A Favorite Post

The following link will take you to one of my favorite blog posts/articles ever. I first read it a long time ago (those of you who know me well will realize that I don’t know if it was 9 months ago or 3 years ago…but it was not recently), and I had the pleasure of forgetting about it and then re-discovering it again tonight.

I highly recommend you read and savor it.

The ESV Study Bible

I have a couple different ESV bibles. The Reformation Study Bible published by Ligonier Ministries (R.C. Sproul’s organization), a thinline with TruTone cover, and a hardcover ESV that I had re-bound in goatskin by Mechling BookBindery. Why on earth did I do that, you may wonder? Well, two reasons: first, I wanted a bible that had a minimum of chapter headings, cross-references, etc., but that would stand up to heavy, daily use; second the hard-cover bibles have a lower quality, but thicker paper that doesn’t show bleed through as much from highlighting or underlining (not that I do much of that—I have a thing about marking in books—but when I do , I don’t want to see it on the opposite side of the page).

Anyway, Mechling’s binding is spectacular and I would recommend them to anyone looking to have a Bible re-bound. The goatskin option is a bit more, but it is the “floppiest” leather, which was important to me. Because of the cheaper paper I used, the Bible doesn’t “flop” quite as well as I wanted, but that is my fault for using cheap paper. In retrospect, I wish I had re-bound the thinline.

All of that to say while I wasn’t expecting to, because I’m often not a study bible fan, I’m looking forward to the release of the ESV Study Bible on October 15 of this year. They’ve released several excerpts, the most recent of which was from the Psalms. It was the section on the psalms that convinced me I want to get one. Here’s the introduction to Psalm 1:

Psalm 1. The first psalm serves as the gateway into the entire book of Psalms, stressing that those who would worship God genuinely must embrace his Law (or Torah), i.e., his covenant instruction. This psalm takes topics found in wisdom literature such as Proverbs and makes them the subject of song; the purpose is that those who sing the psalm will own its values—namely, they will want more and more to be people who love the Torah, who believe it, who see themselves as the heirs and stewards of its story of redemption and hope, and who seek to carry out its moral requirements. They can delight in the idea of being among the “righteous,” feeling that nothing can compare with such blessedness. By its sustained contrast, the psalm reminds readers that in the end there are really only two ways to live.

You can download the whole “Introduction to the Psalms” here.

My only complaint: I want the hardcover edition so that it will stand upright on my bible shelf (I have one shelf of a bookcase in my study dedicated to bibles), but the hardcover graphics and color-scheme is absolutely atrocious. I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet, because it really is bad. As inI can’t tolerate that being in my librarybad. My apologies to the graphic designer behind this, but I’m not sure what you were thinking on this one. Crossway is typically spot-on, but this was a mistake; bibles should look respectable, and this looks like the cover of a box of Halloween candy.

I mentioned earlier in this post that I’m often not a study bible fan, but here are three that I have greatly appreciated:

  1. Archaeological Study Bible, edited by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

By the way, those links are to publisher descriptions and information, and are not the least expensive place to buy those bibles.

John Locke on the Language of Paul’s Epistles

Google Books now has a copy of John Locke’s A Paraphrase & Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul (1853) up (it may have been there for a while, but I just recently noticed it–thanks to an interesting post about how Locke anticipates some of the New Perspective writers over at Dr. Mike Birds blog).

Something I found interesting, particularly given the timing of Locke’s writing were his comments on the Hebraic pre-text underlying the Greek language of the letters themselves.

The language wherein these epistles are writ is another, and that no small occasion of their obscurity to us now: the words are Greek; a language dead many ages since; a language of a very witty, volatile people, seekers after novelty, and abounding with variety of notions and sects, to which they applied the terms of their common tongue with great liberty and variety: and yet this makes but one small part of the difficulty in the language of these epistles; there is a peculiarity in it that much more obscures and perplexes the meaning of these writings than what can be occasioned by the looseness and variety of the Greek tongue. The terms are Greek, but the idiom, or tun of the phrases, may be truly said to be Hebrew or Syriac. The custom and familiarity of which tongues do sometimes so far influence the expressions in these epistles, that one may observe the force of the Hebrew conjugations, particularly that of Hiphil, given to Greek verbs, in a way unknown to the Grecians themselves. (p vi – Preface)

Given the prominence that the Hebraic Roots and New Perspective movement have given to the importance of recognizing and understanding Semitisms (semitic idioms) in the text, I found it fascinating to read John Locke’s comments. After all, whether a book was originally written in Greek or subsequently translated into Greek is sort of a moot issue. The point is that they were written, without exception (other than the possible exception of Dr. Luke) by Hebrew speakers, to whom the Hebrew language and the Hebraic mindset were native.

I wonder if Dr. Robert Lindsey ever read Locke’s book?

A Home Full of Books

I received an email today from Kehot Publication Society with an interesting comment.

The Rebbe (Menachem Schneerson) often spoke of the transformative power of books.  Not only can they ignite the spark inside you, they also can transform a home into a holy place.  This is why the Rebbe began the home full of books campaign.

… A home is defined not from the outside walls and the roof, but by the most important things inside it. Aside from those who live there, Books of Torah are the most vital items.

The Rebbe said that one such book impacts your entire environment.  Books in your home provide the opportunity for anyone in your home to find guidance in that book.  Your home is transformed from just another house to a shining source of wisdom, tranquility, and holiness.

I think we’ve got it covered in our home!

The Biblical Meal

The meal has an exalted meaning in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. It serves in equal measure and in the same manner both the stilling of hunger and the “building” of a society. The simple satisfaction of hunger would not be considered a meal in the Bible. One need only remember the shared meals of Jesus and his disciples, the last of which demonstrates this in a special way. The meal is not just an expression of a communion (Gemeinschaft), but engenders and preserves this commonality. The acceptance of a guest into the fellowship of the meal is therefore simultaneously the granting of participation in one’s own existence.[1]

[1] Westermann, Claus. Joseph: Studies of the Joseph Stories in Genesis. (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1996). 79

More on Logos

In my last post I talked a little about some of the resources available for Logos Software’s Libronix Digital Library (although there are far too many to even begin to touch the vast array of opportunities for bibliophiles like myself) and this time I would like to mention a couple ways that you can save money.

Because let’s just be honest, one of the things I like about electronic books is that they don’t come to my front door in Amazon.com boxes. Now I love opening a new box of books as much as the next guy, but I don’t like the heat coming from my wife every time the UPS guy rings our doorbell.

Ahem, enough about that. What I wanted to mention was the pre-publication program. This is one of those rare actual win-win scenarios. The way it works is this: when Logos is considering making another book available for the Libronix Digital Library they send out a message to all pre-pub subscribers announcing that if enough people are interested they will be producing such-and-such a book. At that point, you have the opportunity to place a pre-publication order for the book at a significantly reduced price. Once Logos gets enough people who say, “Yeah, I’d buy that.” they begin production with the costs essentially covered (or at least pledged). In the meantime, you got a book you wanted for a lot cheaper than you would have paid otherwise. I’ve procured a whole lot of books this way and spent a lot less money than I would otherwise.

Here’s something else to look out for. I’ve discovered that there quite a few books where you can buy the hard copy and the Libronix edition for one price. I purchased Introduction to the Hebrew Bible by John J. Collins, Theology of the Old Testament by Walter Brueggemann, and Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah by George Nickelsburg that way.

I also wanted to highlight a recent resource that may not be well known. I recently purchased the 5 volume series An Exposition On Prayer in the Bible by Dr. Jim Rosscup. It’s a bit hefty in price, but I have never encountered such a thorough treatise on the topic of prayer in Scripture.

And finally, I’m also happy to relay that Dr. Ben Witherington III recently reported in the comments on his blog that his socio-rhetorical commentaries from Eerdmans will soon be available for Libronix.

**Edit: I just noticed that Dr. Witherington’s commentaries are available for pre-publication order, which is just sublimely apropos to this post. So check them out here.

Why I Use Logos Software’s Libronix Digital Library

The Libronix Digital Library System from Logos Software, affectionately known as “Logos” to most users, is second to none in Bible Study software. Apologies to Accordance and Bibleworks users, but no one–and I mean no one–has the breadth of resources available to Logos users. Some Accordance users might gripe that they are Mac enthusiasts, but I’m writing this from my Macbook and the Logos Mac ver 1, Alpha 9 is open and running well as I write this. (Some of my newest purchases don’t work in it yet, but it’s an alpha; I’m confident that will be fixed by the time it hits beta.)

If I remember correctly, I was introduced to the Libronix Digital Library through my purchase of the New American Standard Electronic Bible Library and the Jewish New Testament Commentary on cd, both of which used the LDLS software.

I officially became a Logos customer on November 20, 2003. Something I only know because Logos kindly informs me of this fact at the top of the “My Account” page on their website (a site I’ve found incredibly user-friendly and helpful). My original order was $12.95 for Does Jacob’s Trouble Wear A Cross? by Randy Weiss. Then on April 13, 2004 I purchased Jewish Sects of the New Testament Era also by Weiss and The New Testament Milieu edited by A.B. DuToit. 

I was a huge e-Sword user at the time, and I didn’t really begin to use Logos for day-to-day bible study until they came out with the Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible (a resource I highly recommend). 

Here’s one thing you need to know about the Libronix Digital Library going into it, however. They offer these pretty hefty libraries that provide a ton of resources bundled for one price. Up front it seems like too large an investment, but I learned the hard way that you end up purchasing individual resources one or three at a time and it quickly adds up to much more than you would have spent by biting the bullet and purchasing whichever of the libraries makes the most sense for you.

I began with the Leader’s Library and just recently upgraded to the Scholar’s Library: Silver. But what really got me rolling was a little secret you need to know about: the Library Builder! I believe Bob Pritchett (the founder and President of Logos Software) started this with Library Builder Volumes 1-3 for Christmas 2006, but I jumped on the bandwagon with Volumes 4-6 around Christmas 2007. I don’t remember exactly how many books this gem of a purchase opportunity provided but just Volume 4 contained 121 books. Unfortunately, this resource was retired January 1, 2008, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t Library Builder: Vols 7-9 available for a short time near Christmas 2008.

Here’s some of my favorite purchases from Logos Software:

One of the things I like about Logos is that I can often find little known or hard to find resources like all 57 volumes that A.W. Tozer wrote or Moule’s The Epistle to the Romans. Moule was the former Bishop of Durham (a post now occupied by N.T. Wright) and his book on Romans is a classic published in 1928. You can buy it on Amazon for $12.99 or pay $2 more and get the searchable electronic edition from Logos.
There’s a lot more to tell you about Logos but I’ll save that for another post. Suffice it to say there are some great ways to save significant money!