Posted by: chuckbumgardner | September 16, 2015

“Work Hard” (κοπιάω)

I’ve been studying 1 Timothy 4:10:

For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

In examining “we toil and strive” (κοπιῶμεν καὶ ἀγωνιζόμεθα), I find that there are strong associations with Paul’s mission work (cf. Col 1:28-29), as there are with his designation of God as “the living God” (but that’s another post!). Very interesting! Here, though, I simply wanted to reproduce the summary paragraph from Spicq’s treatment of κοπιάω, with its clear implications for the Christian life (whether that of a Christian in vocational ministry or not):

We may sum up in a few words. In the NT, kopos/kopiaō, “work hard,” means (1) constant, exhausting manual labor; (2) the fatigue of long, incessant missionary wanderings; (3) blows, wounds, and sufferings endured in the course of stonings and riots; (4) slanders and insults by enemies, the humiliations of imprisonment; (5) the difficulties of governing and exercising apostolic authority; (6) the preparation of sermons, speeches given in the open air, the editing of epistles; (7) care for all the churches and for each soul (2 Cor 11:28-29; Heb 13:17), who will not be saved on the steep path except through costly endurance and violence (Matt 11:12). There is no Christian life, no apostolic ministry, without rough, persevering labor. (C. Spicq, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, 2:329, emphasis added)


Christoph Heilig’s thorough review of the second edition of NIDNTT (now NIDNTTE), ed. Moises Silva. Be sure to read the comment by Stan Gundry and the response by Heilig.

Originally posted on Biblical and Early Christian Studies:


2015.06.15 | Moisés Silva, ed. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis. 5 vols.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014.

Review article by Christoph Heilig, University of Zurich.Many thanks to Zondervan for providing a review copy.

1. A Complex History

From a German perspective, the publication of the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (5 vols.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014) is undoubtedly an interesting event. After all, this five volume work, edited by Moisés Silva, is called the “second edition” of the dictionary formerly known as New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (ed. Colin Brown; 4 vols.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975-1978), which is in turn based on the German Theologisches Begriffslexikon zum Neuen Testament (ed. Lothar Coenen, Erich Beyreuther, and Hans Bietenhard; Wuppertal: Brockhaus, 1967-1971).

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Posted by: chuckbumgardner | April 24, 2015

Cook, Crucifixion in the Mediterranean World

Crucifixion in the Mediterranean WorldMany have appreciated Martin Hengel’s classic study on crucifixion, Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977), a learned and thorough work. As helpful a book as it is (and still well worth obtaining), it has been considerably superceded by John Granger Cook, Crucifixion in the Mediterranean World (WUNT 327; Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014). At over 500 pages, Cook’s work is as thorough a treatment as one could wish for.

I had a chance to flip through the volume when I saw it on the new book shelf at the library a few months back, and its value was apparent at a glance. I see that Chuck Quarles has just published a very positive review in RBL. The review very helpfully summarizes each chapter of the monograph, and NT students would be well served at least to read the review, if not to find the book and peruse it as well. Here is the abstract of his work, which is posted on

To understand the phenomenon of Roman crucifixion, the author argues that one should begin with an investigation of the evidence from Latin texts and inscriptions (such as the lex Puteolana [the law of Puteoli]) supplemented by what may be learned from the surviving archaeological material (e.g., the Arieti fresco of a man on a patibulum [horizontal beam], the Puteoli and Palatine graffiti of crucifixion, the crucifixion nail in the calcaneum bone from Jerusalem, and the Pereire gem of the crucified Jesus [III CE]). This evidence clarifies the precise meaning of terms such as patibulum and crux (vertical beam or cross), which in turn illuminate the Greek terms [e.g., σταυρός, σταυρόω and ἀνασταυρόω] and texts that describe crucifixion or penal suspension. It is of fundamental importance that Greek texts be read against the background of Latin texts and Roman historical practice. The author traces the use of the penalty by the Romans until its probable abolition by Constantine and its eventual transformation into the Byzantine punishment by the furca (the fork), a form of penal suspension that resulted in immediate death (a penalty illustrated by the sixth century Vienna Greek codex of Genesis). Cook does not neglect the legal sources — including the question of the permissibility of the crucifixion of Roman citizens and the crimes for which one could be crucified. In addition to the Latin and Greek authors, texts in Hebrew and Aramaic that refer to penal suspension and crucifixion are examined. Brief attention is given to crucifixion in the Islamic world and to some modern forms of penal suspension including haritsuke (with two photographs), a penalty closely resembling crucifixion that was used in Tokugawan Japan. The material contributes to the understanding of the crucifixion of Jesus and has implications for the theologies of the cross in the New Testament. The relevant ancient images are included.

Also helpful is Cook’s nine-page overview of crucifixion in the Mediterranean world, complete with pictures and bibliography. Tolle lege!

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | March 2, 2015

And setting records for the number of journals….

Louis Feldman.jpgI’m reading through Craig Keener’s voluminous 2-volume commentary on John, and checked a reference to a work by respected Josephus scholar Louis Feldman in Keener’s bibliography (which is 166 pages long, or roughly 5000 entries — no surprise with Keener! — and this in a commentary which “will not focus on secondary scholarship”! [1.xxviii]). I think Louis Feldman must have been going for a record as to the number of different venues in which he could publish a series of essays: twenty-eight different journals in seven years (1988-1994), apart from edited volumes! Take a gander (I’ve organized them chronologically):

“Josephus’ Portrait of Saul.” Hebrew Union College Annual 53 (1982): 45-99.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Deborah.” Pages 115-28 in Hellenica et Judaica: hommage a Valentin Nikiprowetzky (ed. Andre Caquot, et al.; Leuven: Peeters, 1986).

“Josephus’ Portrait of Noah and Its Parallels in Philo, Pseudo-Philo’s Biblical Antiquities, and Rabbinic Midrashim.” Proceedings of the American Academy of Jewish Research 55 (1988): 31-57.

“Josephus’ Version of Samson.” Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman Periods 19 (1988): 171-214.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Jacob.” Jewish Quarterly Review 79 (1988-1989): 101-51.

“Josephus’ Portrait of David.” Hebrew Union College Annual 60 (1989): 129-74.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Joshua.” Harvard Theological Review 82 (1989): 351-76.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Manasseh.” Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 9 (1991): 3-20.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Moses.” Jewish Quarterly Review 82 (1991-1992): 285-328; 83 (1992-1993): 7-50.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Ahab.” Ephemerides theologicae lovanienses 68 (1992): 368-84.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Daniel.” Henoch 14 (1992): 37-96.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Hezekiah.” Journal of Biblical Literature 111 (1992): 597-610.

“Josephus’ Interpretation of Jonah.” Association for Jewish Studies Review 17 (1992): 1-29.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Joseph.” Revue Biblique 99 (1992): 397-417, 504-28.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Nehemiah.” Journal of Jewish Studies 43 (1992): 187-202.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Samuel.” Abr-Nahrain 30 (1992): 103-45.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Balaam.” Philonica Annual 5 (1993): 48-83.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Ezra.” Vetus Testamentum 43 (1993): 190-214.

“Joesphus’ Portrait of Gideon.” Revue des etudes juives 152 (1993): 5-28.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Isaac.” Rivista di storia e letteratura religiosa 29 (1993): 3-33.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Jehoshaphat.” Scripta classica israelica 12 (1993): 159-75.

“Joesphus’ Portrait of Jeroboam.” Andrews University Seminary Studies 31 (1993): 29-51.

“Joesphus’ Portrait of Joab.” Estudios Biblicos 51 (1993): 323-51.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Josiah.” Lovain Studies 18 (1993): 110-30.

“Josephus’ Portrait of the Pharoahs.” Syllecta Classica 4 (1993): 49-63.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Ahasuerus.” Australian Biblical Review 42 (1994): 17-38.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Asa.” Bulletin for Biblical Research 4 (1994): 41-59.

“Joesphus’ Portrait of Ehud.” Pages 177-201 in Pursuing the Text: Studies in Honor of Ben Zion Wacholder on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday (ed. John C. Reeves and John Kampen; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994).

“Josephus’ Portrait of Elijah.” Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 8 (1994): 61-86.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Elisha.” Novum Testamentum 36 (1994): 1-28.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Jehoram, King of Israel.” Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library 76 (1994): 3-20.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Solomon.” Hebrew Union College Annual 66 (1995): 103-67.

“Josephus’ Portrait of Aaron.” Pages 167-92 in Classical Studies in Honor of David Sohlberg (ed. Ranon Katzoff et al.; Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press, 1996).

“Josephus’ Portrait of Isaiah.” Pages 583-608 in Writing and Reading the Scroll of Isaiah (ed. Craig C. Broyles and Craig A. Evans; Leiden: Brill, 1997)

“Josephus’ Portrait of Jethro.” Pages 573-94 in Quest for Context and Meaning (ed. Craig A. Evans and Shemaryahu Talmon; Leiden: Brill, 1997)

“Josephus’ Portrait of Rehoboam.” Philonica Annual 9 (1997): 264-86.


Posted by: chuckbumgardner | February 18, 2015

Chrysostom on Professional Sports

John[ Chrysostom]’s social and religious world was formed by the continuing and pervasive presence of paganism in the life of [Antioch]. In his sermons he thunders against popular pagan amusements, the theater, horseraces, and the revelry surrounding holidays. Reminiscent of the modern mania for football, John says in one sermon, “If you ask [Christians] who is Amos or Obadiah, how many apostles there were or prophets, they stand mute; but if you ask them about the horses or drivers, they answer with more solemnity than sophists or rhetors” (Hom. 58 in Joannem 9:17; 59.320).

Robert L. Wilken, John Chrysostom and the Jews: Rhetoric and Reality in the Late 4th Century (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2004).

Query: Given that John Chrysostom’s Antiochian context is not our context, and that John Chrysostom is not to be viewed as if he were writing Scripture, if he were alive today, would he observe the (unofficial) American national holiday Super Bowl Sunday in any way, shape, or form? Would he encourage his church members to do so as a means of outreach? Would he be scrupulously careful to note on his church website the particular sports teams which he avidly follows, in order to connect with potential attendees? Would he be right?

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | January 15, 2015

Ancient Perceptions of Women

Here and there, you’ll find collections of texts that set forth what the ancients thought about women. I compiled my own collection, trying to focus particularly on texts that gave contrasting background to 1 Peter 3:7: “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (ESV). My point in the compilation was to see how Peter’s description of woman as both the “weaker vessel” (ἀσθενεστέρῳ σκεύει) and, with their husband, “heirs of the grace of life” (συγκληρονόμοις χάριτος ζωῆς) compared with the thought of his culture’s legacy and contemporary writers. The attached document has quotations from Xenophon (4th c. BC), Plato (4th c. BC), Aristotle (4th c. BC), the Letter of Aristeas (2nd c. BC), Cicero (1st c. BC), the Testament of Reuben (c. 1st c. AD), Musonius Rufus (1st c. AD), Dio Chrysostom (1st c. AD), Philo (1st c. AD), the papyri (1st c. AD), and Josephus (1st c. AD). Interesting reading!

Click here: Ancient Perceptions on Women

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | January 6, 2015

2010-2015 Dissertations on the Pastoral Epistles

In preparing to write my own dissertation, I tried to chase down all of the dissertations which were completed in 2010 or later, or are in progress, that are entirely about the Pastoral Epistles or have a significant component that is. I was actually a bit surprised to come up with fifteen (!), including three that are forthcoming. You can peruse the list, along with a summary of each, here.

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | January 5, 2015

2014 Publications on the Pastoral Epistles

I’ve compiled and posted a list of 42 items published on the Pastoral Epistles in 2014 at Enjoy!

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | December 5, 2014

Pollard/Brown, A Theology of the Family

Just out: Jeff Pollard and Scott T. Brown, eds., A Theology of the Family (Wake Forest, NC: The National Center for Family-Intergrated Churches, 2014). (Amazon)

This 700-page tome is not “a theology of the family” in the sense you might think; that is, it is not a work that sets forth a coherent theology of the family in the way that, say, Craig Blomberg’s Neither Poverty nor Riches sets forth “a biblical theology of possessions.” But it is full of riches nonetheless. In this anthology, Pollard and Brown have compiled dozens of excerpts from sermons and writings of saints both past (usually) and present (occasionally). Fifty-six authors are represented, including J. H. Merle D’Aubigne, John G. Paton, Benjamin Keach, Thomas Watson, John Gill, Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, John Bunyan, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Matthew Henry, J. C. Ryle, Philip Doddridge, John Calvin, Richard Baxter, Martin Luther, and Stephen Charnock. A relatively few recent selections are culled from the writings of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Joel Beeke, R. C. Sproul, and a few others.

The excerpts average somewhere around five pages each, and are grouped into twelve categories: Family Worship, Godly Manhood, Virtuous Womanhood, Marriage, Bringing Up Children, Fatherhood, Motherhood, Childbearing, Abortion, Duties of Sons and Daughters, Modest Apparel, and Thoughts for Young People. As would be expected, the excerpts in the “Abortion” section are almost entirely from modern authors, and modern authors are also well-represented in the collection of essays on “Modest Apparel”; apart from those two sections, all contributors are no longer alive (with one exception, Joel Beeke, who contributes to “Family Worship”). Each section is introduced with a one-page orienting essay by Scott Brown.

The book is laid out in an attractive fashion, with a good balance of white space and print, and an easy-to-read font. A helpful list of “authors featured in A Theology of the Family” provides a sentence or two about each of the writers, and each writer’s information also appears after each of his essays. An eight-page preface by Scott Brown sets forth the rationale and plan for the work: a biblical view of the family has been largely lost in the present day, and since “a Christ centered view of the family was understood much better” in previous eras, it is helpful to be reminded of such a view through pertinent excerpts of godly preachers and writers of those eras (34). What is needed is “a reformation of biblical family life”; Brown argues that such “a family reformation took place during the Protestant Reformation [he highlights Calvin in this regard] and later among the successors of the reformers—the Puritans” (36); hence, most of the book’s excerpts are drawn from Reformers and Puritans. “This volume is an attempt to bring forth the fruits of the revival that took place during the Reformation and the Puritan era, as well as the legacy of those who embraced their doctrine and practice afterwards” (37).

This is a helpful book. C. S. Lewis’s “clean sea breeze of the centuries” will blow gustily through the mind of the reader. I have only two minor critiques. First, it would have been instructive to include some excerpts from Christians who wrote before the Reformation (Luther is the earliest author). In actuality, this is more a wish than a critique; the editors clearly state their rationale for beginning with the Reformers and moving forward through the Puritans to those in the present day who have drunk at their wells. Still, culling material from the church fathers would doubtless be instructive (volume two?). Second, while author and subject indices would be more or less superfluous in a work such as the present one, a Scripture index would be extremely helpful, and I do consider it a strike against the volume that one was not included. At the same time, I suppose such an index would be used largely by those wishing to preach or teach or write on family-oriented passages of Scripture, and the nature of the passage in mind would doubtless point one to the appropriate section of the book to peruse its contents.

These two minor critiques do not detract materially from the value of the anthology. The selections are such that a reader could easily consume one a day in a brief amount of time and work his or her way through the book in four months. I mentioned C. S. Lewis earlier, and his words are appropriate to highlight the value of A Theology of the Family:

Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books. . . . Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes.

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | November 28, 2014

N. T. Wright on Corn and Oil

An interesting point:

“I have frequently asked my students why Rome was especially interested in the Middle East. Few of them come up with (what seems to me) the right answer: that the capital needed a constant supply of corn; that one of the prime sources of corn was Egypt; and that anything which threatened that supply, such as disturbances in neighbouring countries, might result in serious difficulties at home. (It is the more surprising that this story does not come readily to mind, considering the obvious analogies with late-twentieth-century politics: substitute oil for corn, certain other countries for Rome on the one hand and Egypt on the other, and the equation still works.)”

N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), 113.

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