Jesus’ Final Week: A Closer Look

Logos Talk will be bringing you special Holy Week devotionals from a number of authors. If you’d like more resources to prepare your heart for Easter, Logos has discounted a number of Holy Week titles.

Jesus and his disciples entered Jerusalem and spent the night in Bethany (Mark 11:11). Jesus knew that he would be arrested, tried, and crucified later that week. How does he use this last stretch of time?

  • He curses the fig tree (Mk 11:12-14, 20-25; Mt 21:18-22)
  • He cleanses the temple (Mk 11:15-17; Mt 21:12-13; Lk 19:45-46)
  • He teaches in the temple (Mk 11:27-12:12; Mt 21:23-22:14; Lk 20:1-19)
  • He predicts the destruction of the temple and last things (Mk 13:1-37; Mt 24:1-25:46; Lk 21:5-36)
  • He is anointed in Bethany (Mk 14:3-9; Mt 26:6-13; cf. Jn 12:1-8 and Lk 7:37-39)

Have you ever noticed how many of Jesus’ parables are taught during this week? How about the growing frequency of interactions he has with authorities in Jerusalem?

When I step back and look at it all (through the lens of hindsight), it looks like Jesus is preparing himself and his disciples for his crucifixion and resurrection.

Jesus in the Temple

Jesus cleanses the temple and heals people who need help. For this, the authorities hated him even more.

After this, Jesus engages in a “stump-the-teacher” session with all sorts of folks, answering questions about paying taxes, resurrection, and the greatest commandment. And those are just the questions we know about. I don’t know about you, but I get the sense that many of these questions were tests to see how good Jesus was. Sort of how we all (whether we admit to it or not) have “test passages” we like to use when examining commentaries or study Bibles. Jesus passed this questioning with flying colors, of course, because he is Jesus. If someone had questions about Jesus and what he taught, that person’s larger concerns may have been answered by this session.

So Jesus and his disciples leave the temple area. After his disciples respond in awe to the size and beauty of the temple complex (Mk 13:1), Jesus says that it will all be destroyed (Mk 13:2). He was beginning to focus them on the gospel that really matters instead of the magnificent architecture and beauty of human effort.

The Mount of Olives

From here he goes on to the Mount of Olives (Mk 13:3-37; Mt 24:1-25:45, called the “Olivet Discourse” by some) and begins to talk about end times. Jesus’ prophecy can be paraphrased: “Horrible, unthinkable things will happen, and then it’ll get worse. Help those who need help. Watch and be ready for my return. It’ll happen; I will be back.”

Afterward, in Bethany, during dinner at Simon the leper’s house, a woman, nameless in Matthew and Mark (Mk 14:3-9; Mt 26:6-13), dumps a bunch of expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. Jesus says she is helping prepare his body for burial. That’s very weird for us to read—imagine what the folks at dinner were thinking! But Jesus said it was a beautiful thing.

Yes, I think Jesus was getting ready for his crucifixion, and he was getting his disciples ready, too. Take some time today or tomorrow to look at the steps he took and the things he taught, and let Jesus get you ready to experience his death, and (praise God!) celebrate his resurrection.

Leave us a comment and tell us how you’re remembering Jesus this week, and check out our special Holy Week resources.

What’s So Cool about Greek Apocryphal Gospels?

You may have seen an announcement for a new Pre-Pub called Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments and Agrapha.

Yes, that’s a mouthful. But what are they? And are these things actually useful to me in my study?

I think they are, and I’m pretty excited about working on this project.

These documents are not canonical. Some of them are just fragments that were found in dumps of papyri. But they give us insight into how early Christians dealt with their faith, how they told others about things they’d heard, and how they interacted with the myriad of stories and tales they were hearing about this guy Jesus and his disciples. These documents also teach us more about the Greek the early church used. Just think, something useful for historical studies and grammatical studies!

This resource includes gospels, which means it centers on things that tell the story of Jesus. Different people see different kinds of these gospels. I include three basic different types:

  • Infancy Gospels. These include stories about Jesus’ youth and even earlier. The Protevangelium of James includes a much fuller story about Mary and Joseph with all sorts of details (even about Mary’s midwife) that are not canonical by any stretch, but insightful nonetheless.
  • Passion Gospels. These are gospels about the trial, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. They have similarities with the canonical gospels, but include expansions and embellishments as well.
  • Post-resurrection Gospels. The Greek extant for the Gospel of Mary is fragmentary, but insightful; one of the available fragments has a snippet of a story where Peter turns to Mary and asks her to relate what she knows of Jesus.

There are also fragments of apocryphal gospels.  One of these, P.Egerton 2, is fantastic. It consists of a few fragments, but these compile in short succession a number of events that are easily recognizable in the canonical gospels. Again, we get to see how early Christians understood the canonical gospels, how they framed that material, and how they used it for other purposes.

Among the coolest things, from my perspective, are the agrapha. The word technically means “unwritten”; in this context it denotes sayings that claim to originate with Jesus but aren’t in the canonical gospels as we’ve received them. Some of my favorites of these are in the Apostolic Fathers, in the written work known as Second Clement, which is the earliest complete non-canonical sermon we’ve got today. In chapter 5, there is an allusion to Matt 10.16 / Luke 10.3, but with an expansion and a twist:

2 For the Lord said, “You will be like sheep among wolves.” 3 And answering, Peter said to him, “But if the wolves tear apart the sheep?” 4 Jesus said to Peter, “The sheep have no fear of the wolves after they are dead, and you have no fear of those who kill you and who are able to do nothing more to you, but you fear him who after you are dead has power to throw soul and body into the hell of fire.” (2 Clem 5.2–4)

Whether this was really something Jesus said, we have no idea. But isn’t it interesting that it would be used in the early church (early/mid second century) in a sermon?

What is in the resource?

The resource includes morphologically analyzed Greek of each of the included gospels, fragments, and agrapha. So it will be searchable and useable much like you’d use any morphologically analyzed Greek edition (NT, LXX, Apostolic Fathers, Philo, etc.). In addition, I’ll be writing introductions and providing bibliographies for each major document and fragment. The agrapha will probably have a single introduction and bibliography.

This is pretty much the same format we used for the Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology. The goal is to provide a useable Greek text and, because the material is not that familiar to many, decent introductions to each of the major documents giving some background, history, and applicability to one’s studies of the Bible.

Does that sound like fun? It does to me. If it does to you too, then order the Pre-Pub and let’s get this thing going!

Excited about this project? Leave us a comment!

New Testament Reverse Interlinear Available for the NIV 2011

We have wrapped up work on the reverse interlinear for the NIV 2011 New Testament. If you have Logos 4 installed, a license for the NIV 2011 with reverse interlinears, and are set up to receive updates, the update should be automatic. The reverse interlinear for the NIV2011 Old Testament is well under way, we hope to release that later this year.

Growing up as a child of the late 70′s and early 80′s, the standard Bible in my church and home was the NIV. But I have to admit, I am less familiar with the TNIV and the NIV2011, so I was actually happy to work on this reverse interlinear project.

There has been both support and criticism for the NIV 2011, particularly as it handles what have come to be known as gender issues. I won’t comment on those, but I thought I’d highlight a few of the other changes between the 1984 NIV and the 2011 NIV.

Change 1: Is it “Christ” or “Messiah”?

The 1984 NIV used “Christ” to translate the Greek Χριστος (Christos) almost exclusively. There’s nothing wrong with that. But one refreshing change I noticed is that when Χριστος is used referring to the prophesied savior to come (mostly in the Gospels), the 2011 NIV uses “Messiah” instead of “Christ”. Elsewhere, where a particular person, Jesus, is referred to using Χριστος, the 2011 NIV uses “Christ” (or “Jesus Christ” or “Christ Jesus” as the Greek text warrants).

This is a refreshing change. I think sometimes we slip into thinking that “Christ” is Jesus’ last name, and this change helps us remember that in the Gospels it is a title referring to the Savior to come.

Change 2: Is it “Saints” or “Holy Ones”?

I was less excited about this change, but can understand why the committee made it. This typically shows up in the epistles. I think the change is primarily about focusing on the effect of Christ on someone (made holy) versus focusing on some sort of status ascribed to a person as a result of that effect. The use of “saint” today is different than it was in the 1970′s and 80′s when the NIV was originally translated, so some sort of change is defensible, though it wreaks havoc with the way I remember and have internalized the text since my younger days.

These are just a few of the larger, consistent changes between the 1984 and 2011 editions of the NIV. There were scads of smaller changes, as well. If you’re really interested in those sorts of details, and you have the 1984 NIV available in Logos, you can use Logos 4′s Bible Comparison features (Morris Proctor talks about it briefly here) to tease out all of the differences—even punctuation, which is sometimes very interesting!

If you don’t have NIV 2011, you can pick yours up today!

Has the NIV been beneficial to your Bible study? Leave us a comment and tell us how!

A Syntactic Analysis of the Septuagint

Cascadia Syntax Graphs of the SeptuagintOne of the Pre-Pubs I’m most anticipating has the misfortune of being an extremely big project of seemingly narrow interest.

I’m talking about the Cascadia Syntax Graphs of the Septuagint, which has been on Pre-Pub since mid-2010, and at present  is only about 20% of the way to the development threshold.

Why am I so interested in a syntactic analysis of the Septuagint? Simply put, using the Cascadia Syntax Graphs of the Greek New Testament helps me think through the text as I read it, and my Greek has gotten much, much better because of it. Sure, there are benefits to being able to search the syntax. But for me, the primary benefit comes when reading and working through the text. The Cascadia Syntax Graphs help me see the high-level components of the text, and in so doing help me see the text as phrases and clauses, and less as a string of words to be decoded.

Let me give you an example that has absolutely nothing to do with searching.

One thing I like to do when reading Greek is to use the ‘Display’ feature to turn off certain levels of the analysis. With Cascadia, if you turn off the “Phrases” and “Terminals” (and, if you’re daring, the “Literal Translation” as well), you get a structure that consists of clauses and clause functions. With the intermediary levels turned off, you can begin to see the components (subjects, objects, verbs, adverbials like negators and prepositional phrases, etc.). Even better, you start to see these when reading the text outside of the graphs, too. Here’s an example from John 3:16:

Jn 3:16 in the Cascadia Syntax Graphs of the NT

Jn 3:16 in the Cascadia Syntax Graphs of the NT

The dotted lighter-colored lines in the graphic above (dotted lines in the program) are where phrase and terminal level items are elided out. Reading the Greek from top to bottom, you can work through the Greek while referencing the structure of the sentence according to the Cascadia analysis. When I do this, I typically don’t worry about the “embeddedness” of the clauses, I just pay attention to the S, V, O, IO, ADV and other clause function notation. I can also readily see conjunctions and other particles, and get ideas in how they are functioning in the verse as well.

I’ll admit it’s a little selfish, but this is why I so want the Cascadia Syntax Graphs of the Septuagint Pre-Pub project to start — because I want to read the Septuagint the same way. I muddle through, and I’m getting better, yet I can’t help but think I’d get better faster with graphs of the Septuagint, though.

This brings me to my point: If you’ve had some Greek in the past (either recently, or not so recently), then try this little trick with the Cascadia Syntax Graphs of the New Testament. If you want, keep the “Literal Translation” portion active too. Do this diligently for awhile, and see if your Greek improves. If it does, and you think, “Wow, it really would be great to have this for the Septuagint too!” then please subscribe to the Pre-Pub, and help make it happen.

As I said, we’re only 20% of the way to funding the Cascadia Syntax Graphs of the Septuagint project. We need more people to subscribe to the Pre-Pub to make this happen. Will you be one of them?

Apostolic Fathers: Clement’s Use of the Bible

More Information on the Apostolic Fathers InterlinearOne reason I wanted to make the Apostolic Fathers Interlinear was because the writers of these documents used the Old Testament, New Testament, and even some portions of apocryphal/deuterocanonical books. These guys knew Scripture, and they used Scripture (and some related writings) in their writings.

Clement of Rome (First Clement is attributed to him, Second Clement is traditionally attributed to him though most today do not view Clement as its author) is exceptional in his use of the OT and NT. He uses large portions of Scripture to the point where they can even be useful for text-critical purposes. Did you know that 1Clem 18 is a quotation of Psalm 51, and that it largely reflects the text of the Septuagint as we have it today? And that there is a large chunk of Isaiah 53 in 1Clem 16? And that Clement also quotes from Proverbs and even Job? And that some portions sound like they’re coming straight from Hebrews (e.g. 1Clem 36) and that he probably has familiarity with some of Paul’s epistles—especially First Corinthians?

Further, there is a simply incredible prayer in 1Clem 59–61. You have to read it. Really. And trust me, it reads even better if you read it aloud!

And let’s not forget Second Clement (also known as “An Early Christian Homily”) which is essentially a sermon that uses portions of Isaiah 54 as its primary text. This is the earliest Christian sermon available outside of the New Testament, and  you can read it. Really! And it is awesome from its very start.

New Testament in the Apostolic FathersThis is all well and good, but why an interlinear and not a translation if I’m interested in folks really using this stuff? Well, I wanted to make something that folks who had some Greek and who find themselves using lexicons like BDAG could use to help them into the Greek text of this secondary material. Something people could search for Greek words and phrases, and see how they were used outside of the New Testament. Working on the Apostolic Fathers Interlinear was a lot of work, but it was also incredibly rewarding. I hope you’ll find it similarly helpful in your studies.

Here’s an extra bonus tip: If you’re interested in the Apostolic Fathers’ use of the New Testament, Logos has a neat book published in the early 1900′s called The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers.  This book lists possible quotations and allusions to the New Testament in most of the works of the Apostolic Fathers (Barnabas, Didache, I Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Hermas, and II Clement). It is very helpful for looking into possible use of the NT in the Apostolic Fathers.

What Does It Mean That Love Is Kind?

Apostolic Fathers Greek-English InterlinearIn my previous post about the Apostolic Fathers, I gave an example of how the Apostolic Fathers can be helpful when considering language/phrasing that sounds a little unusual.

They can also be helpful in understanding words and concepts that don’t occur too often in the New Testament. This is one of the primary reasons I look to these writings, and one of the primary reasons I wanted to make these writings more widely available in the form of the Apostolic Fathers Greek-English Interlinear.

My guess is that most of us are familiar with 1 Corinthians 13, the so-called “Love Chapter.” You know, “Love is patient, love is kind,” and all that?

Did you know that the Greek word translated “is kind” in that verse (1Cor 13:4) is the only instance of that word in the New Testament? The Greek word is χρηστεύομαι. It isn’t a difficult word, though, and looking elsewhere isn’t going to change the definition we’d use in 1Cor 13:4. But did you know this word occurs three times in First Clement?

First Clement is a letter that was probably written in the early 90′s from the Roman church to the Corinthian church (you know, the church that Paul wrote First and Second Corinthians to about 30 years earlier). In Clement’s time, the Corinthian church had booted out its leadership, but the Roman church didn’t think the action was merited. So they wrote a letter to the Corinthians saying, essentially, “You guys need to get along. Here’s why.” In the midst of that, Clement talks to them about being kind in chapters 13 and 14.

In the first two instances (1Cl 13.2), after attributing his words to “the Lord Jesus” in 1Cl 13.1, Clement gives a pastiche of gospel quotations (Mt 5:7; 6:14–15; 7:1–2, 12; Lk 6:31, 36–38), mixing “kindness” in with them:

For [Jesus] spoke as follows: “Show mercy, that you may be shown mercy; forgive, that it may be forgiven you; as you do so will it be done to you; as you give so will it be given to you; as you judge so will you be judged; as you are kind so will kindness be shown to you; with which measure you measure, with it will be measured to you.” (1Cl 13.2)

Continuing the argument in chapter 14, Clement uses “kind” one more time:

Therefore it is right and holy, men and brothers, for us to be obedient to God rather than to follow those instigators of loathsome jealousy in arrogance and insurrection. For it is not common harm but rather great danger we will endure if we recklessly surrender ourselves to the purposes of the people who plunge into strife and rebellion in order to estrange us from what is good. Let us be kind to them, according to the tenderheartedness and sweetness of the one who made us. (1Cl 14.1–3)

Do you see what Clement is doing? He is exhorting the Corinthians to put aside how they feel, to be “obedient to God,” and to not treat the leadership of their church with the same harshness the leadership dealt them. Verse 3 (using our word, χρηστεύομαι) turns it back around: “Let us be kind to them.” Verse 4 follows this using a very similar word, χρηστός (the noun form, “kind”), again probably quoting Scripture, this time Prov 2:21–22; Ps 37:9, 38, “The kind shall be inhabitants of the land ….”

Whether purposefully or not, Clement is using the same word Paul used as he writes to the same church. Paul told the Corinthians that “love is kind”; Clement is telling them how to show the kindness of love to the exiled leadership of the church.

This is one of the reasons why I so enjoy the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. They use the same language and the same themes, and careful examination of them in conjunction with study of the Bible can reap profitable dividends.

If this kind of stuff appeals to you, maybe you should get in on the pre-pub for the Apostolic Fathers Greek-English Interlinear while it is still available with Pre-Pub pricing.

Why the Apostolic Fathers Are Helpful

So why would someone bother spending their time making an interlinear of something that isn’t part of the canon, like the Apostolic Fathers Greek-English Interlinear?

As I wrote in a previous post (The Importance of Historical Context), there came a point in my walk as a Christian where I realized that historical context is important. But it isn’t just historical context, it is context of all sorts. One area where I have found benefit is in linguistic similarity. That is, similarity of words, grammar and turns of phrase. In the scope of extant material in Greek, the New Testament is relatively small. Things that seem unique, out of place or unexpected in the New Testament suddenly become easier to explain amongst a wider linguistic milieu.

One instance that illustrates this is something that happened to me a few years back. Being convinced that really digging into writings contemporary with the NT would help me understand the NT better, I embarked on a study of First Timothy, stopping at just about every phrase, and looking up similar instances outside the New Testament, in stuff like Josephus, Philo, the Septuagint and the Apostolic Fathers.

At the time, I was working on 1 Timothy 4.16: “Take pains with yourself and your teaching, persist in them: for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.” The language at the end of the verse seemed a little weird to me, both the sound of it and the possible ways to interpret it. So I began to dig in lexicons and commentaries, looking for citations. I didn’t have to dig too far. I found examples of similar language in the Apostolic Fathers — here are two examples:

And I do not think that I have given unimportant advice about self control. Whoever does it will not regret it, but also will save himself and I who advise him. For it is no small reward to return a wandering and perishing soul to salvation. (2Cl 15.1)

So then, brothers and sisters, with the God of truth, I am reading to you a request to pay attention to what is written, that you may save both yourselves and your reader. For the reward I ask you to repent with your whole heart, giving yourselves salvation and life. For having done this, we will set a goal for all the younger ones who desire to devote themselves to the piety and the goodness of God. (2Cl 19.1)

So, this idea about actions having an effect upon somebody and someone they were in some sort of relationship with isn’t an unknown idea, and these usages (and others!) outside of the NT show a similar conception. This doesn’t change our understanding of 1 Ti 4.16; it shows it that the idea of “both yourself and your hearers” is not a new thought, and that folks would likely pick it up just fine.

As I’ve worked through the Greek text of the Apostolic Fathers preparing the interlinear, I also added over 1300 notes, many of them cross-references to the OT and NT, so that reference searching in Logos would bring you right to relevant passages. If you reference search the Apostolic Fathers Greek-English Interlinear for 1 Ti 4.16, you’ll find the above two references (and two more that actually talk about condemnation instead of salvation).

But now, the work is done, and we’re very close to shipping it—on or around Oct 13, 2011. The retail price for the interlinear is $49.95; the price during this Pre-Pub period is less ($29.95 at time of posting). So if this kind of stuff interests you, then sign up for the Pre-Pub!

The Importance of Historical Context

Jesus in Context book coverWhy a blog post about Darrell L. Bock and Gregory J. Herrick’s book Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study?

If you’re at all like me, there comes a point in your reading of the New Testament where you start to realize that the world of the New Testament is vast in scope, and the New Testament itself only tells us a little about the context of that world. And you start to wonder how much you’re missing. Not doctrinally, of course. I’m thinking more of the literary and historical setting of the New Testament.

From here (if you’re like me) you research a bit and you find there’s all sorts of stuff you can read. There is so much it is almost overwhelming. You can (and should) read, of course, the Old Testament for the setting of the people of God. But this is only the start.

From here you can dip into the apocrypha (or deuterocanonical books) for insight on the developments between the testaments. Then the firehose opens wide: you can go from here to the works of Josephus (a historian contemporary with the time of the New Testament), and to Philo (an Alexandrian Jew from the same era) whose writings are preserved for us. You can go to the Apostolic Fathers (a personal favorite of mine) for some understanding of how the early Christians lived, thought and preached. You can go to Jewish literature — to the Talmud, to the Targums, to the Mishnah and all sorts of stuff. You can also go to what is called the “Old Testament Pseudepigrapha,” which helps you understand how both Jews and Christians interacted with their literature, and how they understood it, and what they expected to happen. From here your search will only get wider.

But (again, if you’re like me), that’s a whole lot of reading. And some of the material is a bit … er … “dry” in translation. What to do?

Thankfully, Bock and  Herrick published a book called Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study. What is this book? It is laid out in parts, and it provides readings from texts like those of Josephus, Philo, the OT Pseudepigrapha, Apostolic Fathers, Targums, Talmud, etc. for each major section of the gospels. So, for the section on “The Calling of the Disciples” (Mt 4:18; Mk 1:16–20), a section of the Qumran Hymn Scroll (1QH 5.7–8) is referenced. On the section of the healing of the Demoniac in the Synagogue (Mk 1:23–28; Lk 14:33–37), some Greek Magical Papyri (yes, such things exist) and 1QapGen 20.27–29 (the Genesis Apocryphon from Qumran) are cited. This is fun stuff!

You’d have to read and study a whole lot to put all of this together for the Gospels. But Bock and Herrick have done the heavy lifting for you. And they’ve arranged it in a way that makes it easy to consult while you’re studying the Gospels on your own. If you’ve ever thought, like I did, that there is more to the literary and historical context of the NT that (if you knew of it) might help your understanding of these important events recorded in the Gospels, then you should definitely check out Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study.

A few further notes

In 2002, Darrell Bock published a book called Jesus According to Scripture (currently on pre-pub here at Logos). That book arranges the Gospels in such a manner that makes the events of the Gospels easier to associate with their likely order of occurrence. The numbering system used by that book is also used in Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study. While Jesus in Context is considered a companion volume of sorts to Jesus According to Scripture, both texts do stand alone and are designed to be useful for their contexts.

Also, the Baker New Testament Studies Collection includes Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study and 13 other volumes. The collection is a great set of books at a great price. If you’re interested in more than one or two of the titles, you might want to consider the whole collection instead of the individual volumes.

Stanley Porter’s Idioms of the Greek New Testament

Idioms of the Greek New TestamentHave you had some instruction in Greek? A year in seminary or college awhile back, or you worked through a grammar on your own or in a group? Or you’ve just picked up stuff as you’ve studied?

Maybe you feel pretty good about what you’ve learned so far and can use lexicons like BDAG and TDNT, but reference grammars (like BDF and Wallace) are still unfamiliar territory.

Maybe you’re fine with “genitive” and “dative” and even “finite verb”, but when folks start talking about instrumental datives or transitive verbs, your eyes glaze over and your thoughts go elsewhere.

Good news: Stanley Porter’s Idioms of the Greek New Testament is geared toward you. It is an excellent and readable “intermediate handbook” that can help bridge the gap. Porter explains in his introduction:

My purpose for this book is modest. This book is designed for students who have completed approximately one year of Greek, and who would like an intermediate handbook to help them make a transition to using advanced grammars such as BDF, Robertson, Moulton and Turner.
Porter, S. E. (1999). Idioms of the Greek New Testament (14). Sheffield: JSOT.

The table of contents gives the range of items found in this 340 page book. It also includes a short glossary along with reference and subject index.
[Read more...]

Apostolic Fathers and Syntactic Analysis

Most folks who have been around Logos for awhile know that I’m pretty excited about the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. I mean, I am spending a large chunk of my “free” time working on an interlinear of the Greek portions of these writings (it’s getting closer, thank you for asking).

Just think about it: these are guys who lived and wrote shortly after the time of the apostles (Peter, Paul, James, John, etc.), let’s say between 90–200 AD. Tradition reports some of them were direct disciples of apostles. For instance, Polycarp of Smyrna is reputed to have been a student of John (reported by Irenaeus, a student of Polycarp). Clement of Rome, according to tradition, also has ties to Peter and Paul due to them all having ties to Rome.

I get excited about these writings because they are some of the earliest records we have of Christians writing, thinking and putting the gospel into practice. They’re working out the issues. And they get some stuff wrong, just like we do. But the early church took these writings seriously. After all, the Epistle of Barnabas and Shepherd of Hermas were part of Codex Sinaiticus (one of the oldest manuscripts containing the complete Bible text, dating to the fourth century) and Codex Alexandrinus (another early Bible codex, dating in the fifth century, likely) had First Clement and Second Clement after the New Testament.

I was reminded about this again at BibleTech:2011 as two different presenters (not to mention other folks I spoke with) mentioned in their presentations how useful it would be to have more and deeper analyses of the Apostolic Fathers available.

The texts are clearly important. They help us understand early Christianity a little better and they help us understand Greek (both words and grammar/syntax) a little better. BDF (a standard reference grammar for Hellenistic Greek) references the Apostolic Fathers frequently, as does BDAG. It is rumored that Daniel Wallace, in an upcoming revision to his Exegetical Syntax, will extensively supplement his material with references to the Apostolic Fathers (see here for details).

With all of this stuff happening, it seemed like a good time to remind people that we at Logos (myself included) would absolutely love to do a Cascadia-style syntactic analysis of the Greek writings of the Apostolic Fathers. It’s been on Pre-Pub for over a year now and has languished.

If you think this would be beneficial to you in your studies, you could help bring it closer by subscribing to the Pre-Pub. While useful for searching, I find these analyses useful for reading too. They help me get an idea of how each clause is put together. Over time this has helped me immensely. Now when I consult Greek text in a format that isn’t graphed (like, on my iPod on Sunday mornings during church) I can see the structures even better as I work through the text.

Below is a sample (a mock-up; no, we haven’t really done this much work) of Ignatius to Polycarp, 2.3a:


Here’s a translation: “The time seeks for you, like shipmasters [seek for] wind and like storm-tossed sailors [seek for] harbor, to reach to God.”

Oh, yeah: If you’re really into this stuff, we have proposed doing a Cascadia-style syntactic analysis of the Septuagint as well (more info in a previous blog post).

Leave us a comment and let us know what you think about our syntactic analysis projects.