Wednesday, January 31, 2007

a wide margin TNIV

" As I stated in the update on the previous entry, I now feel that the comments made by a Zondervan rep to Peter Humphris about an IBS published wide margin TNIV were either incorrect (on the Zondervan rep's part) or in reference to the Encountering Jesus New Testament. As it stands right now, neither Zondervan nor IBS have any definite plans for a a wide margin TNIV any time soon. "

Rick Mansfield clarifies his earlier comments.

DA Carson on Understanding Culture

Lately, I've been mulling over a theory that a lot of our struggles as the professing church with understanding a Scriptural approach to homosexuality, women's role in church, slavery, etc. toggles on our understanding of how to mutually read Scripture and Culture. The latter would involve two dimensions - culture in the original context and culture today.

Colin Adams posts an excerpt from a DA Carson contribution to When God's Voice is Heard where he details some of what he does to understanding current culture.

ht: Justin Taylor

Anyone have any book or article recommendations they'd like to make in comments about this general topic?


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

the "in the foxhole" series

I've added a link to a metapost for the "in the foxhole" series under "blarticles" in the sidebar. This collection of posts is a series I put up in February and March of 2005 as I was going through a very difficult period. During that time I was digging very deep to pull out whatever I could to help me get through it. The posts include:

Part 1 - Strength before Strength

Part 2 - Pain as Teacher

Part 3 - Waiting

Part 4 - Strength in Christ

Part 5 - Learned Optimism

Part 6 - Abide in the Vine

Part 7 - Practising His Presence

Part 8 - Avoiding a Monomaniacal Focus

Part 9 - Maintaining a Theocentric Mindset

Part 10 - Abide in the Vine Redux and Back to Theology

Some of these posts are kind of raw and not highly polished. I probably need to go back and shine them up, but perhaps they may be of some use to some.

Part 5 on Learned Optimism gets a lot of hits from folks doing searches on that topic and Martin Seligman and it's a post I go back to a lot. I also frequently review the outline in Part 6 - Abide in the Vine, which is a brief writeup of a study I did some time ago on the koine greek word translated "abide" or "remain" in the Johannine literature of the New Testament.

on the new blogger interface that's now out of beta

I changed my template yet again because I wanted to take advantage of blogger's new features now that they are out of beta. blogger kept posting a "hey, why don't you upgrade" to my dashboard some time ago, but every time I tried to upgrade I received a message that emergesque was too large to update. But I kept trying from time to time.

Well, the last time I tried it worked. But I couldn't fully use all the new features until I changed my template. And so I selected a blogger-issued template and upgraded fully.

I really like it!

They've simplified adding new elements to your template so that you don't need to know quite as much about html as used to be necessary. For example, I use bloglines to manage my blogroll. And so to add my blogroll, in my dashboard I simply clicked "Add Page Element" in the right sidebar, selected the html option, and then cut and pasted the code for my blogroll that bloglines supplied me, and clicked save. Then I have the option to click and drag the elements on my sidebar to place them in the order in which I wish for them to appear.

And there seem to be other advantages. I did have a problem with the "Add New Page Element" button disappearing in Firefox, but I just switched to IE7 and it reappeared.

And from what I'm gathering, it's far easier to switch templates now, though I'm going to do my best and try to keep this one for a while rather than subjecting emergesque readers to the constant flux of styles I've been causing them to suffer through the last few weeks.

So far, so good.

Monday, January 29, 2007

a tniv wide margin bible?

rick mansfield thinks there may be one available by the end of the year.

kudos to jamie arpin-ricci...

...for his courageous post and convictions on homosexuality.

I mentioned in comments that I particularly appreciated jamie's word about the need for grace in this area and his conviction that homosexual behavior is inconsistent with Christian conviction. I realize that these comments may seem counter-cultural to the ec ethos for some, but it has been my concern that some in the ec have been moving in directions on this issue that are spiritually dangerous. We must let the Scriptures be our "norming norm" in this area, yet, it is not enough to simply declare that it is sin.

Ben Witherington on Accounts of Hearing God's Voice

"One night, late one night, I was walking across the quad mulling my life over when I heard a voice. Now at first I thought it was a friend shouting across the quad at me-- the voice kept saying "Ben, Ben". I looked everywhere, and there was absolutely no one around. I do mean no one. No human soul was there at that hour in the wee hours of the morning but me. This experience was unsettling. I was not expecting it, it literally came out of the blue. I wasn't in a time of prayer or anything like that. My memory is I was heading out to go get one of my favorite North Carolina doughnuts--- Krispy Kreme, which originated in Winston Salem. That's my story and I'm stickin to it--- I went looking for a doughnut and found God."

- Dr. Witherington's full post and be sure to read the comments

Sunday, January 28, 2007

a great resource for writers: grammar girl

If you're a writer, did you know that grammarians today affirm

  • that you can end sentences with prepositions?

  • that you can happily split infinitives?

  • that it's generally *incorrect* to say "I feel badly"?

  • that you can begin sentences with "but" or "and"?
(Actually, this last one I learned back in August after consulting the Chicago Manual of Style (which is now online, btw). But while grammarians today almost uniformly approve of beginning sentences with conjunctions, some editors still do not prefer it. )

Maybe you knew all of these things, but most of them I only learned yesterday while listening to the grammar girl podcast.

Sometime before July 2006, CNN reports, one Mignon Fogarty got the idea to start a podcast on grammar:

"I was sitting in a coffee shop one day in Santa Cruz, California, on vacation and editing technical documents, because I work on vacation, and found so many grammar errors and it just hit me that grammar was something that I had expertise in that would lend itself to a short tip-based podcast," she said.
It's called grammar girl and CNN Reports it has at times reached #2 on iTunes and since July 2006 it's been downloaded 1.3 million times.

grammar girl knows her stuff, is almost invariably interesting, funny, and very informative.

ht: scot mcknight

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Have we gotten too sophisticated?

I've complained a bit in the past because I fear that in our reaction to something or another we in the emerging church don't think about or talk about or - most significantly - do as much as we should about sin (including our own - I include myself in this charge). And it bothers me that even writing that sentence makes me feel counter cultural to the emerging church ethos.

"Sin" appears 426 times in the Bible in Today's New International Version (TNIV). The word appears 106 times in the New Testament and 21 times in the Gospels, with Jesus using the word in all but three occurrences. [I did just notice on Bible Gateway that they apparently include Headers in the count, so fyi.]

Here are some incidences of Jesus' use of the term:

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.

Matthew 13:41 (all citations are TNIV)

Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

John 8:11b

Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

John 8:34

My thoughts were prompted in this direction this morning when I was reading Benjamin Magness. He posted an excerpt from Richard Baxter's 17th century classic The Reformed Pastor (avail online in a variety of formats here) which I'll also post below:

Take heed to yourselves, lest you be void of that saving grace of God which you offer to others, and be strangers to the effectual working of that gospel which you preach; and lest, while you proclaim to the world the neccesity of a Saviour, your own hearts should neglect him…

Take heed to yourselves, lest your example contradict your doctrine…

Take heed to yourselves, lest you cry down sin, and yet do not overcome it; lest while you seek to bring it down in others, you bow to it, and become its slaves yourselves… Oh brethren! It is easier to chide at sin, than to overcome it…

O, therefore, brethren, lose no time! Study, and pray, and confer, and practice; for in these four ways your abilities must be increased. Take heed to yourselves, lest you are weak through your own negligence, and lest you mar the work of God by your weakness…

Take heed to yourselves, for you have a heaven to win or lose, and souls that must be happy or miserable for ever; and therefore it concerneth you to begin at home, and to take heed to yourselves as well as to others…

Take heed to yourselves, for you have a depraved nature, and sinful inclinations, as well as others…sin dwelleth in us, when we have preached ever so much against it…

Take heed yourselves, because the tempter will more ply you with his temptations than other men. If you will be the leaders against the prince of darkness, he will spare you no further than God restraineth him…

Take heed, therefore, brethren, for the enemy hath a special eye upon you. You shall have his most subtle insinuations, and incessant solicitations, and violent assaults. As wise and learned as you are, take heed to yourselves, lest he outwit you…

Take heed to yourselves, because there are many eyes upon you, and there will be many to observe your falls…

Take heed to yourselves, for your sins have more heinous aggravations than other men’s…

Take heed to yourselves, because such great works as ours require greater grace than other men’s…

Take heed to yourselves, for the honour of your Lord and Master, and of his holy truth and ways, doth lie more on you than on other men…

O take heed, brethren, of every word you speak, and of every step you tread, for you bear the ark of the Lord,-you are entrusted with his honour!
Of course, there is more to our kingdom life than obsessing with sin. But our kingdom life is something less than it should be if we don't think about sin. The first use of the word "sin" is by God Himself:

"If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it."

Genesis 4:7

This post contains a link to Wikipedia, an open source online encyclopedia. Its articles can be edited by anyone at any time. For this reason, finding a link to a wikipedia article on emergesque indicates that at the time the link was added, the article as it existed at that time was considered worthy of review or reference. However, because wikipedia articles are dynamic, care should be taken to verify information found in its articles.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ben Witherington and Fox News

"And herein lies one of the big problems in conservative Christianity. Evangelicals are not encouraged to think for themselves, not encouraged to do critical thinking, not encouraged to be open minded in the good sense of that phrase. They have too often been taught to blindly accept what they are told. This of course becomes dangerous when it is applied to watching the news and we are dealing with vital life and death matters and some aspects of politics. Of course it is true as my granny used to say that "we should not be so open minded that our brains fall out". Christians should be leading the search for the truth. Christians should be committed to finding out the truth, however uncomfortable and however much it makes us adjust our political or even religious views. The question is can we handle the truth?"

- Ben Witherington posts a fascinating comparison of his experience being interviewed by various networks, including Fox's O'Reilly show.

God and Science Fiction

I was reading the Dallas Morning News' Religion Blog where Jeffrey Weiss commented that he found Evangelical Theological Society President Francis J Beckwith's comparison of the National Association of Evangelicals with Star Trek's United Federation of Planets humorous. (Beckwith's comment is found in Cathy Lynn Grossman's recent article on Evangelicalism in USA TODAY.)

Weiss thought Beckwith's comment was funny because the original Star Trek world was particularly religion-free. Similarly, as I recall from reading Isaac Asimov's wonderful Foundation novels, religion was presented as something only practiced by the uneducated.

The vast majority of the books I read and like are non-fiction. But every now and then I'll find some fiction author I like and tear through many or all of their books. Some years ago, I discovered that practically everyone I knew was reading Orson Scott Card and his Enders series. I began reading them and they were so good I was reading them at stoplights. One of the features of his books that I really appreciated was that religion was not depreciated.

We had Tivo'd Battlestar Galactica's Season Premiere and Tuesday night I was watching it. (For those of you who don't know the series, it's not to be compared to the campy 70's series. It's more sophisticated and darker.) One of the interesting features of the series is that the humans are polytheists but the Cylons are theists. And religion is not only treated respectfully, but is a central feature of the show's story arc.

I can't say that I've read widely enough in this genre to know if this apparent increased religiosity is just a happenstance of my own exposure to sci-fi, or if it's definitely a trend. Either way, I find this treatment of religion interesting in what many would call a secular age.

I do think that it's an evidence of man's hunger for God.

If you're a sci-fi fan, have you noticed the same? Other thoughts?

photo from the hubblesite gallery

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Who is Evangelical?

A few days ago, George Barna published online a recent survey his group did with the title "Survey Explores Who Qualifies As an Evangelical."

Yesterday, USA TODAY ran a story - Evangelical: Can the 'E-Word' Be Saved?

The Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals defines the term here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owens

In a wonderful gift to the church, Crossway has decided to provide free online access (pdf) to the recently released edition of Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owens and edited by Justin Taylor and Kelly M Kapic. I have begun reading this volume and it's marvelous. Moreover, Taylor and Kapic have really served us by transforming text like:

"The fame might alfo be fhewed concerning the reft of thofe Churches...."

into the far more readable

"The same also might be showed concerning the rest of those churches...."

Additionally, in their own words, they have

  • written an introduction to Owen's life and theology
  • provided overviews of the thesis and arguments for all three books
  • footnoted difficult vocabulary words or phrases and collected them into a glossary
  • Americanized the British spelling (e.g., behaviour to behavior)
  • updated archaic pronouns (e.g., thou to you)
  • updated archaic verbs (e.g., hath to have)
  • updated archaic verb endings (e.g., requireth to requires)
  • updated some archaic word forms (e.g., concernments to concerns, surprisals to surprises)
  • modernized some of the punctuation
  • placed Scripture references in parentheses
  • added Scripture references in brackets when Owen quotes or alludes to a passage but does not provide a reference
  • transliterated all Hebrew and Greek words, moving the original font to a footnote and providing a translation if Owen didn’t provide one
  • translated all Latin phrases that Owen leaves untranslated
  • provided sources for quotations and allusions where possible
  • removed Owen’s intricate numbering system which functioned as an extensive outline
  • added headings, italics, and extensive outlines to aid the reader in following the flow of Owen’s thought
Highly recommended.

ht: Justin Taylor

Amy Posts More Pics from The A-Team Blog's 24 Encounter


Monday, January 22, 2007

24 Alert: Amy K Hall meets "Abu Fayed"!

Amy's latest claim to fame!

Be sure to see comments.

al mohler reflects on his recent medical crisis

"We really are made of dust. We are weak and vulnerable creatures who remain dependent from the moment we are born until the moment we die. We are made of frail stuff -- skin and bones and organs and tissues. A decade ago I was seriously threatened by a microscopic entity -- the flesh-eating bacterium. Necrotizing Fasciitis is a horrible and deadly disease, but God was merciful in allowing me to escape after five days in the hospital. I have never seen Streptococcus pyogenes (not even through a microscope), but it came with intent to kill. We can be turned back to dust by microscopic enemies -- and yet we feel ourselves to be so strong and self-sufficient. Until, that is, we find we are not.

Just before the crisis hit, I felt great. We had big plans for Christmas and some calm days after the celebration. All that was changed in a matter of hours. I went from strong to hopelessly weak. I went from being in command of my world to being unable to care for myself in a matter of hours. I had no expertise that could help; no medical knowledge that mattered. I was in the immediate hands of the surgeon and the medical staff. I had no control."

- mohler's full post

joy of joys for writers!

I just discovered that the Chicago Manual of Style is online!

It's searchable and you can try it for free for 30 days. Some features are free. If you subscribe, it's $25 a year.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

not quite the gift of the magi

I was going through our Christmas photos preparing them for upload to flickr and came across this shot of Beth and I just after we had given each other The Bible Experience for Christmas. We weren't aware that we had purchased each other the same thing! We are both very much enjoying this audio Bible and I've been thoroughly enjoying my Reading Through the Bible in One Year program in the TNIV Study Bible.

Barack Obama on whether he is an evangelical or not

""There are aspects of Christian tradition that I'm comfortable with and aspects that I'm not. There are passages of the Bible that make perfect sense to me and others that I go, 'Ya know, I'm not sure about that,'" he said, shrugging and stammering slightly.

It would have been easier for the senator-cum-president to answer, simply, "Yes," to the evangelical question.

But for Obama, as for many of us, faith is complicated, messy, a work in progress.

And, if we're honest about it, the standard labels just don't fit."

- Cathleen Falsani asks Sen. Obama the question and his full answer

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Is the TNIV More Literal than the NASB?

Rick Mansfield says that *sometimes* it is and gives examples. His post precipitated some approving comments by Wayne Leman on the Better Bibles Blog.

Friday, January 19, 2007

hamo says goodbye

"It’s been an interesting start to the year and I have been sensing some changes afoot in the Hamo household, particularly in my own life.

One of those changes is that I am going to be giving up blogging for at least two years if not permanently. It’s a long and somewhat personal story that doesn’t really belong online, but over the last few days I have become increasingly convinced that this is something I need to do."

- the full post from andrew hamilton

andrew jones gives a tribune with a summary of hamo's greatest hits.

Five Streams of the Emerging Church

Christianity Today has published a fine article by Scot McKnight that lays out the emerging church. Among other helpful features, Scot helpfully maintains and explains the distinction between emergent and the emerging church which is often confused. The article is adapted from a talk that Scot gave at Westminster Theological Seminary at their Emerging Church Forum.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bob Hyatt in the NY Times

What else needs to be said?

Bob, now you're huge.


Rex Miller and Carl Raschke

"I expressed my interest and burden for the tent-makers of this world. Business people, moms - ordinary folk - who are spiritually mature, passionate about the Kingdom but discouragingly underutilized in their churches. I find this same story common as I travel and speak. The established church is boxed in by its own inertia traditional thinking.

So - we said - let's find a place and a time in April, set aside a half-day and invite any and all tentmakers we know who feel they have more to offer but are having a hard time finding traction in their church or need help in fashioning a true tentmaking ministry.

So - stay tuned and let me know if you are interested."

- my good friend Rex Miller, who wrote The Millennium Matrix and blogs here, met Carl Raschke, who is the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Denver and wrote The Next Reformation: Why Evangelicals Must Embrace Postmodernity, this past Monday. Rex blogs about it here.

If you have an interest in the April gathering Rex mentions, shoot him a note.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Interview with the Exec Producer of "The Bible Experience"

" The people that showed up-Denzel Washington, Bishop T. D. Jakes, Samuel L. Jackson, Cuba Gooding, Angela Bassett, Blair Underwood (who is phenomenal as the voice of Jesus in this project)-they all showed up not because of just who they are. They took that all out. The ego was put at the door, and they showed up because of whose they are. They represent Christ, and they knew they needed to do anything that they could to help the people today that are not engaged in the Bible to get the word of God."

- Catalyst interviews Louis "Buster" Brown.

Monday, January 15, 2007

24 alert

they finally posted Sunday night's 2 episodes of 24 on itunes.

24 Season 6 Premiere DVD to be released

If you missed it last night or your DVR malfunctioned (as mine did), looks like tomorrow you can buy the 1st 4 episodes running last night and tonight here. Or you can read the episode summaries here.

The 10 Most Legitimately Influential Blogs for the Church in North America

Which ones would be on your list? Included in my list would be

Professing Christians Do Seem to Divorce Less

Toad Rhodes:

"Why do so many people believe otherwise? It appears to stem from the work of George Barna. In well-publicized studies, he has compared divorce rates of “born again” Christians against non-Christians, and he finds little difference. Here’s the catch: his type of analysis labels as “non-Christian” many mainline Protestants, such as Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Episcopalians, and most Catholics. As such, he is comparing Christians against Christians. Ron Sider has publicized Barna’s statistics in his award winning Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience" [links mine].

- the entire article

Sunday, January 14, 2007


In the most recent edition of the Mars Hill Audio Journal, which we had earlier recommended here, Ken Myers interviews Paul Walker, an associate professor of early music at the University of Virginia and the Director of Zephyrus. The group, according to their site is "a non-profit vocal ensemble based in Charlottesville, Virginia, and dedicated to the performance of music from the medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque eras" [links mine].

During the interview, Walker explained how music from the Renaissance period did not come with some of the dynamic notations that we see from the Classical period. Rather, performers took such cues directly from the text. Walker implies performers today, as a result of the development of such notations after the Renaissance, might sometimes be inordinately focused on volume by calls for mezzo-piano or fortissimo, rather than focusing on the character of sound needed to accurately portray the text.

Myers plays excerpts of Zephyrus performance of Josquin des Prez' Praeter rerum seriem from their album Nativity.

The translation of the Latin is

This is no normal scheme of things:
God and man is born of a virgin mother.
She has known no man;
the child's origin is unknown to the father.

By the Holy Spirit's power
this heavenly work has been brought about.
The beginning and end of your giving birth
who can really know?

By God's grace, which orders all things so smoothly,
your childbearing confronts us with a mystery.
Hail, Mother.

(translation by Mick Swithinbank found here)

In the interview Walker explains how this piece both mirrors and portrays this text with a unique musical beginning which he interprets as intentionally crafted to disorient the listener with the astonishing fact of the Divine Incarnation.

I was quite moved by the piece and appreciated his insight, the music, and Zephyrus performance. I downloaded one of their albums and have been enjoying it.

For more on Early Music, see the Early Music FAQ - "The web's largest reference for European Medieval and Renaissance music...."

You can preview and/or purchase Zephyrus album Angelus on Magnatune. It is available both in CD and in a number of downloadable formats.

Zephyrus other works - including Nativity which has the piece above - are listed here and can be purchased directly from the Director @

Paul Walker
101 Amherst Commons
Charlottesville, VA 22903

Zephyrus site advises:

"CDs are $15.00 each plus shipping and handling. Add $3.00 for one CD and $2.00 for each additional CD in the same order."

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Bible Maps on Google

The folks at the esv blog let us know that the

" integrates Google Maps and the ESV text to create an interactive Bible atlas.

You browse to a chapter in the Bible, and all the place names are links. Click one of the names to go that place on the map. Then click the pushpin to show some background information on the place."

Friday, January 12, 2007

Tremper Longman III Recommended Old Testament Resources

Tremper Longman III is Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA. For many years, I've referenced his Old Testament Commentary Survey, when considering the purchase of commentaries for specific OT books. (DA Carson has a companion volume for the NT.)

Now, Westminster Theological Seminary's Westminster Bookstore has put up a page featuring Dr. Longman's recommendations on specific Old Testament study resources, including commentaries.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I Got Tagged! 5 Newly Declassified Info Items about Me

One of our best friends, Flip Medley, tagged me:

  1. I once sang for the Queen of England.

  2. When I was in Jr. High School, I played the State Chess Champion to a Draw, but she was awarded the win on position.

  3. When I was in High School, I played in bands called Brain Damage and Hieronymus Bosch.

  4. I joined a bowling league when I was in seminary so that at least once a week I would be with just normal folks. After seminary, I worked two years as a spot welder at Chore-Time.

  5. After I took my very first college test at Virginia Tech, I checked my score on the loooong sheet of paper posted at my professor's door. I was thrilled to discover I had made an A!

    For some strange reason, though, my percentage was pretty low. When I compared notes with classmates, they had lower grades with comparable or higher percentages. I revisited my professor's door and discovered that I was in *Section A*.

    I had made a D on the test. I had to re-call my mom.
I now tag

Digging Deeper into the Science and Art of Bible Translating

As I've mentioned, experiencing The Bible Experience in Today's New International Version (TNIV) over the Christmas holiday prompted me to take a fresh look at translation theory.

Perhaps because my undergrad degree was in Classical Greek, I've tended to prefer the more literal translations such as the New American Standard Bible and, nowadays, the English Standard Version. One reason was that with these translations it was easier for me to discern the underlying greek without having to look it up.

But after listening to The Bible Experience and being blown away by it, I then decided to purchase a copy of Today's New International Version. Then my wife gave me this TNIV Study Bible for Christmas.

I decided, maybe for the first time, to read the Bible through in a year and to do it using my new Bible. I have been thoroughly enjoying this.

And since decided to read through the Bible chronologically (well mostly - I'm reading Old and New Testaments simultaneously and am still reading a Psalm a day and a chapter of Proverbs a day. I'm also not harmonizing the Gospels), I've been reading through the book of Job even before I get out of Genesis. I finished the book last night.

I have never in my life enjoyed reading the book of Job so much. I'll be blogging about it soon, but I had never before appreciated how theologically sophisticated this particular book of the Bible really is. And my feeling has been that my deeper appreciation derives from the fact that I'm reading it in a more dynamically equivalent text I'm getting a better understanding of it.

But I realize that this *feeling* is not necessarily evidence of a superior - or even an adequate - translation. And so I've been revisiting the dynamic versus formal equivalence discussion. I've been building out a section on this topic on and just ordered

My intuition is that I'm going to come on the other side of this believing that both approaches are legitimate depending on the circumstances and reading intention. But my mind is open.

If you are aware of other good books on this topic or - especially - other great articles on either approach that I've not already located, please let me know in comments.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Rick Mansfield on English Standard Version Triumphalism

"My contention is not with the ESV. But I do have great problems with the inaccurate rhetoric that I often hear from proponents and endorsers of this translation. I have favorite translations, and I have written about a number of them on this blog. While I talk of their qualities that I like and appropriate uses for them, I go out of my way to try to do so without needlessly putting down other versions of the Bible. I've probably been harder on the ESV on this blog than on any translation, but usually it's been in a context of addressing the audacious and often fallacious claims made for it by ESV supporters. This idea that literalness equals greater accuracy or literalness equals greater faithfulness to the original text is pure nonsense if the rendering is so literal that the author's intent and meaning is unintelligible to readers and hearers. Antiquated vocabulary and sentence structure do not give a translation greater authority--it merely limits readership in an contemporary setting.

The New Testament was written in Koiné Greek--the common trade language of the day--a language accessible by the masses. If a Bible version uses renderings that are not understandable to the masses, renderings that sound like they were written in any previous generation or written in some highly exalted form--regardless of how literally accurate--then that translation is not in keeping with the spirit or the manner in which the New Testament was written" [links mine]

-Southern Baptist Theological Seminary doctoral candidate Rick Mansfield comments on Mark Driscoll's paper on why Mars Hill Church decided to begin using the English Standard Version.

Help in Finding the Right Bible

The folks at the English Standard Version announce:

"No one’s completely solved the information-architecture problem of how best to guide people to the best Bibles for them.’s EasyFind Bible Search Engine does a lot of things right: you can refine your browsing with many criteria, including cover color, binding, cross-references, and text size. This interface helps you if you have a good idea of what you’re looking for."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Mars Hill Switches to the English Standard Version - Some Concerns Expressed

"January 2007 marks a significant change at Mars Hill Church. Since our inception as a small Bible study in 1996, all of the preaching and teaching has been done from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. The NIV was first published in 1978 and has become the most widely read English translation of the Bible, accounting for roughly 30 percent of all Bible sales. Over the years, God has used the NIV greatly in my life, beginning with my conversion in 1990. I praise God for the translation and my friends at Zondervan for publishing it along with numerous study aids and study Bibles.

However, the elders at Mars Hill Church have decided that we should transition from the NIV to the English Standard Version (ESV) as our primary pulpit translation. Some people may have questions about why this shift was made. This paper is my pastoral attempt to give a brief overview of the theological and practical issues associated with translations in general and the ESV in particular" [links mine].

Mark Driscoll details in this essay why, beginning in 2007, Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA is switching to the ESV.

Some had concern with Mark's argumentation.

"Some people are going to think I’m being unfair, but stripped of all the extra verbage, Pastor Mark Driscoll’s argument is, in fact, no more sophisticated than the KJV Only argument on this point.


I would not even respond to a church’s choice of translation if they presented it as just their choice based on preference. You can use what you wish based on your taste, and if it works for you and communicates the message adequately, then blessings on you! Go, read, do! But if you base your choice on failed linguistic arguments, and present it as somehow a choice that is closer to the pure gospel than others, then it’s time to respond."

Henry Neufeld responds with The Impossibility of Verbal Plenary Translation.

I'm a fan of the ESV, the NIV, and the TNIV and, frankly, after many years favoring more literal translations, I'm revisiting the dynamic equivalence/formal equivalence debate, while also looking into the subtopic of "gender-accurate" translation. I've been building out a section of on Bible Translations as I do so.

Monday, January 08, 2007

"Why We Left the Episcopal Church"

"The core issue for us is theological: the intellectual integrity of faith in the modern world. It is thus a matter of faithfulness to the lordship of Jesus, whom we worship and follow. The American Episcopal Church no longer believes the historic, orthodox Christian faith common to all believers. Some leaders expressly deny the central articles of the faith -- saying that traditional theism is "dead," the incarnation is "nonsense," the resurrection of Jesus is a fiction, the understanding of the cross is "a barbarous idea," the Bible is "pure propaganda" and so on. Others simply say the creed as poetry or with their fingers crossed.

It would be easy to parody the "Alice in Wonderland" surrealism of Episcopal leaders openly denying what their faith once believed, celebrating what Christians have gone to the stake to resist -- and still staying on as leaders. But this is a serious matter."

- the full Washington Post piece by the Rev. John Yates and Os Guinness of The Falls Church which recently left the Episcopal Church with 6 other churches in Northern VA.

ht: Justin Taylor

Recommendation: Mars Hill Audio Journal

Ken Myers worked at National Public Radio where he served as their Arts and Humanities Editor for Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

In 1992, Ken decided to create an NPResque resource for Christians - the Mars Hill Audio Journal - choosing to publish a by-subscription audio journal on cassette tapes. I've been an intermittent subscriber for years.

On the 10th anniversary of the Journal, historian and author D. G. Hart made remarks at a Virginia dinner in honor of Ken Myers.

He said,

"When I think about Ken’s work, then, both personally and historically, I come away impressed by and grateful for his achievement. Before Ken I only had [Francis] Schaeffer to guide me. Now thanks to Ken, the work of Mars Hill, and our conversations, I have not simply Ken and the tapes but Leon Kass, Wendell Berry, Richard Neuhaus, Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert Meilaender and others to lean on for insight and wisdom. But Ken’s work has been important not only for me and my appreciation of the world around me. It has also functioned as a breakthrough in Reformed circles (whether Ken acknowledges it or not). He has figured out a way around the somewhat stale and Neo-Calvinist categories of antithesis and common grace. In their place he has recovered the paleo-Protestant teachings of creation, providence and redemption. I know Ken is sometimes frustrated that more people, even listeners, don’t seem to get it. But it has only been ten years of Mars Hill Audio and only fifteen since the publication of All God’s Children. And Ken knows it takes a while for seeds planted in cultivated soil to bear good fruit" [links mine].

The full text of that talk can be found here.

The breadth and depth of MHA's work can be seen by a quick overview of their backissue catalog.

Ken doesn't just react against culture as a threat - as might many evangelicals (though Hart denies Ken's an evangelical) - but explores it with a confidence that stems from his conviction that all that is good in culture comes from the God that stands above all societies. Ken's questions and choice of interlocutors allow us to share his journey as he seeks for God's common grace wherever it might be found.

The declining cost of information has made this wonderful resource more easily accessible. Beginning with Vol. 76 in the fall of 2005, individual issues are now available as MP3 downloads and the bi-monthly journal can also be subscribed to inexpensively via MP3 downloads. Morover, backissue sets of an entire year of MHA can be purchased on MP3 CD for only $33 back to 2002. One can only hope that they'll be transferring past years to MP3 as time goes by.

Highly Recommended.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Keeping up with News in the Christian Community

One of the best ways to do this is to add Ted Olsen's Christianity Today Weblog to your blog aggregator. Ted does a fantastic job of accumulating links regarding the latest news for the US Christian community. You probably will not have enough time to read everything he pulls together, but he provides a helpful menu from which you can select how to drill down on a specific story.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Al Mohler's Condition Has Deteriorated


Dr. Mohler's health has sustained a setback. Over the past 36 hours Dr. Mohler has suffered from unrelenting pain. This unusual degree of pain signaled concern for the attending physicians and prompted additional tests this afternoon. In the past hour these tests have revealed that Dr. Mohler is suffering from pulmonary emboli in both lungs. His condition is quite serious and he has been moved to the intensive care unit of Baptist East Hospital in Louisville, KY for immediate treatment."

Please pray for Dr. Mohler.

From his website

ht: Steve McCoy

The Cost of Information Just Got Lower

"By the end of this year, the contents of all 1,800 courses taught at one of the world's most prestigious universities will be available online to anyone in the world, anywhere in the world. Learners won't have to register for the classes, and everyone is accepted.

The cost? It's all free of charge.

The OpenCourseWare movement, begun at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2002 and now spread to some 120 other universities worldwide, aims to disperse knowledge far beyond the ivy-clad walls of elite campuses to anyone who has an Internet connection and a desire to learn" (links mine).

- the full Christian Science Monitor article

Darrell Bock on Recent CNN and ABC Jesus and Christianity Specials

Darrell Bock, Professor of Spiritual Development and Culture at Dallas Theological Seminary, who wrote what I consider to be the finest treatment of Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code, shares his thoughts on these recent specials.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Fred Peatross...

...has moved his blog to this location.

Fred was a long-time participant in the faithmaps discussion group when that was active and combines a care for and sensibility to emerging church concerns *and* evangelism.

Fred serves as one of the editors of New Wineskins.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Scot McKnight on Handling Conflict

"A major challenge for Christian bloggers in 2007: Learning how to converse without resorting to ridicule, labelling, and threats. No one does this well all the time, but (unless you are talking to a friend who knows you well enough to take your strong pushbacks) the most conversational method of responding to something you really take offense at is to ask a reasonable question — and not a sarcastic one and not one designed to lead the person to a point where you can pounce on them. A good question can reduce tension dramatically. It also shows respect to the other person. I’m appalled at the watch blogs — not always at the logic but instead at the acidic tone and delight in damnation."

Lesson #4 of 12 that Scot McKnight learned this year

Monday, January 01, 2007's new Bible Store...

...has been launched and has some deeper discounts today than I've seen elsewhere.