Rolfing Unshelved

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November Table Talk: Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?

eden

“Garden of Eden” by Jacob Savery the Elder (paint on copper panel, 1601)

On Tuesday, Drs. Averbeck and Hoffmeier will be leading this month’s Table Talk on “The Historical Adam.” Now, if you’ve traveled in theological circles for a while, you’re probably familiar with the issues going on here (and if so, please forgive me for the VERY quick and dirty analysis I’m about to do). If not, you might be wondering why we’d take an entire month to focus on this topic – so, then, let me give you a little background on the issue so you don’t feel like you’re walking right into the middle of a conversation.

Through much of church history, the predominant view among Christians has been that humanity stemmed from one literal man named Adam and one literal woman named Eve, whose story is told in the opening chapters of Genesis. However, scientific advances of the 20th century — especially in the final quarter or so — have called that belief into question for some Christians. Francis S. Collins, a self-identifying evangelical Christian and the director of the National Institutes of Health, is perhaps foremost among this group. In his 2006 book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, he makes a couple key assertions that come into contradiction with traditional understandings of the Genesis account. First, he argues that modern humans emerged from their primate ancestors approximately 100,000 years ago; and second, he claims that the necessary genetic material for the human race to be what it is today had to have come from an original population of at least 10,000 (not just the two that Genesis records).

Obviously, trying to line up science and faith isn’t an easy task. This case is no exception — and Richard Ostling, in his Christianity Today article “The Search for the Historical Adam,” describes four main streams of thought that try to make sense of this apparent mismatch:

  • Young Earth Creationism. In this view, the earth (and the whole cosmos, for that matter) was created as a fully-functioning package deal about 6,000 years ago. Young earth creationists argue that evolution couldn’t have happened, because there simply hasn’t been enough time.
  • Old Earth Creationism. Like the young earthers, old earthers discount evolution. They too believe in a fully-formed, fully-functioning creation — but they affirm science’s view of the earth taking a whole lot more than 6,000 laps around the sun. Some folks in this camp also allow for intra-species evolution — in other words, they posit that animals and humans can adapt to their changing environments, but a fish stays a fish and a monkey stays a monkey.
  • Intelligent Design. Proponents of this view discount evolution as well, believing that the heavens and earth were created according to a specific plan. However, they don’t necessarily define the “planner” as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
  • Theistic Evolution. This is the view held by Collins and his associates. In a nutshell, they affirm that God created (and is continuing to create) the cosmos, but did (and does) so by using evolutionary processes like natural selection and genetic mutations over millions of years.

Now, why am I telling you all of this to get you ready for a talk on Adam and Eve? Well, if you think about it, the way we conceive of where we come from can have a pretty big impact on the way we understand who (and what) we are as human beings. Here are just a few of the philosophical and theological questions that come up as a result of the interaction of Christian faith with genetic and evolutionary theory:

  • If we hold to the idea that humans are the product of evolutionary processes, how does that affect our understanding of being God’s image-bearers?
  • If we claim that we as humans hold a special place in and over the rest of creation, how should we wrap our heads around the scientific finding that we “share common ancestry” with many primate species?
  • If we hold to a literal view of the “Historical Adam,” how do we reconcile the idea that the Bible itself hints at a larger initial population than just Adam and Eve? (For example, who did Cain marry?)
  • How might our conception of original sin change if the initial human population was 10,000 instead of 2?
  • How might our understanding of (and faith in) Christ as the “Second Adam” (Rom. 5; 1 Cor 14) be affected if there didn’t happen to be a first one?
  • How might these questions also affect our conceptions of family, birth, death, work, and any of the other identity-forming experiences we have as humans?

Hopefully, by this point, your head is swimming — you’re starting to see that this seemingly simple issue has remarkably far-reaching effects. And you know what the worst part is? I’m not going to answer a single one of the questions I just posed. I’m just going to leave them hanging, in order to entice you to the library at noon on Tuesday (11/11/14) so that you can talk about them with people who are also thinking about these ideas. See you then!


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Key Bible and Theological Reference Tools: Commentaries

This post is part of a series entitled Key Bible and Theological Reference ToolsThis series seeks to provide one with an introduction to some key Biblical and theological reference tools. In this series one will find basic explanations, significant examples, and other information about these reference tools.


Basic Description of Commentaries

A Biblical Commentary is a book that provides an interpretive explanation of a Biblical book or books. Commentaries provide a detailed explanation of specific Biblical passages, an explanation of a Biblical book’s larger structure or argument, and typically engage with introductory matters such as authorship, audience, date of writing, purpose of writing, composition, etc.

Key Commentaries Series

  • Anchor Yale Bible (AYB).
  • Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms (BCOTWP).
  • Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT).
  • Expositor’s Bible Commentary (EBC) and Revised Expositor’s Bible Commentary (REBC).
  • Hermeneia (HERM).
  • International Critical Commentary (ICC).
  • IVP New Testament Commentary (IVPNTC).
  • JPS Torah Commentary Series (JPSTBC).
  • New American Commentary (NAC).
  • New Century Bible Commentary (NCB).
  • New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT).
  • New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICNT).
  • New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC).
  • NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC).
  • Old Testament Library (OTL).
  • Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC).
  • Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (TNTC).
  • Tyndale Old Testament Commentary (TOTC).
  • Word Biblical Commentary (WBC).
  • Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary (WEC).
  • Zondervan Exegetical Commentary (ZEC).
  • Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (ZIBBC).

Tips for Selecting Commentaries

  • Note the type - Many types of commentaries exist, e.g., expositional, devotional, technical, etc. Therefore, one does well to know what kind of commentary for which he or she is looking. This involves knowing basic information about the various commentary series (below).
  • Note the series - Knowing the series of which a commentary is a part can tell you a lot about what the commentary will be like, e.g., theological persausion, quality, emphases, format, etc.
  • Note the author - When presented with an array of commentaries, knowing something about the available authors provides one with a good place to start.
  • Note the date - By offering some historical perspective, older commentaries possess a unique value. On the other hand, contemporary commentaries often make a practice of engaging with previously proposed interpretations. Thus, the newer commentaries carry a unique value as well.

Resources for Selecting Commentaries

  • Best Commentaries - A site dedicated to providing reviews and rankings for a variety of Biblical resources including commentaries. Offers basic information about each commentary, e.g., author, date, series, and type (technical, pastoral, devotional, Jewish, special).
  • Other seminaries’ recommended commentary lists.
  • Ask professors.

Commentary Sample

Romans by Douglas Moo in The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1996), pg. 748-749. * Click on photo for larger image.


 

* This post’s information can be found within Rolfing Library’s research guides. See the guide to commentaries here.

 

 


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Key Bible and Theological Reference Tools: Interlinears

This post is part of a series entitled Key Bible and Theological Reference ToolsThis series seeks to provide one with an introduction to some key Biblical and theological reference tools. In this series one will find basic explanations, significant examples, and other information about these reference tools.


Basic Description of Interlinear

English interlinear Bibles present the Biblical text in its original language along with a more literal English translation immediately below each word. Some English interlinears are formatted reversely, i.e., they present an English translation with the corresponding original language immediately underneath.

Helpful Interlinears

Bible Hub’s online interlinear - This interlinear will prove especially helpful for those who do not know the Biblical languages because it provides “Strong’s numbers” above each word. Clicking on a “Strong’s number” provides one with helpful concordance and lexical information about that specific word (e.g., see רֵאשִׁית 7225).

Use of Interlinears

Interlinears are helpful tools for those who do not know the Biblical languages (or whose skills are rusty) but would like to involve the original languages in their studies.

For those who know the Biblical languages, interlinears are helpful when one would like to involve and interact with the Biblical languages in his or her study, but not to the extent of a raw exegesis of the original languages “from scratch.”

Interlinear Samples

The NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament, Vol. 1, edited by John R. Kohlenberger (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1979), 50-51.

The NRSV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English with Interlinear Translation, edited by Alfred Marshall (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990), 266-267. * Click on photo for larger image.


* This post’s information can be found within Rolfing Library’s research guides. See the guide to Interlinears here.


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Key Bible and Theological Reference Tools: English Translations

This post is part of a series entitled Key Bible and Theological Reference ToolsThis series seeks to provide one with an introduction to some key Biblical and theological reference tools. In this series one will find basic explanations, significant examples, and other information about these reference tools.


Basic Description

English Bible translations are publications that seek to faithfully render the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek text of the Bible in the English language.

Prominent English Translations

  • New International Version (NIV).
  • Today’ New International Version (TNIV).
  • New Living Translation (NLT).
  • Revised Standard Version (RSV).
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).
  • English Standard Bible (ESV).
  • American Standard Version (ASV).
  • New American Standard Bible (NASB).
  • New English Translation (NET).
  • King James Version (KJV).
  • New King James Version (NKVJ).
  • Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).
  • New American Bible (NAB – Roman Catholic translation).
  • The Message.

Reason for Differences

Generally speaking, significant differences between translations are due to two reasons:

  1. Different base texts - Differences in translations are often due to the fact that different translations are often based on different source texts in the original languages. As such, these differences are not actually differences in translation but differences in what is being translated.
  2. Different translation philosophy - Other differences can often be explained by differences in translation philosophy and methodology.

Translation Approaches

Generally speaking, two approaches to translation exist with specific translations falling somewhere on the spectrum between the two poles.

  1. Formal equivalence - Commonly referred to as “literal” or “word for word” translation; seeks to retain a formal correspondance (in terms of vocabulary as well as grammar and syntax) between the original and receptor language as much as is possible in the translation process.
  2. Dynamic (or functional) equivalence - Commonly referred to as “thought for thought” translation; seeks to produce a clear and natural translation based on a functional meaning-based correspondance between the original and receptor language.

The following chart presents where prominent English translations roughly fall on this spectrum.

The above chart is taken from Fee, Gordon D., and Mark L. Strauss, How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), pp. 28.


* This post’s information can be found within Rolfing Library’s research guides. See the guide to English translations here.


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Key Bible and Theological Reference Tools: Lexicons

This post is part of a series entitled Key Bible and Theological Reference ToolsThis series seeks to provide one with an introduction to some key Biblical and theological reference tools. In this series one will find basic explanations, significant examples, and other information about these reference tools.


 

Basic Description of Lexicon

A Biblical lexicon is a reference tool that provides meanings, semantic ranges, and significant uses of Biblical words in their original language. This data is organized according to an inventory of lexemes (i.e., a meaningful linguistic unit). Lexicons are particularly helpful in word studies.

TDOT & TDNT

Although not lexicons, these resources are primarily useful for conducting word studies. They provide background information and theological reflection on Biblical Hebrew and Greek words.

Lexicon Samples

HALOT by Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner (New York, NY: Brill Academic, 1994), pg. 185. * Click on photo for larger image.

BDAG by Walter Bauer and Frederick William Danker (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), pg. 610. * Click on photo for larger image.


* This post’s information can be found within Rolfing Library’s research guides. See the guide to Lexicons here.


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Book Displays: October 2014

Medieval Theology

Thomas Aquinas’s “Summa Theologiae”: A Biography, Bernard McGinn

mcginnPerhaps no medieval theologian is better known than Thomas Aquinas, and without a doubt his most influential book was his Summa Theologiae. Written between 1266 and 1273 (a mere seven years), the volume spans 3,500 pages — and that’s only because Aquinas died before he could complete it. Aquinas intended it to be an educational aid for all the key theological teachings of the Catholic Church, and it follows a cycle: the existence of God, creation, humanity, humanity’s purpose, Christ, the sacraments, and back to God.

While Aquinas’s Summa numbers over 3,000 pages, McGinn’s biography is (thankfully) only a fraction of that length. In 273 pages, he takes readers through the world of Aquinas’s time, his own background, his reasons for writing the Summa, a basic tour of the Summa itself, and then an examination of the Summa‘s reception over the ensuing seven centuries.

Other Titles:

Military History: World War I (Centennial Anniversary)

The Great War: Myth and Memory, Dan Todman

todmanThe way we interpret history after cataclysmic events can often shift over the years. Heroes become villains, formerly sidelined events take front stage, and motivations are assumed where previously none may have been thought to exist. World War I is not exempt from this pattern. The new style of warfare, the brutality of the attacks, the massive numbers of casualties — in retrospect, it’s easy to chalk it up to the “futility of war.” However, Dan Todman argues that this wasn’t necessarily how everyone who lived through the era understood the events. Pride and patriotism were dominant themes of the era, and the “armchair generals” that we decry in the 21st century were actually regaled for their professionalism and effectiveness in winning the war. Todman takes a hard look at the ways the narrative has shifted over the past century, and offers an alternative view.

Other Titles:

Biblical Inerrancy

Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy, Albert Mohler, Peter Enns, Michael F. Bird, Kevin J. Vanhoozer, and John R. Franke

vanhoozerFor many evangelicals, the doctrine of biblical inerrancy is a central element of their faith — for some, even the central element. But what exactly do we mean by that term “inerrant?” And how central is it to the Christian understanding of the nature and character of God? These five evangelical scholars (one of whom is on faculty here at TEDS and will be leading the library’s Table Talk about this very topic) have come together in a written dialogue about the concept. Their perspectives are:
- When the Bible Speaks, God Speaks: The Classic Doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy
- Inerrancy, However Defined, Does Not Describe What the Bible Does
- Inerrancy Is Not Necessary for Evangelicalism Outside the USA
- Augustinian Inerrancy: Literary Meaning, Literal Truth, and Literate Interpretation in the Economy of Biblical Discourse
- Recasting Inerrancy: The Bible as Witness to Missional Plurality

Other Titles:


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Key Bible and Theological Reference Tools: Biblical Language Grammars

This post is part of a series entitled Key Bible and Theological Reference ToolsThis series seeks to provide one with an introduction to some key Biblical and theological reference tools. In this series one will find basic explanations, significant examples, and other information about these reference tools.


Basic Description of Grammar

Biblical grammars provide grammatical and syntactical information on the Biblical languages. Not only do they serve as tools for learning the Biblical languages, but they also function as reference works for those engaging in exegesis of Biblical text in its original languages.

A Handbook to Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar by Page H. Kelley (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994), 276-277.

Basics of New Testament Syntax: An Intermediate Greek Grammar by Daniel B. Wallace (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 180-181. * Click on photo for larger image.


* This post’s information can be found within Rolfing Library’s research guides. See the guide to grammars here.

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