The Right Way to Use a Commentary

“There’s no way to know it without discovery.” — Sara Groves, songwriter

Groves isn’t talking about commentaries when she sings that line, but she’s describing a fundamental truth about deep knowledge: it only comes by discovery. And discovery cannot be rushed.

Ideally, anyone digging into a biblical text wants to understand what God is revealing about Himself. The truths will be big, so they must be studied slowly and from every angle.

Here’s how to use commentaries as tools for discovery, rather than shortcuts to answers. [Read more…]

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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Why I Like C. S. Lewis

Today’s guest post was written by Ryan Pemberton, the author of the Walking with C. S. Lewis companion guide.

The wardrobe was foreign to me. As was the image of a faun carrying parcels under a lamppost in the snow, and the golden-maned lion, Aslan. All of those characters and features so central to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe were lost on me when I first read C. S. Lewis. I hadn’t grown up reading The Chronicles of Narnia, unlike so many friends. At 19, my first interaction with C. S. Lewis came in the form of Mere Christianity, a compilation of Lewis’s broadcast talks on Christianity delivered over BBC radio during World War II.
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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 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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Do the Dead Sea Scrolls Answer the Canon Question?

Cave IV at Qumran

The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered between 1947 and 1956, transformed biblical studies. Found in a series of caves near an archaeological site on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea known as Qumran, they contributed to research on ancient scribal practices and the history of the Hebrew language. But beyond this research, the scrolls also directly affected an issue that has long been debated—the Old Testament canon. Did this find solidify what should or should not be included in our Bibles?
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False Friends and Dead Words


Earlier this week, Mark Ward examined some criticisms of the King James Version via the preface to the Revised Standard Version. He mentioned dead words and “false friends” as examples of how the English language has changed over 600 years. In this excerpt from his book, Authorized, Ward examines the case of a specific false friend: a word whose meaning has changed too subtly to notice.
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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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