20 ἡμῶν γὰρ τὸ πολίτευμα ἐν οὐρανοῖς ὑπάρχει, ἐξ οὗ καὶ σωτῆρα ἀπεκδεχόμεθα κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, 21 ὃς μετασχηματίσει τὸ σῶμα τῆς ταπεινώσεως ἡμῶν σύμμορφον τῷ σώματι τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν τοῦ δύνασθαι αὐτὸν καὶ ὑποτάξαι αὐτῷ τὰ πάντα.
Recently, the kind folks at Christian Focus Publications sent over a review copy of Sam Storms new book on amillennialism, Kingdom Come. While mainstream evangelical eschatology would likely be some form of premillennialism—be it dispensational, progressive dispensational, or possibly classical/historical premillennialism—Sam stands relatively alone among popular pastors/preachers with his belief in amillennialism. I remember watching a panel discussion hosted by John Piper, which included three men discussing various eschatological views. This was my first encounter with Sam, and I remember thinking that he did a good job explaining his views.
In any case, when I heard that Sam was publishing a book on amillennialism I was eager to get my hands on it. As one who holds to amillennialism, I was eager to see how this book would be received within the lager evangelical community. While it is far too early to gauge the influence of this book, I nevertheless wanted to offer some early observations on what I have read thus far.
What I appreciate most about this work is that it is written for the laity. While terms like amillennialism and premillennialism may seem foreign or strange to some believers, Sam has done an excellent job at making these words and other relevant terms accessible for the reader. Eschatology is not an easy filed of theology to jump right into, and Sam has taken great care to make sure that the reader does not get lost.
I would guess that most evangelicals in America are dispensational in their eschatology. Therefore, most of the readers who read this work would identify with the majority. Nevertheless, Sam is gracious towards dispensationalism, always trying to explain their viewpoints clearly and honestly. While I am sure that some would disagree with his critique of dispensationalism, Sam does come across as one who tries to fairly represent his opponents.
While there is much to commend, I still have a few areas I want to highlight. First, I noticed that some of the sources that he cites as support for his case are relatively old and somewhat dated. This is not necessarily a bad thing, I just was hoping for more engagement with modern works on the subject. Second, I did notice that on one occasion he makes an assertion but does not reference relevant data to support his claim:
My point is that “seventy years” is an approximate designation of length, such as we find in Jer 27.7 and Eze 4.6-8. In Mesopotamian culture, seventy years refers primarily to a certain period of desolation followed by the visitation of God.
Kingdom Come, 86 (emphasis mine).
I am not saying that Sam is incorrect in his claim regarding Mesopotamian culture—I would just like to see where his evidence for such a claim is based is all. Third, I found some parts to be a bit repetitious. For example, chapter four—Daniel’s Contribution to Biblical Eschatology—dragged on a bit too long and could have ended much earlier. Maybe because I am already convinced by most of his arguments that I felt this chapter repeated some of the main arguments, which in that case I may be too harsh with this criticism.
In the end, I commend Sam for writing a book that offers another perspetive (the right perspective!) on eschatology and the end times. When it comes to eschatology, I have found that instead of reading the works of those who hold another views, most people read a critique instead. Therefore, it is my hope that people who are interested in what amillennialism is will pick up Sam’s book and find out firsthand what amillennialism is from one who is himself an amillennialist.
Over on his blog, Jim Davila shares the sad news of the passing of Geza Vermes.
SAD NEWS: I have just received word from Oxford that Professor Emeritus Geza Vermes died this morning after the recurrence of an illness. I had been corresponding with him recently and knew that he was unwell because he had to miss my lecture last week in Oxford, but I was hoping for good news rather than this.
Geza Vermes was a tremendously influential figure in the the field of ancient Judaism, especially, but by no means exclusively, the Dead Sea Scrolls. He also wrote a great deal about Christian origins and the historical Jesus. In addition to being a scholar he was a true gentleman. I will miss him a great deal. May his memory be for a blessing.
Here is the bereavement notice from David Ariel, which was fowarded by Alison Salvesen:
I am deeply saddened to inform you that our dear friend, Professor Geza Vermes, passed away this morning after a recent recurrence of cancer. Margaret, Geza’s wife, just called with the sad news and asked that I let you know.
Geza was Professor Emeritus of Jewish Studies at Oxford, a Governor and strong advocate of the Centre, and was recently appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Centre. His scholarship on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewishness of Jesus was truly pioneering and transformative. Geza was also a lovely human being and a friend and mentor to many of us. He will be deeply missed.
There are no funeral plans as yet but we will notify you if and when it is appropriate.
May Margaret be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and may Geza’s memory be for a blessing.
David Ariel, PhD
Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies
May he rest in peace.
(HT: Jim Davila)
If the number of hits on my blog and retweets tell me anything it is this: people like free online classes. Well, I am here to bring you some more! The Master’s Seminary also has the following classes free to take from the comfort of your own home.
Dr. William Barrick and The Master’s Seminary have generously allowed video lectures of Dr. Barrick’s to be viewed for free. This means that you can learn Hebrew at your own pace without having to enroll or pay for classes. Also, on his personal site Dr. Barrick has granted access to both the grammar and workbook he uses for his class. Dr. Barrick is a fantastic guy and a brilliant Hebraist. Do check the class out.
Here are the links to Dr. Barrick’s Hebrew grammar and workbook:
3 Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ εὐλογήσας ἡμᾶς ἐν πάσῃ εὐλογίᾳ πνευματικῇ ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ἐν Χριστῷ, 4 καθὼς ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ, 5 προορίσας ἡμᾶς εἰς υἱοθεσίαν διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς αὐτόν, κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ, 6 εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ ἧς ἐχαρίτωσεν ἡμᾶς ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ. 7 Ἐν ᾧ ἔχομεν τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν διὰ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ, τὴν ἄφεσιν τῶν παραπτωμάτων, κατὰ τὸ πλοῦτος τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ 8 ἧς ἐπερίσσευσεν εἰς ἡμᾶς, ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ καὶ φρονήσει, 9 γνωρίσας ἡμῖν τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ, κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν αὐτοῦ ἣν προέθετο ἐν αὐτῷ 10 εἰς οἰκονομίαν τοῦ πληρώματος τῶν καιρῶν, ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι τὰ πάντα ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ, τὰ ἐπὶ τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἐν αὐτῷ. 11 Ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἐκληρώθημεν προορισθέντες κατὰ πρόθεσιν τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐνεργοῦντος κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ 12 εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης αὐτοῦ τοὺς προηλπικότας ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ. 13 Ἐν ᾧ καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς σωτηρίας ὑμῶν, ἐν ᾧ καὶ πιστεύσαντες ἐσφραγίσθητε τῷ πνεύματι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῷ ἁγίῳ, 14 ὅ ἐστιν ἀρραβὼν τῆς κληρονομίας ἡμῶν, εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν τῆς περιποιήσεως, εἰς ἔπαινον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ.
Le premier contact avec l’Épître aux Hébreux est rebutant. De toute la collection des écrits néo-testamentaires, en effect, cette lettre est, avec l’Apocalypse, la plus éloignée au point de vue littéraire de notre mentalité occidentale et moderne.
L’Épitre aux Hébreux (vol. 1): 1.
The OT is the “bone and marrow” of Hebrews. From beginning to end this book is an expository “sermon” that rests on careful OT interpretation. The pastor quotes the OT, alludes to the OT, summarizes OT passages, recounts events from the lives of OT persons, and often echoes the idiom of the Greek OT.
The kind folks over at IVP Academic sent along a review copy of Scot McKnight and Joseph Modica’s Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not: Evaluating Empire in New Testament Studies. It looks to be a fantastic read! You can check out the TOC here. I will post a review as soon as I finish reading it.
Here is my review of William Baird’s excellent History of New Testament Research (Vol. 3). Thank again to Fortress for this review copy.
וָאֹמַ֖ר אֲלֵכֶ֑ם לֹא־תַֽעַרְצ֥וּן וְֽלֹא־תִֽירְא֖וּן מֵהֶֽם׃
יְהוָ֤ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶם֙ הַהֹלֵ֣ךְ לִפְנֵיכֶ֔ם ה֖וּא יִלָּחֵ֣ם לָכֶ֑ם כְּ֠כֹל אֲשֶׁ֨ר עָשָׂ֧ה אִתְּכֶ֛ם בְּמִצְרַ֖יִם לְעֵינֵיכֶֽם׃
וּבַמִּדְבָּר֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר רָאִ֔יתָ אֲשֶׁ֤ר נְשָׂאֲךָ֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר יִשָּׂא־אִ֖ישׁ אֶת־בְּנ֑וֹ בְּכָל־הַדֶּ֙רֶךְ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֲלַכְתֶּ֔ם עַד־בֹּאֲכֶ֖ם עַד־הַמָּק֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה׃
וּבַדָּבָ֖ר הַזֶּ֑ה אֵֽינְכֶם֙ מַאֲמִינִ֔ם בַּיהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃
הַהֹלֵ֨ךְ לִפְנֵיכֶ֜ם בַּדֶּ֗רֶךְ לָת֥וּר לָכֶ֛ם מָק֖וֹם לַֽחֲנֹֽתְכֶ֑ם בָּאֵ֣שׁ׀ לַ֗יְלָה לַרְאֹֽתְכֶם֙ בַּדֶּ֙רֶךְ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תֵּֽלְכוּ־בָ֔הּ וּבֶעָנָ֖ן יוֹמָֽם׃
Unfortunately, theologians today increasingly lack historical knowledge and an interest in history, and above all are too ignorant of the legacy of the past, whether of the Old Testament and Judaism, or of Graeco-Roman antiquity. Since the so-called “scholars” are gradually failing us here, it is doubly important for us as Christians to try to acquire a deeper historical understanding of what took place more than 1900 years ago; without such historical understanding our theological thinking, too, will all too easily become barren.
Acts and the History of Earliest Christianity.
From what I can gather about the late Dr. Hegel, he did not pull any punches when it came to the New Testament and its historical background. I could not agree more with these words, and I could not be more convicted either.
I wrote this post last Easter and repost it here again.
For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body (Rom 8:19-23).
Today is the day we gather and celebrate the resurrection of the Son of God. He who went willingly to Calvary for the sin of His elect, “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame”, this one rose from the grave, because God “would not allow his Holy One to see decay [οὐ δώσεις τὸν ὅσιόν σου ἰδεῖν διαφθοράν] (Acts 13:35; cf. 2:27). There is no greater hope for the follower of Christ than in the resurrection of his Lord.
While we often think of the resurrection as bringing a future hope—the hope of heaven, eternity with Christ, etc.—we must not forgot what the resurrection brought to our world. What do I mean by this? Well, we live in tension, the tension between the already and the not yet. On the one hand the kingdom of heaven is here now. Eternity resurrection life is ours presently as followers of Christ. When Christ came out of that tomb he brought with him enteral life and a foretaste of what this will look like at the end of time. For example, Paul states: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Cor 5:17). This is not wishful thinking, this is reality! Because of the resurrection of Christ, the new life—resurrection life—has invaded our world of sin, death, and decay. What we long for, what we yearn for—”the redemption of our bodies” (Rom 8:23)—began at our regeneration. Paul makes this point when he proclaims:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:4-7).
All of this to say, the resurrection is more than heaven. It is more than the sweet by-and-by. It is the story of God redeeming his creation and making all things new! So, as we think about the resurrection of Christ, remember that you have been raised with Christ now! The same God who raised Jesus from the grave as also raised us from the grave, and one day we will see the completion of this amazing truth in all its glory and splendor. One day, the not yet become the now, and the already will long for will be here! So we cry out “μαράνα θά!”
While reading volume three of Baird’s excellent History of New Testament Research, I came across this dialogue between the eminent church historical Adolf von Harnack and Karl Barth:
[Harnack]: “A scientific theological presentation can also inspire and edify, thanks to its object, but the scientific theologian who is bent on inspiration and edification brings strange fire upon his altar, for as there is only one scientific method, so there is also only one scientific task—the pure knowledge of its object.” To this Barth responds, “The concept of revelation is not a scientific concept.”
Barth exposes Harnack’s flawed understanding of revelation as well as the impossibility of knowing all of who God is through purely objective and critical reason. Well done Karl!
9 τὸν δὲ βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους ἠλαττωμένον βλέπομεν Ἰησοῦν διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφανωμένον, ὅπως χάριτι θεοῦ ὑπὲρ παντὸς γεύσηται θανάτου.
10 Ἔπρεπεν γὰρ αὐτῷ, διʼ ὃν τὰ πάντα καὶ διʼ οὗ τὰ πάντα, πολλοὺς υἱοὺς εἰς δόξαν ἀγαγόντα τὸν ἀρχηγὸν τῆς σωτηρίας αὐτῶν διὰ παθημάτων τελειῶσαι. 11 ὅ τε γὰρ ἁγιάζων καὶ οἱ ἁγιαζόμενοι ἐξ ἑνὸς πάντες· διʼ ἣν αἰτίαν οὐκ ἐπαισχύνεται ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοὺς καλεῖν 12 λέγων·
ἀπαγγελῶ τὸ ὄνομά σου τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς μου,
ἐν μέσῳ ἐκκλησίας ὑμνήσω σε,
13 καὶ πάλιν·
ἐγὼ ἔσομαι πεποιθὼς ἐπʼ αὐτῷ,
ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ καὶ τὰ παιδία ἅ μοι ἔδωκεν ὁ θεός.
14 Ἐπεὶ οὖν τὰ παιδία κεκοινώνηκεν αἵματος καὶ σαρκός, καὶ αὐτὸς παραπλησίως μετέσχεν τῶν αὐτῶν, ἵνα διὰ τοῦ θανάτου καταργήσῃ τὸν τὸ κράτος ἔχοντα τοῦ θανάτου, τοῦτʼ ἔστιν τὸν διάβολον, 15 καὶ ἀπαλλάξῃ τούτους, ὅσοι φόβῳ θανάτου διὰ παντὸς τοῦ ζῆν ἔνοχοι ἦσαν δουλείας. 16 οὐ γὰρ δήπου ἀγγέλων ἐπιλαμβάνεται ἀλλὰ σπέρματος Ἀβραὰμ ἐπιλαμβάνεται. 17 ὅθεν ὤφειλεν κατὰ πάντα τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς ὁμοιωθῆναι, ἵνα ἐλεήμων γένηται καὶ πιστὸς ἀρχιερεὺς τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν εἰς τὸ ἱλάσκεσθαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ λαοῦ. 18 ἐν ᾧ γὰρ πέπονθεν αὐτὸς πειρασθείς, δύναται τοῖς πειραζομένοις βοηθῆσαι.
Some reviewers have accused me of undue affection for the historical critical method. To that I merely reply, mea culpa. I am well aware, of course, that the use (or abuse) of the critical method has been destructive for some, resulting in depreciation of Scripture and loss of faith. For me the opposite have proved true. It has been the historical critical method that has sustained my faith and deepened my devotion to the New Testament, the book I have spent my life attempting to understand and teach.
History of New Testament Research, vol. 3: 3-4.
In some circles, the historical critical method is demonized and blamed for all sorts of interpretative evils. Sadly, I have witnessed this first hand on a number of occasions. The phrase is thrown around like a curse word, and the last thing you want to be caught doing is playing nice with this method.
I find Baird’s wonderful affirmation the historical critical method to be a breath of fresh air. While it may be true that some people have loss their faith due to this method, it is also true that people have loss their faith using the historical grammatical method and other methods as well. I do not blame the method for these tragic apostasies; rather, there is something else going on—something much deeper—in the heart of one who loses their faith in the Son of God.