4 Ways Textual Criticism Can Aid Bible Study

Have you ever wondered why various versions of the Bible read differently? For example, why does Romans 8:1 in the King James Version include a phrase that’s not in the New American Standard Bible or the New International Version? Did it get added to one or left out of the others? You may look to the footnotes of your Bible to learn a little about these differences, but what you find is not enough to answer your real questions: Why are there differences? How do we know which choice is best?

A new book by Logos Bible Software answers these questions and helps you learn the basics of textual criticism, the process of analyzing and evaluating differences in the text of the Bible. Textual Criticism is the first volume in the Lexham Method Series, and there are four ways it can help your Bible study. You will:

  1. Make sense of the textual footnotes in your Bibles. Many English Bibles include footnotes that say things like, “Some manuscripts do not include . . .” or “Dead Sea Scroll, Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate; Masoretic Text ‘And it shall be.’” Textual Criticism will teach you how to decode and understand the significance of these notes.
  2. Understand the difficulty of producing a Bible translation. A new English translation of the Bible seems to come out every few years, and you might wonder how there can be so many translations of the same book. Textual Criticism will help you understand the decisions made by translation teams, and how these decisions affect the final product.
  3. Interact more intelligently with commentaries when they discuss textual issues. When you use commentaries in your Bible study, you encounter discussions about ways a particular text can be translated and why one reading is better than another. Commentators talk about Codex Vaticanus, the Peshitta, and the Dead Sea Scrolls—more language that needs decoding. Textual Criticism will teach you to understand the differences between the various manuscripts and decide when to trust one source over another.
  4. Learn to use your Logos software to do basic textual criticism on your own. In chapters 3 and 4 of Textual Criticism, you’ll work step by step through several passages in the Old and New Testaments that have textual issues. The examples will walk you through the process of textual criticism and show you how to use your Logos software to understand the significance of the Hebrew and Greek Bibles.

The Bible we have today has come to us through a long process that is unfamiliar to most Bible students. Textual Criticism helps you understand the basics of that process and navigate difficulties in the text. If you’re a serious student of the Bible, you need these tools to make the most of your study. The Lexham Methods Series is on currently on Pre-Pub. Pre-order now to receive a $50 discount from the regular price.

Save on Hundreds of Titles—Round 3 Begins

March MadnessLogos March Madness began with 64 authors, and we’re now down to just 16. Voting for Round 3 is now open—vote now!

Over 400 titles are now on sale! Here’s a quick breakdown:

Round 1 features works from 32 authors at a 30% discount. Featured authors include:

  • R. T. Kendall
  • J. C. Ryle
  • June Hunt
  • C. K. Barrett

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Round 2 features works from 16 authors at a 35% discount. Featured authors include:

  • Warren Wiersbe
  • Craig Blomberg
  • J. B. Lightfoot
  • Dwight Lyman Moody

Get Round 2 deals!

By voting for your favorite author, you’re moving their works closer to a 75% discount!

Ways to help your favorite author win:

Each author from this round is guaranteed a 40% discount on a selection of their works—but if they advance, that discount increases to 45%. Vote now!

4 Outstanding Reformed Systematic Theologies

Of the similarities between natural science and systematic theology, Charles Hodge writes: “If the object of the one be to arrange and systematize the facts of the external world, and to ascertain the laws by which they are determined; the object of the other is to systematize the facts of the Bible, and ascertain the principles or general truths which those facts involve.” Similarly, Michael Horton, in his The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, writes that systematic theology “is like the box top of a jigsaw puzzle, and every believer is a theologian in the sense of putting the pieces together. If we fail to recognize there is a box top (i.e., a unified whole) to Scripture, we will have only a pile of pieces.”

John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion

For nearly 500 years, Calvin’s Institutes has been a bastion of Reformed systematic theology. Calvin wrote the first edition in Latin in the mid–sixteenth century, with a French edition published shortly thereafter; several English translations have appeared through the nineteenth century from both the Latin and the French editions. The Institutes is comprehensive and surprisingly pastoral, originally meant as an introduction to Christian faith and doctrine. Calvin’s magnum opus is still used in seminaries around the world today, and several translations are available in Logos, including the definitive English translation by John McNeill, available for pre-order.

Francis Turretin’s Institutes of Elenctic Theology

Francis Turretin pastored a church in Geneva, and was known as a strong defender of orthodox Calvinism. His seminal work is often called one of the most undervalued systematic theologies in Reformed history. Institutes of Elenctic Theology has been praised by the likes of Richard Gaffin, John Frame, James Boice, Wayne Grudem, and Norman Geisler. These volumes were required reading at old Princeton, and were dutifully studied by such giants in systematics as Charles Hodge, B. B. Warfield, and Louis Berkhof. R. Scott Clark writes, “One of the greatest of the seventeenth-century Reformed dogmatic works, it has retained its influence through its use at old Princeton. These three volumes put in your hands an excellent representative of high Reformed orthodoxy and polemical theology.” See it on Pre-Pub.

Benedict Pictet’s Christian Theology

Pictet, like Turretin and Calvin before him, also hailed from Geneva. His Christian Theology is a well-organized and convincing presentation of theology. Anyone familiar with, for instance, Warfield’s views on plenary inspiration will recognize the same strain of thought in Pictet’s writings, and will find excellent hermeneutics and exegesis employed in Pictet’s use of Scripture, out of which all his theology flows. This excellent volume is now available for pre-order.

Geerhardus Vos’ Reformed Dogmatics

A couple hundred years later, Geerhardus Vos wrote this remarkable systematic theology. Vos wrote in Dutch, but the English translation (with Dr. Richard Gaffin leading the translation team) is available for pre-order. Like Turretin’s Institutes, Vos’ Reformed Dogmatics is written in a succinct Q&A format, which makes it an immensely helpful reference tool and research aid. Here’s an excerpt, demonstrating Vos’ brevity and clarity:

“What is the relation between God’s decree, His free knowledge, and the free actions of men?
God’s decree grounds the certainty of His free knowledge and likewise the occurring of free actions. Not foreknowledge as such but the decree on which it rests makes free actions certain.”

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Leave us a comment and tell us about your favorite systematic theology!

Preach Powerful Stories with Studies in Faithful Living

Studies in Faithful LivingFor many churchgoers, preaching represents the most important Bible study time of the week. For pastors, this creates a great sense of responsibility to use that time wisely and effectively. It can be challenging to unify a church through a study that balances engagement with depth. This is why Logos created the Studies in Faithful Living series, featuring Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, and Mary. Each volume comes as a complete church curriculum with sermon resources to simplify your sermon preparation and provide you with solid teaching tools.

The preaching resources include eight sermon outlines to equip you to preach powerful stories from the lives of the patriarchs and Mary. The sermon outlines are beautifully crafted and designed to complement and reinforce the small group lesson material found in the individual study version. At the same time, the sermons expand that material for your message, focusing on exhortation and application as well as interpretation and theology.

Each sermon also includes a teaching slideshow. With graphics, Scriptures, and reflection questions, the slideshows allow you to engage your congregation visually. The slideshows can be used as-is, or you can customize them to your own presentation style. Thumbnails of each slide appear within the sermon outline, providing a visual reference for you as you preach. Available in PowerPoint, Keynote, and Proclaim, they’re easy to use right out of the box.

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The included sermon outline handouts allow you to encourage your congregation in note-taking. In addition, an introductory sermon video and a set of graphics for the series offer your staff the tools they need to promote the sermon series.

The Studies in Faithful Living series is an engaging, thought-provoking curriculum that serves the entire church. Everyone benefits from studying the Word of God together, and these resources free up time and energy for pastors and teachers to turn their attention to the personal connections so essential for discipleship. Bring your church together around the Word with the Mary: Devoted to God’s Plan: Complete Church Curriculum or the Studies in Faithful Living: Patriarchs Collection today!

Geerhardus Vos: Father of Reformed Biblical Theology

Geerhardus Vos, the “father of Reformed biblical theology,” was born 151 years ago this month. Vos, a professor of biblical theology at Princeton, lectured alongside many famous theologians, including J. Gresham Machen, B. B. Warfield, and Abraham Kuyper. So great was Vos’ academic insight that Kuyper offered him the chair of Old Testament studies at the Free University of Amsterdam when Vos was just 24.

Currently in translation into English for the first time ever, Vos’ Reformed Dogmatics is an important expression of his Reformed theology. Originally published by Vos in 5 volumes, it represents the early thought of one of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’ premiere Reformed thinkers.

Individual titles:

  • Reformed Dogmatics: Theology Proper
  • Reformed Dogmatics: Anthropology
  • Reformed Dogmatics: Christology
  • Reformed Dogmatics: Soteriology
  • Reformed Dogmatics: Ecclesiology, The Means of Grace, Eschatology

Reformed Dogmatics begins with an examination of the doctrine of God—his knowability, names, being, and character. Vos discusses the evidence for the Trinity in Scripture, explores human nature, sin, and the covenant of grace, and discusses the natures and incarnation of Christ.  Finally, he takes a look at the work of Christ, as well as the church’s nature and purpose. The result is some of the most profound systematic theology of the twentieth century.

Here’s what other scholars said about Vos:

“Dr. Vos was the greatest pedagogue I ever sat under.”—Cornelius Van Til

“. . . the most penetrating exegete it has been my privilege to know.”—John Murray

“Vos’ insights are penetrating, refreshing, and orthodox.” —James T. Dennison Jr.

Don’t miss this important piece of Reformed theology—pre-order now and save 22%!

Rational Arguments for God and the World

For many philosophers, God’s existence resolves otherwise unsolvable puzzles. The great rationalistsRené Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, and Gottfried Leibniz—argued that knowledge comes not from the senses, but from reason and innate ideas. From there, they developed some fascinating notions of God and the world.

Descartes

Widely considered the father of modern philosophy, Descartes introduced Cartesian doubt and the cogito. In his Discourse on Method and Meditations, he resolved to doubt all that could be doubted. Can you doubt that you’re reading this blog post? Of course; you might be dreaming. Can you doubt that a square has four sides? Yes; a demon might be causing you to err. But a demon couldn’t trick you if you didn’t exist at all. Hence his famous cogito: “I think, therefore I am” (Cogito, ergo sum).

So why not continue doubting the whole world? Because God is good. Our inclination to believe in the world is so strong that if the world did not exist, God would be deceitful; therefore, the world exists.

Spinoza

Baruch Spinoza understood God as in every way infinite. Thought and matter, he argued, are attributes of God, and so are human souls. The chief end of humanity is not personal immortality, but union with the divine.

If the world is an attribute of God, to understand the world is to understand God. “The mind’s highest good,” Spinoza wrote in Ethics, “is the knowledge of God, and the mind’s highest virtue is to know God.” That’s a description, though, not a command—according to Spinoza, if you understand the world, such a higher good is inevitable. If you know all things to point to God, the idea of God will fully occupy your mind.

Leibniz

Building on arguments that stretch back to Aristotle, Leibniz refined four proofs of God’s existence:

  1. Ontological. In an argument built on St. Anselm and Descartes, Leibniz argued in Monadology that “There is . . . or there can be conceived, a subject of all perfections, or most perfect Being. . . . it follows also that he exists, for existence is among the number of the perfections.” That is, the essence of God is perfection, and a God who exists is better than a God who does not; therefore, God exists.
  2. Cosmological. Aristotle noted that all actions have causes, which in turn have causes, which in turn have causes. But the series can’t be infinite; the first action must be uncaused. God is the universe’s uncaused cause. Leibniz, in turn, saw the universe as contingent—not demanded by logic, not inevitable. Given that logic permits the universe not to be, and that the universe contains no reason for its being, it points to a reason beyond itself: God.
  3. Eternal truth. Leibniz observed that statements—thoughts—are true in different ways. Though “it’s sunny” may sometimes (or, in Bellingham, rarely) be true, “2 + 2 = 4” is true eternally. And thoughts are the work of minds. An eternal truth must be the work of an eternal mind: God’s.
  4. Design. The world, noted Leibniz, is full of things that can’t be explained by blind natural forces. Such things testify to a creator. Though Leibniz advanced this argument long before Darwin proposed evolution, Leibniz’s point sounds familiar: it’s the thrust of today’s Intelligent Design.

Such notions and proofs of God aren’t biblical, of course. They’re grounded in pure reason, and that’s what makes them fascinating. It’s worth remembering that, in seeking to explain the world, some of the West’s most important thinkers turned to God.

The Classics in Rationalist Philosophy Collection articulates these arguments and more

And right now, it’s on Community Pricing at 84% off! With more bids, the price could go even lower.

Revisit some of philosophy’s most interesting arguments about God, mind, and the worldplace your bid now.

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Community Pricing lets you help choose the price on some terrific books. It’s one of the best ways to get a great deal: we’ve seen savings of over 90% on some books and collections! Check out this quick video to see how simple it is to save with Community Pricing:

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We want to everyone to try out Community Pricing risk-free. To help spread the word, we’re giving away F. W. Farrar’s The Messages of the Book on Community Pricing!

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Save $100 on the Word Biblical Commentary!

The Word Biblical Commentary (59 vols.), written by over 50 of the English-speaking world’s leading Christian scholars, delivers the best in biblical scholarship. It’s one of the most popular commentaries in the Logos library—and during March, it’s on sale for $100 off!

Immerse yourself in sound biblical scholarship

The WBC’s in-depth analysis of textual, linguistic, structural, and theological evidence is perfect for anyone who wants to build a better theological understanding.

The great thing about the WBC in Logos is that everything—down to each individual word—has been carefully indexed and catalogued. What this means for you is a much fuller, richer research experience. You’ll compare passages without the hassle of searching multiple print volumes, which makes sermon preparation and learning faster and more efficient. Just enter the word or phrase you’re looking for and click “go”—it’s as easy as that.

This offer lasts only through the end of March—don’t miss this terrific price. Get the WBC today and save $100!

9 Provocative Quotes about Satan

Lewis Sperry Chafer is the author of February’s Free Book of the Month, Satan. The book is free, but only until tomorrow—get it today!

Here’s a preview:

1. Creation of Satan: “Since he was created, he is not self-existent, and never can be free from his dependence upon the Creator.” (Chap. 1, page 13)

2. Place Satan dwells: “That the earth and the air are his present abode must be accepted on the testimony of Scripture: in spite of the almost universal impression that he is now in hell.” (Eph. 6:11, 12, 1 Peter 5:8, 9) (Chap. 1, page 16)

3. Satan’s sentence executed: “And in Rev. 12:7–12, where Satan is cast out into the earth and the execution of his sentence is begun, the announcement is made by a great voice in heaven, ‘Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ.’ There is no evidence of a gradual process here; all is sudden and decisive.” (Chap. 2, page 34)

4. Satan and unbelievers: “According to Scripture, the relation of the unbelieving to Satan is far more vital than a mere pleasure-seeking allegiance.” (Chap. 3, page 45)

5. Satan’s dominion: “Again, Satan’s dominion is limited in that “there is no power but of God: and the powers that be are ordained of God (Rom. 13:1). In this Scripture it is revealed that Satan, though in authority, is not wholly free from his Creator, and that any direction of the governments of the world which he exercises is by permission from God.” (Chap. 4, page 51)

6. Satan’s authority over demons: “Although their origin cannot be definitely traced, it is probable that they were created as subjects of Satan in the primal glory, as he, also, was created as their prince and king. Satan, being in authority over these beings, doubtless drew them after him in his sinful attempt to thrust himself into the place of God.” (Chap. 5, 63)

7. Sin of Satan: “True, he has lowered his Creator, in his own mind, to a level where he supposes himself to be in legitimate competition with Him, both for authority over other beings and for their worship.” (Chap. 6, page 73)

8. Satan impersonations: “Thus his desire to be like the Most High has led him to a blasphemous attempt to imitate all the separate manifestations of the three Persons of the Godhead.” (Chap. 7, page 89)

9. Satan’s reliance on truth: “It has already been seen that the method of counterfeiting, if successful, will require Satan to appropriate and incorporate in his false systems every available principle of the true; for the deception of the counterfeit depends wholly upon its likeness to the real.” (Chap. 9, page 106)

LewisSperryChafer1929About Lewis Sperry Chafer

Lewis Sperry Chafer was born on this day in 1871, in Red Hook, Ohio. Chafer’s writings, the topic of much debate, are widely regarded as influential in the Evangelical movement in America. Dr. Scofield, Chafer’s Bible college professor, persuaded him to write Satan, which Scofield wrote the foreword for in 1909. Chafer went on to pastor Scofield’s former church in Dallas, TX, upon Scofield’s passing. He also became the founding president of the Evangelical Theological College in 1924. The college was renamed Dallas Theological Seminary in 1936. Chafer passed away August 22, 1952, in Seattle, WA.

Get Chafer’s Satan free!

56% Off the Time-Tested Encyclopedia You’ll Love: Bid Now!

Adding a reliable encyclopedia to your Logos library can do a lot for your Bible study. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1915 Edition (ISBE) is one such time-tested resource, with contributions from leading twentieth-century theologians such as B. B. Warfield, Archibald Alexander, A. T. Robertson, and H. C. G. Moule. This comprehensive encyclopedia is on Community Pricing, where you can bid what you’d be willing to pay.

When you integrate the ISBE into your library, you’ll be able to look up thousands of words or phrases in the Bible or Apocrypha by right-clicking them and selecting the ISBE from the context menu.

Let’s say you’re reading through the Gospel of Luke and come across Luke 1:7: “But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.” What is the significance of Elizabeth being barren? It brings to mind Abraham and Sarah, but maybe there’s more to it. If you were to look up “barren” in the ISBE 1915 edition, you would find a concise article written by Thomas Rees that gives you a cultural and biblical understanding of barrenness.

“. . . barrenness was a woman’s and a family’s greatest misfortune. The highest sanctions of religion and patriotism blessed the fruitful woman, because children were necessary for the perpetuation of the tribe and its religion. It is significant that the mothers of the Heb[rew] race . . . were by nature sterile, and therefore God’s special intervention shows His particular favor to Israel.”

Further, we read that “metaphorically, Israel, in her days of adversity, when her children were exiled, was barren, but in her restoration she shall rejoice in many children.” This gives us a solid understanding of what being barren would have meant to Jews in that time, which in turn helps us to understand the miraculous birth of John the Baptist.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia covers thousands of topics related to Scripture, history, geography, cultural milieu, and more. Bid now to save 56%!

Note: Do you already own the Ages edition of The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1915 Edition that was built for Libronix? If you do, you’ll receive this updated collection for free; the files will automatically download when it’s complete. The previous edition was created many years ago, using the best digital files available at the time. We’re rebuilding the 1915 ISBE from the ground up—this collection will contain new, updated files. If you don’t own the 1915 ISBE, enhance your library with one of the most useful and trusted reference collections by placing your bid today!