Forthcoming Book Review: James, Evangelical Exegetical Commentary

james

An exegetical method places high demands on the biblical interpreter and invokes a mastery of skills outside himself. Careful attention to grammar, skill within textual criticism, ability to observe the greater whole of biblical theology, etc. beckon the attention of the exegete. The dexterous skill of grammatical and textual expertise must be matched with an artistic ability to encapsulate the overarching biblical description.

Our kind friends at Logos Bible Software have provided me the opportunity to review James in the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary, written by William Varner. When using commentaries, I tend to have a love/hate relationship with them. Some do not provide answers to the questions I am asking, others critically interact with the grammar but neglect to provide a theological synthesis, while others focus on a theological overview and minimize technical detail. It thrills me to interact critically with this commentary for multiple reasons. Suffice to say, this commentary, whether or not I agree with the interpretations, the theological positions, or argumentation, mimics my exegetical method.

William Varner provides an excellent model of exegesis in his James commentary. He supplies a translation of the text, pertinent text-critical decisions, an exegetical outline, clausal diagraming, careful attention to grammar and the message of James, a biblical theology of James and its relationship to the theology of the Bible, practical implications, and a bibliography for further analysis. Stay tuned for this book review; I anticipate a fruitful review.

Here is my book review

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Analysis of “New Testament Eschatology: An Introduction”

Eschatology

Jörg Frey, in the “New Testament Eschatology—an Introduction: Classical Issues, Disputed Themes, and Current Perspectives”,[1] describes the past 200 years of eschatological discussion and its academic difficulties within critical scholarship. His description is four-fold: 1. The Term ‘Eschatology’ and the confusion of theological Language; 2. The Deconstruction of Eschatology in the Modern Debate: From Reimarus to Schweiter and Bultmann; 3. Crucial Issues and Questionable Categories, and; 4. Concluding Perspectives.

Frey provides a history of interpretation, though brief, of how scholars (liberal and conservative) have understood eschatology and the issues associated with this discipline. Providing a historical context is so important to see “where we’ve been” and will most likely provide some sort of trajectory of “where we should go.” Pertinent to this history is how eschatology has morphed into two categories of prophetic and apocalyptic-like literature and how Luke 17.21 was, initially, the lens to view the kingdom (“kingdom of God is in your midst”) solely as a present reality.

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‘Catholicity’ in early Gospel MSS: A case for early canonization of the Gospels

Early Text

The Early Text of the New Testament, edited by Charles Hill and Michael Kruger, as I have said previously, is going to be a textual source of extreme value. In “‘Catholicity’ in Early Gospel Manuscripts”, Scott Charlesworth’s tentative textual conclusions matched with early patristic writings provide, with high probability, early (i.e. up to third/forth century) textual and historical evidence of circulating orthodox Gospel codices for public and private use.

This chapter by Charlesworth has provided a shift and confirmation in some of my thinking about early canonization of the Gospels. “Scribal conventions,” Charlesworth concludes, “in second- and second/third-century gospel papyri are indicative of ‘catholic’ collaboration and consensus, presumably among the ‘orthodox’ [Gospels].”[1]

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Forthcoming Book Review: Canon Revisited

Kruger

Yesterday, I received Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books in the mail from a journal editor! Having provisionally read and watching the waves of discussion concerning this book, I couldn’t be more excited to read, to critically interact with, and to participate in this conversation. The canonization of the text, in my estimation, will be revisited as newer revisions and discussions of inerrancy continue to exist in the coming years.

Michael Kruger, NT RTS professor, will be a name to watch as study of canonization and textual criticism continues. He recently edited The Early Text of the New Testament, along with Charles Hill, that will be considered one of the top NT text criticism books. I find Part II: The Manuscript Tradition of this book the most helpful for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it’s lasting value will be for how it traces the history of early textual traditions in each book of the bible (or corpus of literature). I hope to add it to my library soon and will be required reading for any text critical class I proctor.

The Mystery of the Kingdom of God.

Under the primary usage of Mark, Schweitzer observes the constant secrecy of Jesus, the inability of the disciple’s comprehension of the Kingdom, and the “now/not yet” nature of the Kingdom with various implications. Albert Schweitzer’s Mystery of Kingdom is a book to be answered, both with a presuppositional and theological response. He provided a number of valid questions and a number of valid theological thoughts to validate the reading of this book. The structure of this review will be two-fold: an articulation of his presuppositions and an analysis of his theological positions in order to understand his thesis.

Schweitzer’s Presuppositions

Schweitzer’s first presupposition is Markan primacy for theological construction. This manifests itself through his lack of any Lukan references. Luke uses the word Kingdom 46 times in 44 verses, Luke has 25 “Son of Man” references, and three references to the “Son of David”, yet not a single Lukan verse was mentioned Schweitzer’s book

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