Sunday, August 15, 2021

How Should Christians Respond When Government Bans Church Services?

Joel James from Grace Fellowship Pretoria, in South Africa, has written three articles that help us think about the Christian's response to the government's banning of church services for whatever reason.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Top 10 - Um - Just Books I read in 2020

When I thought of this blog post, I wanted to do a top 10 books that I read in 2020, but the fact is that I read slowly, and this year was one of the busiest work years of my life! In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our team simply didn't have enough time to complete our project. And, in the midst of this, I needed to find time to read. 

Another reason that I finish books so slow, is that I read several books at the same time. And when I say "several," I do not mean 2, 3, or 4 at a time. More like triple that at any one given moment.

Since this is not a top 10 post, they are numbered in the order that I finished reading them.

  1. How to Study Your Bible (Kay Arthur), This book teaches the Inductive Bible Study Method. HSYB is certainly a very useful book. The Bible student can use this book to go as deep as he wants to go. However, there are some caveats to some of the tips the author provides. To read about the book and about the caveats in the book, follow the link in the title of the book to read my review on the book.
  2. Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative (Sam Storms), This was my 2nd time reading Kingdom Come by Sam Storms. The first time was in 2013. I actually enjoyed the book now more than then. Storms has a clear way of explaining eschatological concepts through Scripture. Anybody who really wants to learn about amillennialism should read this book. In fact, anyone who is interested in eschatology, teaching of the end-times, should read this book! 
  3. The Oracle: The Jubilean Mysteries Unveiled (Jonathan Cahn), Fictional speculation at its best worst! I simply could not get into this book. 
  4. The Book of Revelation (Robert H. Mounce), This is a fair commentary on the book of Revelation, but there are better commentaries on Revelation. This commentary is part of The New International Commentary on the New Testament series of commentaries.
  5. Revelation (Joel Beeke), This is not a very in-depth commentary on Revelation, but it does aim in the right direction. This commentary is part of the Lectio Continua Expository Commentary on the New Testament series.
  6. The Basic Steps of Bible Study: Getting Started (Kay Arthur), This is simply a subset of HSYB above. Skip this one and to straight to HSYB.
  7. Revelation (Gordon D. Fee), This is a worthwhile commentary, but in my opinion, he still doesn't handle the symbolism, and imagery of Revelation well enough.
  8. 1, 2, 3 John, Revelation (Earl F. Palmer), The Revelation commentary in this set is average. At times it seems good, but at other times it leaves the reader feeling that there is just not enough. It is part of The Communicator's Commentary series.
  9. Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches (James M. Hamilton Jr.), This is not a technical commentary, and those who want to find a more devotional commentary with application sections, will find this one to their taste. I enjoyed this commentary, and is worthwhile purchasing.
  10. How to Study the Bible (Richard L. Mayhue), This is a fine book to start learning to do Bible Study, and there is much to learn from it.
  11. Hebrews through Revelation (Frank E. Gaebelein, general editor; Alan F. Johnson, author on the Revelation commentary), Of the non-technical commentaries, this one is fairly well done. It is perhaps a bit dated, but still fine as a commentary. It is volume #12 of The Expositor's Bible Commentary series.
  12. Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church (Earle E. Cairns), I think it is very important for Christians to know the history of the church. The original edition was my Church History textbook in Bible College. I decided to read it again. This is the 3rd edition, and it takes church history into the 1990s. It is a worthwhile church history book to have on your shelves.
  13. A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times (Kim Riddlebarger), It took me a while to get into this book. However, once I got past all the plugging that the author did for Covenant Theology, the book became what the title promised. The author seems to think that Amillenialism cannot stand on its own two feet without it being propped up by Covenant Theology. This is simply not true. A better book to read would be Kingdom Come by Sam Storms.
  14. Progressive Covenantalism: Charting a Course between Dispensational and Covenantal Theologies (editors: Stephen J. Wellum, Brent E. Parker), I enjoyed this book very much, and if you have read Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants by Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum, then you will enjoy this one too. Both these books are break-aways from Dispensational Theology (7 Dispensations, rapture, and other fairy tales), and also from Covenant Theology. It is very similar to New Covenant Theology with a few differences.
  15. An Introduction to the Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge (Dirk Jongkind), This is a short book on subjects such as textual criticism, and how Tyndale made their textual choices in order to come to what they believe is the best Greek NT text. It is an easy book to read, and I think that most people will understand it. I have a copy of the Tyndale House Greek New Testament (THGNT), and it is very close to the Nestle-Aland 28th edition (NA28) of the Greek NT, and the United Bible Societies 5th edition (UBS5) of the Greek NT.
  16. How to Study the Bible (Robert M. West), This is a very short book on the subject of Bible study, and is good for someone new to Bible study.
  17. The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (G. K. Beale), This is a fairly technical commentary based on the Greek text of the book of Revelation. It handles textual variants where necessary. This is by far the best commentary that I used through 2020 in the study of Revelation. Throughout the year I made use of 10 commentaries on Revelation, and Beale's commentary is completely above the rest. He goes into the symbolism of Revelation, and handles myriads of allusions that John made to the Old Testament to bring his message across. One thing that I learnt from Beale, is that without a good knowledge of the OT and its prophetic symbolism, one's interpretation will end up skewed by preconceived ideas about the end-times. Beale's commentary is a book of 1245 pages; so, as a commentary, it is not for the faint-hearted. However, if you do the hard work of working through this commentary, you will definitely be blessed and educated on Revelation.
  18. New Testament Textual Criticism: A Concise Guide (David Alan Black), I think Black did an excellent job introducing the reader to textual criticism. If you have no idea concerning the subject, this is the place start! Definitely recommended to those interested in the subject, but do not know where to start.
That is the end of my list. As you can see, there are many commentaries on this list, and one does not read a commentary like an ordinary book.

I hope that you are encouraged by getting one or more of these books. Whatever the case, Tolle Lege! Take up and Read!

May you all have a wonderful New Year, and that your hearts draw ever closer to our great, and wonderful Saviour, Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Learning Biblical Greek has never been more accessible, and is needed more than ever!

When I studied at Bible College in the second half of the 1980s, we had to learn Biblical Greek, and I

loved it! It took a lot of work and dedication, but at the end of the 3 semesters of Greek that year I had an average of 96%. I found it fascinating!

But, like they say, "If you don't use, you lose it!" I got married in 1990, and started working at a massive state company through which I studied software development, and I've been in software development ever since. Through the years, because of disuse, I had forgotten much of what I learnt about New Testament Greek. I don't know how many times I tried to pick it up again. Don't get me wrong! I could no longer handle it smoothly, differentiating between different verb forms, nouns, etc. Yet, I was quite capable of helping myself when I came across something in the New Testament that I wanted to check against the Greek. I had the resources, and I knew how to use them, but I couldn't pick up a Greek New Testament and just translate as I read.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

1000 Consecutive Days of Reading the Bible

Today, one thousand days ago I started using the YouVersion Bible app to read the Bible everyday. Although I used the app to read the Bible everyday, I only started using the app to actually read systematically through the Bible using their different Bible-in-a-year programs. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Review: How to Study Your Bible by Kay Arthur

This past week I read two books on studying the Bible inductively by Kay Arthur. The first one is "The BASIC STEPS of BIBLE STUDY" (BSBS), Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR, 2019, and the second is "HOW TO STUDY YOUR BIBLE" (HSYB), Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR, 1994.


Right off the bat, between these two books, I would recommend HSYB, since BSBS is simply the first part of HSYB. BSBS is a very simple introduction to inductive Bible study, whereas HSYB goes into much more detail.

Both books are easy to read, even HSYB, the more in-depth book of the two. In fact, for every part of the process, there are easy to follow steps. HSYB is not the theory of inductive Bible study, but a practical walk-through of the process.


The book is divided into six parts. The first two chapters are an introduction. The rest of the chapters of the book are divided into five parts. The first introductory chapter, If You Want to Know God's Word, is written as a letter to the reader by the author, giving a little background to the development of the Precept Upon Precept Inductive Bible Courses. The second introductory chapter, The Joy and Value of Inductive Study, gives a very broad outline of the rest of the book. Arthur writes, "Inductive Bible study draws you into personal interaction with the Scripture and thus with the God of the Scriptures so that your beliefs are based on a prayerful understanding and legitimate interpretation of Scripture--truth that transforms you when you live by it." (p11)

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Allusions in the Book of Revelation to the Old Testament

Currently, I am studying the last book of the Bible, the "Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John."

After I worked through the text in my first round, I wanted to return and work through it while studying all its allusions and verbal parallels to the Old Testament. I started looking for a complete list of allusions, but I couldn't find a complete list. In the 404 verses of the Book of Revelation, it has several hundred allusions and verbal parallels to the Old Testament, more than any other New Testament book. I found a list here and here. I still wasn't convinced that these two lists were complete. Greg Beale makes frequent reference to these allusions to the Old Testament in his "Revelation: a shorter commentary." He also mentions in his John's Use of the Old Testament in RevelationSheffield Academic Press Ltd, Sheffield, England, 1998, p60, that the UBS3 Greek text has 394 references of allusions and verbal parallels to the Old Testament. I checked in my copy of the UBS5 Greek text; it has over 600 allusions and verbal parallels in the Book of Revelation to the Old Testament (Aland, Barbara & Aland, Kurt & Karavidopoulos, Johannes & Martini, Carlo M. & Metzger, Bruce, THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT, Fifth Revised Edition, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, Germany, 2015, pp864-882).

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Lockdown church service at home

With national lockdown in its second week here in South Africa, we are unable to gather with the saints.

We are 5 in our home. Together with myself, there is my wife, my daughter (25), my son (23), and my mother-in-law.

We sat together and prayed, and then afterwards we watched a sermon by John Piper, called "Seven Reasons We Must Pursue Supreme Satisfaction in God."

Specifically, in a time such as ours with the COVID-19 disease sweeping across the world, having killed over 65,000 and infected more than 1,200,000 people already, we look at life with new eyes.

That is why I felt that this sermon of John Piper's was perfect for the occasion. We as humans have the tendency of finding satisfaction in all kinds of earthly endeavours, things that have pushed Christ down the ladder a rung or ten. Things like money, entertainment, sport, prestige, etc. But, right now, no matter who you are or your position in life, SARS-CoV-2 attacks indiscriminately, ignoring who you are.

It is for this reason we must seek our complete pleasure in Christ, and Christ alone!

This isn't always easy. On Friday in an online meeting with the rest of our company, our MD informed us that since the company group wants to be known as a people's company, that people are our greatest asset, the board has decided that in order to make sure that people aren't laid off due to COVID-19 and the lockdown, that everyone in the group will have to take a 20% pay cut for at least 2 months. Obviously, we do not want anyone laid off in the group because of this situation. As a company in the group, we unanimously agreed that it is a better idea than laying off people across the group. With budgets already stretched to the max, this is not an easy one to take; but, it is a necessary step! It is in times like these that we learn where our pleasures are. Are they found in things, or in Christ!

Where do you find satisfaction?

This sermon of Piper's can be found on the Desiring God website with the video and text.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Free books to read during the COVID-19 pandemic

Image of the SARS-C0V-2 virus.
In times such as what the world is living in right now, there is always the thought of being infected by the prevailing disease, and perhaps even die from it. The world has been going through situations like this from the beginning of time.

When we watch the news on TV, or if we check out the latest news at our favourite news website, we continue to see the number of infections rising, along with deaths related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the cause of COVID-19.

To think that since the outbreak of this virus, 617,063 people have been infected, and 28,376 have died. The staggering numbers of people affected by this virus may make us live in fear, panic, even dread. However, we must also look at how many people have already recovered: 137,336! Currently, the death rate stands at 4.6%, and the recovery is at 22.25%.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

My Bible Reading Plan for 2020

I haven't been blogging like I would like to, and I am sorry for that. Life has been very hectic in the last 5 years, really.

I'm a bit late in the uptake of this series of blog posts this year. Others have already written blog posts about their Bible reading programs for this year.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019


Action Alert from FORSA:
The call for comments on the revised draft of the PREVENTION AND COMBATING OF HATE CRIMES AND HATE SPEECH BILL (“the Bill”) is now open until 15 February 2019 (final date extended from 31 January to 15 February 2019).

Religious Freedom at Risk
Most notably, clause 4(1) of the Bill makes “hate speech” a crime – with potentially dire repercussions from a freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of conscience point of view. The offence will make any speech (as well as the distribution of such speech) that could be construed to be “harmful” on a wide range of subjective grounds, a criminal act carrying a jail sentence of up to three (3) years.

Religious Exemption Clause is only Valid For “Pulpits”
While we are encouraged by the inclusion of a “religious exemption clause” (in clause 4(2)(d)) in the Bill – as advocated for by FOR SA, and the many religious organisations and groups who previously made submissions on the Bill – concerns regarding criminalisation of free speech remain. Especially as the Deputy Minister of Justice noted that the religious exemption clause would only apply to “pulpits”.

Even if you have previously made a submission on the Bill (to the Deputy Minister of Justice), please do make a submission again (this time, to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice). Written submissions must be received by 15 February 2019, and can be emailed to the Committee Secretary, Mr Vhonani Ramaano (

Please use the TEMPLATE SUBMISSION FORSA have prepared to assist you in commenting / objecting to the provisions of the Bill which will significantly and negatively impact on freedom of (religious) expression. Sunday School teachers, worship leaders, Bible Study groups and social media commentators are all threatened by this bill.

Redefining Hate Speech
The Bill's extremely broad definition of hate speech under section 4 of the Bill includes in its scope any communication which is considered "abusive or insulting" and intended to "bring into contempt or ridicule" a person, or group of persons, on the basis of their gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. This includes email, or social media communications as well as teachings from a pulpit, or in a Bible study. Instead of an objective definition of what constitutes "hate speech" (for example those who sing "Kill the Boer! Kill the Farmer!" or those advocating Islamic Jihad to behead Christians), this bill seeks to focus on subjective definitions of where an individual may feel offended, even if that was not the intention. Yet, blasphemy and pornography are considered free speech! However, free speech is to be criminalised by this bill!

"He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord." Proverbs 17:15

See also: 
Ten Principles for True Freedom
Religious Freedoms at Risk in South Africa
Rise of the GayGB and the Pink Inquisition
Through the Looking Glass - An Insight into the Racist Agenda
Promoting Racism and Intolerance in the Name of Confronting Racism
The Heart and Soul of Karl Marx
Racism - Rhetoric and Reality
Do Not Take God’s Name in Vain

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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Diagramming the Bible

Some time ago I was shocked to learn that there were so many people across the pond that knew, or at least had learnt how to diagram sentences! Apparently, it is not being taught in schools there anymore, but many of my age were taught how to diagram. I have never learnt how to diagram in high school (late 70s) or Bible school (late 80s).

Recently I decided to start learning how to diagram, so I bought myself a book to learn. I bought Diagrammatical Analysis by Lee L. Kantenwein. The book is an endless quagmire of examples. What I did not find very helpful from this book is that there are no explanations on how to get to the end result of those examples. I probably just have to slow things down and go through the book step-by-step. I went through the Introduction to get an idea of what we are dealing with, and then I did a quick scan through the rest of the book to find out what is waiting for me down the line.

So, as you can see, I am not a “diagrammer.” Through the 1980s and 1990s, I would underline verses and make comments in the margins about those verses, and then through the 2000s and 2010s I applied a more visual approach with drawn icons, lists and comments.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Is Christianity equally guilty because the crusades are the moral equivalent of jihad?

The following was written by Philip Rosenthal of ChristianView Network.


Have you heard the argument that Christians can't critise (sic) Jihad because they are equally guilty for the crusades?  Mathematician Bill Warner created a dynamic time linked map comparing Jihad vs the Crusades: Watch it to decide who was the aggressor.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Top 10 Books I read in 2016

When I look back over a year that had run its course, especially what I read for that year, I sometimes experience disappointment because I didn't read as much as I had wanted to. This year is one of those.

One thing about top 10 lists of books is that readers will come up with vastly different lists, based on their likes and needs.

However, here is a list of the top 10 books I read this year. I included the book blurbs for each of the books below.

10. Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray
"Originally published in 1955 and reprinted dozens of times over the years, John Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied systematically explains the two sides of redemption -- its accomplishment through Christ’s atonement and its application to the lives of believers.
Murray explores the biblical passages dealing with the necessity, nature, perfection, and extent of the atonement in order to establish its relationship to our justification, sanctification, and glorification. He goes on to identify the distinct steps in the Bible’s presentation of how the redemption accomplished by Christ is applied progressively to the life of the redeemed, including the role of faith and repentance."

9. Whatever Happened to The Gospel of Grace?: Rediscovering the Doctrines That Shook the World by James Montgomery Boice
"Combines a serious examination of the state of today's church and a powerful solution: reclaiming the gospel of grace found in the confessional truths of the Reformation.
Though the Christian church has achieved a worldly sort of success-big numbers, big budgets, big outreaches-these are not good days for evangelicalism. Attendance is down, and it is increasingly difficult to distinguish so-called 'believers' from their non-Christian neighbors-all because the gospel of grace has been neglected.
In this work, now in paperback, the late James Montgomery Boice identifies what's happened within evangelicalism and suggests how the confessional statements of the Reformation-Scripture alone, Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone, and glory to God alone-can ignite full-scale revival. 'A church without these convictions has ceased to be a true church, whatever else it may be,' he wrote, but 'if we hold to these doctrines, our churches and those we influence will grow strong.'"

8. The Incomparable Christ by John R. W. Stott
"Who is Jesus Christ? No human question is more pivotal. No thoughtful answer fails to stretch our language, our categories or our aspirations.
In recent years numerous books have been written on Jesus, books that are shaped by faith or skepticism or follow the Western academic quest for the historical Jesus. The result has been a kaleidoscope of Jesuses, a thicket of viewpoints, some troubling to faith, some puzzling to the intellect, and a few that enrich our vision as they explore familiar terrain from new and promising angles.
Here is a book written by one who for a lifetime has followed Christ with heart, mind, soul and strength. John Stott offers us a vision of Christ whose portrait is discerned in the mosaic pattern of Scripture, whose influence is traced in the great currents of history, and whose compelling call has shaped the story line of ordinary humans who have been charged with extraordinary faith and courage."
7. Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism by Douglas R. Groothuis
"A 2001 Christianity Today Award of Merit winner! The concept of truth as absolute, objective and universal has undergone serious deterioration in recent years. No longer is it a goal for all to pursue. Rather postmodernism sees truth as inseparable from culture, psychology, race and gender. Ultimately, truth is what we make it to be. What factors have accelarated (sic) this decay of truth? Why are people willing to embrace such a devalued concept? How does this new view compare and contrast with a Christian understanding? While postmodernism contains some truthful insights (despite its attempt to dethrone truth), Douglas Groothuis sees its basic tenets as intellectually flawed and hostile to Christian views. In this spirited presentation of a solid, biblical and logical perspective, Groothuis unveils how truth has come under attack and how it can be defended in the vital areas of theology, apologetics, ethics and the arts."
6. A Visual History of the English Bible: The Tumultuous Tale of the World's Bestselling Book by Donald L. Brake
"With a full color layout and over one hundred illustrations, A Visual History of the English Bible covers the fascinating journey of the Bible from the pulpit to the people. Renowned biblical scholar Donald L. Brake invites readers to explore the process of transformation from medieval manuscripts to the contemporary translations of our day. Along the way, readers will meet many heroes of the faith--men and women who preserved and published the Scriptures, often at risk of their own lives.
From Wycliffe and Tyndale to King Henry VIII and the Geneva Bible, from the Bishop's Bible and the King James Version to the American Revolution and the Civil War, this tumultuous tale is history come alive. This book is perfect for history buffs, bibliophiles, and anyone interested in the colorful account of the world's most popular book."
5. Keep Your Greek: Strategies for Busy People by Constantine R. Campbell
"Seminarians spend countless hours mastering biblical languages and learning how the knowledge of them illuminates the reading, understanding, and application of Scripture. But while excellent language acquisition resources abound, few really teach students how to maintain their use of Greek for the long term. Consequently, pastors and other former Greek students find that under the pressures of work, ministry, preaching, and life, their hard-earned Greek skills begins to disappear."
This is a real concern for many who learnt Greek at Bible School, and this book is a true encouragement to those who have "lost" their Greek!

4. American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle
"The #1 New York Times bestselling memoir of U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle, and the source for Clint Eastwood’s blockbuster movie which was nominated for six academy awards, including best picture.
"From 1999 to 2009, U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle recorded the most career sniper kills in United States military history. His fellow American warriors, whom he protected with deadly precision from rooftops and stealth positions during the Iraq War, called him “The Legend”; meanwhile, the enemy feared him so much they named him al-Shaitan (“the devil”) and placed a bounty on his head. Kyle, who was tragically killed in 2013, writes honestly about the pain of war—including the deaths of two close SEAL teammates—and in moving first-person passages throughout, his wife, Taya, speaks openly about the strains of war on their family, as well as on Chris. Gripping and unforgettable, Kyle’s masterful account of his extraordinary battlefield experiences ranks as one of the great war memoirs of all time"
The book says much more than the movie, and in his account of his life as a SEAL, the emotional grip of war on him can almost be felt.

3. Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study by Gordon D. Fee
"This work offers an exhaustive study of Pauline Christology by noted Pauline scholar Gordon Fee. The author provides a detailed analysis of the letters of Paul (including those whose authorship is questioned) individually, exploring the Christology of each one, and then attempts a synthesis of the exegetical work into a biblical Christology of Paul."
Even though this book has 744 pages, I never felt that it was too much. Fee is very thorough on the apostle Paul's Christology!

2. How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture by Francis A. Schaeffer
"As one of the foremost evangelical thinkers of the twentieth century, Francis Schaeffer long pondered the fate of declining Western culture. In this brilliant book he analyzed the reasons for modern society's state of affairs and presented the only viable alternative: living by the Christian ethic, acceptance of God's revelation, and total affirmation of the Bible's morals, values, and meaning."
Schaeffer had a very unique way of looking at the world, and this book is like almost all his books; worth the time to read!

1. Advances in the Study of Greek: New Insights for Reading the New Testament by Constantine R. Campbell
"Advances in the Study of Greek offers an introduction to issues of interest in the current world of Greek scholarship. Those within Greek scholarship will welcome this book as a tool that puts students, pastors, professors, and commentators firmly in touch with what is going on in Greek studies. Those outside Greek scholarship will warmly receive Advances in the Study of Greek as a resource to get themselves up to speed in Greek studies. Free of technical linguistic jargon, the scholarship contained within is highly accessible to outsiders."
This book opened my mind to many things that I was unaware of in modern Greek scholarship.

A. Blake White also created a top 10 list and Tim Challies created a list of the top books he had read this year.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Students of New Testament Greek and pastors should keep up to date with latest Greek scholarship

Back in April 2016, I read the little book, "Keep Your Greek: Strategies for Busy People" (Kindle Edition), written by Constantine R. Campbell (also see this).

I immensely enjoyed this book and it is this book that led me to Con Campbell's book, "Advances in the Study of Greek: New Insights for Reading the New Testament" (Kindle Edition).

Even though some of the discussions were slightly over my head, I pressed on, and as I did, I gained some perspective of several of the latest Greek scholarly studies and debates. It gave me a fresh view of how limiting my own Greek studies were back in 1986. So many things I learnt back then have now been skewered by updated Greek studies. Yet, it also encouraged me to start "updating" my Greek, so to speak (write?). One area where I lack due to my studies in the 80's is in the area of verbal aspect, and as a result, I have ordered Con's book, "Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek" (paperback).

For those that are studying, or have already studied Greek, and also those that should be studying New Testament Greek (e.g pastors), "Advances" is an invaluable book that will help you in choosing what and how to study.

I'm not doing a whole review of the book at all. It simply would be too involved. I would like to give you a quote or two, though!

"[...] there is no such thing as Greek exegesis that does not involve Greek. And whenever Greek is involved, our understanding of the language determines how well we will handle Greek text. Thus, Greek cannot be regarded a peripheral issue for New Testament studies, since the entire New Testament is written in Greek. This means that New Testament studies can no longer afford to hold Greek scholarship at arm’s length, for there is no area of New Testament interest that does not involve Greek in some capacity. It affects the entire guild. This is fact; the only question is whether or not we will be responsible with that fact. For bad Greek is like a poisoned water stream in a village; its ill effects touch everyone." (Constantine R. Campbell, Advances in the Study of Greek: New Insights for Reading the New Testament, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, ePub Edition, 2015, p225)

As part of his conclusion to his book, the author hopes that he had accomplished 8 things, which I believe he achieved admirably! Those 8 things are in the quote below.

"Before concluding, I reiterate my several hopes for this book. First, I hope the reader will be properly introduced to the issues of greatest importance for current Greek studies. Second, I hope the reader will become better equipped to handle Greek text with linguistic sophistication, both on a methodological and practical level. Third, I hope the reader will feel competent to engage further with Greek scholarship. Fourth, I hope the reader will engage further with Greek scholarship. Fifth, I hope that the teaching of Greek will be well informed of current issues. Sixth, I hope that the wider world of New Testament scholarship will become more engaged with Greek scholarship. Seventh, I hope that some readers will be inspired to become Greek scholars themselves. Eighth, I hope that future editions of this book will need to include the contributions of some of those aforementioned readers." (Constantine R. Campbell, Advances in the Study of Greek: New Insights for Reading the New Testament, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, ePub Edition, 2015, p225-226. Bold text bolded by me)

I hope this helps you in terms of at least improving your Greek, or to start it for the first time.

Friday, April 01, 2016

New Biblical manuscript found, believed to be one of Constantine’s fifty!

Cairo, September 18, 2011: A statement was released late last night by the International Cooperation on Biblical Manuscripts, that significant evidence now exists that a manuscript which was discovered near the Egyptian city of Alexandria in 2005 may indeed be one of fifty Biblical manuscripts that Emperor Constantine instructed Eusebius Pamphili to order on his behalf for “the instruction of the church.”

According to Dr. J.A. Weber of the ICBM, the front page of this important codex states in Greek:

One of fifty copies commissioned by
Caesar Victor Constantinus Maximus Augustus
and servant of God
who authorized Eusebius Pamphili to have these
prepared by his scribes in the church at Caesarea
Palaestina and distributed throughout
Constantinople in the year 1088 AUC.”

While the date of the inscription seems problematic, Dr. Weber explained that AUC “is short for Ab urbe condita, from the founding of the city (of Rome). While Rome was founded in 753 BC, adding the 1088 puts the above inscription at AD 335, just two years prior to the death of Constantine the Great!”

According to historical accounts by Eusebius himself, Constantine wrote a letter to him, requesting an order of fifty manuscripts of the sacred Scriptures. This letter can be found in “The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II, Volume 1” and reads as follows:
“Victor Constantinus, Maximus Augustus, to Eusebius.
“It happens, through the favoring providence of God our Saviour, that great numbers have united themselves to the most holy church in the city which is called by my name. It seems, therefore, highly requisite, since that city is rapidly advancing in prosperity in all other respects, that the number of churches should also be increased. Do you, therefore, receive with all readiness my determination on this behalf. I have thought it expedient to instruct your Prudence to order fifty copies of the sacred Scriptures, the provision and use of which you know to be most needful for the instruction of the Church, to be written on prepared parchment in a legible manner, and in a convenient, portable form, by professional transcribers thoroughly practiced in their art. The catholicus of the diocese has also received instructions by letter from our Clemency to be careful to furnish all things necessary for the preparation of such copies; and it will be for you to take special care that they be completed with as little delay as possible.3335 You have authority also, in virtue of this letter, to use two of the public carriages for their conveyance, by which arrangement the copies when fairly written will most easily be forwarded for my personal inspection; and one of the deacons of your church may be intrusted with this service, who, on his arrival here, shall
experience my liberality. God preserve you, beloved brother!”
According to Dr. Weber, preliminary carbon dating of the codex puts it in the early 4th century which would confirm the authenticity of the codex. Dr. Weber also said that there are hardly any variations from Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, and that if the final testing on this codex proves it authentic, that it would be the greatest discovery of Biblical manuscripts since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947!

If final tests confirm the authenticity of this exciting discovery, it will be named as Codex Constantinus, after Constantine the Great.

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