Songs for Advent: O Holy Night (Brian McSweeney)

When I first heard this song I was hooked! In my opinion there is possibly no greater singer than Brian McSweeney, and the way he can make his voice soar is just amazing!

O Holy Night
Oh holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here come the wise men from Orient land
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend
Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
,Let all within us praise His holy name

In the Mail: @IVPAcademic, @Baylor_Press, and Mohr Siebeck

It has been a crazy few weeks, and I have been behind in books received in the mail.

IVP Academic sent along two books recently: The Acts of the Apostles: A Newly Discovered Commentary (The Lightfoot Legacy Set) and Thomas Oden’s A Change of Heart: A Personal and Theological Memoir. I had a pre-release copy of Lightfoot’s work and found it to be rather stimulating and insightful. Most certainly this will be a work to consult—even if it is over a hundred years old! I have also been reading Thomas Oden’s work before bed. I find Oden’s writing to be enjoyable. He does not get bogged down the the minutia that some biographies seem to get stuck in. Truly this is a joyful read!

Baylor Press was kind enough to send along the latest from the BHGNT on  the Gospel of Mark. Consisting of two volumes (1-8 and 9-16) from the late Rodney Decker, these volumes yet again solidify the value of this series for Greek students and teachers. If you do any work in the GNT, whether it is simply reading for devotions or writing a commentary, these books need to be open next to your NA28 or UBS5.

The last book received comes from the always amazing Mohr Siebeck. I was surprised when I received their latest in the WUNT 1 series, From Synagogue to EcclesiaMy friend Craig Evans and Charles Carlston have written what looks to be a very interesting study on Matthew’s Gospel.

Songs for Advent: Deliver Us (Behold the Lamb of God)

One of my favorite Christmas records of all time is Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God. If you are unfamiliar with both this record and Andrew Peterson, I would highly suggest that you fix that immediately! Andrew is a fabulous songwriter and storyteller. His music is constantly playing in our house and car.

Behold the Lamb of God is the story of Jesus set to music, and for me, Deliver Us is song that resonates the most. Sung by another one of my favorite musicians, Derek Webb’s Deliver us tells the story of God’s people in slavery; not a slavery in Egypt from which we need a deliver to come and take us to a promised land. Rather, we cry out for a deliverer from our sin and rebellion.

If you listen to Deliver Us, you may pick up on some similar themes and motifs that are also part of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

Deliver Us
Our enemy, our captor is no pharaoh on the Nile
Our toil is neither mud nor brick nor sand
Our ankles bear no calluses from chains, yet Lord, we’re bound
Imprisoned here, we dwell in our own land

Deliver us, deliver us Oh Yahweh, hear our cry
And gather us beneath your wings tonight

Our sins they are more numerous than all the lambs we slay
These shackles they were made with our own hands
Our toil is our atonement and our freedom yours to give
So Yahweh, break your silence if you can

Deliver us, deliver us Oh Yahweh, hear our cry
And gather us beneath your wings tonight

Jerusalem, Jerusalem
How often I have longed
To gather you beneath my gentle wings’

Songs for Advent: O come, O come, Emmanuel

I must confess, I am really not a fan of Christmas music. Some would even go as far as saying I am a bit of a grinch. Bah Humbug! I do like Christmas, and there are a few so-called Christmas songs that I find truly amazing and worth singing. My favorite one of all is the classic O come, O come, Emmanuel. There truly is no greater Christmas hymn in existence—and truthfully, this should be sung all year round!

This hymn found a home in my heart right around the time I started questioning my eschatological convictions regarding the place of Israel in redemptive history. You see, it was the first stanza that resonated with me most and to this day still does. Even more powerful was the imagery of captivity and the Son of God’s appearance in history to ransom his people. Emmanuel (Ἐμμανουήλ)—God with us!—has come to Israel, not merely the plot of land in the middle east but to his people, both Jew and now also Gentile!

O come, O come, Emmanuel is a hymn sung by captives longing for their God to come and redeem them from the tyranny of sin and death. This Advent, let us sing to our Lord for the day that we will no longer need to sing O come, O come, Emmanuel!

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, athe tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
Re 21:3–4.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

#SBLAAR14 Warning: Beware of @drjewest Crazy Antics

For all who are in San Diego for the SBL gathering, I want to give you fair warning. If you decide to invite Jim West to hang out at your hotel room after the days over you may find that your room was not the same as you first left it.

nariman_destroyedSo if you want to keep your room from being West-enized, just be sure you speak well of Bultmann and Zwingli.

Remembering Jerome Murphy-O’Connor

oconnor_2735670bOne year ago today we lost a great New Testament scholar in Jerome Murphy-O’Connor. From 1967 until his death he was Professor of New Testament at the École Biblique in Jerusalem. He authored a number of books on Paul, Corinthians, and a guide on the Holy Land.

Today, what I remember most about this fine scholar was his graciousness and helpfulness. When I kept hitting a wall with Gabalda regarding getting permission to translate Ceslas Spicq’s commentary on Hebrews, on a whim I filled out a contact form on the École Biblique website not thinking he would even see my request for help. But he did, and he was eager to get in touch with Gabalda and secure permission to translate the work. My only regret is that he did not live long enough for me to be able to personally give him an English translation of his former teacher’s seminal work on Hebrews.

Requiescat in pace, good sir!