InterVarsity Press Readers Choice Awards 2022

My book, The Emotions of God: Making Sense of a God Who Hates, Weeps and Loves has been selected as a finalist for the InterVarsity Press Readers Choice Awards 2022. (Thanks to any of you who nominated it already!)

It’s in the category for Bible and Theology. If you are so inclined, please vote at this website.

Only one vote per person. No voter fraud. No mail in ballots. If I lose, I promise to concede graciously.

Anyone who votes and gives their email will be included in a drawing to win a packet of the winning selections in all categories.

Emotions of God Book Club, anyone?

My latest book The Emotions of God: Making Sense of a God Who Hates, Weeps, and Loves comes out in November, 2022.  If this sounds interesting to you, come join me to discuss it (pre-release) in a private Facebook group and live sessions on Zoom. 

Click here to sign-up

If you’re interested, I’m asking participants to do three things:

  1. Read the book.  We’re asking folks to pre-order it either on Amazon or at IVP.  We’ll send you a PDF version so you can start reading before your book arrives.  To find out more about it, read an excerpt here, or a review here
  2. Recommend the book to anyone you think might be interested. 
  3. Review the book on Amazon or wherever you purchase books. 

What you’ll receive:

Opportunities to participate in a private Facebook group about the book as you read it.
Oct 8-22 Focusing on God’s Hatred, Anger, and Jealousy
Oct 23-Nov 4              Focusing on God’s Sorrow, Joy, and Compassion
Nov 5-Nov 22             Focusing on God’s Love, Application, and Q & A.

Opportunities to participate in three Zoom sessions to discuss the book.
Oct 22, 4:00 (ET) Discussing God’s Hatred, Anger, and Jealousy
Nov 5, 4:00 (ET) Discussing God’s Sorrow, Joy, and Compassion
Nov 12, 4:00 (ET) Discussing God’s Love, Application, and Q & A.

A free copy of an IVP book that you choose from among these 4:

First Nations Version / War Peace and Violence / A Just Mission / Wrestling with Job:

I’m looking forward to our interactions, as we make sense of a God who hates, weeps, and loves.

The Arrival of Kings

I started working on my commentary for 1-2 Kings in 2012. My doctoral dissertation was focused on 2 Kings (the dynasty of Jehu), so I was excited to look at the whole book in depth. Over the past decade, I spent a lot of time working through some great scholars who had written commentaries before me (Wiseman, Cogan/Tadmor, Barnes, Brueggemann, Fretheim, Wray Beal).

Last Thursday, my 1-2 Kings commentary arrived from Zondervan. It is volume 10 in The Story of God Bible Commentary series.

There have been a number of crises along the way. I’ve had a few health struggles, but fortunately, I’m doing well now. Early in the process, I undertook more than I should have and had three book contracts, and I had many sleepless nights thinking I wouldn’t be able to finish any of them. Since starting, I’ve lost a brother-in-law, a mother and a father. My father, the professor, would have been particularly excited to see this one. Alas.

I start the book with a story from a grad school class I took on corporate failures–what can we learn from companies that went bankrupt. I continued, “The book of Kings tells the story of many failures: how Solomon’s sin led to the division of the monarchy, how Jeroboam’s sin plagued the Northern Kingdom for centuries, and how persistent apostasy resulted in exile for both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Why would anyone want to read such a depressing story?…Because one can learn a lot from failure–ideally when other people are doing the failing.”

Many people helped me write it. All my teachers from InterVarsity, Fuller, and Oxford taught me how to study the Bible. My family, as always, read portions, and helped me think of stories and illustration.

But my dedication focuses on my students:

To all the students and friends from InterVarsity, Missio Seminary, and dozens of churches from all over the world where I’ve had the privilege to teach the Word of God. Your wisdom appears on every page.

Thank you to all who assisted in this process.

Does God Care about Capitalization?

Codex Sinaiticus (Luke 11.2)I got a question from a student today asking about capitalizing pronouns for God.  Here is her email:

Many times when I am writing, when it refers to God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit, I will capitalize He, His, Himself, etc (for me it is a preference) However when writing academically what is appropriate for such references? Do I capitalize He, His, Himself, etc?

Here is my response. 

Great question.

Up until about thirty years ago the convention for divine pronouns was to capitalize them, which is why many people do this today.  Many older English translations did that.  In my experience most worship songs have pronouns for God capitalized.  Here is the NAS of Genesis 2:2 (the NAS first came out in 1960).

“And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done” (Gen 2:2 NAS).

But I’m not aware of an English Bible translation in the past 30 years that has followed this convention.  All of them leave divine pronouns uncapitalized, except at the beginning of a sentence.  Check out: NIV, ESV, NRSV, etc.  Here is the NIV (2011).

“Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done” (Gen 2:2 NIV).

All of these newer translations don’t capitalize divine pronouns.  Sometime the text is unclear about the antecedents for these pronouns, so when older translations capitalize a pronoun they think is referring to God, they are adding a level of interpretation, which is going beyond the text, and can be misleading.  If the original language of Scripture is ambiguous, I’m OK with an English language translation being ambiguous.

While I think I understand the rationale (capitalizing these pronouns is a way of honoring God), here are three reasons why I no longer do so.

1)      Neither the Hebrew or Greek capitalize divine pronouns, so any capitalization we add to our writing goes beyond the text of Scripture.  (See image of a Greek manuscript (Codex Sinaiticus) of Luke 11:2 from Wikipedia).

2)      Recent translations don’t do it anymore.  Most Christian authors and publishers do not capitalize divine pronouns either.

3)      I don’t think God cares.  He cares about justice, obedience, peace, grace, love, but not capitalization.

I tell students they don’t need to capitalize divine pronouns (but I don’t take off for it).

Thanks. – Dave Lamb