by Mark Seifrid
Using a commentary like you use a lexicon — it’s not really a far-fetched idea. There are scads of context-sensitive discussions of Greek and Hebrew words locked away in commentaries. [Read more…]
Whenever I am faced with the decision of whether or not to buy a new book, I employ a tried-and-tested method. I ask myself the following question:
“Is this book a game-changer?”
Notice that I used the present tense. I don’t ask, “was.” I want to spend my hard-earned money on books that changed the direction of study in a particular sub-discipline of biblical studies, and that continue to exert an influence. [Read more…]
5 Resources You Need to Succeed in Seminary
When I began seminary 7 years ago, I was ignorant of the tools that would help me succeed in the classroom, the pulpit, and now postgraduate studies.
Logos’ Back-to-School Sale includes dozens of discounted resources, all hand-selected by scholars and pros at Logos who’ve been there and done that.
Here are five products that I highly recommend to ensure you make it through another grueling year of seminary, or that you could recommend to your students. They’re all available for 20% off through September 15. [Read more…]
I remember the first time I got a Hebrew lexicon. I was so eager to find the “real meaning” of important theological words.
I quickly turned to ברך (barak) and קדשׁ (qadosh) only to find one-word glosses (“bless” and “holy,” respectively) that I had already seen in English Bibles. A part of me felt betrayed. The whole reason I was learning the biblical languages was to find out what I was missing out on by only being able to read English translations. The lexicons were supposed to be the hidden key to a deeper level of meaning.
I assumed that words—perhaps especially biblical words—have fixed abstract meanings that lay waiting to be defined by a lexicon. What I didn’t realize is that all meaning is contextually based. I wasn’t going to find out what קדשׁ meant by a one-word gloss. “Holy” could mean any number of things: “separated,” “perfected,” the sum of the attributes of God, “consecrated,” the numinous or wholly other, etc. Moving forward, I found that the best way to discover the meaning of קדשׁ in a given passage was to read that passage in its context with great care.
I discovered, too, that there’s another level of context I needed to take into account: the cultural. For that level, however, I couldn’t merely read the Bible (though that is an all-important and utterly necessary first step). I needed some help understanding the cultural and historical context in which a given statement of Scripture was made.
Enter the theological lexicon.
These types of lexicons, though not exhaustive, cover the major words that are related to God and religion; and they tend to offer comments about both the textual and cultural contexts in which those words were written. They also discuss relevant matters of history and theology. The words in theological lexicons tend to be abstract (their referent can’t be pointed to in the real world) and therefore require more than a gloss to describe what they mean. For example, ארץ is described easily enough by “land.” But טמא requires something more than the simple gloss of “impure” if we’re going to get a helpful picture of what it means in a given context.
I’ve spent a lot of time consulting all the standard theological lexicons, and would list them in the following order according to their quality and usefulness:
- Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (TDOT)
- New International Dictionary of the Old Testament and Exegesis (NIDOTTE)
- Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (TLOT)
- Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT)
Let’s focus on my top recommendation, TDOT, taking a brief look at what we can learn about קדש from this lexicon.
For starters, TDOT is clear that while the meaning of every derivative of קדשׁ is a religious one, “the focus is never on ethical or moral issues, but rather on an act of consecration, surrender, or dedication to a deity.”
But wait: the focus of “holy” isn’t on morality? That runs counter to the way many Christians use the word “holy.” This is the kind of insight that shouldn’t count as “insight” until you check it out for yourself. You’ll want to use the Bible Word Study tool in Logos, for example, to scan through the uses of קדש in the Old Testament.
Sure enough, the word isn’t used to speak of progressive sanctification, of the comparative level of moral goodness in a given person. Indeed, even things (inanimate objects) are sanctified—like unleavened bread (Lev 6:17), and God even says that “whatever touches the offerings [of unleavened bread] will become holy” (Lev. 6:18 HCSB). “Whatever”? Even an adulterer or a Gentile? Yes—in the sense of “dedication to a deity,” even if it’s an unwilling dedication. TDOT puts it this way: “the holy itself is contagious, prompting caution in dealing with it.”
Likewise, when God says to Israel in Leviticus 22:32, “I am the Lord who sanctifies you,” he was speaking to quite a number of people who were not holy in an ethical or moral sense and who ultimately “died in their sins” (John 8:24). To be “qadosh-ed” in the Old Testament is not necessarily to have obtained more growth in grace than anyone else.
TDOT says that in certain parts of the Old Testament, at least, the meaning of קדשׁ “emphasizes a certain static element…; the impression is that holiness is increasingly understood as a static, enduring characteristic.”
It isn’t necessarily wrong that English-speaking Christians would use the English word “holy” differently than its Hebrew near-equivalent, especially because the New Testament speaks of holiness as progressive in character (1 Thess. 5:23—though it also speaks of it the way the OT does; see 1 Cor. 7:14). But we shouldn’t read our use of the word back into the Old Testament. We should read it in its own cultural, historical, and theological context. And that’s what a resource like TDOT is supposed to help you do.
I now have a special announcement: for the first time ever, TDOT is available in a digital format. The Logos version ships on December 4th!
I can’t tell you how excited I am about this major milestone with such an established and respected lexicon. What’s proven to be an incredible aid to Hebrew readers since 1973 is now fit for use in the 21st century.
Until December 4th you can pre-order TDOT for only $399.99— the price is going to jump to $699.99, so get your order in fast!
At long last, Eerdmans’ Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (TDOT) is coming to Logos! All 15 Hebrew volumes of this go-to Old Testament resource are available on Pre-Pub for $399.99.
As the series has developed over the years, TDOT has taken its place among the elite of Old Testament reference works. Boasting a library’s worth of vital information on over 1,100 key terms in the Hebrew Bible, TDOT is a must have resource for any Old Testament student.
Here are four reasons your Logos library won’t be complete without TDOT:
1) The focus on a field of meaning: If we look up שָׁכַר (šākar) in TDOT, we find that the root škr means to become intoxicated, or intoxicating drink. But the article doesn’t stop there. Because TDOT focuses on word groups, we also get analysis of the “lexical field” for “drink” that gives you information about linguistically related words and other words for drink. This grants us insight into how drink (škr) is pejorative and emphasizes the result of excessive consumption.
2) Insight into historical context: Continuing down the article for šākar, we find the latest archaeological and anthropological evidence relevant to intoxicating drink in the ancient Near Eastern world. We discover the prehistoric roots of alcohol production and the ubiquitous presence of strong drink in the biblical world.
3) Insight into theological context: After we see—with šākar for example—how strong drink is characterized in a secular historical context, we then get in-depth analysis of its theological significance. We see how sobriety is required of those who approach Yahweh, survey negative attitudes toward alcohol in the Bible, and examine how drunkenness is used in illustrations of God’s judgment—how his people stagger like drunkards in his absence (Job 12:25), how the singing of drunkards is stilled (Isaiah 24:9), and how some must drink the cup of his wrath (Jeremiah 25:27–28).
4) It’s not just for experts: TDOT serves a broad audience. Transliterated script, definitions of all foreign words used in articles, and English versification make it easy for any earnest Bible student to follow along and tap into the well of theological insight in this monumental work. (But experts need not worry—TDOT does all of this without sacrificing the needs of the advanced Hebrew scholar.)
The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament is sure to become an essential part of countless digital libraries. It draws on the latest developments in archaeology and linguistics to unearth the complete context of each term, and employs form-critical and traditio-historical methods to illuminate theological significance. This is combined with a design that is friendly to the novice and effective for the expert.
TDOT is available on Pre-Pub for 64% off the print edition’s price. Don’t miss this great deal on an even better product. Pre-order today!
Steve’s taking a break this week, so today we’re going to sample an awesome new discourse analysis experience: Animated High Definition Commentary. These new resources will make Steve’s groundbreaking discourse studies more accessible than ever.
Here’s an excerpt from the forthcoming commentary on Philippians.
The Animated High Definition Commentary: Philippians is available to pre-order now. Plus, if you already own the original High Definition Commentary on Philippians and you pre-order the Animated Commentary, you’ll receive a gift of $10 in Logos credit when the Animated Commentary ships!
Why prioritize your library?
Prioritizing your library allows you to pull up the resources you want quickly. The beauty of Logos Bible Software is that it allows you to quickly search thousands of resources. But not all resources are equal. Each of us has a preferred commentary series, like the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary Series, the International Critical Commentary Series (on sale this month) or the Hermeneia and Continental Commentaries. Prioritizing these resources brings them up first in the guides.
Setup a one or two-volume commentary
A one or two-volume commentary provides a quick survey of the text and is guaranteed to open. Often, time is at a premium. Rather than survey numerous sources, a reliable a one or two-volume commentary provides quick treatment of a passage. It can provide the scholar with a starting point for future study and point him or her n the right direction.
Additionally, what if your preferred commentary set doesn’t have a volume for the book you’re studying? Sometimes, a commentary set only covers a specific set of books, like the JPS Tanakh Commentary Collection. Or, a set only covers part of Scripture, like the IVP New Testament Commentary Series. A one or two-volume commentary is guaranteed to open, regardless of what book you’re in.
Suggested commentaries include:
The Bible Knowledge Commentary is available in most base packages. Additionally, the New Bible Commentary is edited in part by respected scholar, D.A. Carson. However, the recently released in print, Fortress Commentary on the Bible promises to outshine both these works. Unlike either of the other two works, The Fortress Commentary includes a section on the Apocrypha. It is sure to hold a prominent place in any scholar’s library.
Save when you pre-order the Fortress Commentary on the Bible
The Fortress Commentary on the Bible includes a broad array of scholarship from multiple traditions. Additionally, it makes a concerted effort to assume very little on the part of the reader. For example, as Matthew Coomber notes in his introductory section, “Reading the Old Testament in Ancient and Contemporary Contexts”:
Only a handful of my students claim to have been exposed to the stories of the Old Testament outside of either Sunday school or in episodes of the popular cartoon series Veggie Tales. Due to this lack of exposure to the Old Testament, I feel compelled to give them fair warning about what they have gotten themselves into . . . .
The importance of prioritizing a one or two-volume commentary cannot be overstated. Be sure to setup your library today for optimal performance. And now, for a limited time, save $25.00 when you pre-order the Fortress Commentary on the Bible. This exciting work takes critical scholarship to the next level with a rich diversity of perspectives.
In this video, Morris Proctor shows you how to use the new Before and After feature, one of the many interactive resources in Logos 6. Morris is our official Logos Bible Software trainer, make sure to check out his newest Mobile Ed course here: Logos Academic Training.