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An Interview with Dr. Ben Witherington III

I remember reading Conflict and Community in Corinth and enjoying it so much that I rushed out to buy and devour Grace in Galatia. Since then, the Socio-Rhetorical Commentary Series has become invaluable to my New Testament studies.

Logos recently added the 5-volume Ben Witherington III Collection to the growing list of resources available from Dr. Witherington. This collection offers sensitive insight into areas of doctrine and interpretation where discussions can become entrenched and contentious.

Some of the topics include:

  • Baptism
  • God’s sovereignty
  • Prophecy
  • Grace
  • The Lord’s Supper

After looking at the content in this collection, I was excited for the opportunity to interview Dr. Witherington.

Logos: What are the risks of reading the Scriptures through a particular dogmatic lens? Do you see any benefits?

Dr. Witherington: I honestly don’t see any benefits to reading Scripture through a dogmatic lens. Over and over again it leads to eisegesis rather than exegesis, a reading back into the text things that are not there and reflect a later era.  It’s called anachronism.

For example, I was having a conversation with a Greek Orthodox brother the other day who wanted to insist that Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus was about the Christian theology of baptism—”born of water and the Spirit.”  Besides the fact that historically such a conversation surely was unlikely to happen between two early Jews (after all, there was no church or Christian baptismal practice yet), there is the further problem that the very next verse explains that ‘water’ here refers to what happens at physical birth (flesh gives birth to flesh) and then Spirit is the one who produces “the new birth” or “being born again.”  The discussion is indeed about the necessity of conversion even for devout early Jews.

Logos: Many Christians are raised or educated within specific theological frameworks, each with its inherent strengths and weaknesses. Assuming that your tradition is orthodox, how do you maintain the tension of honoring your background while allowing Scripture the freedom to contradict and challenge your beliefs?

Dr. Witherington: I don’t think your primary concern should be with the theological tradition you are raised in. Your primary concern should be your faithfulness to God’s Word wherever that leads, even if it contradicts things you were taught. I think you should value your tradition but critique it in light of the Bible.

Logos: Theology often comes out of a wrestling match between the theologian, his presuppositions, and Scripture. Of the five books in the Ben Witherington III Collection, which one was the biggest wrestling match for you?

Dr. Witherington: Clearly, the most controversial one is The Problem with Evangelical Theology. In that book I argue that all Evangelical traditions are most apt to stretch Scripture or misinterpret it when they try to say something distinctive. In other words, all Evangelical traditions fall short of full conformity to Scripture—whether we are talking about Calvinism, Arminianism, Pentecostalism, Dispensationalism, or any other ism.

Logos: What part do other believers play in challenging the way we interact with Christ through Scripture? How do we stand on our convictions and challenge each other without getting contentious and divisive?

Dr. Witherington: I find it invigorating, a sort of “iron-sharpens-iron” situation, when orthodox Christians of varying views challenge and have friendly debates about things. It helps us see our strengths and weaknesses, and, if it is done in a charitable manner, can be helpful to all.  But the ruling principle is speaking what you see to be the truth in love, not in a partisan spirit. All persons who have a high view of Scripture have much to learn from each other, and we should all admit our knowledge is partial and incomplete. Humility pills should be taken all around when we discuss these things.

Logos: What projects are you currently working on?

Dr. Witherington: I am currently working on a college-level Introduction to the New Testament for Oxford University Press, and my wife and I are working on our fifth novel in our series of archaeological thrillers.  The last one came out last fall, entitled Corinthian Leather, and has been well reviewed.  The next one is called Roma Aeterna, and centers on finding the tomb of the apostles Adronicus and Junia.

Logos: Thank you Dr. Witherington for taking the time to talk to Logos Talk.

You can save nearly $60 on the Ben Witherington III Collection (5 vols.) while it’s on Pre-Pub, or check out other Ben Witherington resources on Logos today!

Let’s Get to Know Each Other Better

Logos Bible Software strives to be approachable; the more we get to know you, the better we can serve you.

There are all kinds of ways for us to get to know one another. You can leave us comments on the blog, email us at suggest@logos.com, comment in the forums and our Facebook page, or contact us via Twitter, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Your feedback makes us a better company.

We also have a user survey which helps us understand your needs and serve you better.

One more simple way to help us know you better is to customize your profile page.  By providing information like gender and birth date, we are better able to cater your experience to you. We use your statistics to improve quality, provide support, and increase ease of use. And don’t worry—we don’t share private statistics with anyone.

Public information like bios, personal websites, and denominations has been helpful for building community in the forums. In fact, I follow a couple blogs that I found on forum user’s profile pages. If it hadn’t been for the profile pages, I might never have benefited from these users’ websites.

So take a few minutes and check out our privacy policy; then update your profile page. We look forward to offering you the best experience possible.

New Counseling Resources Are Available Individually

The Biblical Counseling Collection contains tons of practical counseling resources. We’re talking about 30 volumes by 20 authors from 12 different publishers! This is a fantastic collection of resources for both counselors and pastors.

Interested in particular volumes, but not the whole series? You’ll be happy to learn that these titles are now available separately.

If you’re looking for specific types of counseling resources, the contents of the Biblical Counseling Collection can be broken into these categories:

General Counseling

Spirituality

Life Issues

Marriage

Women’s Interests

Men’s Interests

You’re going to save more (nearly $100) by buying the whole Biblical Counseling Collection. But if you have been eyeing some of these titles separately, they are available for you to purchase today.
Curious about other collections we have recently broken up? Find out which collections are available as individual titles!

Step into Theology with This Zondervan Collection

Theology is rewarding, but often intimidating. Words like hamartiology, soteriology, and ecclesiology can be formidable hurdles to someone new to theological study. If you can relate, the Zondervan Theology Collection may be right up your alley.

The seven volumes in the Zondervan Theology Collection aren’t “beginner” theology; they are approachable books full of deep and practical theology for everyone. Whether you have been studying theology for years or you are just getting your feet wet, this collection will inform and inspire you.

The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way by Michael S. Horton is a shining example. This systematic theology proves that scholarly illumination doesn’t have to come at the expense of accessibility. This isn’t just a theological primer (the print version is over 1,000 pages); Horton unpacks all of the traditional categories of systematic theology in six parts:

  • Part 1: Knowing God: The Presupposition of Theology
  • Part 2: God Who Lives
  • Part 3: God Who Creates
  • Part 4: God Who Rescues
  • Part 5: God Who Reigns in Christ
  • Part 6: God Who Reigns in Glory

“Dr. Horton has produced a remarkable work. His approach to systematic theology is fresh and critically needed in our time. Every pilgrim will profit from this work.”—R. C. Sproul, chairman and president, Ligonier Ministries

In the Zondervan Theology Collection, scholars like Andreas KostenbergerWayne Grudem, and D. A. Carson will walk  you through the basics of the Christian faith as well as recent hot button issues.

If you want practical content by well-known scholars, the Zondervan Theology Collection belongs in your library. Place your order today while this collection is still on Pre-Pub!

Set Your Price on St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland

There’s no better time than St. Patrick’s Day to announce the two-volume St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland collection on Community Pricing.

Kidnapped from Britain by Welsh pirates at the age of 16, Patrick spent six years in Ireland as a slave. He eventually escaped and returned home where he joined the church. After spending 12 years in a monastery, Patrick felt called back to Ireland.

As Patrick remembers it:

“I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: ‘The Voice of the Irish.’ As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: ‘We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.’ “

Almost immediately after becoming a bishop, Patrick sailed back to Ireland. He  successfully won converts among the Gaelic Irish, even converting members of royal families. He established schools, set up churches, and developed clergy from among the natives who helped him to win even more converts.

For more than 600 years, missionaries from Ireland carried the gospel all around Europe, setting up missions in Scotland, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, and beyond. Throughout some of Europe’s darkest years, Patrick’s legacy shone bright.

Soon you’ll be able to add St. Patrick’s autobiography and writings to your Logos library. And with Community Pricing, you decide how much you want to pay. Place your bid on the St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland (2 vols.) today!

Find Out Which Collections Are Available Individually!

Did you know that we occasionally break up collections and sell volumes individually? We do! In fact, here are a couple recent examples:

We are even in the process of splitting up Tabletalk (Feb. 1989–Jan. 2011) (264 Issues)!

How Can I Find Out When a Collection Is Broken Up?

While we don’t always announce the splitting up of a collection, there are ways to make sure you’re in the loop.

You can often get updated on recently broken collections in the forum thread, “Hey! they just broke this collection up!“ The forum is an invaluable tool for all sorts of important information; if you haven’t gotten involved in the forums yet, don’t wait! This thread is updated semi-regularly. You can even subscribe to an RSS feed for this thread by clicking the
“Email me when someone replies” link at the top.

A quick way to see what new titles are available is to simply do an Individual Titles search on Logos.com and sort by newest. This is going to give you the latest resources—including  those which were recently in collections.

A Couple Things to Keep in Mind

More often than not, buying a collection offers the best value. A good example of this is the Brill Josephus and History Collection. This two-volume collection normally costs $309.95. If you were to buy these two titles separately, you would pay over $450. If you can manage it, you’re going to get a better deal when you purchase a collection.

Another thing we should point out is that occasional issues (like licensing) preclude us from being able to break up every collection. But if there are some collections you would like to see broken up which haven’t been, head over to Facebook and tell us which ones. We would love to have your input!

Now go check out some of the new resources we have available—and add a few to your library today!

Last Chance! Vyrso’s Huge Fiction Sale Ends Today

This is it—Vyrso’s huge Fiction under $4 Sale ends tonight! You have until midnight (PST) to take advantage of incredible deals on Christian fiction.

Vyrso has what you want: thrillers, romance, fantasy, crime drama, children’s books and more. And right now, you can get any Thomas Nelson fiction title from Vyrso for only $3.99.

Load up on bestselling authors like:

Choose any of the following package deals to save big on multiple titles!

The big Thomas Nelson Fiction under $4 sale ends tonight. But if you act fast, there is still time to save on inspirational fiction!

Have you picked up some fiction from Vyrso? Tell us about it!

J. Gresham Machen: Guardian of the Faith

From 1905 to 1937, J. Gresham Machen grew from a confused young theology student to one of the leading Reformed scholars of his day.

At first, Machen struggled with the liberal leanings of his professor, Wilhelm Herrman, but he  eventually rejected modernist theology and embraced conservative Reformed thought. This shift in doctrine would direct his path for the rest of his life.

Machen became the professor of New Testament studies at Princeton Seminary, where he taught for 14 years. During his tenure, he was a strong proponent of conservative theology. As modernist theology began to make inroads on the university’s curriculum, Machen left Princeton to found the Westminster Theological Seminary. He taught at Westminster until his death in 1937.

The seven volumes in the J. Gresham Machen Collection not only give valuable insight into the twentieth century struggle for orthodoxy, they also provide solid theological training for today.

The Origin of Paul’s Religion was written as a direct response to scholars who believed the apostle Paul distorted the message of Jesus. To the modernist, the focus on the Resurrection instead of the ethical teachings of Jesus deviated from the central point of the Gospel. Machen’s response firmly asserted the historicity and power of Paul’s message.

American religious critic Harold Bloom said of Christianity and Liberalism“I have never seen a stronger case made for the argument that institutional Christianity must regard cultural liberalism an enemy of faith.”

The J. Gresham Machen Collection (7 vols.) is currently under development. If you act now, you can add Machen’s teaching to your library for nearly 70% off.

Get the Big Picture with the Zondervan Reference Collection

One of my favorite Bible teachers encouraged us to “study wide and then narrow our focus.” Understanding the big picture is key to good exegesis. It protects us from falling into the trap of interpreting verses before appreciating the context of the book, chapter, and pericope being studied.

With this principle in mind, I give you the Zondervan Reference Collection. These six volumes will help provide context  for your studies. With two dictionaries, an atlas, a Bible dictionary, a companion to Psalms, and a look at life during biblical times, you’ll have the big-picture foundation needed for better Bible study.

This collection includes essential helps for every Bible reader, springboarding beginners into better Bible study and providing rich tools that seasoned scholars will use again and again.

Pick up this collection while it’s on Pre-Pub and you’ll get these six volumes for less than $100—that’s a savings of nearly $50!

Leave us a comment and tell us about some of your favorite handbooks, dictionaries, or atlases!

Get a Free Latin Dictionary

Today’s guest post is by Louis St. Hilaire, Content Manager of our Electronic Text Development Department.

Logos really shines when it comes to the study of biblical Greek and Hebrew, but we’re building an impressive library of Latin texts as well, including the Vulgate, important  medieval and Reformation theology texts, and hundreds of Latin titles in the Perseus Classics Collection.

Now we’ve created a tool that makes all these texts easier to use in Logos. The Dictionary of Latin Forms allows you to look up hundreds of thousands of Latin word forms from the famous WORDS Latin-English Dictionary program. This means that you can instantly look up meanings for most words in these texts—not to mention Latin terms used in English texts—just by double-clicking or opening the Information window.

The best part is that you can add this powerful tool to your Logos library for free!

Click for a Full Size Image

You can also get a great price on Lewis & Short’s Latin Dictionary now on Community Pricing. The free Dictionary of Latin Forms is a handy study aid to get you quickly to a definition and lemma for a word, but Lewis & Short is an expansive dictionary that takes you in-depth with ample examples of usages from classical, Patristic and medieval texts. Even today, more than a hundred years after its publication, it is still consulted, particularly for  medieval and Ecclesiastical Latin.

These two resources will make it even easier to study Latin texts in Logos, so place your bid now to help put Lewis & Short’s Latin Dictionary into production.