Monday, December 30, 2013
The college at which I teach regained its registration and so we think we'll be heading back at the start of February. I am teaching courses on 1 & 2 Peter (Greek Exegesis), Amos (Hebrew Exegesis), Ezra & Nehemiah, and Church History until 1052. All new subjects for me, one of which is in a language that is not my strong suit.
So it will be a busy Spring semester. Then there is the thesis to write. I would like to push myself to get a couple of journal articles this year as well.
As for here, I will probably blog our way through 1 Peter. I have done some work on it before and it's quite the engaging book. Besides that you could reasonably expect more ramblings on 4th century Trinitarian discourse.
Monday, December 02, 2013
I'm wondering what to do next. Possibilities include 1 Peter, Revelation, John.
I'm also open to writing on some other topics, if you have suggestions. Otherwise there will just be more 4th century history...
Here are links to all the Galatians posts
Friday, November 29, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
Friday, November 15, 2013
Here is Biblica on why there is no NIV 1984 edition.
And this is what makes me angry.
1. The 2-year transition
Sure, you can run a 2-year transition for your corporation to phase in a new translation across the board. But churches don't run on this kind of timeline. They don't buy pew bibles that often, most of them that have 1984 NIVs aren't going to roll out 2011 NIVs anytime soon. Which means you rolled out a new version and cut off support for an old version.
2. The whole name thing
"There is only one NIV". Except there isn't. Or there wasn't. Comparing this to the '78 to '84 change isn't very useful, it's disingenous. The '84 existed for 18 years before they tried to update it with the tNIV, which they very clearly labelled as the tNIV. It didn't float because people (a) were entrenched with the '84 NIV, and (b) were unhappy with the changes. It was clear to everyone in 2002 that the tNIV was significantly different, and deserved a different name.
Fast forward to 2011, and the new NIV comes on the scene, except apart from a brief time at the start, there's no name difference. So we have immediate confusion. And it is a different version, it's a different translation.
Stats on differences:
31.27% of NIV 2011 verses adopts a tNIV reading
7.85% of NIV 2011 verses adopt an entirely new reading
So you're telling me that a book in which 40% of the text has had some kind of change in it is the same version? Sure, you could call it the same book (oh, wait, we already did that, it's the Bible), but please don't act like calling it the same version is anything but a trick. It's a trick.
3. Citing statistics that are not relevant
"God's favor continues to rest..." begins a paragraph that rattles of a number of statistics on use and adoption of the NIV. Except that you refused to brand this NIV as a different version which makes lets you use stats related to the 84 NIV, not the 2011 NIV, which significantly weakens the claim people like and support the new NIV and certainly, to me, casts doubt on any claim to 'God's favor'. 11 million to 450 million doesn't sound like ringing endorsement.
Further down they state the current version is the most popular version on the Biblica website. Is this because it's the default? Or because they removed the '84? Or because the other 2 versions are Spanish version and one aimed at a lower reading level?
4. Why not just keep offering it online?
Behind the answer that they should focus on the newest and the best is disingenuity, at best. Is it really technically and resource-wise difficult for them to continue to host a legacy version? Would doing so somehow impede their ability to make available the most recent?
Neither is comparison with other versions reliable. The changes in the ESV are not that great. I can't comment on the 7 versions of the Message, but it's so far down the paraphrase end of the spectrum I'm not sure it's necessary. Again, 40% of verses have differences in the NIV 2011, that is not a minor set of updates.
The whole thing smacks of trickery. It's not honest. It doesn't serve churches. If I was them I couldn't write this kind of nonsense without feeling bad about myself.
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
Friday, October 25, 2013
I'm very pleased then to see that the Lingua Latina materials are in pre-pub over at Logos. It would be an easy piece of news to skip over, but this is an excellent opportunity for anyone already on that platform to get the best Latin learning materials available today.
There's some individual titles, but the bundles are very solid:
Familia Romana Collection
Roma Aeterna collection
I have no affiliation with either Logos or the Lingua Latina publishers, I just think Lingua Latina is fantastic.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
I have been working on the challenge of expressing the four concepts of tense, mood, voice, aspect in Mongolian. There are several challenges.
1) Mongolian has no middle voice, so there is no easy correlative. This is a subset of the fact that Mongolian lacks a number of features that would easily correlate to Greek, especially it lacks an article, and it doesn't use relative clauses at all (it replaced them with adjectival or object clauses).
Anyway, I don't really believe there are true 'deponents' in Greek anyway, so I tend to treat all 'deponent' verbs as just another pseudo-conjugation. You don't meet that many middle voices (in the sense of distinct from passive), so I've kind of sidestepped that issue. Actually I work with a dichotomy of active/subject-reflexive
2) Mood is also a concept that is not easily correlated to Mongolian, since verbs do not undergo morphological change in subordinate clauses. The best I could find to correlate was 'conditional mood', but it is, more strictly, applied only to if- clauses. Indicative and Imperative are more easily explained. But the idea of 'mood' in general can be tricky.
3) Tense. Of course, tense is where you get the most overlap, except that current scholarly opinions about how temporal 'tense' really is in Greek is divided. My own short-hand approach is that epsilon prefix is a temporal marker, the perfect 'tense' is not perfect and not past, and that tense-forms outside the indicative generally only indicate aspect.
But of course my students are taught grammar with a traditional textbook, which means they have tense drummed into them. Generally I try and provide a on-the-fly Mongolian translation to make the sense of the tense clear. This usually works, except the perfect can be tricky.
This is probably the hardest. For a start, my students have not really been taught anything about aspect in general. Secondly, the idea is not clear within Mongolian grammar, so far as I can tell (and, coupled with this, I have a more technical understanding of Mongolian grammar than some of my students anyway). Thirdly, I haven't worked out how to translate 'aspect' in a strictly grammatical sense.
I suspect the way forward here is to start explaining what perfective and imperfective aspects 'look like', in terms of considering an action in a wholistic way versus a progressive sense. Then to talk about how, in the indicate, this is seen in the present, imperfect, and aorist. Then to give some terminology, and lastly to talk about the perfect tense. Learning to read the perfect tense as imperfective and presentinstead of perfective and past is somewhat counter-intuitive, but actually makes a great deal of sense of the Greek verbal system, and has some parallels with Mongolian tenses.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
A few years ago I took an MA subject on Galatians, and our teacher made the suggestion that the plural we/you pronouns and verbs in Galatians might actually be read, for the most part, as referring to Jewish-background believers, and Gentile-background believers. Try it - pick up Galatians, and everytime Paul says 'we', think of Jewish-background believers, and everytime he says 'you' think of it referring to Gentile-background believers in Galatia.
Lately I have been reading Brian Rosner's fine work, "Paul and the Law". Rosner makes a very clear and persuasive case that for Paul, Gentiles were never under the Law.
If that's so, that I was never under the Law, then how does salvation work for Gentiles?
I have heard countless sermons, and probably preached a few myself, that apply the Law to Gentiles, either for conviction of sin, or to show the need for salvation, essentially based on the assumption that Christians who are Gentiles should have fulfilled the Law, didn't fulfill the Law, and are under judgment for not fulfilling the Law. And yet, if Gentiles were never under the Law, this is not true. We are very clear that Gentiles who become believers do not come under the Law of Moses, but we act as if Gentiles who become believers also become pseudo-former-covenant-members who failed to keep the Law. Do you see how odd this is?
Of course, if I was never under the Law, I am not under the penalty of the Law. But I don't need to be under the penalty of the Law, because in the sphere of the Old Testament to be outside the Law, outside the covenant community, is already to be under judgment. We don't need to do mental gymnastics here - all Gentiles in virtue of being sinners and outside the covenant, were already under judgment.
Preachers often struggle with applying Galatians - there is only a (thankfully) small subsection of Gentile believers today who are tempted by Judaising - by going back under the Law (though we do see this - Christians who want to be more 'Jewish' and get back to more 'Jewish' roots, often uncritically adopting OT practices and worse, pseudo-OT practices). But perhaps a more telling application is right in front of us - we keep applying the Law to Gentiles as if they should have been keeping it and weren't and so need to repent of this and find righteousness in Christ. Actually it is we, preachers and teachers, who are putting Gentiles under the Law in order to bring them out of the Law through the Gospel. What??
Preach the Gospel so that Gentiles who are judged outside the Law may be saved through Christ, and don't be tempted to preach the Law in such a way as to falsely impose it on Gentiles. Otherwise, ironically, it is we, not the Judaisers of Galatians, who are 'leading people back under the Law'.
Monday, September 16, 2013
I also just finished Gordon Wenham's The Psalter Reclaimed. Here are some more general thoughts on this book.
Obviously, like non-violence, the psalms are something of a soap-box issue for me. So, again, I am warmly disposed to the general topic of this book. The book is 8 chapters long, some of the chapters are papers written or presented elsewhere, but gathered together in this volume. This gives the book a slightly disjointed nature, as some of the structures of the individual chapters could have used more revision in being worked together into a unified volume. I found this particularly the case with the later chapters.
Here's the contents:
1. What are we doing singing the Psalms?
2. Praying the Psalms
3. Reading the Psalms Canonically
4. Reading the Psalms Messianically
5. The Ethics of the Psalms
6. The Imprecatory Psalms
7. Psalm 103: The Song of Steadfast Love
8. The Nations in the Psalms
I particularly felt like the last two were just kind of "things related to Psalms I'd presented that would go well in this volume", while the first four chapters form a much more tightly-connected unit. Wenham gives us a very good treatment of what's going on when we read/sing/pray that psalms, including a discussion of speech-acts and so forth. Chapters 3 & 4 complement this nicely by giving us a framework in which to read the psalms, which is ever so necessary if one is to sing and pray them! The broader 'resurgence' of canonical criticism is to be warmly embraced.
I found chapter 5 especially engaging, since as Wenham recognises this is a significant lacuna in both readings of the psalms, as well as treatments of Old Testament Ethics. Highlighting the predominance of hesed language in the Psalter was something I did not know and brought a moment of illumination.
Very recently I blogged off the back of chapter 6, which complements 5 nicely by dealing with what seems, on the surface, with the most difficult topic in the Psalms.
Overall a quite excellent contribution to the field of Psalms, from a respected OT author. 4.5 stars.
This is just the kind of book I think should have been written, and I have almost no disagreements with the author throughout, so it's no surprise that I think it's a great book. So let me tell you why it's a great book on this topic.
Firstly, the author is aiming to bridge a gap and write for a more popular level, which is something I wouldn't have done in this book, but it is much needed and very welcome. His writing style is warm, personable, and skilled at presenting complexity without being overly simple.
Secondly, he offers a solid biblical-theological treatment of the topic, giving adequate attention to the development of the theme through scripture, while also spending time addressing church history, practical theology, and objections.
Thirdly, the author is putting forward non-violence within a context of broad reformed/evangelical thought, which is (sadly) not its usual home, but agreeably is my own context, and it's one in which I think actually the strongest theological case for non-violence can be made.
If I had any criticism of the book it would only be that it's not the book I would write, but actually I am thankful for that because at least it means there is still a place for my book! What I would like to see is a much more thorough-going development of a biblical-theology of violence and of non-violence as an ethic, written at a more academic level. This fine volume has re-inspired me to do some writing and research towards such an end.
Anyway, all to say that (a) you should read this book, and (b) I would give it 5 stars.
1. What does this passage tell me about God? (Theology)
2. What does this passage tell me about myself/humanity (Anthropology)
3. How does this passage fit into the story of the Bible/the story of God redeeming His people? (Redemption History)
4. How does this passage lead me to Jesus? (Christocentric reading)
5. Based on this passage are there things I need to repent of?
6. Based on this passage are there things I ought to do/change?
7. How does this passage reveal the beauty of God and his gospel, and lead me into worship and adoration?
2.5 Are there things I don't understand in this passage that I need to ask about/research further?
6.5 What can I do today to apply this passage?
7.5 How can I share the attractiveness of Christ in this passage to people in my life?
The lack of a computer has meant more time for other things, and I have been trying to finish off reading Wenham's The Psalter Reclaimed. Wenham has a very good treatment of the imprecatory psalms, i.e. psalms like 109 and 137 that call upon God to bring devastating vengeance to the wicked. He draws particularly on Zenger as he does this.
Zenger is particularly interesting because he is a R.Catholic monk reacting to the Vatican II changes that saw 'difficult' parts of the psalms omitted during the monastic reading/singing cycle. This, naturally, goes to the heart of the question of how the Psalms can and should be read as Christian scripture, and as songs and prayers for today. Obviously Christians have long had trouble with these verses and how they mesh with the NT teaching.
In Zenger's view these psalms represent the idea of longing for justice in a world full of injustice and suffering. Psalms of lament and imprecation "address situations where injustice cannot be righted", they are the cries of the utterly crushed and weak for whom only God can be their avenger, only God can bring true justice.
The absence of such psalms, of lament-type songs in general, in the church is in fact an indictment upon us, for our weak theology, rather than the expression of our more sophisticated morality. Our lives are so suffering-free, our difficulties so minor, our accommodations and compromises so pervasive, our complicity with unjust authorities so ubiquitous, that we have nothing to lament, and our songs so banal they offer nothing but more stupifiers to dull the edge of life. We do not long for justice, but comfortability. We do not express solidarity with the church in chains and under persecution in other places, we wish them well, like James 2:16.
Those who sing these songs sing them as a cry for change and a melody of longing for a world without tears, usually in melanchly because this worldwill never exist without tears. Therefore they sing them as songs of protest and struggle. All of this harmonizes as a powerful song of resistance against the thin melodies that sing of a life of indifferent self-satisfaction and idyllic surrender to God.
Sunday, September 15, 2013
Bliu bliu is a fledgling startup out of Lithuania that is showing a great deal of early promise. Basically it sources texts for you in your target language, and you read through them and click on each word for whether you know it or not. It tracks your words for you, and gives you other options for drilling down on words or exporting them for use in other programs.
Bliu bliu's advantages include a very easy to use interface, it works well at providing content appropriate to your reading level, and is looking at implementing more features. I look forward to more recordings of audio especially (and making some of mine own once I get that computer fixed).
I didn't know about tatoeba until quite recently. It's a project that aims to provide whole-sentence translations between languages. So, given an example sentence, users provide a translation of that sentence into whatever other languages they can. This is not mere 1-to-many though, as each sentence in whatever language exists as its own node, so users can then translate that sentence again. This creates an intricate web of corresponding sentences.
How to use Tatoeba? I have only just started on it, but it's a great place to do translation in a language you consider yourself high-advanced/fluent in, and it's a great place to find sentences in your language that you are learning. And recently bliu bliu seems to be sourcing tatoeba into its texts, which is great (the tatoeba database is CC-licensed)
I haven't used forvo that much myself, but forvo is basically a site collecting recordings of words of every language. This is a great tool if you want access to native speaker recordings of words individually. Combined with the above two tools, the ability to look up any word and find out how it's said should be excellent.