Bruce Waltke’s nearly 500-page commentary on Micah (Eerdmans, 2007) is the best treatment of Micah I know of. It might even be the best commentary on any prophet, and ranks right up there with R.T. France’s Mark commentary. Waltke’s Micah, however, is even more technical and examines just about every textual issue you could imagine. It was indispensable to me when I wrote a seminary exegesis paper on that blessed prophet. I don’t preach Micah without consulting it.
Accordance Bible Software has just released the volume, and even though I own the print edition, I made sure to get it into my Accordance library a.s.a.p. Check it out here (Accordance) and here (publisher’s page). The price is far lower than the value of the book.
Pssssttt! I’m going to let you in on a little secret. We’ve been hard at work on Accordance 12, a major upgrade to the Accordance application with a host of new features you’ll soon be wondering how you ever got along without. We’re not ready to tell you about the big stuff just yet, but here’s a sneak peek at one of the many minor enhancements you can look forward to in version 12.
I’ve been practicing reading Greek fairly regularly all year. Hebrew had fallen a bit by the wayside until recently. As of the last two weeks, however, I think I’ve got a good rhythm now for keeping both fresh.
I know I’m not the only pastor who finds it a challenge to not lose the heard-earned results of semesters and years of Greek and Hebrew in the classroom.
Here’s what I’ve been doing:
1. Reading through the Greek New Testament, roughly a chapter a day.
To become more fluent in reading, there’s no substitute for… you know… reading. I just got through 2 Corinthians, which I think might be the most difficult book in the New Testament—in both Greek and English!
These are books to read cover to cover, especially when you want to move from “rapid reading” to more detailed analysis of the text. I just finished Jonah and have started in on †Rod Decker’s Mark. You can see more about the series in my reviews of Luke and Malachi (here and here).
3. Reading my preaching passage in the original language, maybe even making my own translation.
I just preached through Ephesians. I translated much of it as I studied the text—either typing it out or doing it in my head. Especially with Paul’s longer sentences and more involved lines of thought in the first three chapters, this was challenging, but also essential in my grasping the text.
Now with the Old Testament lectionary readings in view (hello, prophets!), I’ll have a chance to reactivate my Hebrew reading.
If you (a) preach somewhat regularly and (b) want to make use of your Greek and Hebrew, why not combine the two endeavors? Both your preaching and your languages will be the better for it.
(NB: I teach a Webinar on this very topic, with more dates TBA. Here’s the handout.)
I’m really fortunate to have a reading partner for #1 above, reading through the GNT. This is an immense help and likely deserves its own post. Just remember that skill-building often happens best in community.
5. Learning to enjoy reading Greek and Hebrew.
Lack of proficiency for me is a great way to not enjoy a task; conversely, the more I read, the more comfortable I am with the text (Galatians was almost easy after 2 Corinthians!). Reading the Bible in its first languages also forces me to slow down and carefully consider what I’m reading. Greek and Hebrew reading fit well into devotional practices. (Great book on this, by the way, here: Using and Enjoying Biblical Greek: Reading the New Testament with Fluency and Devotion).
How about you? If you’ve been keeping your Greek and Hebrew active, what’s been helpful? What pitfalls are you facing? What other resources should I and others like me be using?
This week Accordance Bible Software has put their five-volume Ancient Christian Doctrine (IVP) on sale for $129 (normally $199). Ancient Christian Doctrine is a full-blown compendium of early church commentary on the Nicene Creed. I write more about the resource here.
If you’re teaching or preaching on the Creed, this is possibly the best resource to start with. (And, of course, it’s likely available for free in print at your local theological library.)
Just when I thought my sermon preparation was moving away from loooong Pauline sentences, Ephesians 1:15-23 offers another–a single sentence stretches across those nine verses. (See here on Ephesians 1:3-14 as one sentence and where I started my exegesis.)
This week I thought I’d see if I could wed my need to visually outline the text with my deep appreciation for mind mapping.
The result was that I got a significant step closer to understanding the focus of Paul’s prayer for Ephesian Christians. This is in rough form (and will be revised still), but here’s how I used the app MindNode to lay out the passage (click/tap to enlarge):
Ephesians 1:3-14 is a single sentence in Greek. It has more than 200 words. How does a preacher even begin!
Well, to start, I isolated the indicative verbs, which is as simple as typing
into the search entry bar in Accordance software. I wanted to start there because I thought indicative verbs (as opposed to the participles) would be the best place to begin breaking down the flow of Paul’s argument.
Then I cross-highlighted the verbs in an English translation in parallel (though I had done my own translation, too) so I could see them in both languages. The result was this (click/tap to enlarge):
From there, you guessed it, a three-point outline emerged, which shaped my sermon on this beautiful passage. I found that the indicative verbs themselves coalesce pretty nicely into three main points.
I’m preaching on the passage tomorrow–great stuff, and much more to share, but just this simple search (with, of course, instantaneous results) has been essential in guiding my exegesis and preparation.
One of the best biblical commentaries is the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) Bible Commentary. Previously at Words on the Word I’ve reviewed JPS Jonah, Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus.
Now Accordance Bible Software has announced the release of every JPS Bible Commentary volume that currently exists in print, including Michael Fishbane’s Song of Songs and Michael V. Fox’s Ecclesiastes.
(Fun aside: I was leading an Accordance Webinar on building Workspaces when I realized the “Michael Fox” in attendance was THAT Michael V. Fox.)
Accordance has a number of purchase and even upgrade options available, all of which are explained in detail here.