Matthew Commentary Q & A with Author Jeannine K. Brown

 

7 Questions on Matthew in the Teach the Text Commentary Series

matthew commentary book cover

Jeannine K. Brown has focused much of her research and writing on the Gospels and on hermeneutics. In addition to a book on biblical hermeneutics, she has published two commentaries on Matthew’s Gospel and is currently co-writing a third. Brown has also co-written on interdisciplinary topics, such as Christian formation and interdisciplinary integration.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Matthew?

I’ve been interested in Matthew for years, dating back to my doctoral work. My dissertation (The Disciples in Narrative Perspective; SBL Academia Biblica) was on the portrayal of the disciples in Matthew, and I’ve written a shorter commentary on Matthew (The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary, 2012) that whetted my appetite for commentary work.

I love following Matthew’s storyline—the way he weaves blocks of Jesus’ teaching with what Jesus does in Galilee and then in Jerusalem. For example, we hear in chapters 5-9 the interconnection between Jesus’ actions of healing—actions defined by mercy and justice—and Jesus’ teaching and preaching about the arrival of God’s reign in the Sermon on the Mount. These sections of discourse and narrative work together to communicate who Jesus is and what restoration looks like.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

The Teach the Text commentary series is intended for pastors, students, and lay people. It doesn’t assume knowledge of technical vocabulary about biblical interpretation and so is well suited for laypersons. Yet it includes exegetical insights and also has sections devoted to “Teaching the Text” and “Illustrating the Text.” So, it would be very helpful for pastors and other church leaders, as well as for students who are in training to lead churches and other ministries.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Matthew?

I believe something relative unique about my commentary approach is that I provide a consistently narratival focus in it. By this I mean I highlight at various turns the literary intentionality and artistry of Matthew. My goal is to illuminate Matthew’s theology through my attention to the narrative contours of the Gospel, since it contains a rich narrative theology. And I focused the “Teaching the Text” sections primarily on Matthew’s narrative-theological vision of Jesus and the kingdom.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

Over the years, I have become more and more intrigued with Matthew 18—what’s called the Community Discourse. This chapter consists of Jesus’ teachings for living life together in the Christian community and addresses both the ideals and realities of communal life. Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 18 maintain a balance among various values, including, protecting the vulnerable (“little ones”), taking seriously stumbling blocks within the community, and commending a deep and lavish forgiveness for those who have been forgiven so generously by God.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

I’m impressed with Matthew’s “least of these” theology, which begins with his focus in chapters 10 and 18 on “little ones, who, though low in status, are to be valued within the believing community. This language moves to the superlative in Matthew 25, where Jesus illustrates his deep solidarity with “the least of these.” When we reach out in solidarity with the least, we will meet Jesus there. That kind of Jesus—one who crosses social and economic boundaries—is a Jesus I want to follow and emulate even more closely.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Matthew?

Hands down, Dick France’s Matthew commentary (NICNT). I have found it to be thorough, measured, and insightful. It was a great companion to me as I wrote my commentary. I also appreciate Mark Allan Powell’s work—for example, his article on the beatitudes in Catholic Biblical Quarterly. And I’m always helped by Amy-Jill Levine’s insights into Matthew’s Gospel. For instance, her work on understanding better first-century Jewish purity practices has been invaluable for my perspective on Matthew’s Gospel.

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I’ve just finished and submitted the Matthew commentary in Two Horizons series (Eerdmans), a collaborative project with Kyle Roberts, theologian. We wrote two of the three sections of the book together, so it has the feel of an integrative biblical-theological project. I am also in the last stages of a book with Steven Sandage, psychologist, on the integration of psychology and theology (Routledge). My future projects include a revision of Scripture as Communication (Baker), a book on a narrative approach to the Gospels (Baker), and the Philippians commentary in the revised Tyndale series (InterVarsity).

Anyone interested in following my work and teaching can find me at www.jeanninekbrown.com.


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Hebrews Commentary Q & A with Author David L. Allen

 

7 Questions on Hebrews in the New American Commentary Series

hebrews commentary allenDavid L. Allen serves as the Dean of the School of Preaching, Distinguished Professor of Preaching, Director of the Center for Expository Preaching, and holds the George W. Truett Chair of Pastoral Ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He was previously Dean of the School of Theology from 2004-2012. He served as senior pastor of two churches from 1982-1998.

Along with numerous other articles and chapters in multi-author volumes, he is the author of The Extent of the Atonement: A Historical and Critical Review (B&H, 2016); Hebrews in the New American Commentary Series (Broadman & Holman, 2010); Lukan Authorship of Hebrews (B&H, 2010); 1-3 John: Fellowship in God’s Family in the “Preaching the Word” Series (Crossway, 2013); and Preaching Tools: an Annotated Survey of Commentaries and Preaching Resources for Every Book of the Bible (2014, revised 2016).

Dr. Allen is also the co-editor and contributor of Anyone Can be Saved: A Defense of “Traditional” Southern Baptist Soteriology (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2016); Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism (Nashville: B&H, 2010), Text-Driven Preaching (Nashville: B&H, 2010), The Return of Christ: a Premillennial Perspective (B&H, 2011), and Preach the Word: Essays on Biblical Preaching in Honor of Jerry Vines (2014).

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Hebrews?

I became interested in Hebrews in college when I wrote a paper on the authorship of the book. Throughout seminary and PhD studies, I worked on the authorship issue and ultimately wrote my PhD dissertation on the subject, arguing the case that Luke was the independent author of Hebrews. A revised version of my dissertation was published the same year as the NAC volume on Hebrews entitled Lukan Authorship of Hebrews (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010). I preached through Hebrews twice in the two churches I pastored from 1982-1998. I taught it many times in Bible Conferences as well.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

The intended audience is first and foremost pastors; especially those committed to expository preaching. However, the NAC is both an exegetical and theological series. Though I make use of the Greek text throughout, I transliterate in the body and only use Greek font in the footnotes. Professors, students, and laypeople would benefit from this commentary.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Hebrews?

The uniqueness lies in four areas.

First, in the background introductory section, I summarize the case for Lukan authorship of Hebrews. Though this theory is as old as the second century in church history, I present linguistic evidence heretofore unnoticed that suggests Luke may have been the author.

Second, extensive treatment of the structure and theology of the prologue, Hebrews 1:1-4, covers 65 pages. This text is one of the four great Christological passages in the New Testament. It is programmatic for the entire letter.

Third, I have provided the most extensive treatment of Hebrews 6:1-8 found in any commentary of which I am aware: more than 50 pages.

Fourth, I have written this commentary from a discourse perspective, showing the overall semantic structure of the letter and how each paragraph is structured semantically as well. This is an important contribution that aids the expository preacher in preaching through the letter paragraph by paragraph. As William Lane said about the author of Hebrews: “Here is first-century exegesis in the service of preaching.”

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

Hebrews 6:1-8. This text is the single most problematic interpretative issue in the letter, and many scholars would say it is one of the top five most difficult passages in the entire NT. In addition to careful linguistic analysis of the text, I cover each of the five major interpretations (and of all the five warning passages in Hebrews), providing evidence for and against. To my knowledge, my treatment is the most extensive argument in favor of the Loss of Rewards view of the passage. I argue that the issue is not apostasy but spiritual maturity.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

Life’s problems can only be met and solved by clear thinking about Christ’s High Priesthood and finished work of atonement, which is the doctrinal heart of the letter. My spiritual progress in my Christian life is grounded in my understanding of the person and work of Christ. Christ is my anchor of hope and guarantees the certainty of my eternal destiny amidst life’s currents of circumstances that crisscross one another in endless complications. Jesus Christ: the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Hebrews?

1. William Lane, Hebrews 1-8. Hebrews 9-13. Word Biblical Commentary.

2. Paul Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews. New International Greek Text Commentary.

3. F. F. Bruce, Hebrews. Revised Edition. New International Commentary on the New Testament.

4. Gareth Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews. New International on the New Testament. (Takes the place of Bruce’s original commentary in this series.)

5. Linda Lloyd Neeley, “A Discourse Analysis of Hebrews,” Occasional Papers in Translation and Textlinguistics 3-4, (1987): 1-146.

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I am currently working on two projects.

First, I am writing the manuscript for the atonement volume (The Atonement of Christ) in the multi-volume Baptist Thesaurus Series, edited by Paige Patterson and Jason Duesing. I hope to submit the manuscript early fall of 2017.

Second, I am working on a commentary on Job (Exalting Jesus in Job) in the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary Series published by B&H Academic. I hope to submit the manuscript by Dec. 31, 2017.

I can be followed on my website: www.drdavidlallen.com, Facebook (David Lewis Allen) and on Twitter (@DrDavidLAllen).


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Genesis Commentary Q & A with Author James McKeown

 

7 Questions on Genesis in the Two Horizons Commentary Series

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James McKeown was Vice Principal of Belfast Bible College and lecturer in Old Testament for over 20 years. He left Belfast Bible College in 2009 in order to spend more time writing and teaching in Church settings. At present he teaches Old Testament Historical Books and Advanced Hebrew at Union Theological College and supervises postgraduate students. For the last 4 years James has been a lecturer in the Irish Studies Program of John Brown University, Arkansas.

His interests include the Hebrew language and its application to understanding the Old Testament. He has written a number of articles on Old Testament studies. James is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a member of the Board of the Institute of Theology, Queen’s University Belfast.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Genesis?

As a lecturer in Old Testament and Hebrew at Belfast Bible College, I had taught Genesis for over 20 years. The most important aspect of my preparation related to the questions that students asked during lectures. This made me aware of the areas that needed clarification.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

This commentary provides a resource for people who are studying the Scriptures. While the Hebrew language is printed for those who will benefit from it, each word is also transliterated and translated. Thus the commentary is suitable for anyone willing to take time to study seriously. The theological section of the book, gives a good overview of Genesis and hopefully will be helpful for those preparing sermons or bible studies.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Genesis?

As part of the Two Horizons series, this book has two main sections. There is a commentary based on the Hebrew text and then there is a theological section that discusses the main themes and the key theological teaching of Genesis.

Readers will be aware that Genesis 1-11 has been interpreted in many different ways and there are lots of books that seek to persuade the reader that one particular interpretation is correct. This is not the purpose of this book. Various approaches are outlined and their strengths and weaknesses are discussed. I believe that it is important for readers to be informed about the views that others hold.

This book will be useful for those who want to examine the evidence available, particularly from the Hebrew text of Genesis, and then to come to an informed decision about some of the controversial issues. The book will not be useful for those who have their minds made up and don’t want to know what the other views are.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

Every passage in Genesis has a powerful message that is just as relevant today as when it was first written. To pick just one passage that is memorable is very difficult. However, the story of Hagar is particularly memorable. I was surprised by the cruelty. According to the Genesis narrative, Abraham and Sarah, never used her name. She was just a slave girl, one of their possessions. However, she is called by name in the narrative and it is God who addresses her personally and promises future blessing. I am thrilled to read this story of how our God loved someone who was alone, badly treated and unloved.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

Genesis is a book of beginnings. In this commentary, I have tried to develop a biblical theology and show how the themes in Genesis flow through the entire Bible, both Old Testament and New. I am sure that when the risen Christ taught from the Scriptures the things concerning Himself, he would have begun with Genesis.

Genesis shows how human beings chose to disobey God and it also shows that God Himself was affected by this disobedience. I quote from the commentary, “God’s observation of the evil multiplying among human beings on earth has a dramatic effect: God is grieved and His heart is filled with pain” (p. 51). God’s love and compassion are fully revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ but this compassion is also clearly seen in the book of Genesis.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Genesis?

The Word Biblical commentaries on Genesis by Gordon Wenham, are detailed and tackle many technical issues that a shorter commentary cannot deal with.

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I have also written a commentary on Ruth which was a very interesting experience. It is also in the Two Horizons series. At present I am busy preparing lectures for the autumn semester. I am a member of the adjunct faculties of Union Theological College (Belfast) and John Brown University (Arkansas). However, I don’t teach in Arkansas, but many of their students come to study in Belfast each year.


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Daniel Commentary Q & A with Author Wendy Widder

 

7 Questions on Daniel in the SGBC Commentary Series

daniel commentary book cover

Wendy Widder is an author, teacher, and scholar, who loves helping people understand the Bible better. Most of her study has been devoted to the Old Testament, and she is especially passionate about helping the church restore an appreciation and love for this oft neglected Bulk-of-the-Bible.

She has a PhD in Near Eastern Studies (University of the Free State), an MA in Hebrew and Semitic Studies (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and an MDiv with an emphasis in educational ministries (Grand Rapids Theological Seminary). She is the author of two books for single adults and a third book for Christian school teachers, which she co-authored with her father. Additionally, her master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation have been published, by Logos Bible Software and Walter de Gruyter, respectively.

Wendy currently works at Logos Bible Software, where she helped author half a dozen books for Lexham Press, the publishing arm of Logos.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Daniel?

I landed in Daniel studies less by choice than by necessity, but I’m thankful I did! My earliest life experiences with the book, aside from the familiar set of stories in chapters 1-6, were tied to end times charts and a fair bit of evangelical scare tactics. Understanding the book seemed far too complicated for an average Christian since even the experts kept changing the details about what would happen, who would be involved, and when events would transpire. As a result, I steered clear of Daniel for most of my adult life.

But when I was in my last year of dissertating, I needed cash and credentials on my CV, so I approached the dean at my alma mater seminary to see if he had any courses I could teach. He came back with “How about Daniel?”—and I mustered an enthusiastic “sure!” in response. After I taught that initial course (and loved it!), I ended up at the seminary teaching part-time for two years—and due to the school’s needs at the time, I ended up teaching the course multiple times. So, I guess the best answer to the question is that providence led me to this project!

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

My “Daniel” is in the Story of God series, a series designed for pastors and laypeople. My husband, an electrical engineer by trade, read the entire book on a six-day business trip—could hardly put it down—and thinks it should be required reading for all Christians, but he might be a little biased… I might be a little biased, too, but I think it’s really readable.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Daniel?

The series is committed to reading the biblical text in its ancient Near Eastern setting and also focusing on the continuing significance of the text for us. It is unique in that it also specifically addresses how the Old Testament texts reveal Christ, that is, how they fit within the full story of God as revealed in both Testaments. I hope that my Daniel commentary accomplishes this!

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

I think the second half of the book, which is by far the more difficult half, was especially memorable. Maybe that’s just because I wrote it later, so I remember it better. 😉 Seriously, though, the first half of the book is such familiar terrain that it’s easy to forget the message because we’ve heard it so many times. But the crazy visions of chapters 7-12 were new terrain and as I approached them, I thought, “What on earth am I going to say about these that’s relevant for day-to-day life?” But as God is wont to do, He surprised me with the profound in-the-trenches relevance of the visions.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

I wrote this commentary during a particularly difficult season of life that caught me by surprise—as many seasons of life do. 🙂 It was deeply and profoundly painful, and while my suffering did not register on the global scale, it was mine and it was what I needed to get through by the grace of God. Much of that grace came in the form of this writing project. As I spent a couple hours each day in the world of Daniel, where suffering made no sense but God was still in control, I was daily reminded that the One on the throne knew what was happening in my life and had it all in His hands. I took great comfort in this truth.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Daniel?

I appreciate Tremper Longman’s Daniel commentary in the NIVAC series, as well as Ernest Lucas’s in the IVP Apollos series. I’ve used both of them when teaching the book. James Hamilton’s With the Clouds of Heaven (IVP) is thought-provoking and useful as well, as are Sidney Greidanus’s Preaching Christ from Daniel (Eerdmans) and Bryan Chapell’s The Gospel According to Daniel (Baker).

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I’m presently working on a second Daniel commentary — this one for the ZECOT series (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament). You can follow me on my blog (wendywidder.com), though I have not been much of a blogger over the past two years. Life has gotten in the way!


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2 Corinthians Commentary Q & A with Author Mark Seifrid

 

7 Questions on 2 Corinthians in the Pillar Commentary Series

corinthians commentary coverMark A. Seifrid is professor of exegetical theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. He has been the Ernest and Mildred Hogan professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois and he received his Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1990.

His books include, Justification by Faith: The Origin and Development of a Central Pauline Theme (1992), Christ, Our Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of Justification (2000), and Justification And Variegated Nomism: Volumes I and II, with D.A. Carson and Peter T. O’Brien (2001, 2004).

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on 2 Corinthians?

I have had an interest in Paul, his message, and its relevance for us today for a very long time. Second Corinthians receives less attention than Romans, Galatians, and even First Corinthians. But its message concerning the “word of the cross” and the nature of Christian life speaks directly and powerfully to contemporary Christianity.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

The target audience includes any and all who are interested in listening to the message of Scripture with close attention to the biblical text. I had pastors and their needs in mind as I wrote, but also interested laity. It will speak, I think, to the scholarly community as well.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of 2 Corinthians?

I have attempted to hear Second Corinthians as a “word on target” (Beker), addressing the needs of the Corinthian church after a long and contentious relationship with Paul. The letter is to be read and understood as a whole — and furthermore as the theological complement to First Corinthians where the question of the marks of an apostle and the marks of a Christian likewise stand at the center of the contention. Once the center of the conflict becomes clear, the relevance of the message of Christ’s power hidden within weakness and suffering becomes clear.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

I suppose that I would have to say Second Corinthians 3, the contrast between Paul and Moses, the ministry of life and that of death. Its relevance for the interpretation of the entire letter should not be underestimated: God gives life only where he has put to death. That is the message of the crucified and risen Christ.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

The fresh discovery of comfort in Christ, sufficient for living and dying.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on 2 Corinthians?

I found Ulrich Heckel’s Kraft in Schwachheit (Power in Weakness) especially helpful (although that is only in German). I still like Furnish in the Anchor Bible series. Frank Matera [New Testament Library series] should not be overlooked.

7. What’s next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I am currently working on a commentary on Galatians. Aside from googling my publications, the best way to keep track of what I am doing would be to visit the Concordia, St. Louis website.


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Deuteronomy Commentary Q & A with Author Allan Harmon

 

7 Questions on Deuteronomy in the Focus on the Bible Commentary Series

deuteronomy commentary book coverAllan Harman is an Australian Presbyterian theologian and Old Testament scholar. He has written commentaries on Psalms, Daniel, Deuteronomy and Isaiah. Dr. Harman studied at the University of Edinburgh, gaining a Bachelor of Divinity in 1960, and Master of Letters in Hebrew and Semitic Languages, before going on to Westminster Theological Seminary where he achieved a Master of Theology in 1961 and later a Doctor of Theology.

In 2003, he was granted an honorary Doctor of Theology from the Australian College of Theology. He was also one of the translators of the New King James Version.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Deuteronomy?

I first became especially interested in Deuteronomy during graduate studies at Westminster Theological Seminary under Dr Meredith Kline, who was linking the Near East treaty documents with the OT. When I started lecturing in OT myself I dealt with some of the issues regarding covenant, but being asked to work on Deuteronomy for the NKJV stimulated my interest more deeply. Teaching graduate courses on Deuteronomy, prompted me to commence a commentary to draw together some of the insights I had developed.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? Professors? Students? Lay Christians in the local church?

Along with other commentaries in the Focus on the Bible Series, this commentary was intended to reach an audience more particularly of students and pastors, but with some interest for more academic discussions particularly on the structure of the book. I try and write without a great deal of discussion with other commentators, and I think that that helps lay readers to use my commentaries as well. My aim is to try and explain the Hebrew text as I understand it.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Deuteronomy?

Probably the most distinctive feature is how I argue that chapters 6-26 are structured around the Decalogue. If we want a detailed exposition of the Decalogue we turn to Deuteronomy to see how Moses explained its significance, and applied its basic covenant stipulations to life in Israel.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

Deuteronomy consists of Moses’ preaching to the children of Israel before the entry into Canaan. The sermons come to a climax in chapters 29 and 30, and I was amazed at the intensity with which Moses pressed home his message. He sets before Israel the alternatives of life and death, and wants them to choose life (30:19-20). This passage, of course, lies behind Paul’s words in Romans 10:1-13. It is a reminder that true preaching brings hearers to a crisis point in responding to the challenge set before them — belief or unbelief?

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

It was a blessing to work on the translation of the book, which forced me to be so conscious of many details in the text. Deuteronomy refers back to the previous history of Israel, especially at Sinai and then in the wilderness journeys. But it also shows how submission to the lordship of a sovereign God has to be demonstrated in obedience to God’s covenantal requirements. In general, its teaching emphasises redeeming grace, displayed in the Exodus, and which came to even fuller expression in Christ’s redemptive work. This concept of grace was a particular blessing when working on the book. Passages such as the institution of kingship (17:14-20) and prophecy (18:9-22) were also very helpful in pointing forward to Christ’s ministry as prophet and king.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Deuteronomy?

One of the most suggestive commentaries on Deuteronomy is Meredith Kline’s commentary in the Wycliffe Bible Commentary (pp. 155-204). This was reprinted in his book Treaty of the Great King: The Covenant Structure of Deuteronomy (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), along with his articles on covenant contributed to the Westminster Theological Journal.

I have always liked the Tyndale Commentary by my fellow Australian, John Thompson, and the exceedingly clear study by Peter Craigie in the NICOT series.

Commentaries by two other evangelical writers are also ones I recommend. Eugene Merrill contributed the volume in the New American Commentary series (1994), while John Currid wrote in the Study Series of Evangelical Press (Darlington: 2006).

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I now have written several commentaries on OT books. They are:

Psalms (Mentor Series: Christian Focus, 1998)
Deuteronomy (Focus on the Bible Series: Christian Focus, 2001)
Isaiah (Focus on the Bible Series: Christian Focus, 2005)
Daniel (Study Commentary Series: Evangelical Press, 2007)
Psalms, 2 vols. (Mentor Series: Christian Focus, 2011)
Exodus (Focus on the Bible Series: Christian Focus, 2017)

At present I am working on some shorter articles on OT subjects. Though I gave up the editorship of the Reformed Theological Review in 2013 (after 35 years), I am still connected with it, and both write articles and contribute book reviews. Most of my writing is done for three Christian publishers — Christian Focus Publications, The Banner of Truth Trust, and Evangelical Press — and readers can look on their websites.

Another interest interest of mine is the biblical commentator Matthew Henry (1662-1714). I own twenty-nine of his sermons in his own handwriting, and edited them for publication. The volume is entitled Matthew Henry’s Unpublished Sermons on the Covenant of Grace (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). They also appeared in Dutch (2002) and Spanish (2005). My biography of him, Matthew Henry: His Life and Influence, was published by Christian Focus Publications in 2012.


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Matthew Commentary Q & A with Author Rodney Reeves

 

7 Questions on Matthew in the SGBC Commentary Series

matthew commentary book coverRodney Reeves (Ph.D. in New Testament, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the College Dean and Courts Redford Professor of Biblical Studies at his alma mater, located in Bolivar, MO. His publications include Rediscovering Paul. (co-authored with David B. Capes and E. Randolph Richards) and Spirituality According to Paul (IVP Academic).

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Matthew?

As a former pastor (and current college professor), I’ve been concerned about the divorce between the academy and the church. It’s easy for scholars to do their work in isolation, only promoting the guild, with barely an eye on the needs of the church. That’s why I’ve always admired scholars who see their work in service of the church, like Scot McKnight and NT Wright. So, when Scot asked me to join the effort of producing a commentary that seeks to bridge the academy and the church, I jumped at the chance.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

The Story of God Bible Commentary is designed to benefit ministers of the Church (clergy and laity, professors and students), informed by academic scholarship, written at a very accessible level without a lot of scholarly jargon.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Matthew?

Some commentaries try to convert narratives to propositions, extracting lessons for today. What I love about the SGBC is the series’ emphasis on the power of story. In each passage, we try to not only “listen to the story” (pointing out threads of other biblical stories woven into the fabric of Scripture), and “explain the story” (for example, how Matthew is telling a grand story within the episodic narrative), but also “live the story” (where we ask, “What would it look like if we were to live this story now!”).

Matthean scholars won’t find ground-breaking ideas in my work. Rather, I’ve taken what scholars have said about Matthew and translated it to the needs of the church today.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

Jesus’ charge to the twelve to recover the lost sheep of Israel (9:35-11:1). We misread his instructions, as if he were telling us how to convert pagans to Christ. Jesus specifically told his disciples not to go to the Gentiles (unbelievers), but only to the Galileans who were “lost sheep”—which, I think, was an indictment on the leaders of Israel. These “lost sheep” were Jews who had been abused by “wicked shepherds.” Therefore, we should take his advice as wisdom for recovering our “lost sheep,” Christians who have left the church due to abusive leaders.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

Seeing Jesus as the last King of Israel for the sake of the whole world, how he ascended David’s throne through the cross, and required his disciples to follow him by doing the same—losing our lives—helped me see even more clearly the way the kingdom of heaven comes to earth.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Matthew?

I benefited greatly from W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison (ICC), Ulruch Luz (Hermeneia), R. T. France (NICNT), David Garland (Reading Matthew), John Nolland (NIGTC), and Craig Keener’s commentary on Matthew. Scot’s commentary on the Sermon for this series was also very beneficial—especially since we read the SOM similarly.

Finally, I really enjoyed working through John Chrysostom’s commentary on Matthew—there are some overlooked gems in there: great insights and one-liners that are humdingers. One of my favorites, when referring to the odd collection of the evidence that we are blessed of God—poor, mourn, persecuted—Chrysostom wrote, “In pronouncing them blessed, who are persecuted, and chased, and suffer all intolerable things; not for them only, but also for all who arrive at the same excellency, He weaves His crown.” That is brilliant.

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I’m currently writing, Spirituality according to John (IVP)—a companion volume of sorts to my work on Paul’s Spirituality. I’ve also just begun working with my colleagues (David Capes and Randy Richards) on another “Rediscovering” book: Rediscovering the New Testament (IVP), where we are going to introduce the student to the NT literature chronologically (rather than follow the canonical order of the NT). We’re essentially trying to answer the question, “Why did God inspire the NT like that—Paul’s letters before the literary Gospels?”

Get updates from the Courts Redford College of Ministry at Southwest Baptist University here.

Find Dr. Reeeves blog here and a collection of his sermons and presentations on podacst here.


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Nahum Commentary Q & A with Author Gregory Cook

 

7 Questions on Nahum in the GAOT Commentary Series

nahum commentary cook

Gregory D. Cook has completed a PhD in hermeneutics and biblical interpretation from Westminster Theological Seminary, prior to which he was the pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church (PCA) in West Virginia and the youth and college pastor at Evangelical Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Delaware.

He has written a number of academic articles that may be found at http://minorprophets.org/articles/ or https://independent.academia.edu/GregCook2. You may contact Greg via http://minorprophets.org/contact/.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Nahum?

My fascination with Nahum began when I decided to preach through Nahum. I really struggled in that series, but I became captivated by the final verse:

“There is no easing your hurt; your wound is grievous. All who hear the news about you clap their hands over you. For upon whom has not come your unceasing evil?” (Nah. 3:19 ESV)

To me, it seemed a prophecy of Satan’s doom and I began looking for evidence of this within Nahum. I found much more than I expected, and this became the foundation for my Ph.D. dissertation. That dissertation eventually led to Severe Compassion.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

Severe Compassion is the latest in a series entitled The Gospel According to the Old Testament. The purpose of the series is to help those in the Church understand how various portions of the Old Testament prophesy of Christ and are fulfilled in Christ. I wanted to provide a resource for preachers and Bible study leaders to preach and teach through Nahum; I believe all of Scripture deserves attention and I knew that there were few resources to help someone who wanted to understand Nahum’s significance. My book provides enough material for a sermon series but is written so that high school student can understand it. Anyone who has little understanding of Nahum, but desires more, could read my book devotionally.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to the study of Nahum?

Nahum is the least-known, least-taught, and least-preached book in the Bible. Each book of the Bible is important—none is redundant. Severe Compassion gives preachers and laity a tool to understand the historical situation of Nahum as well as its application to the modern Christian. Furthermore, it is explicitly Christocentric. The purpose of reading Nahum—or any biblical text—is to exalt and reveal Christ. Unfortunately, many commentaries on the Old Testament do not give this aspect of biblical interpretation the attention it deserves. I do not know of any other book devoted to Nahum that interprets Nahum in a Christocentric manner.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

I have an interest in ministries fighting human trafficking. Because of this, I found Nahum 3:4–7 fascinating as it condemned ancient Assyria for its wide-scale human trafficking. I wrote two chapters on those four verses. The parallels between ancient Assyria and modern traffickers are striking. This has implications for our understanding of Christ as our Redeemer as well as the Church’s role in spreading God’s love.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 ESV). Any portion of Scripture that we understand more deeply will bring freedom. I had the rare privilege of writing a dissertation in which I was fascinated by the subject, came to a greater understanding of Jesus, and reached conclusions that I believe will help the Church. The period of time I spent researching and writing my dissertation and Severe Compassion were sweet times because I was discovering and communicating truths from an oft-neglected prophet.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Nahum?

This question is more difficult for Nahum than for other books. First of all, there are not very many books on Nahum. Usually a commentary series will have an author produce a work on several Minor Prophets at once—typically Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah will be treated together. The second—and more significant—problem is that most Nahum books treat the prophecy as a three-chapter lesson on God’s general judgment against wickedness. For instance, one well-known conservative commentator wrote,

“The book of Nahum runs the risk of being monotonous because of the singularity of the author’s purpose and theme. He is intent on saying only one thing: Nineveh shall fall. But the variety of methods which he employs in saying this one thing are quite remarkable and lend great force to his message.”

Unfortunately, this idea that Nahum has a simple and singular message is found in most of the literature. I found many books on Nahum helpful in some way, but none that I would recommend as a whole.

7. What’s next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

It is increasingly common for evangelicals to interpret the book of Jonah as a parable rather than a historical event. The constant assault and ridicule of Jonah as real history has caused some to say we were not meant to interpret Jonah literally. The problems extend beyond the question of the fish. Commentators find the human behavior of the sailors, prophet, and (most notably) the Ninevites problematic. I believe the 8th century B.C. provides substantial evidence that the events of Jonah are an accurate historical record. This is my current project.

My website (www.minorprophets.org) is the best way to keep up with my writing. As items are published, I update the website and post the articles there if allowed by the publisher. The website also has the first chapter of Severe Compassion available for downloading in either e-book or audiobook form, as well as links to some of the online retailers who offer the print, e-book, or audiobook for sale. Currently, christianaudio.com is running a $5 promotional price for the audiobook, which is the cheapest way to obtain it.


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Luke Commentary Q & A with Author Alan Thompson

 

7 Questions on Luke in the EGGNT Commentary Series

luke commentary book coverAlan J. Thompson (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), originally from New Zealand, has been teaching New Testament and Biblical Theology at Sydney Missionary & Bible College since 2005.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary?

My PhD was focused on the book of Acts (published as One Lord, One People: The Unity of the Church in Acts in its Literary Setting. LNTS. T&T Clark, 2008) and I have also written a book on the biblical theology of Acts that took Luke’s Gospel into consideration (The Acts of the Risen Lord Jesus: Luke’s Account of God’s Unfolding Plan. NSBT. Inter-Varsity, 2011). This research as well as teaching on Luke and Acts has meant that I’ve developed a special interest in Luke’s writings and jumped at the opportunity to focus more specifically on Luke’s Gospel.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

This Exegetical Guide is designed for students and Pastors who have completed at least one year of beginning Greek. So, students who are in their second or third year of Greek at Seminary or College will find this a helpful guide. Pastors who are preparing sermons and who still use the Greek text or at least remember some of their Greek or even those who want to renew their use of Greek will also profit from this volume. I have tried to explain the structure and the various sections of Luke’s Gospel as well as provide brief exegetical comments and suggested sermon outlines with preachers in mind.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Luke’s Gospel?

It really stands as a bridge between the Greek New Testament and more traditional commentaries. In that sense it is primarily a guide that focuses on the Greek text and helps explain the grammar, syntax, and flow of argument in the Greek text. Generally throughout the volume, and in keeping with the format of all EGGNT volumes, I note representative translations, lexicons, grammarians, and commentators for differing views of the grammar and significant debated exegetical points, and point to further discussions of the grammar/construction in the major grammars. Where it is helpful to explain a complex development I outline the flow of argument, for example, of sequences of verses (e.g., 1:51–54; 68–75; 14:8–12; 16:9–12), whole pericopes (e.g., 6:17–49; 8:1–21; 10:25–37; 11:1–13; 15:1–32; 20:45–21:4; 22:39–46), and broader narrative units (e.g., 7:1–8:56; 13:10–14:35; 18:31–19:44).

As noted above, I have also tried to explain the structure of the larger sections of Luke’s Gospel with preachers in mind. So, for example, I identify main themes and repeated emphases and highlight those in the headings and sub-headings throughout the book. These sub-headings (together with the suggested sermon outlines), if read in conjunction with introductory paragraphs, exegetical analysis of the details, and brief summary explanations throughout the text, will help readers understand the flow of argument in the immediate context as well as the wider narrative.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

Because I was primarily focused on the (Greek) text of Luke’s Gospel I loved seeing the literary shaping of the text and thinking through how Luke’s Gospel is an orderly account. This is especially evident in the opening two chapters where Luke introduces Jesus as the Lord who brings the long-awaited salvation. The contrasts that Luke makes with John are particularly striking. Their parents, births, and future roles are contrasted so that the greatness of Jesus is accentuated in this contrast with John who is himself great! The songs of praise that resound with joy complete the emphasis that the saving promises of God (1:5–56) are being fulfilled (1:57–2:40) through the Lord Jesus.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

I was reminded again and again of the authority and compassion of Jesus (note e.g., references in the EGGNT Luke volume to the power of Jesus’ word in 4:14–6:49; 7:1–8:56; and the use of κύριος in Luke’s Gospel). I was also reminded of the number of times Luke’s Gospel draws attention to the impact that eternity, what lies beyond the grave, and the judgment to come should have on our lives now. There are of course well-known specific references to this (for example in 12:20; 16:22–23; and 23:43). As I thought through wider thematic issues with wider discourse observations in view, however, I was also struck by how often this theme was prominent in whole sections of Luke’s Gospel, for example in 12:1–13:9, again in 13:10–15:32, and yet again in 16:1–18:8 (these are noted in my headings and sub-headings for these sections). Themes such as persecution, wealth, worry, faithful service, prayer, as well as the need to repent and trust in Jesus are all tied to Jesus’ teaching on heaven and hell in various ways and serve to strengthen trust in the Lord Jesus.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Luke’s Gospel?

In the introduction to this guide I identify the five main commentaries that I interact with throughout the volume and provide a succinct summary of the strengths of each one (the five are commentaries by [Darrell] Bock, [Francois] Bovon, [Joseph] Fitzmyer, [I. Howard] Marshall, and [John] Nolland) and I also mention the other slightly less technical one volume commentaries that I refer to occasionally. I recommend the commentaries by Bock (BECNT) and [James R.] Edwards (Pillar) for pastors.

7. What’s next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

Lord willing, in the near future I will continue to focus on Luke and Acts. I’m looking forward to drawing out the exegetical observations from my work on Luke and making them accessible in notes on Luke’s Gospel for a Study Bible. I’m also working on a commentary on Acts for the new B&H series, Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation. Beyond this, although Luke and Acts are the longest books in the New Testament, I’m also looking forward to writing on other parts of the New Testament (!) as I’m contracted to write a commentary on Colossians. In God’s kindness these projects provide enough for me to focus on in the near future!


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1-2 Thessalonians Commentary Q & A with Author Andy Johnson

 

7 Questions on 1-2 Thessalonians in the Two Horizons Commentary Series

thessalonians commentary book coverDr. Andy Johnson has taught at Nazarene Theological Seminary since the fall of 2002 where he is the Professor of New Testament. He is the author of numerous scholarly and popular articles, a co-editor of Holiness and Ecclesiology in the New Testament (Eerdmans, 2007), an associate editor of the Wesley Study Bible (Abingdon, 2009), and part of the translation team of the Common English Bible (2011). His most recent publications include 1 & 2 Thessalonians in the Between Two Horizons commentary series (Eerdmans, 2016) and Holiness and the Missio Dei (Cascade, 2016).

He is also an avid Kansas City Royals and Kansas Jayhawks (basketball!) fan and a youth baseball and basketball coach. The happiest time of his year is when he is standing over on third base giving signs to his kids at the plate and he’s fully convinced that baseball will be a part of God’s new creation about which he loves to write.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians?

I wrote this commentary over far too many years. I started work on it about 2004 and worked on it off and on for 11 years. Prior to 2004, I had worked in Pauline Studies but had become interested in the emerging area of theological interpretation. I was convinced that the most helpful sort of interpretation for the Church would always be theological in nature, however one chose to describe what that entailed. Over those 11 years, my understanding of theological interpretation took shape was broadened as I had to deal the specificities of 1 & 2 Thessalonians.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

While some sections might be beneficial to a few lay Christians, much of the commentary would be tough going for most lay Christians. Its primary intended audience is theological students, professors, and pastors.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of 1 and 2 Thessalonians?

Like other commentaries in this series, this one approaches the biblical text theologically. What I aim to do in it is to stimulate critical reflection on the church’s beliefs and practices in order to facilitate the church’s ongoing formation into the visible body of the cruciform, living Christ to whom Scripture bears witness. To speak of the church’s formation into such a visible body, however, compels us to ask to what end. The formation of the church and members who make it up into conformity with Christ is not simply for the sake of insuring the salvation of its individual members. Rather, as I argue throughout my comments on these letters, the church is formed into the visible body of the living, cruciform Christ in order to participate in the life and mission of the Triune God. Taking this point seriously means that interpreting the Bible theologically for the sake of the church ought to be characterized by a missional orientation toward the interpretive task. In other words, since the Triune God is by nature, a “sending/missional” God, a properly “theological” interpretation of Scripture will itself be missionally oriented for the purpose of aiding in the continuing formation of the church as a missional community.

In the commentary, I try to make this missional orientation to the interpretive task evident in at least two ways. First, while there are numerous critical issues and aspects of the text one might choose to comment on in the Thessalonian correspondence, I consciously attempt to focus on elements of the text that seem to me to be the most useful for facilitating the continuing formation of the church into its proper identity as a missional community. Second, throughout the commentary I assume that Scripture has a roughly discernible shape that bears witness to God’s mission for the cosmos. I then employ this narrative framework (along with the aspects of the Nicene-Constantinople creed) as a clarifying set of interpretive lenses for bringing 1 and 2 Thessalonians into clearer canonical focus. That, in turn, contributes to a better understanding of the shape of Scripture’s missional framework and the church’s participation in that mission (at least I hope it does). I’m not aware of another commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians that intentionally takes this sort of approach in the exegesis of these letters.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

Two passages in particular, both regarding eschatology, were particularly interesting for me to research and attempt to explicate. Both 1 Thess 4:13-18 and 2 Thess 2:1-12 have fueled popular understandings of “the end times.” In the 1970’s both these passages struck terror into my teenage heart because I was afraid that I might miss the secret rapture of the “true” believers to heaven (allegedly referred to in 1 Thess 4:13-18). And I was pretty sure it was right around the corner because lots of “prophecy experts” were saying that the “Man of Lawlessness” (aka “the Antichrist”) was already alive and living somewhere in Europe. He was just waiting for the “restraining” Holy Spirit to be taken out of the way (supposedly referred to in 2 Thess 2:6-7) when the Church was raptured to heaven before he made his public appearance. This 1970’s version of popular Dispensationalism has morphed into other versions since then (e.g., the slightly different version offered by the Left Behind series). But the notion of a secret rapture of the church and particular predictions of the appearance (and identity!) of the “Man of Lawlessness” are still quite widespread in popular Christian culture.

5. How would pastors in particular be helped by your approach in the eschatology of 1 and 2 Thessalonians?

In the face of such widespread eschatological notions, pastors need to be equipped to form and shape their congregations with a healthier eschatology that is more biblically and theologically coherent. Toward that end, the latter part of the commentary has two sub-sections that I think might be particularly helpful for pastors. In the first (“On the [Secret] Rapture”), I address in some detail the way Dispensationalism originated, its interpretive assumptions, and the way those assumptions are displayed as Dispensationalist interpreters read the Thessalonian correspondence. I try to show that this particular “theological hermeneutic” is deficient and that neither 1 or 2 Thessalonians ever plainly refers to, or even implies, a secret rapture…unless, that is, one brings this particular hermeneutic to the text as an a priori assumption. In the second of these sub-sections (“Paul’s ‘Anti-Christology’”), I suggest a way of reading the passage on “the Man of Lawlessness” canonically, with one eye turned toward paradigmatic arrogant kings of the OT and the other turned toward the Christ hymn in Phil 2. My hope is that this reading and my accompanying hermeneutical observations will point pastors in a helpful direction and actually encourage them to teach and preach on this passage.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on 1 and 2 Thessalonians?

I recently wrote about the primary resources I’d recommend on the Pauline letters of Philippians to Philemon. Here’s what I said about 1 & 2 Thessalonians:

Jeffrey Weima’s recent commentary on 1–2 Thessalonians (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament; Baker Academic, 2014) deserves to become the standard, full-scale commentary on the Greek text for English readers, particularly for evangelicals. Even though his knowledge of the secondary literature on these epistles is unsurpassed and informs his comments judiciously, and though he devotes great attention to historical, political, and cultural contexts, he keeps his primary focus on the Greek text, offering sound and mature exegetical judgments. He writes clearly and accessibly, but working through some of the more exhaustive exegetical sections might take more time than some busy pastors can devote. In keeping with the aim of the series, he demonstrates good theological awareness in his comments but does not engage in lengthy, sustained theological discussion.

In my own commentary on these letters (THNTC, 2016), I utilize the developing interpretive framework of missional hermeneutics to present a theological interpretation that aims to help the church more fully participate in the life and mission of the triune God. The exegetical section proper proceeds verse-by-verse, bringing not only first century socio-historical and political background to bear on the text, but explicit theological concerns as well. The rest of the commentary offers substantial discussion of various theological issues raised by 1 and 2 Thessalonians (e.g., eschatology, holiness, election), including an essay critiquing popular Dispensationalism as a particular theological hermeneutic.

The commentaries by Abraham Malherbe (AYB, 2004) and Gordon Fee (NICNT, 2009) are also good additions to one’s library. Although Malherbe (wrongly in my view) sometimes dismisses the importance of the political background of Roman imperialism, his knowledge of the ancient literary context and the Greco-Roman moral philosophers generally enriches one’s understanding of these epistles. Fee’s commentary represents what one has come to expect from him, namely, thorough knowledge of background material and sound interpretive judgments paired with pastoral sensitivity (“Building a New Testament Library: Philippians – Philemon,” Catalyst [March 2016].

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I am returning to focus on my “first love,” at least in terms of theological topics. Over two decades ago, I completed a dissertation on 1 Corinthians 15. I have been interested in the topic of resurrection ever since and have written a good number of articles on resurrection as well as taught a course on resurrection in the NT every other year. I am in the beginning stages of writing a book that will focus on the way resurrection relates to a variety of other theological topics such as: atonement, the Spirit, the Triune God, justification, sanctification/holiness, election, the church, the missio Dei (and possibly even the issue of race). I plan to approach all this by engaging in a theological/missional interpretation of particular scriptural texts.

I don’t do much with social media other than occasionally tweet @ajrisen. If anyone is interested in seeing some of my presentations in webinars, sermons, or workshops offered in lay settings, you could search for my name at the NTS Center for Pastoral Leadership.


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