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Authors I Read

A pastor friend recently posted an article on author's they approve of. The list was primarily in the fundamentalist neo-reformed wing of the American church. Several of whom in my mind border on Gnosticism, and all of whom are hard-core "God is an extreme control-freak determining everything" types. They start with a view of God that says this, them impose it on all of the Bible and life.

Here is a sampling of theologians, Biblical scholars and pastor’s that speak to the non-Augustinian, non-Anselmian, Anabaptist, Wesleyan, Pentecostal/charismatic and grand orthodoxy of the Church.

NT Wright
Walter Brueggemann
Craig Keener
Richard Bauckham
Ben Witherington III
Brian Zahnd
Valdimir Lossky
Roger E. Olson (Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities, Against Calvinism, )
Amos Yong
Dallas Willard
Randy Maddox
Clark Pinnock
Greg Boyd
Robert Menzies
Frank Macchia
Roger Strontad
James KA Smith
Wolfgang Vondey
Miroslav Volf
Gordon Smith
Roger Stronstad
Martin Mittelstadt

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Bible Translations

Recently I had a conversation about the Septuagint vs the Hebrew for Old Testament/Hebrew Bible study, devotional, etc. use. In my efforts to summarize that Jesus and most Jews in that time used the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible we got lost in the weeds. Ken Collins has a good summary of the issue when he recommends a study Bible. Here it is: (For his recommendations - which I do not all agree with: http://www.kencollins.com/bible/bible-t2.htm#osb) "...The Orthodox Study Bible is unique among all the translations on this page, because its Old Testament comes from the Septuagint , not the Hebrew text. The Orthodox Study Bible contains the first translation of the Septuagint into English since the nineteenth century.

In biblical times, the city of Alexandria, in Egypt, was famous for its voluminous library, its schools, and its intellectuals. It also had the largest Jewish community in the Diaspora, that is, anywhere other than Judea. When Mary and Joseph took the infant Jesus to Egypt, this is most likely where they settled, so Jesus’ early education took place in the Alexandrian school system, which was the best in the world at the time.

Since Alexandrian Jews spoke Greek, they undertook a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures about two centuries before Christ. It is called the ‘Septuagint’ because there were about seventy translators. The Septuagint was well entrenched as normative Scripture for Greek-speaking Jews by the time of the events in the New Testament. Since Galilee was a Greek-speaking territory, the Septuagint was normative Scripture in Galilean synagogues and for Jesus and His disciples. We know that because the New Testament quotes the Septuagint, not the Hebrew scriptures that we have today.

The Septuagint is more messianic than the Hebrew text, which meant that early Christians could easily mine it for proof texts to make converts. They were so effective that the rabbis standardized on the Hebrew text for the synagogue scrolls, and the Septuagint fell out of use among Jews. Many lay Christians accused the Jews of editing the Hebrew text to make it less messianic. (See Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho, chapters 71-73.) This is hardly possible, because the Jews have too much respect for the text to do such a thing. The motive for this accusation was mainly emotional: Christians were under persecution because the rabbis had disowned the church as a Jewish sect, making it an illegal religion; therefore, Christians were quick to accuse the Jews. Since the switch took place in reaction to Christian use of the Septuagint, my guess is that there was more than one Hebrew text to choose from and that the rabbis chose an accurate text whose phrasing was less conducive to Christianity than the Hebrew text underlying the Septuagint.

Here is how it happened:

the Temple in Jerusalem sent Hebrew scrolls containing the Scriptures to Jewish scholars in Alexandria. The Jewish scholars translated the Scriptures into Greek. The Septuagint became authoritative Scripture among Jews in the Diaspora. It was considered divinely inspired. Many of Jesus’ arguments presuppose the wording of the Septuagint. (John 10:34) When people checked up on Paul in the Scriptures, they were in Greek, otherwise they would not have been able to read them. (Acts 17:11) The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and the library of Alexandria was burned down. The Hebrew scrolls in both places were destroyed. The rabbis gathered Hebrew scrolls from other locations to produce a new standard Hebrew text. The current Hebrew text is younger than the Septuagint and the scrolls on which it was based. The rabbis discontinued the use of the Septuagint in the synagogues and started using only the new Hebrew text.

The Septuagint was the canonical Old Testament of the ancient church, and has remained so in Orthodox churches to this day, which explains its presence here in the Orthodox Study Bible.

In the early fifth century, Jerome translated the Bible into Latin for western use. He switched to the Hebrew text for the Old Testament. His translation, called the Vulgate, became the standard Bible of the Roman Catholic Church until well after the Protestant Reformation. Therefore, under Jerome’s influence, Catholics and Protestants use the Hebrew Scriptures for their Old Testament. However, Jesus, the apostles, the New Testament, and the ancient Church all used the Septuagint as their Old Testament. The Septuagint is older than the Hebrew scriptures we have today.

Even though this is a study Bible, I have included it in this list because it contains the only modern translation of the Septuagint, which is not available separately.

Disadvantages The Old Testament in the Orthodox Study Bible does not match the Old Testament in any other Bible, because this is the only English-language Bible in existence that uses the Septuagint as its Old Testament. The footnotes do not represent the findings and opinions of modern western scholars, but the historical use of the texts in eastern Christian theology. If you are a seminary student, your professors may object to using it in Old Testament studies, because it is not the Hebrew text, and because the footnotes Christianize and allegorize the Old Testament text. Within the bounds of academic study, they do have a good point.

Advantages The Old Testament in the Orthodox Study Bible gives better insight into the New Testament, because it is the version that the New Testament writers read, used, and quoted. It can give depth and context to the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament and in the theology and interpretive techniques of ancient Christianity and contemporary Orthodoxy. Since Jesus, the apostles, the New Testament, and the early Church Fathers all use the Septuagint as their Old Testament, one could make the argument that the Septuagint is the canonical Old Testament for Christians.

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Brian Zhand: War of the Lamb

Zhand: "Christ always rules from the cross, never from an Apache attack helicopter!" "Those who want to hold onto a primitive vision of a violent and retributive God often cite the white horse rider passage from Revelation. They will say something like this: “Jesus came the first time as a lamb, but he’s coming back the second time as a lion.” (Despite the fact that no lion is ever seen in Revelation — the lion is the Lamb!) By this they mean the nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels is going to mutate into what they fantasize is the hyper-violent Jesus of Revelation. Sadly, the proponents of this flawed interpretation seem to prefer their imagined violent Jesus of the future over the nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels. At a basic level they essentially see the Bible like this: After a long trajectory away from the divine violence of the Old Testament culminating in Jesus renouncing violence and calling his followers to love their enemies, the Bible in its final pages abandons a vision of peace and nonviolence as ultimately unworkable and closes with the most vicious portrayal of divine violence in all of Scripture.... Read the rest here! http://brianzahnd.com/2016/05/war-of-the-lamb/

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Understanding the Apostle Paul

An Anabaptist acquaintance of mine, Kurt Willems, who is planting a BIC (Brethren in Christ) in Seattle has done a good series on the various perspectives on Paul. You can get out his stuff here:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/2016/04/11/study-paul/
Kurt writes:
We also have the challenge of trying to catch up on a theological conversation that has been going on for about 2,000 years. Augustine had an opinion or two which Luther [traditional view] built upon and the New Perspective rejected and the radical New Perspective has pushed even further. What I’m referring to specifically is the way that interpreters of Paul’s letters have framed his famous interaction with his heritage as a Second Temple Judaean in the first century.

Did Paul reject the Law as a mere custodian of God’s impossible standard until Christ came to offer righteousness by faith [“traditional” view]? In other words, is the Law opposed to God’s grace revealed in Christ–universally so.

Did Paul believe Torah practices were grace-filled for the Jews, but in order to include the gentiles, it was now time to tear down the specifically exclusive Jewish boundary markers (ie circumcision) to expand God’s family [New Perspective]? In other words, the Law is not about “works righteousness” but core elements of it are exclusive to Jews, so those things have now been relativized in Christ so all can equally be included.

Did Paul himself remain Torah observant and uphold the Torah for Jews, but use negative rhetoric about the Law to persuade the gentiles that they need not become Jewish to be included in the covenant with God [Radical New Perspective]? In other words, there are two paths (a Jewish path and a gentile path [Christ]) to enter the single covenant of God.

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Truth Bomb

I would repost almost everything from the Babylon Bee - a Christian version of the satire news "The Onion". After 12 Years Of Quarterly Church Attendance, Parents Shocked By Daughter’s Lack Of Faith April 7, 2016 null This one is powerful: http://babylonbee.com/news/after-12-years-of-quarterly-church-attendance-parents-shocked-by-daughters-lack-of-faith/

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If You’re Interested in Learning About Speaking in Tongues

If you're interested in learning about speaking in tongues I highly encourage you to read: Speaking in Tongues: Jesus and the Apostolic Church as Models for the Church Today Paperback – March 10, 2016 by Robert Menzies (Author) And then my thesis ;-) -Shel

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Yes Im Still ALive

Have not posted regularly because Im trying to finish my doctoral thesis. I have been approved as a candidate for the DMin at United Seminary. I have completed all course work and a medium project. Now I am working on the final deal. Prayers are appreciated.

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Craig Keener – It Young Earth Creationism Biblical?

Craig makes some great observations in this article. I was discussing some of these myself the other day with one of our elders. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/craig-s-keener/is-young-earth-creationism-biblical_b_1578004.html?fb_action_ids=1545716955725842&fb_action_types=og.likes Even self-identified evangelicals, who tend to read the Bible more conservatively than most other groups, do not speak with a unified voice regarding the process of creation. Clearly, young-earth creationism, which argues that the world was created in six 24-hour days, is widely promoted on a popular level. Less publicized is that a large number of evangelical thinkers prefer a different range of options. Let me briefly survey some options before turning to Genesis. For example, like many other evangelical scientists, Francis Collins, former director of the Human Genome project, affirms evolution. A 2009 Pew Forum poll suggests that roughly a third of evangelical Protestants agree. More surprisingly, this approach among some evangelicals did not originate recently. For example, one of Darwin's leading U.S. defenders in the 19th century was a committed evangelical. Harvard biologist Asa Gray, featured on a U.S. postal stamp in 2011, never persuaded his friend Darwin that evolution displayed divine design, but Gray defended evolution. Some prominent evangelical theologians today (such as Alister McGrath) support evolution, but even late 19th- and early 20th-century conservative theologians such as Calvinist B. B. Warfield and Baptist A. H. Strong allowed that God could have used evolution as a mechanism of creation. More surprising is William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic politician known for arguing against evolution in the famous 1925 Scopes Trial. He allowed for the universe to be very old, viewing the six "days" in Genesis as longer eras....click the link above to read the rest.

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A pastor-theologian who loves the questions…