The Reformation Commentary, Dead White Men, and Make-Up

The newest addition to IVP’s Reformation Commentary on Scripture (vol. 5) just came out, on the books of 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, edited by my BTS colleague Derek Cooper, and his colleague, Martin J. Lohrmann.

This is an impressive work (740 pages) which has been in the works for almost 8 years.  Many of the commentators included in this volume have never been translated into English (from Latin).  There is a lot of wisdom contained here, which was previously inaccessible to most modern readers.

Obviously, since this book focuses on the OT, and particularly the historical books, I may be more excited about it than many of you all, but for pastors, teachers, and scholars it contains many gems of Scriptural insight.

The commentators include the usual suspects (Jacobus Arminius, John Calvin, and Martin Luther), as well as some lesser known names (Johannes Bugenhagen, John Mayer, and Konrad Pellikan), each of whom are important Reformation figures and who commented extensively on the historical books of the Bible.

In addition to literally thousands of quotations from commentators, and three indices (Author, Subject, and Scripture), there’s an extremely helpful, forty page appendix giving paragraph sketches of Reformation era figures and works (686-725). If one wanted a quick introduction to the Reformation’s major figures, this appendix would be a great first stop.

For those of you who are thinking, but hasn’t the Western church read enough of these “dead white men“?  Yes, great point.  We desperately need to be reading more scholars from other parts of the world, who can open our eyes to new perspectives, many of which are closer to the thought and mindset of the ancient Near Eastern world than our own.  But these Reformation scholars still offer us profound insight on our own story, particularly for those of us who come from a Protestant tradition.

I’m looking forward to using this resource as I work on my 1, 2 Kings commentary for the Story of God commentary series for Zondervan.  (If you like this section of Scripture my co-authored textbook on the Historical Books comes out in July.)

While it will take me a long time to fully appreciate all the wisdom here, I smiled as I read these comments on the face-painting on Jezebel before her brutal death (2 Kgs. 9:30-8–thrown from a tower, trampled on by horses, consumed by dogs, who defecate her remains in a field), which is part of the Jehu narrative, on which I wrote my dissertation. When these guys talk about “face-painting” it’s not painting butterflies on the cheeks of little girls at a fair, but the general practice of using make-up.  John Mayer observes that Peter Martyr Vermigli condemns the practice of face-painting, along with Cyprian, Chrysostom, and Augustine, “It is practiced to allure men, and it changes their natural face into something artificial. But rather than bettering the face, it actually mars it” (p. 444).

Do you agree with these reformers about the use of make-up? 

Of Kings and Prophets: Canceled

of_kings_and_prophets_abcLike the dynasty of Saul it portrayed, the ABC TV show based on the books of 1, 2 Samuel Of Kings and Prophets was cut short, canceled after only two episodes due to low ratings and bad reviews.  (Here’s my initial blog.)

I discovered the cancellation after watching episode #2 this morning while on my exercise bike.  I searched for the third, which should have already been recorded, but it was nowhere to be found. For more explanation, check out this USA Today article.

Why didn’t people watch it?  Who knows, but here are some possible reasons.

  1. It was confusing.  The two episodes I watched were a bit hard to follow, and I’m pretty familiar with the subject matter.  Most ABC watchers won’t have read or written as much about David as I have (including this article on David’s Trash Talking).
  2. Bible Overload.  Perhaps watchers think there’s too much Bible to watch lately, between The History Channel’s The Bible, Noah, Exodus: Gods and Kings, and other things.  Even though I had problems with this portrayal of the lives of Saul, David, and Samuel, I am always happy to watch the Bible’s story, and see how people interpret it.
  3. Too much sex.  (Don’t they say, “Sex sells”?) While I think we need to talk about the scandalous sex stories in Scripture, perhaps Christians feel uncomfortable watching it come from the Bible.  The scandalous stuff in episodes #1 and #2 were all extrapolations, not based on the biblical text.
  4. No familiar faces.   Apart from Roy Winstone (who isn’t that well known in the US), most of the faces are unfamiliar to most American viewers.  The fact that this series had a higher percentage of people of color than many other biblical TV and film dramas is a very good thing and a welcome change.
  5. No drama.  People already know that David will defeat Goliath and become king, and Saul will die, so there aren’t really any shockers there.  I still enjoyed watching The Martian, even though I had read the book beforehand, but some of the drama was gone because I knew what would happen to Mark Watney.

You can still watch the first two episode on the ABC website, but no decisions have been made about when other episodes might air.

Did you see it? What did you think?

David: A rapist after God’s own heart?

Check out the article I wrote for Christianity Today online that came out yesterday (Oct 22, 2015):

David Was a Rapist, Abraham Was a Sex Trafficker: What We Miss When We Downgrade Old Testament Abuse Stories to Sexual Peccadillos.”  It wasn’t my idea to use “peccadillos.”  I had to look up what the word meant when my editor suggested it.

The article is based on themes I discuss in Prostitutes and Polygamists: A Look at Love, Old Testament Style.

Here are my blogs where I took about what happened between David and Bathsheba:

David and Bathsheba: Who’s to blame? (Part 1)

David and Bathsheba: Who’s to blame (Part 2)

What do you think? Was David a rapist after God’s own heart?  

Hiking Oyster Dome

Dave and Josh Burdick Logos Sign 1.17.2014 2

Recently, I was in Bellingham, Washington taping two courses for Logos Bible Software. For the sake of video consistency while taping each course, I needed to wear the same shirt. Monday through Wednesday morning I wore my red shirt for 1, 2 Kings. Then Wednedsay afternoon through Friday I wore my green shirt for 1, 2 Samuel (as modeled in front of Logos wall with Josh Burdick). My green shirt particularly was getting a bit ripe as the week progressed. By the end of Friday, the shirt would become more pungent.

I concluded my final lecture on Friday morning in Samuel looking at 2 Samuel 22, David’s song of thanksgiving for God’s deliverance, which also happens to be virtually identical to Psalm 18.

And David spoke to the LORD the words of this song on the day when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. 2 He said, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
3 my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation,
my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence.
4 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.
5 “For the waves of death encompassed me, the torrents of destruction assailed me;
6 the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me.
7 “In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I called.
From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry came to his ears…
50 For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations,
and sing praises to your name.
51 Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
to David and his offspring forever (2 Sam. 22:1-7, 51).

YHWH is David’s “rock” (sela‘ appears five times in the psalm; 22:2, 3, 32, 47 (2)) and his “savior” (forms of “save,” “savior,” “salvation” are scattered throughout the psalm; 22:3, 28, 36, 42, 47, 51).  David’s calls (22:4, 7(2)) and YHWH answers, which then leads David to praise his God (22:4, 47, 50).  Because of many instances of deliverance given to David over his enemies (Goliath, Saul, the Philistines, Absalom to name a few), he will praise his God for his steadfast love.  David speaks of himself as the anointed, but the conclusion to this psalm also points forward to about 1000 years, to David’s most important offspring, the one who brought salvation not just to David, but to the whole world, the anointed one, Jesus.

A few hours after concluding the taping of my 1, 2 Samuel course by speaking about this psalm, I, like David, had an opportunity to praise my God for an instance of deliverance.

After spending my days in the studio, and my evening reviewing my notes for the next day, I needed some time in the wild, so on Friday afternoon I decided to go for a hike.  I drove my rental about 20 minutes south away from Bellingham on Highway 11 down the scenic Chuckanut Drive, and parked at the Pacific NW Trailhead.  The helpful people at the tourist information booth that morning had told me it should take 3-5 hours to hike up to Oyster Dome.  The path would be extremely steep (1900 foot gain), but the view would be worth it, which sounded like the perfect way to unwind from a busy week.

I started my hike at 2:00, a bit late, particularly considering the fact that the sun goes down about 4:30, but I figured I’d go for an hour or so, then turn around and come back.  No worries.

The path was steep, so the coat came off, and the green shirt became even more pungent.  Fortunately, there was no one around to appreciate my aroma (but I never saw any wildlife…).

It was great to be outside, walking among the towering pine trees, enjoying God’s creation.

About 45 minutes up, I had the opportunity to go to the Samish Overlook to my right (15 more minutes), or go straight all the way up to Oyster Dome (45 more minutes).  As I was debating at the intersection of the two paths, leaning toward the shorter hike to the overlook, a group of three hikers came down the path from Oyster Dome.  I told them about my predicament.  They said “Definitely go up to Oyster Dome. It’s worth it.”  I thought, OK, I’ll have the Oysters then. (I should chosen the Overlook.)

The trail became less steep, but also more rough, crossing creeks, waterfalls and slippery rocks.  In my haste, I fell down a couple of times, which doesn’t usually happen to me on hikes.  Also, as the sun got lower in the sky, the thickness of the woods made it more difficult to see.  The path also was less obvious, but I passed groups of people every 15 minutes or so, which made it seem safer.

About 3:25 I finally made it to the top, the three hikers were right, it was spectacular.  Forests, mountains, coastline, ocean, islands, clouds and approaching sunset (image #2)…wait, sunset, that’s not a good thing, I still have 90 minutes of hiking to go.  But if I go quickly down I should be able to make it back to my car by about 4:45, right as its getting dark.

I spent about 5 minutes enjoying the view, then I headed back down the path.

That’s when the troubles began, but I’ll save those for Part 2

Oyster Dome View Sun No Dave 3.30