Yesterday I met with my Abingdon rep. One of the most exciting titles that caught my eye was Reconsidering Arminius edited by Keith D. Stanglin, Mark G. Bilby, and Mark H. Mann. Here’s the catalog description:
I’m reading a fascinating essay entitled “Adopted in Christ, Appointed to the Slaughter: Calvin’s Interpretation of the Maccabean Psalms” by Keith Stanglin. It is part of a festschrift in honor of James De Jong called Biblical Interpretation and Doctrinal Formulation in the Reformed Tradition edited by Arie C. Leder and Richard Muller. Calvin believed that some of the Psalms were better interpreted as describing the Maccabean situation. “With varying degrees of confidence” he believed this of Psalms 44, 74, 79, 85, 106, 123, and 129. Stanglin notes that Calvin “was simply following a long-standing and revered tradition of interpretation.” (73) “This fact,” Stanglin observes, “has seldom been recorded in secondary scholarship, and I have not found any works pursuing this topic with any depth.” (71) Readers of Calvin’s commentaries on the Psalms would know this.
One of the questions that this dating raises is “What are the implications for authorship and the so-called ‘silent period’ of prophecy?” Calvin’s answer may surprise you. Stanglin writes:
“One obvious implication of Calvin’s late date for these select psalms must be addressed: the so-called ‘silent period.’ The statement of Josephus may be cited as emblematic: ‘From Artaxerxes to our own time the complete history has been written but has not been deemed worthy of equal credit with the earlier records, because of the failure of the exact succession of the prophets.’ On similar grounds, some Protestant commentators of the following century rejected Calvin’s late date for these psalms. Calvin himself, though he held a similar opinion of the centuries immediately preceding Christ, did not view this period as entailing a strict cessation of the prophetic Spirit.” (82)
Here’s Calvin’s comment on Psalm 106:
“And although subsequent to the times of Haggai and Malachi, no famous prophets appeared among the people, it is nevertheless probably that some fo the priests were endued with the prophetic Spirit, in order that they might direct them to the source whence they might receive all needful consolation. It is my opinion, that after they were dispersed by the tyranny of Antichous, this form of prayer was adapted to the present necessity, in which the people, by reflecting upon their former history, might acknowledge that their fathers had, in ways innumerable, provoked God to wrath, since the time he had delivered them.”
Stanglin continues, “Calvin qualifies the common opinion about the silent years by saying that there were no ‘famous prophets,’ but the prophetic Spirit still worked to inspire some priests and Levites during the Maccabean period, when Psalm 106 may have been written. For Calvin, it would be difficult to call this a cessation or silent period at all, but rather a decrease in the Spirit’s work, resulting, in say, a ‘quieter period.’ The writers of these psalms, even if not ‘famous,’ can still be called prophets. More importantly, despite the common opinion then and now, Calvin’s exegesis affirms that God’s prophetic Spirit had not abandoned His people during this time of oppression.” (82-83)
Biblical Interpretation and Doctrinal Formulation in the Reformed Tradition is from Reformation Heritage Books. It is a paperback with 338 pages and sells for $25.00.
When people are shopping for a Bible the issue of translation is always a factor. Other features people look for are red letter editions, cross references, concordance, study notes etc. Every translation involves a certain amount of interpretation but few people are aware that how the text is laid out is also an interpretive decision. I was browsing through a new book from IVP Academic called Old Testament Wisdom Literature by Craig Bartholomew and Ryan O’Dowd and was surprised by this paragraph.
“Scholars differ about how much of Ecclesiastes is poetry. In fact, Ecclesiastes is a wonderful example of the difficulty of distinguishing prose from poetry. The NIV considers 60 percent of Ecclesiastes to be poetry, the NRSV 25 percent, and the Good News Bible/Today’s English Version and the Revised English Bible regard Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 as the only poetic passage in the book!” (210)
The percentages “are based on the layout of the text in the different versions.” The next time your reading your Bible take a minute to note how the text is laid out. Bibles that employ a verse format (as opposed to paragraph format) essentially reduce everything to prose.
Old Testament Wisdom Literature is a hardcover with 336 pages and sells for $30.00.
Craig Bartholomew is H. Evan Runner Professor of Philosophy and professor of religion and theology at Redeemer University College and is on the faculty of the Paideia Center for Public Theology.
Ryan P. O’Dowd is senior visiting lecturer in aerospace studies at Cornell University. Previously he taught Old Testament at Redeemer University College and was on the faculty of the Paideia Center for Public Theology.
This week we’re offering Practicing Christian Doctrine by Beth Felker Jones. Here’s the catalog description:
“This introductory theology text explains key concepts in Christian doctrine and shows that doctrine is integrally linked to the practical realities of Christian life. In order to grow into more faithful practitioners of Christianity, we need to engage in the practice of learning doctrine and understanding how it shapes faithful lives. Beth Felker Jones helps students articulate basic Christian doctrines, think theologically so they can act Christianly in a diverse world, and connect Christian thought to their everyday life of faith.
Practicing Christian Doctrine, written from a solidly evangelical yet ecumenically aware perspective, models a way of doing theology that is generous and charitable. It attends to history and contemporary debates and features voices from the global church. Sidebars made up of illustrative quotations, key Scripture passages, classic hymn texts, and devotional poetry punctuate the chapters. The book will benefit professors and students in introductory theology courses as well as theologically interested laity and clergy.”
And a glowing endorsement from Kevin Vanhoozer:
“Practicing Christian Doctrine is a timely and important reminder that doctrines are not merely ideas to be debated but truths to be done. Jones’s evangelical and ecumenical approach to each doctrine is also most welcome: she does a good job balancing the centripetal force of evangelicals’ focus on the gospel with the centrifugal force of the gospel’s historical reception in many places and times. Practicing Christian Doctrine joins the short list of one-volume introductions to Christian theology that I am happy to recommend.”
Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Leave your name in the comments section by NLT Friday, April 25th 6:00 EST. I’ll draw the winning name that Friday. International entries are welcome. If I don’t hear back from the winner within seven days the book will go to another entry.
Congratulations to Paul Adams on winning our book give away. Paul won a copy of Who’s Afraid of Relativism? by James K.A. Smith.
Thanks to all who participated.
I showed this last year on Good Friday. I still think it is amazing. This time with scenes from The Passion of the Christ.
Greek fans are sure to love this. Coming this October is An Interpretive Lexicon of New Testament Greek by G.K. Beale with William Ross and Daniel J. Brendsel.
“This revolutionary new aid for students of New Testament Greek functions both as a lexicon and as an interpretive handbook. It lists the vast majority of Greek prepositions, adverbs, particles, relative pronouns, conjunctions, and other connecting words that are notorious for being some of the most difficult words to translate. For each word included, page references are given for several major lexical resources where the user can quickly go to examine the nuances and parameters of the word for translation options, saving the translator considerable time.”
“This lexicon adds an interpretive element for each word by categorizing its semantic range into defined logical relationships. This interpretive feature of the book is tremendously helpful for the exegetical process, allowing for the translator to closely follow the logical flow of the text with greater efficiency. An Interpretive Lexicon of New Testament Greek is thus a remarkable resource for student, pastor, and scholar alike.”
An Interpretive Lexicon of New Testament Greek is from Zondervan. It will be a paperback with 96 pages and sell for $15.99.
Gregory K. Beale is chair of biblical studies and professor of New Testament at Wheaton College Graduate School.
William A. Ross is a doctoral student at Westminster Seminary.
Daniel J. Brendsel is the Director of the Mission Training Academy and Adult Education at Grace Church of DuPage in Warrenville, IL.