I used to walk a good 40 minutes round-trip to my job and to redeem the time I’d listen to a sermon or theological podcast. I’ll be posting some recommendations. I don’t agree with everything said, but these are informative and thought-provoking.
The Dividing Line
The Dividing Line is hosted by Christian Apologist James White. White is an excellent apologist (though admittedly somewhat controversial within Calvary Chapel circles) and this podcast covers a broad range of theological and apologetic topics. The episodes feel more like a radio show, where there aren’t clear distinctions between episodes. For example, White may discuss a news article he just read before the show, an upcoming debate, or take calls. Much of the show has White playing audio recordings of his debate opponents and commenting on their arguments as an outflow of his research. Some will find it frustrating that episodes aren’t strictly topical, or others will find White’s explicit Calvinism off-putting, but there is a lot of interesting content on any chosen issue if you are willing to look past these things.
The podcast doesn’t keep much of a backlog but I’ve enjoyed most episodes on homosexuality and Islam, two areas White is strong on and discussing frequently at the moment. It’s best to look at the episode description and download episodes that seem to cover interesting topics.
Other recommended podcasts.
I ran across a unique understanding of Ephesians 5:18 when reading Clinton Arnold’s Powers of Darkness. He referenced a paper by Cleon L. Rogers, Jr entitled The Dionysian Background of Ephesians 5:18, wherein Rogers argues that Paul’s comments are specifically addressed to drunkenness that took part in the worship of Dionysus.
Here is Arnold’s summary:
Possibly the drunken and frenzied revelry connected with the worship of the god Dionysus, the god of wine, forms the general cultural background of this statement. The first-century readers were called to turn their backs to alcoholic intoxication and inspiration from any other spirit or deity (such as Dionysus) and yield themselves completely to the Holy Spirit of God.
– Powers of Darkness, p119
Rather than a contrast (or comparison, as some Christians see this verse) between the behaviour that comes from the Spirit’s filling and that of drunkenness, Roger’s understanding also includes a direct forbidding of idolatry and association with other spirits. This would fit themes in Ephesians, the cultural context of Ephesus itself, and explain the otherwise seemingly arbitrary mention of drunkenness (why not another sin?).
Judging by Arnold’s comments in his recent Ephesians (ZECNT) commentary, he seems less intrigued by Roger’s view than before. Admittedly, Paul’s comment here is too little to go on in forming a conclusion. However, Dionysian practices certainly inform the background of the Ephesian culture and were a constant temptation of the “old ways”, whether or not Paul was specifically referencing them in Eph 5:18. It’s intriguing nonetheless.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit. — Eph 5:18
Have a read (it’s only 8 pages), judge Roger’s arguments for yourself, and comment below!
- A link to Roger’s paper: The Dionysian Background of Ephesians 5:18.
I’m thrilled to be reviewing John Walton’s Old Testament Genres course from the new Logos Mobile Ed program (other posts in the series are here)! In my previous posts, I discussed the video and supplemental materials. Briefly, I want to address Mobile Ed on the iPhone/iPad.
Mobile Ed on the Logos iPhone/iPad App
I don’t have an iPad, so I’ll need to restrict myself to the iPhone app.
First, the Logos iPhone app is highly recommended; anyone with Logos and an iPhone needs to get this app! Imagine having a huge Biblical library in your iPhone: commentaries, maps, Greek/Hebrew, and exegetical tools. But how does the app work with Logos Mobile Ed?
Extremely well, I must say! There’s very little to say because in this instance I think showing is better than telling. All screenshots are taken from my iPhone.
The workbook (iPhone vertical):
The lectures (iPhone horizontal):
These images should show that everything looks and works naturally. It’s all straightforward and professional. The video is smooth and looks excellent on the iPhone. I can only imagine this is even better on an iPad. Really, the only downside is an inherent limitation with the iPhone: you can’t watch a video and take notes at the same time.
So, top marks to Logos for the Logos Mobile Ed integration in the iOS app. The app in general is excellent.
I’ve covered the video and supplemental material, now we’ll turn to the actual content of John Walton’s Old Testament Genres course itself.
I mentioned the Logos Mobile Ed podcast earlier, and now is as good a time as any to say that I highly recommend this podcast; the majority of it is fascinating conversations with/between visiting scholars. Here is an episode about the Mobile Ed experience itself.
Believe it or not, I’m still (slowly!) working through N.T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God. Not a lot has grabbed me as ‘share-able’ recently, so I’ve been quiet on the book for a while, waiting for part 3 (Paul’s theology). However, here’s a little taste of Part 2: Paul’s worldview.
So what does Paul do with the many worlds he finds himself in? How does he make sense of them, and what aspects of each world does he keep, discard, or reconfigure?
A Bird in the Hand? The Symbolic Praxis of Paul’s World
This is a longer chapter at just over 100 pages, but my summary will be brief. The chapter is broken down into two larger sections, firstly Paul’s attitude towards the symbols of his world(s), and secondly his own unique worldview rearranged around Christ and His people.
In regards to the world of Judaism, Wright examines Paul’s attitude towards Temple, Torah, land, family, ‘zeal’, prayer, and scripture. There is too much here to summarize, but this was one of my favourite sections of Paul and the Faithfulness of God so far, primarily because it made sense of so much of Paul’s thought. At first I didn’t really get why Wright considered Paul’s worldview separate from his theology. What could there be to say? How could the two be separated? But in this chapter I saw topics that are often neglected in Pauline Theologies, but very dear to Paul’s own mind and heart.
As one example, Paul’s attitude toward food purity laws (excluding Gentiles and certain kinds of food) have been totally reconfigured. “[H]e reached his new position not because he had come to regard the previous one as unsatisfactory or wrong-headed in itself but because, so he believed, God’s new age had arrived through the crucified and risen Messiah and the gift of the spirit” (p359). The food and company was of no matter anymore; but that doesn’t mean that purity was suddenly unimportant, rather the purity of the community itself was the focus. Therefore, Gentiles were no longer excluded de facto; all are welcome in the community of Christ. However, false teachers and those who contradicted their faith with their practice were to not be part of table fellowship. Purity was still essential, but it had been reconfigured in light of Christ’s coming.
I’m thrilled to be reviewing John Walton’s Old Testament Genres course from the new Logos Mobile Ed program (other posts in the series are here)! In my previous post, I praised the video and overall style as top-notch, but what about the supplemental materials, such as the assigned reading, quizzes and video tutorials?
The Workbook & Assigned Reading
The hub for each course is the workbook. Feeling much like a seminary experience, the workbook contains a syllabus with course description, intended outcomes, and a outline that (unlike a seminary syllabus) hyperlinks to the individual segments and quizzes.
This required reading helps the student dig in more depth and get a comprehensive perspective on each issue. Judging by the Mobile Ed podcast, the required reading is considered an essential part of the experience and prevents the lecturer feeling that their talk was incomplete. It is reassuring that the lecturer has chosen the reading, as the student is guided in their self-study.
As a randomly-chosen example of the required reading, Segment 16: The Significance of Story, has “Narrative” from The Handbook to Bible Study, and “Genres of Hebrew Literature” from Believers Church Bible Commentary.
As you can see on the left image, all but “Narrative” is locked for me. This means I don’t have the resources in my Logos library, though I could buy them, of course. For Walton’s Old Testament Genres course, I had 52 of the 69 assigned “Required Reading”; however the vast majority of the “See Also” readings were locked.
I have the Bronze (lowest) Logos package with a much smaller (but still substantial) library of books, so each user’s package will determine which readings they have access to. Logos recommends the Platinum Edition for use with Logos Mobile Ed – no doubt because it frees up the teachers to recommend a wide selection of resources. This is just one of those things. For Walton’s course at least, I could access most of the required reading, but to really take full advantage of Logos Mobile Ed, one will need the Platinum base package.
The videos remain excellent, but they are not intended to be used alone. I expect that some users will be very frustrated to purchase a Mobile Ed course and then realize they don’t have everything required. It would be ideal if the Mobile Ed course included clippings of all the required readings, so that even if a user didn’t have the entire book in their library, they could at least access the section that is required required by the Mobile Ed course. For example, many of the readings are from dictionaries. If the user was given limited-access only to the dictionary entry required by the course, then they could read what is required without having to purchase the entire book.
Scattered throughout the course are quizzes at the end of each unit, and a midterm exam. These consist of a mix of 10-30 multiple-choice and/or true-false questions drawn from the lectures (not the readings). The questions are carefully chosen to reenforce the lecturer’s primary points, and basically serve as listening checks.
While the quizzes are not a major selling point of Logos Mobile Ed, I do think they are a weaker element for anyone expecting a mobile classroom experience. The quizzes are very basic: many (if not most) answers could be guessed correctly and they feel much like a simple online quiz. Considering the student has Logos at their disposal, regular “homework” assignments – perhaps a series of tasks using Logos – could really ramp this up to the next level and better integrate the lectures with the Logos software.
Interspersed throughout the scholar’s lectures are screencast video tutorials by a member of the Logos staff that instruct the student on how to use Logos – and your library – better. These tutorials are closely associated with the course material, and often follow up on a point that the lecturer has just made. There were ten of these tutorials in Walton’s Old Testament Genres course; ranging from identifying genres on any given OT text, creating filters that highlight repeated Hebrew words, and guides for preaching OT narratives.
I thoroughly enjoyed each of these tutorials, and was constantly surprised at what Logos can do. I must admit that I barely scratch the surface of what Logos can do, but I suspect I’m not alone here. These tutorials helped expand my mind a little as to how I can study the Bible better using Logos.
Logos Mobile Ed is all about the excellent video lectures from top scholars. As I mentioned in my last post, it really shines in this area. But what about the reading, quizzes, and tutorials? The reading is certainly top-notch, though anyone with a Logos package lower than Platinum may want to look into each course to see if they will get the full experience. However, I could access most of the Old Testament Genres reading, despite having the lowest Logos package. The quizzes are satisfactory, but have the potential for so much more. The tutorials are exceptional and useful for bridging the gap between video and software.
Lastly, I think there is more room for integrating Mobile Ed and the Logos software. Again, and in light of these tutorials, research assignments for the student would help integrate Mobile Ed and Logos. The lectures are excellent, Logos is powerful, the tutorials help bring the two together, but I think more integration can be done to push Mobile Ed to the next level – basically, more of an already good thing.
Check back soon for a post on the iPhone App.
Whilst in Philippi during his second missionary journey, Paul and his group run into a slave girl who has a spirit of divination (lit. a “python” spirit, Acts 16:16). She follows them, crying out “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation”. After a few days of this,Paul is fed up, rebukes the spirit, and casts it out of her in the name of Jesus.
This passage has always left me with questions. While I understand Paul wanting to cast out a demonic spirit, I never understood why the spirit appeared to be supporting Paul’s mission, rather than opposing or subverting it. And why was Paul so angered by the spirit’s endorsement?
Reading through Charles Quarles’ Illustrated Life of Paul (p89-90), he argued that upon a closer reading of the text it appears that the spirit is certainly not supporting Paul, but subtly attempting to subvert him. Here are the reasons:
- While “Most High” is a common name for the Lord in Luke’s writings (Luke 1:32, 35, 37, 76; 6:35; Acts 7:48), interestingly, “Most High God” is only used by demons. So what’s the difference? Most High God implies polytheism, as in “He’s the most high, amongst other gods, that is”. In a polytheistic culture, Most High God supports the status quo.
- The woman claims that they present “the way of salvation” but the Greek is actually missing the definite article, so it could be better to translate it “a way of salvation”. Again, the woman appears to endorse these men, but in an inclusivistic context!
So if Quarles is correct on these two points, then this demon-possessed woman is certainly not supporting these men, but subversively opposing them by presenting Christ as “a way” rather than “the way”.
I’m unsure if I’m fully convinced, simply because both arguments are very subtle. However, it makes good sense of the facts that the woman would oppose the men and that Paul was so angry with what she was saying. The two arguments simply make that a more natural assumption work, so in that light they are quite compelling.
So what do you think?