A Synopsis of Richard Burridge’s “What Are the Gospels? A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography (pt.2)

In my last post on Burridge’s “What Are the Gospels” we looked at what Burridge describes as the problems surrounding the genre of the Gospels. As we recall, this problem was trying to define what genre(s) of Graeco-Roman literature the Gospels fit into. In the second part of “What Are the Gospels?”, Burridge offers us his solution for the situating the Gospels into the genre of βίος.

Thus far I have only made it through chapter seven, but Burridge has laid a very good foundation for us to begin to understand how βίος was used in the Graeco-Roman world. Chapter 5 on Generic Features of βίος is a foundational chapter in the book. It it, he outlines the main feature of βίος: Opening Features (title, prologue, preface, etc.), Subject of the βίος,  External Features (size, metre, length, etc.) and Internal Features (setting, topic(s), style, mood, etc.). With the foundation laid, we now have a basic outline or structure we can use as a guide as we begin to analyze βίος literature of the ancient world.

Before the Gospels are tackled, Burridge offers us a few samples of what may be considered βίος from the ancient world, both Greek and Latin sources. What is helpful is that the sources which Burridge chooses vary in date and geographical location, thus allowing us a greater look into the usage of βίος in the ancient world.

My only complaint (I am not sure you can call it that really) is that while the examples are plentiful, the reader who is not versed in Graeco-Roman literature may get lost in the very examples used to illuminate βίος. There is a bit of primary source overload at times, but if the reader is diligent and determined, the payoff will be extremely valuable later.

So, now I enter the Synoptics and John’s Gospel next. I am greatly enjoying this work so far. It is clear, concise (at times it may be too much info.), informative, and overall a pleasure to read.

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Summer/Fall Books to Read

Well, I have decided on the books I want to crank out before the year comes to an end. I usually do not read fast, so I have picked seven books to plod through. I have tried to be somewhat diverse in my choosing; I have picked books that deal with history, rhetoric, biblical theology, and Hebrews.

So without further ado, here are my selections:

The last one will most certainly take me the longest, so I may have to extend this into next year. But I will try hard to finish it this year

Well, there it is. Please feel free to keep me accountable to my goals. But in the end, I reserve the right to change the timeline, books, etc. And if I do change anything, I will make sure to update this post to reflect said change.

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Forthcoming Baylor Handbook on the Greek Text

I just noticed that the next installment in the Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament will see the light of day in July. This is a fine series of quasi-commentaries, focusing primarily on aspects of grammar, linguistics, lexicography, etc. For the student of the Greek New Testament these Handbooks are a valuable tool for doing exegesis of the text.

From the Publisher:

This new installment of the popular handbook series gives teachers and students a comprehensive guide to the grammar and vocabulary of both 2 Peter and Jude. Within the text of these intertwined Catholic Epistles, Peter H. Davids finds rhetorical features and stylistic elements often overlooked. By using this handbook in combination with traditional commentaries, students will be guided toward a greater understanding of the Greek text in 2 Peter and Jude while gaining a deeper appreciation for textual and rhetorical intricacies not available in the English translations.

Peter Davids is an expert on the literature of Peter and Jude. He has written commentaries on 1 Peter in the NICNT as well as 2 Peter and Jude in the Pillar series.



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You’ve Got Mail Yet Again

A special thanks to Andrew Rogers at Zondervan for two review copies:


A Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters (BTNT) by Andreas J. Kostenberger as well as 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: African Bible Commentary Series by Samuel M. Ngewa.  I was excited to look at Kostenberger’s Johnanine theology, and after seeing it I am very impressed!  It is a massive work of scholarship and I am sure that it will be just as good as his previous commentary of John in the BECNT.  Reviews are forthcoming.

Also, two other books came in the mail, but  these I purchased.  The first, Story as History, History as Story: The Gospel Tradition in the Context of Ancient Oral History by Samuel Byrskog is one that I had on my wish list for sometime.  I finally saw a used one at a good price so I snatched it up.  The second, God’s People in the Wilderness: The Church in Hebrews by O. Palmer Robertson is a book right up my alley.  If you noticed, a recent post of mine dealt with this subject, so when I came across this little book I was excited to read through it.

My Desk Set-Up

photoThis is the current set-up for my desk.  My main computer is a MacBook with an HP w1707 dual monitor.  I run bootcamp, thus allowing me to operate Logos Gold, Bibleworks 7, Endnote, and other programs used for my studies.

photo(2) This bookrack was something I found lying around in my garage.  The top shelf is mostly books on Hebrews (commentaries, monographs, etc.).  Underneath those are books I am currently reading when I have a free moment.

Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek: A Review

*Not too long ago I was able to secure a review copy of Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek by Constantine Campbell, and I want to thank

Jesse Hillman at Zondervan for the opportunity to review the book.


Author: Constantine R. Campbell

Paperback: 159 pages

Publisher: Zondervan

Language: English/Greek

ISBN-13: 978-0-310-29083-4

In the field of Verbal aspect, there is no end of debate or discussion. With his new book Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek (BVA), Constantine Campbell has opened the door for those who have long stood outside trying to get a glimpse and a hearing of what this discussion is all about. Granted, there are areas where one person or another will find that they are in disagreement with Dr. Campbell, but that is to be expected in a field like this. Dr. Campbell has taken the time and recognized that there was a need for a primer like the one he has produced, one in which has long been overdue for the student of Koine who is just getting his feet wet in Greek. While I will not take the time to offer an in-depth review (other have done this, and they have done it quite well), I will discuss the areas of strengths and weaknesses of BVA for the intermediate Greek student and why I think that it is a fine addition for a pastor as well as a seminary student.

This reviewer has been a student of Koine for 4.5 years (3 in undergraduate, and 1.5 in seminary). While learning Greek I was aware of verbal aspect, but it was briefly discussed and then moved away from. As I progressed in my studies, the focus was always on usage of nouns, verbs, participles, etc. and their relationship within a clause and discourse. Many times I was left to wonder why the author of a particular book used the present tense where an aorist would have sufficed. This questioned festered in me and continued to grow. In frustration, I picked up Stan Porters book on aspect and was left lost in his analysis of linguistics and their importance for understanding aspect. Needing a Ph.D. to understand what he was getting at, I put the book down. When I heard of Campbell’s new book, my spirits were lifted and I was sensing there was a light at the end of the aspectual tunnel.

I. Strengths of BVA

1. It is Assessable and Easy to Grasp

One of the problems with reading books on aspect by Porter and Fanning is that they are very technical and have a specialist in mind for their audience. What Campbell has done with his new book is given the student who desires to get involved in the discussion his ticket into the show. He is clear and precise in his presentation, thus allowing the student to begin to grasp the theory of verbal aspect. No doubt there will be some (i.e. see Porter’s blurb on the back of the book) who will disagree with Campbell’s conclusions, but I will ask this: why have they then not attempted to produce a work this assessable for the student? For this reason alone all students of Koine should graciously thank Dr. Campbell for taking the time to write such a book for us.

2. It Has Examples and Exercises to Work Though

The exercises that are included are quite helpful and allow the reader to be able to put theory into practice. Dr. Campbell as explains himself in a clear and concise way, and also has included an answer key at the back, thus allowing the reader to be able to go through the exercises and check his work and progress.

3. It is Geared for the Student and Pastor

If one keeps in mind who the audience is intended to be, then some of the criticisms would most likely end. This book is meant to be a primer and not an in-depth analysis on aspect. Dr. Campbell has already produced two academic monographs that engage the scholar and critic alike. What we have here is a book for us students and pastors alike that brings us into the discussion and allows us the opportunity to learn the lingo and jargon that is espoused in discussions on aspect.

II. Weakness of BVA

1. It Was a Tad Short

The only real weakness that I feel BVA has is its length. At the end of the reading, I was left wanting more discussion and examples. Because there is a slew of books and articles written on aspect, there is most certainly room for more discussion and examples.

At the end of the day, Dr. Campbell has given us a gem of a primer. BVA is a great help for the student desiring to enter into the world of verbal aspect. It is clear, concise, and above all free of most of the technical jargon that makes other books almost impossible for the student to read and interact with. We owe Dr. Campbell a hearty thank you for his work and for giving us students a place at the table of scholars on verbal aspect.

N.B.  This is not Campbell’s first book on verbal aspect. In fact, he has written two very fine and accessible volumes on this very topic.  They are both published by Peter Lang and are very academinc in nature.

Verbal Aspect, the Indicative Mood, and Narrative: Soundings in the Greek of the New Testament (Studies in Biblical Greek).

Verbal Aspect and Non-Indicative Verbs: Further Soundings in the Greek of the New Testament (Studies in Biblical Greek)