that contain that word came to mind, no doubt due to our gracious God the Spirit: Psalm 119:71 and 92.

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Our daughter, London, holding Calvin for the first time.

These two verses, along with Romans 8:28, provided a tidal wave of encouragement. I prayed and begged God for His healing of our little boy, for strength for my wife, and for His name to be glorified in everything.

While in the parking lot, I attempted to work. But it is almost impossible in such a situation to concentrate on anything else. I tried waiting in the ER waiting room, but they closed it, again due to the coronavirus. After discussing it with my wife, I headed home. I was completely alone, my mom even took our dog, Levi. It was eerily quiet. There were no children running around, singing songs or whistling, no dog barking, just silence. My wife’s thirtieth birthday was the coming Sunday, and so I wrapped her presents, not sure at this point if she would be home.

Later that evening (Thursday still) my wife called and told me all the tests that they would be running. It was a huge list, requiring at least a two-day stay at the hospital. The doctor told her that, if Calvin tested positive for sepsis, he would possibly need a 14-21 day stay. With each update, my wife received it seemed Calvin’s condition was becoming worse. Now my wife was upset, obviously, but she was trusting in the Lord in a way that she had never done before. Her faith in our sovereign God was displayed in a strong way, and I could not be more proud of her!

Friday came and with it, I went back to Shriner’s. I waited in the parking lot, once again, attempting to work and complete some assignments for school. My wife called and had me meet her. This was the first time we had seen each other in 24 hours, but it seemed like a month. Calvin was doing well, but we were still waiting for several test results. Many people all over the country were praying for our little Calvin, and it still overwhelms me at the love and care so many have shown our family.

Friday afternoon I decided to go and get our older children. With the unknown hospital stay, and with the fact that I was missing them like crazy, we decided to bring them back home. I was excited to get our children together! They asked questions about Calvin and momma, and the older two prayed for their little brother.

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Ellie loves her little brother “Cauvin”! 

Friday evening my wife said that two of the three tests came back negative for sepsis, and things started to look up. They scheduled a full-body x-ray to check for any bone defects, at which Calvin would have been referred to a genetic specialist. The X-ray came back negative for any issues, and once again we were overwhelmed by God’s graciousness.

Saturday morning came and the doctor told Hannah that if the last test came back negative, she could take Calvin home. It was better than Christmas morning! We were excited and could not wait to get our family back together.

I took the other three children and ran a couple of errands, eagerly awaiting a call from Hannah saying she and Calvin would be released. We returned home after the errands and right after I unloaded the last bag my phone rang. It was Hannah. I answered it and Hannah said, “We’re coming home!” Even typing this brings tears to my eyes. In a whirlwind of activity and concern, God answered the prayers of many of His children, graciously allowing our little Calvin to be well and return home. I loaded the kids back into the van and headed straight to the hospital where my beautiful bride and precious son were awaiting.

I cannot explain why God allowed us to go through this. But what I can do is offer a few lessons that God taught us. I hope and pray that they will help you when you go through dark waters.

BY GOING THROUGH AFFLICTION, MY WIFE AND I LEARNED TO TRUST GOD’S WORD

Psalm 119:71 states, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.”[1] It was good, the psalmist says. While I would never choose to go through something like that again, I can honestly say it was good. I learned that God comforts in an intimate and inconceivable way. That was good. I learned that God’s Word did not change with my dire circumstances. At a point in which everything seemed to be unraveling, God was sitting on His throne (Isaiah 6:1). None of this took Him by surprise. Everything was going according to His marvelous plan (Rom. 8:28). It was good that I was afflicted. When I was separated from my wife, knowing that she struggles with both depression and anxiety, I knew that God was with her and would never leave her (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5). It was good that we were afflicted. When we considered the fact that our little boy may not live, the treasure of our hearts was challenged (Matt. 6:19-21). Did we value our children’s lives over our God? Were we more concerned with our own desires more than God’s glory? It was good that we were afflicted.

God’s Word provided comfort during this affliction, and with this tool, we learned God’s Word better.

BY GOING THROUGH AFFLICTION, WE REALIZED THAT WITHOUT GOD, WE WOULD HAVE PERISHED

The psalmist writes, “If Your law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction.”[2] The psalmist realized that, without a loving relationship with God, affliction would have overcome him. My wife and I learned, through affliction, that God is the most important part of our lives. He was a refuge to which we would flee, whether reading His Word or praying to Him. The affliction was simply a tool that reminded us and continues to remind us, that God is the most important part of our lives.

We live great lives, enjoying our home, our church, and our family. And it is easy for us to become focused on those things rather than on God. Affliction reminded us, however, that God is the center of our lives. Our relationship with Him, given to us by His grace, is the anchor. We would have never been able to go through this trial without God.

BY GOING THROUGH AFFLICTION, WE WERE REMINDED THAT ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD

Paul writes in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”[3] Paul writes all things. This includes that wonderful times, such as the day I married the most beautiful, sweet, and amazing lady, Hannah. It included the churches in which I served, the births of our other three children, the long walks with my wife, the sweet sunrises, the laughing and singing of our children, the lovely afternoon nap, and so on. Those are all good things. But all things also include those dark times. The times when you watch your sweet, practically perfect grandmother waste away through Alzheimer’s. The times when you have bills due but not enough money. Those times when you argue with your spouse. And yes, even those times when your child could be deathly ill.

As we waited for updates and tests, while separated from each other and our children, we learned on a practical level that all things work together for good. My wife, as I mentioned earlier, has struggled with anxiety. Yet, as she is growing in her walk with our Heavenly Father, she would write on Facebook, “Please pray with us that we will find out what’s going on with our little guy and that God would be glorified through this situation!”[4] We are learning that all things work together for good, even those difficult, life-altering times.

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Thank you to all who prayed for our little boy. God has graciously answered our prayers!

This period of our life has been one of the most stressful. Yet, it has also been a season of growth. We are reminded of the preciousness of life, of the joys of being together, and of God’s sovereign rule. We are reminded that, even in the midst of this trying time, that God’s goodness has not changed one iota. We are reminded that His Word is a treasure trove of encouragement, challenge, and balance.

__________

For the study of affliction in Psalm 119, see these links:

A Study in Affliction: An Introduction to Psalm 119 and the Believer’s Trials

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 1)

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 2)

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 3)

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 4)

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 5)

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 6)

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 7)

__________

[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ps 119:71.

[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ps 119:92.

[3] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ro 8:28.

[4] https://www.facebook.com/hannah.o.howell