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Why Christian History Matters

I’m a historian and a Christian. In fact, it was my study of history that led to my conversion. I realize this is an unusual progression, and perhaps it is a bias that leads me to believe that the common neglect of history among Christians is lamentable. But bias or no, the neglect is real, and I think I understand it: if our destiny is in eternity, and if Christ is immediate to each of us, of what ultimate significance is the past? Isn’t our relentless quest for the early church or the original manuscripts an implicit repudiation of history?

The value of historical knowledge, then, seems to be simply a matter of being articulate, of being well-read, or of being capable of apologetics. Or else, it has value as an antiquarian hobby—some find history interesting in the same sort of way that others find stamps interesting. If this is the case, surely history is at best ancillary to our Christianity.

But, I think this line of reasoning is mistaken. Rather, I would argue that the connection between history and Christianity is essential. Because the Incarnation was nothing less than the entry of God Himself into the stream of human history, it affirms the reality and value of the lived human experience. The Second Person of the Trinity affects our salvation not as an abstraction, but as a human life. In becoming a son, a friend, a teacher, in speaking our language and mourning our dead, God affirmed the temporal and social reality of our being. In entering our history at a specific time, in continuity with a meaningful past, and proclaiming a future of consummation, Christ repudiated the classical understanding of cyclical and ultimately meaningless history and codified the Jewish understanding of history as the story of God and His people, a story with a beginning and an end. Christianity has temporality in its essence.

With this in mind, the Christian ought to read all history as salvation history, and understand Christianity itself as having duration. It seems to me that a description of Christ that does not include his birth and childhood, while not necessarily wrong, is certainly incomplete; and, likewise, an understanding of Christianity that does not include its history.

And so, we must study history. From the Apostolic Fathers to the Reformation, from the ancient world, through the medieval, and into modernity, with Logos you can make a serious study of church history. We have large, comprehensive collections, such as the Calvin and the History of Calvinism Collection or the Philip Schaff Collection that allow you to dig deep into a historical topic, and we also have shorter histories written by prominent historians that will allow you to brush up on your historical knowledge, such as Church History in Plain Language or our Studies in the Reformation.

History is most profoundly understood, though, through the study of primary sources, such as those found in the A New Eusebius: Documents Illustrating the History of the Church to AD 337, or the Works of the Venerable Bede, and Logos has a massive library of such texts. Whether you want to study the ancient Jews  or the church as it enters the post-modern age, Logos has the resources. If you are unsure where to begin, try browsing Logos products by history products and see what piques your interest.

What are your favorite texts for studying Christian history? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Weekly Roundup: July 30

The Weekly Roundup is a regular feature alerting you to significant things from Logos this week. Take a few moments to check out these newsworthy items for the week of July 30, 2011.

Logos Talk

Interesting Discussions

Logos Forum

Vyrso Facebook Page

Products

New Pre-Pubs

Last Chance Pre-Pubs

These are Pre-Pubs shipping next week. Don’t miss your last chance to get these at their amazing Pre-Pub prices!

Community Pricing

These resources are nearing the 100% mark. Don’t miss your chance to get in on these bargains!

Vyrso

Many have downloaded the Vyrso Android App (Beta) from Android Market this week, please take a few moments and rate the app! Then go Vyrso.com and see our selection of Christian e-books.

Press

Was there anything else from Logos you found interesting this week? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Flavius Josephus

Titus Flavius Josephus is a tough figure to classify. Was he a cultural aristocrat? A theologically minded Pharisee? A politician? An author? A historian? In Josephus we find all of these things—and more.

Josephus was born into the Jewish priestly order of Jehoiarib, the first of twenty-four priestly divisions organized by King David (1 Chronicles 24:7). Growing up, Josephus surpassed his peers in his study of Jewish law. After studying under the Pharisees, Essenes, and the Sadducees—the three major religious factions in first-century Jerusalem—he affiliated himself with the Pharisees.

Jerusalem was a powder keg. With a constant disdain for Jewish ideals, Rome inflamed their already tense relationship with the Jews. Between liberal use of Roman soldiers against Jewish citizens and Messianic Jewish factions who taught that the world would be ending soon, a number of factors were coming together to create the perfect climate for conflict. By the time Jospehus had returned from a trip to Rome to negotiate with Nero for the release of imprisoned priests, his nation was in revolt.

Despite skepticism about an uprising, Josephus took the post as military leader in the region of Galilee. Not all of Galilee was supportive of revolution, and insurgents hoped to use Josephus’ birthright and successful negotiations with Rome as inspiration to the hesitant Galileans. Josephus found himself fighting a defensive war against an overwhelming force while simultaneously trying to quell conflict within Jerusalem.

Josephus Supports Rome?

This is where Josephus’ story takes a strange turn and why many consider Josephus an opportunist and a traitor.

The Galilean city of  Jotapata had fallen, and Josephus had found himself trapped in a cave with forty other Jewish supporters. Fearing the worst, and not wanting to fall into Roman hands, a suicide pact was decided upon. They all agreed, standing in a circle  each second man would kill the third. Josephus considered it the providence of God that he and one other man were the last living. He convinced his fellow soldier they should give themselves over to the Romans.

Many modern scholars accuse Josephus of orchestrating this outcome. (In fact, the Josephus Problem has become a mathematical problem where a person must decide where to stand in this circle in order to be the last one living.)

Josephus began to work for the Romans giving them information on the insurgence. Rome also put him to use trying to convince the rebels to surrender. Jerusalem would not heed the warnings of this traitor however, and an agreement was never reached.

In 70 A.D., Josephus was eyewitness to the siege of Jerusalem. Rome destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem was sacked. According to Josephus, over 1,000,000 people were killed during the siege, with another 97,000 taken hostage. The death toll was high and the loss of the Temple dealt a destructive blow to both Jewish identity and their ability to rally. The revolution was brought to a swift end.

Josephus Writes His Histories

After becoming a Roman citizen, Josephus was commissioned by Caesar Vespasian to write an account of the Jewish revolt against Rome. Josephus finished The War of the Jews in 78 A.D. By the year 93, Josephus had finished his second major work The Antiquities of the Jews (a landmark history of the Jews from Creation through the occupation of Palestine). In the latter part of his life he wrote Against Apion and his autobiography The Life of Flavius Josephus. 

Flavius Josephus remains one of our best sources of first century history as well as an essential resource for Old Testament textual criticism.

Josephus Resources from Logos

Not only can you get the complete Works of Josephusas well as Josephus in Greek: Niese Critical Edition with Apparatusfrom Logos, but there are many more great references to help you get a grasp on his life and works.

Brill Academic has published many works on Josephus’ writings. The Brill Josephus and the Bible Collection (currently on Pre-Pub) contains four volumes full of enlightening research:

  • Studies in Josephus’ Rewritten Bible
  • Josephus, Judaism and Christianity
  • Josephus, the Bible and History
  • Passover in the Work of Josephus

If you are interested in what Josephus can bring to your Bible study and understanding of first century history, the Brill Josephus and the Bible Collection is a good selection to pick up while it is on Pre-Pub at over 50% off!

Other Great Resources

If you are still looking for some books on Josephus check out:

Leave us a comment and tell us how exposure to Josephus as improved your understanding of the New Testament context.

Honoring Stephen H. Levinsohn

Discourse Studies and Biblical Interpretation: A Festschrift in Honor of Stephen H. LevinsohnThis past week, Steven Runge has been at the SBL international meeting in London. Among the scholars he’s been interacting with is Stephen H. Levinsohn, a linguist affiliated with the Summer Institute of Linguistics who has done important work to advance scholarship on the Greek New Testament. Steve’s work in discourse studies has been directly influenced and enriched by Levinsohn, so he was delighted to be able to interact in person with Levinsohn at SBL in London.

At the session on Levinsohn’s work, Steve surprised Levinsohn with a book written in his honor, Discourse Studies and Biblical Interpretation: A Festschrift in Honor of Stephen H. Levinsohn.

This Festschrift has been in the works for awhile. We’ve been keeping it a secret for over a year, so we’re thrilled not only to present it to Levinsohn for the first time, but to also make it available to all Logos users.

In addition to Steve’s introduction, the Festschrift contains contributions from Iver Larsen, Stanley E. Porter, Robert A. Dooley, Regina Blass, R. J. Sim, Constantine R. Campbell, Buist Fanning, Steven E. Runge, Margaret G. Sim, Lindsay J. Whaley, Rick Brannan, Nicholas A. Bailey, Randall Buth, and Jenny Read-Heimerdinger.

Why are all these scholars honoring Levinsohn? Each of these scholars has had their work challenged or influenced by Levinsohn’s work, including Steve Runge’s own Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament and Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament. Levinsohn has done more than perhaps anyone else to apply the principles of discourse grammar to New Testament scholarship. He’s meticulously examined how languages operate and the rules they follow—and the implications for reading, studying, and translating the text of the New Testament.

Right now you can pre-order Discourse Studies and Biblical Interpretation at a discount for a limited time. Get it now!

Want to share how your study of the Greek New Testament been affected by Levinsohn’s work? Want to thank Levinsohn yourself? Leave a note in the comments!

Logos’ New Catholic Product Manager: Andrew Jones

Andrew JonesLogos has launched an initiative to increase our Catholic resources. As a part of this project, I’ve been brought on board as the Catholic Product Manager. Being a medieval historian by training, I have a prejudice (a delightful one, I think) towards ancient things. My ambition, however, is to work in what Pope John Paul II called the New Evangelization by bringing the traditional into dialogue with the contemporary. Logos products offer such an amazing opportunity to combine the venerable with the cutting edge, and I’m very excited about it!

Logos already offers significant resources of interest to Catholics and to those interested in understanding Catholicism, but there will be many more coming soon, including Catholic-oriented packages. These packages will bring together the full functionality of Logos 4 with Catholic Bibles, magisterial documents, as well as exegetical and theological works.

The rich Catholic tradition, with its intricate interplay of Scripture, liturgy, law, and theology is profoundly suited for study on the Logos platform. As the Second Vatican Council made clear, Catholics understand the Scripture as embedded in a living tradition, its meaning being revealed in history and the life of the Church. As we add resources from that tradition to Logos, the Bible—as understood by Catholics—will open up in a way only Logos software can make possible. I find this very exciting!

What’s more, Logos’ extensive collection of resources (almost 14,000 at last count)—from a wide variety of Christian traditions—makes a truly comparative study of Scripture possible.

It is my hope that by integrating more Catholic works into the Logos library these traditions and Catholicism might find a bridge to understanding in the Word of God itself.

Sign up to receive news and information regarding our Catholic resources!

Ad majorem Dei gloriam
Andrew Jones

Take a moment to leave us a comment to welcome Andrew to Logos.

 

5 Interesting Facts About John Wesley

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, turns 308 today. Like any looming figure in Christian history, Wesley has his share of both theological supporters and detractors. But there are very few that will question the fervency and urgency Wesley felt when it came to evangelism and church work. As Prime Minister, Lord Baldwin, said of Wesley, “I am supposed to be a busy man, but by the side of Wesley, I join the ranks of the unemployed.”

To celebrate Wesley’s birthday, I wanted to take a few moments and look at five little known facts about his life.

    1. John Wesley came from a huge family.
      The child mortality rate in eighteenth century England was unbelievably high. Statistics suggest that 70% of all deaths were children under ten. So it is not surprising that many families had an abundance of children. John Wesley’s mother—Susanna Wesley—was the 25th of 25 children and she went on to bear a number of children as well. John was the 15th of 19 children. Susanna lost nine of her children in infancy. When Susanna died in 1742, she was only survived by eight of her children.
    2. John Wesley was a victim of bullying as a child.
      John, a short and intelligent boy, was bullied relentlessly as a child. This abuse affected him for the rest of his life. Accounts tell of how, as an adult, Wesley would tremble when discussing the barbaric treatment he received from his peers.
    3. John Wesley vehemently opposed slavery.
      Wesley was inspired to join the anti-slavery movement when he read a pamphlet by Quaker abolitionist Anthony Benezet. He was so moved that he frequently preached against the slave trade and authored Thoughts upon Slavery—a pamphlet publicly decrying the practice. Wesley’s last letter was written to convert and fellow abolitionist William Wilberforce. In it he wrote:

      “O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.”

      This letter was written in 1791, and sixteen years later Parliament finally outlawed England’s participation in the slave trade.

    4. John Wesley is one of history’s most traveled men.

Biographer Edward T. Oakes states that Wesley traveled over 250,000 miles by horseback in his lifetime—that’s ten times the circumference of the earth.

    1. John Wesley is credited for coining the phrase “agree to disagree.”

Wesley often found himself at odds with George Whitefield. Whitefield, who shared Wesley’s enthusiasm for evangelism, clashed openly with Wesley on issues of soteriology. Eventually, the rivalry between Wesley and Whitefield’s theologies introduced an impassioned partisanship among their followers.

In a memorial sermon delivered after Whitefield’s passing, Wesley minimized the schism saying:

There are many doctrines of a less essential nature . . . In these we may think and let think; we may agree to disagree. But, meantime, let us hold fast the essentials . . .

This sermon is widely recognized as the first time “agree to disagree” appeared in print.

If you are looking for more great discussion about John Wesley, check out Ten Thought-Provoking John Wesley Quotes by Robert Campbell .

Pick Up the John Wesley Collection!

Make sure you peruse the 29 volume, John Wesley Collection. This collection features all of his theological works, as well as essays, journals, letters, sermons, grammars, psalms, hymns, and various addresses. This complete collection of one of Christendom’s important figures is a must have.

Have a favorite story or anecdote about John Wesley? Please, share it with us!

Logos Helps Me Hit the Ground Running

Given that we’re in the midst of Forum Week over in the Logos forums, it’s fitting that today’s blog post is by Forum MVP Thomas Black. Thomas is a pastor in Illinois passionate about Acts 6:4 ministry and a longtime user of Logos Bible Software.

Friday: I am home from the Moody Bible Institute Pastor’s Conference—time to hit the ground running.

Saturday: I’m sure glad I finished that sermon before I left, having free time with my family makes it worthwhile.

Sunday: Spending an awesome day in God’s presence.

Monday: The phone rings, “Pastor, I need you….” I’m there. The day is spent in home and hospital visits. Why not add a meeting or two just in case I have any unaccounted for free time?

Tuesday: I don’t even know where today went, It started with discipleship and ended with counseling though I know Bible study prep is in there somewhere.

Wednesday: Finally, it’s Wednesday morning. Time to study. . . but it’s not going to happen. I head out of the office to sit and pray with the wife of a dear friend undergoing critical surgery. Time with family is a priority today, but I can’t forget there’s the prayer meeting this evening.

Thursday: This week has me breathless as I begin to study—the phone rings. I glance at my clock and cringe. . . .

Friday: It’s Friday morning, the phone is turned off and Sunday’s coming. In prayer this morning, I recount the week behind me. A week full of emergencies, counseling, meetings, hospital visits (three hospitals in three different towns!), discipleship sessions, and the plans I had that didn’t pan out. I open my Bible prayerfully and pause wondering, “Lord, how am I going to effectively study this passage well enough to preach it to the congregation with integrity and accuracy on Sunday? This is your Word, help me to take it into my own heart so I can share it with theirs.”

Logos Bible Software is God’s tool for enabling me to serve and preach.

In moments I have a passage guide, my passage, and a commentary. Bible word studies are popping open with regularity as I consult the Greek (or Hebrew) of my text. Prayers are whispered. The Spirit of God coaxes. Notes are taken. Soon I have more notes than time to cover them. My understanding grows and thoughts begin to distill as an outline and body take shape.

But before I can finish the sermon and crawl into bed, it’s off to the local Boy Scout carnival to spend three hours in a dunk tank.

Saturday: Today there is a lawn to be mowed and a family to be enjoyed—but I need to remember to get the Sunday School prep done too and I can’t forget the Sunday Evening message.

Sunday: A glorious day in the presence of Christ and His body the church.

Monday: I wake up on the morning that should serve as my Sabbath, but every pastor knows what I mean when I say Sunday’s coming. . . .

Not every week is quite like this one, but the speed and efficiency made possible with Logos Bible Software enables me to serve and preach His Word with integrity, accuracy and passion.

Do you have a testimony about how Logos Bible Software as helped you in your life or ministry? We would love to hear it! Leave us a comment and tell us about it. Then head over to the Logos forums to check out Forum Week!

Celebrating 50,000 Forum Users

Considering how popular Facebook and Twitter are, it may surprise you to discover that there’s another social community growing about nine times faster than either of these—the Logos Forums. (You read that right: Nine times faster than the ubiquitous, über-popular Facebook and Twitter!)

In fact, one member calculated that the forum community has grown at the rate of 66 users a day and nearly 2,000 new users a month for the past year!

What makes the forums so popular?

Simply put, the forums are one of the best ways to learn about Logos the software and Logos the company.

In the forums you’ll find all sorts of helpful and exciting things. You’ll find:

  • tips, tricks and workarounds to tackle Bible study problems
  • advice on which resources will help you the most from people who already own the them
  • screenshots and videos explaining about how to do things with Logos 4 you didn’t even know where possible
  • a community that likes to share encouragement and insights from their own study
  • tips on what great deals are available at any give time
  • a group of users more than ready to help you push an exciting Community Pricing or Pre-Pub title into production
  • comments straight from Logos about what our plans are and why we do things the way we do
  • opportunities to give feedback to Logos that helps direct the future of the software and company
  • much, much more!

And if you can’t find any of the above in the forums already, all you have to do is ask. With other users in literally every time zone around the world, the odds are pretty good you can get an answer in a couple hours if not in mere minutes.

No wonder the forums are growing so fast! They’re better able to handle all things Logos than any other social channel.

Cause to Celebrate

Just this past week we reached 50,000 forum users. To celebrate, we put together Forum Week—a week of great deals and fun “events” to show new users what this community is all about.

Since this is Forum Week, we decided the best place to post the deals and events (there will be prizes) is right in the forums themselves.

To take part, simply head over http://community.logos.com and look for the forum called “***Forum Week***” at the top of the page. But note, you must be logged in to your free www.logos.com account in order to be able to see this special forum and take part in the festivities.

A Landmark Event Deserves a Great Deal!

To kick things off, we’re offering an incredible discount on Camp Logos Live. Since much of the forum conversation is learning oriented, there couldn’t be a more fitting title to discount in honor of the community than the #1 tool for getting more out of Logos Bible Software 4. For the forum-exclusive price, be sure to check out Forum Week.

Make sure you check in early and often! Some of the deals and events are time sensitive and will be announced without warning.

The Chesterton Birthday Sale!

Gilbert Keith ChestertonSunday, May 22, marks the birthday of British writer, G. K. Chesterton, and Logos is celebrating with a huge sale on the eleven-volume G. K. Chesterton Collection. Today through June 3, 2011, you can get the G. K. Chesterton Collection for over 60% off the retail price! For more information on how to take advantage of this deal, check out the end of this post.

Who is Chesterton?

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, writer of approximately 80 books, around 200 short stories, over 4000 essays, several plays, and hundreds of poems, is often considered one of the great minds of the early twentieth century.

Involving himself in many of the important discussions of his day, Chesterton showed great aptitude and intelligence across a wide spectrum of disciplines. He was well known as a Christian apologist, poet, playwright, journalist, lecturer, debater, literary critic, biographer, philosopher, novelist, and even as a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Contemporaries of Chesterton knew him to be both a deep and profound thinker as well as incredibly witty and jovial personality. George Bernard Shaw, who was both a friend of Chesterton’s and a frequent philosophical sparring partner, called Chesterton “a man of colossal genius.”
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Last Chance: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary Shipping Soon!

Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (44 vols.)A few years ago, a core group of Bible scholars began to dream of what a new Bible commentary could look like. What if a new commentary series could be published—a kind of commentary pastors could use for sermon preparation, and a standard reference work seminary students could consult for exegetical research? What if this commentary was designed and written primarily for a digital environment—and especially for use in Logos Bible Software?

The Evangelical Exegetical Commentary began out of those conversations. Now, that dream is about to become a reality. In less than two weeks, the first volume in this brand new commentary series will be released.

Think of what a milestone this really is. It’s the first major Bible commentary series to be published in many years—long after everyone said it couldn’t be done. It’s the first Bible commentary series ever to be written with a digital environment in mind. It’s the first major Bible commentary where the authors are using Logos Bible Software to research and write the commentary. (Maybe you’ve asked yourself: “Would *insert your favorite commentary name here* have been better if all its authors had used Logos in their research?”) This list goes on and on.

We’ve been amazed and humbled by the number of people who have gotten behind the project—who’ve supported it, endorsed it, and pre-ordered it. If there was ever a question of whether a new commentary series was needed, that question has now been answered by all the people who have committed to making it happen.

Want to see it for yourself? Preview the first section of commentary from Ezra.
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