A Poor Man’s Seminary Library (1): The Basics

I don’t know what it was that jumpstarted my love for the Bible, but something, somewhere changed and I began to love reading my Bible. Certianly part of that became a deeper understanding of God’s Word. I wanted to list a couple of resources that I think would be helpful in getting to understand the world in which the Bible was written.

The Bible
If you could only have one Bible for the purposes of studying it, I think the NET Bible would be the one. Unlike traditional study Bibles the NET was concieved as a digital Bible first. Second, instead of having obtuse translation notes (I’m looking at you ESV) the NET goes into detail on why they translated something and where they are pulling the text from. This gets into textual transmission but one great point about the NET is that it’s transparent. When they translate a verse that is different from a wooden reading, they often give that wooden (sometimes unfortunately called literal) translation.

If you are ever thinking about entering seminary the best preparation is to have a thorough knowledge of your primary source: the Bible. You should know general themes of books, the order of books, etc. You should be Bible saturated. This way, when you head into classes you have a framework for them to build onto.

Additional Primary Sources
Once you have a grasp on the Bible there are some additional sources that I would recommend. I can’t take complete credit for this recommendation, my OT professor was the one who actually made it. Anyway, the Apocrypha would be a good addition to your library. I like the NRSV Apocrypha because you buy it as a standalone book.

This will help bridge the gap between the Old Testament and the New. There are many good works in here, some, like Sirach, you could even empthasize with its inclusion in the canon (I’m not advocating that).

Next, I would say Michael Holmes’s Apostolic Fathers is a great addition. Some of these works are written, presumably, before the closing of the NT canon. Works like 1 Clement sound similar to Paul’s epistles. Others like Hermas are so out there you will wonder why people included it in the canon. Nonetheless that brings up the main point in reading these works: as the church was listening to the Holy Spirit, found in Scripture, some of these works were so profitable that it wasn’t always clear which were inspired and which were just good works.

The Apostolic Fathers will also give you an appreciation for the post-Act church life. What did the early church find important? What were they dealing with?

The Bible, the Apocrypha, and the Apostolic Fathers would give you a good understanding of Christianity in its original context. Once you read all of those thoroughly (and you can’t really exhaust the Bible) there are other works after that. But this would be my suggestion to start with. It’s one which I wish I had. But I am making up for lost time with my thesis.


The Lord is a Warrior

My only minor quibble is with The Lord is his name… actually his name is Yahweh. The Lord is strange. It’s like the constant puns in Doctor Who. “Hi, I’m the Doctor” “Doctor who?” The Lord is a title, actually a title that obscures the divine name Yahweh. The same divine name that you should not take in vain.

Even U2 got this one right. Come to think of it, time for some How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.

(HT: Jeff Long)

Big Changes (or why we stink at moderation)

My wife complements me in so many ways. Unfortunately there are places where we align far too much and find ourselves building bad habits. Our biggest one has been laziness: at the end of a long day we just want to numb our brains with TV, eat some junk food and chill. We both want to do it. I want a beer while I watch, she usually opts for ice cream. That is a whole lot of extra calories every night – right before bed!

Big Change #1: TV and Media
While everyone was gone, I quietly removed the TV, AppleTV, Blu-Ray player, and Wii. Now the bookshelf is back to being a bookshelf – books and all. It’s been freeing and honestly I think rooms look better without TV’s in them. So far it hasn’t been an issue, even for our 5 year old son.

Part of this goal was to also reduce our dependence on our iPhones and iPad. I haven’t fully succeeded there, but I have been placing my phone in a holder by the door when I walk in. I find that this allows me to just not worry about it. Laura has deleted Facebook and (supposedly) deleted Instagram. Again this allowed her phone to begin to function more like a phone and less like a scary all consuming social life-coach.

Big Change #2: Veganism (or Plant powered)
I actually like the term plant powered instead of vegan, because it’s more accurate. We are just trying to eat as healthy as we can and veganism (plant-powered-ism?) is the easiest solution we have found. We tried this last year and had good success with it. The major problem we ran into was that when our goal was veganism (i.e., no animal products) we ended up eating vegan junk food (something I honestly don’t recommend anyone doing). Instead, our goal is to fuel our bodies with the most nutrient rich foods we can.

The corralary to this is that I want to train for a marathon and fueling my body on these plants will hopefully help me recover fast. Our problem before veganism was that I tended to eat a diet that was not terribly exciting or terribly healthy. It wasn’t unhealthy, but it was far from the smoothies, big salads, and vegan chilis that we are eating now.

Why Big Changes?
I feel that we make so many mistakes over the course of our lives and at some point you just have to make a course correct. In our case moderation doesn’t work as well as just tossing in the anchor and pulling a Jack Sparrow as we swing this ship around in the other direction.

We screwed up in terms of media saturation with ourselves and our son. So now is the chance to change it or die trying. This post just puts it out there.

Anyone else made any drastic changes? Or anyone want to make them? It’s actually kind of fun, I think.

No Longer Reformed (A Review)

No Longer Reformed (A Review)

The whole article is actually well written, in response to perceived problems in Calvinism. I’d suggest reading it. But the quote I want to draw attention too is this one:

Fischer uses the story of Jacob wrestling with God as evidence that good theology always has doubts and uncertainty because when you come face to face with God you walk with a limp (85ff.), as if the text even mentions Jacob limping or other heroes of the faith limping or has anything to do with theological method at all. Moses seems more interested in drawing implications about not eating the sinew of the thigh than in extolling the virtues of chastened epistemology.

This is certainly the danger we face when reading Old Testament stories. We immediately spiritualize it’s application. Here this isn’t even an application but more of a spiritualized concept. The story of Jacob wrestling with God should rightly be understood as a non-repeatable event (in that it isn’t repeated! People do not continually wrestle with God culminating in God knocking out their hip bone…). Secondly the concept of wrestling with God is not one we should pull out, as if it is a spiritual metaphor for something. As DeYoung notes, Moses is concerned with explaining a practice that the Israelites do, with an appeal to their history.

Now, I don’t really have a good explanation as to why the story of there, in other words, what its real application is. Feel free to share if you do. The story is found in Genesis 32 if anyone wants to wrestle with the text (see what I did there…).