Author: David Lamb

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

 

 

 

 

Theology of Work + Jonah Podcast

My short article for the Theology of Work Commentary, “David’s Rape of Bathsheba and Murder of Uriah” went live today.  From their website: “The vision of the Theology of Work Project is that every Christian be equipped and committed for work as God intends.”  It was an honor to contribute to this important project.

Here’s a quote from the article: “When we call this incident adultery or impugn Bathsheba’s actions, we are not only ignoring the text, but we are essentially blaming the victim. However, when we call it rape and focus on David’s actions, we not only take the text seriously, but we validate the stories of other victims of sexual abuse. Just as God saw what David did to Bathsheba, so God sees what perpetrators do to sexual abuse victims today.”

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My interview on the book of Jonah for the podcast of Michael Eisley just went live today.  Among his many other ministry roles, Dr. Eisley served as the president of Moody Bible Institute.  

 

Here is an earlier podcast, I recorded with Dr. Eisley on 1, 2 Kings (my Zondervan commentary on Kings will come out in 2021).
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Goldingay’s The First Testament on Jesus Creed


Scot McKnight invited me to respond to questions about John Goldingay’s translation of the Old Testament, The First Testament.

Here are my responses just posted on Scot’s blog, Jesus Creed.

Enjoy.

Full disclosure, I also endorsed the book (see quote on the back cover).  I think it’s a great translation.