Review of A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (BDAG) on Logos

BDAGI have owned a hard copy of A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (BDAG) for the last 8 years and it has been an invaluable resource on my shelf. There just isn’t any other lexicon out there with this amount of detail and accuracy. It has been my “go to” resource for Greek studies. I am going to talk about the hard copy and then about what Logos has done with it to take this resource to the next level. Even if you already have the hard copy, I think you will be very interested to see what they have done to make it ever better.

The hard copy retails for right at $100 on amazon. This book contains every single word used in the Greek New Testament listed and defined in alphabetical order along with a whole litany of pertinent information that will assist you in your studies, preaching, teaching, etc. Here is a list of the most common things listed under each entry.
Formal equivalent/gloss: a word it can be translated with…think of this as single word suggestions that are the English equivalents. Italic font
Extended definition: a full definition which is more explaining the concept than a word to translate it by. Bold font
Translation equivalent: often a suggested translation of a given phrase is supplied
– Multiple glosses/definitions as needed for a given word in Greek
– Every NT occurrence of that Greek word categorized under what they interpret it to be the appropriate definition, relevant extra-biblical usage of the word with a citation so you can go look that up, sometimes a Hebrew equivalent is given.

In the Logos version, you get all of the functionality that I just described in addition to some features that make BDAG a whole lot faster to use, much more user friendly and interactive with other Logos resources. Here are some of the things that I thought were extremely helpful.

Outstanding Search Capabilities
One thing that stand out about Logos’ version of BDAG is that it is way more than just a digital/pdf version of the hard copy. There are tools they have included that have increased its functionality and integrated its search features that have saved me countless hours of searching.thate that takes BDAG above and beyond just taking the print version and making it digital.

First, BDAG is fully searchable. You can type in “church” and get any time it appears in the book. But you can get more specific in your search by filtering your search to a selection of any of the following: search by formal equivalent (blood must be in the gloss), search by extended definition (blood is in the conceptual explanation) and/or translation equivalent. This makes it easier to find more common words by having more specific search options. BDAG is over 1100 pages of very small print so this comes in handy. In order to do this, you click the search button at the top of Logos, click “Entire Library” and change that to BDAG. Then click “all text” and check “search fields”. Last, click the down arrow by search fields in order to select the fields you want. It will then look like this and you can check on or off any fields you want to search within

SearchFields

Let’s say you land at “Ekklesia” it would look like this (notice the extended definition in bold, the gloss in italics)

Ekklesia

If you rollover any of the scriptures they provide you get the verse. If I rollover Acts 19:39 in definition number 1 here is the result

Ekklesia-scripturerollover

Now, let’s say you want more information on a Greek word that is in the text. You can search your other resources for that word by right clicking on it and then selecting the search option you want.

Ekklesia-lookupwordindefinition
In this instance I right clicked the word you see at the bottom left συνερχομενων and then clicked “Search all open resources” which allows me to quickly search BDAG (and in this instance the SBL Greek New Testament since that was open as well) for all other instances of that exact word. Here are the results

results

Those search results demonstrate another great feature. I had my SBL Greek New Testament open at the same time and as you can see the only time that word is used in the GNT is in 1 Cor 11:18. If you double click the word in the text and it is in its lexical form, say you clicked και or θεος it would take you straight to that entry in BDAG. Then you just use the “back” arrow at the top right of the window to get back where you were in your study.

Integration with other Greek Language products
BDAG integrates with many other Logos products. Let’s say you are reading your SBL Greek New Testament and you want to look up a word in BDAG. You just double click the word and you are on the word in the full text of BDAG. I cannot tell you how helpful that is. What is more, if you download the free Logos App you can do this on the fly away from the office. I was listening to a sermon the other day where three Greek words were mentioned in a specific verse. I got out my iphone, opened the Logos app, pulled up the verse in the Greek NT, clicked the words and had them in BDAG right in front of me. On a side note, you cannot click words that have been transliterated and get the same result. For instance, Ben Witherington almost always transliterates his Greek words so the words aren’t in a Greek font. You cannot click those and end up in BDAG as it is not integrated with transliteration.

I am still playing with the features but have really appreciated what I have found. The thing that will make this interesting to many of you is that I have found this helpful and fast enough that it has renewed the amount of time I spend in the Greek New Testament because I can get to what I need quickly and easily. I want to wrap up the review by thanking Logos for allowing me to have a copy for this review.

This can be purchased from Logos bundled with the 5 volume Hebrew/Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT) here

bdag-halot-bundle

Jesus in Context – One of the Most Helpful Biblical Background Books Around

JesusInContext-BockI recently came across the most helpful resources on the historical backgrounds to the Gospels that I have ever seen. It is called Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study by Darrell Bock. This book works through the synoptics and John and pulls just about any relevant extra-biblical text in full quotation to help you see what other ancient writers said about a topic, a city, a custom, etc. Reading the geneaology of Jesus? Look and see how other ancient Jewish writers did genealogies. Studying Jesus’ turning water to wine at Cana? You go to that miracle in this book and it first gives you a bit of historical background on eschatology and wine followed by relevant quotations from 1 Enoch, 2 Baruch, Tobit, and the Talmud on wine and quotations from Josephus on Cana. Combine the content with Logos Bible software and you have an unbelievably powerful resource for your studies. This book concludes with multiple indices that include index by topic, by scripture, by extra-biblical reference and a huge list for further reading broken down by topic, If you are a student of the Gospels and want extra-biblical references all in one place this is the book for you. If you would use Logos and would like to have it at your disposal in a fully searchable, indexed format with clickable links with full references for you to use in your study or writing, you can get it here.

Jesus Healed Them Anyway

In Luke 6 we get three groups of people. It starts with Jesus’ disciples. From that group Jesus selects the 12 apostles. After that selection, Jesus and all his disciples go out to the plain to preach. When he gets there the crowd grows from just being Jesus, his apostles and other disciples to also including people from surrounding towns and regions. There is the third group, the crowd. They aren’t Christ-followers. They show up when convenient and when Jesus is done or they find it convenient, they go back home. Luke tells us the crowd came for three reasons: to hear Jesus, to be healed of disease and to be delivered from evil spirits.

These guys came, got their healing, heard a little preaching and went home. They didn’t immediately follow Jesus. Jesus healed them anyway. I can’t tell you how many times that I have reached out to people I initially encountered through benevolence ministry. In the back of my mind I am always wondering if this person will become a Christian through our acts of compassion. Most of the time they don’t. Most of the time they just want a bill paid or some food and then, like the crowds Jesus healed, they leave. But Jesus healed them anyway. Jesus showed compassion and mercy to people who would never become disciples and so should we.

Jesus Prayed

“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles…” – Luke 6:12-13

I am humbled by this verse. Jesus had a big decision to make and he prayed before making it. Two chapters earlier, Jesus went out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil and to prepare for that encounter, he fasted 40 days. Jesus knew that in all things he had to totally rely on God in order to have success. So before he selected the 12, Jesus prayed. On one hand, Jesus is the Son of God who would presumably already know who the 12 would be prior to praying about it. On the other hand, Jesus is the Son of Man, who identifies with us through coming in flesh and blood, fully dependent on God in all things. Luke doesn’t tell us why he prayed but it humbles me that Jesus often prayed before big decisions and big events (Luke 3:21, 5:16, 9:18, 9:28-29, 22:40-46). Too often I am inclined to “go it alone” and make a decision without spending enough time in prayer. Jesus reminds us that many things require prayer if they are going to take place…if we have faith in Christ, we will take his teaching and example seriously enough to spend more time in prayer…even if we think we already know the answer.

Assurance in the Face of Danger

William Wallace challenging his troops to beat the odds

Martin Luther King Jr on the night before he was assassinated

Great leaders know how to inspire people to do the seemingly impossible. What gives people this kind of boldness? For Wallace it was the hope of freedom. For King it was also the hope of freedom but also the assurance that God had something better in store for him, come what may.

Then we come to Jesus in Matthew 10. When he sends out the 12 he is up front about the difficulties ahead (both immediately and some decades later),

“16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” – Matt 10:16-20

Jesus said there would be difficult days ahead. He was right and continues to be right. The question for us is, do we trust that he is going to provide for us what he said he would provide? The only way for us to be a willing witness for Christ (“witness” comes from the Greek word “martyr” comes from) is if we are willing to die to ourselves because we have full assurance of new life through Christ. Once you have died to yourself, you don’t really mind facing death a second time because you know that Christ has rendered death itself impotent. So follow Jesus having full assurance in the face of danger. Do the bold thing. Say what needs to be said. Trust that God sees a brighter future than the world can envision.

The Difference Between Eisegesis & Exegesis – Sounds Boring but It is Something Every Christian Should Understand

sherlockholmeswatsonA crime has occurred. The investigator arrives on the scene. He sees the body, the weapon and the footprints leading away. This is nothing new. He has seen similar scenes a million times and knows exactly what has happened. Without any further questions he determines exactly what all of this means, exactly how it happened and the identity of the killer.

What is the problem with this? The problem is, there was more investigating to be done of what this specific crime scene was trying to tell him. He already has his conclusions in mind before he has all the information. The biggest problem was either ignorance or arrogance…he assumed that based on past experience that he would be able to figure all this out based on a cursory glance of the scene. If he really wanted to know what happened, he would be asking more questions, finding more evidence and not assuming that he already had the answer. Remember, a lot is on the line here…an innocent man may get convicted and a murderer walk free! It is important that he gets this right. That is eisegesis.

A second investigator arrives on the scene. She doesn’t come to the scene thinking she already knows what happened. She takes each crime scene (text) by its own merits, requiring a careful study of the background of the crime through asking good questions (as any good investigator knows how to do): Who was this person? Who did they know? Who were they talking with moments before the died? Those things are not readily apparent just glancing at the scene/text. It takes work. It takes an investigative spirit. It all starts with humility. There is a humility that comes when you believe that Scripture is God’s Word to humanity and if we are to understand it and faithfully apply it, it is going to take some work. Remember, there is a lot on the line here. In Biblical interpretation that is called exegesis.

What I have laid out here is the background for biblical “Exegesis”, a Greek word that means “to draw out” or “to guide/lead out”. When you read scripture, you are drawing the meaning from the text into your life. Eisegesis, on the other hand, means “to guide/lead in”. The thing that is being lead in are your own presuppositions, preconceived ideas, biases, culture, etc. Eisegesis reads Scripture solely through what those words mean, stripped out of their historical context (point #3 below) and plopped down in front of someone, pointed whichever way they want to point it and do with it what they want to do with it. Here is how Mark Strauss puts it,

“In the same way, every time you read the Bible you are already interpreting it. The only question is whether you will interpret it well or poorly—that is, whether you will hear the text as the author intended it to be heard, or whether you will impose your own ideas onto the text. Exegesis means drawing out the author’s original meaning. “Eisegesis” refers to the opposite: misinterpreting the text by reading into it your own assumptions and meaning.” – Strauss, M. L. How to Read the Bible in Changing Times: Understanding and Applying God’s Word Today, p. 44.

None of us can read Scripture in a vacuum that is able to remove all preconceived ideas and culture from our minds. It is just impossible. But we must be aware of that potential and recognize it when it influences us strongly enough that we might be missing the actual meaning of the text. When we read scripture we should always come to it with a few things in mind:

  1. Scripture is the Word of God. That means it has authority over us and it is truth.
  2. Scripture has an absolute meaning and intention by the original author that he wanted his audience to understand.
  3. In order to get to that meaning you have to understand the context of the passage (audience, occasion/situation, author, etc).
  4. Because God’s Word is truth and we need that truth to inform our lives, the purpose of Bible study is determining what God’s Word means and applying that to our lives to partner and participate with God in spiritual transformation and renewal.
  5. We do not come to scripture to bend it to our desires or predetermined ideas. That would undo #1 by giving us authority over scripture rather than the other way around.

The Holy Spirit’s Role in the Coming of Jesus

We often associate the Holy Spirit with the beginning of the church in Luke’s second volume, the book of Acts. What is interesting is that the Holy Spirit also played a key role in kicking off Luke’s first volume, the Gospel of Luke:

  • Luke 1:15 – John the Baptist will be filled with the Holy Spirit before he is born
  • Luke 1:35 – The Holy Spirit will take part in the conception of Jesus
  • Luke 1:41 – When Mary and Elizabeth meet, both pregnant, John jumps in Elizabeth’s womb and it is Elizabeth who is filled with the Holy Spirit! It prompts her to speak a blessing on Mary.
  • Luke 1:67 – The Holy Spirit fills Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, and he prophesies. I am really unsure why this prophesy always gets the heading “Zechariah’s Song” when it is a prophesy.
  • Luke 2:25 – Simeon had been promised that he would see the Messiah before he died. He also had the Holy Spirit on him.
  • Luke 3:16 John the Baptist tells the crowds that the one who comes after him will baptize people in the Holy Spirit
  • Luke 3:22 – the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus at his baptism (interesting that Luke says this happened “as he was praying” at his baptism)
  • Luke 4:1 – Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit as he went out into the wilderness to be tested.

The Holy Spirit played a huge role in the coming of Jesus and the beginning of his ministry. What is more, the Holy Spirit was present in the ministry of Jesus as well:

  • Luke 10:21 – The Holy Spirit wasn’t just present at Jesus baptism and temptation. The Holy Spirit was upon him in this verse as well
  • Luke 11:13 – Jesus says God will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask
  • Luke 12:10 – a warning against blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. This warning means the Holy Spirit was a driving force in Jesus’ ministry and miracles. That is clear because Jesus is warning them against calling his miracles from the devil and saying that to deny his miracles is to blaspheme the Spirit, which means the Spirit was at work in the ministry of Christ.

It is easy to think the Holy Spirit was absent from all of this because we spend more time on Jesus’ promise of the coming of the Spirit from verses like John 16:7,

“But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”

Some then assume the Spirit wasn’t much a part of anything until after Jesus ascended to heaven. As you can see from all the verses above, the Holy Spirit played a central role in the coming of the Messiah from before he was conceived, through Mary’s pregnancy, to his birth and through his ministry and then, finally, to the church. The Spirit’s involvement in the start of the church wasn’t anything new. It was very much in line with everything the Spirit had been involved in up to that point.

Review of Logos “How to Read the Bible” Collection – Part 3

AllJesusAsksThe third book in the Logos “How to Read the Bible” Collection is Stan Guthrie’s All That Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us. Guthrie takes the majority of questions Jesus asked during his ministry and weaves them into an investigation of the identity and mission of Jesus Christ. In later chapters he turns to questions that explore our identity as disciples (character, (in)competency, attitude, etc) and finally concludes with some apologetics.

After being fairly critical of the other book he did in this collection, “A Concise Guide to Bible Prophesy“. I am really happy to say that this book was excellent. It is thorough. It is insightful. The illustrations are excellent. If I had to compare this to something, I would call this book “Jesus’ Questions for Everyone” as his style reminds me of N.T. Wright’s “For Everyone” Series of New Testament commentaries. He touches on the relevant verses, illustrating and commentating along the way.

I would recommend this book not just to people who want all of Jesus’ questions in one place but to people who enjoy investigation. He doesn’t just linearly and analytically make a list of questions and address them. He weaves the questions of JesusI really love that because any book about questions should feel like an investigation…it is just being fair to your subject…and Guthrie really does pull it off.

There are only three criticisms I have of this book. First, he admits that he is no biblical scholar so there are times I think he missed the point. One of those times in in Chapter 4, “His Humanity” where Guthrie interprets some of Jesus questions to mean that Jesus asked certain questions because he really had no idea of the answer. Here is one example,

When Jesus stands before Pontius Pilate, and a Roman execution for sedition looms large, the procurator asks him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus is not concerned with saving his own skin, but learning whether this brutal Roman official might be a spiritual seeker, one in whom the seed of faith is likely to grow. “Do you say this of your own accord,” he asks, “or did others say it to you about me?” Jesus genuinely wants an answer because he doesn’t know. – Guthrie, S. (2010). All that Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us (60). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Jesus was making a point in asking the question that goes beyond him just being ignorant of the answer (much like God asking Adam and Eve “Where are you” after they sinned – Gen 3:9). Of the recorded questions of Jesus in the Gospels, Jesus doesn’t normally ask questions out of ignorance. His questions make a point. This entire book was about how Jesus taught through questions, so I am not sure how he missed it on this one.

The second criticism I have of the book just comes with the territory. Any time you deal with passages out of context and develop a whole book that strings together related topics and verses out of context you run the risk of missing some of the meaning. Like the above examples, that happened a few times in the book. Again, that is to be expected due to the way the book is laid out. Third, when you take out of context verses and force them into a self-made framework you run the risk of twisting some passages to fit your topics. That doesn’t come across too much in this book but it does happen. (See Procrustean bed)

Overall, great book and one I would recommend. What the book lacks in scholarship (which overall is pretty insignificant) Guthrie makes up for in his journalistic style, engaging commentary, and ability to connect the reader to the thrill of the investigation, relevance and application. Questions are powerful and Guthrie does a great job of handling the questions of Jesus from his own perspective without getting in the way.

Tom Wright on “What is the Gospel?”

If the video doesn’t play for you click here. I love Wright’s focus on Jesus. A couple of years ago there was a lot of discussion regarding where to start with people when sharing the Gospel. The point was made (at the Pepperdine lectures, online and elsewhere) that older generations tend to start with the New Testament epistles, while younger generations tend to start more with the Gospels. The approach of those with a more modern worldview is to teach people about Jesus through books like Romans. Younger people (post-moderns) would rather cut to the chase and go straight to the Gospels, preferring to learn from narrative.

Where you start should depend on where the seeker is starting from and what might draw them in better. Typically young people are more drawn to narrative than they are to diving in to doctrine (at least at first…always time for that later). They are going to connect more with watching and hearing Jesus teach and minister through reading the Gospels. They will connect less with the heady teachings of Romans or Galatians). Some of the older people, who may have more of a church background, are often more interested in doctrine and will be more interested in learning about Jesus through the teachings of Paul.

The good news is, Jesus is central in both approaches. Both approaches are helpful and effective. The main thing is that we are out there teaching people about Jesus, no matter what our approach, and let God work on their hearts.

What Does It Mean To Lay Down Your Life for Your Brother? 1 John 3:16-18

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:16-18

When we hear Jesus laid down his life for us, usually the first thing that comes to mind is his crucifixion. Jesus died for us on the cross…that is what laying down his life looks like. I think John is letting us in on a little more to the story than just the crucifixion. Notice what he says next, “And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

John tells us that, like Jesus, we ought to lay down our lives for others. No surprise there, but notice the example he gives of what this looks like. He doesn’t tell of a Christian dying for another Christian. John’s illustration of how to lay down your life for others is to help someone in need. The truth of the matter is, few of us will ever die for another person, while all of us have the opportunity to put others first on a daily basis.

That brings us back to Jesus. When did Jesus lay down his life? It started well before the cross. It started when he invited a tax collector to follow him, even though he knew people wouldn’t like it. It started when he got an adulterous woman out of being stoned, even though he knew it would cost him. It started when he raised Lazarus from the dead and the plots to kill him started to swirl. It started back when he told them he would tear down the temple and raise it up again in three days but they didn’t understand him and were angry with him for saying such things.

The point is, Jesus laid down his life all along the way. The ultimate demonstration was in the cross but the reality is, it started way before that. The cross was the natural progression of a life that was already given up for others. So when we are called to lay down our lives for others, don’t get all focused on dying for someone else and never put this into practice for lack of opportunity. Realize that laying down yourself for others is about how you value people and how you see yourself.