Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Late Present For You

I am not sure but I think traditionally Christmas songs are not to be sung until after Christmas maybe until Epiphany or something like that (12 Days of Christmas are the days after Christmas, I think). So here is a present for you:

Καλα Χριστουγεννα

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mice Skeletons

My dad is working on finishing the basement so we have been cleaning and putting some kind of sealant on the floor. As I was sweeping in one area, I found a couple little dust piles, but then I looked closer. There were mice skeletons in the piles. Death has been on my mind a lot in the past several months as I have pondered the first creation and the fall and the entrance of sin and death then as I have been reading Surprised By Hope by N.T. Wright. Did some form of death exist before the fall? What did God mean when he said "You shall surely die?" How can death be the enemy, the final one to be conquered and yet Paul is able to say death is gain. What should our relationship to death be? Should we look forward to it as gain or should we despise it as an enemy?

I think I might use this as a reason to do some studying. I will report back to you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

For That Linguist Deep Down Inside

Forvo is a cool little website that offers pronunciations for words in different languages by native speakers. I can see it being a great help for learning a language so for those learning German, Greek (Modern pronunciation), Hebrew, Turkish, or even Klingon, check it out. For that matter, indulge your inner philologist and listen to all the languages. You know you want to.

Friday, December 26, 2008

An Interesting Quote

Simone Weil (I have no idea who this is, I got it from the Christianity Today review of the Spirit which I have not seen) said, "Imaginary evil is romantic and varied: real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring: real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating. 'Imaginative literature,' therefore, is either boring, or immoral, or a mixture of both."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Merry Christmas

I have been having a wonderful time at home, spending time with my father, my mother, my sister, and my two adorable nieces. I have three new books in my possession, one of which may appear here as a review. One of the others I received was Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion which I am happy to say was one of my niece's favorite gifts. She wanted to flip through all the pages, and she was very sad when I took it into the other room. God bless you all on this Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Beauty of Winter

I arrived back in my hometown of Peoria, IL, to find ice and snow everywhere. Down in TN, not much snow and ice are to be seen. Even though it is absolutely frigid outside, it is also amazingly beautiful. God has done well in coating the landscape in white.

This reminds me of a question my grandmother asked me: "If there was no death before the Fall, was there winter?" It is interesting that the season of death can be such a beautiful season. I sure hope there were seasons before the Fall, but even then, it could be a sign of God's working good in all things. Or both. Mere Speculation. I will just enjoy God's beautiful creation and dream of the one to come (I am not sure if that is a double entendre or not).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Review: The Orthodox Study Bible

I have finally gotten around to reviewing the Orthodox Study Bible. Here it goes:

The Orthodox Study Bible, published by Thomas Nelson, is a new study Bible with two interesting features. First, all of its notes and articles are written from an Eastern Orthodox perspective. Second, the Old Testament is translated from the Septuagint (LXX), which the Eastern Orthodox use, rather than the Masoretic Text (MT). These two features make it a valuable resource for most students of the Bible, Eastern Orthodox or not. For this review, it will be important to note that I am not an Eastern Orthodox, so my thoughts will be those of an outsider.

First, the edition I have is the hard cover. It comes with a nice, sturdy dust cover with a beautiful icon of Christ on the front. The colors of the cover match that of the icon, red and gold, very pleasing to behold. Removing the dust cover, the Bible looks a lot like many standard pew Bibles (at least for many of us Baptists). It is maroon with the "Orthodox Study Bible" written in gold on the front with the Eastern Orthodox cross also gold. The font of the text is decently sized (big enough to be read without being a large-font Bible), and the font of the notes are as well very readable. Some of my favorite parts of the Bible are the paintings/icons that are placed throughout the text. They are beautiful, and many seemed to be filled with theological depth.

The study Bible contains several articles and resources at the front and back of the book. The introduction explains the differences in numbering at some places (Psalms, Jeremiah, and Malachi) between the LXX and the MT. There is also a list comparing the Old Testament books in the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant traditions. The different books are: 1 Esdras (a variation of Ezra), Tobit, Judith, 1-3 Maccabees, Psalm 151, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach, Baruch, Epistle of Jeremiah, the Prayer of Manassah, the additions to Esther, and the additions to Daniel. While I do not consider these to be inspired, the church throughout history has found some value in them as well as it has quoted from them. If you do not have some form of the Apocrypha, here is a good place to get them. The study Bible also has a section with a brief overview of all the books of the Bible. This section is very brief and is not really something to write home about. There is also an introduction to the Eastern Orthodox church which is very informative.

In the back of the book, there are a set of articles entitled "For Prayer, Reading, and Study." The first article in this set is "How to Read the Bible" which explains four characteristics of Eastern Orthodox Bible reading: it should be obedient, ecclesial, Christ-centered, and personal. There are a lot of good things in this article that should apply across branches of Christianity, though there are some specifics I disagree with, but they are not necessarily bad (for instance, how the ecclesial characteristic works out, I am not sure liturgy is the best way to interpret through the Church, though it definitely could play in). The next tool provided is a lectionary. It offers reading based on the church calendar. Sadly, due to my Baptist background, I lack much knowledge about this tool, but it does offer some insight into the way the Eastern Orthodox think, how verses apply and the like. It also has a glossary, again useful for the Eastern Orthodox understanding of different topics. After the glossary, there are morning and evening prayers. I have yet to really use written prayers (someday I think I want to), but there are some good things in these prayers. They also contain the Nicene creed (sans the filioque clause) and some Psalms to use in the morning which I have used and I have enjoyed.

Then, there is an index to the notes which not only point out themes but also references to church fathers. This could be extremely useful if you wanted to find what a certain church father said on various things. This seems like a good time to discuss the notes themselves. The notes are not focused on a specific subject. They are generally explanative from the Eastern Orthodox perspective. Because of that, typology and allegory are used more frequently. Also of interest is that many of the notes come from church fathers. This gives a historical perspective that we do not often find in newer commentaries. Plus, if we do get a historical viewpoint on a passage, it is unlikely to come from the church fathers who are an important part of the church and the whole church has much to learn from them (as well as other parts of the church). Another type of note points out verses that are used for different occasions in the church calendar.

After the index of notes, there is the index to the study articles. These articles address many of the important issues. They attempt to address differing interpretations on the issues (but for instance in the article on Justification by Faith, they seem to misinterpret the idea of sola fides), and offer some idea of Eastern Orthodox theology on the big issues.

Overall, this is a very good study Bible even for those not Eastern Orthodox. The Eastern Orthodox, at least for many Protestants I know, are a mystery, and this study Bible clears up some of the theology and mindset. It is helpful in learning to respect this important branch of the Body of Christ. It, however, should not be the primary Bible of Protestants. It seems, though, to offer much for the Eastern Orthodox Christian, and I am glad to see this tool available for them, despite my disagreements in theology.

The Joy of Organization

Speaking of the end of the semester, one thing that I have been able to do that has immensely improved my mood is to organize my room. Last night, I put all my new books from this semester in my library, reorganizing it as well, and then I bought some file folders and organized all my papers and articles. Loose papers are the bane of my existence and really put a damper on my mood, but now they are all sorted and I feel better. During the middle of the semester when my roommate and I were writing all our papers, articles and books were scattered everywhere. It was unpleasant for my state of mind. Now, however, everything is the way it should be, tidy…tidier at least.

Another Semester Down, One to Go

Yesterday, I had my last final. It feels very good to be done with classes because it was a hard semester, but it was a good semester. I had History of Christianity, Biblical Theology, Elementary Hebrew, Contemporary Christian Life and Practice, and the book of Hebrews. They were all really good classes and I have learned a lot. Biblical Theology especially has altered my understanding of how the Bible fits together. I exhort everyone to go get Graeme Goldsworthy's According to Plan to get an introduction to Biblical Theology.

I only have one more semester left at Union. Then, it is off to seminary. I am going to need God's wisdom and provision for that.

Christmas Giveaway!

Trevin Wax at Kingdom People is giving away his ten favorite books of this year and an ESV Study Bible for subscribing to his blog. I encourage you to check out his blog and subscribe.

As a sidenote, I should giveaway some books to get more visitors. Anyone want some John Phillips' commentaries?