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Slowly apostatizing from Greek?

I am sure some readers of the Alpha & Omega Ministries blog have started learning Greek and ended up back in their favorite English translation(s). If you’re like me, you have started learning Greek around 45 times and you really want to get back at it again. Well, why not another website to motivate you.

Robert Plummer, professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary now has the Daily Dose of Greek. If you know a little Greek (no not the owner of the sub shop down the street), or if you want to begin learning Greek, Rob’s site may be the place to begin.

If you are going to start for the 1st time (or 46th for that matter) Plummer’s videos follow David Alan Black’s book Learning to Read New Testament Greek. If you don’t know who David Alan Black is, check out this short video of him teaching Greek. I highly recommend Black’s video series.

Thomas Hudgins also has a series working through Black’s book. Click here to begin watching.

Pastors, Cut Your Sermon Prep Time in HALF! I Am Serious…

I want to piggyback on Michael Kruger’s “You Don’t Think Learning the Biblical Languages is Worth It? Think Again” and add a few comments of my own on the use of Biblical languages for pastors (and anyone who has a desire to learn them).

1. Pastors (I am not one) who actually know how to read the biblical languages (not consulting “Vines”), will tell you that they save many hours of sermon prep time because they are not dependent on secondary sources. If you know the languages you can bypass commentaries and other secondary sources because you possess the ability to work in the text without training wheels—bypass the middle man.

2. Speaking of commentaries, they are overrated, not to mention we are living in the dark ages of commentary writing; i.e. don’t equate how many commentaries that publishers produce with quality. I would rather have one good quality cigar weekly than a cheap cigar every day.

3. And even if you do consult a commentary, journal article, monograph, or the LOGOS library after your linguistic analysis of the biblical text, you are in the position to evaluate them—that’s right they are fallible, including Hebrew and Greek lexicons! I often hear people cite BDAG and other lexicons as if they are inspired and descended gold-plated from the Greek gods themselves. Lexicons are interpretive; and just like commentaries they often repeat each other. I give you permission to critically evaluate these resources. May there be a day when pastors and other students of the Bible will not perform “LOGOS-gesis”—typing in a biblical reference and poof uncritically incorporate your LOGOS results in your sermon…uhg.

4. Don’t learn the biblical languages to be able to “translate.” There are plenty of good translations out there. Why not use them if that is what you are looking for? Learn the biblical languages because you want to read Hebrew and Greek, yes? And read it aloud! Which brings me to my next point.

5. Don’t use the Erasmian pronunciation system that is taught by the vast majority of seminaries today; instead, use the Modern pronunciation or at least Randall Buth’s Koine Reconstruction system. This is a whole other topic that I will write a blog article for. But I really believe that the Erasmian pronunciation is a major impediment to learning Greek and retaining Greek. So many more seminarians will retain their Greek if they learned to read or listen to it aloud with the Modern system. This is what I listen to about every day. If you do use the Erasmian, it only takes a week to switch over to the Modern system. Well worth it, trust me.

6. I recommend Rodney Decker’s first year Greek grammar coming out in November, Reading Koine Greek: An Introduction and Integrated Workbook. Stanley Porter also has an excellent first year grammar. I realize that Mounce’s grammar is the most popular; but don’t confuse popularity with what is the best. Mounce’s traditional understanding of the verb system is flawed in my opinion, as well as the opinions of many other Greek scholars including Decker and Porter.

7. As far as an intermediate Greek grammar I highly recommend Stanley Porter’s Idioms of the Greek New Testament. I realize Wallace’s grammar is the most popular, but, again, don’t confuse popularity with what is the best.

Okay, that’s it. Save on prep time so you can focus on other aspects of pastoral ministry!

 

Monday Miscellaneous

Tackled a tough, challenging section of Hebrews at PRBC on Sunday.  NOTE TO ALL ANTI-LORDSHIP, CHEAP-GRACE, NON-REPENTANCE FOLKS: Please note both sermons, but especially the evening sermon.  I really tried to give you all the evidence you could possibly need that I am firmly, unalterably OPPOSED to your position and identify it as a fundamental denial of the Gospel. I hope I’m really clear on that.

Just a quick note: we will have three DL’s this week, Lord willing, including a special Friday edition with Michael Brown to discuss his new book, Can You Be Gay and Christian?  Then, next Tuesday, we will be joined by a young apologist who thinks I do nothing for the kingdom, am like the sound of one hand clapping, and will be discussing Molinism with me anyway!  Should be interesting.

Finally, I’ve added a few items to the Ministry Resource List, here.  Your assistance is always deeply appreciated.  And let me add my deepest thanks again to the handful of folks who responded to our posting of computer materials about two weeks ago.  The speed with which that need was met was astounding, and encouraging in a level that is hard to express.  Thank you so much.

Catching Up With Technology

We all know most things we buy in the tech world are planned to become obsolete in a relatively short period of time.  It’s a built-in aspect of the market, it seems, but it is also a function of the fact that thankfully, at least in many areas, technology continues to advance and progress.

This is a very small ministry, and hence I am personally dependent—very dependent—upon my computer.  I study on it, correspond on it, communicate on it, video record on it, manage all my debate audio and reading materials on it, do all my trip planning on it—suffice it to say, it’s a daily tool, my electronic secretary (since I do not have one), etc.

For a number of years a single individual has been such an encouragement in providing me with my ministry computer.  “We can’t let the bad guys have all the good toys!” he’d say.  I can’t tell you how encouraging it has been to have that kind of support behind me.

With the changes we have made recently (as you have probably seen on the DL, the new technology we are using, the ScreenFlow videos I’m doing, etc.), we turned our attention, finally, to my desk.  Yes, my desk.  It is so old it was designed only to have a single CRT on it (remember those?).  The legs have clear tape on them to hold the surface to the core.  We bought it last century, literally, and it has seen its age pass.  Further, the external monitor box we’ve been using to give me access to external monitors has likewise gone on to the great bit bucket in the sky.  So, we started looking into how to replace the aged with something that will last a while.

In the process we discovered something.  My current MacBook Pro has served me well.  It’s still got the old style hard drive, but I’ve never had any problems (though I do have to carry an external HD as well).  But we’ve run into a roadblock that only an upgraded unit can fix: its video capabilities.  I thought this thing was maybe 18 months old, seriously.  But when Rich asked me to get its technical specifications, I was shocked to see it identified as “Early 2011.”  How did that happen?  I know I’m getting old, but I really, really thought it was like late 2012.  Well, it’s video innards simply lack the umph to handle what we are asking it to do these days.  And since it is a laptop, we can’t upgrade individual components like you can a desktop unit.

So, we have put the various parts of a replacement unit on the MRL.  Now, the MRL used to be an Amazon wish list.  We had to replace that with something that gives us more control over the flow of funds so that we can cross our t’s and dot our i’s as far as donation credit is concerned.  Here is the current MRL, and you can see the various components of the new unit.  If you’d like to have a part in equipping yours truly with the single computer unit I traipse about the world with, write my books on, record videos on, use in debates, etc. and etc., well, I’ll be most thankful.

Two New Systematics (Sproul & Kelly)

One reason many of you enjoy Alpha and Omega Ministries is because of the clarity of the message. Whether through blog posts, audio, video or books the gospel is clearly proclaimed. As much as possible, theological issues are addressed to the common reader. Or, as one apologist used to say “We need to get the hay out of the loft and put it down on the barn floor where the cows can eat it” (actually, I believe this originated with Donald Gray Barnhouse).

In Reformed circles (and beyond) it goes without saying that R. C. Sproul puts the hay on the floor for us common folk. His new systematic theology titled Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology is no different. This book is currently on sale for $15.20 (20% off) right here. If you purchase 5 or more, they will cost you $9.50 each. A sample of this book is located here. It is worth purchasing. Chapters are short and too the point, easy to outline with memorable definitions. Perhaps a glossary after each chapter would have been helpful, but without one, it simply forces you to do some work.

Speaking of Sproul, it was announced last month that Stephen Nichols will become the second president of Reformation Bible College beginning July 1. Nichols is an able, and very articulate spokesman for the reformed faith. Someone recently told me that Nichols is so clear, she could listen to him read the phone book. Anyway, here is a sampling of Dr. Nichols on the topic of “Why the Reformation Matters”. Nichols also spoke at this year’s Ligonier’s conference on (who else, but) Jonanthan Edwards. Watch the lecture here.

Some of you will remember way back in 2004, both James and Steve spoke at an apologetics conference together. Here is the audio from that conference.

Need I even say that Dr. Nichols would certainly appreciate you praying for his future ministry at RBC.

Ok…
I have not had a chance to read Doug Kelly’s 2nd Volume Systematic Theology (Vol. 2): The Beauty of Christ – A Trinitarian Vision, but if it is anything like the first, this will not be an easy read. Which simply means you’ll have to spend more time digesting this one in comparison to Sproul’s work. Looking at the Table of Contents, it seems it will be a very relevant work. This systematic is on sale for 40% off through this link. Or, you can purchase both here for $40 (50% off). A sample of this book is located here.