Reading Koine Greek: An Introduction and Integrated Workbook

deckerAt the end of last year the TGC staff cited “best books from 2014.”

This is one of the two books I selected:

Rodney J. Decker. Reading Koine Greek: An Introduction and Integrated Workbook. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014.

My dear friend Rod Decker went to be with the Lord in May 2014 at age 61, but in spite of his terminal cancer God enabled him to complete two major projects that publishers released in November 2014: [Read more…]

5 Free Classes on Ethics

This semester is my first time teaching a course on Biblical Ethics. It’s been a steep learning curve for me, so I’ve been preparing by reading more than I normally do for a class.

Over Christmas break I also listened to five free thought-provoking courses:

justice1. Michael J. Sandel’s course “Justice” at Harvard University. Sandel has taught political philosophy at Harvard since 1980, and over 15,000 students have taken his course. WGBH and Harvard University coproduced the course as a TV series in 2005, which is what you can watch free online or via iTunes. I watched the course and then read Sandel’s corresponding book that released in 2009: Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? Sandel is thoughtful, respectful, and provocative. I disagree with his liberal political bent and the ultimate grounds for his ethical views, but I love how he engagingly teaches with the Socratic method. [Read more…]

Prooftexting the Personality of the Holy Spirit

Sometimes well-intentioned people argue for the right thing the wrong way. Their position may be right even though at least one of their arguments is not. This seems to be the case with a popular exegetical and theological argument for the personality of the Holy Spirit. The right position is that the Holy Spirit is a person, and the fallacious argument is that the masculine demonstrative pronoun ἐκεῖνος [ekeinos] in John 14:26, 15:26, and 16:13–14 proves it. Trinitarian theologians through church history have rightly defended the personality of the Spirit, and an astonishing number of defenders appeal to this argument for support.

proofThat’s how Phil Gons and I begin the following article (now available free online as a PDF):

Prooftexting the Personality of the Holy Spirit: An Analysis of the Masculine Demonstrative Pronouns in John 14:26, 15:26, and 16:13–14.” Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 16 (2011): 65–89. [Read more…]

Sam Storms’s Tough Topics 2: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions

stormsSam Storms has a sequel to his first Tough Topics book:

Sam Storms. Tough Topics 2: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions. Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2015.

My endorsement:

Each controversial question Sam Storms poses could be the subject of an entire book, but he manages to give thoughtful brief answers that aren’t superficial. As a model pastor-theologian, he answers with clarity, wisdom, and grace.

These are the 25 questions: [Read more…]

Matt Harmon’s Commentary on Philippians

HarmonThis new commentary is one that preachers and other Bible interpreters will want to add to their library:

Matthew S. Harmon. Philippians: A Mentor Commentary. Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2015.

My endorsement:

Matt Harmon explains Paul’s letter clause by clause, traces Paul’s argument, reads Paul’s argument in light of the rest of the Bible, and applies the letter to people today. He reminds me of two of his professors when he was working on his PhD at Wheaton: Doug Moo and Greg Beale.

Phrasing: My Favorite Way to Trace an Argument

The best part about knowing the biblical languages is tracing the argument.

The main tool we use for this at Bethlehem College & Seminary is Biblearc.


Biblearc initially focused exclusively on tracing the argument by a method called arcing. It is a method that John Piper and Tom Steller developed after learning it from Dan Fuller.

Last year Biblearc added bracketing.

And this year it added phrasing. Phrasing is my favorite method for tracing the argument because it’s so intuitive and clear.

Phrasing goes by many names:

  • block diagramming
  • causal layout
  • grammatical diagramming
  • phrase diagramming
  • propositional displays
  • propositional outlines
  • sentence flow
  • text hierarchy
  • thought-flow diagramming

Phrasing is a flexible and easy-to-use Bible study tool that allows you to visually trace a passage’s argument: simply indent to subordinate. The Biblearc phrasing feature has all sorts of mark-up features from arrows to relationship comments to Dot Notes.

My colleagues Jason DeRouchie and Brian Tabb teamed up with Andy Hubert to show how it works in these five videos:

1. Introduction to Biblearc’s Phrasing Module

[Read more…]