Month: July 2016

The Historical Writings

“It sets the standard for a new generation of introductions to the Bible.”

This endorsement comes from Mark Boda (McMaster Divinity College) about The Historical Writings: Introducing Israel’s Historical Literature, which has just been released by Fortress Press, co-written by Mark Leuchter and myself.

My fourth book, not as academic as my dissertation, but more academic than God Behaving Badly, or Prostitutes and Polygamists.

Here is how it begins,

“The historical books of the Bible contain some of the best known stories of Scripture. Rahab the prostitute from Jericho helped the Israelite spies, providing vital insider information on the state of the nation (Joshua 2, 6).  Gideon the judge from Manasseh defeated the massive army of Midian with only three hundred men armed with trumpets, jars, and torches (Judges 7).  David the shepherd from Bethlehem nailed the Philistine giant Goliath in the noggin with his slingshot and chopped off his head with the giant’s own sword (1 Samuel 16).  Elijah the prophet from Gilead talked trash with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel before his drenched altar was scorched by a flame sent by YHWH (1 Kings 18).  Nehemiah the cupbearer from Susa was granted leave by King Artaxerxes of Persia to return and rebuild the wall around Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2). Manasseh the king from Judah, whose idolatry was legendary, prayed and repented from his Babylonian prison and was restored to his throne in Jerusalem.”

Then we give an overview of the less familiar and more disturbing stories, the conquest/genocide of Canaan (Joshua 6-12), the rape of the Levite’s concubine (Judges 19), the cursing and hair-pulling of his country-men by Nehemiah (Nehemiah 13).  How is one to understand these stories?  There there are many ways, but we’d recommend reading, The Historical Writings.

Mark and I wrote the introduction together.  I wrote the chapters on Joshua, Judges and 1, 2 Kings. Mark wrote the chapters on 1, 2 Samuel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and 1, 2 Chronicles.  It was a new experience to co-write a book, but Mark’s a good friend and we complement each other well.

Since it is a textbook, we were able to include a lot of extra stuff (which also makes it a bit more expensive that my last two books, $49 currently on Amazon).

There are 81 maps and images.   Art by Tissot, Poussin, Rembrandt, and many others. Images of the Merneptah stele, the Amarna letters, the Cyrus Cylinder, and many others.

There are 85 sidebars, including “The Sacrifice of Jephthah’s Daughter” and “‘Satan’ as a Cosmic Figure.”

There are 30 tables.  My two favorites are “External References to Rulers of Israel and Judah” (19 extra-biblical sources including the Kurkh Monolith, the Mesha Stele, the Black Obelisk–on the cover of Righteous Jehu) and “Seals Mentioning Names of Biblical Characters” (29 names including Jezebel, Hezekiah, Manasseh, and Jehoahaz).

The cover image is of the Tel Dan Stele which contains what most scholars consider to be the oldest reference to King David.  The letters highlighted in white on the lower right (see image here for more details) read “house of David.”  Reading from the right of the white letters, the fourth and sixth characters look like the Greek delta (triangle-shaped), that’s how the Hebrew/Aramaic letter dalet–the first and last letters of David’s name–were written at that point in time.

So, technically, there are two Davids mentioned on the cover, an author, and a king.

Samuel & Kings on Logos

Logos Mobile Ed has just released the courses I taped on 1, 2 Samuel and 1, 2 Kings.  If you’re interested in these two courses, here is the link.  (To watch one of the previews, click on that link.)

Logos Mobile Ed has created a curriculum of courses on the Bible, Apologetics, Counseling, Theology, Preaching, Ethics, etc, from many famous scholars and teachers (and a few less famous ones like me).  Check out the list here.

Each of my courses is 8 hours long, consisting of numerous 3-10 minute video segments. Yes, that’s a lot of segments to add up to 8 hours.

In 1, 2 Samuel I talk through the story of Eli and his evil sons, Samuel and his evil sons, and David and his evil sons.  Samuel contains some of our favorite stories from the Bible: David and Goliath (did David or Elhanan kill the giant?), Saul and the donkeys, David and Abigail (yet another wise woman), as well as some tragic stories from David’s family involving his children, the rape of Tamar by Amnon and the rebellions of Absalom and Adonijah (the latter is actually in 1 Kings 1).

In 1, 2 Kings, I discuss the rise and fall of Solomon, the many evil rulers of of Israel and Judah, the miracles and trash-talking of Elijah and Elisha, the reign of righteous Jehu and his evil heirs, the reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah, Hezekiah’s God-changing prayer (I’ll be presenting a paper on Hezekiah’s prayer in Nov), and finally the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple.  I’m working on a commentary on 1, 2 Kings right now for Zondervan.

To understand these stories we need to look at them in light of the ancient Near Eastern context and see how they connect to the greater story of Scripture.  We talk about how to understand the various genres of these books.  While most of Samuel and Kings (they were each originally one book) is historical narrative,  they also include poems, songs, regnal formulas, genealogies, prophetic miracle stories.

Hope you can check it out.