Just Ordered

I’ve started my Christmas shopping and in the midst of getting gifts for others I decided to make a few purchases for myself. This morning I ordered an Apple Magic Trackpad 2 (from B&H), which is way overpriced, but something I need for my workflow. I tried pairing my existing Magic Trackpad with my iMac but no matter how many times I tell the MacBook Pro to forget it and no matter how many times I try to pair it with the iMac, it just won’t work. That’s fine though as I really do need a trackpad for both machines. I’m happy that this one is rechargeable since I go through batteries like crazy (I do use rather cheap Kodak batteries though, so that’s most likely why).

I also ordered the newest Apple TV because I want to be able to stream movies from my computer to my television. I also like that I’ll no longer be limited to watching HBOGO and SHOWTIME on my iPad. Those were my main reasons for buying it. I already have a smart TV with apps for Netflix and Amazon Prime, but they’re clunky and not so easy to navigate with my TV’s remote control. I like that the new Apple TV has Siri built in and I can voice search what I want to watch. If/when I get a 4K TV I’ll most likely upgrade to an Nvidia Shield and give the Apple TV to my daughter who relies on her PS3 for her entertainment streaming needs.

And finally, I took advantage of Amazon’s HOLIDAY30 discount, which applies a 30% saving up to $10 on any physical book of your choice. After a brief consultation with Michael Barber on Twitter I ended up ordering Brant Pitre’s Jesus and the Last Supper, which was initially nearly $42 but after applying the discount and some rewards points from my Amazon Visa ended up only costing me $23.77 after tax. Not a bad deal!

Can’t wait until this all comes in, and thankfully, I won’t have to! The B&H order arrives tomorrow and Pitre’s book on Wednesday! Thank God for fast and free shipping!


A Brief Word about Comfort’s A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament

Comfort, Philip Wesley. A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2015. Pp. 443. Hardcover. $29.99.

I’ve had Philip Comfort’s A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament for a few weeks now (I seem to have forgotten to do an “In the Mail” post when it arrived). In many ways it’s similar to Metzger’s volume, which has been a standard for quite some time. Aside from the physical similarities of the two volumes, Comfort, like Metzger, offers mostly pithy notes on variant readings that span anywhere from a sentence to a paragraph. The long notes can cover anywhere from a half page to a page and a half. I’ve not come across Comfort disagreeing with the decisions made by the UBS committee yet, but I’ve only skimmed the commentary at this point. I hope to find Comfort going in different directions at certain points and am interested to see his reasoning for doing so if he does.

The differences I’ve noted off the bat are in the introductions. Metzger’s volume has a brief introduction that talks about the history and transmission of the NT text, the criteria used in determining the best readings, and a list of some of the more important manuscript witnesses delineated according to text type. Comfort’s introductory material on the other hand spans two chapters. The first discusses the NT papyri, significant uncial manuscripts, a primer on assessing manuscripts in order to determine the text, a brief discussion of the canons (11 noted by Comfort) of NT textual criticism, and a healthy discussion of the Nomina Sacra in the NT (Comfort is quite interested in the Nomina Sacra as he mentions in the introduction and is evident throughout the commentary). The second chapter is a helpful annotated list of the manuscripts of the NT.

The most significant difference, however, is that Comfort’s commentary is on actual manuscripts rather than on an eclectic text. He says, “Most commentaries usually adhere to a certain English translation, and the commentators refer to an edition of the Greek New Testament (such as Novum Testamentum Graece or the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament), diverging from it when they deem it necessary. These two Greek editions (which have the same text) were compiled according to the eclectic method, which means that various readings from various manuscripts were selected for the text on a verse-by-verse basis. In this commentary readers will be reading commentary on actual manuscripts, such as P75 for most of the Gospel of Luke, P66 and P75 for the Gospel of John, P46 for nearly all of Paul’s Epistles and Hebrews, and so on” (7).

I was quite pleased to find him disagreeing with the Alands’ categorizations of some of the papyri, not because I necessarily disagree myself, but because it shows that Comfort is an independent and critical voice in the field. I did note that he doesn’t treat certain variants that Metzger did (e.g., Acts 8:24, 35), while commenting on some that Metzger didn’t (e.g., John 17:5, 16). I suppose this could be explained by Comfort’s focus on individual manuscripts and it seems that a lot of Comfort’s unique discussions are related to the Nomina Sacra whereas Metzger doesn’t focus on these at all. I’ve also noticed that after nearly every used of the phrase “nomen sacrum” Comfort puts the English translation “sacred name” in parentheses. It’s a curious and wholly unnecessary practice.

I’m also more than slightly perturbed by the lack of citations of the variants in Greek. Metzger’s commentary, for example, shows “Χριστου [υιου θεου] {C}” at Mark 1:1 and then proceeds to use the Greek term under discussion throughout the note. Comfort’s merely has “Jesus Christ” and then proceeds with the discussion using English translations (which are Comfort’s own) of the variant readings. I can’t understand the reasoning behind this decision through. Presumably this is a reference source intended for students of the Greek New Testament. It would be nice to have some Greek to read throughout the discussions.

But in all I think this will serve as a useful tool to supplement Metzger’s commentary rather than something that can replace it. They each serve a purpose and can be used in conjunction, which is what I plan to do.


The Revised New International Version

Back in May I noted that this year marked the 50th anniversary of the Committee on Bible Translation to discuss the production of the New International Version of the Bible. HarperCollins created a website that’s loaded with information about the NIV’s history to include a fascinating article on the history of its revision. Casual readers are probably most familiar with the 1984 NIV and the most recent update released in 2011 but are not likely to be informed about the painstaking process that led up to this most current version or the many incarnations that came before it.

We’re treated to precisely this information in an article entitled “Made for You: Continuing the Mission of the NIV.” Apparently the revising process is near perpetual and the CBT are constantly studying the original languages alongside what’s current in English parlance. And that’s what stood out most to me when reading the article. The concern to translate the Bible into the English that people today know, speak, hear, and understand is always at the forefront. It was this, and not some desire for political correctness or pressure from outside feminist forces, that drove the choices made in the short lived TNIV.

But you can read all of this for yourself. And you should!


On the Ease of Disseminating Information (or, the Internet made it possible for every idiot to get a hearing)

I’ve commented in the recent past about a coworker of mine who recently became enamored with Louis Farrakhan after having watched a number of his speeches and interviews on YouTube. He’s since become enamored with other folks who claim that Christianity is a completely false/made up religion stolen from ancient Egypt and used to oppress black people. My coworker’s problem is that whatever he watches on YouTube he receives uncritically. It’s too bad I can’t get him to watch any Christians speaking intelligently about Christianity!

But he keeps insisting that I watch these videos to learn why my religion is false and why Jesus is a myth and blah blah blah… I told him that I have no interest. I don’t have the time to waste on nonsense. But it struck me that the internet, great invention that it is, has really made it possible for any old crackpot to get a fair shake from an unassuming audience. I’m not so naive as to think that peer review guarantees quality work (trust me, I’ve read enough bunk that’s made it through peer review to know better), but it’s way better than nothing at all.

I get why scholars who teach in institutions have in the past been (and many in the present still are) leery about their students quoting online sources (particularly blogs) in research papers and dissertations. It’s just too easy to get something out there online without accountable to anyone else. And the real problem is that the internet is unstoppable; once the bunk is on there it’s near impossible to get off. And once it’s out there it’s easy to spread. All one has to do is link to it on Facebook or Twitter and all of a sudden dozens to thousands of people are reading it and consequently sharing it.

Bad scholarship being disseminated so easily is like a terrible rumor. By the time it’s proven wrong it’s already done it’s damage and left a stain that’s hard to get out. And the sad thing is that I don’t see a fix in sight. Good information is out there but it doesn’t spread nearly as fast, or so it seems. May God have mercy!


Forsake Not Assembling

I cut a guy’s hair yesterday who shared with me that he grew up going to church and that his grandmother and aunt are very religious and keep urging him to get back but he’s just not there yet. Fair enough. I can’t tell him when he’s gonna be ready. But then he said that he believes in God and prays daily but just doesn’t want to go to church because he’s got some issues with it. That’s when I told him that we all have some issues with it, but I like to get together with others love the God that I love so we can worship him together.

To my mind it makes little sense to hoard my love for God in private devotions while never displaying it in public worship. Plus, there’s strength in numbers. The author of Hebrews tells us that when we gather we’re to encourage one another and stir each other up to love and good works. That’s something that’s much less likely to happen when we’re isolated.

In any event, I saw that he was convicted. What he’ll do with that conviction is anyone’s guess. I just hope he’ll find himself assembling with believers somewhere sometime soon.