Category Archives: Uncategorized

Rules for Brainstorming

I’m currently reading Claire Diaz-Ortiz’s book, Design Your Day. In chapter two she lays out some rules for brainstorming from Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative Problem Solving by Alex Osborn. I’ve never been good at brainstorming (if that is even a skill). I often limit myself by automatically throwing out bad ideas. I know, in principle, that only good ideas come from pile of bad ideas but there is still a mental roadblock to me. Often times with my team at work I will put this front and center and force myself and others to come up with all ideas, both good and bad. I’m slowly learning the power of brainstorming and I found these four principles helpful and will incorporate them in my next brainstorming session:

  1. Focus on quantity not quality
  2. Withhold criticism
  3. Welcome unusual ideas
  4. Combine and improve ideas

This last point I think will might prove especially helpful. I think this probably happens naturally but it is still helpful to have this as a specific step to take in the brainstorming process.

Saturday Recommendation: AeroPress

Saturday Recommendations are a brief highlight of something I enjoy that I think is worth you checking out.

The AeroPress is one of the most simple ways to manually brew a great cup of coffee. Unlike many pour over solutions you don’t need a special kettle for an even pour. Personally, I use the AeroPress for travel because it is durable, quick, and doesn’t take a lot of extra equipment. You just need some ground coffee (or whole bean + a hand grinder ) and hot water. If you’ve never tried an AeroPress, you really should get started. Plus, you can purchase one for around $30. There are several ways to brew with this device. Stumptown Coffee Roasters has some helpful videos, which you can find here.

Buy on Amazon

Saturday Recommendation: Seth Godin’s Blog

Saturday Recommendations are a brief highlight of something I enjoy that I think is worth you checking out.

Seth Godin’s blog is one of the few sites that I read everyday. His short, to the point, and often times insightful writing have sparked so many thoughts and ideas in areas of writing, leading, communication with others, self-reflection, and more. He’s also been a guest on several podcasts and this is one of my favorite appearances ( link ).

Seth’s Blog & Twitter

Thoughts on Research and Note Taking After O’Brien and Eerdmans

Recently Eerdman's released a sad and tragic statement regarding some of Peter O'Brien's commentaries. They said

Eerdmans editors compared the text of The Letter to the Hebrews (Pillar New Testament Commentary, 2010) with various secondary sources and submitted findings to external experts for verification. Summing up the findings, Editor-in-chief James Ernest said, "Our own editors and our outside consultants agreed that what we found on the pages of this commentary runs afoul of commonly accepted standards with regard to the utilization and documentation of secondary sources. We agreed that the book could not be retained in print."

Examination of the same author's Letter to the Ephesians (PNTC, 1999) and Epistle to the Philippians (New International Greek Testament Commentary, 1991) found them less pervasively flawed but still untenable.

Peter O’Brien responded with a heartfelt apology,

In the New Testament commentaries that I have written, although I have never deliberately misused the work of others, nevertheless I now see that my work processes at times have been faulty and have generated clear-cut, but unintentional, plagiarism. For this I apologize without reservation.

From the outside looking in this seems to be a situation where an honest mistake (a big one at that) occurred and, if I were to guess, it happened at the level of research and note-taking where personal writing and quotations/notes became conflated and sources were lost. This situation really could happen to anyone and it has caused me to rethink my research and note-taking strategies. In an age where information is at our fingertips and there are a thousand ways to organize, research, and write in a digital format it can be easy to get lost in it all. This is where a research workflow becomes vitally important so you can stay organized, cite correctly, and write efficiently.

Most broadly, there are three ways that research and note taking occurs:

  1. Direct quotations
  2. Summary
  3. “Original” thoughts1

When you are researching and doing steps 1 & 2 you always always always need to keep the citation with your writing. This is where an application such as Zotero can come in handy. Anytime I have any new research documents I add the citation in Zotero. Then when I am writing and taking notes I can just copy that citation from Zotero and just paste it in my writing document. I also find it helpful to use an app such as Evernote, Ulysses, or other writing software to keep a file for each document that I am using for research and tag it with the specific project.

For example, I am reading through Brant Pitre’s excellent new book, Jesus and the Last Supper. I currently have a document with the title of the book and all my notes go in there. After each entry within the note I will now put in parentheses (quote, page #) or (summary, page #). Quote will mean that this is a direct quotation from the book and summary means that I have modified it in some way. This also means I need to be careful to not conflate summaries and quotes in my notes or if I do to identify them correctly.

If I am writing some thoughts that are not quotes or summary from the book I will write (original, page or chapter). This way I can trace back to when I am writing my “original” thoughts. If I am reading chapter 2 of the book and I end up writing a paragraph or two sparked from what was said in that chapter I still want to document my thinking process even, if, in the end, I don’t need to cite it depending on how much dependence comes from Pitre.

All in all, I think this is a sober warning to all students and full-time researchers to document your research carefully. Yes, it takes more time and can be annoying but it is vital in the research process.

If you have any other thoughts or workflows I would love to hear them in the comments or via Twitter (@renshaw330).

  1. I put original in quotes because nothing is new under the sun but there is a difference between summarizing someone’s work and writing your own thoughts ↩︎

Pre-order @DrJTPennington’s new book on the Sermon on the Mount

I’m really looking forward to the release of The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing: A Theological Commentary, by my good friend and supervisor Dr. Jonathan Pennington. I just saw today that you can pre-order on Amazon, which you should do right now!

I’ve read through most of it and have engaged in several discussions about the book with him and, yes, I may be biased, but I think this will be one of the better resources out there for reading and preaching the Sermon. This book will provide a helpful and comprehensive reading of the Sermon without getting caught in the minutiae of details or the disconnected readings of the Sermon that many books tend to do. Plus, I find Pennington’s writing style highly engaging, which makes for an enjoyable but also profitable read.

Excerpt from the back of the book:

The Sermon on the Mount, one of the most influential portions of the Bible, is the most studied and commented upon portion of the Christian Scriptures. Every Christian generation turns to it for insight and guidance.

In this volume, a recognized expert on the Gospels shows that the Sermon on the Mount offers a clear window into understanding God’s work in Christ. Jonathan Pennington provides a historical, theological, and literary commentary on the Sermon and explains how this text offers insight into God’s plan for human flourishing. As Pennington explores the literary dimensions and theological themes of this famous passage, he situates the Sermon in dialogue with the Jewish and Greek virtue traditions and the philosophical-theological question of human flourishing. He also relates the Sermon’s theological themes to contemporary issues such as ethics, philosophy, and economics.

Pre-order the book now.

Jeremy Begbie, The Trinity, and Music

“There is a very big difference in the way we see the world and the way we hear the world. When we see the world we can’t have two objects in space at the same time and see them as different…in the way we hear that is not the case…notes in music fills the whole of what we hear. If we add another note then both notes fill the same space but hear them as two notes. They can be inside each other but stay distinct.”

Additional Resources:

May 2016 Biblical Studies Carnival: School’s Out Edition

Welcome to the May 2016 Biblical Studies Carnival. I hope all of you are finishing up your final papers, grading papers, and getting grades in as most Spring semesters are wrapping up. For your enjoyment listen to some classic Alice Cooper before diving into the carnival for this month!

The world lost one of the greatest theologians of our time in the month of May. Several people wrote reflections on the impact that John Webster had on modern theology: Andy Goodliff, Resident Theology, Christian Today, Mark Gignilliat, Bobby Grow, Mere Orthodoxy, and more.

Old Testament

Marg Mowczko examines the translation issues of Malachi 2:16 and the phrase “I hate divorce.”

Dr. Claude Mariottini summarizes the book of Jonah’s message adapted from a teaching series he did at his local church.

Randy McCracken asks the question “How Tall was Goliath?” He also examines if David is portrayed as a New Adam.

Over at The Outward Quest David Corder writes a series of reflections on David Carr’s book, Tablets of the Heart.

Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg answers why Moses is pictured with horns by many famous artists.

New Testament

Paul and the Gif

Larry Hurtado writes some thoughts about Rome and Christians after viewing the final installment of “Ultimate Rome: Empire Without Limit” on the BBC2. While you’re at it you should take a look at his recent short but helpful book Why on Earth Did Anyone Become a Christian in the First Three Centuries, which is from his recent Pere Marquette Lecture in Theology.

Pete Enns follows up after his provocative post about Paul “winging it” when it comes to writing Romans.

Over at the Dustin Martyr Blog, Dustin argues that “great is your reward in heaven” is speaking of the believers reward comes out of heaven at the return of Jesus.

Reflecting on the latest collection of essays in The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life: Ethical and Missional Implications of the New Perspective Scot McKnight discusses the holiness tradition and the New Perspective. You should also check out the excellent podcast with Scot McKnight titled, “The Kingdom Roots Podcast.”

Over at Corinthian Matters David Pettegrew has an interesting post on crowdsourcing Paul’s Letters to Corinth.

The Ancient Bookshelf asks the question are we interpreting women out of the New Testament?

Wayne Coppins, who has a must read blog German for Neutestamentler, translates a section of Oda Wischmeyer’s essay about the “Gradness” of N.T. Wright.

Brian Davidson posts is Friday the 13th practice Greek adjectival practice for his 7th and 8th graders. Good luck!

Michael Kok begins some writings on the Apostle Paul

Nijay Gupta points us to a debate between Bart Ehrman and Richard Bauckham about eye-witness testimony.

Peter Gurry asks if the longer ending of Mark is inspired.

Extrabiblical

The Ancient Bookshelf posted a 1 Enoch reading guide this month.

And Phil Long begins blogging through 1 Enoch.

Jacob Prahlow concludes his series on Women in the Apostolic Fathers.

George Aldhizer reflects about Polycarp.

Updated: James Pate shows of evil people performing miracles or impressive wonders to deceive others in the Apocalypse of Elijah and Gospel of Nicodemus. Also check out his post reflecting on who the Pastoral Epistles could be responding to and poses the question could they be responding to the “Acts of Paul and Thecla.”

Theology

Experimental Theology is trying to recover a Catholic imagination

Josh Carroll has a tongue-in-cheek post about biblical interpretation titled, Biblical Injunctions for Bearded Awesomeness.

Book Reviews

Shawn Wilhite reviews You Are My Son by Amy Peeler.

William Brown, over at The Biblical Review, reviews Goliath’s Legacy: Philistines and Hebrews in Biblical Times by Łukasz Niesiołowski-Spanò. Also check out his review of The Power of Myth by Daniel Gorman Jr.

Jacob Cerone reviews the recently released Going Deeper with New Testament Greek by Andres Kostenger, Ben Merkle, and Rob Plummer.

Susan Eastman over at the Marginalia Review of Books reviews John Barclay’s Paul and the Gift. She concludes,

For the present, Paul and the Gift is a stunning invitation to consider deeply, broadly and creatively the tremendous power of grace as divine gift, and its implications for every aspect of human life, from intimate family relationships to global politics. It certainly will change the work of Pauline scholars, but it deserves a wider readership as well. Anyone interested in Jewish as well as Christian theologies of grace and in the dynamics of human transformation, will benefit from the riches of this book.

Phil Long review John Collins’, *Apocalypse, Prophecy, and Pseudepigraphy

James McGrath reviews The Scepter and the Star: Messianism in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Ruben de Rus review the New Dictionary of Theology: Historical and Systematic

The Jesus Blog concludes their five-part series on Bart Ehrman’s Jesus Before the Gospels. Also see Michael Kruger’s review of the book as well.

Nijay Gupta reviews Francis Watson’s Fourfold Gospel and has a multi-post review of NT Wright’s Paul and His Recent Interpreters

Miscellany

If I have missed a post that you think should be added please send me a tweet @renshaw330 and I will go ahead and add it here!

Kris Lyle over at the Old School Scripts blog will be hosting the carnival for June 2016 so be sure to send him your links during the month of June.

Also, if you would like to host the carnival at some point please contact Phil Long (plong42@gmail.com or @plong42). It is a great way to get your site out there and contribute to the biblical studies genre of blogs in general. I love reading these each month but we can’t have a carnival without volunteers so please contact Phil to reserve your spot!

Two Helpful Biblical Greek Sites

I just wanted to point out two helpful (and free!) online Biblical Greek resources.

Daily Dose of Greek

The first, is by one of my favorite professors at Southern Seminary, Dr. Rob Plummer. He has a vision to help people keep their Greek after seminary and part of accomplishing this vision is his excellent site, Daily Dose of Greek. Every weekday he walks through a verse explaining the syntax, vocabulary, and translation. On Saturdays he generally has a special topic or a guest host. The great thing about Daily Dose of Greek is that it is short (and helpful!) so it is easy to watch daily.

You can sign up for the email list here, RSS feed, Twitter, or Facebook

Master Greek

Another site that I recently was alerted to is Master Greek by Dr. Paul Hoskins. This site’s aim is to help with parsing. It is a simple web app that allows you to practice parsing Greek words. You can either do practice mode or quiz yourself. It works well in your browser on the computer or on your phone/tablet.

I was only recently introduced to this site/web app but it functions really well and I can see it being helpful for keeping up with my parsing.

Henri De Lubac on the Chasm Between Current and Patristic Thought

In Henri De Lubac’s book, History and Spirit: The Understanding of Scripture According to Origen, he makes a brief comment in passing that I think often times is overlooked when comparing hermeneutical methods. The early church is working with an entirely different worldview and thought when it comes to Holy Scripture. It isn’t necessarily a method that we can just mimic but it is a whole approach when engaging the text. This is one of the chasms that we may or may not be able to cross when it comes to the oft times odd (to us) figural/allegorical/christological approach to reading scripture. There wasn’t history versus figural reading but rather it is all wrapped into one way of thinking about the text. This doesn’t mean they didn’t care about history or the historical nature of scripture (see Augustine’s Harmony on the Gospels) but they didn’t slice and dice the exegetical process like we do today.1

But as I looked in those works for the necessary information, the subject I had at first envisioned assumed a broader scope in my eyes. It was no longer a matter of measuring, in any given exegesis, the part allotted to the “letter” or to history., It was no longer even a matter solely of exegesis. It was a whole manner of thinking, a whole world view that loomed before me.2

Also see Hans Boersma in response to de Lubac’s observations,

Both in his book on Origen and in his other writings on spiritual interpretation, it would have been good to read more about what allowed both Origen and later Christian tradition to allegorize particular details of the biblical text….What was it, for example, that allowed the church fathers to see the lamb and the sheep mentioned in Isaiah 57:7 as a reference to Christ? What was it that enabled them to see Christ in the wisdom of Proverbs 8? These questions do have some urgency if spiritual interpretation is to avoid the common charge that it renders interpretation arbitrary and subject to the whims of individual interpreters. We might wish that de Lubac had touched on these kinds of questions.3

  1. I found the quotes by de Lubac and Boersma in Lang, T.J. Mystery and the Making of Christian Historical Consciousness. BZNW 219. Berlin; Boston: de Gruyter, 2015, 1-2. ↩︎
  2. De Lubac, Henri. History and Spirit: The Understanding of Scripture According to Origen. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007, 11. ↩︎
  3. Boersma, Hans. Heavenly Participation: The Weaving of a Sacramental Tapestry. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011, 147. ↩︎

The Need and Help Beatitudes

Frederick Bruner, one of the masterful commentators of Matthew, helpfully reflects on the idea of the “need” and “help” nature of the Beatitudes.

“It can be said fairly, I think, that a certain post-Reformation exegesis stressed the need Beatitudes too much, emphasizing that the Sermon on the Mount was intended to drive us to our knees, to our sense of need, to our impotence before the law of God. This exegesis did take seriously the almost insuperable difficulty of living the Sermon on the Mount, and it took seriously the central content of the gospel’s Cross and Resurrection. Yet Jesus calls us not only to our knees, and the purpose of his sermon is not only to make us feel weak. Half the purpose of his sermon is to set us on our feet again and to give us the strength to go out and be a help. The help Beatitudes  belong as much to jesus’ teaching as the need Beatitudes, and deserve equal time.

God helps those who cannot help themselves (the need Beatitudes), and he also helps those who try to help others (the help Beatitudes), but he does not in any Beatitude help those who think they can help themselves—an often ungodly and antisocial conception. Jesus wants faith and love. Only faith justifies, only love proves faith real. There is no contradiction between the fact that God helps the helpless (that is God’s free mercy) and that he helps the helpful (that is God’s justice). The Beatitudes reward not only helplessness—Reformation exegesis has always delighted in knowing this; the Beatitudes also reward helpfulness—we have been reluctant to see this from a fear, often enough legitimate, that a teaching of merits might creep in. But if we can stick closely to Jesus’ definition of the righteous deed in the Beatitudes, and see the exact nature of that deed—that it involves people at center and not first at their works—we will be half way to freedom from new legalisms. The need Beatitudes engage us deeply with God; the help Beatitudes engage us deeply with people. The need Beatitudes enlist us in all that we are not. The help Beatitudes enlist us in all that we are. In the need Beatitudes we are salted (passively); in the help Beatitudes we are salt (actively). In the need Beatitudes we are picked up from the earth; in the help Beatitudes we are thrown into it. What happens to us when we hit earth is described in greater detail in the final double Beatitude.”

F.D. Bruner, Matthew: A Commentary. Matthew 1-12, The Christbook  (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 152. 

Why the Lack of the Institution of the Eucharist in John (Bauckham)?

Why is the Eucharist not an explicit event narrated in the fourth Gospel? Richard Bauckham answers by saying,

I have argued elsewhere that john presupposes that his readers know Mark’s Gospel and deliberately does not repeat what could be read in Mark unless he has a specific reason for doing so. And second, To call Mark 14:22-25 and Matt. 26:26-29 accounts of “the institution of the Eucharist” is misleading because, unlike Luke 22:19 and Paul in 1 Cor. 11:25, they contain no indication that what Jesus does is to be repeated by his disciples. The function of these accounts in Mark and Matthew is to provide readers, in advance of the narrative of Jesus’ death, with a sacrificial interpretation of that death. John has no need of such an account for this purpose, because his narrative of the death of Jesus itself suggests a sacrificial interpretation (John 19:34). So, at the Last Supper he narrates instead another symbolic act of Jesus, the foot-washing (John 13:1-11), which also interprets the death of Jesus, in this case as the culmination of his ministry of loving service in the role of a slave.1

  1. Richard Bauckham, “Sacraments?” in Gospel of Glory, p. 104. ↩︎

Richard Bauckham on Participation in Christ from John 6

Richard Bauckham in his recent collection of essays/lectures, Gospel of Glory, writes about the possibility of the sacraments in the Gospel of John. One of the striking aspects of the fourth gospel is the absence of the sacraments but many theologians and scholars throughout history recognize the presence of sacramental type language throughout. Bauckham argues that John in chapter six is making an allusive reference to the Lord’s Supper to highlight the believer participating in the life of Jesus. He says,

It now becomes clear that eternal life is not just a divine gift to those who believe in Jesus; it is actual participation in Jesus’s own life, made available through his death. This is the significance of John 6:56–57. In verse 57 Jesus explains that he himself lives out of the eternal divine life of his Father, and so believers, participating in Jesus’s life, are alive with this same divine life. In verse 56 he explains that faith in the crucified Jesus unites the believer with him in a union so intimate and enduring that it can be depicted as mutual indwelling and abiding. This language of the reciprocal indwelling of Jesus and the believer is itself, because of its reciprocity, an advance on the language of eating and drinking. John introduces here as a means of connecting this discourse with the Last Supper Discourse, where the image of mutual indwelling recurs (John 10:14–23; 15:4–7) in the context of fuller discussion of the life of discipleship.1

  1. Richard Bauckham, “Sacraments?” in Gospel of Glory pp. 102–3. ↩︎

Dunn on Pitting the Imminent and Future Kingdom of God Against Each Other

In James Dunn’s helpful collection of essays in Jesus, Paul, and the Gospels he says this regarding scholarship pitting the imminent and future kingdom of God sayings in the Synoptics against each other,

In New Testament scholarship there has been a huge and long-lasting debate as to which of these two strands is the more ‘original’, although it has been a good deal quietened by the realisation that some of the Dead Sea Scrolls reflect a similar tension between an eschatological hope already fulfilled and a hope still maintained for imminent consumption. The debate within New Testament scholarship demonstrates more clearly than most others the futility of making conclusions regarding ‘the historical Jesus’ depend on individual verses and the conclusion that can be inferred from them. The fact is that both strands are well rooted in and run through the Synoptic tradition. Both are characteristic of the Synoptic Jesus. How dare we exegetes and expositors insist on squeezing such diverse traditions into a single mould and on squeezing out what does not fit our own ideas of consistency and good sense. It is much more responsible for historians and exegetes to recognise that this double characteristic of the Jesus tradition is best explained as a double characteristic of Jesus’ own teaching and mission. The overall two-sided impact of Jesus remains clear, even if it remains unclear how the two side were held together by Jesus and his first disciples.1

  1. James Dunn in Jesus, Paul, and the Gospels “Fact or Fiction? How Reliable are the Gospels?” p. 16 ↩︎