Biblical studies: December 2006 Archives

The Unsuggestor

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Brian Weatherson links to the Unsuggestor, which uses Amazon personal profiles to match up books people have with books they're not likely to have. It's sort of the inverse of Amazon's engine for recommending books based on what other people who bought what you bought have bought. I tried a few books I've got, and I discovered some disturbing things. Consider the following sets of unrecommendations:

They have the second Harry Potter book opposed to The Gospel According to John, by Leon Morris, a fairly respected evangelical commentary on the fourth gospel. I have both books and like them both very much. Most of the Harry Potter books have several John Piper books turning up in the top five, mostly some of his newer books (which I don't have), but his earlier Desiring God turned up with some of novels by Terry Brooks, one of my favorite fantasy authors. This would again be a case of two books I pretty much like (even if I criticize Piper on a few issues here and there). Some books in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series are put up against John Piper, Josh Harris, Wayne Grudem, A.W. Tozer, J.I. Packer, and other books by evangelicals, including several books I've got or have at least spent time looking through. Pratchett's Reaper Man isn't my favorite of the Discworld series, but a lot of it is funny. Its opposite is Doug Stuart and Gordon Fee's How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, one of the best popular introductions to biblical interpretation ever written. Pratchett's much better Lords and Ladies is opposed to Knowing God by J.I. Packer, one of the most important popular introductions to theology in print. While I don't think Grudem's Systematic Theology is well-argued on the level of detailed exegesis (as in the classic tradition of Reformed systematic theologies like Hodge's), it's an excellent reference work, and I think his positions are largely correct on most issues. It's opposed to Pratchett's Pyramids, a Discworld book I very much loved. D.A. Carson's guide to New Testament commentaries, something I use all the time, lists Harry Potter book 6 as its opposite, a book that is next on my list to read. Carson's How Long, O Lord?, the best book I've seen on the problem of evil, also lists Potter book 6 as its first unsuggestion.

I Peter Commentaries

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This is part of a larger project reviewing commentaries on each book of the Bible. Follow the links from that post for more information on the series, including explanations of what I mean by some of the terms and abbreviations in this post.

I have a hard time deciding between Thomas Schreiner's NAC (2003) and Karen Jobes's BECNT (2005) as my first choice on I Peter. I think Schreiner's is the best NT volume in the NAC series. Jobes has a good deal more space in her commentary, and it's a little more recent and thus has an edge in terms of having more scholarship to interact with. Schreiner includes II Peter and Jude and thus is more limited in scope in his I Peter portion. Both seem to me to be excellent both in exegesis and in sorting through the contemporary scholarship, but Jobes has more space to interact with other scholars. Both are well-written and easy to read, although Schreiner will be slightly more easy-going for those without Greek. Jobes comments directly on the Greek text, although she transliterates and translates every time she gives an expression in the Greek. Schreiner works in transliteration and translation entirely.

Both come from a theologically Reformed background, but Schreiner presses those issues a little more firmly (not a bad thing, as far as I'm concerned, and I don't think he goes overboard as some do). He connects his comments up with broader, systematic theology categories. I count both as theological conservatives, even on less central matters such as gender issues (both are complementarians, although Jobes doesn't think I Peter itself deals with the general issue of male headship in marriage, as she thinks Ephesians and Colossians do, but rather just deals with women submitting to unbelieving husbands for the sake of evangelism).

When I let a friend borrow some of my commentaries for a sermon on I Peter, he told me Schreiner's was the most useful of the bunch and an enjoyable commentary to read, although several others were helpful to him. He didn't get to read Jobes, however, so I'm not sure how he'd compare the two. On Schreiner, see also Craig Blomberg's review. Surprisingly to me (given how much I like Blomberg), I think I agree with Schreiner in most of the places Blomberg takes issue with him.

Jobes contributes three things in her work that are worth mentioning. First, her treatment of the Old Testament in this letter spends a good more time than usual in looking at how the fact that OT quotations are from the LXX should affect how we interpret their use here. This is a welcome feature that I think will affect future I Peter scholarship will have to take into account.

Homosexuality in the Bible

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Kenny Pearce has an excellent post about some of the biblical passages dealing with issues related to homosexuality. He also deals with political relevance as well, but it's his careful treatment of what the biblical passages actually say that I thought made it worth a link.

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