Biblical studies: February 2006 Archives

After looking through the many volumes and replacements of NICOT and NICNT volumes, going back to 1951, I decided to put together a list of the whole series in order to date, including the next two announced volumes, which should be out this year.

In three of the years I have no idea which of two volumes released that year was first. Those years are 1953, 1954, 1959, and 1965. Twice I found that two volumes were released in the same month (Galatians and the Acts revision in 1988 and then Philippians and the John revision in 1995). I don't know for sure if they were released the same day, because Amazon just reports the month for these (not its usual practice). Other than those uncertainties, assuming Amazon is reporting the months accurately, the following is the order the NICNT and NICOT volumes have appeared, first for the whole series and then separately for the OT and NT.


| | Comments (0)

Free Money Finance argues that the old covenant tithe command applies to Christians. I was going to leave a comment, but I decided I might as well make it a post. The topic has come up here before. Wink tried to get a discussion going on tithing last summer. Also, much of what I'm going to say has a background much more carefully drawn out in Christians and the Sabbath and More Sabbath Stuff.

One of the arguments in the post is that Abraham gave a tithe long before the law of Moses. From this it is concluded that the tithe principle must be eternal and thus not just a particular command to the people of Israel in the Mosaic law. There are a number of things that someone could say about Abraham's tithe, but one thing you can't say is that he was following any command from God that he give 10% of his income to God. He wasn't giving it to God, for one, and we have no information about any command he was following, never mind a command as to the exact amount. A gift of 10% to a benefactor was probably just a common ancient near eastern practice that the Torah adopts because the symbolism of giving firstfruits to God as representative of everything you have belonging to God needed some amount. For the particular command to the particular people of Israel to give some amount as firstfruits, God seems to have chosen the amount that for whatever reason had already been standard in that part of the world at that time, as evidenced by Abraham's gift to Melchizedek. The more important principle is that everything we have is God's, with the firstfruits we give to him standing for that.

10% isn't some magical amount. The Torah uses different percentages to determine the firstfruits amount for other things. With the tithe of time, it's 1/7 of all the days in the week rather than 1/10. With the tithe of the firstborn, it's one out of however many children there end up being, which is 100% when there's only one but less than 10% if there are more than ten).

Tyler Williams' Love Poetry for Biblical Literalists is hilarious. I just can't get over that picture.

For an encapsulation of the Song that does transfer nicely into a contemporary context, see Michael Card's "Arise My Love", which I sang to Sam at our wedding.

The second Biblical Studies Carnival is at Codex Blogspot. The first was ten months ago, so I was allowed to submit a pretty old post, Chronology in I Samuel 16:1-18:5. This carnival is expected to be monthly now that it's been resumed. I probably won't have something serious enough in biblical studies to submit every month, but I'll link to it when (and only when) I have a post in it, as is generally my practice with carnivals. You should always be able to find up-to-date information on the next carnival here. Do take a look at the carnival if you're at all interested in biblical studies. There's a huge variety of posts there.

This is a list of the current and forthcoming commentaries in the New International Commentaries on the New Testament (NICNT) and on the Old Testament (NICOT). For more series, see my post on commentary series. For the list of this series in the chronological order of their release, see this post.

This is another of my favorite series. Almost all the contributors are what I would consider conservative evangelicals, though occasionally some will take views that do seem only moderately conservative to some (e.g. Leslie Allen on Jonah argues that Jonah didn't happen historically but affirms inerrancy because he believes the book is a parable), but that's not standard for the series. I might consider some of the commentaries in this series to be the best out there on the book in question, e.g. Hubbard on Ruth, Waltke on Proverbs, Block on Ezekiel, Moo on Romans, and others are excellent as well, including Hamilton on Genesis, Wenham on Leviticus, and Fee on I Corinthians and Philippians. Some forthcoming volumes should also be outstanding.

This series isn't quite as detailed as the most academic series, but it's fairly detailed, at least in the newer volumes. You might call it semi-technical. The footnotes often have the kind of detail you'd find in a more exclusively academic commentary. They try to restrict the text to transliteration of Hebrew and Greek for the sake of readability, and I think someone sufficiently committed to learning a lot about one book of the Bible might read through these cover to cover. I've read the volumes on Leviticus, Numbers, and Isaiah 1-39 myself, and I've read half of the Ruth volume and large sections of others. Of course I'll also read even more technical commentaries straight through, but I think these are a lot easier to handle for those accustomed to reading commentaries who still wouldn't read through the more detailed ones of other series.

This review is adapted from my Amazon review.

This is an excellent book. Ashley is well-informed about what people of differing viewpoints have to say, and this is the most in-depth evangelical commentary on the book of Numbers. He doesn't accept all the conservative positions easily, but he is fairly conservative in the end.

He convincingly argues for the unity of the canonical book and undermines many source-critical "solutions" to some of the problems of interpretation. However, this doesn't mean he thinks the entire book was written by one person or during or immediately after the time of Moses (not least because the Pentateuch never suggests that it was wholly authored by Moses,and nor does any New Testament book, though Jesus does refer to them as the books of Moses the same way he refers to the Psalms as David, who clearly didn't write all of them). Ashley does think much of it goes back to Moses in some form, and he takes its own claims of its origins as genuine. He occasionally gives arguments for this about certain passages. He makes no bones about being an evangelical and seeing scripture as God's word, wholly inspired (and I assume without error in its original form, which we no longer have 100%, though he doesn't focus on the details of his views on inspiration). He doesn't take a view on problems related to large numbers in the Hebrew scriptures, but hardly anyone, evangelical or not, has a satisfying and all-encompassing view about that thorny problem.

Ashley doesn't constantly focus on theology and ties to the New Testament, but he does do a fair amount of excellent reflection on such matters in almost as much detail as his historical, linguistic, and sociological reflection.

For a more mainstream commentary, the best is Jacob Milgrom's JPS Torah commentary (which isn't just the old classic liberal viewpoint but has covered new ground, undermining lots of now-old-fashioned views still taught at the undergraduate level). Ashley had some access to Milgrom's work before revising his manuscript into the final draft, but he had little time to take into account Milgrom's whole commentary. Milgrom's thought has influenced Ashley's from his many papers and earlier books. Gordon Wenham's Tyndale volume is quite good but getting dated, and it's extremely short. Katherine Sakenfeld's International Theological Commentary and Dennis Olson's Interpretation are more recent popular level commentaries, but they're from a more critical direction. R. Dennis Cole's New American Commentary volume is more recent but isn't as detailed as Ashley's. I look forward to John Sailhamer's replacement of the Word Biblical Commentary volume by Philip Budd, but until then Ashley will be the standard for evangelicals at this level of detail. His is the most in-depth of the recent evangelical commentaries on this book, though that doesn't mean these other commentaries wouldn't complement it nicely.



Powered by Movable Type 5.04