Jim is giving away a copy of Candida Moss’s new book The Myth of Persecution over at his blog. Want to win it? Entry is simple:
- Tweet the giveaway
- Post about the giveaway on your blog
- Tell why Zwinglius Redivivus is your favorite blog! This last step may result in scorn and misery being heaped upon you–indeed, you may have to suffer. But who among us isn’t willing to suffer a little for a free book?
Giveaway winner will be announced March 6, once Jim has run all the entries through a highly scientific selection process, or maybe after he picks someone randomly. Head on over and enter today!
Αυτω η δοξα
The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek: Grammar, Syntax, and Diagramming by Douglas S. Huffman
This short review is part of Kregel’s blog tour for Huffman’s book. The blog tour is technically past; however, there was a mix-up and this volume was sent to my old address, thus delaying its arrival for several weeks. Thankfully, Kregel sent along another copy.
The title aptly describes the book’s function—it is a guide, not an exhaustive reference. Huffman states that this book is “for second-year Greek students, pastors, teachers, and preachers,” “will not replace grammar and syntax textbooks,” “to be less cumbersome and more readily accessible” than “larger grammar and syntax books,” “presumes some of the basics of NT Greek,” and is “intended as a useful tool and ready reference.” There you have it—why this book was produced.
The book is broken down into three parts: 1) Greek Grammar Reminders, 2) Greek Syntax Summaries, and 3) Phrase Diagramming.
There is a lot to commend about this book. First, it’s concise, just as you would expect a “handy guide” to be (in contrast, for example, to Brill’s four-volume, 3,600+-page Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus, ringing in at a staggering $1,200). The Brill example was merely to highlight that when we hear terms like “handbook” or “guide,” most of the time we expect something compact, just what this book is. A “handy guide” must be useful. It must glean important information from other volumes and put it in a more accessible work and that’s exactly what you should expect from Huffman.
Second, and perhaps the primary draw of this book, there are helpful little hints here and there that help the reader recall/remember the function of a particular part of speech or a category into which some element of grammar falls. After all, it’s meant to help fairly new students of Greek recall and retain information they had previously studied. These are often found in standard grammars, but I was glad to see some of them here. For example, in the section dealing with the cases, Huffman provides alliterative descriptions associated with each case’s function.
- Nominative – typically nominates the subject
- Genitive – typically generates some description
- Dative – typically names “to/for” whom an action is done, as in “dating”
- Accusative – makes accusation about what the subject did
- Vocative – vocalizes who being addressed
Admittedly, these are very simplified descriptions (and even I shortened what was in the book) and don’t draw out the nuances each case can embody, but again, this is a resource for review not advanced study.
Another feature that you don’t find in many Greek grammars is the section on diagramming. My first- and second-year Greek professors instilled the importance of diagramming in us (thankfully so–it’s a very useful exercise), so I can appreciate Huffman’s decision to include them here.
Third, this volume is portable. I didn’t realize it at first, but it’s virtually identical in terms of width and height of the standard editions of the Greek New Testament (NA28/UBS4). It’s like they were made for each other!
As you might expect, there are also charts and tables aplenty! What is a good book on Greek without the requisite tables and charts?!
Though I may only refer to this volume once in a while, I can still appreciate its usefulness. I remember one of the assignments I had for an advanced Greek class was to take Wallace’s advanced grammar and make a summary outline of it, every category and sub-category trimmed down to the essentials (I still have it). The reasoning was so that we would have a more accessible guide handy when working through a Greek text. It was a long and tedious assignment, but I used that condensed outline for some time after the class. This is essentially what Huffman has done, only not having drawn from a single source.
In sum, this is a wonderful little volume that should aid students who haven’t quite found their footing on the sometimes-treacherous terrain of Greek grammar. The book’s greatest strength (its conciseness) will likely be its greatest weakness for some; however, if one keeps in mind the purpose for which it was written, this little volume should serve many and serve them well.
Αυτω η δοξα
True for You but Not For Me: Overcoming Objections to Christian Faith by Paul Copan
Thanks to the folks at Bethany House for this review copy!
I must admit from the start that I don’t typically enjoy reading apologetics and this book didn’t change that. That’s not necessarily a critique of the book, but of my own disposition toward the subject. Essentially, God needs no defenders; yet, the value in being able to dialogue with skeptics of varying stripes can’t be understated. So, I requested this book to see what he had to say about the multitude of objections that still being leveled against Christianity so that, in the event that I find myself in conversation with someone making these assertions, I might be better able to understand their position and respond appropriately.
Copan covers a broad range of typical objections to Christianity one might encounter. As I read through the chapters, some of them only a few pages long, I found myself treading very familiar territory. That is to say, Copan doesn’t really say anything that hasn’t been said before. There is nothing particularly novel here, but that doesn’t mean the book isn’t helpful. It can be that, if one has not read widely on the subject. As I mentioned above, the reason I requested this book was more or less to reacquaint myself with some of the objections that may be raised in discussion of Christianity. It’s a helpful little volume and should I need a quick reference, it will serve me well. To that end, I would recommend this title to you. For those who live and breathe the subject, they will definitely want to swim in deeper waters.
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I have only two major papers to write this semester, one for each seminar. For the NT seminar, I have to write on a particular aspect of the New Perspective on Paul. This is a subject I’ve read on and frankly, it’s a dead horse that has been beaten, resurrected, and beaten again. In fact, many would venture to say that the “new perspective” is not so new anymore. The works on this subject are legion, so I’m trying to narrow my choices based on interest and the volumes I’ll have to work with.
Interestingly enough, I am more excited about writing my OT backgrounds paper. I will be writing on the serpent in Genesis 3, namely how ANE perceptions and depictions of serpents informed how the author of Genesis would have probably understood them and why a serpent was employed in the account. I might address the question “Did the snake really talk?” but only briefly. My interest is less in the historicity of the account and more in the perception of serpents. I’ve been reading through Egyptian, Akkadian, and Babylonian texts (translations obviously!) and various historical surveys and archaeological works and its been a very interesting venture thus far. I’ve only done initial research at this point and have yet to make definite conclusions about some questions I seek to answer, but I very much anticipate where this will lead.
As always, suggested resources are always welcome.
Αυτω η δοξα
I was watching an episode earlier of White Collar (one of my favorite shows!) and the main character, Neal, made an interesting comment that prompted this post. He said something to the effect of “Stories are worthless if there’s nothing to back them up.” In the context of the show’s story it made sense, but in literature, obviously it doesn’t quite work out as well. I’ve been thinking lately about various “stories” in scripture and how we as interpreters approach them. For many, the biblical accounts are essentially meaningless if they didn’t actually happen. For others, they are perfectly fine to read the stories as purely literary works without foisting upon them the burden of being historically true and/or accurate.
I must admit that at one time I would have fallen into the first camp. Accounts such as the exodus, Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal, or Jonah’s exploits in Nineveh I would have declared as actual historical events without batting an eye. For the record, I do believe these events in the Hebrew Bible took place as recorded; however, if the evidence were compelling to see them as purely literary-theological works and the events described therein didn’t literally happen, I would be ok with that. I have come to see the bible as both a book and a collection of books, understanding that each book possesses its own uniqueness while at the same time contributing to a larger narrative.
One thing that still nags at me is somewhat inherent in the statement quoted at the first: if the bible were merely a collection of literary works, however theologically oriented they may be, would I be compelled to think more highly of and worship God, of whom these stories speak so highly? I chose the stories above (the first two primarily) because they are accounts that tell of awesome displays of power and those displays are compelling to me, personally, as reasons to hold a higher view of God than perhaps others might. To know (insomuch as we can “know”) that God has acted in history motivates my worship. This is especially true when it comes to Christ.
I do believe there are plenty of accounts in the scripture that are not actual historical events and I can appreciate them for what they are and what they say/teach about God. But to read the bible without seeing God as having acted in history, however accurately you believe those acts are recorded, seems to miss much of what the biblical authors intended.
What are your thoughts on this matter?
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