On Books, March Madness and Biblical Study

isaiah-scroll-lThe Emerging Scholars Network blog is running a Sweet Sixteen topics tournament  for the topics of most interest to believers in academia.  Bracket

I submitted a topic that got listed as #15 seed, so the chances are weak of beating @2, but we live in hope.

The suggestion I made was how can we make use of academic biblical studies, who often are technical in nature and also may have nothing theological in their content, or the theological content is far afield from an evangelical’s set of beliefs.

An example of this is in the book of Proverbs.  There are a large number of books at a popular level who deal with this book. Some take each proverb as a law that must be literally kept – which in my view does not take into account the literary nature of Wisdom Literature or of proverbs.  An example of this approach suggests that not spanking is a denial of biblical authority.  (Pv 13:24).

A good number of evangelical commentaries will have a discussion in them about the literary value of a proverb and it’s “rule of thumb” quality.  That is, it is a general saying that generally is true, but it is not absolute.  An example are the twin proverbs in Pv 26:5,6 which seem to contradict at first glance.

I like Duane Garret’s commentary in the NAC series (Vol 14) who went so far as to cluster proverbs in the more random chapters starting at chapter 10.  I also like Bruce Waltke (NICOT series) who does a lot of literary outlining.

Then there are works like Michael Fox’s Proverbs 1-9 in the Anchor Bible series.  He is a well respected academic. I find that his analysis of the shape of the text in chapters 1-9 is very helpful.  However he has very little that is theological or pastoral in nature. That is not his interest.

So what I try to do as a preacher is this. I will buy or find books from the second and third categories. I can skip the popular level books that do not even consider scholarship.  I try to balance the works with evangelical conviction, such as Garrett and Waltke with more academic works such as Fox.  Sometimes I find the second category at the main library at the University of Wisconsin.  This saves me lots of money on books and lets me sit at an oak table in a large room where cell phones are prohibited.

If interested, I have a bibliography on Wisdom Literate here.  Bibliographic Notes on Wisdom Literature

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3 thoughts on “On Books, March Madness and Biblical Study

  1. Pingback: Vote: Round 1 ESN March Madness closes at midnight | The Emerging Scholars Blog

  2. Pingback: Round 2 ESN March Madness 14 Opens | The Emerging Scholars Blog

  3. Pingback: Vote: Round 2 ESN March Madness ’14 closes at midnight | The Emerging Scholars Blog

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