It won’t take you long upon your arrival at seminary how much things may have changed from previous generations of seminary educations. One of the biggest differences is just how digital everything is. Most seminaries have some sort of online class management system through which you will track grades, assignments, schedules, and get documents and readings necessary for your classwork. Lectures are on PowerPoints that are often shared online. Likely the very first official seminary swag you’ll get is an email address.
Things have changed, for sure. But luckily, we live in a time of unparalleled resources to help you engage all the more deeply in your seminary education; resources that help you focus on what you need to focus on while letting technology do much of the heavy lifting. Here are the apps each seminarian should at least consider utilizing through the course of their education.
Your School’s Online Course Management System App
The two biggest of these are BlackBoard and Canvas. They are both online web-based systems for keeping up with courses, assignments, quizzes, exams, classmates, and professors. This is likely the main place you’ll turn in assignments. Luckily, most of these services have mobile apps for your phone and/or tablet in order to keep track of these things, and even submit assignments, on the go.
Most all of you will have an electronic device of some kind that you will be bringing with you to seminary. And alongside that device, you need a note-taking app. Many people I know use Microsoft Word, but there are other options. You can use Microsoft’s actual note-taking app, OneNote, or even a Google Doc. But my favorite is Evernote. It syncs up with every possible device you could have, keeps everything organized and searchable, and is flexible enough to be used in the way you want.
Did you know that Microsoft Office is free on mobile devices? That’s right, this is a fairly recent thing, but you can get Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on iPhone, iPad, and Android phones and tablets forfree. And yes, they are very robust, full-functioned apps. They also sync your files with Dropbox, if you use that. If you are a user of those apps, or if you just want a mobile app that feels like a “real” program on a “real” computer with lots of power and functionality, then download those apps now. And hey, they’re free. You’ve got nothing to lose. Similarly, if you must stay with Apple products, their iWork suite (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) is also free on iOS devices.
This is the standard bearer for free, web-based writing. Especially if you’re going to collaborate with others, it’s so easy to start a spreadsheet or document and just shoot a link over to someone else so they can add their thoughts. Also, the best part about this is its versatility. You can write wherever you want—computer, phone, or tablet—and then export what you’ve written into a large number of different formats. For the seminarian on a budget that doesn’t want to fiddle with special apps and such, this can be a lifesaver. Lastly, Google Docs are usually integrated into schools’ online course management systems, so if you write an assignment in Google Docs, you can turn in your assignment seamlessly without having to download it separately first.
I thought about including this in the Evernote section, but this is too good to just lump in with that. Moleskine makes amazing journals and notebooks—we all know that. If you like to hand-write everything, but you still want everything digitized, check this out. These special Moleskine notebooks have special lines on them and stickers you can add to the pages. Using the lines and stickers, you can you the Evernote app to take a picture of the page you just wrote on, and the app can auto-magically straighten everything out, put the document in the right folder, with the right tags in your app, and even scan it for words so you can search it later. It’s really well-done.
As of the newest updates to Android and iOS, you can use voice transcription on your device. This means you can speak into it, and it turns your words into text. I have used this frequently for little notes here or there, or to start writing a discussion board post for later. Yes, you have to go back over it and make some edits here or there, but for a free addition to your mobile operating system, it can be a big time-saver.
There are many methods and resources for teaching through books of the Bible, but when I was teaching through Philippians this year, I discovered one that was immensely helpful. Dr. Steve Runge’s High Definition Commentary: Philippians is based on an in-depth discourse analysis of the text, and it is presented in a way that is both approachable and thorough.
I found Dr. Runge’s commentary to be a particular help when preparing my study on Philippians 2. He looks at the adverbial conditional conjunction Εἴ (if) in the first verse, and with it draws the reader to an understanding of Paul’s main point—the outworking of πληρώσατέ μου τὴν χαρὰν (complete my joy).
Perhaps an excerpt will illustrate the usefulness of this resource:
I was teaching through Philippians when a woman asked, “Which if is this in 2:1—the one that means ‘if’ or the one that means ‘since’?” In other words, if all of these if statements are true, why not use “since” instead? After thinking about it for a moment, it became clear that Paul knew exactly what he was doing. He was drawing attention to his big idea.
Since Paul was using a Greek convention, I wondered how we would accomplish the same thing in English. What if Paul had reframed the conditions as yes/no questions? Would that have the same effect? Take a look:
Is there any encouragement in Christ? (Well, yes, I suppose there is.)
Is there any consolation of love? (Well, yes, I guess so.)
Is there any fellowship of the Spirit? (OK, that too.)
Is there any affection and compassion? (Yes, I suppose so.)
Big Idea: If all of these things are true, then complete my joy by agreeing!
Paul’s goal was not to make us question these things, but to remind us that they are present.
This passage reminds me of how my dad used to ask me questions about “what I knew to be true” as a means of correcting me. He would work me into a corner using obvious questions that challenged me to reconcile my (negative) behavior with what I claimed to be true:
Do you love your sister? (Well, yes.)
Do you want her to be kind to you? (Yes, I suppose I do.)
Big Idea: If so, then …
Framing true statements in the form of conditions has the same effect. By framing 2:1 in this way, Paul leaves the reader with no choice but to accept what follows.
The command in 2:2 to complete my joy functions as a meta-comment—it’s a comment on what he is about to say. Statements like “I don’t want you to miss this!” do the same thing, where “this” refers to an important idea coming up. The meta-comment is another way that Paul highlights the big idea of the passage: that we should be in agreement.
If indeed encouragement, consolation, and fellowship can be found in Christ, then why can’t Christians get along with each other? It’s because we have forgotten the things that make Christian unity possible. The statements in 2:2b–4 spell out what it (practically) looks like to agree. The elaborations give us real-life insight into what it takes to get along—with unity of love, spirit, and purpose being the key.
The High Definition Commentary: Philippians has been prepared with all the rigor of the New International Greek Commentaries, yet it remains immanently readable. The transition time from preparation to presentation is much shortened since I don’t have to translate the grammatical and original language jargon to teaching English. If you’re studying or teaching through Philippians, you will find this resource to be a tremendous aid. Additionally, don’t miss the Romans commentary that is currently available for pre-order.
Add the High Definition Commentary: Philippians to your Logos library today!
I first encountered Ceslas Spicq’s magisterial L’ Épître aux Hébreux while working through the Greek text of Hebrews as an undergrad student. Every major commentary published after Spicq makes reference to his work at almost every major interpretive crux of Hebrews. I was convinced I needed to secure a copy of this critical work for my own library. This led to an almost 10 year search, a search which took me to a number of online European out-of-print booksellers. The search was complete. But this almost 10 year search left me wondering why such an important commentary was so hard to find. How can something so heavily cited be both out-of-print and nearly impossible find? Thankfully Logos Bible Software wants to bring Spicq’s L’ Épître aux Hébreux to a whole new generation of readers.
Originally published in French, Spicq’s commentary contains a wealth of citations and interaction with both primary sources as well as key commentators on Hebrews. But unless you read French, this insightful commentary remains aloof—except for the lucky readers who understand French. Now, however, you can pre-order your own copy—in English!
Who is Ceslas Spicq?
You’ve never heard of Ceslas Spicq (1901–1992)? That’s understandable, as most of his writings have not been translated into English. Spicq was a theology professor at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. He was also connected with the acclaimed École Biblique in Jerusalem. He authored a number of important commentaries, monographs, and a three-volume lexicon, Lexique théologique du Nouveau Testament, which was subsequently translated into English as the Theological Lexicon of the New Testament.
Why is this project important?
Spicq’s work is heavily referenced in almost every major commentary on Hebrews published after his! The following chart highlights seven major commentaries and the number of times Spicq is referenced:
|P. E. Hughes||152|
|F. F. Bruce (NICNT)||57|
|Harold Attridge (Hermeneia)||307|
|Craig Koester (AYBC)||269|
|Paul Ellingworth (NIGTC)||402|
|George Guthire (NIVAC)||32|
|Peter O’Brien (PNTC)||102|
As you can see, scholarly interaction with Spicq is quite high. This chart doesn’t take into consideration the hundreds of times L’ Épître aux Hébreux has been mentioned in journal articles, monographs, and essays since Spicq’s commentary was published.
One of the more controversial sections features Spicq’s understanding of the relationship between Philo and the Hebrews author. In a section entitled “Le Philonisme de L’Épitre aux Hébreux (The Philonism of the Epistle to the Hebrews)”, Spicq spends 52 pages analyzing the vocabulary of Hebrews and the writings of Philo, paronomasia and metaphors they share, and an exegesis of select texts. While most modern scholars have put this thesis to rest; Ellingworth rightly notes, “it is not necessary . . . to reject as worthless or insignificant the linguistic and other evidence accumulated by Spicq” (Hebrews, 47).
Among Spicq’s greatest contributions are his detailed studies on the language and literary characteristics of Hebrews. This includes 27 pages of lexical and literary analysis. Spicq analyzes not only individual words, but also phrases unique to Hebrews.
Take it from the experts!
Still unsure about Ceslas Spicq? Here’s what leading scholars say about how important Ceslas Spicq’s commentary on Hebrews is:
“[Spicq’s] work on the Epistle to the Hebrews is a monument of dedicated piety and erudition.”
—Philip E. Hughes, author of A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews.
“Spicq’s commentary represented a major advance in the study of Hebrews. Exegetically thorough and theologically reflective, Spicq’s work influenced scholarly work on Hebrews in many languages for several decades. It remains an important resource for those who wish to mine the treasures of Hebrews.”
—David Peterson, senior research fellow and lecturer in New Testament, Moore College
“I am delighted that someone is taking time to translate this classic work, which nearly all scholars who work in Hebrews references. Thank you for taking the time to provide an English translation for subsequent students to use in their study of the book.”
—Herbert Bateman, professor of New Testament, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
On Pre-Pub now!
We are placing Spicq on Pre-Pub for only $39.95! That’s an almost unbelievable price, considering that the two-volume French edition is virtually impossible to find. Once we have enough to cover the cost for translation and production, the work begins. Order your copy today!
Today’s guest post is by Dr. Jim West, pastor of Petros Baptist Church. Dr. West serves as professor of biblical studies at the Quartz Hill School of Theology. He has authored a number of books and articles and serves as language editor for the Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament, as well as language revision editor for the Copenhagen International Seminar. He blogs at zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com.
Adolf Schlatter was, without question, the most influential biblical scholar of his generation in his native Switzerland. At one point, he taught both Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann (neither of whom was very impressed with their conservative teacher). Schlatter wrote copiously—critical New Testament commentaries, as well as more popular studies on the Bible. He also wrote an introduction to the Bible, books on the history of philosophy, and specialized studies on nearly every question that arises in biblical studies.
He also wrote a volume along the lines of Our Daily Bread, which featured a biblical text with some devotional observations for each day of the year. He was a veritable walking encyclopedia on both the Bible and philosophy.
What set him apart from his students and his colleagues was the very practical approach he employed, even in his most technical works. He wrote far more for the church, as a scholar of the church, than he did for the academy, as a member of the academy. He was a churchman.
Here are few of the brilliantly insightful things he wrote:
It is absolutely clear: there can be no talk of man’s but only of God’s righteousness. Man is unrighteous, for the relation which he establishes towards God and man is enmity and a lie. Only what is peculiar to God and God’s activity is the righteousness which establishes fellowship. The genitive δικαιοσυνη θεου permits no relaxing.
Wir erlangen das Heil durch die Erfüllung unseres Dienstes.
Gott hat die Scham dem Menschen ins Herz gepflanzt als einen Wächter, der ihn gegen das Böse empfindlich machen soll.
In der Hand der Sünder ist auch die Gabe sündig. Nur in der Hand des Priesters ist das Opfer rein und wohlgefällig.
In case the reader wonders why the first quote is in English and the rest in German, I simply wish to make a point that only a small fragment of Schlatter’s work has ever been translated. But everything he wrote is worthy of translation. Schlatter’s works are an expansive woodland, scarcely traversed (especially in the English speaking world). Treasure waits in these woods for those brave enough to venture in.
* * *
Logos Bible Software is currently undergoing a translation of Schlatter’s Faith in the New Testament. This exhaustive work is a thorough analysis of the Christian concept of faith, taking into account the Old Testament, Rabbinic, and other key first-century writings. It is a philological masterpiece par excellence, making its translation into English a great contribution to New Testament theological studies. The Logos edition will include the original German text along with the English translation.
Support the translation of Schlatter’s work, and pre-order your copy of Faith in the New Testament today!
The New International Commentary has been recognized by scholars, pastors, and serious Bible students as critical yet orthodox commentary marked by solid biblical scholarship within the evangelical Protestant tradition. Each volume serves to bridge the cultural gap between today’s world and the Bible’s, helping readers hear God’s Word as clearly as possible.
Until recently, these exceptional volumes have only been available together in large collections. But now—for the first time—you can purchase them in smaller collections and individual volumes! No longer will you have to buy the whole New Testament collection just to study the Gospel of Luke.
And as if that news isn’t good enough, we’re offering them to you at a special discount for a limited time. Grab the volumes you want now—they go back to their regular prices on December 2.
Each commentary opens with an introduction to the biblical book in question, looking especially at questions concerning its background, authorship, date, purpose, structure, and theology. A select bibliography also points readers to resources for their own study. The author’s own translation from the original Hebrew and Greek texts forms the basis of the commentary proper. Verse-by-verse comments nicely balance the in-depth discussions of technical matters—such as textual criticism and critical problems—with exposition of the biblical writer’s theology and its implications for the life of faith today.
You will welcome the fresh light that this commentary series casts on ancient yet familiar biblical texts. Get your desired volumes today!
We’re partnering with Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. to bring more than 300 previously unavailable titles to Logos. For two weeks, you can get them at an amazing discount on Pre-Pub!
Eerdmans has been publishing works in theology, biblical studies, and more for over 100 years. William B. Eerdmans, Sr. came to the US from the Netherlands in 1902. He attended Calvin Theological Seminary and sold books on the side to support himself. Before long, he left his seminary training to found the Eerdmans-Sevensma Company with Brant Sevensma. He became the sole owner a few years later and renamed the company accordingly.
Eerdmans has certainly lived up to its motto: “The finest in religious literature.” Throughout the years, it has published hugely influential works from such authors as C. S. Lewis, Karl Barth, John Stott, N. T. Wright, and many others. Eerdmans’ son, William B. Eerdmans, Jr., took the reins in 1966, and today he continues to lead the company in publishing literary excellence.
Eerdmans is perhaps best known for their exceptional reference works—such as The New International Commentary, Pillar New Testament Commentary, Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, and Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament—all of which have been available on Logos for some time. But they have so much more to offer.
We’re thrilled that our new partnership will allow us to bring over 300 additional titles into Logos. Here is just a small sampling of what’s available on Pre-Pub:
- Backgrounds of Early Christianity by Everett Ferguson
- The Bible and the Future by Anthony Hoekema
- The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Reading of Justification in Paul by Douglas A. Campbell
- Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible edited by James D. G. Dunn and John W. Rogerson
- Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony by Richard Bauckham
- Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity by Larry W. Hurtado
- The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder
- Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray
- The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark A. Noll
- What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It? By William G. Dever
Not only do you now have the opportunity to add these and many other fantastic works to your Logos library, but right now you can get them at amazingly low prices. They will return to regular Pre-Pub pricing on December 2, so act quickly!
For the very best deal, get the Eerdmans Bible Reference Bundle. Acquire all 309 resources at once, and save $1,000!
Don’t miss out. Get huge discounts on these Eerdmans resources now!
As a volunteer leader attending seminary online I sometimes feel out of place. I don’t have the experience or skills of many of my classmates. But as an ex-professor and someone with a PhD in Chemical Engineering, there is one thing I do fairly well… I love learning! God made me a learner, so I want to share some of the top things I’ve found helpful in my studies. The professor in my very first class at Rockbridge said something I still remember with a smile: “You really maximized your learning experience!”
Top 10 Ways to Maximize Your Learning Experience
10) Your professor is your friend! Don’t be afraid to ask your prof for help. Get to know him or her. In grad school they’re no longer parent figures, they’re your peers. Nothing gets them more fired up than seeing a student develop a passion for what they’re learning. What breaks their heart is to see a student struggle in silence or just plain give up. They’re there to make a difference in someone’s live.
9) Read the “optional” recommended books in the syllabus. Bright minds with tremendous experience and wisdom have hand picked a cream-of-the-crop list of resources to help you learn. Don’t be dissuaded by the few extra hours or dollars it will cost you. It’s a great investment of time and money, small in comparison to your years at school.
8) Choose electives that will stretch you. Don’t pick all the ones in major or the easy ones. Choose several to hone existing strengths and but also pick a few way outside your main area, one that you think will be fun or just offer a different perspective.
7) Constantly ask “so what?” The goal of your education is not to cram your head with knowledge, it’s to seek wisdom and to be transformed as a discipleship. Don’t complain something doesn’t seem relevant, dig deeper until you find a principle or practice you can apply. Get something on your calendar or to-do list. Application of what you’re studying will either cement learning of truth or reveal your understanding to be false when you try to put it into practice.
6) Share what you’re learning with your team or some other outsider. Talk about it with a friend over lunch, discuss things within your small group, or teach a class. Blog about what you’re learning if you don’t have the opportunity to do this! Nothing helps you learn better than having to teach someone else. This also fosters a learning culture in your own church and within your team that will pay dividends in the long run.
5) Read your textbooks in multiple passes. First pass, skim it fairly quickly, even if you just read headings and call-outs. Do this before your class starts or in first week for a high-level overview of the book. Second, read it in full, taking notes and/or highlighting according to the syllabus/assignment schedule. Third time, when the class is done with that book, write summary notes by reviewing headings, your notes and highlights. As you do this, look once more for concrete items to add to your to-do list, someday list, or calendar.
4) Have an open mind when you read. You do not have to agree with everything you read, but you should definitely be humble enough to learn all you can any book or person. Do not dismiss an author or classmate just because you feel they’re wrong about something or don’t like them. You’re going to have to serve and get along with people who disagree strongly with you on some issues for the rest of your life, why not get some practice handling that well now?!
3) Interact often with your classmates. Ask them tons of questions, challenge and encourage them. Give them permission to ask you tough questions and push you. Especially in seminary, talk about things not in the curriculum, share dreams, pray for one another. Seminary should not be a place where ministry is put on pause – seminary is a place where you continue to minister as you learn.
2) Start your homework assignments early. I know, I know, there’s no way you can do this. You can, and here’s why you should: i) it will take the same amount of time to do a good job whether you do it now or later; ii) you’ll thank yourself profusely when things hit the fan on the eve of a huge assignment, that you finished a few days early; iii) good study and work habits developed out of a sense of discipline now will serve you well naturally later; iv) this is THE best way to reduce stress about school and homework. It takes effort, and you need to be committed to this approach from day one of classes, but it really pays off.
1) Find a good mentor who has the time and interest to meet with you. This is really a big deal where I’m now going to school. It’s a fully online seminary which requires students to find such a mentor before the end of the first week of each class. Make sure they know it’s for a limited duration. When you can discuss what you’re learning – whether things that are exciting or confusing – you’ll learn so much more from your class. When it’s someone who cares about you and has experience related to the class, that’s pure gold!
I know some of these may sound challenging or idealistic, but trust me, these are not pie-in-the-sky ideal things to ponder, they’re very practical tips that will truly help you maximize your learning experience – whether online or in the classroom, seminary or grad school. Got other tips? Share them in the comments!
Thanks to a 2008 California law the Open Educational Resources Center for California now provides over 400 open textbooks to the public.
The site was intended for California’s community-college faulty and staff members, but it is open for anyone to use. As the number of visitors to the site grows to a significant level they will begin adding forums.
Four hundred is a relatively small number when we’re talking about textbooks, but this is only the beginning of a large push to make education available and affordable to larger audiences.