Who’s in the Spotlight?

One of the big challenges in studying Old Testament stories is identifying the central character, the one to whom the writer wants you paying close attention. This is especially true in complex stories like that of Jacob stealing Esau’s blessing, in which Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Esau each play an important role. So how do you find the central character, the one in the spotlight?

The Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible and the Lexham High Definition Old Testament help you find information like this by marking all the places where the most important linguistic devices occur. The device we’ll look at today is overspecification.

Background:

Think about the last time you introduced someone to someone else. Chances are you gave a name (“This is Jayson…”) plus some specific connection to you (“. . . my neighbor” or “. . . a friend from work”). You picked the most relevant connection for the context, which required you to choose which connection to use. Here’s what I mean. If I were speaking at a conference, they’d never introduce me as “Ruth’s dad” or “Jayson’s friend.”  They’d pick the connection most relevant to the context, like “scholar-in-residence” or “doctor of biblical languages.” After the introduction, they’d only use my name, usually there’s no more mention of the connection. Usually, that is.

Genesis 27

Genesis 27 recounts the story of Jacob stealing Esau’s blessing. The main characters are already well established from the preceding context, as is their connection to one another. So why is it that the writer keeps repeating their connection to one another, e.g., “Esau his older son” (Gen 27:1), “Jacob her son”, and “Esau your brother” (Gen 27:6)? What is accomplished by these overly specific connections? They exist for two reasons; we’ll cover the first one in this post.

Since connections are only needed when someone is first introduced, repeating them where they’re not required helps us see where the writer has placed the spotlight. How? Even though the connection is unneeded, it still instructs us how to connect the person to the story. Here’s how it works. The story opens with Esau connected to Isaac as “his son” in v. 1, instructing him to fix him a savory meal. After Rebekah hears of Isaac’s plans, she calls for Jacob, “her son.” Note the shift here. He could have simply been called “Jacob” or alternatively connected to Isaac as “his son.” By connecting Jacob to Rebekah, the writer shifts the spotlight from Isaac to Rebekah just as Rebekah begins hatching a plan to divert Isaac’s blessing from Esau to Jacob.

In Gen. 27:11, overspecification signals another shift in the spotlight, just before Jacob protests against Rebekah’s request. He’s no longer called “her son”; instead, Rebekah is called “his mother.” This new connection forces us to the new initiator.

The coolest example of overspecification comes as Jacob presents the meal he’s prepared to Isaac. Gen 27:17 states that Rebekah gives the food to “Jacob her son,” who, in turn, takes it to “his father.” Here the connections and spotlight shift from Rebekah to Jacob. In v. 20, as Isaac questions the identity of the meal-bearer, he speaks to “his son!” Which one? He’s not sure, and the writer of Scripture captures this ambiguity by changing from “Jacob” vaguer “his son!” In v. 21, as Isaac prepares to touch and smell the one addressing him, there are no connections provided! Why not? It avoids making any judgment about who’s initiating, whether Jacob will triumph or whether Isaac will reject his claim.

Finally in v. 22, as Isaac gives in to Jacob’s request, the expression “Isaac his father” is used, connecting him to Jacob right at the point that Isaac decides to go along with Jacob’s request, despite his misgivings.

The Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible and the High Definition Old Testament use a silhouette symbol () to mark all the overly specific references.

In Gen 27 this devices is used to signal shifts by providing new connections between participants. The changes coincide with shifts in initiators, heightening the drama of an already exciting story. The resource annotates all occurrences of 30 of the most exegetically significant discourse devices, and it includes both an introduction and a glossary that help you understand what each accomplishes. The analysis also provides a block-indent outline to help you break down the complexities of Hebrew syntax.

There’s also a version specially designed for those who haven’t studied Hebrew: The Lexham High Definition Old Testament  (HDOT). Even though the analysis is based on the Hebrew text, nearly all the same discourse devices are available, displayed on the ESV text.

Both resources come with an introduction and glossary to explain the concepts. Plus the Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible comes bundled with the HDOT in a six-volume bundle: the Hebrew and the English together at a special price.

There’s a parallel set of New Testament resources currently available that use the same symbols and same linguistic framework:

These resources are part of a growing suite of exegetical resources that apply cutting-edge linguistic research to day-to-day study, helping you find important details often lost in translation.

Pre-order your copy of the Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible and the Lexham High Definition Old Testament while they’re available on Pre-Pub. Then check out the rest of our Lexham resources.

Faithlife: Build a Community Wrapped Around the Word


Faithlife is where Christian community happens online. There’s no place quite like it for sharing life with other believers. You keep up with friends on Facebook. You manage your messages with email. If you have a band, you (might) still be on MySpace. Now there’s a place to connect with your church, your friends, and your school over what’s most important: God and his Word.

  • Create and join groups of friends, family, coworkers, and classmates.
  • Share your Logos resource notes with groups.
  • Share announcements, news, and events with your church groups.
  • Create study groups and share documents for your seminary classes.
  • Share notes on Bible verses with your groups through the Faithlife Study Bible.

And soon, you’ll be able to do much, much more.

Don’t Forget the FSB!

Faithlife is a community wrapped around the Word, so we’ve developed a study Bible for the community. The Faithlife Study Bible is ever growing, mobile-friendly, group-focused, and huge—it’s the largest study Bible in the world. The FSB is compatible with several different translations, it includes a built-in Bible dictionary, and it lets you share notes and reading plans with your Faithlife groups.

Best of all: you can get it free through 2014!

How to Join

Sign in at Faithlife.com with your Logos account. If you don’t have an account already, register a new account for free. (If you have had a Logos.com account for a while but have forgotten your password, you can go to Logos.com/forgotpassword to reset it.) Then complete your profile with a picture and more information about you. It’s totally private—you control what can and cannot be seen. Once your profile’s set up, find your church’s Faithlife group, or start creating your own groups.

Faithlife is always improving with updates and new features. Do you know a way to make it better? Do you want to talk to other Faithlife users? Why not get involved on the Faithlife forum?

We’ll see you on Faithlife!

Last Chance: Get Your Doctorate Free!

For a few more days, you have the chance to expand your ministry and biblical knowledge with a Doctor of Ministry from Knox Theological Seminaryabsolutely free.

The Haddon Robinson Scholarship covers your entire DMin in Preaching and Teaching—a value of over $20,000.

  • Tuition—$12,750
  • Fees—$2,750
  • Logos 4: Portfolio Edition—$4,290 (Actually, this massive library would cost over $35,000 if you were to purchase every title in print!)
  • Logos book credit—$1000
  • Estimated total value—$20,000+

A Doctorate like No Other

Even without the scholarship, the DMin in Preaching and Teaching is an amazing opportunity to take your ministry to new heights. It’s the only doctorate program out there that will train you in both world-class theology and first-class technology. You’ll learn from brilliant biblical scholars, including preaching and teaching authority Dr. Haddon Robinson and NIV and NASB translator Dr. Bruce Waltke. You’ll emerge an expert in biblical study and teaching, equiped with your own enormous Logos library for powerful lifelong ministry.

These are just a few reasons every pastor or Bible teacher should invest in a Knox DMin, but there are many more.

Last Chance to Win—Class Starts Soon!

The first onsite class is in Bellingham, Washington, this August. Apply at DMin.me by June 30 to enroll for the class—don’t miss this chance to bring new depth and breadth to your ministry.

The window of opportunity get your DMin free is closing! The entry period lasts through June 28, so enter to win the Haddon Robinson Scholarship before it’s too late.

Get the World’s Largest Study Bible Free!

A good study Bible will have millions of words, thousands of study notes, and lots of maps, timelines, charts, and more. But all those pages add up; there’s only so much you can put in a printed study Bible.

That’s not an issue anymore, though. The new Faithlife Study Bible is the world’s largest study Bible, and you can take it anywhere!

The FSB Has It All

We’re reinventing the study Bible for the digital age. While print study Bibles are limited to a few study notes per page, the digital FSB provides much, much more:

  • 3 layers of study notes (over 1.4 million words total)
  • Lexham Bible Dictionary (2,500+ articles)
  • Lexham English Bible
  • Shared reading plans
  • Shared notes
  • About 400 photos, videos, and infographics
  • Access to Faithlife, the new Christian online community

The FSB integrates seamlessly with your Logos library, and some study notes link to your Logos resources.

And it’s always growing! We’re constantly expanding the FSB with new study notes, dictionary articles, images, and more. And no matter how huge it gets, you’ll always be able to carry it around with the Faithlife Bible apps for your iPad, iPhone, and Android devices.

The FSB Is Perfect for Groups

The Faithlife Study Bible isn’t just big; it’s also the best study Bible for groups. The FSB makes it easy for churches, schools, and your own groups of friends to dig deeper together.

  • Pick your translation. Most study Bibles are only available in specific translations, but the FSB’s study notes are anchored to the original biblical languages. So whether you’re using the ESV, KJV, NIV, or another preferred translation, you can see the same notes!
  • Share notes and reading plans. The FSB connects with your groups on Faithlife, so you can share thoughts and reflections on Bible passages. And if your group is reading through the Bible in a year, you can share a reading plan that keeps you all on track. Of course, these plans sync with your own Logos reading plans.
  • Share sermons and lessons. Document sharing is easy with the FSB, too. Put your sermon outlines, course syllabi, and more up for your groups to see.

Get the FSB Free through 2014

Try the world’s largest, most advanced study Bible free through March 2014. The FSB would usually cost $29.95 per year, but with coupon code FREE, you can use it free for the first two years! Once you’ve subscribed to the FSB, download the app so you can access it on your mobile devices. Don’t forget to tell your friends about this tremendous opportunity to dig deeper together with this revolutionary new study Bible.

Go to FaithlifeBible.com now and enter coupon code FREE to start reading the FSB today.

Southern Baptist Calvinism Debate: We Have the Resources You Need

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.  It’s fair to say that  the SBC’s theological discussions have a ripple effect throughout the greater evangelical world.

Back in May, a contingent of SBC leaders signed a statement intended to realign the denomination with the “traditional Southern Baptist” view of salvation and move away from a perceived trend towards Calvinism. You can read A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation on SBCToday.com.

While the statement has generated a lot of support, there has been pointed criticism as well. Critiques have included challenges against the proposed traditional Baptist view of salvation, suggestions of poor exegesis, and even claims of semi-pelagianism (a soteriological teaching suggesting that although humanity is tainted by sin, we still have the ability to cooperate with God’s grace of our own volition).

A Google search for A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation returns over 30,000 hits full of discussion and opinion from all over the theological spectrum. These include thoughtful analyses from leaders like Albert Mohler and academics like Roger E. Olson. The discussion is deep and complex.

Logos has the books you need to clarify and deepen your understanding of Baptist history. Research Calvinist and Arminian theology and draw your own conclusions regarding the traditional Baptist understanding of  salvation—head to our Baptist history page to see our discounted Baptist resources and to get the coupon codes!

We have top-notch books and collections for 50% off:

That’s not all—pick up The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness for only $29.99 or get 15-volumes from A. T. Robertson, one of America’s foremost Baptist scholars, for only $161.97—a savings of 40%. We have the 4-volume Works of Arminius (4 vols.) for just $79.96.

With more than 25,000 resources, Logos has the titles you need for cutting-edge theological research. Check out our amazing collection of Baptist resources today!

Last Chance: The Four Hundred Silent Years Is Free through 6/30

H. A. Ironside’s The Four Hundred Silent Years has been this month’s Free Book of the Month, but June is coming to an end. If you haven’t downloaded your copy yet, there’s still time!

In The Four Hundred Silent Years, Ironside provides an easy-to-understand account of the period between the end of Malachi and the beginning of Matthew. He provides not merely a chronological outline or a series of biological sketches, but a thorough treatment of  the warnings of Ezra and Nehemiah, as well as Josephus and other Jewish historians.

“Some time ago I endeavored, though with no claim to originality of treatment, to draw practical lessons for the separated people of God from the captivity and post-captivity books of the Old Testament. At the suggestion of the publishers I have now sought to trace the history of the same people through the years of waiting that elapsed from the time when the voice of inspiration ceased until the heavens resounded with the glad announcement of ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men,’ thus heralding Messiah’s long-promised advent.”—H. A. Ironside

When you visit the Free Book of the Month page, you can enter to win the 65-volume H. A. Ironside Collection! Download the free book and enter to win the collection before July 1!

Now on Pre-Pub: Baker Academic Bible Interpretation Collection

Logos recently put the Baker Academic Interpretation Collection (10 vols.) on Pre-Pub. Included in this collection is Greg Beale’s A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New. Weighing in at 962 pages—not counting indexes or bibliography—Beale’s book is a New Testament tour de force.

Beale argues that the story of the Bible must be understood through the lens of an already/not yet eschatology, with a specific emphasis on the new creational reign of God through the death and resurrection of the Messiah. From Genesis’ Eden all the way to the New Eden in Revelation 21–22, Beale masterfully connects the eschatological dots. To give you a taste of what A New Testament Biblical Theology is about, let me highlight a few key points.

Not Your Typical New Testament Theology

While Beale calls his work a “New Testament” theology, it can almost be classified as a biblical theology. Beale himself admits as much when he describes his method as “overlapping in some degree not only with whole-Bible theologies but [. . .] with Old Testament biblical theologies as well.” The beauty of this book is Beale’s Old Testament acumen. He devotes over 100 pages to tracing the storyline of the Old Testament, preparing the reader for the heart of New Testament theology.

Beale first establishes the “canonical storyline of the Old Testament,” then spends the remaining chapters “moving [toward the] eschatological goal.” His discussions of “centers” (i.e., the main themes of the Bible) and “storyline” (i.e., a unified storyline with multiple themes) are helpful for understanding not only his approach, but also the various approaches of Old and New Testament theologies. Because his “storyline” approach doesn’t force him to work within one theme, Beale is free to weave a multifaceted biblical theology.

Inaugurated Eschatology (The Already and Not Yet) and the New Creation

The emphasis on inaugurated eschatology is at the heart of A New Testament Biblical Theology. According to Beale, “we should think of Christ’s life, trials, and especially death and resurrection as the central events that launched the latter days. These pivotal events of Christ’s life, trials, death and resurrection are eschatological in particular because they launched the beginning of the new creation and kingdom.” Beale concludes that “the end-time-new-creational kingdom has not been recognized sufficiently heretofore as of vital importance to a biblical theology of the New Testament, and it is this concept that I believe has the potential to refine significantly the general scholarly view of the eschatological already-not yet.”

Buy and Read This Book

Let me encourage you to go over to Logos and place your pre-order today! Everyone should read this magisterial New Testament theology.  A New Testament Biblical Theology will make you think hard about Scripture as you watch the story progress from Genesis’ Garden to Revelation’s new Garden.

Not only does this Pre-Pub contain Beale’s magnum opus—you get nine more volumes from the likes of

  • W. Randolph Tate
  • Joel B. Green
  • Craig L. Blomberg
  • And others

Don’t wait! This Pre-Pub is going fast. Order now!

Pre-Order Introduction to Bible Study before the Price Goes Up!

Introduction to Bible Study with Logos Bible Software ships June 25, 2012. You only have a couple more days to get a significant discount on these impressive training materials.

Morris Proctor, creator of Introduction, is Logos  Bible Software’s authorized trainer. Thousands have learned to use Logos Bible software to do better Bible study by attending Morris’ two-day Camp Logos events.

Regular readers of Logos Talk are familiar with Morris Proctor. Every Monday, his tips help thousands of Bible study aficionados save valuable time and effort!  There aren’t many people who know Logos 4 as intimately as Morris Proctor.

But what if  you have as many questions about Bible study as you do about Logos 4? That’s where Introduction to Bible Study with Logos Bible Software comes in. This training doesn’t assume prior familiarity with the Bible or the tools associated with Bible study.

With Introduction to Bible Study you’ll learn:

  • Where the Scriptures came from
  • Why we have different translations
  • The value of commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and topical Bibles
  • And so much more

Then you’ll learn about various Bible study methods, including:

  • Passage study
  • Word study
  • Topic study
  • Devotional study
  • Book study

Once you have a  grasp of these tools and principles, Morris teaches you how to incorporate Logos features into your Bible study. You will learn not only learn what Bible study is but how Logos can help you do it faster and more efficiently.

If you’re new to Bible study and Logos Bible Software (or know someone who is), Introduction to Bible Study with Logos Bible Software offers you hours of invaluable training at an incredible price. Order Introduction to Bible Study with Logos Bible Software today—before the price goes up!

The Council of Nicaea Convenes on This Day in 325

If you were to ask an impartial observer, “what do Christians believe about God?” his best answer would be a recitation of the Nicene Creed. And if you were to reduce the Nicene Creed to its essence, it would be the affirmation of God’s Trinitarian reality. This creedal affirmation of the Trinity is a point of unity for most Protestants, Anglicans, Orthodox believers, Assyrians, and Roman Catholics. It is therefore of central importance for all Christians.

While it’s named after the AD 325 Council of Nicaea, the creed as we know it today is actually a product of long historical development. Its propositions originate in the baptism rites of the Apostolic Era, in which the newly baptized affirmed their faith in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—the baptism formula itself of the Trinity. The act of baptism and the confession of the Trinity were therefore united. While belief in the Trinity is clear in these very early sources, the theology of the Trinity developed over time as Christians meditated upon the life of Christ and the nature of God.

In the late third century, an Alexandrian presbyter named Arius advanced a theory of the Trinity that suggested a Christ created by the Father. This theology was accepted by many as a possible solution to the seeming paradox of God’s three personalities. It was in response to Arianism that the Council of Nicaea was called in 325 and the first iteration of the creed agreed to. This formulation focused on the divine, uncreated nature of Christ, and it only briefly mentioned belief in the Holy Spirit. However, in 381 at the Council of Constantinople, the assembled fathers not only sought to confirm the condemnation of Arianism, but were forced to deal with a new heresy known as Macedonianism. The Macedonians denied the divine nature of the Holy Spirit. In response, the fathers emphasized Christ’s divinity and his humanity and added the propositions dealing with the Holy Spirit and his action in the world through the Church; with this development, the creed as it continues to be recited in the East was born.

In the West, however, the Nicene creed was not done developing. Arianism was alive and well among the Germanic tribes that had advanced into the crumbling Roman Empire. In response, orthodox theologians in the Latin church emphasized the common patristic doctrine that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son: ex Patre Filioque procedit. The clause was added to the Nicene Creed in 589 in Visigothic Spain, and Charlemagne, the emperor in the West after 800, adopted this form. It spread slowly through the Latin church—the filioque was not finally accepted in Rome until the eleventh century. With the addition of this clause, the Nicene Creed as it is generally known in the West came into its final form.

From beginning to end, the creed’s concern is the Trinitarian reality of God and the dual natures of Christ, and it is these doctrines that form the fundamental agreement between Christians. Christians’ shared assent to the Nicene Creed is a testament to its profound subtlety and insight. The Nicene Creed, the common patrimony of all Christians, is one of the most important creations of Church history. You can read more about this fascinating history in the Early Church Fathers series, Historic Creeds and Confessions, The Apostles’ Creed, and Creeds, Councils and Controversies.

 

A Discussion with Lotus Keeper Author K. R. Dial

What do Oliver Twist, The Jungle, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and The Grapes of Wrath all have in common? They’re all examples of literature that wrestle with important social ills. First-time author K. R. Dial joins this tradition with The Lotus Keeper a new ebook from Kirkdale Press.

Written as part of Dial’s ongoing ministry to rescue the victims of child prostitution, The Lotus Keeper tackles the atrocious epidemic of sex trafficking. Dial led corporate intercessory prayer for the International Justice Mission, helped form the Atlanta Justice Coalition, and served as a volunteer guardian ad litem for abused and neglected kids, receiving her district’s top honor as Rookie of the Year for her courtroom advocacy of a local teenage prostitute. She wrote The Lotus Keeper after a trip to Thailand spent researching the issue of child sex trafficking and getting to know the victims personally.

I was able to talk to Dial about her book and her passion for advocacy. What follows is only part of that conversation; you can follow the rest of the discussion on Vyrso Voice.

Logos: Human trafficking (specifically child sex trafficking) is one of the twenty-first century’s gravest human rights issues. Why do you think the West has been so quiet about the severity of this problem?

K. R. Dial: I believe the root of our apathy lies in our lack of moral judgment, our unwillingness to take a stand. If we begin to condemn child prostitution, we then have to take a stand on the global sex industry; if we do that, we must then consider pornography’s role in feeding this beast, and now we are in the face of countless Westerners, including many church-goers, who simply want no moral law imposed upon themselves—or their laptops.

Logos: As you were researching the book in Thailand, what stood out as the most dramatic, eye-opening moment?

K. R. Dial: At the end of our team’s prayer-filled journey, walking the streets of Bangkok, encouraging Christian workers who minister to prostitutes, and asking pastors to speak out against their country’s sex industry, I was tired and overwhelmed by the scope of the crisis.

It was one of our last nights. I was worshipping in a rural church in northern Thailand filled with young Thai students. One teenage girl befriended me and taught me how to sway my hands to the music in the traditional Thai way. Her smile was electric. We mostly giggled together in the joy of worship, she speaking in broken English and I understanding every other word. She gave me a picture of herself and I gave her a necklace, put it around her neck and told her she was beautiful. After we said our goodbyes, I was walking to the truck with our team leader, and he said to me, “She used to be a prostitute.” God did not want me to leave Thailand without a personal encounter with a life redeemed.

The point is, no one is beyond the saving hand of our mighty God. There is no smile that can’t be restored by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Logos: What role do the governments of countries like Thailand play in these atrocities? Are they ill equipped to combat such problems? Do they turn a blind eye?

K. R. Dial: Police corruption is essential for a thriving sex industry. And a thriving sex industry whether it be in Bangkok, Mumbai, or Atlanta, is an open door for child prostitution. So any government must keep its own ranks clean, while battling the international mafia that fuels its particular industry. I believe any government that will not declare war on its own sex industry is choosing to turn a blind eye, with the excuse that it’s ill equipped to fight an industry with such high demand. In this way, the sex industry is just like the illegal drug industry.

Logos: What made you decide to use a fictional story to generate more awareness of sex trafficking?

K. R. Dial: Gary Haugen, director of the International Justice Mission, spoke at our church. I had been scribbling notes for a painfully boring memoir when I heard him speak. I knew that the book was to be about his work but did not know which injustice to focus on; then, after church, I asked Gary what the greatest injustice in the world was today. He said child prostitution. That became the premise of my book.

The central theme of my novel comes from a quote of Gary Haugen’s. In a paraphrase, “When confronted with evil in the world, I stopped asking ‘where is God’ and started asking ‘where are His people.’” This one thought changed me as a believer forever and prompted me to write a book about what happens when God’s people show up.

I chose to write a work of fiction because fiction speaks to us on an emotional level. It is the perfect vehicle to show ordinary people fighting evil. It allows us to say, “I can do that.” I believe we all long to be brave. Heroic fiction will always have a place in our human story. Also, I wanted to write a story that inspires but does not frighten. In other words, there is no description in my book of what it really means to purchase a child. What is described is how angry good people get when they know children are being hurt.

You can find the rest of this incredible discussion on Vyrso Voice.

The Lotus Keeper is available right now from Vyrso for only $4.49. Download it today!