Discover How We Really Got the Bible

Why was the Epistle of Barnabas removed from Bibles? And why did the Gospel of Thomas never make it into the canon? Find out in the May–June ’13 issue of Bible Study Magazine, where we address one of the most controversial topics in recent history: how we got the Bible. We’ve brought in the world’s leading experts on the biblical canon to tell the story. This issue exposes myth, debunks fallacious claims, and shows how our modern Bibles came to be. You won’t want to miss it!

Here’s what’s included in the May–June ’13 issue:

  • What does “canon” mean, anyway? Dr. Nijay Gupta explains the history of the term, and why we use it today to refer to authoritative biblical books.   
  • 9 books that used to be in Bibles. They were once considered worth including in Bibles, but few modern Bibles contain them. What were they, and why were they removed?
  • A timeline of canon history. How and when did biblical books become authoritative? Get a bird’s-eye view with this stunning fold-out infographic.
  • Origins of the Old Testament. The story of the Old Testament is complex, but this article by Dr. Lee Martin McDonald helps you understand milestones in the history of its formation.
  • Making the cut of the New Testament canon. Four criteria characterize authoritative biblical texts. Find out what they are—and if inspiration is one of them—in this article by Dr. Craig D. Allert.
  • Do new archaeological discoveries answer our canon questions? How do the Dead Sea Scrolls shed light on the canon—if at all? Dr. Michael S. Heiser shows us which texts the community at Qumran used.
  • Which books are divine? What do we learn about the canon from church fathers like Athanasius?

In addition, this issue features Joni Eareckson Tada on the cover, an interview with Elyse Fitzpatrick, and a new eight-week Bible study on the Psalms. Subscribe today to get the May–June ’13 issue of Bible Study Magazine!

Jesus the Revolutionary

Revolution

Today’s guest post is written by Michael L. Brown, author of Revolution: Jesus’ Call to Change the World and Revolution in the Church: Challenging the Religious System with a Call for Radical Change.

“We socialists would have nothing to do if you Christians had continued the revolution begun by Jesus.” These words were spoken by a leading socialist in the 1920s, yet more than 90 years later, they remain foreign to many Christian ears. What “revolution” did Jesus begin? And was Jesus in any sense a “revolutionary”?

The answer is that Jesus came into our world to launch God’s revolution—a kingdom revolution, a revolution of the Spirit, a world-changing movement that would overcome evil with good and hatred with love, and Jesus himself was the most radical revolutionary leader who ever lived.

Jesus called for revolutionary commitment

All too often, however, we look at Jesus as the founder of a lovely home and garden religion,” called Christianity, a harmless spiritual leader who left behind some lovely platitudes and inspirational thoughts, a man whose memory we celebrate at the annual Easter egg hunt.

But that is hardly the Jesus of the New Testament. His message was a threat to the religious establishment. He called for dramatic, sweeping—yes, revolutionary—change. He taught his followers to pray radical prayers like, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”—meaning, the displacement of the corrupt kingdoms of this world by the perfect kingdom of God. He called his disciples to revolutionary commitment, urging them to leave everything and follow him, and in his platform message, he promised freedom to the captives (Luke 4:18–21).

That is the language of a revolution, and that is the language we must recover today, as our nation teeter-totters on the verge of moral and social (not to mention economic) collapse. We need a Jesus-based cultural revolution that will recover the fear of God, the respect of honor, the dignity of family, and the beauty of morality.

Join the revolution

That is why I wrote Revolution: Jesus’ Call to Change the World, a life-changing book filled with challenging examples from saints and martyrs of the past.

However, before there can be a revolution in this society, there must first be a revolution in the Church, since the world has been changing the Church of America more than the Church of America has been changing the world. As Dr. Martin Luther King warned decades ago, “If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”

That is why I wrote Revolution in the Church: Challenging the Religious System with a Call for Radical Change—to examine our present methods of leadership and ministry against the biblical grid. For those bold enough to take the challenge, the rewards will outweigh the difficulties.

There is reason for great hope. As expressed by the late Vernon Grounds, former chancellor of Denver Theological Seminary, “A Christian who . . . becomes a revolutionary will serve as a revolutionary catalyst in the Church; and by the multiplication of revolutionized Christians, the Church will become a revolutionary catalyst in society; and if society is sufficiently revolutionized, a revolution of violence will no more be needed than a windmill in a world of atomic energy.”

Download Revolution: Jesus’ Call to Change the World and Revolution in the Church: Challenging the Religious System with a Call for Radical Change today.

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!

Logos 5: Locate Imperatives in 2 Timothy

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.

A few days ago, a Logos user emailed me the following question:

For a sermon on April 21, I would like to find all the commands in 2 Timothy. How do I do a search in the Greek for all the imperatives in this letter?

Here’s my response, with easy-to-follow instructions so you can locate those same commands:

  • Open the Search panel
  • Select Morph as the search type (A)
  • Select a Bible that contains the reverse interlinear option, like the ESV, from the dropdown list (B)
  • Select Logos Greek Morphology from the dropdown list (C)
  • Create a 2 Timothy verse range
    • Click the verse range dropdown list (D)
    • Type 2 Tim. in the New reference range box (E)
    • Click Save (F)

  • Type the @ symbol in the Find box (G)
  • Select Verb from the Part of Speech menu (H)
  • Select Imperative in the Mood column (I)
  • Click outside the menu to close it and save @V??M in the Find box
  • Press the Enter key to generate the search

  • Click Aligned when the search results appear (J)
  • Notice 33 results in 25 verses (ESV) (K)
  • Click a Bible reference to jump to that location (L)

 

Save 10% at the National Worship Leader Conference!

Proclaim church presentation software is a proud sponsor of the National Worship Leader Conference, the premier conference for worship leaders and their teams. The first of three conferences is May 13–15 in Lancaster, PA. With over 60 workshops, NWLC helps any leader from any size church learn and grow. At NWLC, worship is more than music—it’s a way to communicate biblical thought and understanding.

Get your ticket before April 19 and use code PRO10 at checkout—you’ll save 10%!

Visit the Proclaim blog today to learn more about the conference and save your seat.

Not in Pennsylvania? Don’t worry—you’ll have two more opportunities to attend the NWLC and save. Stay tuned!

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!

Another Way to Earn Your DMin Free

Knox Theological Seminary’s $18,000 Leith Anderson Scholarship is back! Enter to earn your DMin free at DMin.me/Leith-Anderson—the scholarship closes May 10.

This spring, Knox is introducing a new DMin track: “The Gospel in Church and Culture,” coordinated by Dr. Jim Belcher. The track draws on Scripture and Christian tradition to help pastors transform individuals, communities, and society.

If you start before June, you can take Dr. Belcher’s “Mission and Tradition: Seeking Balance in Ministry.” The class will look at the emerging and traditional churches, seeking a third way for the twenty-first century—a path between tradition and modernity.

Congratulations to Gary Golike!

Gary Golike

Gary Golike is the winner of our last Leith Anderson Scholarship. He’s a pastor in Nebraska with 33 years’ ministry experience. Gary is coming out of a sabbatical—he writes, “[The scholarship] comes at a perfect time in my life, and will fulfill a long-desired dream to continue my biblical and theological education. . . . [I feel that the] opportunity to study at Knox is an intentional gift from God.”

“As a teenager,” Gary writes, “I began to wander and attempted to live in both worlds, staying close to life in the church, but also getting involved in worldly behavior. . . . After struggling through a philosophy class that emphasized existentialism and also some relationship issues, I was suddenly struck with the foolishness and purposelessness of my attempts to find my way apart from God’s will.”

If Gary’s wanderings sound familiar, it’s because the tension he faced—between church and culture, tradition and modernity—is the same tension dealt with in Knox’s new Gospel in Church and Culture track. That tension is ancient, and it demands nuanced answers.

Save your seat in Knox’s Gospel in Church and Culture track today.

Then enter to win the $18,000 Leith Anderson Scholarship!

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!