An Introduction to the Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge

An Introduction to the Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge
Dirk Jongkind
Crossway, 2019

The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge (short title Tyndale House Edition, abbreviated as THGNT) was released in 2017. The most well-known name associated with it is Peter J Williams. This is a 120 page introduction to the particular features of that edition – though it also answers bigger questions, about how we got the Bible, what textual criticism involves, etc. Although ‘through the ages the existence of textual variants has been seen as a danger to, or an argument against, the notion of the divine nature of the Scriptures’, Jongkind disagrees. The book is concise, though most of it is probably aimed at seminary level and above.

In terms of the manuscripts, Jongkind believes ‘no single textual family has preserved the best wording of the text’. A chapter entitled ‘Why not the Received Text?’, makes a number of helpful points. Firstly, Jongkind identifies this as a uniquely Protestant problem, saying ‘I don’t know of any Christians within Eastern Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism who defend the Textus Receptus’. He also points out that ‘Accepting the Textus Receptus as the authoritative text of the New Testament means that one accepts the printed text of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. In practice, this means that even if the Textus Receptus offers a text not found in any Greek manuscript dating from before the published editions, still the Greek text of a printed edition is accepted. An example is Revelation 22:19: the Textus Receptus has βίβλου τῆς ζωῆς, “book of life,” instead of ξύλου τῆς ζωῆς, “tree of life,” as all Greek manuscript evidence testifies’. He then goes on to answer the question ‘So why are defenders of the Textus Receptus willing to go against all preserved evidence?’

Jongkind uses an Old Testament example to argue that God’s Word ‘has always been available to the church, though sometimes with more clarity than at other times. This is even illustrated in the biblical history itself. Who knew the details of the law in the days immediately before the rediscovery of the scroll in the temple during Josiah’s reign (2 Kings 22)? As far as the historical evidence suggests, not everyone has had access at all times to the perfect, original wording of the New Testament’.

An introduction to a Greek New Testament obviously isn’t for everyone. It’s also quite expensive for what it is. But for a conservative evangelical, and yet bang up-to-date, approach to textual criticism, it is well worth having. A good alternative for the layperson would be Peter J William’s Can we trust the gospels?

Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.

Rosaria New Horizon talk 2

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Firstly, it would have been impossible to mix this up with preaching/bible teaching. It was simply her telling her story, along with some challenges and encouragements.

Secondly, some quotes:

“You cannot have a commuting relationship if you genuinely care for people.”

“There is no gospel for righteous people”

“But what about the children? Yes my children have grown up in this environment and they are doing just fine. They love the Lord Jesus Christ. They know how to witness to their friends. They have seen some of the most unlikely people come to Christ because Christ specialising in unlikely converts. We could all use a good dose of courage in loving the stranger!”

Loving the Stranger

Behold, the end of Protestant Ulster

Great – though thoroughly depressing – article by Crawford Gribben

“For in Northern Ireland, as throughout the secular west, politics trumps faith.”

“Bowing to the inevitable, and being willing to sacrifice almost anything in the hope of maintaining the union, DUP strategists are enabling some of the most radical legislative changes in the history of Northern Ireland.

They do not need to do so. The DUP’s confidence and supply arrangement with the minority Conservative government provides them with formidable negotiating power. Throughout the Brexit crisis, the DUP made repeated threats to derail key votes when they believed that government policy was threatening the unity of the United Kingdom. But they have made little fuss about this more recent threat to the values that party members once found axiomatic.”

“The party of former fundamentalists will hold its nose during one of the most significant changes in public morality in living memory. ”

“Forced to choose, the DUP will prefer power to piety.”

Confronting Christianity

Confronting Christianity: 12 hard questions for the world’s largest religion
Rebecca McLaughlin
Crossway, 2019

I wouldn’t have noticed this book were it not for a glowing recommendation from one of my favourite Bible scholars, Peter J Williams. The subtitle of the book explains what it’s about, and the hard questions include topics such as diversity, science, women, homophobia, suffering and hell.

The introduction is brilliant, with many ‘myth-busting statistics’ (as Williams calls them) showing the failure of the ‘secularization hypothesis’. It’s a real shot in the arm, and a great antidote to doom and gloom to read projections that have Christianity growing and atheism declining. The first chapter – ‘Aren’t we better off without religion?’ cites a Harvard School of Public Health professor saying that religion may be a miracle drug (given its physical and mental health benefits), and that the rise of secularisation in the States is a public-health crisis.

Other highlights include the stat that ‘the most likely people to be Christians are women of colour’, her section on how being against homosexuality isn’t equivalent to racism, and her myth-busting sections on the Crusades and Galileo (the latter was ‘a Christian who argued vociferously that heliocentrism did not undermine the bible – attempting to make theological arguments got him in trouble with the pope’).

It’s not a perfect book – in the chapter on science she comes out in support of millions of years and the big bang. While supporting male headship, her dismissal of traditional gender roles probably goes too far. She also seems to uncritically accept all who claim the label Christian, whether Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King, with recent revelations about the latter making the references to him right throughout the book seem particularly unwise. Overall, I was left with the feeling that she conceded too much to the culture.

I would still give the book a solid 4 out of 5 stars, recommend it as a challenge to non-Christians and an encouragement & apologetic resource for believers. I look forward to drawing on it when addressing these topics in preaching.

Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.

Reformed Systematic Theology

Reformed Systematic Theology
Joel Beeke and Paul Smalley
Crossway, 2019

It feels hard to justify reading a new ST when you haven’t read Turretin or Bavinck or Vos – so I haven’t gone through this in depth! Nevertheless, the fact that this volume is available can only be a good thing. It’s the latest (after Reformed Preaching) in a plan by Beeke to publish much of the material from his lectures at PRTS. Those who’ve sat under Beeke say that it sounds like him, though it’s hard to know what influence a Baptist co-author will have (love you Walker!). There’s an interesting comment that the WCF was ’emended’ (ie corrected/improved!) by the congregationalists on its way to becoming the 1689 Baptist Confession! Being a Beeke book, it aims to be experiential – even including psalms (and hymns!) for the reader or their study group to sing in response to each chapter’s content. Being a Beeke book, it also uses the KJV.

The fact that the book joins a crowded marked has led to mixed reactions. Shane Lems says that this book overlaps with the content of previous ones by around 85%, and even if they do interact with some issues of the day such as Pentecostalism and Open Theism, he had the feeling that he’d read most of it before. On the other hand, Donald John Maclean (of Banner of Truth) states that of all the current candidates to be the ‘Berkhof of the future’, Beeke’s may be the most likely candidate.

Perhaps militating against it may be the length – around 1,200 pages, and this is volume 1 of 4! Its readability is an advantage, but a one volume version might have been more realistic to hand to lay people or study in something like a theology MET. Nevertheless, there are plenty of unofficial helps to those who are keen to jump in and read it – such as a facebook group, reading plan (for the ReadingPlan app) and podcast.

Beeke states fairly early on: ‘The most basic truth of theology is that there is a God and you are not him’. Plenty to meditate on even in that one sentence.

Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.