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We have been building a new website, which is still in the works, but head over there. I know our prayer cards have this address on them and it’s a hassle to try and change them.

Website: http://somethinglasting.net

Facebook: http://facebook.com/somethinglasting

Twitter: @somethingspain

Newsletter: http://somethinglasting.net/contact

Thanks, keep in touch.

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The True Tall Tale

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“No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne – everything – to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

You see, the best thing about this Story is – it’s true.

There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story – the Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of this Story, there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle, the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.”

The Jesus Storybook Bible (Sally Lloyd-Jones)

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A Poor Man Seminary Library (2): Specialty Bibles

Languages getting you down? Would you like to learn Hebrew and Greek but don’t have the time or money to take classes? Well you live at a great time because there are some resources that can help with that.

The Comprehensive New Testament (CNT)
There are a couple of reasons why this Bible is *awesome*. The major selling point is that it is a translation of the Greek New Testament (GNT) put out by the United Bible Society (UBS). All modern translations make use of this the GNT in making their translations but they will make judgment calls, in terms of which reading in different manuscripts to use. 

A brief aside: for the New Testament every translation (back even to the days of King Jimmy and before) is translated from the various Greek manuscripts. We have tons of these manuscripts. So we have to determine what is the likely reading. Modern translations and semi-ancient translations must make informed choices.

So no modern translaitons completely matches the GNT’s put out by the UBS. Except the CNT. That is selling point #1. Second, all of those different options in the manuscripts are put in the GNT’s, called an apparatus. If you thought reading Greek was hard, reading these apparatuses is even harder. Well the CNT simplifies this and translates it into English so you know where the differences in translations are coming from – incredibly helpful to anyone in ministry to quickly see where Bible translations will differ.

Lastly, what I think is the most awesome part of this Bible is that it contains a mammoth cross reference system. This cross reference is not limited to the Bible. It often goes into the Pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls, early church, and Nag Hammadi. Again, *awesome*. I actually can’t figure out why you haven’t bought this yet?

Purchase: [Amazon

New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS)
Moving along with good translations we come to the NETS, not to be confused with the NET (New English Translation – my favorite all around translation). The NETS is just what it says it is, a translations of the Greek Old Testament. Why do you care?

Well it seems that a majority of the NT authors actually worked from the LXX (the short name for the Septuagint). This matters because the LXX diverges from the main Hebrew text (called the Masoretic Text, or MT for short). So it can be helpful in places, like Job, Isaiah, and the Psalms to see differences in the text since a lot of early church fathers used the LXX as well. Augustine was unable to read Hebrew for instance.

The Septuagint is the most important translation that there is. Plane and simple and so it would be helpful to have a translation of it because the Greek in the LXX is miles above the Greek in the NT (languages change and often simplify over their lifetime, I was told that since Latin died so young it stayed very complex – while modern day Greek is vastly simplier compared to the NT and Homer).

Purchase: [Amazon

Conclusion
Not knowing the original languages is hardly an excuse now for deep indepth study. These resources above are just a part of the amazing blessings that we, especially as English speakers, have. The hard part is not being able to study well, but making sure you are using these gifts well. Are you?

Genealogical Conundrum: Rahab (2)

Previously I laid out some issues with Rahab being in the genealogy of Matthew (Matt. 1:5). See it here. Well I don’t know if this is the solution (it has some problems I think in terms of inerrancy) but it is novel and I think at least interesting. It’s from Richard Bauckham’s article “Tamar’s Ancestry and Rahab’s Marriage: Two Problems in the Matthean Genealogy” in Novum Testamentum 37, 4 (1995): 313-329. If you are a seminary student you have free access to it and it’s a good read.

In the genealogies of 1 Chronicles 2, we note something interesting. There are two Salma’s, the Hebrew reading of Salmon’s – which is the Greek translation of the name (the Septuagint). In 2:11 we read the genealogy of Salma that is in Matthew, Salma the father of Boaz. But in 2:54-55 we read of another Salma not related to the one in 2:11.

1Chr. 2:54 The sons of Salma: Bethlehem, the Netophathites, Atroth-beth-joab and half of the Manahathites, the Zorites. 55 The clans also of the scribes who lived at Jabez: the Tirathites, the Shimeathites and the Sucathites. These are the Kenites who came from Hammath, the father of the house of Rechab.

Note the last line, from the house of Rechab. As I noted in the first post, Matthew uses a strange spelling of Rahab whereas the Septuagint and the rest of the NT uses a different spelling. This wouldn’t be so odd if Matthew used the Hebrew spelling of Salma, but he uses the Septuagint spelling Salmon. The difference in the spelling of those households is an “e” vs. and “a” and so Bauckham proposes that these two are conflated. He’s argument is longer than what I presented here but it looks plausible doesn’t it?

I’m not sure what I think, since that then brings up questions on inerrancy. But I guess there seems some interesting questions regardless of which option you take.

My Translation of the Lord’s Prayer

I am glad we recite the Lord’s Prayer on a weekly basis. My five year old has asked – what is our daily bread as well as what are our debts. It shows the power of liturgy. However he has also asked – what is ‘thy.’ I can’t remember why I took up translating the Lord’s Prayer, but I did and this is my translation below. It isn’t terribly different from modern translations.

Our Father who is in Heaven,
Your name be made holy
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,
And lead us not into [temptation/trials]
But deliever us from the evil one
For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

A few notes: First “hallowed” means to be made holy – that’s the point of the prayer. If you use hallowed you’ve successfully made sure 90% of those reciting don’t know what they are saying. We might as well go back to Latin.

Second, we say lead us not into “temptation.” The Greek word there can mean either temptation or trials. Since God does not tempt (James 1:13) I think the likely reading is do not lead us into trials – think of the wilderness wanderings, exile, etcetra (see 1 Cor. 10:13 where again the word could be trial or temptation, but trial makes more sense). There is no context so we have to determine it based on what the Bible says about God.

Third, evil and evil one is a tough call. The word can be both and it’s up to context to determine why one fits better than the other. We will always experience evil in a fallen world, but we can escape Satan. It could also be evil works (cf., 2 tim 4:18).

Fourth, yes I left in “For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever Amen.” It’s a completely true saying (likely adapted from 1 Chron. 29:11-13). The words “power and glory” appear in the Didache (an early church document) so it early when these lines are added. The text without this line appears in all major manuscripts, Siniaticus and Alexanderian (the two big and early ones), which is why all modern translations do not include it. As long as people know that, I think it’s a great way to conclude the prayer.

Those are the translation notes but my wider argument (which I will try to condense) it that since the Bible is timeless we should stop using archaic translations. It doesn’t help anyone to learn a separate language for church. The Bible isn’t written in a holy language(s), it’s actually written in the most common and simple language of the day.

Our liturgy should be the same. When we retain archaic languages from old translations we are effectively telling people that the Bible isn’t timeless. We don’t have to make a new translation every year but at least every hundred years (and the KJV is now 400 years old!). The timelessness of Shakespeare is not his language, but his ideas. Second, the Bible existed 1500 to 4000 years before Shakespeare, so why are we holding to a translation from that era? It’s fine if you don’t want to update the Bard – he’s a product of Victorian England; but it isn’t fine if you don’t want to update the Bible (and the ligturgy that comes directly from it).

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?

Conclusion
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.

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.

Are the Old Testament Saints in heaven… (Part 1)

…before Jesus’s atonement and resurrection? Now the standard evangelical answer is: of course. But first we need to look back to the Bible and see what it says.

In the Old Testament (OT) only one person goes to heaven explicitly: Elijah (2 Kings 2:11). Enoch is hinted at, but it doesn’t really tell us where he goes (Gen. 5:24). The Hebrew reads “and he was not” using a fun Hebrew express that we call the particle of negation. God took him somewhere. It’s likely he went to heaven since the same phrase appears in Elijah’s story. But only with the Elijah story would we know where Enoch went. These examples don’t help our problem though, because neither Enoch or Elijah died!

For Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Aaron, when they die they are each “gathered to [their] people” (see Gen. 25:8, 17; 35:29; 49:33; Deut. 31:16; 32:50 respectively). David says that when he dies, he will go to be with his son (2 Sam 12:23). So maybe this going to be with your ancestors is heaven?

It could be interpreted as such, until we reach Psalm 49. In it, the Psalmist speaks about how we cannot ransom our life from God. We will all see “the pit” (this is a synonym for Sheol; see v. 14) [vv. 8-9]. The Psalmists hope is that God will ransom his soul *from* Sheol (15). The Psalmist tells us not to fear (or doubt God’s plans or goodness) when we see the rich and powerful, because though they go down to be with “the generations of [their] fathers” (v. 19) they will never see the light again (i.e., resurrection). The rich man and apparently the psalmist both share a similar fate with a big difference – the righteous will be raised to new life.

So when we get to the story of the deceased Samuel and Saul (1 Sam. 28) we read Samuel’s pronouncement that Saul and his sons will soon be joing him after their death (1 Sam. 28:19). David wants to be saved from Sheol (Ps. 16:10; 18:5; 30:3; 49:15; 86:13) which begs the question – why? If death just meant going to heaven, shouldn’t that be a good thing (i.e., Phil 1:23; Paul says it’s better than life on earth!)? Because of Jesus we do not fear death (Heb. 2:14-15), but David feared death (Ps. 55:4). How do we reconcile all of that?

John Frame (Presbyterian theologian) says “The OT teaches that after death, people go to a place called Sheol, a shadowy abode awaiting the coming of Christ.” (Systematic Theology, 1077)

Herman Bavinck (the great reformed Dutch theologian) says “Through death all the souls enter the abode of the dead, Sheol” (Reformed Dogmatics 4:599).

Maybe the OT saints did go to heaven prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus, but the OT doesn’t appear to say that (I do believe the OT saints are in heaven, now; but that is more than I can get into in this blog post). The point of this post is not to make any firm statements, but to raise the question of what happened to the saints in the Old Testament after they died. 

If nothing else, you have to admit, the answer might not be as simple as you thought.

Help: I’d be interested if anyone has a good answer to the question of whether the OT saints went to heaven, pre-passion. I tried to give a simple and biblical explanation of what the OT says along with two well respected and Reformed theologians who show that this view is not antithetical to Reformed theology. I am doing my best to follow what the data says and would love to see what conclusions are drawn by others.

 

The Crud and Stuff

We have all gotten pretty sick. I appear to have the worst of it. So we would appreciate your prayers that we would be healthy and ready for this trip. 

Sorry for the minimal posting lately. I am deep in the trenches of my class on Martin Luther’s theology, and we are busy doing packing drills to make sure we are packing efficiently. We also are coordinating with two other missionary families to be bring them stuff. So I have to finish up some small papers and write my major paper for this class hopefully before we go to Spain! Fun! 

Over 100%

I’m not sure of the exact figures, but we are over 100% for the funding of this trip! This is providential, because we have started to realize that our expenses may exceed our original goal. So thank you so much, every one of you. Please know that your prayers and your giving were used by God in a huge way to encourage us in this endeavor. I really never thought we would end up here, so again, thank you.

So that’s the quick update. We hope to be a bit more regular once things get a bit less hectic (or maybe more updates as it gets more hectic!). Stay tuned.

Notable Links

A few interesting links I ran across.

Stop Slandering Christ’s Bride

This is something I’ve been saying for awhile now. I spend my time at a para church ministry and hear this type of talk far too often. I equate it with a bridesmaid calling the bride ugly. Not a smart move in my opinion. I do want to add that there are real issues that need to be addressed with the American church. We all need to be called back to the cross, to a humble reliance upon our only Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Nonetheless, we need to recognized that we don’t have all the facts and we are not God’s gift to the church.

NextDoor and Missions
This is an interesting idea. We have signed up for it but not a lot of our neighborhood is on it. Even so we have sort of met a couple of people.

The NextDoor service, is what social media should be doing, creating a real community instead of a fake one.

Pray for Italy
It is always good to read about what God is doing around the world.

Family Devotions
I need to repent of my laxity with family worship.