The Necromancer from Endor – John Walton and Phil Long
Saul’s visit to the so-called "witch" of Endor in 1 Samuel 28 provides one of the most mysterious and troubling accounts in the Old Testament. These are the sorts of narratives that we can expect information from the ancient world to illuminate. Phil Long sorts through the data in his commentary on Samuel in ZIBBCOT as he looks at the practitioners and their procedures.
The chief function of such practitioners was evidently to communicate with the spirit world, particularly with the dead. In the present instance, the Hebrew for "medium" reads literally "ghostwife" or perhaps "ghostmistress."1 The "ghost" (Heb. ôb) was understood as the spirit of the dead, and the function of the medium was to call up the spirit through necromancy, in order that it might speak.
Solomon’s Dream at Gibeon
by John Walton and Fred Mabie
While people today experience dreams all the time, we don’t often give them the serious attention as in the ancient world, where they were considered to be communication from deity. Fred Mabie explains some of the aspects of this understanding, particularly as it relates to Solomon’s dream in 2 Chronicles 1 in his commentary in ZIBBCOT.
Solomon’s nocturnal experience at Gibeon shares certain commonalities with ancient Near Eastern dream accounts.1 Ancient people—like modern people—desired to know the will of their G/god(s). Various methods were used to attempt to "connect" with the divine world, including extispicy (interpretation of the entrails of a sacrificed animal), libanomancy (interpretation of smoke rising from a censer), lecanomancy (interpretation of oil dropped into water), incantation (recitation of religious formula to gain a deity’s attention), divination (interpretation of natural phenomena such as astronomical observations as well as interpretation of dreams, animal behavior, abnormal births, and so forth).2
Miles Van Pelt – Why Do I Invest in the Biblical Languages?
Miles V. Van Pelt (Ph.D., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is associate professor of Old Testament and Academic Dean at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS. He is the coauthor of our best-selling Basics of Biblical Hebrew, as well as a number of other resources on biblical Hebrew.
Have you studied ancient Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic? Do you resonate with what Miles said?
Reflections on Inductive Bible Study part 2 by Ajith Fernando
See yesterday's post for more of Ajith's thoughts on Inductive Bible Study. -AR
Greek and Hebrew study is not essential for inductive study but it greatly enhances it. I’ve always maintained that the most influential Bible teacher in my life is my mother, who may never even have attended any class on how to study the Bible. Certainly, she does not know any Greek or Hebrew. But I believe a knowledge of the original languages really helps those who are going to teach the Word of God to God’s people.
Reflections on Inductive Bible Study, part 1 by Ajith Fernando
I was once teaching a week-long course to some first generation Christians active in Christian ministry on how to study the Bible and use it in ministry. I found that many of my students were latching on to an inspiring thought from the passages we were studying, forgetting the context in which that thought appears and ultimately missing out on the message of the passage. So I had to keep asking them over and over again questions like, "What does the passage really say?" "Why does Paul say that?" It was a desperate battle. At one time I was so concerned that I sent SOS text messages to about 20 people asking them to pray that somehow God will break through and help them to learn how to read and study the Bible. I think the basic problem was that they have not really learned to read!
Beaches, Bikinis, and the Body of Christ
by Lynn Cohick
No, this is not a blog advocating (or decrying) beach evangelism, the butt of many (sometimes well deserved) jokes. This is much more serious, it is musings on what it means to be embodied as believers in Jesus. This past week my sister-in-law was on a panel discussing body image among young women. The epidemic of anorexia and bulimia, the evidence of which is displayed on YouTube and Facebook, reminded me yet again of the need for Christians to affirm our faith in the resurrection of the body.
John Dickson interview with Darrell Bock
Why I’m a “Calminian” by Craig Blomberg
"You intended it to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Gen. 50:20).
If either pure five-point Calvinism or its consistent repudiation in pure Arminianism were completely faithful to Scripture, it is doubtful that so many Bible-believing, godly evangelical Christians would have wound up on each side. The former wants to preserve the Scriptural emphasis on divine sovereignty; the latter, on human freedom and responsibility. Both are right in what they want and correct to observe in Scripture the theme that they stress. Both also regularly create caricatures of what the other side believes. Straw men are always the easiest to knock down.
Influential Books and Authors: Douglas Estes on Warren, Rainer
Each week in Influential Books and Authors we hear from a noted scholar on the author(s) and book(s) that have been most important to them for spiritual and intellectual growth. This week we feature New Testament scholar and teaching pastor, Douglas Estes.
Douglas Estes is Adjunct Professor of New Testament at Western Seminary-San José and Lead Pastor at Berryessa Valley Church, San José, California. He received his PhD in Theology from the University of Nottingham, UK. His publications include The Temporal Mechanics of the Fourth Gospel: A Theory of Hermeneutical Relativity in the Gospel of John (Brill, 2008) and the forthcoming, SimChurch: Being the Church in the Virtual World (Oct. 2009).
“The Codex Sinaiticus: Pages from the World’s Oldest Bible Reunited” by Karen H. Jobes
The ancient codex meets modern technology with the Codex Sinaiticus project that went online this month. Because Sinaiticus, the world’s oldest Bible, was originally acquired in parts during the 19th-century, for more than a century it pages have been secured away from easy access in four institutions: the British Library, the University Library in Leipzig, the National Library of Russia, and St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt.
On July 6, 2009, a partnership agreement by these four institutions culminated in the reunion of the entire Bible in digital form online. All known leaves of Codex Sinaiticus have been digitally photographed and assembled at http://www.codexsinaiticus.org, where the manuscript can be viewed, along with a transcription of its Greek text and translations into English, modern Greek, German, and Russian. Never before have scholars and the general…
Return to Calvin: A Personal Reflection on how Calvinism has Lost its Way
By Douglas Estes
Even though I was studying, I pulled my feet off my desk, jumped up from my chair and opened the door of the closet that was my seminary dorm room without any hesitation. After all, it was the middle of the day and I had dormmates who would soon be returning from classes looking to hang before dinner. Instead of friends, it was two big men—they were students but I didn’t really know them. They were dressed nicely but perspiring terribly in the Carolina spring heat.
"Are you a Calvinist?" one of the sweaty men asked without any salutation or introduction.
"No." Here we go, I thought.
"Can we share with you the five points of Calvinism?" asked the second one.
"But—look—as Spurgeon said there is ‘no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach Calvinism. Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else,’" declared the first fellow.
A Don of Biblical Proportions:
A Tribute to Martin Hengel (1926-2009) by John Dickson
As the music world farewells Michael Jackson, the king of pop, academia mourns the loss of a don of truly biblical proportions. Martin Hengel was Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism at Germany’s prestigious University of Tübingen from 1972 until (as Professor Emeritus) his death on Thursday, July 2. The author of dozens of important monographs and literally hundreds of technical articles, Professor Hengel, originally a successful businessman, was the scholar’s scholar, as comfortable in the classical sources of Greece and Rome as he was in the many and varied writings of Jewish and Christian antiquity.
I had the enormous privilege of conducting what was perhaps Martin Hengel’s last full-scale television interview (for an historical documentary last year).
When the film crew and I met him in his flat overlooking the Neckar River in central Tübingen I was struck by several things. First, his enormous private library, described by his academic colleague Peter Stuhlmacher, whom I interviewed later that day, as "perhaps the finest private collection in Europe." Actually, his ‘flat’ is two spacious interconnected 2-3 bedroom units, one for him and the warmly hospitable Frau Hengel and one for books—at least four large rooms filled to overflowing with scholarly tomes written in German, English, French and Italian, as well as all of the relevant primary sources in Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Coptic, Greek and Latin. During the interview I couldn’t help gazing around the room and noticing the countless slips of paper peering out of so many of the items on the shelves. These books had been analysed and absorbed not just consulted and displayed. I left his home feeling slightly fraudulent as a New Testament scholar.