On this edition of “Exegetically Speaking,” Mark Lanier, lawyer and founder of the Lanier Theological Library, describes the history and mission of the library he and his wife, Becky, started in 2010. It is an amazing resource tucked away in northwest Houston. Take a look at their website: https://www.laniertheologicallibrary.org/ Four to five times a year they host lectures featuring top scholars in Scripture, archaeology, and theology. There is a great library of past lectures available featuring scholars such as N. T. Wright, Lynn Cohick, Larry Hurtado, Richard Bauckham, Andrew MacIntosh, John Piper, just to mention a few. Listen. All it takes is seven minutes!
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When I was a boy in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School at Valley Brook Baptist Church, I was taught that the Old Testament had five sections: Law, Historical Books, Poetry, Major Prophets, Minor Prophets. That’s a good way of dividing up the 39 books. I can’t recall what my 8 year old mind went to when I thought about “Law,” but it probably had something to do with rules and regulations. I accepted those five sections then and still do; but when I look into the meaning of the word “Torah,” the Hebrew word for the first five books, I realized that “Torah” doesn’t mean “law.” It means something more like “teaching.” Consider Genesis, which contains story after story of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob. There is little in the way of “law” here but plenty regarding how to understand what God was doing in the world. He was establishing a people who would one day, through the Messiah, reverse the curse of Genesis 3 and establish a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). Any Jew who knows Hebrew can tell you that “Torah” means instruction or teaching. Well, I don’t want to believe piously what is not true so I began a long process of reading, studying, and considering how the first five books of Moses, or Torah, relate to New Testament Christians.
The Christian Scriptures are made up of two parts: the Old Testament and New Testament. Both are vital to our lives and faith. We cannot, should not, seek to unhitch our lives and churches from the Old Testament. It is the foundation of our faith. It was the Bible of Jesus, Paul and every writer of our New Testament. Yet, Christians have an uneasy relationship to it. We don’t know what to do with a lot of Leviticus or Deuteronomy. Most Christians do not keep the Sabbath (Saturday) by doing no work on that day. We do eat cheeseburgers, pork BBQ, and catfish (can you tell I’m a southerner?) despite clear instructions to the contrary. We don’t advocate stoning adulterers or killing children who have disobeyed their parents. Yet we do find in Genesis through Deuteronomy God’s teaching which helps orient our lives. We do prosecute murders, eschew idolatry in all its forms and seek to love God and our neighbors. So what kind of relationship do we have with the Torah?
In their new book, The Lost World of Torah: Law As Covenant and Wisdom in Ancient Context (InterVarsity Press, 2019), John Walton and his son, J. Harvey, attempt to provide a way of reading these ancient texts for then and now. For them the Torah is not so much a list of rules and regulations, but it is God’s teaching essential to heaven’s plan to establish a people and provide them with divine wisdom so together His people can create a society of shalom and good order.
Recently on Exegetically Speaking I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Josh Moody, pastor of College Church (located right next to Wheaton College). Our conversation had to do with how he, an expert expository preacher, goes from text to sermon.
Listen to Dr. Moody here.
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Part two of a conversation with Dr. Gene Green, professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, regarding the word hupotassō, often translated “submit” in 1 Peter and other NT books. He asks the question where and when should we “change the orders” rather than just to submit to them. Jonathan Blanchard, one of the founders of Wheaton College, was a respected abolitionist who looked at the “order” of society, challenged it, and ultimately helped to abolish slavery. Are there other orders in society that we should challenge and not just accept?
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One of the tasks of exegesis is determining the text. On this edition of “Exegetically Speaking,” a podcast of Wheaton College, Dr. Seth Ehorn, Visiting Assistant Professor of New Testament, considers how the Gospel of Mark ends in modern translations and in early Greek manuscripts: Does the Second Gospel end in 16.8 or 16.20? Has the last page been lost? Has someone added some verses which weren’t in the original? If the Gospel ends in 16.8 with the women afraid and running away, what does that mean?
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