Tremper Longman III

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Book Review: “How to Read Daniel” by Tremper Longman III

How to Read Daniel by Tremper Longman III is an introduction not just to the text of the book of Daniel but also its world. Though it is clearly marketed and intended as an introductory text, I was surprised by how much depth the pithy work had.

Longman III splits the book into three parts. The first part is “Reading Daniel in its Original Setting.” Here, he notes the genre, structure, and language of the book while also providing historical context and thematic details about the book of Daniel. Daniel is something of an enigmatic book, with some clear seeming narratives combined with rather baffling visions and prophetic literature. This first part helps decipher some of these difficulties. The second part is “Reading Daniel as Six Stories and Four Visions,” which is about as straightforward as it sounds in outline. However, Longman III gives much insight in each chapter about the various visions and narratives in the book.

The third part is “Reading Daniel as a Twenty-First-Century Christian,” and I was surprised by how very insightful I found it. It’s clear that Longman III rejects approaches that treat Daniel as a newspaper, trying to pick storylines out of it to match up with modern day events. Instead, he argues that Christians can and should see it as a guide for living their lives and seeing the hope of God’s ultimate victory.

An appendix gives Longman III’s annotated recommendations on some commentaries for deeper readings. The indices are surprisingly robust. Each chapter features discussion questions, which would make the book excellent for a small group study.

How to Read Daniel is an invaluable tool for those wanting to approach the biblical text with knowledge and insight. It would benefit readers hoping to read the text either individually or in groups. I recommend it highly.

(All Amazon links are affiliates links.)

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book for review by the publisher. I was not required to give any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.

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Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

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Sunday Quote!- The Desperate Lights of Genesis?

readinggenesis1-2-CharlesEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

The Source of Light: A Desperate Bid?

One of the heated questions about the age of the Earth of course concerns the meaning and length of the days of creation. Of the questions related to that, one which persists is where from and why, on a literal reading, is there light before the bodies which produce light (stars, sun, etc.) are apparently created (though this is also debated) on day four? In Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation, Tremper Longman III offers the following comment on one path that some creationists take to explain the light prior to the sun:

The counterargument [to the fact that the solar bodies were not created until day 4] that God could provide an alternative light source is an act of desperation. Of course, God could provide light and darkness in some other fashion in a twenty-four-hour period, but that would still not constitute a literal evening and morning that is defined by the setting and rising of the sun and the movement of the other celestial bodies. (105, cited below)

Although I’m not sure I would qualify this move as “desperate,” I do still wonder how, exactly, one is to define the days of creation and a “literal” evening and morning without the actual solar bodies. I mean, realistically, what does it mean to say there is “evening” without such a reference point? Interestingly, some concordist positions (concordist meaning views which seek to explain the Bible in light of science or vice versa–and would encompass both young and old earth creationists of various types [see my taxonomy of positions]) actually take this to show that the days are not indeed 24 hour periods.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Do you see this move as desperate or do you think its perfectly reasonable? Somewhere in between? Why?

Source

Tremper Longman III, “What Genesis 1-2 Teaches (and What It Doesn’t)” in Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation edited J. Daryl Charles (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2013).

Sunday Quote! – Does reading Genesis Require a PhD?

readinggenesis1-2-CharlesEvery Sunday, I share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Does Reading Genesis Require a PhD?

One of the topics of major interest to me is the debate within Christianity over the means and timing of creation. Recently, a friend sent me a copy of Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation. I started it immediately and I’ve been working my way through the views before I go back to read the responses. One interesting quote came up in the portion from the scholar advocating a “literal” reading (Todd S. Beall):

Genesis 1 should be read… as historical narrative that is meant to be taken literally. This is the normal reading of the account… It does not require a person with a PhD to unlock the key to these chapters by appealing to A[ncient] N[ear] E[astern] literature or a special genre or some other special figurative approach. (48)

The quote is in context of Beall’s discussion of various evangelicals “coming out” as not reading the text literally for various reasons, such as ANE context, notions of genre, or the like. Basically, Beall’s point seems to be that we can (and should?) just read the text straightforwardly without having to study all kinds of topics to understand it. What do you think of this notion? What might this say about the cultural context of Genesis? Does that context matter? Should we be concerned with possibilities regarding such a context, differing genres, or the like?

Bonus Quote

Interestingly, a later author in the same work, Tremper Longman III, confronts Beall’s allegation regarding the PhD:

…isn’t the Bible equally clear to everyone, even those who have not studied the Bible and its cultural background? The simple answer to that question is no, it is not. After all, unless you have studied Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic you cannot read the Bible at all without scholarly help. (121)

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Source

Todd S. Beall, “Reading Genesis 1-2: A Literal Approach” in Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation edited J. Daryl Charles (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2013).

Tremper Longman III, “What Genesis 1-2 Teaches (and What It Doesn’t)” in Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation edited J. Daryl Charles (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2013).

SDG.

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