Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Bible Project: Romans 1-4

Having trouble getting an understandable overview of the different books of the Bible, such as the Book of Romans? There is a team of Bible teachers and video animators at The Bible Project that are creating short, video narratives of each book of the Bible. The animation is very clear and engaging, and I can not think of better way to gain a general overview of the Bible, in short video segments of about five minutes each. The Bible Project is working on creating videos for each book of the Bible.  Have a look at what they are doing and join them if you want to help them out. Here is an overview of Romans 1-4.

The New NIV Zondervan Study Bible is Out!

Ever find yourself reading the Bible, and going, “Huh?” Having a little difficulty keeping your Moses, Malachi and Matthew straight? Do you scratch your head, trying to figure out the difference between the Gospel of John and the Letters of John?

What you need is a good study Bible. If so, you should consider the new NIV Zondervan Study Bible.

“Study bibles” have revolutionized the way Christians read and understand the Bible. Bible paraphrases, like Eugene Petersen’s The Message, are helpful for simply reading the Bible, to get an overview of the text. But it would be a mistake to use a paraphrase for in-depth, verse-by-verse  analysis of God’s Word. Thankfully, study Bibles have been developed to allow you to do just that… study the Bible!

Perhaps the first popular study Bible goes back to the Reformation period, with the Geneva Study Bible of the 16th century. What made the Geneva Study Bible such an early success were the explanatory notes found alongside the Biblical text that helped the reader to understand difficult passages.  But not everyone appreciated the type of “help” offered by such explanatory notes. As theologian Alister McGrath perceptively observed in his brilliant In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture, King James of England was so enraged over the anti-monarchy tone of the Geneva study notes that he pushed to have a major revision to the English Bible that would supersede the Geneva Study Bible. The “authorized” King James Version of the Bible was an unparalleled success that dominated the English world for almost 400 years… yet without study notes!

Bible scholarship has greatly improved over the past few hundred years. Today, the best successor to the tradition of the Geneva Study Bible is the The Reformation Study Bible, reviewed a few months ago here on Veracity. Moreover, there are a number of other excellent study Bibles that go beyond the approaches taken by earlier study Bibles. These newer study Bibles possess a more generous sense of scholarly breadth while maintaining an evangelical commitment to the truthfulness of God’s Word.

I am mostly not a fan of study Bibles that are basically written by just one person. If you are going to be spending most of your time reading and studying out of one Bible, why would you limit yourself to what one person says? Instead the better study Bibles today help give you information from a broad range of scholars, that you can use to allow you to be a better student of the Word, coming to your own conclusions, as you trust in the leading of the Holy Spirit. In addition, most of the newer, better study Bibles all have great maps, commentary to go along with the text, footnotes to textual variants, cross-references to other parts of the Bible, and helpful articles in theology, church history, and biblical literature to aid in your understanding, as well as providing you online access to Internet resources to further your study. But the great thing is that you do not have to be a Bible scholar nerd to benefit. Think of a good study Bible as a one-stop shop for serious Bible study for those who want to dig deep without getting in over their head.

My favorite study Bible is the English Standard Version Study Bible, partly because I tend to favor the English Standard Version of the Bible, but also because of the team of 90+ scholars who put together the notes, articles, and other resources that went into the study Bible are simply top notch, beating all other previous study Bibles.

But now the team that produced the NIV has come out with a new study Bible that could possibly eclipse the ESV Study Bible. What sets the NIV Zondervan Study Bible apart, aside from its 60+ all-star scholar team led by D. A. Carson, is its emphasis on “biblical theology,” which is basically a way of looking at the”‘unpacking of God’s story, book by book,” focusing more on the progressive history of revelation as opposed to the more systematic, thematic approach taken by the ESV Study Bible. You can get a feel for the new NIV Zondervan Study Bible by looking at this sample of articles and the text with commentary of Paul’s Letter to the Romans. For a short review, consider the following one from the Baptist Standard.

Devour the Word!!

A CAUTION IS IN ORDER: Study Bibles are great tools, but we should always remember that the notes, maps, etc. are not meant to substitute for the Scriptural text itself. If you remember that the tools are simply there to aid and assist in your understanding of God’s Word, then you will be able to maintain a healthy perspective when studying the Bible.

Your Desire Shall Be For Your Husband

Katharine Bushnell (1855-1946). Missionary to China and activist for women's equality, spent a lot time studying the original Hebrew meaning of Genesis 3:16 (photo credit: Boston University)

Katharine Bushnell (1855-1946). Missionary to China and activist for women’s equality. Bushnell spent a lot time studying the original Hebrew meaning of Genesis 3:16 (photo credit: Boston University)

To the woman he [God] said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
    in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
    and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16 ESV)

The beauty and simplicity of the early chapters of Genesis ironically leads to a pitfall when reading these chapters. The story of Adam and Eve is very terse and yet captivating. The details are sparse, but the narrative is engaging, as well as being foundational to Christian theology and practice. The story invites the reader to explore the imagination, going deeper in trying to figure out what it all means. But sometimes, the imagination can take you far away from the text itself, and thereby importing an alien sense of meaning that does not belong there.

For years, I have wrestled with the meaning of the curse given to Eve in Genesis 3:16, subsequent to the Fall. In contemporary Western culture, where concerns about women’s rights flourish, many readers bristle over the idea that Eve might somehow be the one to blame for the Fall of Humanity. After all, she interacted with the serpent and then offered the forbidden fruit to Adam. Does Genesis teach that Eve was truly at fault?

More specifically, by asserting herself so forwardly in her dialogue with the serpent, was she subverting her role as a supportive helpmate to Adam? If one reads the Apostle Paul in one of his letters to Timothy,  you might get the idea that Paul really believes that it was all Eve’s fault (1 Timothy 2:13-15).

But even when reading Paul, such a neat conclusion is not so simple. In fact, such a conclusion would be wrong. In his most profound work of theology in his letter to the Romans, Paul squarely places the responsibility for the Fall on Adam’s shoulders (Romans 5:12-17). Eve is not even mentioned.

So, perhaps the wisest conclusion to make is that both Adam and Eve share in the downfall of humanity, though in different ways. You can not pin it all on Eve.

But then there is the whole matter of the curse placed on Eve, specifically, that “your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” What is that all about?

This past summer, our church held a Summer Bible Study on Genesis 1-11, and this very question came up. Here is a TableTalk session where Tommy Vereb, our worship leader, poses the question to our lead pastor, Travis Simone:

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