Some Say “Easter” Is Pagan. Is it Really?


Some of the angriest comments I’ve ever received came on a post I wrote about Easter. I honestly forgot that some Christians are very upset about the use of a(n allegedly) “pagan” word to describe the preeminent Christian holiday. Here’s what one commenter wrote:

Easter is a bad translation of a word that does not appear in the original language.… Easter is a carryover from the Greco-Roman world; which was engulfed in sun-worship…. The holiday and the word should be changed back to Passover.

This was one of the best comments from the say-no-to-Easter perspective: it was clear, avoided ad hominem, and was written in lower case. But you should have seen the abuse I got behind the scenes. I am a closet pagan; I am destroying the Christian faith; I am the most ignorantest person ever (that last one may be true, I’ll admit, but not the other two).
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How to Use a Critical Commentary If You’re an Evangelical

Logos sells many different commentaries. Literally thousands. They all fall into different categories, and here’s one schema you could use to organize them (borrowed from here, though there are others):

  1. Devotional/practical commentaries (NIVAC, LABC) focus on applying the Bible to real life.
  2. Pastoral/homiletical commentaries (REC, MNTC) were originally sermons and primarily provide models for other preachers.
  3. Exegetical commentaries (NAC, NICNT) go deep, but typically reserve Greek and Hebrew for footnotes.
  4. Critical commentaries (ICC, WBC) go a bit deeper and assume knowledge of the original biblical languages.

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Good and Bad Goals for Studying New Testament Greek

You want to study New Testament Greek? I talked last week about good and bad motivations for the work. Now let’s get more practical and talk goals.

If you set unrealistic goals you’ll never arrive at them. You’ll get discouraged and give up, and you won’t want to try again. And if you set goals that are too low, you’ll be missing out on some Bible study riches.

So set the right goals. Let me suggest three goals you should not set, and three goals you should.
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3 Reasons To Study Greek, and 3 Reasons Not To


You want to learn New Testament Greek?

Presumably, you’re a Christian, so my advice on this topic will be written for those who desire to love God and neighbor in all they do—even and especially in learning New Testament Greek.

Thinking carefully at the outset about why you want to learn Greek will enrich your study and help ensure that your work is an offering to the Lord.

Here are three reasons not to study Greek—and three to study it.
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How to Spot a Falsely Attributed Quotation

I was looking for a Mother’s Day gift and I stumbled across a quotation on the website of a local massage therapist:

You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending. —C.S. Lewis

I’m a huge Lewis fan, and I immediately said to myself, C.S. Lewis never said that. I just knew.

First a techie lesson on how I confirmed my suspicion, then a few biblical and theological reflections on what it means to know a writer’s voice.
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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 want 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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