Strack and Billerbeck’s Works in English

Today’s guest post is from Dr. David Instone-Brewer, senior research fellow in rabbinics and the New Testament at Tyndale House in Cambridge. He is an expert on rabbinic literature and curator of the website Traditions of the Rabbis in the Era of the New Testament.

commentary-on-the-new-testament-from-the-talmud-and-midrashStrack-Billerbeck’s Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Midrash is a wonderful treasury of rabbinic parallels to the New Testament. These parallels are sometimes obvious, sometimes obscure, and almost always interesting.

This is a resource for preachers as well as scholars. Preachers and scholars who want to present a rounded picture of the New Testament Jewish world have everything they need in this collection. Although most of the material was written after the New Testament was finished, it represents the thinking and culture of the Pharisees, as well as Paul’s opponents. The second- and third-century rabbis were not the same as the Pharisees of the first century, but neither group was a monoculture, and the overlap is much larger than the differences.

Paul Billerbeck, the main author of this work, was a lifelong pastor and preacher who collected these parallels in order to enlighten his congregation. He was also an accomplished scholar, whose publications brought him to the attention of the distinguished Berlin professor Herman Strack. Strack encouraged Billerbeck to write a theology of the ancient rabbis, but Billerbeck was more interested in creating a collection of sources that would be useful for preachers and scholars. He arranged them in the form of a commentary, following the example of John Lightfoot two centuries previously.

Although Billerbeck, in his introductions, explains that he merely helped Strack, this wasn’t the case, since Billerbeck was the primary author of this work. However, Billerbeck needed Strack to give credence to his works. Billerbeck, born of Jewish parents, could never have found a publisher without Strack’s help, especially in the increasingly anti-semitic climate of Germany.

Of the commentaries included, the commentary on Matthew is by far the largest, since the other Gospels contain only the material that was not paralleled in Matthew. The epistles are dealt with much more briefly than the Gospels, partly because their background is often Roman, rather than Jewish, and because the rabbinic sources are sadly lacking in theological discussions. They are concerned far more with the minutiae of how to obey the Law in daily life.

Many of the rabbis were like Nicodemus—honestly trying to please God by following the Law. This is why they were so concerned to know how they should live. This collection opens up their world, and helps us to picture the people with whom Jesus spoke, and the rich soil from which Christianity grew.

* * *

You can be a part of bringing this monumental work to the English-speaking world! Pre-order your copy of Strack and Billerbeck’s Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Midrash today!

Logos March Madness Savings End April 15

The Logos March Madness sale is one of your best opportunities to score superb deals on bestselling individual titles—but this year’s sale ends Monday, April 15.

You can choose from over 700 products, by 64 authors, discounted by 30–75%! See all deals now.

This year’s biggest winners

D. A. Carson was crowned this year’s champion. A selection of his works are discounted by 75%. Titles available include Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel according to John, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, and The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism. See all of Carson’s works on sale.

This year’s runner-up, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, has been one of our best-selling authors. Titles by Lloyd-Jones are 60% off! For less than $10, you can pick up Courageous Christianity, Glorious Christianity, and Authentic Christianity, or other top works. See all of Lloyd-Jones’ works on sale.

Hundreds of titles from 62 authors

  • Save 50% on N. T. Wright and Charles Spurgeon.
  • Save 45% on Douglas Moo, John Piper, A. W. Tozer, and Bruce Metzger.
  • Save 40% on John MacArthur, J. I. Packer, John Calvin, and 5 more authors.
  • Save 35% on Warren Wiersbe, R. C. Sproul, John Owen, and 13 more authors.
  • Save 30% on Charles Ryrie, Jack Hayford, J. C. Ryle, and 29 more authors.

Don’t forget—this sale ends Monday, April 15. Save now!

Already picked up your favorite titles? Recommend your favorites in the comments.

Improve Your Preaching with the Baker Contemporary Preaching Collection

Preaching week after week can be an exhilarating and daunting task. And once you’re in the thick of sermon prep, it’s hard to find the time and tools to adequately assess how you’re doing. How do you set goals to get better? How do you stay on top of the important preaching trends? How do you get better at developing ideas and turning them into powerful, life-changing sermons?

With the 19-volume Baker Contemporary Preaching Collection, you’ll have all the resources you need to take your pulpit ministry to the next level.

This collection includes modern classics like:

Performance in Preaching: Bringing the Sermon to Life ed. Jana Childers and Clayton J. Schmit

“Two of our finest teachers of preaching here collaborate on an invigorating book for preachers. Jesus doesn’t mean for us to think about the Gospel, even to understand the Gospel. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is meant to be enacted, embodied, and performed. Childers and Schmit show us how we preachers can better enable our listeners to not only hear but also perform the Gospel. One of the best books on the craft of preaching that we’ve had in a long time.”—Will Willimon, bishop, North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church

Preaching: The Art of Narrative Exposition by Calvin Miller

“One of our best preachers and writers tells us what he does best—and why and how.”—Eugene Peterson, pastor, scholar, and author

Preaching as Worship: An Integrative Approach to Formation in Your Church by Michael J. Quicke

“Michael Quicke’s winsome and insightful exploration of preaching as an integral component and reflection of Trinitarian worship is a welcome contribution to thoughtful literature on both preaching and worship. For too long, one has been viewed as simply a prelude or culmination of the other. Quicke helps us understand how worship and preaching function organically and holistically to honor the persons of the Godhead who also comes to us as one.”—Bryan Chapell, chancellor, Covenant Theological Seminary

Preaching to a Post-Everything World: Crafting Biblical Sermons That Connect with Our Culture by Zack Eswine

“Zack Eswine moves the Christ-centered preaching movement forward with this volume. He not only calls us to carefully contextualize our message to various cultures, sensibilities, and habits of heart, but he also gives us a host of practical tools, inventories, and guidelines for doing so. All the while he assumes and strengthens the foundational commitment to preaching Christ and his restoring grace from every text. A great contribution.”—Tim Keller, senior pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City

Preaching to a Postmodern World: A Guide to Reaching Twenty-First Century Listeners by Graham MacPherson Johnston

“Here is a significant book, one that urgently needs to be in print. Well written, biblical, and practical, it opens the stained glass windows. For anyone desiring a ministry of impact in today’s postmodern society, Graham Johnston has provided an understandable and useful focus for both the professional and the casual reader.”—Howard G. Hendricks, emeritus distinguished professor of Christian education and leadership, Dallas Theological Seminary

These five titles represent less than a third of the resources available in the Baker Contemporary Preaching Collection. And while these resources are on Pre-Pub, you can add them to your library for only $189.95. Don’t wait. Pick up these resources while they’re available at this low Pre-Pub price!

Greek Poets Influenced First-Century Judaism?

“What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” 

When church father Tertullian asked this question, it was rhetorical; the answer, to him, was ‘Nothing.’”

But that’s not exactly true.

To understand the Hellenized Jewish culture Jesus was born into, one should have a cursory familiarity with the poets Homer and Virgil. The Jews, like many of the cultures conquered by Alexander the Great or within Greece’s circle of influence, experienced an assimilation of Greek speech, manners, and culture. Although the more orthodox Jews clashed with their Hellenized brethren over the extent to which Greek culture should infringe on Jewish practices, one can simply look at the translation of Hebrew Scriptures into the Septuagint’s Greek to see how deep that influence went.

Regarding Homer and Virgil’s influence on Hellenized cultures, Karl Olav Sandes writes,

“[Virgil] and Homer, in particular, formed a ‘canon’ of texts that the students met repeatedly and at various levels: ‘Homer’s epics had become the basis for Greek culture. Since classical time they were everybody’s schoolbook (to be more or less retained by memory) and companion for life.’ Homer was the foundational text of the culture in which many NT texts came to life. This conclusion can be inferred from Philo’s extensive discussion on encyclical education, and is supported by Josephus’s writings as well. On the basis of this fundamental role of Homer, it makes sense to look for Homeric traces in the NT, and not to restrict oneself to obvious citations.”—Journal of Biblical Literature vol. 124

The influence of these poets on Hellenized culture goes beyond the literary:

“The impact of the Homeric poems on geographic questions is profound. Geographers normally debated whether Homer accurately relayed geographic information. There is more at stake in these questions, however, than whether Homer is an accurate geographer. Ancient authors of all genres were particularly indebted to Homer as a model and source of material. It is no surprise, then, that ancient geographers engaged the epic poems of Homer.”—Eric C. Stewart, Gathered around Jesus

We might even be surprised by their influence on Scripture. Here Kenneth Boa and William Kruidenier discuss Virgil’s possible influence on a Pauline metaphor:

“It is not uncommon for commentators to suggest what might have been in Paul’s mind when he cried out, ‘What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?’ (Rom. 7:24). ‘Wretched’ we understand, but what is the ‘body of death’ from which he wants to be rescued? A most gruesome picture is that presented by the Roman poet Virgil (70–19 b.c.), with which his audience in Rome might well have been familiar. In Book Eight of the Æneid, Virgil’s epic poem that chronicles the wanderings of Aeneas after the fall of Troy, the horrific cruelty of the Etruscan king Mezentius is told. To punish and torture his living captives, Mezentius tied them face to face with decomposing corpses of those killed in battle, leaving them bound together until the living captive died. Virgil’s poetic presentation does little to soften the horror of such a fate:

The living and the dead at his command
Were coupled, face to face, and hand to hand,
Till, chok’d with stench, in loath’d embraces tied,
The ling’ring wretches pin’d away and died.
—Virgil’s Æneid, Book Eight

What did Paul call himself—a ‘wretched man’? What did Virgil call those locked in the embrace of death—those ‘ling’ring wretches’? Surely no word other than “rescue” would fit both scenes. And if Paul had Virgil’s epic in mind, then this image of “body of death” suddenly puts the gospel’s deliverance from the law in a new and more serious light.”—Holman New Testament Commentary: Romans

Get works of Homer and Virgil on Community Pricing!

Now you can help set your own price to add these two cultural icons while they’re on Community Pricing.

Homer’s eight-volume Iliad and Odyssey is currently tracking to head into production at $14, and more bids could drive that price down even further. And the four-volume Select Works of Virgil is brand-new to Community Pricing. Bid now on these two important writers!

Get the NIV Free until April 8!

NIVThe world’s most popular Bible translation, the NIV, is now available for free—but only for a limited time.

Download the Faithlife Study Bible by April 8, and you’ll get the NIV, along with the FSB’s several daily devotionals, three layers of in-depth study notes, custom highlighting and note-taking, and more.

The Faithlife Study Bible can be read on your iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire, or online at Bible.Faithlife.com. It’s the perfect resource to bring with you to church and Bible study, and allows you to study no matter where you are. The FSB is always growing and improving, and by downloading it today, you own the FSB and the NIV for life.

Already using the Faithlife Study Bible? Just open your app by April 8 to get your free copy of the NIV.

This offer ends April 8—get yours today!

Tweet or share this post with your friends so they don’t miss this incredible deal!

Get the Works of Geerhardus Vos on Pre-Pub!

For nearly a century, the works of Geerhardus Vos have remained scattered and difficult to find. Now, for the first time ever, the father of Reformed Biblical Theology makes his way into Logos with a must-have collection of his life’s work. This 14-volume collection compiles nearly all of Vos’ published and unpublished works—everything from his groundbreaking studies on Mosaic authorship, Pauline eschatology, and messianic consciousness, to his little-known poetry, dictionary articles, and book reviews.

But why Vos?

Fluent Hebrew and Arabic, Vos brought biblical theology and textual apologetics to Reformed and Presbyterian churches nationwide—without ever leaving the classroom. He shaped the teachings of the PCUSA and numerous other Presbyterian, Reformed, and Evangelical churches for the next century with his eschatological and hermeneutical insights in New Testament studies. These teachings shaped John Murray, J. Gresham Machen, Herman Ridderbos, and Cornelius Van Til in profound and incredible ways. These are insights that G. K. Beale and Sinclair B. Ferguson still use in their classrooms and commentaries today. Major scholars still read and reference him as a source for teaching interpretation and exegesis. Don’t miss out on this important aspect of theological history. He’s a major part of theological studies today.

Save money on Pre-Pub

This collection is generously discounted while we work on digitizing it. Preorder Vos’ works today!

And don’t miss out on his Reformed Dogmatics—now being translated into English from Dutch.

Get 58 Volumes of Newly Translated Calvin Sermons and Lectures!

John_Calvin_2Calvin is famous for his commentaries and the Institutes of the Christian Religion. Did you know he was also a master preacher and teacher?

There are two ways you can access many of Calvin’s sermons.

1. Learn French

  • Buy a book
  • Buy a language program
  • Invest months or years of your life
  • Catch a flight to Paris
  • Spend lots of time—time you would otherwise be spending celebrating your child’s first birthday, etc.

Or . . . 

2. Support the project to translate Calvin’s sermons into English by placing a pre-order

This is a huge, expensive project. We’re not expecting to profit much from it. We just think making Calvin’s untranslated sermons accessible in English is an important endeavor, and we think you do, too.

Not many organizations have the resources to undertake a project like this, so we thought we’d give it our best shot.

Will you join us?

Support the project by placing a pre-order. As part of the pre-order process, we’ll ask for your credit card number, but we promise we won’t charge your card unless the project materializes—and we’ll send you an email first.

As an added bonus, by pre-ordering early, you’re saving $50.00. And you can even opt out and cancel your pre-order later, so there’s no risk to getting in early.

What are you waiting for? Pre-order this collection, and help us get these important works translated!

Study the Bible in High Definition

One of our newest and most exciting projects is the Lexham High Definition Old Testament. We’re striving to help you understand the Old Testament’s original context and the intent of the authors—in a way that has never been done before.

What is the High Definition Old Testament?

Learn more about the concept of the HDOT by watching this quick video.

 

The HDOT is now available for download. You’ll get Genesis through Jeremiah, Jonah, and Ruth (in the original Tanakh order) immediately upon purchase; the rest of the Old Testament will be automatically added to your library as we complete and release the content. Get it today!

Want to get more in depth with the Hebrew text? The Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible Bundle (6 vols.) contains the High Definition Old Testament, plus the three-volume Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible.

Learn more about the HDOT, HDNT, and Lexham Discourse resources

Check out these posts for more information on the Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible and High Definition Old Testament.

Save 75% on the Logos March Madness Champion’s Works

Logos March Madness has come down to two authors: D. A. Carson vs. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

You must vote today before 5 p.m. PST. The winner’s works will be discounted by 75%, and the runner-up’s works will be discounted by 60%. Vote now!

March Madness Champions

Don’t wait for a winner—save up to 50% now

Check out the works of some of this year’s best-selling authors:

Save 50% on titles by N. T. Wright and Charles Spurgeon

Save 45% on titles by Bruce Metzger and A. W. Tozer

Save 40% on titles by Darrell Bock and John Calvin

Save 35% on titles by Gordon Fee and John Owen

Save 30% on titles by Ben Witherington and James Montgomery Boice

Vote now, and be sure to check out all of this year’s deals.

9 Inspirational Quotes from the Early Church

1500 Quotations for PreachersIn January, we announced 1,500 Quotations for Preachers, a five-volume series of quotations from throughout church history. These quotations are extremely helpful in putting together sermons, and can easily be pulled into presentations with the provided quotation slides.

Here are nine inspiring quotes from the Early Church volume:

  1. Tertullian on persecution: “The more often we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed.”
  2. Jerome on Scripture reading and prayer: “Let the divine scripture be always in your hands, and give yourself so frequently to prayer that such shafts of evil thoughts as ever assail the young may thereby find a shield to repel them.”
  3. Augustine on procrastination: “God has promised pardon to your conversion; He has not promised a tomorrow to your delay.”
  4. Chrysostom on reconciliation: “We are commanded to have only one enemy, the devil. With him never be reconciled! But with a brother, never be at enmity in your heart.”
  5. Athanasius on the renewal of creation: “The renewal of creation has been the work of the self-same Word that made it at the beginning.”
  6. Cyril of Jerusalem on God’s mercy: “Your accumulated offenses do not surpass the multitude of God’s mercies; your wounds do not surpass the great physician’s skill.”
  7. Gregory of Nazianzus on God’s greatness: “No one has yet breathed the whole air, nor has any mind entirely comprehended, or speech exhaustively contained, the being of God.”
  8. Syncletica of Alexandria on the integrity of teachers: “A man whose house is about to fall down may invite travelers inside to refresh them, but instead they are hurt in the collapse of the house. It is the same with teachers who have not carefully trained themselves in the good life: they ruin their hearers as well as themselves.”
  9. Irenaeus on truth and error: “Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself.”

Be sure to pick up 1,500 Quotations for Preachers before the price goes up April 9!