Some Resources on Hebrews

I am doing some preparation for a module on Hebrews next semester. This post draws attention to some resources that may be useful both to my students (including those who might want to do a bit of preparatory work!) and to others who would like to explore Hebrews for themselves. Because there is already an excellent blog (see the details below) that provides a remarkable array of resources, this post simply lists a small selection of materials that seem to me useful starting points. I hope it will be helpful and may encourage readers to become more familiar with Hebrews.

Videos

First of all, I would encourage anyone trying to get an initial orientation to Hebrews to watch this short overview of Hebrews from the Bible Project.

For much more detail, this series of lectures given by Don Carson is excellent. Although Carson refers to Greek from time to time, he can be followed easily by those without Greek. You can download his outline too.

Blog

Brian Small has an excellent blog, dealing with various matters relating to Hebrews, entitled Polumeros kai Polutropos (the blog title is the opening phrase of Hebrews in Greek). This blog is intended to be a resource for both the church and the academy and points to a vast range of resources. Any serious student of Hebrews should become familiar with this blog.

Bibliographical Resources

Any serious study of Hebrews will require engagement with commentaries and other writings. There are several web sites that can point you to useful sources. In addition to the extensive bibliographical resources provided at Polumeros kai Polutropos, you might wish to look at the Denver Journal New Testament Bibliography and a rated list of commentaries on Hebrews at the Best Commentaries site.

A new commentary that may be of interest to preachers, students and other readers comes from Jon Laansma of Wheaton College. You can find details here.

 

If readers have suggestions of other particularly useful resources for studying Hebrews, please do send me a message at thesethingsarewritten@gmail.com, and I will consider adding them to this post.

Bibliography Post Republished on the Logos Academic Blog

I am grateful to Tavis Bohlinger for republishing my blog post on building a bibliography on the Logos Academic Blog. I hope that this will enable more people to read the post and that it will be an encouragement to those who wish to strengthen their research for writing projects. Please go and have a look at some of the other articles on the Logos Academic Blog. Thanks, Tavis!

(P.S. If you sign up for email updates from the Logos Academic Blog, currently you will receive a free Logos book on Theological Hermeneutics.)

Operation World

I have a long-standing appreciation for the book, Operation World. As a young Christian, I remember hearing other Christians speak enthusiastically about this remarkable source of information about the nations of the world, gathered with the particular purpose of encouraging and enabling Christians to pray specifically for the nations of the world with a focus on mission. The author was Patrick Johnstone of WEC. At that time, I had no particular awareness of WEC. That would soon change! It wasn’t long before I was able to purchase my own copy, and I found the information fascinating, challenging, and encouraging, although I struggled to use the book consistently as a prayer guide. The research was so thorough that it was rather overwhelming.

Some years later, WEC made the decision to produce a version of Operation World for children. By that time, I had ‘married into’ the WEC family. My mother-in-law, Daphne Spraggett (with Jill Johnstone, until Jill’s death), wrote what would eventually be published as Window on the World. This book was much less detailed than the original book, which made it much more usable for families and church prayer groups. The carefully researched content, combined with colourful illustrations, ensured that this book has been greatly valued by many adults, as well as by the families and young people for whom it was designed. Though much has changed in the world since this book was first published, I would still commend it warmly to families.

The work initiated by Patrick Johnstone has been continued by Jason Mandryk. A range of physical Operation World resources is available from Inter-Varsity Press.

Now, in the era of digital communication, Operation World has been made available as an app for both Android and Apple operating systems. Each day, the app introduces one or two nations, providing maps, the national flag, and some brief details that explain the state of evangelical Christianity in the relevant nations. I have been using the app for several days and I have found it very helpful. The level of detail is suitable for reading in a short time.

It is very good to see this marvellous resource enter a new phase of usefulness to the global church. I hope that the app, along with all the other Operation World publications, will be widely used and will lead to more consistent and well-informed prayer for the nations and the global church by individuals and congregations.

Kindle Deals: Theology and Church Life

Readers who use Kindle (whether an actual Kindle device or the software for PCs, tablets and phones) can often purchase useful books at discounted prices. I will identify a selection of books for Kindle that catch my attention from time to time. I will focus on those available at a discount in the UK. Readers in other parts of the world may find different offers are available. Readers should note that deals often last for only a short time before the price increases again. The Gospel eBooks and Cross-points sites (among others) are helpful resources for deals as they arise. Here are some books (as of 10 June 2017) that may be of use to those interested in theology and church life:

Counterpoint Series: a selection of this Zondervan series is available for a range of discounted prices. Some of these volumes are very good.  (£1.99-£3.99).

Doctrine Matters: by John Piper. (£1.99)

Lost in the Middle: MidLife and the Grace of God: by Paul David Tripp (£2.37)

Sweeter Than Honey: Preaching the Old Testament: Anything written by Chris Wright is worth reading! This study of preaching the Old Testament has already been published as How to Preach the Old Testament for All Its Worth (Zondervan), but the Langham edition is available for about half the price of the Zondervan edition! (£4.07)

Kindle Deals: Mission and World Christianity

Readers who use Kindle (whether an actual Kindle device or the software for PCs, tablets and phones) can often purchase useful books at discounted prices. I will identify a selection of books for Kindle that catch my attention from time to time. I will focus on those available at a discount in the UK. Readers in other parts of the world may find different offers are available. Readers should note that deals often last for only a short time before the price increases again. The Gospel eBooks and Cross-points sites (among others) are helpful resources for deals as they arise. Here are some books (as of 11 April 2017) that may be of use to those interested in mission and World Christianity:

The Next Christendom: This important study by Philip Jenkins is essential reading. (£2.99)

God’s Continent: Christianity, Islam and Europe’s Religious Crisis: Part of Philip Jenkins’s trilogy of studies. (£2.48)

Salvation Belongs to Our God: This book by Chris Wright was published as part of the ‘Langham Global Library’ series. (£3.79)
 

Logos Free Book of the Month, June 2017

If you use Logos software, you will want to pick up the Free Book of the Month for July. Salvation Belongs to the Lord, by John Frame, recently retired from Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL., is an introduction to Systematic Theology written in a clear and accessible style. It is ideal for theological students and for Christians who wish to understand their faith better. I recommend it warmly and you can get it absolutely free. If you don’t already have the Logos Basic software so that you can read these books, you can download it completely free here.

Also available during July (and found using the same link), but for an additional cost of $1.99, is Justification by Grace Through Faith, by Brian Vickers of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This is a helpful volume that combines excellent scholarship with clear expression to provide a valuable exposition of this central doctrine for any Christian reader. It is part of a very promising new series. I recently picked up Hans Bayer’s volume on the Gospel of Mark in the same series. It also looks very good.

Both of the books in the Logos offer are published by P&R Publishing, and are just part of a range of superb resources coming from P&R during the past few years reflecting a clear Reformed perspective combined with well-informed and thoughtful engagement with wider scholarship.

Don’t let this offer pass you by!

A new resource for learning Hebrew, with free video lectures

I have been encouraged in recent years to find a deep interest in biblical Greek, not only among preachers and students, but also among Christians who are not engaged in formal theological education. I have written about resources for learning Greek here.

A few hardy individuals have also asked about learning to read biblical Hebrew. There are also some excellent resources available for those who wish to learn Hebrew. I will mention just two here.

First, I recently saw an announcement for a new introductory grammar, Introduction to Hebrew, by William Fullilove of RTS New York, and published by P&R. This new book receives warm commendations from some top-rank Hebrew scholars, notably Bruce Waltke in his Foreword. You can read the front matter plus one sample chapter here. On first glance at the available sample, this book seems appealing for several reasons.

  1. It incorporates teaching material and exercises into a single volume of modest size.
  2. Along with fairly typical reading exercises, it includes ‘exegetical exercises’ that encourage the learner to note features of the biblical text that have some particular significance for interpretation. Some of these exercises appear to rely on the student already possessing a copy of the Hebrew Bible (BHS or BHQ).
  3. A set of video lectures has been made available for the whole book. While watching videos is not the same experience as belonging to a class with a teacher, this resource will be of great help to students and preachers trying to learn on their own or as part of a small support group.

I look forward to examining this book in more detail in due course, but for now I encourage anyone who is eager to learn some Hebrew to consider watching the video lectures and, if keen to proceed with serious study, to purchase this book.

Second, for those who have already studied some Hebrew at an introductory level, I commend the Daily Dose of Hebrew videos to you. Building on the model of the excellent Daily Dose of Greek videos, these short videos encourage those who can already read Hebrew with a measure of confidence to build up their experience and confidence in reading biblical texts.

We are privileged to have access today to such a wide range of helpful resources to help careful study of the biblical texts. Whatever our abilities and responsibilities, let’s make the best use of them we can.