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Michael Bird - The Gospel of the LordIt is the time of year to be thankful, and I am thankful that I have an extra copy of Michael Bird’s new book, The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus (Eerdmans, 2014) to give away to some lucky reader of this blog. This is a new copy; mine is well read, marked and dog-eared by now. I will send a clean copy to a reader of this blog. There are no geographical limits here, although I am hoping someone from Antarctica does not win.

I plan on posted my review of the book in a few days, but for now let me say this is a nice introduction to several related topics at the foundation of Gospels studies, touching on related by diverse topics like Oral Tradition, Source Criticism, and the Genre of the Gospels. Each chapter has an excursus which digs a little deeper into some aspect of the chapter, so it is like getting two books in one. I highly recommend the book as an introduction to Synoptic Gospels study.

To have a chance at winning these books, leave a comment telling me what Famous Gospels Scholar you are most thankful for this Holiday season. Or at the very least, leave your name.  I will announce the winner picked at random on December 1.

jesot1The Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1 (2014) has several interesting articles, including:

  • Nathan Lovell, “The Shape Of Hope In The Book Of Kings: The Resolution Of Davidic Blessing And Mosaic Curse”
  • Matthew R. Akers“The Soteriological Development Of The ‘Arm Of The Lord’ Motif”
  • Silviu Tatu“Making Sense Of Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20)”
  • Andrew Witt “David, The ‘Ruler Of The Sons Of His Covenant’ (מושל בבני בריתו):  The Expansion Of Psalm 151 In 11QPsa”

The Journal also has a nice collection of book reviews (including two from me).

A PDF copy is free at the JESOT website, printed copies will be available through Wipf & Stock. The first two issues (Vol. 1) are available in the Logos library.

Logos BridegroomHere is some good news on my book, Jesus, the Bridegroom. It will be available in the Logos Library as a part of a two-book bundle. The “Wipf & Stock Eschatology Bundle” is on pre-order along with Jonathan Menn’s Biblical Eschatology. Menn is the  director of Equipping Church Leaders-East Africa, and his book runs over 600 pages! I guess I am the junior partner in this bundle at 300 pages. I hope that once my book is published in the Logos library it will become available separately, but it is exciting to see it on the Logos site.

Jesus the Bridegroom has been reviewed in a couple of places. I posted a notice of Peter J. Leithart’s review at  First Things a bit earlier. Don K. Preston reviewed the book at Amazon, saying he loves “the research that went into this. While Dr. Long’s emphasis is on ‘source’ and my focus is on theology, Nonetheless, I did find this book to be very helpful.I particularly appreciated the linguistic studies, showing the marital language that is used in some texts (e.g. especially Isaiah 4-5) that I had never seen before, and I truly appreciated it. His inter-textual notations were also fruitful. Long’s conclusion that Jesus drew together several strands of Jewish thought, and conflated those strands into a harmonious message, thus, suggesting that Jesus stood well within the framework of a Jewish prophet, is very good”

The book is available through Amazon and the Wipf & Stock website and retails for $33 (Amazon and Wipf & Stock sell it for discounted price). The Kindle version is only $9.99 and claims to have real page numbers, but I cannot see them reading the book with the Kindle App on an iPad. Still, the book looks great in Kindle. If you live in the Grand Rapids area, I have a few copies in my office if you want to get one directly from me.  If you do get the book, leave a nice review on Amazon, I would appreciate that.

Obviously I would love for you to buy a copy, but that is not always possible. Here’s how you can help get the word out for me:

What is the book about? The full title of the book is Jesus the Bridegroom: The Origin of the Eschatological Feast as a Wedding Banquet in the Synoptic Gospels. The book is an edited version of my dissertation. As I was working on my dissertation, people would ask what I was writing on. I usually said “an intertextual study on messianic banquet imagery in the Synoptic Gospels.” After a moment of awkward silence, I clarified: “Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is like a Wedding Banquet – what’s up with that?”

The book attempts to study the marriage metaphor / motif in the teaching of Jesus. There are a few places in the Synoptic Gospels where Jesus describes the Kingdom of Heaven as a Wedding Banquet, Matt 22:1-14 and 25:1-13 are the most obvious texts. But there are a few places where Jesus describes himself as a bridegroom, and a marriage metaphor appears in a number of other places. My proposal is that Jesus combined the metaphor of an eschatological banquet with the common Old Testament marriage metaphor and described his ministry as an ongoing wedding banquet to which all Israel is now invited. The long period in the wilderness is over and it is time for Israel to return to her Bridegroom.

00_PICKWICK_TemplateIn order to make this case, I apply what might be called an intertextual method to traditions or set of metaphors. The “text” in this intertextual study is the Hebrew Bible, but that text was heard by Jesus’ original listeners rather than read. They knew the metaphors because they heard them taught in their homes and synagogues. Jesus used these metaphors because they were current, but by combining them to describe himself, he created a new image of the eschatological age as a wedding banquet.

I first examine the eschatological “victory banquet” motif in the Hebrew Bible, starting with Isa 25:6-8 (ch. 3), the use of the Wilderness Tradition in Isaiah 40-55 (ch. 4), and the Marriage Metaphor in Hosea, Isaiah and Jeremiah (ch. 5).  I trace the development of these three themes through the Second Temple Period in chapter 6, and finally apply that database to the sayings of Jesus in chapter 7.

There are a few things that you will not find in this book. First, I did not cover John’s gospel, although there is much there that can be described as “wedding motif.” My reason for this omission are simple-the dissertation was already too long to include another major section on John’s Gospel! Second, there is nothing in this book on the application of the Bridegroom metaphor to the church. I wanted a study of Jesus’ use of the metaphor, not the (much) later theological development of that metaphor. Again, the reason for this is simply that I was writing a New Testament dissertation, doing “biblical theology” rather than “systematic theology.” I wanted to focus on the teaching of Jesus and the origin of the wedding banquet metaphor.

I would really like to hear feedback from anyone who reads the book – feel free to send me an email to continue the discussion. Thanks!

00_PICKWICK_TemplatePeter J. Leithart at First Things reviewed my book, Jesus the Bridegroom. Despite being a revised dissertation, he calls it a “fine monograph” despite my “failure to incorporate the temple” into the study. Leithart says “He comes close to recognizing its centrality in several places (when he notices that Isaiah 41 lists the materials for tabernacle construction [86], or when he notes the connection between the “cloud” and the nuptial chamber in Isaiah 4 [122]), but he doesn’t follow through.”  Leithart says that the Temple “is a place of festivity, of marital covenant renewal, of enthronement of the divine Bridegroom in the trysting place in the wilderness.” Perhaps, but I am not sure that language appears in the Hebrew Bible, even if it does in later rabbinic reflections on the Temple. Nevertheless, I appreciate the nudge toward other evidence to support the thesis of the book.

The full title of the book is Jesus the Bridegroom: The Origin of the Eschatological Feast as a Wedding Banquet in the Synoptic Gospels. The book is an edited version of my dissertation. As I was working on my dissertation, people would ask what I was writing on. I usually said “an intertextual study on messianic banquet imagery in the Synoptic Gospels.” After a moment of awkward silence, I clarified: “Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is like a Wedding Banquet – what’s up with that?”

The book is now available through Amazon and the Wipf & Stock website. The book retails for $33, but Amazon and Wipf & Stock have it discounted. The Kindle version is only $9.99 and claims to have real page numbers. I have not seen a Kindle version yet. If you live in the Grand Rapids area, I have a few copies in my office if you want to get one directly from me.  If you do get the book, leave a nice review on Amazon, I would appreciate that.

Obviously I would love for you to buy a copy, but that is not always possible. Here’s how you can help get the word out for me:

Of course, I would really like to hear feedback from anyone who reads the book – feel free to send me an email to continue the discussion. Thanks!

Logos Bible Software has a great deal on 24 “classic commentaries” on Mark. The current community price bid is $30 for all 24 volumes, so a lilttle more that a dollar a book.  Logos has produced a good number of these “classic” sets, providing a good value on resources that are not readily available. By getting in on the community price bid, you can get the books for far less than they will cost later.

By classic, they mean old (published between 1860–1954). Some of these are not particularly valuable; I am not sure I would purchase Arthur Ritchie’s Spiritual Studies in St. Mark’s Gospel even at a dollar a volume. (Ritchie was the rector at St. Ignatius’ Church in New York at the end of the 19th century and wrote several multi-volume “spiritual studies” sets.)  There are commentaries from Lyman Abbott and William Kelley; both were of interest when they were published but are quite dated. Some of the commentaries are of historical interest, however. Leicester Ambrose Sawyer’s First Gospel, Being the Gospel according to Mark (1864) is an interesting insight in to the state of Mark and Q studies int he mid-19th century.  Benjamin Bacon’s Is Mark a Roman Gospel? (Harvard University Press, 1919) is well worth a browse as well.

Marie-Joseph Lagrange

Marie-Joseph Lagrange

An added value for some scholars will be several foreign language commentaries. In French, the collection includes Marie-Joseph Lagrange (Évangile selon Saint Marc, 1935). Lagrange was the founder of the École Biblique in Jerusalem as well as the journal Revue Biblique in 1892.

There are three German commentaries as well. Reading these in the Logos format will be much easier since older German books were printed in the older letters (Fraktur). There are three German commentaries in the collection, including Julius Wellhausen’s Das Evangelium Marci übersetzt und erklärt,originally published in 1903. While Wellhausen is better known for his OT studies, this commentary on Mark is a significant contribution since he argues the priority of Mark against the hypothetical “Q” document. Another name associated with OT studies is included August Klostermann (Das Markusevangelium nach seinem Quellenwerthe für die evangelische Geschichte, 1867). Finally, the collection has a commentary by Bernard Weiss (Die Geschichtlichkeit des Markusevangelium, 1905).

Is the set worth $30? I think that it is, since I might have paid that for Lagrange and Wellhausen alone if I ran across them in a used book store. Head over to Logos, browse the list and decide for yourself.


Starting Monday March 17, various scholars will be commenting on Craig Blomberg’s new book from Brazos, Can We Still Believe the Bible? An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions. Blomberg offers answers for six common challenges to the Bible in a modern context including the reliability of the original manuscripts, the canon, Bible translations, inerrancy, historical reliability of narrative events, and the problem of miracles. Blomberg is well-known for his contributions to the study of the Gospels and has written numerous books on these sorts of issues. I have had a copy for a couple of weeks and think it will be a valuable resource for pastors and laymen who are looking to answer misinformation that commonly circulates about the trustworthiness of the Bible.

Can We Still BelieveOne thing that makes this book valuable is that Blomberg wants to answer the critics who make the Bible less reliable by questioning manuscript evidence, canon or translation methods, but also Christians who claim too much about the Bible on these issues. In addition to what might be called apologetic issues, Blomberg includes a chapter on miracles. This is more philosophical since the miraculous is usually ruled out a priori when critics approach the Bible. This chapter also deals with the idea of myth and how that may (or may not) relate to the stories we read in the Bible.

Brazos Press has set up a website for the book with and overview of the contents as well as a number of videos from Blomberg talking about some of the issues he covers in the book. The schedule for the Blog Tour includes contributions from Daniel Wallace, Ken Schenck, Joel Watts, Lee Martin McDonald, Darrell Bock, Michael Bird, Nijay Gupta, Matthew Montonini, David Capes, and Craig Keener. I was assigned chapter 3, on the reliability of English translations of the Bible. My comments on the chapter will appear here on Thursday, March 20.

As a promotion for the book, Brazos is giving away five copies of the book and a Grand Prize of four books from Baker Academic in addition to a copy of Can We Still Believe? You can enter the giveaway starting March 17, so visit the website and check it out.

I am heading for Baltimore this afternoon to attend the National meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. I always enjoy ETS, even though it is smaller than the SBL/AAR meetings later in the week.  I am not giving a paper this year, but I am a “moderator” for a Gospels/Acts parallel session tomorrow morning.

9780310331360Because I am serving as a moderator, I will not be able to attend what promises to be one of the main events of the conference. November 19 there will be a panel discussion featuring Albert Mohler, Kevin Vanhoozer, Michael Bird, Peter Enns, and John R. Franke onthe topic of Inerrancy. These five scholars are the contributors to Zondervan’s Five Views on Inerrancywhich is due be released December 10. This will likely be a heavily attended session, given the topic and participants.

The Bible Gateway is going to live-blog and live-Tweet (@biblegateway) the event from from 8:30-11:40 AM EST. If you are not in Baltimore for the meetings, be sure to  check out the Bible Gateway blog.

If you are in Baltimore, have a great time and enjoy the crab-cakes.

Logos Bible Software has been publishing a number of important books as a part of the digital library. The Second Temple Judaism Studies Collection collects seven books published by Sheffield Academic Press between 1983 and 2009 covers a wide range of topics of interest in the Second Temple Period. These are all part of the Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement series and are all either revised dissertations or collections of essays drawn from SBL study groups. The original hardback editions of these books are now out of print although a few have been re-printed in paperback and are available as eBooks on Google Books. Some, however, no longer available and often sell for inflated prices (a hardcover copy of Schams or Davies’s The Damascus Covenant, for example, are offered on Amazon for more than $150).

second-temple-judaism-studies-collectionWilliam M. Schniedewind, Word of God in Transition: From Prophet to Exegete in the Second Temple Period (JSOTSup 197; 1995, 275 pages). This book is a revision of Schniedewind’s Brandeis doctoral dissertation (1992). The topic certainly is influenced by Schniedewind mentor, Michael Fishbane, who has contributed several monographs on the interpretation of scripture within the canon. This study examines the transition from the traditional prophet to a “new kind of prophet” in the post-exilic period who is an inspired interpreter rather than a “classic prophet” (p. 11). The Chronicler, for example, receives traditions and interprets them in a new context. This shift on what the “word of God” meant in the Second Temple Period is reflected in the title of the book. The book of Chronicles is more like an exegete than a prophet, paving the way for the scribes and other experts in the law. [NB: that the Logos website incorrectly identifies this as a 2009 publication. That refers to the paperback reprint from Bloomsbury T&T Clark not the original publication of the book.]

Christine Schams, Jewish Scribes in the Second Temple Period (JSOTSup 291; 1998, 288 pages). Like Schniedewind, this revision of Schams’s D.Phil thesis is concerned with the development of the scribe in the Second Temple Period. She surveys literary evidence from the Persian period (including bullae), the Hellenistic period, and the Roman Period on the role of the scribes in society. What is remarkable is the silence of these texts; there are far fewer references to scribes than we might have expected. Neither Josephus or Philo refer to scribes as an important role in Jewish society. Scribes are not mentioned in The Letter of Aristeas or in pagan descriptions of Jewish society, and there is little in the Dead Sea Scrolls concerning the scribe. Yet in the New Testament scribes appear to be prominent members of society. She offers a bewildering number of possible explanations for the lace of reference to scribes outside of the New Testament (ch. 3).  Her fourth chapter provides a comprehensive definition of the role of scribe in each of the periods.

qumran-between-the-old-and-new-testamentsFrederick H. Cryer, Thomas L. Thompson, editors. Qumran between the Old and New Testaments (JSOTSup 290; 1998, 2009, 398 pages).  This book collects papers from the 1995 International Scandinavian Conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls and Qumran, sponsored by the University of Copenhagen. Originally published in hardback in 1998, T&T Clark issued a less expensive paperback in 2009. The collection includes several excellent essays from noted Scrolls scholars Florentiono Garcia Martinez, Emmanuel Tov, Harmut Stegmann and Ben Zion Wacholder as well as scholars specializing in the Hebrew Bible, Niels Peter Lemche, Thomas Thompson and Fred Cryer. I was particularly interested in Sarianna Metso’s article on “The Use of Old Testament Quotations in the Qumran Community Rule” since I did some work on that text for my dissertation. Metso is interested in the redactions of 1QS more than the hermenutical strategies of citations and allusions.

Raymond Jacques Tournay, Seeing and Hearing God with the Psalms: The Prophetic Liturgy of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (JSOTSup 118; 1991, 311 pages). Tournay’s monograph concerns the origin and structure of the Psalms as a collection. He proposes to study the Psalms collection by studying the psalms as the product of levitical singers in the Second Temple Period, but also giving full weight to the prophetic dimension usually ignored by commentators on the Psalms (p. 30). This is similar to David Mitchell’s thesis in his The Message of the Psalter: An Eschatological Programme in the Book of Psalms (JSOTSup 252. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1997). Tournay does not want to diminish the worship aspect of the Psalms, but he cannot ignore the prophetic aspects. He first argues that the Levitical singers gradually replaced the classic prophet as the “authentic cultic prophets” who encountered God and delivered his word (ch. 1-3). He then surveys theophany narratives in the Psalms (ch. 4-8) before moving to oracles in the Psalms (ch. 9-13). Most would expect this to be heavily weighted toward messianic expectations, but Tournay only includes a single chapter on messianic Psalms. This makes sense, if the levitical singers were functioning like prophets, since prophets did not always prophecy only concerning the messianic age. In his short conclusion, Tournay teases the reader by pointing out that the prophetic dimension in the psalms was recognized by two Second Temple messianic movements, Qumran and Christianity.

STP Vol 2Tamara C. Eskenazi and Kent H. Richards, editors. Second Temple Studies, Volume 2: Temple and Community in the Persian Period (JSOTSup 175; 1994, 2009, 175 pages). Many of the essays in this collection were a part of the 1991 International SBL symposium on “The Temple in the Persian Period.”  Since the collection limits itself to the Persian period all of the articles focus on the later books of the Hebrew Bible. The section on the temple is almost entirely drawn from the prophets (Carroll on the Prophets, Baltzer on Second Isaiah, Clines on Haggai, and Marinkovic on Zech 1-8).  The second section focuses on the community of the Persian period, with essays on Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah. Two articles (Smith–Carpenter; Eskenazi and Judd) deal with the issue of mixed marriage in Ezra and Nehemiah. Lester Grabbe’s contribution on the Mission of Ezra summarizes some of his views developed elsewhere.

Philip R. Davies, John M. Halligan, editors. Second Temple Studies, Volume 3: Studies in Politics, Class and Material Culture (JSOTSup 340; 2002, 2009, 340 pages). As sequel to Eskenazi and Richards, this collection of essays comes out of the SBL Sociology of the Second Temple study group. Rather than the Person period, the essays in this collection focus on the Achaemenid era (two essays), the Hellenistic period(s) (five essays) and the Hasmonean dynasty (three essays). Richard Horsely contributes an article on Ben Sira and the Sociology of the Second Temple (co-written by Patrick Tiller) and a second article on applying “historical sociology” to the expansion of Hasmonean rule in Galilee. Lester Grabbe aslo has two articles, the first on Hellenization, interacting with Martin Hengel, and a second contribution concerning the Samaritans in the Hasmonean period. One of the more interesting articles is by Robert Doran, on “Jewish Education in the Seleucid Period.” That anything can be known about education in this period is something of an open question, but Doran uses the text of Ben Sira and Ezekiel the Tragedian to draw some conclusions about what might have passed for education in the Jerusalem Gymnasium in the pre-Hasmonean period.

the-damascus-covenantPhilip R. Davies. The Damascus Covenant: An Interpretation of the “Damascus Document” (JSOTSup 25; 1983, 348 pages). The oldest book in this collection is focused on the Damascus Document (CD), a foundational text for the Essenes and is among the more important texts in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Document was discovered in the early twentieth century in the Cairo Geniza and was not immediately recognized as an Essene text (it was often referred to as a “Zadokite” document). Even though much has happened in the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Davies book on the Damascus Document is still helpful, especially his detailed literature survey of scholarship on the CD up to the early 1980s.

Conclusion. The books in this collection are a somewhat odd assortment, but they are all valuable contributions to the study of the Second Temple Period. A serious college, university, or seminary ought to own copies of these books.  They may not be the types of books the “average reader” will buy since a dissertation tends to be a challenging read. But anyone working in the Second Temple period ought to consider adding one or all of these books to their library.

My initial thought when I saw the price of these books is that they were too expensive. I pointed out to the marketing people at Logos that there were two books that were over-priced because they were out of print and available far less expensively at Google books, they responded but getting lowering the package price considerably. The collection is now available for 249.95, averaging about $35 per book.  This is in line with the cost of the books via Google Books.

Logos has a number of promotions available to professors and students to reduce the cost of the collection. In addition, these books are formatted to the Logos library, so that all of the tools of Logos can be used with them, including robust note-taking, highlighting, and copy and paste functions that simply do not exist in the Google Books format. I have purchased a few dissertations from Google Books, they have little more functionality than reading a PDF.

Logos is simply a superior reading platform to Google or Kindle. For me, the fact that Logos places footnotes at the bottom of the page for downloaded books makes Logos a superior reading tool. On the desktop version of Logos, footnotes are clickable links, but the note floats in a window above the text and can be copied like any other text. At this time, the Logos App does not permit copying footnotes.

Thanks to Logos for kindly providing me with a review copy of these books. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

Kruse, RomansAmazon’s Kindle Store has a great deal on Colin Kruse’s Pillar commentary on Romans.  The list price is $52.00, but the Kindle version is a mere $2.99.  I am not sure if this is a mistake or a short-term sale.  I did not see any other Pillar commentaries on sale in the Kindle store.

I reviewed this commentary when it came out, so go read my review and buy a copy of this fine resource.

JSPL_logoThe latest Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters (Spring 2013) arrived today. There is no “theme” for this issue, but there is a response to Steven Enderlein’s article on Romans 3:23 from a 2011 JSPL issue.  Stanley Porter and Wally Cirafesi. In that earlier article Enderlein argued that the verb ὑστερέω, traditionally translated as “fall short” in Romans 3:23 ought to be translated as “lack.”  The verse would then read “all have sinned and lack the glory of God.” He goes on to argue that this leads to a subjective reading of πίστις Χριστοῦ. Porter and Cirafesi agree with his translation of ὑστερέω, but do not agree that this forces a subjective (as opposed to an objective) genitive of πίστις Χριστοῦ. (For those who missed the 9000 articles on pistis christoi, if the genitive is subjective, then Paul is focused on the “Jesus’ faithfulness” rather than “faith in Jesus.”) Enderlein finds the subjective reading more coherent in the context of Romans 3-4. He has in mind “Adam allusions” throughout Rom 1-7, especially in 3:21-26 and 5:12-21.

I enjoyed David Starling’s article on “The Children of the Barren Woman: Galatians 4:27 and the Hermenutics of Justification.”  He reads the somewhat odd allusion to Isa 54:1 in the context of the story of Israel, which is the context of the middle section of Galatians. In fact, Starling points out that Paul’s use of Isa 54:1 is without parallel in the Second Temple Period.  Isaiah 54 was written to Israel while the nation is still in exile in a Gentile nation (still under the curse), and for Paul, Israel is still in this typological exile. Everyone is under the power of sin and must “come of out of the exile” in the same way, by means of God’s grace and not Torah observance.

There is also a long article my Mark Nanos on “Paul’s Polemic in Philippians 3.”  I browsed a few pages, looks like it is well-worth the read. There are a number of other articles in this number of the Journal, including Nijay Gupta’s review of Christ Tilling’s Divine Christ in Paul.

If you have not subscribed to Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters, you are missing out on a wealth of quality scholarship.

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Phillip J. Long

Phillip J. Long

I am a college professor who enjoys reading, listening to music and drinking fine coffee. Often at the same time.

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