I’m highlighting a few essays in From Creation to New Creation (a tribute/fenschrift to G. K. Beale); not necessarily those I think are objectively superior, but rather stood out to me as interesting and post-worthy.
Why Samson May Not Have Visited a Prostitute
Gordon P. Hugenberger, who is producing a commentary on Judges for the Apollos OT series, argues against the scholarly consensus – much like Samson taking on a multitude of Philistines – by making a case for Samson not visiting a prostitute in Judges 16:1-3. More than simply arguing against seeing this as another conquest of Samson’s unchecked libido, Hugenberger makes an interesting case for a positive reading of this event. I’ll detail the argument below and why it matters.
- Precritical interpreters (inc. Josephus) didn’t believe Samson had sexual relations here.
- To “go in to” can refer to sexual relations, but “[in] the vast majority of cases the expression refers to one entering into the company of another without any sexual implication” (p64). The larger context must determine the implications.
- There is no hint of rebuke for Samson’s actions. In fact, his actions (Judges 16:3) have divine favour.
- The judges are portrayed positively throughout Judges (eg. Judges 2:6-23).
Similarities With Joshua 2 and Judges 18
Hugenberger’s case relies on recognizing parallels between Judges 16:1-3 and two similar events that carry no sexual connotations: Joshua 2 and Judges 18.
Similarities between Joshua 2 and Judges 16:1-3:
- Similar narrative introductions (Judg 16:1; Josh 2:1).
- The woman in both instances is a “prostitute” (Judg 16:1; Josh 2:1).
- The expression “came to/went into” is in both instances (Judg 16:1; Josh 2:3, 4).
- The report of Samson and the spies uses similar language (Judg 16:2; Josh 2:2).
- Both Samson and the spies are in the city during “the night” (Judg 16:2, 3; Josh 2:2).
- The city gate plays a large role (Judg 16:2, 3; Josh 2:5, 7).
- Samson and the spies “lie down” (Judg 16:3; Josh 2:1, 8).
- Both Samson and the spies leave for the “hill country” (Judg 16:3; Josh 2:16, 22, 23).
Similarities between Judges 18 and Joshua 2:
- Spies were sent out to examine the land they were to conquer (Josh 2:1; Judg 18:2).
- The hosts give no military intelligence, but divine confirmation is received (Josh 2:9-13; Judg 18:5, 6).
- The hosts transfer their loyalty to the spies (Josh 2:12-13; 6:22-25; Judg 18:20).
So What Was Samson Doing There?
Considering the similar accounts, perhaps the key is in asking “what were the spies doing there?” It’s unlikely that they were after intel that “could be incorporated into the eventual strategy that supernaturally caused the walls of Jericho to tumble” (p73)! Hugenberger considers the possibility that the Canaanites were involved in cultic prostitution and that the spies were confirming that the inhabitants sins had reached full measure (Gen 15:16).
Perhaps this is why Samson visited the prostitute in Judges 16; for similar reasons as his actions in Timnah (Judg 14:4, 15).
The actions of the spies in both Joshua 2 and Judges 18 serve as comparisons and contrasts with Samson’s actions:
“While the Danite spies fail to follow the pattern of Joshua’s spies, the author of Judges suggests that the faithful Danite, Samson, who alone remained behind when the rest of his tribe had abandoned their inheritance, was replicating the stratagem of the spies meticulously.
If so, Gaza was hardly Samson’s downfall, as is so often alleged.” (p78).
Much like with a friend that constantly disappoints, perhaps we have been too quick to judge Samson and assume the worst? I will need to give this further thought, so comments are welcomed! I must say that Hugenberger’s essay gives a much stronger case than my summary, but the basic frame above is a good starting place. For this excellent essay and others, check out From Creation to New Creation.
Many thanks to 10ofThose for sending along a copy of Andrew Wilson’s new book Unbreakable: What the Son of God Said About the Word of God.
I’ve not read anything from 10Publishing but I have eagerly followed Wilson’s blog posts for a while now and am excited to read this!
I’ve just noticed that Wilson appears on the most recent Union podcast episode discussing this book and topic.
My pile of “to review” books is building, so expect the review sooner or later…
It all began with three interviews on forms of Premillennialism: Dispensational (Paul Henebury), Historic (Jim Hamilton), and Progressive Dispensational (Darrell Bock). This got some great feedback, but I was constantly asked “but what about rapture?” so I did a series on rapture views: Pretribulational (Mike Svigel), Pre-Wrath (Alan Kurschner), and Posttribulational (Craig Blomberg). It’s been a huge privilege having these scholars take the time to give their views, why they hold to them, and pointers for further studies.
I never intended to make these interviews a “thing”, especially limiting them to eschatology, but with two series well received – and the release of the Left Behind movie – I’ve decided I’ll just run with the idea! While the interviews on eschatological systems were very helpful, I wanted to tackle important passages one-by-one; ones that play a large role in how one puts together the Bible and goes on to develop an eschatological system. Ultimately the question ought to be what does the Bible actually say?
With that in mind, I’m putting together interviews with scholars on key eschatological passages. My list is still nebulous, so please comment below with suggestions! I’m looking for texts that a) have interpretative difficulties and b) play significant roles in larger theological systems. Here’s my list so far:
- Daniel 9:24-27
- Jesus’ Olivet Discourse (Mark’s Gospel)
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
- 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
- Revelation 20 (it has to go there!)
Nine Questions on Daniel 9: The Interviewees
Though debatable, it seems the best place to begin is Daniel 9:24-27. This is one of the most difficult texts in the Bible but it plays such a fundamental role for one’s end-times views. Though I haven’t seen the Left Behind movie (and don’t plan to), much of its end-time presentation depends on a particular understanding of Daniel 9. It could be argued that without Daniel 9:24-27 Left Behind, and the theology is it based on, would have no pre-tribulation rapture, no seven-year tribulation, no future peace treaty with Israel, no “Church Age” gap, no future destruction of a Jerusalem temple, and perhaps even a radically different anti-Christ figure and no rebuilt Jerusalem temple. For many Christians these ideas are a ‘given’ so a lot is at stake in Daniel 9! One’s entire grid will be adjusted depending on how Daniel 9:24-27 is read.
Though I encourage my readers to have their Bibles open for each interview, here is the passage:
Dan 9:24 “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.
Dan 9:25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.
Dan 9:26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.
Dan 9:27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”
Now, there are numerous difficulties in interpreting this passage. Here are a few:
- Does the prince (v25) come after 7 weeks or 7+62 weeks? Different English translations reflect this difficulty, which goes back to the original texts.
- Is the anointed one in v26 the same as in v25?
- Who is the “prince who is to come” (v26)? Is he the same as the prince in v25?
- Who are the people of the prince who is to come (v26)? Are they contemporaries to the prince?
- What is the nature of the covenant (v27)?
You get the idea (for more, see Heiser’s posts #7-10). For every question there are various answers. So over the past months I have arranged four interviews with biblical scholars to give a spectrum of opinions and have asked them each the same nine questions. I’m thrilled about having each of the following scholars on this blog:
- Thomas Ice
- Robert Chisholm
- Peter Gentry
- Dale Ralph Davis
The interviews will run each Monday for the next four weeks. I hope that they will be thought-provoking and helpful. A passion of mine is properly understanding and representing the different views of our Christian brothers and sisters. Our allegiance is not ultimately to our systems but God’s words, and with that in mind we should always be humble and ready to adjust our views or even throw them out and start again. What I don’t hope is that this series will spark arguments or further harden those with bad attitudes towards different views to their own.
Comments are very welcome, but not those with obvious iconoclastic or obstinate attitudes behind them.
I’ll end this with a simple assignment: familiarize yourself with this following chart in preparation for next week’s post. There will (not) be a test…
Regeneration. Justification. Sanctification. Glorification. These are all at least recognizable terms even for the theologically-unconcerned Christian. But how often do we think of adoption? Trevor J. Burke recognized that adoption is greatly neglected despite its profusion in Paul’s writings, and Adopted into God’s Family is his attempt to set things right.
Burke wisely begins by defining terms and surveying the territory. When adoption hasn’t been neglected, it has been misunderstood: often as synonymous with justification or regeneration. However, “Adoption describes aspects not found in any other of the above soteriological terms Paul uses…if adoption is important and distinct enough…[it] should occupy a more vital role in our theological reflection and understanding” (p28).
After discussing metaphor (ch 2), Burke surveys the potential background(s) that informed Paul’s doctrine of adoption; whether the Old Testament, Grecian law or Roman law (ch 3). Burke concludes that Paul viewed adoption primarily through the lens of Roman law with the OT playing a secondary role. Granted, the OT itself never says that Israel was adopted by God but considering Rom 9:4, it is surprising that Burke didn’t assign the OT more influence in Paul’s doctrine of adoption.
Next, since each member of the Trinity has a unique role in adoption, and rich chapters of exegesis are devoted to each (ch 4, 5, 6). The Father is the initiator and head of the household (Eph 1; Gal 4:1-7); the unique Son provides adoption to those united with Him, though not adopted Himself (Rom 1:3-4; Eph 1); and the Spirit – in one of the best chapters – assures us of our adoption and is evidence of the redemptive-historical change for God’s people receiving the full blessings of fully-grown adopted sons (Gal 3-4; Rom 7-8). Next, Burke examines the relationship between adoption and honor in the first century world, and how this plays out in Paul’s letters (ch 7): examples being that Paul uses familial language to describe his own role in the household of Christ (Rom 1:1), his relationship to other believers (Rom 1:13; 16:5, 8, 9, 23), and also rhetorically to overcome divisions (Rom 1:7, “our father”; 8:15). Lastly, the implications of adoption’s already/not-yet character are given its own excellent chapter (ch 8).
There are many things to commend in Adopted into God’s Family but I will begin with a few shortcomings. Burke excels at the “familial” aspect of adoption, but I believe that he missed important implications of our adoption: inheritance and rule.
Inheritance is linked with adoption in Romans 8:17. Burke rightly recognizes that “inheritance” in the OT refers to the promised land, but holds that for Paul, “the term takes on a different meaning rarely found in the Old Testament” (p97), with Roman law providing “a more suitable background” (p97). Whatever the Roman influence, I think Burke errs by stripping inheritance of its OT meaning, and reducing it to “inheriting” salvation and God Himself in some abstract sense. Space prohibits proper unpacking, but the OT and NT recognize that Abraham’s inheritance typologically points forward to the new creation (Rom 4:13; Heb 11:8-11; Matt 5:5) and adoption, sonship, inheritance and new creation are all wrapped up together (Gal 3:23-47, Rom 4:13-14, Rom 8:17-30). In other words, God’s adopted children do inherit “the land”: the new creation.
Rulership is also linked to adoption. While no NT text explicitly links “adoption” with rule on a word-level, thematically it is there: we are adopted as God’s sons! But Burke isolates Israel’s sonship as irrelevant to the discussion for being purely “redemptive” and “elective” and not familial (p71); however Paul surely considered adoption as resulting in sonship, so sonship in the OT is very relevant here. I would argue that various “sons of God” in the OT and NT have at least one thing in common: rule under God’s authority. Therefore, divinely-delegated rulership would also be a blessing of adoption. More detail on the nature of Jesus’ sonship could have helped here considering that the NT uses “son of God” primarily not in a divine-second-person-of-the-Trinity sense, but rather as royal/Messianic identification (Matt 16:16; 26:63; John 11:26). The Messiah is God’s ideal king and divinely-appointed ruler who will rule the earth (Ps 2; Ps 110) as Adam was commissioned to do. So in what sense are we “sons” like Jesus? One answer is in rulership. And since our sonship is obtained through union with Christ, then we too are being restored to the image of God (Rom 8:29) and will reign with Christ over the new creation (2 Tim 2:12; 1 Cor 3:22-23; 6:3; Rom 5:17)!
With the criticisms over, I can now wholeheartedly praise the book on all other counts. I will list the strengths briefly for brevity’s sake. First, Burke is unafraid to intermingle systematic and biblical theology. For example, he began by discussing systematic treatments of soteriology, and there was no apology for presupposing the Trinity and using it to structure his book! Some may be frustrated that he presupposes some systematic categories in a work of Biblical theology, but for me it was refreshing.
Second, Burke’s chapter on the social aspects of honor was unique and very insightful. This was the most surprising chapter in the book as it touched on a lot of areas, including Paul’s abundance of “family” language (brother, sister, father, son, even slave) and also provided a great basis for holiness: adopted children truly are sons, but still need to learn to “fit in” to the way the family does things. God wants there to be a family resemblance (Rom 8:29), and this is a good basis for further sanctification.
Third, a large chunk of the book is made up of exegesis both scholarly and pastoral. Burke is careful to let the texts speak for themselves, but also isn’t ashamed of allowing this book to be encouraging! Many scholars don’t find this easy (or enjoyable?) to do, but for Burke it comes naturally from the material. This is top-notch pastoral scholarship tightly bound to the text of Scripture. Read this book and you will have a hard time not rejoicing in God’s act of pure grace in adopting us as His blessed children.
Adopted into God’s Family is a deeply moving book. Even academic rigour and details can’t get in the way of such a rich topic! But Burke goes further; he allows wonder to come through in his own writing. It is clear that his study of adoption has impacted him and it’s contagious. Whilst maintaining my two perceived shortcomings, I’d highly recommend this work to anyone (pastor, student, teacher) interested in the theological depth found in Paul’s “adoption” language. It truly is a wonderful thing to be adopted into God’s family!
- Publisher: IVP (USA)
- Series: New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT)
- Release Date: October 2006
- Paperback 237 pages
- ISBN: 978-0-8308-2623-0
- Read PDF excerpt
Did Paul dare to be a Daniel? If you’re expecting a sarcastic lambasting of that expression, then I’m sorry to disappoint (that will have to wait for another post!). Getting back to the question, Benjamin Gladd, professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, would answer “yes”; in in fact, in From Creation to New Creation Gladd goes even further and says that Paul consciously himself “as a Danielic figure…someone who wades in the stream of Danielic behaviour” (p272-3). As in, Paul saw himself much like Daniel and hinted at it in his letters.
In “Dare to be a Daniel” – the final chapter in From Creation to New Creation – Gladd makes his case as follows:
- Establishing the popularity of Daniel in Judaism and early Christianity
- Detailing two characters who identified themselves as Danielic figures (Josephus and Qumran’s Teacher of Righteousness)
- Two thematic connections between Paul and Daniel
- Two allusions in Paul’s writings to the book of Daniel
The former two points serve as supporting evidence, because if Daniel was a very popular figure and others identified with him then it is more likely that Paul did so too. The latter two points are where the real evidence lies, so I’ll summarize some of his points below.
Gladd highlights a few thematic similarities between Paul and Daniel, perhaps the most significant being their shared role of “declaring and administrating revealed mysteries or eschatological revelations” (p264). One would naturally identify the Apostle John with Daniel in this regard, but when we recognize the proliferation of mystery (μυστήριον) in Paul’s writings it is not so far fetched to see him in a similar light. Of the 28 occurrences of “mystery” in the New Testament, 21 come from Paul, and “scholars are in general agreement that the NT use of the term originates from apocalyptic Judaism, particularly Daniel” (p264). Daniel is the only OT character who receives and mediates “mysteries”, and Paul also sees himself as doing the same.
- “Mystery” in Daniel: Daniel 2:18, 19, 27, 28, 29, 30, 47
- “Mystery” in Paul: Rom 11:25; 16:25; 1 Cor 21:1, 7; 4:1; 13:2; 14:2; 15:51; Eph 1:9; 3:3, 9; 5:32; 6:19; Col 1:26; 2:2; 4:3; 2 Thess 2:7; 1 Tim 3:9, 16
we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory (1 Cor 2:7, NASB)
the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. (Eph 3:2-10)
Paul sees himself and the other apostles and prophets as having received the mystery of Christ and being charged with stewarding and announcing that mystery.
In addition to thematic similarities, Gladd highlights two allusions to Daniel in Paul’s writings.
Daniel 2:20-23 in the Greek (LXX) and Rom 11:33 contain very similar words and conceptual backgrounds, so much so that “Daniel’s praise becomes Paul’s…Paul alludes to the hymn of Dn 2 in order to underscore God’s unparalleled wisdom and power in his dealings with Israel” (p270).
The story of Daniel in the lion’s den is familiar even to those with little Biblical knowledge, and Paul appears to draw on it as well in 2 Tim 4:17. The same Greek words are present in both passages, and when 1 Maccabees 2:60 refers to Daniel, it uses the exact same 4-word Greek phrase as Paul. In addition to the Greek similarities, the backgrounds are parallel. Both trusted God for deliverance from impossible situations and both experienced God’s reassuring presence (Dn 6:22; 2 Tim 4:17). Paul’s soon appearance in Roman court reminded him of Daniel facing the lions!
At first I thought this wouldn’t be persuasive, but now I am on board! The thematic similarities are strong, the allusions interesting, and I suspect there’s more to be found. I look forward to Hidden but Now Revealed, which Gladd is co-authoring with G.K. Beale and is coming out later this year.
So who cares? Paul saw himself as a Daniel figure, big deal. Well, this insight actually has several ramifications; one being a good defence those who believe the apostles didn’t consider their writings authoritative (more on this).
Last post I reviewed John Walton’s Old Testament Genres Logos Mobile Ed course. Now comes the difficult task of evaluating Mobile Ed as a whole. It’s important to remember this series is a document of my experience with one Mobile Ed course. I would not want a reader to be unfairly prejudiced for/against Mobile Ed by reading more into my reviews than what is there.
With disclaimers in mind, I offer the following reflections on my experience with Mobile Ed.
As regular readers of my blog will know, My Digital Seminary serves as an output for my own theological studies. When I saw Logos Mobile Ed advertised I first thought that it looked ideal for self-study. I was not wrong.
The professors are leaders in their fields and the videos are extremely high in quality. Particularly helpful for students are the bite-sized 5-7 minute videos. I must admit that I was skeptical of this at first, but soon came to recognize its benefit in making the material more memorable. The fact that all this can be taken anywhere with you (including your mobile device) only adds to its usefulness. The transcripts would also aid ESL students, so Mobile Ed can be used internationally with great benefit.
Classroom settings & Church groups
Though I’m also a Bible College teacher, I didn’t have the chance to use Old Testament Genres videos in my class. I plan to integrate a different Mobile Ed course into my class, and will no doubt have comments then. I am certain that Mobile Ed could be useful for provoking discussion in the classroom or even as preparation for an upcoming lecture. Now, if a teacher wants to use an individual video, they will need to either view it from within their Logos software or track down the downloaded video on their hard drive. The latter is not straightforward as I discovered. Having easier access to individual video files would open up the teacher’s options.
Limitations from the User’s Logos Package
One’s own Logos package will determine how much of the required and additional reading they can access. Since the required reading is an essential element of any given Mobile Ed course, it’s unfortunate that the required reading is not included – or at least only the required sections from the full textbooks. Understandably, something like this could increase costs. However it’s also understandable that a user would be disappointed if, after buying a Mobile Ed course, they discovered that a large portion of it doesn’t work and that the solution requires buying a number of textbooks or upgrading their Logos package.
Integration of Mobile Ed with Logos Software
As the Logos product page advertises, the Mobile Ed videos are all transcribed and fully searchable from within Logos. The tutorial videos for Old Testament Genres are quite helpful, but are even better in the two other courses I demoed (and will be reviewing in the future). This is unsurprising since the other courses deal more directly with Bible study, where Logos excels. One suggestion that would integrate Mobile Ed and Logos Homework further are assignments that give the user a few tasks to accomplish on their own within Logos.
For many (including myself!) cost is the first question to be asked. For this reason I have intentionally left it for last. Cost is always a relative matter, but considering the proliferation of free seminary-level courses online, why would one pay for Mobile Ed?
I was once told that businesses can only ever choose two of the three: quality, accessibility, and cost. This applies to theological resources too. Yes, there is an abundance of free fast-food audio/video lectures out there, and they serve a fine purpose. But I challenge students to find anything comparable in quality and functionality of what Logos is doing with Mobile Ed. You have your twinky and your tiramisu of theological resources; Mobile Ed is the latter. Logos recognizes – like all other businesses – that it can’t be everything, and simply prioritizes quality and accessibility over cost.
That said, a Mobile Ed course is cheaper than a corresponding seminary course and one gets to retain much more than class notes! Hopefully through my review series it is plain that Mobile Ed offers something special. Its price reflects that.
I must admit that Mobile Ed surprised me. My wife and I are missionaries living on financial support, so free resources (and review copies!) are literally a Godsend. I initially dismissed Mobile Ed due to cost and apparent similarity with what else I could get online for free. I’m so glad that I thought twice and asked to review it! I’ve since come around to recognize that Mobile Ed has something very unique to offer. With a quickly-expanding list of courses, it only stands to get better!
Well, I hope you enjoyed my series reviewing Logos Mobile Ed. I actually have two more courses to review, and am so excited about reviewing one of them that I’ve already begun working through it. However, I think we could all do with a short break from Mobile Ed, so regular programming will resume for a few weeks.
All Posts in My Logos Mobile Ed (John Walton) Review
I’m very grateful for the opportunity to review Mobile Ed courses! I was not required to give a positive review.