If Commentaries Were Sports Teams

As much as Americans love democracy, we want sports to be a simple meritocracy: may the best team win.

A lose-and-you’re-out tournament is our idea of a championship. We don’t what sportswriters telling us who they think is best; we want winners to prove who’s best. That’s why Americans love college basketball’s March Madness.

For years, Bible commentary fans have relied on “sportswriters” to tell them which commentaries are best. Carson and  Longman (through their commentary surveys) and Denver Seminary and Detroit Seminary (through their lists) have long determined the best commentaries for each Bible book. Bestcommentaries.com (the Sportswriters Association of the commentary world) has aggregated those votes and become the go-to resource for recommendations. But there has never been a definitive commentary championship.

Until now. [Read more…]

A Systematic Theology for Black History Month

February is Black History Month, and I took this opportunity to pick up a new Lexham Press title by the late African-American theologian Charles Octavius Boothe: Plain Theology for Plain People.

Our American culture has changed since this book was first published in 1890. People don’t call each other “plain” anymore, so I want to make certain readers understand that Boothe’s title is loving and not disdaining. He writes in the preface, “This little book’s only mission is to help plain people in the study of the first principles of divine truth.”
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The RSV Takes on the KJV

The translators of the Revised Standard Version (1952; 2nd. ed. 1971) didn’t mince words when comparing their work to the King James Version. The KJV “has grave defects,” they said. Its underlying Greek texts were “marred by mistakes, containing the accumulated errors of fourteen centuries.”

The RSV translators, on the other hand, possessed “more ancient manuscripts of the New Testament.” They were “far better equipped to recover the original wording of the Greek text.” [Read more…]

Search for Things, Not Words


The following piece is a preview of my regular column in Bible Study Magazine. The tips here will come out in the next issue. If you’re not yet a subscriber to BSM, click here.

Here’s a new Logos skill you may not yet have, a tool you’ll want to stick in your Bible study tool belt as I have done: searching for things rather than for words.

The point of Logos is not gaining some kind of proficiency certificate in the software (we don’t offer those); it’s studying the Bible. When I have a study project or a sermon prep or an article due—or just a personal question—I just want to get to answers quickly. That’s why, as often as I can, I make use of the tagging Logos has done in the Bible to search for things rather than words.
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Verily, God Did Not Say “Thou Shalt Not Steal”


The title thou hast lately read art not a clickbait and switch. Verily, I believe it to be one of truth and importance.

Let me put you at ease right away by telling you what I mean by it.

God did not say, “Thou shalt not steal.” He said “You shall not steal.”

He did not say, “I AM THAT I AM.” He said, “I AM WHO I AM.”

Jesus did not say, “Whosoever believeth in him should not perish.” He said, “Whoever believes in him should not perish.”

As linguist Steve Runge has often observed, “Choice implies meaning.” And the choice to use Elizabethan English today adds another message on top of whatever the Bible is saying—a message the KJV translators never intended. It says, “Behold! Thou art reading solemn, elevated, religious verbiage!”
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What Makes a Good Biblical Scholar?

Over on the Logos Academic Blog (theLAB) there’s been a series of interesting pieces from biblical scholars answering the question, “What makes a good biblical scholar.” I thought I’d weigh in here on the Logos Blog, too.

I cannot give a secular answer to the question of what makes a “good biblical scholar,” even though I am deeply grateful for the benefit I’ve derived from non-Christians in the field. “Good” is not a concept whose definition I’m willing to cede to our secular age. There is none good but one (Mark 10:18). So my answer to the titular question is unshakably Christian: it’s love that makes a good biblical scholar—love for God, and love for his image bearers.

Love isn’t enough to make a 1) good 2) biblical 3) scholar, but it is a necessary starting point. To deserve those three descriptions requires loving the Lord with one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength; and loving one’s neighbor as oneself.
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3 Reasons You Should Read the Work of James K.A. Smith

A book series I’ve heard a lot of talk about in recent years is James K. A. Smith’s “Cultural Liturgies” trilogy: Desiring the Kingdom, Imagining the Kingdom, and Awaiting the King (plus the one-volume popularization I really enjoyed, You Are What You Love). Smith is professor of philosophy at Calvin College and editor of Comment magazine.

I will not provide a thorough review of the trilogy here—that might take a few years; they’re the kinds of books that need to percolate. Rather, I will mention just three emphases I have found helpful in his books generally. [Read more…]

What Should New Testament Preachers Do with Old Testament Promises?

Some time ago my wife and I visited a church we’d never been to before and heard a message from one paragraph in Joshua 1. Take particular note of the promises (bolded), because the preacher did:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

A stirring passage. And the preacher, who was a gifted speaker, skillfully weaved its themes into a unified sermon. We profited from it. We love to hear God’s word preached with care and feeling.
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One Thing Every True Evangelical Has in Common

Some people doubt evangelicalism exists—it’s too fractured to be called an -ism. And in the last year the value of the label has been fought over more vociferously than ever. What is “evangelicalism”? Is it even a useful concept anymore?

I believe it is still a useful concept, and I’ll tell you why: there’s a little something called “biblicism” which, thankfully, is still recognizable in basically all sectors of evangelicalism. It’s weakened in some places and under threat in all, but I still see it as a unifying center for evangelicalism. [Read more…]

How to Think Like a Christian Should

We rarely think about thinking. Many very smart people fail to see the assumptions hidden underneath their reasoning. How often do news articles assume that the only really reliable way of knowing truth is the scientific method? [Read more…]