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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree

Practicing Affirmation
by Sam Crabtree

Product Details
  1. Paperback: 168 pages
  2. Publisher: Crossway
  3. Date Published: 2011
Point: Affirmation not only glorifies God, it also builds relationships through which Christ honoring growth can take place.

Path: Crabtree explains the reason for affirmation, its biblical basis, the differences between affirmation and flattery, and how to affirm.

Sources: The author provides a helpful work based on his own mistakes, successes, observations, and studies. His foundation is the Word of God. This work is miles apart from the behavioristic writings of many contemporary Christian writers.

Agreement: I appreciated the focus of this work. Humans are naturally self centered and prideful. It goes against the flesh to affirm the work of God in the lives of others. That is exactly why the Scriptures command us to build one another up.

One could find some way to disagree with Crabtree and view a statement or idea as being self-focused, self-serving, or self-glorifying. However, the author takes an entire chapter to respond to common questions and accusations which have been leveled against his premise. Some of these seem far fetched, but he has done his best to cover his bases.

Personal App: As I was reading through his 100 suggestions I began to think of what it would be like to receive some of these affirmations. They would surely lift me up and point me toward Christ! If I would be so moved, how much more should I make an effort to do that for others.

Favorite Quote: “When our mouths are empty of praise for others, it is probably because our hearts are full of love for self” (7)

Stars: 4.5 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to any believer, both young or old, in ministry, in the secular work place, in the home.

IF this review was helpful, let me know here

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Gospel & Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever

The Gospel & Personal Evangelism
by Mark Dever

Product Details
  1. Paperback: 124 pages
  2. Publisher: Crossway
  3. Date Published: 2007
Point: Evangelism is not a duty for only full-time ministers. Evangelism is the privilege and expectation granted to all believers of sharing the good news with others.

Path:  Dever asks and answers seven key questions in this short book. Why don’t we evangelize? What is the Gospel? Who should Evangelize? How should we Evangelize? What isn’t Evangelism? What should we do after we Evangelize? Why should we Evangelize?
In his questions and answers the author critiques common misunderstandings and malpractices.

Sources: Dever regularly references puritan leaders and influential pastors from the 20th century.

Agreement: This short work was an encouragement and reminder to me. I appreciated his openness, his logic, and his personal love for the glory of God and his fellow man .


Personal App: Am I viewing evangelism as what it truly is, sharing the good news, or just another duty, option, cross to bear, or distraction?

Favorite Quote: “An eternity in relative prosperity without him [Christ] would actually be hell to us.” (59)

Stars: 4 out of 5 (I enjoyed it, and will read it again)

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.
I would also pass this on to another believer, young or old in the faith. It is a good starter and would go well with Packer’s “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God”

If this review was helpful, let me know here

Monday, March 4, 2013

Fire In Your Pulpit by Robert G Delnay

Fire In Your Pulpit by Robert G Delnay 

Fire in Your Pulpit was what I expected after reading the title. The author addresses common issues in preaching and the recurring setbacks found among preachers. He deals with topics such as sermon planning, preparation, and execution. He sincerely attempts to restore the place of preaching to it's rightful place of the prophet's proclamation of "Thus saith the Lord." The chapters are rather short so the reading is quick.

The author does an accurate job of explaining how to continue the preaching found in fundamental circles in the past century. He explains the need for the preacher to be organized, fluent and precise. He also deals with several different sermon types, but focuses on the "exegetical" sermon.

I was not too impressed with this book as I read it. The other preaching books which I have read have far surpassed this one in many areas.

His section on invitations was frustrating. I found his concept of an exegetical sermon to be a little weaker than others I have read (Chapell, etc)

Overall, it was an average book. I would recommend Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon by Chapell instead.

If this review was helpful, let me know here

Thursday, February 28, 2013

9 Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever

9 Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever
I found that Dever's book was a very interesting evaluation of the local church and it's responsibilities. He basically boils down the nine marks or pillars of the church, exhorting the churches of today to practice them. These nine marks are as follows: expositional preaching, biblical theology, the gospel, a biblical understanding of conversion, a biblical understanding of evangelism, a biblical understanding of church membership, biblical church discipline, a concern for discipleship and growth, and biblical church leadership. These are the key indications of a healthy church.

I found much that was very helpful in Dever's book. Probably the most influential part in my thinking was his chapter on discipleship. I found his goal in regards to church visitation and discipleship stimulating and encouraging. He has made the commitment to interview every potential member and ask questions about their understanding of the gospel and their intentions. He also is attempting to visit every current member and get a better understanding of where they are in the faith.

Dever mentions five questions that he would probably ask. I am going to implement these in my work in our church. The questions are included with a brief note on why I think they are important. "In what particular way have you grown in your understanding of the Christian life since we last met?" This is a good question because it forces one to evaluate their current Christian growth. It may be a good idea to inform people of the questions that you would ask so that they could think about it before hand.

The second question is "in what particular way have you grown in your practice of the Christian life since we last met?" This is a positive question because the first one singles out the aspect of intellectual knowledge, whereas this next question focuses on living it out. If one is a hearer only and not a doer, they are only deceiving themselves.
The third question offers the person the chance to give feedback to the church leader. "In what particular way do you feel that you need instruction?" I would benefit from this question by understanding areas where I have either failed to communicate clearly or at all.

The fourth questions allows the believer to express some personal frustrations. "In what particular way are you disappointed in your own pursuit of holiness?" This give the leader the opportunity to encourage and exhort the believer to move forward in their Christian life. It also provides valuable information about where they are at right then, which can and must be followed up on.

The final question functions as the first step in the leaders response to all these answers. "How, specifically, can I pray for you?" Most likely the leader will have a good idea about how they should be praying, but this gives one last opportunity for the believer to evaluate their Christian walk and open themselves up for further accountability.

The one area absent in the book which I was disappointed with was that of prayer. He mentions at the beginning that he realizes its absence, but I think it is more important. The first church leaders were interested in giving their full attention to the Word of God and prayer. He emphasizes the Word of God greatly, and rightly so, but fails to do so with prayer. I believe that this mark would be a valuable addition in his reckoning as it holds such a high place in the Scriptures. Overall I greatly benefited from the reading of this book.

If this review was helpful, let me know here

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Complete Guide To Sermon Delivery by Fasol

A Complete Guide To Sermon Delivery by Al Fasol

A Complete Guide To Sermon Delivery did a fairly good job at presenting material described in its title. Fasol put forth information and exercises regarding several of the main components of sermon delivery. He covered areas such as vocalization, articulation, body language, reading, and presentation for radio and television. He also responded to ten commonly asked questions in reference to his presentation.

The book has some very helpful aspects to it. One of these is the space given to exercises which preachers and communicators are able to practice in order to understand better how they do things, and also how they can train their bodies to communicate effectively. His exercises often revolve around listening or watching oneself after a presentation to evaluate one's weaknesses.

Another helpful aspect about the book is the evaluation forms in the appendix and scattered throughout the chapters. These are necessary, although oftentimes burdensome. No one really wants to see their weaknesses, much less have others see them and point them out.

Another part of the book which I appreciated was the attention given to how the television has changed the congregation. John Stott is quoted as giving five negative influences of the television including "(1) physical laziness, (2) intellectual passiveness, (3) emotional insensitivity, (4) psychological confusion, and (5) moral disorder" (pg 114). The following observation that perhaps the television has locked the congregation into a "world of fantasy from which they never escape" is convicting (pg 114).

Although I though it to be very helpful, there were several things which I did not appreciate about the book. First, any book which purports to be the "complete" or "definitive" guide to anything needs to be read with suspicion. The book does a good job in the areas it addresses, but it is far from "complete." I do not know who gave the title, so I cannot disparage the author. Second, in the introduction the author makes the comment "When God called you to preach, he saw something in you, some quality no one else has" (pg 4). Really? A quality that no one else has?

Overall I appreciated the work and will most likely use information found in it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know by Hirsch

Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know 
by E.D. Hirsch

"I have no idea what you are saying." This is the reaction which most American students will have as they interact with others in the present age. Children are missing the foundational knowledge necessary in order to properly interpret today's society. They are not culturally literate. Hirsch, in his book Cultural Literacy, examines the problem, the causes, and a possible solution.

The author defines culturally literacy as possessing "the basic information need to thrive in the modern world" (xiii). It is a growing base of facts which is common to the culture. If order for a person to be culturally literate they must understand references from nearly all general topics such as history, science, technology, literature, and religion.

Hirsch is a reaction against Dewey and Rousseau who believe that if children are left to develop naturally, they will grow into well rounded individuals. Every child has within them what is necessary to produce a well rounded individual is the humanistic belief which fueled the educational system of America in the last century. Their idea for a "natural development" involved a diminishing stress on subjects such as Latin and Greek. These were replaced with "content-neutral curricula" (xv) which allowed the child to learn as he went at his own pace. He was not forced into a mold.

Hirsch believes that it is "only by piling up specific, communally shared information [that children can] learn to participate in complex cooperative activities with other members of their community" (xv). In other words, if a child does not have the same grid to interpret what others are saying, a grid which is common to other Americans, they cannot understand what is going on. This grid is also essential to the communication with others. The grid which allows communication is constructed through a conglomeration of general and specific facts which are common to the average American.

Changes need to made in order to bring others to the place of cultural literacy. These changes need to specifically take place at the educational level. If this change does not take place, this country is doomed to the same fate as those others who do not have a unified language and culture. Those countries which lack a culturally literate society fail at their attempts in global pursuits. "Where communications fail, so do the undertakings. (That is the moral of the story of the Tower of Babel)" (2). The author uses China as an example, which may not be the best example for the twenty-first century.

The proposed changes in order to bring others to a culturally literate state involve an education which is both broad and specific. American children need to be educated broadly on a variety of subjects so they may communicate with others about Shakespeare, the Civil War, Homer and pizza. They need to have a general knowledge which allows them to know that a reference to a "Judas" is not normally made in a positive light. They also need specific knowledge in other areas. If all they have is a general knowledge in every area they will be shallow, and ignorant of it. This specific knowledge comes through a greater interaction in the chosen areas.

Hirsch is right on target in certain areas. Without the proper grid one cannot understand anything. Studies presented by the author showed that without sufficient background information one could not understand a simple paragraph. The specifics could be understood, the words and grammar, but they had nothing with which to place it in the larger scheme of things. What was needed was a common understanding which should be expected of the average American.

This grid, according to the author, comes through a knowledge of certain facts. He is correct in stressing that the educational system of today needs to reject the idea that every child should be encouraged to retain their individuality and culture to the detriment of others. It is correct that they should not reject their own culture and history, but they also must learn others. They must be taught a unified body of understanding if they are ever to communicate with others.

Hirsch raises the curtain on several important issues which educators of the twentieth century must understand. A purely humanistic approach to education will only leave the student farther behind in their development and ability to communicate with others. Unless a child learns to be culturally literate he will fail in his endeavors to understand others. This will ultimately result in a nation with limited influence and ability on the world scene.

If this review was helpful, let me know here

Monday, February 18, 2013

Management Essentials for Christian Ministries by Michael Anthony and James Estep

Management Essentials for Christian Ministries
by Michael Anthony and James Estep.

Path:  The book is a compilation of various authors who have written on the six key categories of administration: integration, planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and evaluating.

Agreement: One particularly helpful chapter was that which dealt with vision. The author of the article lists fourteen possible contributors to the loss of vision (pg. 72). These included being out of touch with God, burnout, poor leadership, absence of accountability, and a many others.

Disagreement: There were several areas where I disagreed with the authors. One of those was their distinction between ruling elders and teaching elders (pg. 21). I believe that they are one and the same and there is no need for a distinction. Also, I thought that the Scripture passage used to “capture the idea of vision” (pg. 74), namely Acts 2:17, was a definite misuse of Scripture.

Personal App: One chapter which I found very helpful was chapter eighteen (pg. 313-332) which dealt with mentoring. I found the concepts included in the chapter to be very insightful. I have been mentored at various stages of my life, few were official, but all helpful. The one which began as official never amounted to more than the first meeting. The participation in these various relationships only gives me a desire for another, deeper mentoring relationship. I see it as absolutely necessary, and desire to do it myself with men in my church and my spheres of influence.

Stars: 3 out of 5

I plan on using ideas from several of the chapters, but I am not sure that it would be a book I would reread regularly.

If this review was helpful, let me know here

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis

Abolition of Man
By C.S. Lewis

There must be an end to explaining away and "seeing through" things. What good is a window if the garden and the street are transparent as well? In this short book, C. S. Lewis addresses the problem produced by modern education. Those who are educating the world's youth are stealing the foundation out from under the student in order to build a "better" structure. By eliminating what Lewis refers to as the "Tao," many teachers have replaced the objective for the subjective without realizing it.

Lewis, a confessing Theist, attempts to present a case for even those who do not share like convictions. One manner of doing this is by naming the natural law, or preassigned truth, to the "Tao." There are parts of this natural law found throughout every civilization and culture, and he demonstrates this by presenting the reader with a selection of sayings from various people groups. This allows the reader to see a representation of the teaching of the "Tao" without questioning from where it ultimately comes. The purpose of the author is not to convince the reader from whence comes the "Tao" but rather to express the presence and necessity of it.

In order to substantiate his argument for the abolition of man through modern education, Lewis interacts with two authors of his time who had written a popular educational book. He demonstrates to the reader through their example that the modern educators are treating the student as a poultry farmer conditions a bird rather than an adult bird trains a younger how to fly. The former knows not for what or how he is being conditioned therefore disabling him without his recognition. He is then prone to repeat this very procedure on others.

Lewis not only criticizes the work of the current educators but he also posits a better way. He states that "the task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts" (24). His point is that the current trend in education at the time of writing was to disassemble one's belief system instead of fostering it's growth. The goal of the modernist is to educate the mind so that one is able to see the error in their beliefs. The focus of Lewis however is to stress the formation of the heart. He states "the head rules the belly through the chest..." (34). The ultimate outcome of the modernist movement is the paradox that "we laugh at honour and and are shocked to find traitors in our midst" (35), In essence, a generation of "men with chests."

Reading through "The Abolition of Man" one wonders how exactly Lewis understands the "Tao". Is the "Tao" the actually grid by which one must understand the world, or is the "Tao" the outcome of seeing the world through that grid. It is true that these ethical standards are found through cultures from all ages, however, from whence came these statements of good and evil? Is it simply natural? If there is a natural law then who would be the lawgiver? These are questions which the reader is left with following the presentation of Lewis. Obviously it was not the intent of the author to deal with all the factors concerning one's worldview, however one is left to wonder. Is it possible to understand that there is a higher law and actually leave the conversation there?

If the "Tao" is actually the base from which the ethical statements found throughout the world are derived, one is left to question how one goes about teaching it. If the "Tao" is found in one's natural law or morality, does the student trust the nature of the teacher over his own nature? How did that teacher refine his own understanding of the natural law by which he has the right to teach it to others?

Lewis in the later part of his book deals with those who attempt to reason faith away. He argues that although there is a benefit to the exploration and dissection of nature, it comes at a very high price. He contends that when something has been conquered we lose part of it (84-85). Often times that which is lost is its greatest part for an object is not the sum total of its components. As if we could have a man if we were to obtain all the necessary elements in a laboratory test tube. The whole is much greater than the individual parts.

Where does the modernist take man? It takes him to a place where his heart has been torn out in exchange for the enlargement of his head. He has succeeded in providing possible alternatives for faith but has disabled his very soul. Lewis attempts to combat this heartless butchering by appealing to a natural law which much be fostered within the heart of the student by those who have followed it in their own lives.

One would do well to couple this book with a reading of Less Than Words Can Say. Mitchell in his critic on the lack of proper education and use of language postulated that in order for one's worldview to be changed he must change their language. He saw words and language as governing how one views the world. As a culture's language develops so does their ability to understand the world. Lewis however sees a greater law by which a worldview is formed. It is not language which governs one's interpretation of the facts but his understanding of the natural law which is given to each individual.

If this review was helpful, let me know here

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

McDonalds and Future Leaders

Here is a short post over at the new blog on McDonalds and Leadership

If you haven't switched your reader over, now is a good time to do so.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Axioms Of Separation by John E. Ashbrook

Axioms Of Separation
by John E. Ashbrook

Painesville, OH: "Here I Stand" Books, 1989.  

Point: Separation is a crucial element in the life of every believer.

Path:  Written from a pastor to pastors, the author seeks to give the biblical reasons for separation. He lays them out in thirteen different axioms seeking to give scriptural support for each.

Agreement: I thought that the author’s list of established and self-evident truths was helpful. Some of them were things which I had not thought about before, others I had. The first few I have come to see and understand: Scripture forbids us to have fellowship with unbelief, commands us to reprove apostasy, teaches us that we must purge unbelief, teaches us that a believer and unbeliever cannot be yoked together in spiritual endeavors, and teaches us to separate from disobedient brethren (pg. 29).

Questions: Ashbrook notes that the Bible teaches that we cannot fellowship with those who do not practice separation. How far do we go? Second degree separation? Third or fourth? There is a struggle here and I do not have all the answers.  

Personal App: I believe that there are certain things over which we should separate and other we should not. I don’t think that we ought to separate from another church over their choice of music, usage of a variety of Bible versions, service schedule, or color of choir robes. The common belief among certain groups is that “if we don’t believe exactly the same, we cannot fellowship.”

Favorite Quote: “Separation is not the answer to every disagreement between brethren” (pg. 29).

Stars: 4 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.

If this review was helpful, let me know here

Sunday, February 10, 2013

We're Moving!

The blog, that is.
This one will continue to post for a few more weeks, but please head over to to keep up with us.
There also will be additional pages coming out with book lists, helps, and other resources.
If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment! (Or send a carrier pigeon, it's up to you)

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I took his scarf.

Two Testaments, One Bible: The Theological Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments by David L. Baker

Two Testaments, One Bible: The Theological Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments
by David L. Baker

Product Details
Hardcover: 376 pages
Publisher: Apollos
Date Published: 2010 3rd edition

Point: Do we still need the Old Testament? Baker answers with a whole hearted “yes” and demonstrates why the Old Testament is important. Following a study of the various views of the Old Testament’s relationship to the New, the author treats the main issues and forms of interpretations. He addresses four key themes which tie the Testaments into a unified work. These are typology, promise and fulfillment, continuity and discontinuity, and covenant.
Written in four parts, Baker begins his work by addressing the problem. Throughout the ages, readers have understood the Old Testament’s purpose in different ways. Some have rejected it, others have honored, but all have had to deal with it. From Marcion to Augustine, the Middle ages to Calvin, Kirkpatrick to the Nazis, the Old Testament has seen its share of fights.
Part two reviews four modern solutions which have surfaced over the years. First, some regard the New Testament as the essential Bible. Baker primarily focuses on Rudolph Bultmann and his critique of the faith. He concludes that Bultmann’s existential method decreases the importance of history, and fails to deal with the Old Testament (76). Second, some see the two Testaments as equally Christian Scriptures. Wilhelm Vischer offers a general view of this persuasion. Third, others such as Arnold van Ruler accept the Old Testament as the essential Bible. Fourth, Gerhard von Rad argues that the Testaments form one salvation history.
Part three focuses on the four key themes which unite the Old and New Scriptures. Baker first examines typology and the New Testament’s view of the Old. Typology is historical, not a fanciful interpretation of Scripture (179). It also implies a real correspondence, not necessarily in every detail, but in fundamental principles (180). He also clarifies what typology is not, namely allegory, prophecy, exegesis, or a method/system (181-2). He then looks at promise and fulfillment, the Old Testament’s role of prophesying the Messiah. This relationship shows a mutual dependence where neither Testament can stand alone (217). His third study addresses continuity and discontinuity, highlighting the continuing presence of a people of God. He argues that the “church is simultaneously ‘Israel of God (Gal 6:16) and ‘new creation’ (2 Cor 5:17). It perpetuates the old and inaugurates the new” (223). His final treatment regards the term and significance of “covenant.” Referencing covenants with Abraham, the children of Israel, and the New Covenant, Baker looks to the New Testament to see how those are treated by the apostles.
Part four concludes with the general relationship between the testaments. The author proposes a “biblical” solution and explains the implications for such a view. This solution involves six fundamental concepts which are Christology, Salvation history, Typology, Promise and fulfillment, Continuity and discontinuity, and Covenant.
Much of what Baker presents is of value to the reader. His summaries of the various views and their primary proponents reveal a thorough study and understanding on his part. His explanation of typology and promise/fulfillment also is a valuable resource. Overall the book is very helpful.
Several ideas which he presented raise questions. In his treatment of Israel and the Church he recognizes a continuity and discontinuity, yet it does not appear that he leaves place for national Israel to once again be God’s people. Even in statements concerning the covenants, he sees national Israel as being excluded from the fulfillment. The covenant made with Abraham is and everlasting covenant, “and God is always faithful to that intention...” (241). “However, the promise of land does not have any obvious fulfillment in the coming of Jesus...” (215). Should this fact not cause us to reevaluate the place of Israel in God’s plan?
Often these books will end with the question, can we treat the OT as the NT authors treated it? He states,
It is sometimes thought that the key to interpreting the Old Testament is in New Testament use of the Old. However, we live in a different world from the authors of the New Testament, and our task is not to imitate the way they interpreted the Old Testament but to develop our own way. Their methods of interpretation were suited to the needs of the first century, but cannot simply be repeated at the beginning of the twenty-first century. We can learn a great deal form the way the early Christians read and understood the Old Testament, but to truly understand and respond to the Word of God today we should use the methods of modern hermeneutics (278).
This thought leaves many questions to be answered. Baker is primarily concerned with the hermeneutical methods, however, is there propositional truth to be understood? Did the NT authors understand the truth of the OT? If so, did that truth change? The NT authors saw the OT as valuable, relevant, and crucial to understanding Jesus Christ, and therefore used it appropriately. Where should twenty-first century change? Some would agree that we must not interpret the OT as the apostles did, but they base their idea on inspiration. Baker does not.
Does the OT still hold value? This book demonstrates that it does.

If this review was helpful, let me know here

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Normandy Beaches

The amount of blood that this earth has soaked in causes me to cry out for the Redeemer.
Normandy, France

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pointe du Hoc

Rangers climbed this 100 ft cliff with ropes and knives to look into this bunker.
They took the position, held it, and paid dearly.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Water Spout

Who came up with this idea?

How to Prepare Bible Messages by Braga

How to Prepare Bible Messages. 
by James Braga.

35th ed. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2005. 

Point: Preparing messages from the Bible takes dedication, skill, and devotion to the text.

Path:  Giving an overview of three popular formats for sermons, topical, textual, and expository, Braga instructs the reader on preparing messages. He spends the majority of the book outlining how to prepare an expository message, but gives brief comments concerning the topical and textual messages.

Agreement: Although there is a place for the topical sermon, I appreciated that he did not spend a great amount of time on it. Rather, he dedicated the majority of his time on the expository sermon, which seems to be the most beneficial for the church to partake of regularly. It takes a specific passage, asks what it means, and then seeks to communicate that truth to the hearer. 
Braga discusses several different ideas which were a little differently defined in Robinson’s book. He deals with the proposition which is the main point of the passage (Robinson calls this the “subject” I believe), then the Interrogative sentence (Robinson calls this the “compliment”) and then the transitional statement.

Disagreement: A small quibble would be that the textual sermon seems quite similar to the expository message, but he contrasts them.

Personal App: Braga’s book is a helpful book, even though it was written nearly forty years ago. I believe one of the most beneficial areas of the book is its homework. If I were to teach a class, or mentor another man, I would consult this  book for ideas concerning homework and projects to complete.
Braga also suggests that the preacher categorize illustrations as he comes across them. I don’t use actually file folders in my compilation, however, I went through and added all his suggested folders into my sermon archive on my computer.

Stars: 4 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.

If this review was helpful, let me know here

Saturday, February 2, 2013

With the Mumfords

Lots of laughs. Plenty of questions. Wealth of wisdom. Great time. Good friends.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013

French Demonstration

"One father, one mother. Don't lie to an infant."
Angers, France

Techniques And Assumptions In Jewish Exegesis Before 70 CE by David Instone Brewer

Techniques And Assumptions In Jewish Exegesis Before 70 CE
by David Instone Brewer

Product Details
Publisher: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck) Tübingen
Date Published: 1992

The New Testament authors were not mishandling Scripture. Many believe that the exegesis of the OT by rabbis before 70 CE was fraught with questionable practices which were accepted by the NT authors. Brewer argues that even though the pattern of later rabbis may have done otherwise, these exegetes (who influenced the NT authors) "did not interpret Scripture out of context, did not look for any meaning in Scripture other than the plain sense, and did not change the text to fit their interpretation" (1).
Brewer bases his conclusions upon a study of rabbinic literature which originated before 70 CE. Analyzing the exegetical techniques and assumptions used by the Scribes (the author labels the authorities before 70 CE as "scribes" [2]), Brewer attempts to highlight several underlying presuppositions which challenge the common attack on Jewish exegesis before 70 CE.

The author places each text into one of four modes of exegesis:
peshat (plain meaning of the text); nomological; ultra-literal ("the literal understanding of the words used in a text even when it is denied by the context and by the plain meaning of the idioms used" [15]); derash (hidden meaning).

Brewer recognizes that the attitude of the scribes toward the Scripture is evident through their techniques. What is revealed following a study of their interpretations is that the scribes believed:
Scripture is totally self-consistent.
Every detail in Scripture is significant.
Scripture is understood according to its context.
Scripture does not have any secondary meaning.
There is only one valid text form of Scripture. The form of exegesis based upon these presuppositions and demonstrated by the scribes is labeled by the author as "Nomological."

Therefore, the understanding of Scripture as Law is the the foundation upon which they base their view of the OT.
The author believes that these conclusions are much different from the majority of rabbis following 70 CE. A second school of hermeneutical interpretation rose to prominence exemplified by Josephus, Qumran and Philo. This form of exegesis labeled as the "Inspirational Model." Brewer states five shared assumptions for those who utilize the Inspirational Model. These are:
Scripture is totally self-consistent.
Every detail in Scripture is significant.
Scripture may be interpreted contrary to or without regard to context.
Scripture has secondary meaning(s) independent of its plain meaning.
Variant texts and translations are valid forms of Scripture (212).

The primary hermeneutical assumption behind these exegetes is that "the whole of Scripture is inspired prophecy, and that its interpretation and translation must be equally inspired" (208). Therefore, their interpretational scheme is based upon the foundation of the prophetic nature of all Scripture. This form of exegesis did exist simultaneously with the nomological interpretation, however, it was developed and fostered in the Hellenistic environment (220). Following 70 CE there was a blurring of the two models and the Inspirational model eventually moved to prominence.
Brewer's thesis is both appealing and controversial. Following a host of scholars who have challenged the NT use of the OT based upon Jewish writings, his argument is tempting. The possibility of restoring some rules to NT exegesis holds great appeal. It is also refreshing to see someone interact with individual texts rather than place them under a blanket statement.
His thesis is also controversial. Brewer stands in the minority and faces an uphill battle. Many critiques have been leveled against his thesis and evidence. One difficulty that he faces is the plethora of evidence. In essence, Brewer evaluates 93 different traditions, determines their date, legitimacy, hermeneutical methods used, and commonalities with other scribes and methods. There is too much information.
This is an interesting and valuable resource. The strength lies in both the layout and discussion. With the majority of people blindly believing that all Jewish interpretation was questionable, Brewer offers a reprieve and the beginning of a new dialogue.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:8)