Elliott E. Johnson’s, A Dispensational Biblical Theology, now is available on Kindle. It worth reading of all of its pages. Advocates and critics, alike, should respect this work.
“It appears that our entire encounter with the Bible, even if it involves our natural abilities, is a supernatural encounter. This would seem to imply that whatever we meet in the Bible—historical facts, poetic praises, proverbial wisdom, promises of help, descriptions of God’s nature, illustrations of God’s ways, standards of holy living, procedures of church discipline, predictions, calamities, warnings of Satanic opposition, summons to faith, analyses of human depravity, directions for husbands and wives, political insights, financial principles, and much more—all of it will only be seen aright when we see it illumined by, and in relation to, the peculiar glory of God. In other words, no matter how natural the process of reading is, and no matter how natural the objects discovered are, no reading and no discovery happen without dependence on God or without seeing all things in relation to his worth and beauty—if we are reading the way God means for his book to be read.”
John Piper, Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture (Wheaton: Crossway, 2017), 178-179. Also available via Kindle, and at wstbooks.
In hermeneutics class at MBI yesterday, one of my students proposed that Jonah received mercy via the fish appointed by God as God’s response to the prayers of the mariners:
Therefore they called out to the LORD, “O LORD, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you.”
By rescuing Jonah, the Lord answered the prayers of the mariners–that they would be free from the blood of Jonah. I agree with this proposal by the student.
The mariners, who have called on the Lord—who was revealed to them by the prophet, themselves receive mercy through throwing the prophet to his death in the waters. Therefore, their prayers are answered as part of their response to the gospel (in cryptic form in the OT). The Lord is answering the one prayer of unbelievers he has bound himself to answer.
 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph. 4:4-6 ESV)
Paul’s exhortation to the church for practical unity recognizes that the oneness inherent in the body is reflective of the oneness inherent in the Trinity. He says three things:
The incredible mystery of our union with Christ–union with the Trinity, union with the Creator–is reason to celebrate our hope, enjoy the fellowship of the body, and to submit to the sweet sovereignty of God in all things.
Knowing the Bible: Ephesians (Crossway) is available at wtsbooks.com.
#whybible #ktbeph #ktbephesians #ephesians #biblestudy #moodybible #MBI
I am enjoying Murray Harris’, John: Exegetical Guide to the New Testament (B&H). I have found it very useful for research I am doing on Jn. 14:2-3. I am exploring possible OT linguistic connections, including military, betrothal, and Passover references. If you are preaching through John, Harris’ text definitely should be open in front of you with pen in hand.
On a lay level, I encourage everyone to grab Richard Phillip’s commentary on John in the Reformed Expositor’s Commentary Series (P&R). Phillips is a thoughtful Biblicist. His expositions are clear and Christ-centered. Consider his comments on Jn. 11:1-6:
Second, we should note the basis on which the sisters sent their prayer: “He whom you love.” They did not appeal to Jesus on the basis of their love or Lazarus’s love for him, but on the basis of his love for them. Not that they did not love Jesus. “They did love him,” Boice writes, “but they knew that their love for Jesus would never in a million years be an adequate basis for their appeal. . . . [This] is the only grounds that any of us can ever have in approaching the Almighty.” This principle holds in every area of salvation. God did not send his Son because the world loved him. For the world does not love God. But the Bible proclaims, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16). “In this is love,” John says, “not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Even our love for God stems from his love for us. John adds, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Therefore, Matthew Henry says, “Our love to him is not worth speaking of, but his to us can never be enough spoken of.”7 Knowing this will provide a great encouragement to our prayers. We feel distant from God because of our cool hearts and mixed performance. But our prayers are offered not in our own name but in Jesus’ name, that is, on the basis of his perfect life and saving work. Our prayers are accepted because God loves us, a love that he has proved once for all by offering his Son for our sins on the cross.
(John, Volume 2. 2014: 9.)
On Jn. 14:2-3, some of the popular concepts associated with ancient Jewish marriage traditions and the return of Christ seem to lack a historical background. However, I still am exploring the ancient literature. I find it interesting, however, that Johannine scholarship – at least in the commentaries – almost makes no comment on a relationship between Jn. 14:2-3, betrothal, and the return of Christ. Köstenberger seems to be a notable exception, but his comment is brief. I also am not sure if Jn. 14:2-3 falls under John’s paroimia concept.
I enjoy reading Peter Leithart on exegesis and hermeneutics, even though I often find slight disagreement with his readings. His writing is most lucid, and his thinking about passages of Scripture often challenges me to ponder deeper the assumptions I bring to the interpretive table.
At last year’s Center for Pastor Theologians conference, I remember Leithart speaking on Revelation 17 and saying that we cannot start with grammatical-historical analysis when approaching Scripture because of the unity of Scripture—that the Author knew the end from the beginning. He went on to say that the “fragmented Bible” is not the Bible of the church, and that we need to learn again to read the Bible as one book.
I am not ready to jettison grammatical-historical analysis as the third step – after prayer, and multiple readings of the text – in approaching Scripture—no more than I am ready to abandon it in reading Leithart, such that I understand by his words that he means we should read all Scripture in light of the whole story of Scripture, and that he does not mean that I should throw away my BHS, NA 28, or UBS 5. If I get rid of grammatical-historical analysis, “fragmented Bible” might become a Bible with missing books or pages rather than a way of speaking of atomistic reading or reading without Biblical Theology lenses.
I am developing a presentation on the relationship between Augustine’s Christology, his hermeneutics, and three of his tractates in John 16 and 19. The related research has led me into the figurative readings of Augustine and the fathers—readings similar to Leithart’s. I am gaining a greater appreciation of what Leithart is attempting to do in exegesis – so much so that I found myself attempting a Leithartian reading of Ex. 24:15 (the subject of another paper on which I am working).
The LXX of Ex. 24:13 reads, καὶ ἀναστὰς Μωυσῆς καὶ Ἰησοῦς ὁ παρεστηκὼς αὐτῷ ἀνέβησαν εἰς τὸ ὄρος τοῦ θεοῦ – “And arising, Moses and Joshua, his assistant, went up into the mountain of God” (or, the ESV – “So Moses rose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God”). Similarly, two verses later, the ESV reads, “Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.” The ESV is reflective of the Hebrew text. However, the LXX reads, καὶ ἀνέβη Μωυσῆς καὶ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὸ ὄρος, καὶ ἐκάλυψεν ἡ νεφέλη τὸ ὄρος – “And Moses and Joshua went up the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.”
I think the Spirit was doing something through the LXX writer/editor at this point so that the first century believers, reading the LXX of Ex. 24:15, would say, “And Moses and Jesus went up the mountain.” I also think their reading would be right.
Recommended Resource: Peter Leithart, Deep Exegesis (Baylor).
This morning, at the Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) Alumni Breakfast at the ETS Annual Meeting, we honored Dr. Elliott E. Johnson with a festschrift, entitled, The Theory and Practice of Biblical Hermeneutics: Essays in Honor of Elliott E. Johnson (Lampion Press). H. Wayne House and Forrest S. Weiland served as editors. The book recognizes Dr. Johnson for more than 40 years of ministry at DTS, and his influence in the field of contemporary biblical hermeneutics. The work has contributions from Johnson’s present and former colleagues, and former students, including Weiland, Norman Geisler, Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Charles Baylis, Mark Bailey, Stephen Bramer, and Stephen S. Kim. Most graciously, E. D. Hirsch provided the forward. Several of the chapters intend to demonstrate the theory and method advanced by Johnson in Expository Hermeneutics and many of his other essays.
I gladly contributed a chapter: “The Very Right of God: The Meaning of Luke 13:1-9, and Criticism(s) of John Piper’s View of the Role of God in Tragedy: A Narrative Analysis” (185-203). The essay allows me to honor my former advisor and friend, who has most shaped my hermeneutical theory. It, too, provides me an opportunity to interact honorably with some of the thinking of John Piper, also my friend and the contemporary theologian who has most shaped my theology of the Christian life. Both men acknowledge Hirsch in their interpretive theories. A version of the essay shortened by the editors, due to space limitations, appears in the book. I have attached a pdf of the originally submitted essay below.
Congratulations to Drs. House, Weiland, and Johnson on a worthy project!
At the ETS Annual Meeting I have been able to leaf through copies of Ruben Zimmerman’s, Puzzling the Parables of Jesus: Methods and Interpretation (Fortress), and Stephen Wright’s, Jesus the Storyteller (Westminster/John Knox). Both look like texts I need for upcoming work and courses in the parables. I am thankful for Zimmermann’s work on paroimia (παροιμία) in John. All current discussions in NT parables should include Johannine paroimia (and other non-synoptic paroimia/parabolé (παραβολή) in the NT). Wright’s work also is appropriate for use by the non-specialist in the pew who simply loves Jesus and desires to know him through the parables.
In our doctoral seminars this week, we keep coming back to the concept(s) of “’literal’ hermeneutics.” Evangelicals long have affirmed that “literal” refers to both “a system that takes what the Bible claims to be true of itself as a necessary framework for interpretation,” and two commitments within that system: (1) “A commitment to understanding that the Bible’s authority is embedded in the meanings expressed in the words of the text,” and (2) “meanings expressed in the Biblical text are true and have reference to what is real unless the context indicates otherwise.” They acknowledge with Longman, as he expressed a dispensational understanding of “literal” in discussion with dispensationalists as a covenantalist: “Indeed, that is a part of a literal approach to treat as metaphor what is metaphoric.”
While interacting with, Genesis: History, Fiction, or Neither? Three Views on the Bible’s Earliest Chapters, we came across this quote:
Galileo thought that these passages should be interpreted not according to their strict, grammatical meaning but according to a different set of rules: rules that take into account the complexities of communication such as metaphor, symbolism, and imagery…. Galileo had the courage — or what his inquisitors regarded as hubris — to read the Bible with sensitivity toward its various genres…. His statement was not a literal description of fact. It describes something different than what its grammar implies; we know this intuitively.
I would suggest that to interpret according to “strict, grammatical meaning” is to “take into account the complexities of communication such as metaphor, symbolism, and imagery.” The aforementioned suggested dichotomy between the two concepts is false. So while Galileo did “read the Bible with sensitivity toward its various genres,” it is not true that “his statement was not a literal description of fact.” It was a literal description of fact, for literal takes into account that which is figurative.
Now, to contradict myself in order to make my point even clearer, I agree with the statements about Galileo above. For as I read the above, based on Galileo’s critics’ understanding of Galileo (which I elided from the quotes), and the contrast of “strict” with “complexities of communication,” and the contrast between “literal description” and “what its grammar implies,” I know that the authors of those selections of quotes mean “literalistic” when speaking of “literal.” If I make a literalistic reading “literal” rather than a literal reading of “literal”—one that accounts for the use of the term in its grammatical, historical, literary context, then I will misread “literal” as I did intentionally in the previous paragraph while yet correctly defining “literal.” Yet it is my recognition of “literal” readings’ accounting for literary clues that allows me to critique the paragraph on Galileo, set up a “literal” straw man, and then make a literal critique of my use of “literal” such that it reveals my “literalism” when first discussing another’s use of “literal.” Even so, it is my recognition of “literal” readings’ accounting for literary clues that allows me to make a double-entendre in the second use of “literal” in the previous sentence. So I am not ready to abandon a literal hermeneutic; neither are you if you are trying to make sense of what I just said.
 Elliott E. Johnson, “Literal Interpretation: A Plea for Consensus.” Paper delivered at the 1992 Pre-Trib Study Group Conference, http://www.pre-trib.org/article-view.php?id=107, accessed September 24, 2015.
 Tremper Longman III, “What I Mean by Historical-Grammatical Exegesis: Why I am not a Literalist,” Grace Theological Journal (1990), 148.
 Kenton L. Sparks, “Response to James K. Hoffmeier,” in In Genesis: History, Fiction, or Neither? Three Views on the Bible’s Earliest Chapters, James K. Hoffmeier, Gordon J. Wenham, and Kenton Sparks, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015, 63.
I find irony in the right and righteous condemnations of Bill Cosby while many of the castigators are having great celebrations of Caitlyn Jenner. Both men are distorting the image of God in people and are revealing distortions of the order of creation, by demeaning women and their naturally-given femininity, setting poor examples of manhood for boys and girls, and increasing confusion about gender identity rather than clarifying truth about gender identity. Take away Cosby’s Medal of Freedom and take away Jenner’s ESPY. Leave Jenner’s gold medal in place to remind him that someone fully male won the Men’s Olympic Decathlon; we’ll let him live with his own personal revisionist history.
For those of you Jenner sympathizers holding to a hermeneutic of suspicion or a deconstructionist theory of reading, please note that in the above paragraph I did not equate rape and transgenderism (or transgender operations). The meaning of the above paragraph is, The equally distorting actions toward the gender of women by Cosby and Jenner present irony when the latter’s is celebrated as the former’s is rightly condemned, and calls for a stripping of national honors that would wrongly celebrate such distortions while leaving in place an honor that rightly distinguishes maleness. Even though you might be confused about the significance of gender distinctions, I do not want you to be confused about the meaning of my words.
This post is in honor of Dr. Hershael York, whose replies to the comments on his, “Two Readings of Scripture, Two Views of Jesus” made me laugh royally, even as he told the truth within a culture of suspicion, deconstruction, and inconsistency.