Coming Soon – “Reconsidering Arminius”

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:

The theology of Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius has been misinterpreted and caricatured in both Reformed and Wesleyan circles. By revisiting Arminius’ theology, the book hopes to be a constructive voice in the discourse between so-called Calvinists and Arminians.
Traditionally, Arminius has been treated as a divisive figure in evangelical theology. Indeed, one might be able to describe classic evangelical theology up into the 20th century in relation to his work: one was either an Arminian and accepted his theology, or one was a Calvinist and rejected his theology. Although various other movements within evangelicalism have provided additional contour to the movement (fundamentalism, Pentecostalism, etc.), the Calvinist-Arminian ‘divide’ remains a significant one. What this book seeks to correct the misinterpretation of Arminius as one whose theology provides a stark contrast to the Reformed tradition as a whole. Indeed, this book will demonstrate instead that Arminius is far more in line with Reformed orthodoxy than popularly believed, and show that what emerges as Arminianism in the theology of the Remonstrants and Wesleyan movements was in fact not the theology of Arminius, but a development of and sometimes departure from it.
This book also brings Arminius into conversation with modern theology. To this end, it includes essays on the relationship between Arminius’ theology and open theism and Neo-Reformed theology (especially that of Karl Barth). In this way, this book fulfills the promise of the title by showing ways in which Arminius’ theology—once properly understood—can serve as a resource of evangelical Wesleyans and Calvinists doing theology together today.
There is an impressive list of contributors:
Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs
Mark G. Bilby
Oliver D. Crisp
W. Stephen Gunter
John Mark Hicks
Mark H. Mann
Thomas H. McCall
Richard A. Muller
Keith D. Stanglin
E. Jerome Van Kuiken
Reconsidering Arminius will be out in December. It will be a paperback with 192 pages and sell for $39.99.

John Calvin on the “Silent Period of Prophecy” Between the Testaments

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

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.

How Much of Ecclesiastes is Poetry?

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

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.


Book Give Away

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.

Practicing Christian Doctrine

Coming Soon – “An Interpretive Lexicon of New Testament Greek”

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.”

New Testament Greek

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.