April 8, 2013
The Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Leuven has compiled a list (click HERE) of theological journals, ranked by importance. This list is as “intercontinental as possible: besides Western-European and Northern-American journals it also includes academic journals from all the other continents. The list is dynamic: it is updated regularly by the Faculty’s Research Committee on the basis of researchers’ feedback.”
I see that Filologia Neotestamentaria, the journal for which both my master’s thesis supervisor and doctoral thesis supervisor serve as editors, is ranked in the second highest tier. Also in this tier is Currents in Biblical Research, in which my first ever journal article is forthcoming. Anyways, check out the list of journals and find some new ideas for potential journals with which to publish.
April 5, 2013
I recently completed reading the books that Piper and Wright published on justification, which were written in response to each each others opposing views on this doctrine. One thing that was impressive was their congenial tone and gentleman-like manner in disagreeing with each other, which sadly is so often lacking in important debates. Here are some great take-a-ways from the reading:
Piper (quoting Owen):
We have communion with God in the doctrine we contend for (p. 28).
I used to tell my students that at least 20 percent of what I was telling them was wrong, but I didn’t know which 20 percent it was: I make many mistakes in life, in relationships and in work, and I don’t expect to be free of them in my thinking. But whereas in much of life one’s mistakes are often fairly obvious, … in the life of the mind things are often not so straightforward. We need other minds on the job, to challenge us … (pp. 20-21).
Ever since I first read Luther and Calvin, particularly the latter, I determined that whether or not I agreed with them in everything they said, their stated and practiced method would be mine too: to soak myself in the Bible, in the Hebrew and Aramaic Old Testament and the Greek New Testament, to get it into my bloodstream by every means possible, in the prayer and hope that I would be able to teach Scripture afresh to the church and the world (p. 22).
April 4, 2013
Mary Tyler Moore, considered one of the most glamorous and popular tv actresses of her time. The above picture shows her in 1969 and 2013: my what 44 years can do (she is now 76). This picture reminds me of the many times Scripture speaks about the brevity of life, or compares life to a flower: beautiful for a moment, then withered, and suddenly gone. Whatever I’m doing now will only last for a time. Whatever strength I have, whatever health, will soon be over. Is what I’m doing making an eternal difference?
April 4, 2013
I’ve been doing some reading in Luther lately; he is such a stimulating, edifying, and magnificent writer. Some of my favorite take-aways:
the law “is the hammer of death, the thundering of hell and the lightning of God’s wrath, that beats to powder the obstinate and senseless hypocrites. Wherefore this is the proper and absolute use of the law …” (Luther, Romans, 139).
In faith believers approach Christ as a bride would her groom. This is a marriage in which all possessions are shared: Christ the Bridegroom acquires the bride’s “sins, death, and damnation” while she receives his “grace, life, and salvation” (Luther, Freedom, 31:351).
“Many things are indeed cleansed, especially the head of the serpent–that is, unbelief and ignorance of God are cut off and crushed (Gal 3:15)–but the scaly body and the remnants of sin still remain in us” (Gal, 189).
April 1, 2013
This quote/translation serves as a good reminder for those of us who spend a good deal of time reading, and for those who may be aspiring to scholarship:
μέμνησο, ὅτι οὐ μόνον ἐπιθυμία ἀρχῆς καὶ πλούτου ταπεινοὺς ποιεῖ καὶ ἄλλοις ὑποτεταγμένους, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἡσυχίας καὶ σχολῆς καὶ ἀποδημίας καὶ φιλολογίας. ἁπλῶς γὰρ οἷον εἂν ᾖ τὸ ἐκτός, ἡ τιμὴ αὐτοῦ ὑποτάσσει ἄλλῳ. . . . ἢ τίνος ἕνεκα θέλεις ἀναγνῶναι; εἰπέ μοι. . . . τί σοι λείπει; βιβλία; πῶς ἢ ἐπὶ τί; οὐχὶ γὰρ ἐπὶ τὸ βιοῦν παρασκευή τίς ἐστιν αὕτη; τὸ βιοῦν δ᾽ ἐξ ἄλλων τινῶν ἢ τούτων συμπληροῦται. οἷον ἂν εἰ ὁ ἀθλητὴς κλαίῃ εἰς τὸ στάδιον εἰσιών, ὅτι μὴ ἔξω γυμνάζεται. τούτων ἕνεκα ἐγυμνάζου, ἐπὶ τοῦτο οἱ ἁλτῆρες, ἡ ἁφή, οἱ νεανίσκοι. καὶ νῦν ἐκεῖνα ζητεῖς, ὅτε τοῦ ἔργου καιρός ἐστιν;
Remember that it is not merely desire for office and wealth which makes people lowly and subservient to others, but desire also for quietness, and leisure, and travel, and scholarship. For it makes no difference what the external object be, the value you set upon it makes you subservient to another. . . . Or for what purpose do you wish to read? Tell me. . . . What do you still lack? Books? How or for what end? The reading of books is a kind of preparation for the act of living, is it not? But the full measure of the act of living is made up of things other than books. It is as though the athlete on entering the stadium were to fall a-wailing because he is not exercising outside. This is what you exercised for, this is the purpose of your weight-lifting and wrestler’s sand and your young training partners. And are you now asking for those things, when the time for action has come? (Epictetus, Discourses, IV, IV,1-11, trans. adapted from Oldfather).
My daughter knows what it means when poppy gets ready in the morning: Poppy is getting ready to go to work, that is, to to grab his backpack, fill it with books, and then spend the day at his desk in the library. Lately she has come up with an interesting solution:
Sneak into Poppy’s backpack and spend the day with him in the library. Sounds like fun right? Poppy is sure to get lots of work done if my little buddy comes along
March 11, 2013
. . . I must register one strong protest against one particular translation. When the New International Version was published in 1980, I was one of those who hailed it with delight. I believed its own claim about itself, that it was determined to translate exactly what was there, and inject no extra paraphrasing or interpretive glosses. This contrasted so strongly with the then popular New English Bible, and promised such an advance over the then rather dated Revised Standard Version, that I recommended it to students and members of the congregation I was serving. Dissolusionment set in over the next two years, as I lectured verse by verse through several of Paul’s letters, not least Galatians and Romans. Again and again, with the Greek text in front of me and the NIV beside it, I discovered that the translators had another principle, considerably higher than the stated one. . . . I do not know what version of Scripture they use at Dr Piper’s church. But I do know that if a church only, or mainly, relies on the NIV it will, quite simply, never understand what Paul was talking about (Wright, Justification, 51-52).
If I had to guess what Bible they use at Dr. Piper’s church–as Wright phrased it–I would say ESV, although I really have no idea. I get the impression that the ESV is quite trendy right now in many circles, not the least of which include Baptist and Calvinistic. And, I recently had a discussion (actually, it was more of a monologue) in which a quite educated theology student praised the various qualities of the ESV, making claims about this translation that are very similar to the above claims about the NIV. “The ESV translates the Bible literally, word for word. And, the translators attempt to render a word the same way each time, so that the English reader knows exactly what is going on in the Greek. What’s more, this translation was done by those from the reformed camp!”
Wright’s claim, that one can never understand Paul’s words if one relies on the NIV, is quite bold. I think it is an overstatement. But, there is also truth behind his words. Translations can make high claims, as they are prone to do, but in the end they remain translations. This point may be lost to many people who only speak one language, and therefore don’t have an appreciation for the differences of language, or perhaps cannot understand why a literal translation is not always the best.
For example, my wife and I were talking last night about the common German phrase, “Wie geht es Ihnen?” A literal translation would be “How goes it to you?” But that makes no sense, the better translation would be the less literal one: “How are you?” or “How are things going?” But then, of course, you need to figure out how to translate “Ihnen,” which is used when speaking formally, often to a superior. So then, you might need to translate the phrase something like, “How are you, Sir?”
Personally, when I read my favorite authors, I prefer to read them in their own language, rather than in translation. So, for example, I recently read Harry Potter in German. Since I didn’t really care about capturing Rowland’s tone and style, I gladly used the books as a chance to improve my German. When I read C. S. Lewis (my favorite author), I cannot imagine wanting to read him in German. Lewis is such an artist with words, so eloquent, with such a style all of his own. To read him in another language, one would lose the feel. Much of the thought would be Lewis, but to really appreciate Lewis, he must be read in English. I think this is true about the great authors in general, they must be read in their original language.
And this brings me back to my point about Bible translation. If one really wants to capture the feel of the authors (in the Gospels, for example, if one wants to sense the casual, vivid style of Mark versus the more lofty style of Luke), one must read the original. Or, if the Bible is really a treasured book, God’s word, then to really appreciate it for all its worth, one must read the original. There is simply no comparison. I think of the often quoted phrase: “reading the Bible in translation is like kissing the bride through the veil.”
March 10, 2013
We had a great hike yesterday. The three of us who ended up going could only complete about 13 instead of 18 Kilometers. This was because the snow was so deep at the peak that we could not go any further.
There were great views the whole way
My wife always teases me because I love to take pictures of the trail. This shot gives a glimpse of how deep the snow was.
Oh technology: Martin is on his cell phone, and Seth is using his camera (and, so am I, of course)
Steep climbs in the snow are exhausting
Below, the alpine village Langgries. On a clear day we would have been able to see Munich in the distance.
This is why our hike had to end early. We were supposed to cross this snowy point. Absolutely unsafe for numerous reasons
March 8, 2013
Tomorrow morning I will be going with a German friend on a hike in the nearby Alps. I must confess, I’m just as excited about getting to hike as I am about getting to speak German the entire day. We have quite the trip planned: departure at 6:30, 1 hour train ride, begin hike at 8:00, hike for 8 hours (a total of 18.5 Kilometers), over a 1700 meter mountain. We still have 3 spots left on our train ticket, if you would like to join us. Here’s a picture of our route:
Very rarely do I read an academic book from cover to cover. Westerholm’s Perspectives Old and New on Paul is an exception. This work is commendable for numerous reasons. Westerholm manages to highlight the various viewpoints on Justification, from Augustine to Wright. Then, after a convincing critique of the New Perspective, he suggests a fresh and profound explanation of the traditional approach. His work is ideal for both newcomers to the debate and for seasoned interpreters of Paul. What’s more, Westerholm’s style is humorous, engaging, and polished, which is a must if one is going to match the persuasive eloquence of Dunn, Wright, and Sanders. The reader will finish the book with a firm grasp of this often bewildering topic, and with a wonderful example of what academic study and writing can and should be.