Romans 12:21

Well, my assignments and reading for school have pretty much kept me from posting anything new the past few weeks. Also, the past week or two has been pretty this:qabsyvj

We’ve had the crud run through everyone in the house. That’s always fun when I have a new job, Mrs. MMT has a new job, Sprout is potty training, and I’m taking these courses. Oh yeah, and at some point, we’d like to have a life. Oh, also, as I mentioned in my reading challenge, I had requested a number of book from Baker, well, I received three in the mail this week. Good stuff.

I’m kind of freaking out about the amount of stuff I have going on. Then again, when my head stops being a lead balloon, things may not seem so bad. Anyway, that means no book review this week, also, the post is a day late. So, I’m just going to double dip. One of my assignments was to write up a few short thoughts on a verse that has particular meaning to me, so this is what I cam up with –

Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:21

This is a verse that has been important to me for about the last 10-15 years. There are two parts that get to me. The first part, ‘be not overcome’ addresses a number of circumstances. If you watch the news a great deal, or get involved with ministries to the destitute, sex-trafficking, or refugees, you can feel overwhelmed. I sometimes see so much evil in the world that I just want to stop. I want to withdraw and avoid everything, and it becomes easy to feel like it is just too much, so why bother? I really likely the simple, direct, indicative, ‘be not overcome’.

The second part, ‘overcome evil with good,’ is sort of a launching point to many other aspects of the Bible. It makes me think of other verses, such as: turn the other cheek; the darkness fears the light; if God is for us, who can be against us; pray for your enemies; and basically the entirety of Revelation. There is almost a feeling for triumph with this part of the verse. You know that, long-term, in the end, Good will overcome and evil will be vanquished.

There is a lot of encouragement in the verse. To the first part, it says to me that if we are command not to be overcome, then it is within our ability (or that God will give us the ability) to overcome. That is very freeing, you know that when bad things happen, you will not always be overwhelmed, and eventually, goodness prevails. And it’s that second part that is probably the most encouraging. As I mentioned above, the end is already decided, the outcome is not in doubt; evil will be overcome by good.

It is a great reminder of the sovereignty of God. It give you hope and strength to get through whatever trails you may face. My wife and I actually put this verse up on a chalk board by the door not too long ago. We were part of a church plant that died. There were internal issues that actually lead to a church trial and eventually the defrocking of the pastor as well as the church being removed from the denomination. It was a frustrating and discouraging time for us, so this was a reminder that all we can do is what God has commanded is right, and we know that in the end, all will be restored.

Bible Reading Plans

A while ago I wrote about the need for a Study Bible. Now, I want to point out briefly the value in a reading plan for your Bible study. Have you ever tried to read the Bible? As in, all of it. Goodness it is long. Most people crack open Genesis and probably quit before you even get to Abraham. My parents’ church is encouraging them to read the whole Bible this year. It is a good goal, but it is pursued wrongly.

My dad was telling me about trying to power through. When we were at the beach in August, he was even trying to ‘get ahead’. Couple things about that – first and foremost, that is not meditation on the scripture. Second, it becomes rote and pointless. Especially if you do not enjoy it. He would say things like, it’s just so hard to get through all the genealogies, and measure, and rules; no one is going to remember, and they don’t matter anyway.

So, I would never recommend someone read it through from beginning to end; you really do get bogged down. The furthest I ever completed was using the Chronological Bible. It tries to mix things up when stories overlap (like the Gospels) and just seemed like a neat idea, and something a little different. It starts off with Job (the idea being that it was probably written before Genesis was written), then goes into the Pentateuch. I believe I made it a few chapters into Exodus.

You have to be honest with yourself about the difficulty of reading some of the OT books. Three to five chapters(20-30 minutes) a day for almost two weeks in Leviticus is tough. The solution is to use a plan that takes chapters from different parts of Scripture. There are a few ways to do this:

ESV Daily Reading Bible: Through the Bible in 365 Days, based on the popular M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan  – This is the plan I have been using for about two months. I have this Bible, because I don’t like looking up the different verses, because I’m lazy. I want to be able to open it to the day and just read. Also, I was able to get it in patent leather, that nice smooth Bible you see that is usually cheap (mine was $12). I’m a sucker for it, I’ll by any book if I can get it in patent leather.

Anyway, this plan gives you chapters (usually one a day, but can be two-three, if they are short enough) from two books of the OT, one from the NT and one from Psalms. Following this plan, you’ll read the OT once a year, and the NT & Psalms twice a year. I really, really like this plan, I like reading from four difference sections; it really helps to keep it interesting and not feeling like you are bogged down. For those whom don’t want to by it, you can find it pretty much anywhere online, such as here.

Related to M’Cheyne plan is this – The One Year Bible: The entire English Standard Version arranged in 365 daily readings. It gives you one OT, NT, Proverbs, and Psalms everyday. It is a bit shorter, as you will not read the NT twice in a year. This is a good alternative, and I might have bought it, but when I originally looked, I think I missed that you get a verse from Proverbs and Psalms everyday and instead thought you just went through two parallel sections, OT and NT. Also, it only comes in paper or hardcover, not patent leather.

Another great option that mixes things up, but is a little slower (whole Bible in two years) is the The Book of Common Prayer (if you want this cool hipster version) daily office (readings). Now, with these you have the plans listed and then you have to search through and find the verses. I haven’t found any Bible options that are set up like this to be a daily read based on the calendar. It can also be found online.

It’s kind of cool that the BCP and the M’Cheyne have been used for hundreds of years. Not sure how popular the latter is, but the former is used by Anglicans all around the world. So, you will be reading the same verses ever days as thousands of others.

There are many other plans out there, but I think ones that hit multiple selections will make it much more likely you will follow-through. I suppose I will let you know ad the end of 2017. I personally like the Bible plans, like the One Year Bible, that break the Bibles into days, with the verses for that day. Maybe you are thriftyer and can just order a card, or book-mark, or pamphlet, or maybe a little too thrifty and print one out a work. Alternatively, if you bought a good Study Bible like I told you to, there will be reading plans in the back. Finally, for you tech savvy kids out there, it’s all online. You can follow the links above, and you’ll get the verses of the day right there.

Good luck if you try it. It really is important to try to read as much as possible in the Word and I think these plans are the best way to do it. Americans are illiterate when it comes to the Bible, though we supposedly hold it in high regard, calling it the inspired word of God (about 60% according to the most recent Pew poll). I’m part of the problem. Here I am, a Pretend Theologian and I haven’t read the whole Bible. There are probably books of the Bible from which haven’t even read a verse. Start looking around now, find a plan you like and in 2017, read the whole Bible.

August Biblical Studies Carnival

When Phil first contacted me about hosting a Biblical Studies Carnival, I expected him to ask for a credit card number or tell me about his friend, a Nigerian prince. I hadn’t come across a Carnival yet, though I had seen (and even followed) most of the blogs/posts that were featured in the series. After checking it out, I became excited to host.I still have no idea what I'm doing.

While most hosts are professors or PhD students, I’m more of a pretend theologian. I’m also someone who’s closer to a book reviewer than a BiblioBlogger. And so this Carnival might be a bit different than what you’re used to reading.

If you are interested in hosting, almost all of 2017 is open, simply contact Phil. Check out last month’s carnival, and look for the upcoming hosts:

 

Biblical Studies
James offers some short thoughts on the problems with YEC.

If you like Young Earth, there’s great fun for you at Noah’s Ark.jesus-dinosaur1

Related, Peter Enns on getting the Noah Story correct.

Craig asks why Genesis 36 is about Esau.

Bob explains his thoughts on reviewing the ‘raw data’ of the Old Testament. He also shot me one just under the wire look at Isaiah 38.

Cluade Mariottini writes that Judges 19 might be one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible.

Interesting article about the Chinese church and interpreting the Old Testament. Beware, this is a wall of text.

Phil gives us an intro into 4 Ezra, look also for his write-ups on the seven visions of Ezra.

Jeff thinks that maybe Jesus was a rude dinner guest.

Reasons why 1 Timothy is not so simple to translate.

Ethics in Mathew, James, 1 Peter.

R. Scott Clark provides commentary on 1 Peter 5:1-5.

Peter Gurry with some thoughts on the textual variances in Revelation 2:13.

The Bible is not a book of promises.

RJS say literal reading, please, depending on what you mean by literal.

Will Brown has some info on the Apocalypse of Adam, which I didn’t even know was a thing.

Church History/Historical Theology/Theology
St. Patrick had mixed manuscripts based on his use of the Great Commission.

Reflections by Ken offers short bios, with sweet infographics, on Luther, Calvin, and Irenaeus.
How Hell Started
Beck has a few thoughts on the origins of Hell.

Matt Emerson notes an issue with the Vincentian Rule and Christ descending into Hell.

 

Book Reviews
Phil reviews Engaging the Septuagint.

Jennifer reviews the Cultural Background Study Bible, concluding that it is a great resource for people lacking in historical/ANE Worldview knowledge.

Scott McKnight reviews The Charity: A place for the Poor in the Biblical Traditions.

Michael C. Thompson reviews Pax Romona: War, Peace, and Conquest in the Roman World.

Chris Stump interviews the author/reviews Earth Science: God’s World, Our Home. (Yep, that’s a textbook. I’ve added a review of a middle school textbook to the Carnival.)

Pete Enns reviews The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel.

Lindsay reviews Progressive Covenantalism.

Jill Firth reviews the Book of Genesis from the Bible in Medieval Tradition series.

John reviews Finding God in the Waves: How I lost My Faith and Found it Again Through Science. Great quote from the article-

But this book will not appeal to most orthodox believers. It is not a simplistic de-conversion/conversion story—the spiritual equivalence of boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. It’s a lot messier than that—more like boy gets girl back…but discovers he’s also got an STD.

Not quite a book review, more of a preview of an upcoming book on Augustine.

Also not quite a book review, but the author guest-posting about his book Q in Matthew.

I guess I can shamelessly plug my review of the second edition of Four Views on Hell.

Calvin reviews a book by Servetus.

Misc
Karl Barth was not a fan of the Olympics, or sports in general, it seems.

American JesusMcKnight on what Grudem should have said.

Some new research out from LifeWay has some surprising results.

A new card game, The Cannon, is coming soon, in case you need to have fewer friends.

Finally, a fellow Atlien reminds us of the importance of a well-worn Bible.

 

Alright, that concludes the August 2016 Biblical Studies Carnival. Casual Friday KevinHopefully, I didn’t veer too far off track or ruin anything (as occasionally happens when I get involved). It was certainly an interesting task to host one of these. I found many really cool articles (sorry, I couldn’t post them all) and discovered great sites that I had never come across. Sorry if I misspelled your name or misrepresented your articles. All errors are those of my editor. Thank you so much to those who sent me articles to post. Thanks for playing along.

Reminder if you’d like to host anytime in 2017, contact Phil (twitter or email – plong42@gmail.com). It is an interesting challenge. Do it. I know there are more BiblioBloggers out there. 

Reading Guide to Hosea 3

I am continuing on with my series on reading the minor prophets. See my cheat sheet for the minor prophets, Intro to HoseaHosea 1, and Hosea 2. My recommended way to use this guide is to go read Hosea 3, come back here look through the post, then basically read them side by side, reading through the verse and checking here if there is something you find confusing.

This is a short chapter, but 4 is long and I had planned to have something up yesterday, so I’ll stick with just 3 for now. It is an odd chapter, with many strange phrases and old language/measurements. Plus, James Montgomery Boice calls this the greatest chapter in the Bible. So, no pressure.

Chapter 3
First off, who are we talk about here? Is the focus on ‘again‘ as in returning to Gomer or is it another adulterous wife? Boice and the NAC tend to lean to the former, while Tyndale and WBC say no, it is a new wife. Boice argues that he is buying back one whom has left him for another, as Christ does with his blood. WBC argues that this doesn’t make sense and because in Christ we are a new creation and are a new bride in a eschatological sense. I tend to agree with this logic as well. This is in fact a second wife. However, the implications drawn from the rest of the chapter are the same.

1. Raisin Cakes – raisins were thought to be aphrodisiacs in the ANE. It is also possible that they were associated with cultic temple worship, including temple prostitutes (WBC).

2. He buys here, this would be the bride price (also leading credence to the new wife theory). In the ANE you essentially purchased your wife from her father as she was his property and will now be yours.

Female slaves typically cost about 30 shekels. So, Hosea didn’t quite have the money, as he pays 15 shekels of coins and about 15 shekels worth of barley. A homer was about 6 bushels and a lethech was about 3. Either way, the equivalent is 30 pieces of silver, the same price that was put on Christ’s life.

3. Assuming a new wife, and either an adulterous one or a prostitute (see my earlier explanation), this would be strange to her. She was purchased, but told not to have sex for many days with either him or any other men. Likewise, Hosea will abstain (so will I also be to you).

4. Sacrifice or pillar – two important items of  worship
Ephod – garment worn by priest during divination
Household gold/Teraphim – pagan items that were consulted for divination
The sacrifice and Ephod are orthodox, the pillar and teraphim are ‘abominably pagan’ (WBC). Israel was guilty of syncretism, mixing pagan and true beliefs. They will soon have neither as Hosea’s wife will be with neither him nor another.

5. Future restoration of Israel and the (new) Covenant people. Even though they have sinned and turned from Yahweh, in the end, He will accept them with love and they will seek Him and the Davidic King that is Christ on the Throne.

Commentaries
Hosea, Joel: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary)
The Minor Prophets: Hosea-Jonah (Expositional Commentary) (Volume 1)
Hosea (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
Hosea-Jonah, Volume 31 (Word Biblical Commentary)