Archive - October, 2013

What if Life Were All about Pleasure?

Paul, in Acts 17:18, addresses adherents to two philosophical schools: Stoicism and the Epicureanism. We already know that the Stoics had much in common with the early Christians; not so the Epicureans, for whom life’s highest goal was individual pleasure.

But Epicureanism is worth studying as more than just early-church context. Though it fell out of favor in the third century AD, it nevertheless anticipated today’s intellectual climate in startling ways.

So, who were the Epicureans?

diogenes-laertius-lives-of-eminent-philosophers

  1. Moderates, not hedonists. “The philosophy,” notes the Faithlife Study Bible, “emphasized physical and intellectual pleasure and emotional calm (the most pleasure with the least pain).” But, though epicurean’s modern sense connotes excess, the ancients were moderates: Epicurus, quoted in Diogenes Laertius’ Lives of Eminent Philosophers, writes that “Nature’s wealth . . . is easy to procure; but the wealth of vain fancies recedes to an infinite distance.” Therefore,

    “When we say . . . that pleasure is the end and aim, we do not mean the pleasures of the prodigal or the pleasures of sensuality. . . . By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and of trouble in the soul. It is not an unbroken succession of drinking-bouts and of revelry . . . it is sober reasoning . . . and banishing those beliefs through which the greatest tumults take possession of the soul.”

  2. Utilitarians. The Epicurean approach to pleasure was practical. They tolerated pain when it brought about greater pleasure; they obeyed social contracts to avoid crime’s anxiety, shame, and punishment; they did good deeds so that others might respond in kind.
  3. Empiricists. “[A]ll our notions are derived from perceptions,” wrote Epicurus, “either by actual contact or by analogy, or resemblance, or composition, with some slight aid from reasoning.” That is, the senses are the best criteria for knowledge.
  4. Atomists. They argued, notes the FSB, that “the world was made of atoms and that such material was all that the world contained.” Even the gods were made of atoms; so were souls.
  5. Believers in distant, nonintervening gods. Their gods were immortal, blissful, and almost infinitely distant—”limited beings” made from the same atomic stuff as humans, who, in their divine equanimity, didn’t care about evil and had “no real effect on the world” (FSB).
  6. Disbelievers in the afterlife. Since souls, made of atoms, disintegrate at death, and since the gods don’t care about evil, there’s no afterlife of divine punishment to fear. Instead, we should:

    “Accustom [ourselves] to believe that death is nothing to us, for good and evil imply sentience, and death is the privation of all sentience; therefore a right understanding that death is nothing to us makes the mortality of life enjoyable . . . by taking away the yearning after immortality. . . . Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not.”

    For Epicurus, the fear of death was the “greatest anxiety of the human mind”—the pain most worth eliminating.

How did the Epicureans anticipate modernity?

classics-in-empiricist-philosophy-collectionAs you can see, Epicureanism disagreed with Christianity on an awful lot: cosmology, theodicy, the meaning of life.

No, its conclusions are familiar for another reason—they sound like those of modern secular culture.

  • Epicurean empiricism prefigured that of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. In fact, it even came close to anticipating the idealism of the last two, according to which only perceptions exist, not objects. Epicurus writes, “the objects presented to madmen and to people in dreams are true, for they produce effects—i.e., movements in the mind—which that which is unreal never does” (emphasis added).
  • Epicurean atomism was remarkably similar to nineteenth-century atomic chemistry: atoms as indivisible, eternal building blocks, things as mere accumulations of atoms colliding with each other. More, the Epicureans came up with a “many worlds” cosmology long before twentieth-century quantum physics did, if for different reasons. Writes Epicurus:

    “there is an infinite number of worlds, some like this world, others unlike it. . . . For the [infinite] atoms out of which a world might arise, or by which a world might be formed, have not all been expended on one world or a finite number of worlds, whether like or unlike this one.”

  • Epicureanism’s matter-of-fact approach to social living shares much with Locke’s utilitarianism, and even modern libertarianism. Since individuals are their own best judges of how to live, society means essentially “Leave me free to maximize my pleasure; in turn, since I don’t want the negative repercussions, I won’t infringe on the freedom of others.” Libertarians, sound familiar?
  • The Epicureans thought the fear of death animated the rest of life’s anxieties; in the twentieth century, Heidegger and the existentialists agreed. (Of course, from there, their conclusions differed: For the Epicureans, the fear of death was illusory, to be transcended; for the existentialists, it was key to living bravely and authentically.)

Empiricism, atomism, extreme individuality, fear of death as the root of all anxiety—what makes these parallels really interesting is that they aren’t straighforward lines of influence. From the third century AD to the sixteenth, Epicureanism was almost entirely forgotten.

* * *

lucretius-on-the-nature-of-thingsThere are two reasons you should know Epicureanism:

  1. It, with Stoicism, was a big part of the context against which early Christianity established itself. Studying it helps you understand the early church—you’ll get more out of passages like Acts 17:18 and Phil. 3:18.
  2. As we’ve seen, it’s an indirect precursor to secular modernity—one that’s even more interesting for its indirectness. Even though Epicurean philosophy is largely forgotten, modernity tends toward the Epicurean; if you’re interested in engaging the culture, you’ll want to understand this fascinating echo.

Epicurus left us very little—Diogenes Laertius lays out his thought (and quotes him at length) in Lives of Eminent Philosophers, and Lucretius, in On the Nature of Things, builds on Epicurus’ destroyed magnum opus, On Nature. Luckily for scholars, we’re building Logos editions of both through Logos’ philosophy/classics division, Noet—and, right now, you can get these foundational texts on Community Pricing for $5 each. For such rich context, that’s a tiny investment.

Study ancient thought for the best price—bid now on Lives of Eminent Philosophers and On the Nature of Things.

Then build your library with Noet’s Ancient and Modern Philosophy bundles, or deepen your study with the immense Classical Foundations Bundle—124 volumes of philosophy, history, original-language scholarship, and literature.

P.S. Still not convinced that philosophy matters?

How Well Do You Know the Reformation?

Reformation Day

The day was October 31, 1517. Martin Luther, a German monk and theologian, took a list of concerns regarding the state of the church and nailed them to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

That list is now known as the 95 Theses; that late October day, Reformation Day. But there’s so much more to learn:

  • What led up to the 95 Theses being written?
  • What were Luther’s original intentions?
  • Who, besides Luther, was part of this moment?
  • Was this the actual beginning of what’s now known as the Reformation?

Expand your knowledge of the Reformation

There are many ways to examine the day Luther nailed up the 95 Theses. With Logos 5, you can research the works of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and others.

Save up to 60% on books and collections such as:

post-reformation-reformed-dogmatics

Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics

Regularly $159.95—get it for $109.95 with coupon code REFDAY13

A major study reevaluating the primary sources of the post-Reformation, Richard Muller’s four-volume Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics chronicles the development of Reformed theology and the rise of Protestant orthodoxy. This work demands the attention of anyone interested in the history, development, and contemporary expressions of Reformed theology.

The Works of Zwingli

Regularly $69.95—get it for $54.95 with coupon code REFDAY13

Huldrych Zwingli’s contributions to the Reformation may have been just as important as Luther’s and Calvin’s, yet many still don’t know much about him, let alone read his powerful works. Zwingli preached against ecclesial corruption, fasting, the requirement of clergy celibacy, the veneration of saints, excommunication, and more, setting the stage for the Swiss Reformation. The Works of Zwingli (7 vols.) assembles English translations of some of Zwingli’s most important works, and includes historical works about his life and legacy.

the-reformation-study-bibleThe Reformation Study Bible

Regularly $35.95—get it for $25.95 with coupon code REFDAY13

The Reformation Study Bible’s contributing scholars, committed to Scripture’s inerrancy and authority, have the highest academic credentials. These in-depth study notes were compiled from more than 50 distinguished biblical scholars, including Drs. J. I. PackerJames Boice, and Wayne Grudem.

* * *

This sale runs through November 11—check out the rest of our Reformation Day deals!

What People Are Saying about 1,500 Quotations for Preachers

1500-quotations-for-preachers-with-slidesMany pastors and speakers enjoy sharing wise and inspirational quotes from the likes of Augustine, Calvin, Luther, and Wesley, but they don’t always have the time to search those authors’ works for just the right words. With 1,500 Quotations for Preachers, with Slides, the task is easy: quotes are organized by author, theme, and Scripture reference.

Here’s what people who use 1,500 Quotations are saying:

“Writers and pastors, do not pass by 1,500 Quotations for Preachers. This is a terrific resource, one I can guarantee is going to get a lot of use in the coming years. I’m thrilled to have it in my Logos library—and I’m sure you will be, too.” —Aaron Armstrong, BloggingTheologically.com

“This is a robust set of volumes that has obviously been put together by a preacher who knows what preachers need in a quotation compendium. Preachers of every stripe will find this a beneficial addition to their Logos collection.” —J. D. Greear, author of Gospel and Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart

“Preachers need to do better than merely combing resources for a pithy quote. They should invest themselves in the original sources as much as possible, and this makes it easy to dig into the original material.” —Joe Thorn, JoeThorn.net

“A striking quote, skillfully employed, resonates in the memory, enabling listeners to carry the sermon’s lesson with them during the following week. . . . This reasonably priced resource provides preachers with a vast array of thought-provoking material that will help illuminate and reinforce great biblical themes and theological truths.” —David Daniels, WiseReader.com

“If you preach or teach the Scripture, it’s worth your time to have this sort of resource working as a research assistant for you.” —Jeremy Writebol, JWritebol.net

Use coupon code PAM2013 and you’ll get 1,500 Quotations for Preachers, regularly $92.95, for just $74.95 through tomorrow, October 31. Get it now!

Canada’s New Logos Ambassador: Greg Monette

gregToday’s post is by Greg Monette, Logos’ new Canada market manager.

Over the next few months, Logos will increase its focus on serving the thousands of Canadian users who already know the software’s benefits firsthand, as well as the thousands of future users who will soon experience them.

A lifelong Canadian resident (currently living in Nova Scotia), I was hired to bring a fresh perspective to the Canadian market. Canada’s been a strong supporter of Logos from the beginning, and I’m looking forward to serving as the ambassador between Logos and my home country. After all, behind the US, no other nation has more Logos users than Canada.

I received my Master of Divinity and my Master of Arts (theology) from Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia, and I’m a PhD candidate in New Testament at the University of Bristol in England. I’m a massive fan of Canadian hockey, and I’m even more passionate about helping people discover the tools they need to understand the Bible.

How can I serve you?

In the months and years ahead, this new role will bring many challenges and joys. I need your help! If you’re Canadian and you have a desire to help others understand Scripture, I’d love to hear your ideas about how we can help multitudes of Canadians get more out of their Bible study with Logos. Head over to the forums and introduce yourself. I’ll respond as quickly as I can!

Helping people grow deeper in their knowledge of the Bible is one of the greatest privileges I can think of, and I’m excited to help Canada connect with Logos.

Stay up to date:

Sign up for the Canadian email list!





Get N. T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God on Pre-Pub!

paul-and-the-faithfulness-of-godFor more than a decade, N. T. Wright has been considered one of the leading experts on the life and theology of the apostle Paul. His highly anticipated Paul and the Faithfulness of God—widely regarded as his magnum opus—comes out next month, and you can pre-order it now for $40 off.

Trained at Oxford under the late George Caird, Wright has held teaching posts at some of the world’s leading universities. Not only is Professor Wright a New Testament scholar; he’s also deeply involved in the life of the church. From 2003 to 2010, Wright served as the bishop of Durham, considered the third-highest rank in the Anglican Church. In 2010, Wright left the pulpit and returned to the lectern to take up the position of research professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.

With Paul and the Faithfulness of God, Wright continues his study of Christian Origins and the Question of God. A number of Wright’s earlier books touched on Paul and his theology—Paul: Fresh Perspectives, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision, commentaries on the Pauline letters in the New Testament for Everyone Series, a major commentary on Romans in the New Interpreter’s Bible, and numerous journal articles. Paul and the Faithfulness of God is considered by most to be Wright’s essential work on Paul—the culmination of a lifetime of study and reflection on the church’s most important theologian and missionary.

If you’re looking to start a serious study on the theology of Paul, you should pre-order Paul and the Faithfulness of God. Not only will you get arguably the most important study on Paul since E. .P. Sander’s watershed Paul and Palestinian Judaism—you’ll also get a gem of a book: Pauline Perspectives: Essays on Paul 1978–2013, 33 essays on Pauline theology that previously appeared in various journals.

Right now, you can pre-order both of these important works for just $99.95. Paul and the Faithfulness of God will be this generation’s most important work on Pauline theology—don’t miss your chance to own it at the Pre-Pub price!

Get up to $225 off the Works of B. B. Warfield & the Princeton Theologians

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Sometimes we hear it said that ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer, deeper, more operative knowledge of God than ten hours over your books. ‘What!’ is the appropriate response, ‘than ten hours over your books, on your knees?’ Why should you turn from God when you turn to your books, or feel that you must from your books in order to turn to God?
—B. B. Warfield, The Religious Life of Theological Students

B. B. Warfield, the Lion of Princeton, left a legacy of vast theological importance. Born on November 5, 1851, he was the last of the great Princeton Theologians. Now, as we approach the anniversary of his birth, you can take advantage of some amazing offers from Logos.

Use coupon code BBWFIELD at checkout to get your savings. But don’t wait—these deals last only through November 5!

  1. Get up to $137 off the 20 vol. B. B. Warfield Collection. Study the life and thought of the man who defended divine inspiration against liberal theology. This collection includes the 10-volume Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, plus an additional 10 volumes of books, articles, and lectures.
  2. Get more than 50% off Calvin and the Reformation: Four Studies. Evaluate Calvin’s historical and theological impact with Warfield, August Lang, Herman Bavinck, and Émile Mourgue.
  3. Save up to $225 on the 55 vol. Princeton Theology Collection. You’ll get Warfield’s 20-volume collection, plus collections from the other three Princeton theologians: Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, and A. A. Hodge.

Remember, these deals are available only through November 5. Use coupon code BBWFIELD and start studying Warfield today!

3 Days Only: All Pastor Appreciation Month Deals Are Live!

Pastor Appreciation Month

We’ve been building up to this moment all month long: all 21 Pastor Appreciation Month deals are now live! But October’s winding down—you have only three days left to get great deals on the resources pastors need, including a free ebook by John Piper.

Here’s a rundown of this month’s top deals:

Get 15% off a new Logos 5 base package

base-package for blog

With Logos 5, you can save hours of research time and start building more effective sermons. Have writer’s block? Use Logos 5’s Sermon Starter Guide to get your creative juices flowing. Need to know a biblical figure’s family tree? Use Bible Facts to get instant information on people, places, and events. Curious about a biblical word’s Greek or Hebrew roots? With a click, discover its original meaning. Coupled with top theological resources, Logos 5 is the perfect tool for powerful ministry—use coupon code PAM2013 to get it today for 15% off!

Get 50% off the Welwyn Commentary Series (WCS)

Welwyn Commentary Series

Regularly $699.95—get it for $349.97 with coupon code PAM2013

This massive commentary series is designed for pastors who use commentaries for week-to-week preaching. These commentaries offer the best biblical research—works of exegesis, hermeneutics, and history—as well as insights from day-to-day pastoral ministry. From Levitical rituals and symbols to the crying pleas of the Minor Prophets, this series emphasizes Scripture’s relevance today.

Get 25% off the Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: New Testament

Understanding the Bible

Regularly $239.95—get it for $179.96 with coupon code PAM2013

This series offers pastors, students, and laypeople accessible, user-friendly information without sacrificing serious scholarship. Each of the 18 volumes breaks down the barriers between the ancient and the modern world. The contributors tackle interpretation using the full range of critical methodologies and practices, presenting section-by-section exposition, highlighted key terms and phrases, and transliterated Greek words.

Get 25% off the New Testament for Everyone Series (N. T. Wright)New Testament for Everyone

Regularly $179.95—get it for $134.96 with coupon code PAM2013

N. T. Wright provides not only guides to all the books of the New Testament, but also his own fresh translation of the entire text. You’ll get highly readable discussion, background information, useful explanations and interpretations, and reflections on why the text matters today.

There are only three days left to take advantage of Pastor Appreciation Month deals. Save on top pastoral resources before time runs out!

Pre-order These Christian Ethics Collections Before They Ship!

Right now, you can pre-order several Christian ethics collections at up to 40% off! Written and compiled by experts in the field, these works address many of today’s most pressing ethical issues. And they’re about to ship—don’t miss out!

Pre-order these collections today:

augsburg-fortress-ethics-collection

Augsburg Fortress Ethics Collection

Regularly $199.95—Get it for $184.95 on Pre-Pub

Discover the sources and traditions behind today’s ethical principles and norms. The Augsburg Fortress Ethics Collection gives you nine volumes of diverse contemporary and classical Christian thought. Trusted scholars and theologians discuss war, sexuality, abortion, globalization, the environment, immigration, politics, science, and more.

Select Works of John Howard Yoder

Regularly $96.95—get it for $57.95 on Pre-Pub

This collection gives you three important texts illuminating Yoder’s wisdom and theological depth. Preface to Theology introduces Yoder’s theology straight from his seminary curriculum and reveals his passionate commitment to Christology. The War of the Lamb and Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution present Yoder’s writings and theology on pacifism, violence, and just-war and just-peacemaking theory. These posthumously published works address theological needs still present today.

tt-clark-studies-in-ethics (1)T&T Clark Studies in Ethics

Regularly $99.95—get it for $74.95 on Pre-Pub

The T&T Clark Studies in Ethics collection offers a helpful overview of the field, as well as modern research on various ethical issues. It discusses general approaches to ethics and paves new roads in ethical thought. With titles like Christian Ethics: A Guide for the Perplexed, Moral Theology for the Twenty First Century, and Living for the Future, you’ll find trustworthy Christian perspectives on a variety of tough issues.

Baylor Ethics Collection

Regularly $109.95—get it for $72.95 on Pre-Pub

This collection of Baylor volumes presents valuable writing on general Christian ethics, as well as such important topics as pacifism and ecology. Harry J. Huebner’s massive Introduction to Christian Ethics represents a new standard in Christian ethics studies, covering ancient, modern, and postmodern traditions and figures. Living with Other Creatures and Greening Paul represent current scholarship on the relationship between Christianity, Scripture, and the ethics of ecology. And Nonviolence: A Brief History presents John Howard Yoder’s influential Warsaw lectures.

wipf-and-stock-studies-in-ethicsWipf & Stock Studies in Ethics

Regularly $84.95—get it for $64.95 on Pre-Pub

The Wipf & Stock Studies in Ethics collection presents four studies on the relevance of Christian ethics to today’s complex issues, as well as a text on methods of ethical analysis. You’ll learn about Gospel-centered nonviolence, the current injustices of the world economy, biblical writings on homosexuality, and the relevance of theology to issues of life and death.

Pre-order these collections today, and check out all our other Pre-Pub products!

Logos 5: Syntax Search Finds Direct Object

Today’s post is from Morris Proctor, certified and authorized trainer for Logos Bible Software. Morris, who has trained thousands of Logos users at his two-day Camp Logos seminars, provides many training materials.

We read in John 3:16 that “God so loved the world.” Grammatically, world is the direct object of the verb loved. So maybe we wonder, “Where else in the New Testament does world function as a direct object?”

One way to find out is with a simple syntax search:

  • Click the Search icon to open the search panel.
  • Select Syntax as the search type. (Note that Syntax search doesn’t appear in the Starter base package.) (A)
  • Select All Passages from the range dropdown list (B).
  • Select the CSGNT from the Bible dropdown list (C).
  • Click Query (D).
  • Select English Object (Cascadia) (E).

  • Type world in the English Object box (F).
  • Press the Enter key to generate the search.

We’ve just discovered all the places any Greek word translated world serves as a direct object in the New Testament! (G)

To locate a specific Greek word functioning as an object of a verb, try this:

  • Select Object (Cascadia) from the dropdown query list (H).

  • Type this in the Greek Object box: g:kosmos (I).
  • Select the Greek word that appears in the dropdown list under the box (J).
  • Press the Enter key to generate the search.

This time, we found every place the Greek lemma kosmos serves as an object of a verb! (K)

Notice some of the results:

  • Gain the world
  • Condemn the world
  • Love the world
  • Save the world
  • Convict the world
  • Judge the world
  • Reconcile the world
  • Overcome the world

This simple search launches a very interesting topical study regarding kosmos.

 

Will It Preach?

Bible Study Magazine NovemberHow do you preach on that imprecatory psalm? What do you do with that seemingly bizarre vision in Ezekiel? And where do even begin with the book of Nahum—easily the most unpopular book of the Bible?

If you’ve been asked or done the asking, you know that these passages present special challenges for the preacher. It can be tempting to avoid or at least gloss over them. In the November–December ’13 issue of Bible Study Magazine, we address the passages least likely to see a pulpit. From the violence of the Minor Prophets to the strange visions of Ezekiel to the tedium of the genealogies, we ask “Will It Preach?” and “How?”

Here’s what else the issue offers:

  • An interview with David Platt on discipleship and an active church culture in “No More Spectators.”
  • A response to the ongoing conflict in Egypt. Tharwat Wahba, professor and chair of missions at Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, explains how Egyptian Christians are responding to violence and offers hope.
  • Insights from June Hunt on studying the Bible and counseling others.

You’ll also get the latest book reviews, an eight-week Bible study on Ephesians, and more!

Subscribe today

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