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Showing posts from January, 2013

Book Review: Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory

I've long enjoyed the work of Markus Bockmuehl. His commentary on Philippians and his monograph Seeing the Word are classics and deserve wider readership than they have garnered. The latter explains and defends Bockmuehl's method for studying historical figures and texts. He argues for the importance of reception history for understanding meaning. Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory: The New Testament Apostle in the Early Church represents Bockmuehl's attempt to carry out that approach on the historical figure of Simon Peter.

The books divides into three parts. The first is an overview of the canonical witness to the historical Peter. The second part, which comprises the bulk of the book, looks at the local memories of Peter from the late first and second centuries. The third and final part uses the results of the first two parts to shed light on two problems, one exegetical and one archaeological.

Bockmuehl begins part one with an observation and a challenge to contempor…

Commentary Review: Song of Songs

I can't think of a better way to ring in my 30th birthday than with a post of commentary reviews. I finished studying the Song of Songs in December so it's time to review the various commentaries that I used. As always, to keep the post to a reasonable length I am not providing comments on the format or level of difficulty of the commentary series each commentary is in. That detail is found in my commentary overview post.

There is one Song of Songs commentary to rule them all. It is that of J. Cheryl Exum in the Old Testament Library. It is undoubtedly the best written commentary I've ever read. Often you feel like you're reading an essay rather than a piece of technical writing. Especially when reading about poetry it's rewarding to read elegantly written material. Exum's creativity extends to her analysis of the Song as well. She has several innovative solutions to difficult interpretive problems. One example is her interpretation of Song 2:15 which I have bu…

The Song of Songs: Not a Glorification of Sex

Now that we've wrapped up our section by section analysis of the Song, let's take a look at the Song as a whole and ask the question, what's it all about? In a previous post I outlined the rationale behind reading the Song ironically. I won't rehearse the whole argument here, but I'll add a few arguments to reinforce some of the conclusions reached there. We will conclude by discussing appropriation of the Song today.

The history of interpretation of the Song is in many respects boring. Both Jews and Christians interpreted it allegorically for most of the past two millennia. As many have argued, an allegorical approach arose because the Song was already viewed as religious literature. Something about the Song grated the ears of both Jews and Christians. The easy answer was that there was a strong ascetic tendency that viewed sex as bad. No text glorifying sex could possibly be understood literally. In the case of Christianity I think this argument seems reasonable.…

The Upcoming Year: Outlining the Changes

In my last post, I mentioned that changes would be coming to this blog. I thought I'd outline them here and also chart the intended course for 2013.

My primary commitment it to write two posts per month. Since the birth of my daughter my posting has been erratic. She's old enough and my situation is settled enough that I can begin to get myself back into a schedule. Some months will have more than two posts, but none will have less.

I also hope to raise the quality of the posts, especially the writing. I know my posts often need editing. It's not something I enjoy, but I will commit myself to it for both of our sake, though it is not one of my strengths. I hope that the quality of the content also improves. These two posts should be substantial and hopefully worth your time. I might also go back and sift through some of the old posts, cleaning them up a little and perhaps delete a few that I find to be subpar.

This blog will also get a makeover in look and feel. It will pr…

A Personal Update - A Major Change

Happy New Year! Those of you who know me personally may have heard the news by now, but I've decided that I'm no longer intending to pursue further theological education or a career in the academy, at least for now. There are several reasons behind this, but primarily it's because it's not in the best interests of my family. To pursue a PhD would take me 8 or 9 years, during which my wife would have to support the family. On top of that I'd be graduating in a field with very few jobs and an abundance of qualified applicants. At the end of the day I could have put my family through a lot of hardship and not gotten a job.

Additionally, things are going very well at my job. I'm a statistical programmer for Ipsos USA Public Affairs. I enjoy my job and have a great boss. We also do research that matters, not just the kind that helps corporations make money. As many have said about pursuing a professorship in theology or biblical studies, 'if you can imagine your…