Month: September 2013

Calvin: 2 Timothy the most Profitable Book of Scripture

John_Calvin

I am working through Calvin’s sermons on the Pastoral Epistles in preparation for the Reformation Commentary on Scripture volume on the PE and editing a new edition of the English translation of these sermons. Today I came across this strong statement in Calvin’s first sermon on 2 Timothy.

As no doubt, if a man reads this epistle diligently he shall find the spirit of God shown to him in this way, and in such majesty and virtue, that whether he wants to or not, he will be as it were ravished with it. As for me, I know I have profited and do daily profit more by this epistle than by any book of the scripture, and if every man will look into it diligently, I doubt not but that he will find the same. Read more

“Almsgiving and ‘the Commandment’ in 1 Timothy 6:14”

Last year in New Testament Studies Nathan Eubank provided what is, I believe, a new interpretation of “the commandment” (η εντολη) in 1 Timothy 6:14. His article is titled “Almsgiving is ‘the Commandment’: A Note on 1 Timothy 6.6–19.”

Eubank argues that “the commandment” was a common idiom in Rabbinic Judaism for almsgiving. He provides several supportive texts, though the dates of some are uncertain. This, it is suggested, solves the problem of 1 Timothy 6:11-16 (an exhortation to Timothy) protruding between two paragraphs which deal with money issues (6:6-10 & 6:17-19). On this reading the exhortation to Timothy is also about money. 6:6-10 urges contentment and warns against the love of money. In 6:11-16 Timothy is told to flee this love of money, pursue righteousness and to give alms (v. 14). Then, those who already have money are warned not to look to wealth as their security. Read more

Pauline Scholar, Meet Homeric Scholar

I regularly encourage my biblical studies students that one aspect of training ourselves to interpret the Bible well is to read good literature. Good literature helps to round us out as human beings, and it simply trains us to read well. C. S. Lewis illustrates this well in his classic essay, “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism.”

This point is powerfully made by Anthony Esolen in his article, “Pauline Scholar, Meet Homeric Scholar: How Textual Analysis Misses Authorial Genius & Literary Inspiration,” in the July/August 2013 issue of Touchstone Magazine. Esolen is a professor of English and widely published author- someone who is on my “read whatever he writes list.” In this brief article Esolen draws from his years of working with classic literature to question some of the literary criticism often used on New Testament studies. He notes that though for a long time scholars insisted that Homer’s poems, Beowulf, and other works were not actually the work of one man, the tide has turned and the skepticism has been shown to be unfounded. He describes the skeptical scholarship as working with “all the wrong assumptions,” typically requiring authors to write the way we would or in the ways we expect. Read more