Friday, January 28, 2022

The Vision (1.28.22): Taking Up the Yoke of Christ


Note: Devotion taken from the closing application to last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 11:28-30.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

In Matthew 11:28-20, through the inscripturation of God’s Word, Christ himself speaks to us.

We are given a command:

We are commanded to come to Christ, foundationally this means to believe in him.

We are commanded to take his yoke upon us—that is to obey his commands and teaching. John 14:15: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 15:14: “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

Matthew Poole notes that in this teaching our Lord “lets us know there can be no true faith without obedience to the commands of Christ.”

We are commanded to learn from Christ, to be discipled by Christ, to enroll in his school.

An identification is made:

First, we are told about ourselves. We are laboring and heavy laden. We are burdened by various things, by our own sin, by the duties of the law, by sickness (we all have a sickness unto death) and personal problems, and by much serving (the incessant duties of life).

But there is also here an identification here of our Savior (v. 29). He is all meekness and all humility. He tells us to take his yoke upon us and learn of him. Spurgeon said that Christ is both the teacher and the lesson.

We are given a promise:

The promise is rest. We might have rest in our personal circumstances. Peace in the storms and gales of life. The peace that “passeth all understanding” (Phil 4:7). We might also have sabbath rest as we come to know the enjoyment of worshipping and serving our God. And we might have rest from the anxiety about what awaits us at death (see John 6:44).

Notice, finally, that Christ does not ask us to choose. He simply commands. The only question is whether or not we will obey.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

WM 222: Barrett, Modern Translations, & Eternal Generation


In this episode I review Matthew Barrett's comments on problems with modern translations, with respect to the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son, in his book Simply Trinity (Baker 2021), recently named by Christianity Today as a 2022 book of the year in the category of theology and ethics (read about it here).

Among other things, Barrett points out that in the twentieth century scholars "erased 'only begotten' from John's corpus and replace this phrase with 'only' or 'unique' instead," adding that due to this change "generations of Christians were never introduced to the concept of eternal generation" (186). He also announces, "that consensus is now changing, and fast" (187).

This illustrates the sometimes subtle (or not so subtle) theological problems that arise from modern texts and modern translations.

I also covered this issue in WM 207, reviewing part of a conversation between Barrett and Charles Lee Irons, and I did a text note on John 1:18 in WM 56.


Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Augustine, Harmony of the Evangelists.1.24-25: Pagan Toleration & The Works of God


Image: Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon


1.24: Of the fact that those persons who, reject the God of Israel, in consequence fail to worship all the gods; and, on the other hand, that those who worship other gods, fail to worship Him.

Having discussed the fact that the pagans have confused the God of the Bible with Saturn and Jupiter, Augustine returns to his primary apologetic point, namely, that pagan continuation of the worship of the gods and rejection of the worship of Christ is both inconsistent with the tolerant theology of paganism (in which all gods are worshipped) and with Christian theology (which dictates that only Christ should be worshipped). He also stresses that the exclusive worship of Christ was “announced beforehand” through the OT prophets in their denunciation of idolatry.

1.25: Of the fact that false gods do not forbid others to be worshipped along with themselves. That the God of Israel is the true God, is proved by His works, both in prophecy and in fulfillment.

Augustine continues his apologetic against paganism by noting that none of gods, even if mightier and more virtuous than another god, ever interdicts the worship of that other god. Jupiter, therefore, does not interdict the worship of Saturn, and chaste Dianna does not interdict the worship of the crude Priapus. The God of Israel, however, forbids the worship of any other gods by images and rites. Thus, the Biblical God shows that the pagan gods are “false and lying deities,” and he is “the one true and truthful God.”

The pagans have no right to reject the one true God, because God’s works prove him to be true. Augustine surveys various events from the Bible to illustrate these works. Rather than point to primordial history (the translation of Enoch, the flood and Noah’s ark), he begins in Genesis 12 with the call of Abraham and the promise to bless the nations through his seed (fulfilled in the birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary). He traces the patriarchs Isaac and Jacob, and deliverance under Moses. He notes that from Abraham eventually came Judah (the son of Jacob), and from him the Seed (Jesus) to bless the nations. The works of God are demonstrated in that now there was a generation of Christians willing to break apart the idols of their fathers.


Augustine uses the quality of toleration in the practice of pagan religion as a tool against that religion. He points to its logical inconsistencies, arguing that the Biblical concept of one true God is proven by that God’s actions in history.


Saturday, January 22, 2022

WM 221: J. K. Elliott, Radical Eclecticism, and Academic Respectability


This episode was prompted by seeing a promotional flyer for an upcoming CSNTM conference in Dallas  in which various top scholars in the field of textual criticism will be presenting papers.

One of the breakout speakers (topic unlisted) is J. K. Elliott, emeritus professor at the University of Leeds, UK.

This brought to my mind Elliot’s chapter contribution to the 2008 book Perspectives on the Ending of Mark, especially his closing comments aimed it seems, in particular, at evangelicals or traditional Christians involved in academic textual criticism.

Elliott represents an approach known as thoroughgoing or radical eclecticism.

See the description in D. A. Black, NT Textual Criticism (1994): 37.

There are actually some parallels between this view and the Confessional Text position in that (1) it is skeptical of reconstruction based on the external evidence: (2) it affirms the NT text on an alternative basis (internal evidence; thoroughgoing eclecticism) [cf. the TR, which is also skeptical of empirical reconstruction of the extant external evidence and affirms the text based on “providential preservation”].

So, let’s turn and read the conclusion to Elliott’s article: “The Last Twelve Verses Original or Not? in Perspectives on the Ending of Mark (80-102).

He rejects the Traditional Ending of Mark (TE) on internal grounds, concluding that its “content and theology” are “uncharacteristic of Mark elsewhere” (87). Adding that the TE demonstrates a “significant difference in the language and style” (87). He later adds, “It is an inferior piece of writing, plodding and grey, compared with Mark’s racy, simple, and colloquial writing elsewhere” (91).

Nevertheless, the sees the TE, through secondary, as early and even suggests it might have been composed as a conclusion to the fourfold Gospel collection in the Western order (Matt-Luke-John-Mark) (see 92-93).

See, in particular, his conclusion (99-102).

To summarize:

1.    He misunderstands the meaning of the terms “inerrancy” and “infallibility” as relating to meticulous transmission of the text without scribal errors. Who holds this position? He attacks a straw man.

2.    He rejects the Reformed doctrine of providential preservation. If the original is there, it is there by “sheer chance” (100).

3.    He affirms the Ausgangstext calling it “as close as scholarship enables one to get to the possible original” (99).

4.    He rejects any notion that canon and the original text are interrelated categories. For Elliott the canonical text is not the original text. This means there can be authentic Jesus material not in the canon, and there can be inauthentic Jesus material within the canon.

Overall reflection:

Elliott’s conclusion reflects the confused state of contemporary textual criticism. Those evangelicals who choose to engage in this discipline seem to me to reflect essentially the same worldview and reach the same uncertain conclusions as Elliott (even though they may reject his radical eclecticism).

Anyone considering the academic study of religion should read Iain Murray’s book Evangelicalism Divided (Banner of Truth, 2000) and especially chapter 7, “’Intellectual Respectability’ and the Scripture.” At one point he writes:

“I turn now to the consequence which always follows a lowered view of Scripture. It is that biblical truth becomes a matter of possibilities and probabilities rather than of certainties” (197-198).

Correction note: FYI. In the podcast I assumed the CSNTM conference was formally associated with Dallas Seminary. Looking at the conference info I realize it may not be. 


Friday, January 21, 2022

This Day In Church History: The "White-Ehrman" Joint Appearance (January 21, 2009)


I received this note today from my friend Felix Doulos, a sometimes contributor to the blog, and thought I would pass it on to my readers:

This day in Church History: Thirteen years ago today, January 21, 2009, popular internet apologist James White participated in a joint appearance ("debate") with UNC professor and NT textual criticism expert Bart Ehrman in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The topic of discussion: “Does the Bible Misquote Jesus?”

Since taking place, it has become one of the most talked about events in the subculture of evangelical internet apologetics, discussed frequently on internet programs (like the Dividing Line) and often put forward (by James White) as a hallmark example of how to do apologetics in the “real world.” Financial terms of the joint appearance, including how much Ehrman was paid to take part, have never been publicly disclosed. Whatever the price, it was well worth it.

Though White has continued to talk often, if not incessantly, of the joint appearance over the past thirteen years, Ehrman has been more reticent. When he posted videos of the debate to his blog in 2014 he wrote: “I wasn’t sure whether I should post this debate or not. Frankly, it was not a good experience. I normally do not have an aversion to the people I debate. But James White is that kind of fundamentalist who gets under my skin.

There are many ways in which “White-Ehrman Day” may be commemorated. One might watch the event again on video and ponder the vast agreement between the two panelists on textual variants in the NT, or one might look for those lighthearted moments, as when Ehrman playfully corrected White’s pronunciation of renowned German textual critic “Kurt Aland.”

As we have recently been reminded with respect to the commemoration of events like January 6, 2021, these kinds of significant moments deserve to be remembered (and mentioned again, and again).

Felix Doulos

The Vision (1.21.22): Revealed them unto babes


Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 11:25-27 (audio not yet posted).

At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes (Matthew 11:25).

Here is a record of a spontaneous prayer of Christ. He provides a model of constant prayer (cf. 1 Thess 5:17). It is a prayer of thanksgiving, addressed to God the Father. It is a prayer that praises the Father for the wisdom of the mystery of his plan of salvation:

Why does Christ give thanks to the Father? “Because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (v. 25b).

Consider the implications of this statement. There are some people from whom certain things are hidden (apokrypto, the root for “cryptic”). They cannot see them, understand them, discern them. The apostle Paul speaks about the natural man, in distinction from the spiritual man, who cannot discern spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:14) and of those from whom the gospel is hid because of their spiritual blindness (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

On the other hand, there are those to whom God “hast revealed (apokalypto)” “these things.” In Ephesians 1:18 Paul makes reference to “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened.” As John Newton put it in his celebrated hymn, “I once was blind, but now I see.”

Notice the descriptions of the two groups. First, those to whom these things are hidden are described as being “wise (sophoi) and prudent (synetoi: intelligent, wise, with good sense).” There is, no doubt, irony in Christ’s words. These are not men, who, in fact, are truly wise, for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. But they think themselves wise or are esteemed as wise and prudent (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:19-20).

Second, there are those to whom God has revealed these things. How are they described? They are “babes”; they are mere infants. Notice how stark is the contrast. The wise and prudent on one side and newborn babies on the other.

Can you think of anyone who is more vulnerable, more dependent, and less capable of self-care and self-provision than an infant? Literally everything has to be done for an infant. He has to be fed, given drink, held, changed, clothed.

Can you imagine a parent saying to an infant?: “Hey, I’m about the leave the house. Listen, while I’m gone, make up the beds, clean your room, do the laundry, and have dinner on the table by the time I get back.”

God has revealed the gospel to those who were incapable of grasping it on their own (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29)!

The point: God in his wisdom revealed his Son to those who were as incapable of doing this for themselves as infants and hid it from those who were held to be wise, so that he alone might gain the maximum glory.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

WM 220: Text Note: Luke 2:14: Hixson or Linus?


What is the issue?

The setting: The angel of the Lord appears to the shepherds and announces the birth of Christ (vv. 9-12). This angel is then joined by the heavenly host in praising God (v. 13). The question: What was the content of that praise (v. 14)?

In the AV:

Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

In some modern version, such as the ESV:

Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

This not just a difference in wording. It reflects a difference in text:

TR (Scrivener’s, 1894): δοξα εν υψιστοις θεω και επι γης ειρηνη εν ανθρωποις ευδοκια

W & H (1881): δοξα εν υψιστοις θεω και επι γης ειρηνη εν ανθρωποις ευδοκιας

It is a difference of one word, and one letter in that word. Is it the nominative ευδοκια, or the genitive ευδοκιας?

External evidence:

Taken from the NA 28:

The traditional reading is supported by the following: second corrector of Aleph, second corrector of B, K, L, P, Gamma, Delta, Theta, Xi, Psi, family 1, family 13, 565, 579, 700, 892, 1241, 1424, 2541, Lectionary 844, and the Majority Text. Among the versions it is the reading of the Syriac Harklean and the Coptic Boharic. Among the early church writers, it is found in Origin (in part), Eusebius, and Epiphaneus.

The modern reading is supported by the original hand of Aleph, A, the original hand of B, D, and W. Among the versions, the NA28 lists the Stuttgart Vulgate (2007) and the Sahidic (with some variations). Among the early church writers, it lists Cyril of Jerusalem.

Note: The NA 28 also lists a variant in the Old Latin, Clementine Vulgate, and Latin translation of Irenaeus that is closer to the modern text reading (hominibus bonae voluntatis).

Note: The modern text shows its typical favoring of the readings found in Aleph and B.

The supporting Greek evidence is particularly weak.

Pickering notes that the traditional text is supported by 99.4% of extant Greek mss., and the modern critical text only by 0.4%.

If this was the authentic reading, why was it almost completely ignored (not copied) in later generations?

Internal evidence:

See Metzger’s Commentary, which gives the modern text a {B} rating in his first edition, upgraded to an {A} rating in the second edition.

Meztzger says the noun in the genitive is the “more difficult reading,” adding, “The rise of the nominative reading can be explained either as an amelioration of the sense or as a paleographical oversight…”

If we assume the nominative is original, however, why could we not just as well see the genitive as an “amelioration of the sense”?

In support of the traditional reading is the fact that by placing “good will” in apposition to “peace” the emphasis might land more on the prepositional phrase “among men.” It is often noted that Luke, likely a Gentile, stresses Christ as the universal Savior of all kinds of men. The angel of the Lord, for example, brings “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (v. 10).

Metzger also suggests that the genitive would bring stress on God’s peace “resting on those whom he had chosen according to his good pleasure” (citing a parallel in the DSS, as noted by the RC scholar J. A. Fitzmyer!).

The modern reading, however, is hardly a more “Calvinistic” one, since it could just as easily be interpreted as implying that the bestowal of God’s peace was conditioned upon the expression of good will by men.


The external evidence overwhelming supports the traditional text. Reasonable internal arguments plausibly explain why a handful of mss. changed the noun from the nominative to the genitive. The traditional reading was the clear consensus of Christians throughout the ages and should not be abandoned.

A modern pastor tries to explain his preference for the modern text:

Elijah Hixson, Associate Pastor of Fireside Fellowship Church in Kingston, TN in a sermon titled “Glory to God in the Highest” on Luke 2:14 (from December 20, 2020) made an attempt to justify translations based on the modern text.

Though Hixson never clearly addressed the issues by providing specifics as to why the traditional text should be abandoned and the modern affirmed, he picks up on the fact that people will be bothered by the changes being made in modern translations and attempts preemptively to allay their fears.

In the end, Linus got it right:

The climax of the Charlie Brown Christmas Special (originally released in 1965) gets it right, by using the traditional translation based on the traditional text. And no one even needs Mark Ward to explain it to them using modern words!!!!


Monday, January 17, 2022

Augustine, Harmony of the Evangelists, 1.22-23: Saturn & Jupiter


Image: Depiction of Saturn (Greek: Chronos), the Roman god of time, often depicted as partially shrouded and carrying a reaping hook. He was also the father of Jupiter or Jove (Greek: Zeus) who dethroned him as king of the gods. Ancient pagans tried to associate the Christian God with Saturn or Jupiter.


This episode is a continuation of this series after a fairly significant break of c. four months (the last recorded episode was September 20, 2021). In his introduction to this work, S. F. D. Salmond described the Harmony as one of Augustine’s “most toilsome” works. After some preliminary information on the Gospels, much of Book 1 has to do with rather tedious Christian apologetics against pagan polytheistic religion. Nevertheless, we will continue to persevere in the series alongside the listener and trust we will be edified in the process. From this point I am going to do the episodes in an audio-only format on

1.22: Of the opinion entertained by the Gentiles regarding our God:

Augustine surveys pagan misunderstandings of the Christian God. Some associate him with Saturn, and point to the worship of the Jews on the sabbath (Saturn’s day-Saturday).

The famed Roman scholar Varro, however, associated the God of the Jews with Jupiter (Greek: Zeus). In Roman mythology, Saturn was the father of Jupiter. Saturn had eaten all his children at their birth, lest they usurp him. Jupiter, however, was hidden by his mother and eventually attacked his father, conquered and expelled him, and freed his divine siblings from Saturn’s body. Jupiter then became the king of all gods.

Augustine argues that whether pagans think the God of the Bible is Saturn or Jupiter they have a problem. If they think he is Saturn, how can the reconcile the fact that Saturn never forbade the worship of other gods? If they think he is Jupiter, they should remember that, according to Roman mythology, even after Jupiter dethroned Saturn, he did not forbid worship of Saturn.

1.23: Of the follies which the pagans have indulged in regarding Jupiter and Saturn:

In this chapter Augustine pokes holes in the mythology and theology of paganism. He notes that though popular pagan religion relies on the stories of the gods as fables, the more sophisticated see deeper meaning. Their interpretations, however, are not consistent. Some follow a platonic view and see the Ether (God) as a spirit and not body. Others follow the Stoics and see its as body (pantheism?).

He cites writers of the past like the Greek Euhemerus and the Latin Cicero who suggested that the gods were originally men who moved from heaven to earth, as they did with Romulus and the Caesars.

Nevertheless, Augustine notes that the pagans assert they worship Jupiter (a vivifying spirit that fills the world) and not a dead man.

Saturn, they say, was also not a man but the equivalent of the Greek God Chronos (representing time). Augustine offers the jibe that by making this defense the pagans admit that one of their chief gods is literally temporal (time).

He notes that the Platonic philosophers have countered the Christians by arguing that Saturn comes from the names for fulness (satis) and mind or intellect (nous), so Saturn is “fullness of intellect.” Jupiter then comes from the “the supreme mind” and is the spirit that serves as “the soul of the world.”

If this is the case, Augustine retorts, they should tear down the images and capitol dedicated to Jupiter and erect them to Saturn. Instead, Saturn is a deity typically maligned as evil by the pagans.


Augustine continues to deconstruct the mythology and theology of paganism, pointing to the rational inconsistencies of pagan intellectual interpretations of the myths of Saturn and Jupiter. His ultimate point will be to suggest that the God of Christianity is superior to the myths of paganism, however one might try to interpret them.


Friday, January 14, 2022

The Vision (1.14.22): Warning to Capernaum


Image: Ruins of ancient Capernaum.

Note: Devotion based on last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 11:16-24.

And thou Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day (Matthew 11:23).

Matthew tells us that Christ upbraided the cities where his “mighty works” had been done “because they repented not” (Matthew 11:20).

Among those denounced was Capernaum (“the village of Nahum”) mentioned frequently in the Gospels as a chief hub of Christ’s early ministry. In Matthew 4:13 we read how Christ left Nazareth and settled in Capernaum. In Mark 1:21 it says that Christ taught on the sabbath days in the synagogue there. It was the site where he healed the servant of the centurion (see Matthew 8:5).

But even at Capernaum there were those who rejected Christ.

Christ speaks of the city as that “which art exalted unto heaven.” Matthew Poole suggests this was “ether with respect to their trading and outward prosperity, or with respect to the means of grace they enjoyed in hearing Christ’s sermons and seeing his miracles.” Nonetheless, Christ continues by adding that this exalted city of privilege “shalt be brought down to hell” (v. 23).

He contrasts Capernaum’s lack of receptivity with how wicked Sodom would have responded. This was not only a pagan city, but one especially known for its immorality. It was indeed destroyed, alongside Gomorrah, with brimstone and fire in the days of Abraham (see Genesis 18—19). Sodom is a byword in the Scriptures for an evil city. Even degenerate Sodom, however, if the works of Christ had been done in their midst, would have repented and “it would have remained until this day” (v. 23b).

Christ’s point is to emphasize that the “sin of sins” is to reject him. Worse than being a pagan Sodomite is being one who spurns Christ!

How might we apply this warning to ourselves?

Consider the privileges which many of us have been given? Were you raised in a Christian family, taken to a Christian church? Do you have a Bible on the bookshelf (even if rarely read), or are you, at the least, the beneficiary of a society deeply touched by Christ? Still, many given such privileges persist in rejecting him, mocking him.

Here is the warning. A day is coming when all wrongs will be made right. It will be better on that day for Sodom, than for those who, in the end, reject Christ (Matthew 11:24). Rejection of Christ is indeed the “sin of sins.”

Christ stands before us, teaching in his word, plaintively warning, toward the end that we might experience the two great turnings: turning away from our sin in repentance, and turning toward Christ in faith.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, January 13, 2022

WM 219: Changing Goals of Modern Text Criticism Revisited


First WM of 2022. Recorded this on 1/11/22 but had some editing to do and just posted today.


Saturday, January 08, 2022

The Vision (1.7.22): The least in the kingdom greater than John


Image: North Garden, Virginia, January, 2022.

Note: Devotion based on last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 11:7-15 (audio not yet available).

Verily I say to unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he (Matthew 11:11).

Our Lord had great praise for John the Baptist. None of the godly men of the past exceeded John in greatness. John was, spiritually speaking, the equal of Moses, of David, of Solomon, of Isaiah. He was the last of the Old Testament prophets and a spiritual Elijah (Matthew 11:13-14). “Notwithstanding,” our Lord adds, “he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (v. 11b).

Christ teaches us here that the most immature, undisciplined, and inconsistent disciple who enters fully into the kingdom of heaven, knowing that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, the Word made flesh, knowing the fulfillment of Christ’s ministry in his obedience unto death upon the cross and his glorious resurrection from the dead on the third day, and who places his fundamental trust in Christ, is greater even than John the Baptist, and if greater than John greater than all in that great godly line of Old Testament saints.

This does not mean that the Old Testament saints were not saved. They were. In Romans 4:3 Paul said, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” John the Baptist was likewise a converted man.

The point is not to denigrate John’s faith or that of the great saints of the past, but to magnify our understanding of the blessing and privilege it is to know the Lord Jesus Christ in this age in the fulfillment of his ministry.

In Ephesians 3:5 Paul spoke of a mystery, which “in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”

The apostle Peter, likewise, in 1 Peter 1:12 speaks of the fact that those who preached the gospel to new covenant believers, with the help of the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, revealed “things the angels desire to look into.”

The least disciple of Christ is greater than John the Baptist. What privileges have been given to new covenant believers! May we then be good and faithful stewards of these truths revealed to us and not compromise or forfeit them.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Saturday, January 01, 2022

Personal Reflections: Ten Interesting Reads in 2021


New Year's Day is a good time for looking back and evaluating. I don’t think the intensity of my reading has decreased that much over the last several years, but I have probably finished fewer books, in favor of reading selective chapters from works, to mine the desired information, without completing them from end to end. Here is an eclectic selection of ten books, however, of at least ten interesting works of various genres that I was able to finish last year:

·       Nicholas Wolterstorff, In this World of Wonders: A Memoir of a Life in Learning (Eerdmans, 2019): 318 pp.

This engaging memoir comes from an influential American philosopher, shaped by Dutch Reformed and left-leaning evangelical traditions. The most interesting part was reading about how his study of aesthetics had practical application in the architectural design of his Grand Rapids home and his collection of art, from artisan chairs to Japanese ceramics.

·       Paul Abidan Shah, Changing the Goalposts of New Testament Textual Criticism (Wipf & Stock, 2020): 195 pp.

Shah accurately identifies the “radical shift” that has taken place in 21st century textual criticism (from the old modern goal of reconstructing the autograph to the new post-modern goal of merely suggesting a possible “initial text”). Unfortunately, he suggests the answer to this shift is trying to recapture the old modern goal, rather than abandoning modern reconstruction altogether. Listen to my review in WM 215.

·       Crawford Gribben, Survival and Resistance in Evangelical America: Christian Reconstruction in the Pacific Northwest (Oxford, 2021): 210 pp.

This is a fascinating study of conservative Protestant and Reformed Christian efforts to carve out some version of an enclave of a distinctively Christian culture in the “American Redoubt” of the Pacific Northwest. Gribben, of Queen’s University in Belfast, explains how Doug Wilson is not your father’s Rushdoony. Listen to my interview with the author in WM 199.

·       William H. Willimon, Stories (Abingdon Press, 2020): 251 pp.

Willimon is a mainline Methodist Barthian ecclesiocrat with a Southerner’s gift for telling an engaging story (even if you can’t agree with him theologically). These “stories” are drawn from his many books and articles written over a long career.

·       Hilarion Alfeyev, The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ: His Life & Teaching, Volume 2 (SVSP, 2019): 432 pp.

This is the second in a projected six-part series on the life and teaching of Jesus. It focuses on an extensive exposition of Matthew 5—7 from an Eastern Orthodox perspective. Listen to my review of Volume 1 in this series here.

·       E. M. Cioran, The New Gods, trans. by Richard Howard (Quadrangle, NY Times Book Co., 1969): 120 pp.

I picked this used volume off the shelf at the Blue Whale Books in Charlottesville after having read the author’s The Trouble of Being Born a few years back. Cioran is a Romanian-born philosopher, banned under communism, exiled to France, misanthropic, pessimistic, acerbic, hero of modern “Anti-Natalists,” and master of aphorism. Not a Christian work, but sometimes recalls the rants of Qoheleth.

·       Matthew Y. Emerson, He Descended to the Dead: An Evangelical Theology of Holy Saturday (IVP, 2019): 251 pp.

Thought provoking study of the descent clause. Found this helpful when I preached through the Apostle’s Creed. Listen to the series here.

·       Arthur C. Clarke, 2001 A Space Odyssey (ACE, 1968, 1999): 297 pp.

I read this sci-fi work, which served as the basis for the classic film, when I needed a break from reading theology. Predicts the internet, zoom calls, and space travel.

·       John David Punch, The Pericope Adulterae: Theories of Insertion & Omission: An Academic Essay in Theology (Doctoral Thesis, Radbound University, Nijmegen, 2010): 417 pp.

I found this book to be very helpful when preparing to teach and defend John 7:53—8:11.

·       James Romm, Ed. Seneca, How To Keep Your Cool: An Ancient Guide to Anger Management (Princeton University Press, 2019): 220 pp.

A modern diglot (Latin and English) edition of the Stoic Master’s De Ira (On Anger), abbreviated to read like a script from a TED Talk.


Personal Reflections: A Dozen Memorable Events of 2021


Image: Facade of Met Tab, London.

The Lord blessed me with some very kind providences in 2021. I hope this list is not taken as “boasting” but as an expression of sincere gratitude for many unexpected and undeserved blessings in 2021. Here is a list of a dozen such things (in chronological order):

·       I taught on text of Scripture at the Kept Pure Conference at the Five Solas Church in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, and got to meet and spend time with many friends, including Christian McShaffrey, Bill Greendyke, and Anne Hills Brown (daughter of E. F. Hills), March 26-27, 2021.

·       I watched my two younger sons win the VACA state championship in baseball for Grace Christian School and saw my son Isaiah given the conference MVP and tournament MVP awards, May 22, 2021.

·       Thanks to an anonymous gift from a church member, I attended for the first time since 2009 the Banner of Truth Ministers’ Conference in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, May 25-27, 2021.

·       I taught the children of CRBC on the Life of Joseph (Genesis 37-50) in our annual VBS, June 14-17, 2021.

·       I spent a week with my family at Topsail Island, North Carolina, June 28—July 3, 2021.

·       I enjoyed supper at Toscano’s in Cambridge, Massachusetts with my family and Dr. Jay Rhee, a friend I had not seen in 18 years, July 7, 2021.

·       I contributed an essay to the festschrift, A Workman Not Ashamed: Essays in Honor of Albert N. Martin (Free Grace Press, 2021).

·       I taught an intensive class on the Gospels at IRBS Seminary and preached at Heritage RBC, in Mansfield, Texas, August 3-8, 2021.

·       I attended the Christ-centered wedding of Fraser and Lily Jones (who met at the 2019 Text and Conference in Atlanta!) in Greenfield, Indiana, August 14, 2021.

·       I attended and gave the “Orientation” to the 20th annual Keach Conference, hosted this year at Redeeming Grace Church, Gloucester, Virginia, September 25, 2021.

·       I taught and preached at Metropolitan Tabernacle Church in London, November 27-29, 2021.

·       I attended a performance of Handel’s Messiah by the Choir of Westminster Abbey and the St. James Baroque with my family in Westminster Abbey, November 30, 2021.

“my cup runneth over” (Psalm 23:5).