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#1 Dan Francis

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 10:55 PM

I just realized the other day Accordance is the only software with a complete set of all four of  Abingdon's New Interpreter's Bible family of products. You have brought these to us and I am glad to have them. I just wanted to place these endorsements on the forum. I have reviewed all 4 products but it is good to see what scholars are saying.

 

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"Here are superb introductory essays and excellent notes on the biblical texts. The New Interpreter's Study Bible is a first-rate aid for all who desire a serious, scholarly encounter with scripture." - Marion L Soards, Professor of New Testament Studies, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary 
 
"Of the current editions of Study Bibles, in my opinion the most helpful for pastors, teachers, and all students of the Scriptures has now been issued by Abingdon Press under the dedicated guidance of Dr. Walter Harrelson." - Bruce M. Metzger, Professor of New Testament, Emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary 
 
"The combination of theological reflection, scriptural scholarship, and the practical engagement of life and faith found in the NISB will provide a dependable and rich resource for communicators, students and other spiritual leaders." - Rob Weber, Senior Pastor, Grace Community Church, Shreveport, Louisiana. 
 
"I would like to put this in the hands of every teacher. I have long searched for a simply written study Bible that engages our thoughts and also stimulates personal spiritual growth. I became engrossed in it and was reluctant to put it aside." - Delia Halverson, Christian Education and Curriculium Specialist, Faith Discovery Ministries

 

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“For scholars, clergy, and students of the Bible looking for the most recent critical assessments of biblical literature and its theological ramifications for the modern world, this will be an indispensable reference work.” ~ Samuel E. Balentine, Professor of Old Testament, Union Presbyterian Seminary
 
“A challenge for the church today is helping people engage in theological reflection. Essential to this practice is the commitment to reading and interpreting biblical texts. This excellent One-Volume Commentary on the Bible makes the range of perspectives that inform contemporary biblical scholarship accessible to clergy, religious educators and teachers.” ~ Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Caldwell, McCormick Theological Seminary
 
“This new member of Abingdon’s family of biblical commentaries and reference works reflects the vitality and diversity of current scholarship, and the contributors communicate these in ways that pastors, students and laypeople alike will find interesting as well as informative. The NIBOVC is sure to earn the same respect that is already enjoyed by its widely-acclaimed siblings, like the New Interpreter’s Bible and the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible.” ~ Victor Paul Furnish, Southern Methodist University
 
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"This 5-volume set is the new gold standard for Bible dictionaries,and will be the first reference that students and pastors will go to inpreparation for teaching and preaching.What you now spend in a short time in your patronage at Starbucks can buy you a career of sound biblical scholarship in The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible."Lee Sparks, Managing Editor. Rev! Magazine
 
"Interpreting the Bible today raises all sorts of questions—historical,theological, ethical, practical—and The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible addresses them all with up to date scholarship.It really is a one-stop Bible reference library!"Joel B. Green, PhD, Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary
 
"The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible offers busy pastors quick access to respected up-to-date scholarship.The scope of the set allows for generous articles on every book of the Bible, plus major extra-biblical texts, important concepts, and overarching themes.There are also entries on every facet of the historical, geographical, cultural,social, and religious contexts of the scriptural texts.Pastors will turn to these volumes weekly as they prepare well-grounded and informed sermons and lessons for their congregations." David A. deSilva, PhD, Professor of New Testament and Greek Studies, Ashland Theological Seminary
 
“The 900 scholars who contributed to the work, comprising 40 different nations, are all experts in the field and bring an impressive body of knowledge to their subject. The Dictionary, more accurately an encyclopedia, includes 8400 signed entries listed in alphabetical order, with ample cross references, bibliographies, summaries, and outlines for longer articles, plus terms presented in English, Hebrew, and Greek when appropriate, along with transliterations and pronunciation guides. Each volume includes an index of the black-and-white maps, photographs, and illustrations for that volume and a comprehensive list of abbreviations.…Highly recommended for public, academic, theological, and church and synagogue libraries.”  —Amanda K. Sprochi, University of Missouri, Columbia
 
"The New Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary combines the latest biblical scholarship with the practical needs of pastors, teachers and students in a way that will deepen their understanding and enliven their experience of the living Word in Scripture."Rev. Jim Harnish, Hyde Park United Methodist Church, Tampa, Florida
 
 
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"The New Interpreter’s Bible commentators are consistently aware that they are in conversation with preachers and teachers in the church. The New Interpreter’s Bible is the commentary preachers and teachers need for the years ahead."Patrick J. Wilson, The Christian Century  
 
"These set of handsome, user-friendly reference books fully accomplishes what it sets out to do, and should prove to be a valuable addition to any Bible student’s resource library." —Harry Conay, “The Book Shelf,” Religious Broadcasting  
 
"The insights of each of the authors are informative and the Reflections, which follow the literary divisions of each book, are stimulating. Student and teacher alike will find this a very helpful resource." Bible Today Volume 35  
 
"The entire set should be among the few sets of commentaries on the bookshelves of the serious student of the Scriptures."James W. Cox, Review and Expositor  
 
"The quality of both the commentary and the Reflections sections is consistently high. The New Interpreter’s Bible is an invaluable addition to the library of both academician and pastor."Victor P. Hamilton, Asbury College
 
"The New Interpreter’s Bible provides a much richer perspective on the text than in any other commentary series currently available." Lawrence Boadt, CSP Washington Theological Union, Silver Spring, MD
 
"For this magnificent achievement, Abingdon Press deserves praise from clergy, academics, and anyone interested in the Bible."Amy-Jill Levine, Vanderbilt Divinity School, Nashville, TN
 
"The strength of this work lies in its explicit attempt to bring the depth of biblical scholarship into conversion with the preaching and teaching ministry of the church."David Mesner, Christ Lutheran Church, Slayton, MN

Edited by Dan Francis, 24 May 2014 - 07:44 PM.

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#2 Abram K-J

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 07:09 AM

Dan, thanks for putting this together. It sounds like you find benefit in using all of these in tandem. I have the one-volume commentary in Accordance--what would/do the Bible Study notes add that the commentary (which presumably is more detailed?) wouldn't have?


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#3 Dan Francis

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 12:59 PM

Well I have the study Bible set up to scroll in tandem with the bible text, I also have a tab open with the one volume and 12 volume  in the background tabs. In many ways the Study Bible is almost more in depth than the one volume. For where the one volume gives broad strokes in dealing with a passage, the NISB focuses on smaller sections which works better for scrolling along with the which that you are reading. then it is nice to hop over to the one volume to get a broad look at the text and then switch to the 12 volume to read the commentary and the reflections. Next month I plan to get the NIDB and have it open as tab back in the back so that when I open my NIB layout all those resources will automatically be popped open the way I like to have it layed out. One final note, I do not necessarily think as I pointed out in my review that the one volume NIB is the best once volume commentary out there but it is well worth having and it covers the few books of the NRSV that are not dealt with in the NIB 12 volume (the 12 volume covers the Alexandrian canon of scriptures as used by the roman catholics), so 1+2 Esdras, Prayer of Manasseh, 3/4 Maccabees  and Psalm 151 are not covered in the 12 volume NIB but are in the NISB/NIBOVC. 

 

-Dan



#4 Dan Francis

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 01:02 PM

As an example lets look at Psalm one.

 

NISB

Chapter 1

 

1:1–6 Blessed assurance The first two psalms are a programmatic introduction to the psalter and to the way of Torah piety. In contrast to all other psalms in Book I (Pss 1–41), except Ps 10 and 33, Pss 1–2 have no superscription. Repetitions of the word “happy” (Heb. }ashre; Pss 1:1; 2:12) frame statements that distinguish the righteous individual from wicked people (Ps 1) and Israel’s king from other rulers (Ps 2). Both psalms teach that a blessed life involves deliberate avoidance of the way of the wicked and conscious choice of God’s way (Pss 1:6; 2:12; see Excursus on “ }Ashre,” 754). The LORD’s law (1:2) and decree (2:7) prioritize lives oriented to God. Ps 1 is a didactic wisdom poem that confidently differentiates the stability and productivity of the righteous person from the ephemeral nature of the wicked (vv. 4–6). The text may be divided thusly: vv. 1–3, the way of the righteous; vv. 4–6, the way of the wicked.

 

1:1–3

 

1:2 The law of the LORD Torah is at the heart of success and righteousness. Constancy, joy, and fruitfulness characterize the individual who delights in and continually meditates (the same Heb root, hgh, is translated as “plot” in 2:1) upon God’s law (cf. Pss 19; 119). In vv. 1–3, the Hebrew uses masc. sing. pronouns where the NRSV translates the plural those and they.

 

1:4–6

 

1:4 Chaff The wicked are like debris from threshing that the wind blows away.

 

1:5–6 Arranged as a chiasm, these terms complete the separation: (A) The wicked will not stand in the congregation of the righteous ( B ), for the LORD watches over the way of the righteous (B´), while the way of the wicked (A´) will perish.

 

Harrelson, Walter J., ed., The New Interpreter’s Study Bible. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.0. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003.

 

NIBOVC

 

Psalm 1

 

Psalm 1 contrasts the “way of the righteous” (v. 6) and the “way of sinners/the wicked” (vv. 1, 6). The first stanza (vv. 1–3) portrays the way of the righteous; the second stanza (vv. 4–6) portrays the way of the wicked.

 

In the first stanza, the one who is “happy” is described first negatively and then positively. Negatively, this one does not follow the advice of the wicked, take the “way” of sinners, or sit in the seat of scoffers. Positively, this one delights in God’s instruction, which is a better translation of torah than law—the term here could almost be translated scripture. The happy one will flourish, like a tree that bears fruit even in a brutal environment. The connection between the tree that drinks of the water and the happy one who drinks of the Lord’s instruction/scripture is obvious.

 

The second stanza also begins negatively, by describing the “way of the wicked.” They do not bear fruit and flourish. Quite the opposite from one who is deeply rooted in God’s instruction, the wicked lacks roots and thus is like dried up leaves in autumn, lacking substance and subject to the wind. The poem ends with the promise that God watches over the chosen people. The wicked choose their own way and thus lead themselves to destruction. The righteous surrender self-mastery and give themselves to the Lord’s way, becoming objects of the Lord’s care.

 
 
The New Interpreter’s Bible: One-Volume Commentary (NIB One Volume) Edited by: Beverly Roberts Gaventa and David Petersen
 
 
NIB
 

PSALM 1:1–6, DELIGHT IN GOD’S TEACHING

 

COMMENTARY

 

1:1. The book of Psalms begins with a beatitude, a form usually associated with wisdom literature but that occurs most frequently in Psalms (see e.g., Pss 2:12; 32:1–2; 33:12; 34:8; 40:4; 41:1; 106:3; 112:1; 119:1–2; “blessed” or “happy” [yrva }as¥re®] occurs 25 times in the Psalms and 8 times in Proverbs). Because the opening phrase stands outside the parallel structure of the remainder of the verse, and because Psalm 1 is a preface or introduction to the psalter (see the Introduction), the effect is to offer the exclamation, “Happy are those . . . ” as an interpretative clue both to this particular psalm and to the whole psalter. In some sense, all of the psalms will involve a portrayal of what it means to be “happy” or “blessed.”

The remainder of v. 1 describes the happy person over against the “wicked” (Myovr re∑s¥aœ{ˆîm), “sinners” (Myafj hΩa∑t√t√aœ}ˆîm), and “scoffers” (Myxl leœsΩˆîm). The effect of defining the happy person initially in negative terms is to sharpen the contrast between what will in v. 6 be called “the way of the righteous” and the “way of the wicked.” The two occurrences of “way” (Krd derek) in v. 6, along with the occurrence in v. 1 in the phrase “way of sinners” (Krd

jfayM derek hΩat√t√aœ}ˆîm ; NRSV “path”), suggest that this psalm and the entire psalter will offer a choice between two fundamentally different ways of life or life-styles. The outcomes of one’s choice of ways are described by the first and last words of the psalm. That choice will either make one “happy” or will lead one to “perish.” In short, the way one chooses is a matter of life and death. The comprehensiveness of this choice is probably reinforced poetically by the fact that “happy” (}as¥re®) begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and “perish” (dbat toœ}beœd) begins with the last letter—that is, Psalm 1 is an all-embracing presentation of what it means to be “happy.”

As the only three-part line in the psalm, v. 1 effectively emphasizes that the way of the wicked is to be studiously avoided. The vocabulary of this verse also begins to suggest what Psalm 1 and the psalter mean by wickedness and righteousness. As is often the case, the parallelism in v. 1 is not precisely synonymous. The general term “wicked” is followed by a more specific term, “sinners,” suggesting those who miss the mark or choose the wrong way. The most specific term is “scoffers,” which elsewhere connotes persons who are arrogantly unwilling to accept instruction (see Prov 1:22; 9:7–8; 13:1; 14:6; 15:12). This specific term prepares for the positive presentation of the happy person as one whose “delight is in the instruction [hrwt to®ra®] of the LORD” (see v. 2).

The three verbs in v. 1 are important: “walk” (Klh haœlak; NRSV “follow”), “stand” (dmo {aœmad; NRSV, “take”), “sit” (bvy yaœs¥ab). The variety of postures covered by these verbs not only reinforces the importance of how one positions oneself, but also has the effect of associating motion and thus instability with the wicked. Insofar as the wicked do achieve stability—the verb for “to sit” also means “to dwell”—it is in the wrong place. Like the nouns in v. 1, the verbs prepare for the positive presentation of the happy person, whose fruitfulness is made possible by a stable rootedness in a favorable location (v. 3).

1:2. The negative characterization of v. 1 is followed by a strong adversative particle (“but” [yk

aM kˆî }im]) at the beginning of v. 2, which introduces the positive portrayal of happy persons. While the NRSV and the NIV regularly translate the Hebrew word to®ra® as “law,” this translation is misleading. Many interpreters have understood “the law” in v. 2 to mean the Deuteronomistic code, and they have taken Psalm 1 as recommending a rigid legalism that is accompanied by a mechanistic system of reward and punishment for obedience or disobedience. Consequently, Psalm 1 has often been dismissed as simplistic and naive. Such a conclusion is not necessary. The word to®ra® fundamentally means “instruction.” In contrast to scoffers who arrogantly refuse all instruction, happy persons delight in God’s instruction, having it always before them. What is commended, therefore, is not a close-minded legalism, but a posture of constant openness to God’s instruction. That this openness to God’s instruction was not a burden but a source of delight is indicated by Psalms 19 and 119, which along with Psalm 1 are often categorized by scholars as torah psalms (see Introduction).

Verse 2b is reminiscent of Josh 1:8. As Joshua succeeds Moses, he is told by God that “this book of the law” is something he is to “meditate on . . . day and night” in order to “make your way prosperous” (NRSV; cf. “prospers” in Ps 1:3). The king of Israel also is to have “a copy of this law” and is to “read . . . it all the days of his life” (Deut 17:18–19 NRSV). It is likely that “law” in these two texts does, indeed, designate the Deuteronomistic code; however, such need not be the case in Ps 1:2. There is no mention of a book or a copy of the law. “Instruction” here refers not to a particular corpus of stipulations, but more broadly to the whole sacred tradition of God’s revelation. It is helpful to recall that the Torah for Judaism—the Pentateuch—contains both stipulations and identity-forming stories of God’s dealings with the world and God’s people. But even the Pentateuch is too narrow a referent for the “instruction” of v. 2. The two occurrences of torah here, especially in conjunction with the division of the psalter into five books, suggests that the psalms are to be received in a manner analogous to the Pentateuch—that is, as an identity-forming, life-shaping source of God’s instruction. What Psalm 1 commends, therefore, is a devotion that looks to tradition, to Scripture, and to contemporary words and events as sources of God’s revelation (see Commentary on Psalm 119). What the righteous, “happy” life involves is constant openness to God’s teaching.

1:3–4. These verses lie at the center of the psalm, and each contains a simile. Persons who are open to God’s instruction are like trees transplanted beside a source of water; they are never without a resource to sustain their lives—namely, God’s life-giving instruction (see Ps 19:7). What the tree imagery highlights is not primarily the aspect of fruitfulness but the importance of a stable rootedness. The root is in precisely the proper place—beside water, which represents God’s life-giving instruction (see the importance of water in Job 14:7–9). The identical image appears also in Jer 17:8, which specifically mentions the tree’s roots. It is deep rootedness in the proper ground that allows the tree to withstand drought and to always bear fruit. As Jer 17:7 suggests, when read along with Ps 1:1–3, to be open to God’s teaching is to trust God and to entrust one’s life to God. Those who do so always have a resource to sustain their lives. This understanding of the simile illumines the meaning of the final line of v. 3, which has often been interpreted to mean that obedience is materially rewarded. Instead, to “prosper” in “all that they do” should be understood as an affirmation that persons who trust God have a resource for sustaining their lives under any circumstance. As James L. Mays puts it, the way of the righteous is “not so much a reward as a result of life’s connection with the source of life.”46

Verse 4 is introduced by an emphatic form of the negative particle, which has already occurred three times in v. 1 and once in v. 3 and will occur again in v. 5. This sixfold repetition sharpens the contrast between the righteous and the wicked. The second simile (v. 4b) is preceded by the same adversative particle (“but”) that introduced v. 2 and that reinforces the contrast. The similarity of the Hebrew words for “tree” (Xo {eœsΩ) and “chaff” (Xm moœsΩ)—both are two-letter nouns ending in the same letter—also serves to highlight the contrasting sense of the two similes. While the righteous are like a well-placed tree whose stability allows it to live and bear fruit, the wicked are like chaff, which is the insubstantial waste product that “the wind blows away” while the heavier fruit of the grain falls back to the threshing floor. The wicked have no stability, no rootedness, no place to stand. As suggested already by v. 1, the wicked are always in motion. The instability or “lightness” of the wicked is represented by the relatively brief amount of space accorded to the second simile. The simile of the tree occupies three poetic lines, while the simile of the chaff occupies only one.

1:5. The instability and uselessness of the chaff prepare for the description of the wicked in v. 5. The wicked “will not stand in the judgment.” The Hebrew word used here for “stand” (Mwq qu®m) is different from the one translated “stand” in v. 1 (dmo {aœmad), but the effect of each is to communicate that the wicked have no foundation, no connection with the source of life. The meaning of v. 5 is disputed. It may mean that the wicked will not endure when the judgment of God occurs. Dahood, for instance, finds here a description of “the final judgment,” and concludes that Psalm 1 offers “a rather advanced concept of resurrection and immortality.”47 Most scholars disagree. Craigie, for instance, understands v. 5 to assert that “the wicked hold no weight or influence in the important areas of human society.”48 When persons meet to determine matters of “judgment” (or “justice” [fpvm mis¥paœt√], as the word may be translated), the wicked will have no influence, no place in “the assembly of the righteous.” Insofar as vv. 5 and 6b do suggest a kind of judgment, it need not be understood mechanistically as punishment (see below on v. 6).

What is clearer about v. 5 is its literary correspondence with v. 1. The same characters are involved—the “wicked” and “sinners”—and the similarity of the Hebrew words for “counsel” (hxo {eœsΩa®) and “assembly” (hdo {eœda®) also suggests a correspondence. Petersen and Richards take this correspondence as one piece of a larger chiastic structure (see Introduction) of vv. 1–5, which they outline as follows:

 

A Description of the righteous (vv. 1b–2)

B Simile (v. 3a–b )

C Objectifying conclusion (v. 3c)

C´ Objectifying introduction (v. 4a)

B´ Simile (v. 4b)

A´ Description of the wicked (v. 5)

 

This analysis identifies “a hinge” (C/C´) consisting of the following two lines (vv. 3c–4a):

 

And (in) everything which he(it) does, he(it) prospers.

Not so the wicked!

 

Verse 3c may be understood as the continuation of the tree simile if the subject of the verbs is taken as “it,” or the verse may be understood as an “objectifying conclusion” to the simile if the subject is taken as “he” (i.e., the person open to God’s instruction). The Hebrew permits either construal, and the ambiguity is probably intentional. Since v. 4a precedes the simile, it can more clearly be taken as an “objectifying introduction.” The effect is to create a “hinge” that demonstrates again that the whole psalm turns on the crucial contrast between the wicked and the righteous.49

1:6. The concluding verse of Psalm 1 stands outside the chiastic structure outlined above, thus effectively emphasizing again the contrast between “the way of the righteous” and “the way of the wicked.” The conjunctive particle at the beginning of v. 6 suggests, however, that it should not be totally isolated from v. 5. Furthermore, the repetition of “righteous” and “wicked” links v. 6 to v. 5; not surprisingly, the pattern of the repetition is chiastic: “wicked . . . righteous . . . righteous . . . wicked.” The effect is to present the righteous as central and preeminent, both literarily and theologically. In vv. 5–6, the wicked perish on the periphery (note “judgment” in v. 5a and “perish” in v. 6b), while the righteous are at the center of God’s attention. Indeed, for the first time in the psalm, the Lord is the subject of a verb. The Lord “knows” (ody yaœda{, RSV; NIV and NRSV, “watches over”), which in other contexts suggests a relation as intimate as sexual intercourse. The happy or righteous persons are those who are constantly open to God’s teaching, thus always connected to God, who is the source of life.

The wicked, on the other hand, are those who refuse to attend to God’s teaching, thus cutting themselves off from the source of life. That they “perish” is not so much a punishment, but the inevitable outcome of their own choice not to be related to God. In short, wickedness in Psalms is fundamentally to be self-centered rather than God-centered. It is autonomy, which literally means to be a “law unto oneself,” or in terms of my translation of torah, to be wicked is to be self-instructed rather than open to God’s instruction.

By offering the sharpest possible contrast between “the way of the righteous” and “the way of the wicked,” Psalm 1 prepares the reader to hear the rest of the psalter. These two “ways” and their results will be in view again and again, and the reader will be challenged to choose the way of openness to God’s instruction, the way that leads to happiness and life.

 

 

 

REFLECTIONS

 

Psalm 1 offers an understanding of happiness, life, prosperity, and righteousness/wickedness that differs profoundly from the way these things are ordinarily understood. The understanding of reality in Psalm 1 is thoroughly God-centered; the perception of reality among contemporary persons is almost inevitably self-centered. This means that happiness tends to be understood essentially as enjoying oneself; one’s life goal is understood in terms of self-actualization or self-fulfillment; prosperity becomes a matter of attaining what one wants; and righteousness and wickedness become moral categories that are measured among some by the ability or inability of persons to obey a set of rules and among others by the ability or inability to enact particular programs and policies. In either case, righteousness is measured in terms of a capacity of the self; it is essentially self-righteousness.

For Psalm 1 (and the rest of the psalter), happiness involves not enjoying oneself but delight in the teaching of God. The goal of life is to be found not in self-fulfillment but in praising God (see the Introduction concerning the songs of praise). Prosperity does not involve getting what one wants; rather, it comes from being connected to the source of life—God. The righteous are not primarily persons who make the proper choices or implement the proper policies (although some psalms include the psalmist’s affirmation of innocence), but those who know that their lives belong to God and that their futures are secured by God (see Ps 2:12). In the book of Psalms, the righteous are constantly assailed, persecuted, and threatened (Pss 3:1; 34:19), while the wicked visibly prosper (Pss 37:7; 73:3). The prosperity of the righteous is real but hidden. It is an openness to and connectedness with God that sustains life amid all threats. It is real, but not “as the world gives” (John 14:27 NRSV).

What is so unsettling about all of this is that what Psalm 1 and the rest of the psalter call “wickedness” is perhaps what North American culture promotes as the highest virtue—autonomy. What generally marks maturity among contemporary North Americans is self-sufficiency. Wanting or needing help, whether from others or from God, is taken as a sign of weakness or instability. The effect is to produce a society of isolated selves. The irony is tragic—the pursuit of self-fulfillment yields self-alienation (see Mark 8:35).

In her story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” Flannery O’Connor strikingly portrays “the way of the wicked.” When a character called the Misfit is asked why he does not pray, he replies: “ ‘I don’t want no hep,’ he said, ‘I’m doing all right by myself.’ ”

The Misfit represents what Psalm 1 and the rest of the psalter call wickedness—the conviction that we are doing all right by ourselves, that we need no help. It is not surprising that the Misfit’s words conclude the story: “ ‘It’s no real pleasure in life.’ ”50 He is telling the truth. Failing to trust God and to make connection with God as the source of life, persons cannot be “happy.” It is not surprising that contemporary societies of isolated selves consistently fail to produce people who are “happy,” even though these societies are among the wealthiest, healthiest, and most educated in human history. In biblical terms, to be autonomous, to be alienated from God and other people, is to “perish.”

The choice presented by Psalm 1 is always contemporary. We may choose to be self-instructed and self-directed, or we may choose to open ourselves to God’s teaching and to God’s direction. In a real sense, what Psalm 1 commends is what John Calvin described as “a teachable frame.”51 This “teachable frame” means a reverence for Scripture, God’s written “instruction” (see Luke 11:28), as well as an openness to new ways in which God continues to act and be revealed in the lives of persons and the life of the world. Or, as Calvin insisted, the written Word must be read under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

What is commended, therefore, is not a self-righteous legalism but a commitment of the whole self to God. The call to decision presented by Psalm 1 is not unlike Jesus’ call to repent and to enter the reign of God (Mark 1:14–15)—that is, to give up self-sovereignty to live under the sovereignty of God (see Mark 8:34). Like Psalm 1, Jesus also promised that his followers would be “blessed” or “happy” (Matt 5:3–11). As in the psalms, this happiness is not incompatible with persecution and suffering (Matt 5:10–11); as in the book of Psalms, the way Jesus commends constitutes a righteousness that fulfills the law (Matt 5:17–20) without being a self-justifying legalism (see Matt 5:21, which initiates a series of new teachings introduced by, “But I say to you . . . ”). As an introduction, Psalm 1 not only orients us to read and hear the psalms as Scripture or “instruction,” but it also prepares us to hear the affirmation of God’s sovereignty, which is explicit in Psalm 2 and which pervades the psalter.

 

 

McCann, J. Clinton, Jr. “The Book of Psalms.” Pages n.p in 1 Maccabees-Psalms. Vol. 4 of The New Interpreter’s Bible. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.0. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996.


Edited by Dan Francis, 05 June 2014 - 11:25 AM.

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#5 Abram K-J

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 04:07 PM

Thanks, Dan!


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#6 Dan Francis

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 12:40 PM

Once again I do just have to say thank you.... Having this resource in Accordance has been a blessing. I find myself curling up with my iPad at night in bed reading and studying things in accordance to the wee hours of the morning (more than a few times it been, I can't believe i have been doing this 2 hours). And the quality of your mobile app is fabulous. I am occasionally looking up to read a section in Anchor Bible referenced in the NIB... So i start up my Logos app (since it where i own Anchor)  and opened it up and get frustrated by how slowly it is to render verses (heck last night it even told me that a verse from Exodus could not be displayed because i did not have that book, obviously something mis-tagged but just annoying to have Logos tell me I can't look up a simple Bible reference ), leading me to realize how lucky I am with the ease and speed Accordance iOS handles references... not to mention how great it is to pop amplify in the reference window only to have my Bible and the NIB open right to it allowing me to explore what I want before clicking the back button to be returned back to my primary study area.

 

-Dan


Edited by Dan Francis, 04 June 2014 - 12:42 PM.

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#7 Serpentium

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 01:51 PM

Once again I do just have to say thank you.... Having this resource in Accordance has been a blessing. I find myself curling up with my iPad at night in bed reading and studying things in accordance to the wee hours of the morning (more than a few times it been, I can't believe i have been doing this 2 hours). And the quality of your mobile app is fabulous. I am occasionally looking up to read a section in Anchor Bible referenced in the NIB... So i start up my Logos app (since it where i own Anchor)  and opened it up and get frustrated by how slowly it is to render verses (heck last night it even told me that a verse from Exodus could not be displayed because i did not have that book, obviously something mis-tagged but just annoying to have Logos tell me I can't look up a simple Bible reference ), leading me to realize how lucky I am with the ease and speed Accordance iOS handles references... not to mention how great it is to pop amplify in the reference window only to have my Bible and the NIB open right to it allowing me to explore what I want before clicking the back button to be returned back to my primary study area.
 
-Dan


Sadly (for my wallet) I go back to accordance all the time. If I just knew before I invested my money in logos. I hope they may improve it like accordance one day. For now...happy time in Accordance.
Ps. i have the NIB, but how good is NISB and NIDB?

#8 Dan Francis

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 02:18 PM

If i was to rate mulit-volume dictionaries  I would stay say Anchor is still top, ISBE revised is a good compliment to it and a close second. NIDB comes in next and in a few way is ahead of Anchor/ISBE because of it's newness, but generally I still found anchor more in depth, NIDB has quickly become my go to dictionary because not only is it up to date but usually it covers things  well enough to satisfy my needs. I of the multi volumes I have used Zondervan clearly is last place in my mind.

 

I would say the NISB study Bible is my second favourite study bible with NOAB just a little higher up for me (and it;s more theological notes and applications are very nice). Below I will place another Study Bible example and an article from NIDB.

 

-dan



#9 Dan Francis

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 02:22 PM

BLESSINGS AND CURSINGS.  The general concepts may be represented as inclusive antonyms in biblical Hebrew by the feminine plural nouns berakhoth (twøk∂rV;b) and qelaloth (twølDlVq; LXX eulogiai [eujlogi÷ai] and katarai [kata¿rai]; Deut 28:2, 15, 45); and, similarly, by the feminine singular forms of these same nouns, used as collectives: “blessing and cursing/curse” (berakhah uqelalah [hDlDlVq…w hDk∂r;b]; LXX eulogian kai kataran [eujlogi÷an kai«: kata¿ran]; Deut 11:26; compare Gen 27:12; Deut 11:27–29; 23:4 [Heb. 23:5]; 30:1, 19; Josh 8:34; Ps 109:17; Zech 8:13; Sir 3:8–9; Jas 3:9–10). These antipodal categories, which are also commonly identified as “benedictions and maledictions,” together comprise the verbal instruments that biblical and other ancient sources attest as invocations respectively of the positive and negative dispositions of divine providence. The terms may refer to the invocatory rites and words themselves; and, interpreted as efficacious performative utterances, they may also denote the salutary or baneful results these actions are supposed to produce (e.g., Gen 27:12; Num 22:6; Ps 109:17–18; Jer 24:9; 44:22). Their use and significance are constant rather than occasional in biblical perspectives, relevant wherever and whenever the effects of divine sovereignty are experienced in the natural order and the circumstances of human existence.

 

A. Overview

B. Characteristic Vocabulary and Formulations

1. Blessings

2. Cursings

C. Principal Settings and Functions

1. Cult and worship

2. Covenantal sanctions

3. The two ways

Bibliography

 

A. Overview

Blessings/benedictions are pronouncements that variously solicit, distribute, and celebrate well-being. When blessings are actualized through divine agency, they yield benefits such as fecundity, security, health, peace, and happiness (e.g., Gen 26:12–14; 28:3–4; Num 6:22–27; Deut 7:12–16; Ps 5:11–12 [Heb. 5:12–13]; Sir 50:22–24). Blessing of the deity, especially in hymns and prayers, is an act of worship that returns praise to the one who has bestowed particular benefactions (e.g., Gen 24:26–27; Exod 18:10; Ps 28:6; 66:20; Luke 1:68–75). Conversely, cursings/curses/maledictions (also referred to as imprecations) are pronouncements that intend to restrain, punish, or inflict injury on specified targets (e.g., Gen 3:14; Deut 29:19–28 [Heb. 29:18–27]; Ps 137:5–6; Jer 20:14–18). Because acts of cursing trade in calamity, they may threaten the natural realm as well as endanger both personal and communal well being (e.g., Gen 4:11–12; Deut 28:15–19; Isa 24:6; Jer 20:14–18; Job 3:1–10). Accordingly, biblical legislation treats cursing as a capital offense, akin to sacrilege, if it is directed against the primary guarantors of social order—either of one’s parents, or a political leader, or the deity (Exod 21:17; 22:28 [Heb. 22:27]; Lev 20:9; compare 24:11–23; 2 Sam 16:10; 19:21; 1 Kgs 2:8–9; 21:10, 13; Prov 20:20; 30:11; Eccl 10:20; Sir 3:16).

In broad scope, these conceptual counterparts correlate with the range of cosmic powers under divine control that either create, restore, enhance, and safeguard life or result in misfortune, destruction, and death. Mesopotamian polytheistic traditions often identify such powers as specialties distributed among particular deities in a pantheon (e.g., Laws of Hammurabi, epilogue [xlix 18n–li 91]; “Vassal-Treaties of Esarhaddon,” 414–71). Biblical sources, on the other hand, regularly ascribe forces of both good and evil to Yahweh alone, whose comprehensive sovereignty they are supposed to reveal and implement (see, e.g., Deut 32:39; 1 Sam 2:6–8; Isa 43:11–13; 45:5–7; Hos 6:1–2; Job 1:21; 2:9; Prov 11:19; 14:27; Tob 13:2; Wis 16:13; Sir 33:10–13). This poses acute issues for biblical reflections on theodicy: Are manifestations of blessing in human affairs sufficient evidence of an intact, favorable relationship between those who experience them and the Lord? Is ostensible cursedness necessarily demonstrative of estrangement from the deity or indicative of the Lord’s discriminative retribution against wrong-doers? (See, e.g., Num 23:11–12, 25–26; Deut 29:19–28; Job 4:7–9; 5:17–27; Ps 37:22–26; Eccl 6:1–6; 9:1–12; Ezek 18:1–24; Gal 3:6–14 .)

 

B. Characteristic Vocabulary and Formulations

The terminology, idioms, and types of “blessings and cursings” exhibited in biblical and related early Jewish and Christian sources are quite varied, as are the social settings and functions they represent. Syntactical options include articulation as conditional promises and threats, featuring subjunctive and future-indicative verb forms (e.g., Lev 26:3–26; Deut 11:13–17; Ps 137:5–6; Rev 22:18–19) as well as positive and negative wishes and requests, with precative and imperative diction (Gen 9:27; 27:28–29; 2 Sam 3:29; Ezra 6:12; Mark 11:14; Heb 13:20–21). The principal expressions, however, are formulaic.

 

1. Blessings

Although many other verbal roots are also used to describe divine favor and benevolence (e.g., khnn [Nnj], “to show favor, be gracious to”; ytb [bfy], “to treat well, benefit”; rtsh [hxr], “to be pleased with”; skhl [lkc], “to prosper, make successful”), lexical derivatives of the West Semitic root brk (Krb) supply the focused, operational Hebrew terminology of “blessing.” In addition to the feminine noun with this basic sense (sing. berakhah, pl. berakhoth), such terminology includes verbal constructions that describe petitions for and results of blessing, whether initiated directly by the deity (e.g., Gen 1:22, 28; 2:3; 12:2; Exod 20:11, 24; Job 1:10; Isa 51:2) or by human beings, clergy in particular, either expressly or implicitly invoking divine agency (e.g., Gen 14:19; Num 6:22–27; Deut 10:8; 2 Sam 6:18; Pss 129:8; 134:3; Sir 50:20–21). Inflected forms, such as barukh (JK…wrD;b, “blessed [be]”), commonly introduce benedictory pronouncements (e.g., Deut 28:3–6; 1 Sam 25:32–33; 1 Kgs 10:9; Pss 68:19 [Heb. 68:20]; 115:14–15). These Hebrew forms of brk are usually represented in the LXX and the NT by eulogeoœ (eujloge÷w, “to eulogize, laud, bless”; see also, e.g., Tob 3:11; Sir 45:15; Luke 6:28; Rom 12:14).

The denominative verb }ashar (rAvDa, “to declare happy”; e.g., Gen 30:13; Ps 72:17; Prov 31:28; Mal 3:12; regularly rendered in the LXX by forms of the verb makarizoœ [makari÷zw]) and, most often, the fixed nominal }ashre (yérVvAa, “happy, fortunate”; e.g., Deut 33:29; 1 Kgs 10:8; Job 5:17; Ps 1:1; Isa 56:2; LXX makarios [maka¿rioß]) are used to acknowledge the sense of personal well being that results from divine blessing (compare Pss 41:1–3; 128:1–4; 144:12–15). Makarios is developed and extensively attested in later Jewish and NT literature in the form of beatitudes (i.e., declarations of blessedness), also identified as makarisms: e.g., Sir 14:1–2; 25:8–9; Matt 5:3–11; Luke 6:20–22; Jas 1:12; Rev 22:7, 14 (see BEATITUDES; BLESS).

 

2. Cursings

Derivatives of several roots, with overlapping semantic horizons, provide the primary Hebrew antonyms of terms for blessing and blessedness. In large measure, the corresponding terminology in the Greek NT follows the precedents set by the LXX translators.

Juridical and cultic practices of adjuration—i.e., binding oneself or another to the truthfulness of a testimony or to the keeping of a solemn promise by means of an oath that invokes a curse as conditional penalty—are expressed by the verb }alah (hDlDa): e.g., Judg 17:2; 1 Kgs 8:31; Hos 4:2; 104 . (These occurrences are usually rendered in the LXX by forms of araomai [aÓra¿omai], “adjure, invoke a curse.” This sense is expressed using the verb anathematizoœ [aÓnaqemati÷zw], “anathematize,” in Mark 14:71; Acts 23:12, 14 .) The cognate feminine noun (sing. }alah, pl. }aloth [twølDa])may connote either an “imprecatory oath, adjuration” (e.g., Gen 24:41; Lev 5:1; Num 5:21; 1 Kgs 8:31; Neh 10:29 [Heb. 10:30]) or the state of accursedness, execration that results when the penalty is actualized (e.g., Num 5:27; Jer 29:18; Zech 5:3; Dan 9:11; compare Bar 1:20; 3:8). Such imprecatory oaths are sometimes specifically associated with covenants and loyalty-oaths (e.g., Gen 26:28; Deut 29:20–21 [Heb. 29:19–20]; Isa 24:5–6; Ezek 17:18–19).

Verb-forms of }rr (rra, “to execrate, pronounce accursed”; e.g., Gen 5:29; 12:3; Num 22:12; Judg 5:23; usually kataraomai [katara¿omai] in the LXX; compare also, e.g., Sir 23:14; Matt 5:44; Rom 12:14; Jas 3:9) and the cognate feminine noun me}erah (h∂rEaVm, “curse, calamity,” e.g., Deut 28:20; Mal 2:2; 3:9; LXX katara [kata¿ra]) refer to specific acts of execration and their results. Inflected forms of }arur (r…wrDa, “accursed [be]”; LXX epikataratos [e˙pikata¿ratoß]), characteristically introduce maledictions that parallel formulaic barukh–pronouncements (e.g., Gen 3:14, 17; 9:25; Deut 27:15–26; 28:16–19; Judg 21:18; Jer 17:5; Mal 1:14; compare Tob 13:12).

The verbal range of qll (llq; Gen 12:3; Lev 19:14; Judg 9:27; Pss 62:4 [Heb. 62:5]; 109:28) includes contemptuous and disrespectful words and actions as well as imprecatory speech per se. The distinction is recognized in the LXX, which uses forms of kataraomai (katara¿omai, “utter a curse”) to render many occurrences of the Hebrew verb but represents some others with forms of kakalogeoœ (kakaloge÷w, “revile, speak evil of”; Exod 21:16; 22:27; Prov 20:9; 2 Sam 3:13; compare Matt 15:4; Mark 7:10). Cursing is, however, the appropriate contextual sense of the noun (sing. qelalah, pl. qelaloth, e.g., Judg 9:57; Prov 27:14; Jer 29:22; compare Sir 41:9–10; Heb 6:8).

Less often attested, but clearly belonging to the same semantic range as the above, are the Hebrew roots z{m (Moz, “to denounce, damn,” e.g., Num 23:7–8; Prov 24:24; 4Q286 7 II, 1) and qbb (bbq, “to utter a curse [against],” e.g., Num 22:11; 23:8, 13, 35; Lev 24:11; Job 5:2; Prov 11:26).

The various expressions of grief, warnings and threats, and other “woe-sayings” in OT literature introduced by the Hebrew interjections }oy (ywøa) and hoy (ywøh) do not seem to belong to a distinct genre or genres of speech that can be coherently related to cursings, in spite of occasional overlaps of theme (compare respectively, e.g., Num 21:29–30; Isa 3:9, 11; Jer 4:13; Ezek 24:6–13; Hos 7:13; Zech 11:17 and Isa 5:8–24; 45:9–10; Jer 22:18–19; Hab 2:6–19). In the NT, however, formulaic “woe-sayings” (also introduced by ouai [oujai«]) do appear to function as denunciations that are quasi-curses (e.g., Matt 11:21; 23:13–36; Luke 21:23–24; compare Sir 2:12–14); in Luke 6:24–26 “woe-sayings” are conspicuous as negative counterparts to “beatitudes.”

 

C. Principal Settings and Functions

Biblical literature portrays blessings and cursings as substantive and pervasive features of applied theology. The chief concepts and practices, though deeply rooted in the broad cultural environment of the ANE, are represented as governed by two theological axioms: 1) The Lord, ancient Israel’s tutelary deity, is creator and sustainer of cosmic order as well as preeminent sovereign over the world of human nations within which Israel’s discrete identity emerges and continues to develop (e.g., Exod 19:3–6; Deut 4:32–39; Pss 47; 67; 97; Isa 40:21–31; Sir 24; Acts 17:22–31). 2) While the Lord’s exercise of sovereignty is not always transparent and cannot be coerced, it is supposed to be both characteristically generous and sufficiently discriminating to take account of and to respond appropriately to human needs, behavior, attitudes, and petitions (e.g., Gen 18:17–32; Num 23:7–12; Deut 4:25–31; Isa 55:6–13; 65; Sir 2; Matt 20:1–16; Rom 1:18–2:16). Blessings and cursings are means of invoking these interrelated aspects of the Lord’s providence in order to achieve specific ends.

 

1. Cult and worship

The essential act of ancient Israelite and later Jewish and Christian worship is praise of God, giving homage to the one whose profound benevolence makes possible life in general and sustains the community of the faithful in particular (e.g., Pss 100; 117; Tob 13). Fertile land, fructifying rains, and the bounties they produce are perennial divine gifts acknowledged in hymnic praises, petitionary prayers, and celebratory rites (e.g., Deut 11:10–15; 12:7; Pss 65:9–13; 104:10–30; Isa 30:23–25). The official Yahwistic cultus, eventually centered at the Jerusalem Temple and idealized in the tabernacle traditions of the Pentateuch, sought to assure the constancy of these and other blessings of the Lord (e.g., Exod 20:24; 39:32–43; Lev 9:22–24; Num 6:22–27; Ps 128). Also understood to be of critical importance for the well being of the worshiping community and its individual members were cultic means to identify, preempt, and either execrate or expiate anything that threatened adversity. Such means included imprecatory oaths that invoked divine assistance in distinguishing between innocent and guilty parties (e.g., Num 5:11–31; Deut 29:18–21 [Heb. 29:17–20]; 1 Kgs 8:31–32); other forms of cursing were deployed against the plots and assaults of both personal and national enemies (e.g., Pss 54–56; 79; 83; 109; 129; compare Luke 6:27–31). In brief, cultic institutions functioned to maximize the actualization of blessings and to minimize, thwart, or redirect the injurious effects of cursings.

 

2. Covenantal sanctions

Blessings and, especially, cursings are widely attested in ANE epigraphs and other sources as formal devices to safeguard tombs, boundary markers, stelas, and building inscriptions as well as royal decrees, testaments, and various types of treaties and contractual arrangements. (For representative texts, see ANET 3 178–180, 199–206, 531–41, 653–62.) In such contexts blessings are relatively rare; they seek to persuade, invoking divine favor as reward for desirable and expected behaviors (e.g., “Treaty between Mursilis and Duppi-Tessub of Amurru,” 21 [ANET 3 205]; Laws of Hammurabi, xlix 1–17 [ANET 3 178]). Cursings are much more commonly and elaborately employed as sanctions; they are punitive in intent, threatening retribution by divine forces for acts such as textual defacement, removal of monuments, and non-compliance with the terms of agreements and decrees (e.g., Inscription of Kilamuwa [ANET 3 654]; “Treaty of Esarhaddon with Baal of Tyre,” iv [ANET 3 534]; compare Ezra 6:12). The chief biblical examples of such sanctions, in Lev 26 and Deut 28, pertain to the exclusive suzerainty of the Lord in covenantal relationship with Israel. In each case, a presentation of conditional blessings to reward faithful observance of the covenant’s terms (Lev 26:3–13; Deut 28:1–14) is followed by a longer recitation of conditional curses to punish disobedience (Lev 26:14–39; Deut 28:15–68). Also noteworthy is the liturgy of cursing described in Deut 27:11–26, which is in effect an enacted loyalty-oath against secret violations of laws promulgated through Moses: after each of twelve curses proclaimed by the Levites, the assembled people respond “Amen!” (compare 1QS I-II).

 

3. The two ways

In Deut 30 especially, a more abstract theological significance is attributed to the polarized sanctions of blessing and cursing (compare 11:26–30; 27:12–13). They are described first as sequential eras of covenantal history, to emphasize the promise that genuine repentance, even under conditions of curse in exile, would bring another reversal of fortunes, with a return to Israel’s homeland and a renewal of blessing (vv. 1–10; compare Deut 4:25–31; Lev 26:40–45; Bar 1:20; 3:8). Then, in Deut 30:15–20, the contrast between blessing and cursing is identified as emblematic of the existential choice Israel must make between “life and [what is] good,” which is equated with strict fidelity to the covenantal laws, and “death and [what is] evil,” characterized by apostasy and exile (compare Jer 17:5–8; 21:8–10; Amos 5:14–15). These stark options correlate with the dualism that is variously developed in later Jewish and Christian ethical discourses on the “two ways,” the paths of righteousness and wickedness respectively, and eschatological judgment (Pss 1; 112; Prov 1–3; Matt 25:31–46; Rom 5–8; 1 John 5:18–21; 4Q473; Did. 1:1–6:3). See BEATITUDES; BENEDICTION; BLESS; COVENANT, OT AND NT; CURSE; OATH; WOE.

 

Bibliography:  N. Weeks. Admonition and Curse: The Ancient Near Eastern Treaty/Covenant Form as a Problem in Inter-Cultural Relationships (2004); K. N. Grüneberg. Abraham, Blessing and the Nations: A Philological and Exegetical Study of Genesis 12:3 in Its Narrative Context (2003).

 

S. DEAN MCBRIDE

Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education, Richmond, VA

 

NIDB, s.v. “BLESSINGS AND CURSINGS,” n.p.


Edited by Dan Francis, 05 June 2014 - 11:26 AM.


#10 Dan Francis

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 02:24 PM

Chapter 5

 

5:1–7:28 These chapters comprise the Sermon on the Mount, the first of five collections (chaps. 10; 13; 18; 24–25) of Jesus’ teaching or revelation of God’s will. These thematic discourses instruct disciples, shaping their identity and lifestyle. The Sermon begins with blessings and sayings (5:3–16). Its middle section comprises six interpretations of scripture (5:17–48), instruction on three distinctive discipleship practices (6:1–18), and teaching on social and economic practices (6:19–7:12). The sermon closes with scenes of eschatological destiny (7:13–27). More than providing information about God’s will and motivating disciples to do it, the sermon offers visions of God’s empire. It sketches life in an alternative community marked by justice, transformed social relationships, practices of piety, and shared and accessible resources. Life under Rome’s imperial rule with vast discrepancies of wealth and much injustice is not God’s will.

 

5:1–2 Jesus addresses his disciples. So far there are only four (4:18–22; 10:1–4), but they represent all disciples. The mountain recalls Mt. Sinai and Moses’ revelation there (Exod 19–24) as well as Mt. Zion, where God’s empire will be established (Isa 35:4–10).

 

5:3–12 Nine blessings (beatitudes) divide into two groups (vv. 3–6 and vv. 7–12). Blessings declare God’s favor, not on attitudes, but on certain conditions and behaviors. The declarations encourage appropriate actions.

 

5:3–6 Surprisingly, in an imperial world that prizes power, wealth, and status, God’s favor is found among the powerless and poor (the meek, Ps 37) without resources and options who yearn for God’s empire and faithful intervention (5:3–6). The second half of each blessing promises God’s future reversal of these imperial situations. That reversal is already under way in Jesus’ ministry. These blessings name the distressing consequences of Roman rule and promise God’s victory over it.

 

5:7–12 These five beatitudes bless the social actions of the alternative community of disciples that manifests God’s empire. Persecution (name-calling, rumors, and social antagonism, 5:10–12) is inevitable when the powerful elite are challenged. God rewards faithfulness.

 

Walter J. Harrelson, eds. The New Interpreter’s Study Bible. Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003), n.p.

 

Also here is the excursus mentioned in the Psalm 1 example above (note there was no link to the excursus hopefully they will be linked in a future update).

 

Excursus: }Ashre

 

The first word in the Psalter, }ashre (“happy” in the NRSV), sets an agenda that prayer and life-decisions belong together. This word, which is used 26 times in the psalms and only 20 times elsewhere in the OT, derives from a Semitic root (}shr), which is also attested in Ugaritic (as }thr). The nominal forms are variously translated as “happy,” “blessed,” “fortunate,” “place,” “step,” and “fate.” The same root is at the base of the goddess name “Asherah.” In the Psalms, }ashre is primarily identified as a relational experience, defined in terms of desired associations or experiences. Most often translated “happy,” it has to do with being in right relationship with God. Sometimes, it has to do with the high regard of onlookers. And in the case of Ps 137, it has to do with the exercise of vengeance and vindication. }Ashre is not to be confused with “be-happy” attitudes. It is more a consideration of what makes authentic life and existence possible.

Tabulation shows that individuals, the community, and the nation employ this expression with great variety of meaning. Out of sensitivity to gender inclusivity, the NRSV translation sometimes changes Hebrew masculine singular pronouns to plural English forms. The following listing, however, reflects the Hebrew forms:

Happy is the individual who avoids the wicked and delights in God’s law (1:1); whose sin is forgiven (32:1); who takes refuge in God (34:8); who trusts the Lord (40:4; 84:12); who considers the poor (41:1); whom God chooses to dwell in the temple (65:4); whom God disciplines (94:12); who fears the LORD and delights in God’s commandments (112:1); who has a “quiver full” of sons (127:5); who pays “you back what you have done to us” (137:8); who takes “your little ones and dash[es] them against the rock” (137:9); “whose help is the God of Jacob” (146:5).

Happy are they who take refuge in God (2:12); who dwell in God’s house (84:4); whose strength is in God (84:5); who know the festal shout (89:15); who do justice (106:3); whose way is blameless (119:1); who keep God’s “decrees” (119:2); who fear the LORD (128:1, 2); on whom blessings fall (144:15a); whose God is the LORD (144:15b).

Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD (33:12).

Another word formed from the same Hebrew consonants as those in }ashre appears six times as a debatably feminine plural noun, }ashur (“steps”). The image is most often of “steps” holding to the right path, where enemies do not get the upper hand and the faithful keep God’s law in their hearts. This association suggests that a life that follows the right path with steps taken in the right direction is a happy life (cf. 17:5, 11; 37:31; 40:2; 44:18; 73:2). Two additional verbal forms of }shr occur in the psalms. The one who considers the poor (41:1) is “called happy” (Heb. ye}ushar, 41:2), and all nations blessed by the king of Israel “pronounce him happy” (Heb. ye}ashruhu, 72:17).

}Ashre is not static or fixed by one commonly held definition. The psalms show it to be a dynamic relational state, often discerned in prayer. “Happiness” involves decisions regarding life’s direction, its articulation, and movement toward what an individual or community understands as divine/human congruence.

 

Walter J. Harrelson, eds. The New Interpreter’s Study Bible. Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003), n.p.


Edited by Dan Francis, 05 June 2014 - 11:26 AM.


#11 Graham Buck

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 07:44 PM

Dan, if you could do a report correction on NISB for the missing link to the excursus it might be incorporated. I did a quick look through and see that some of these "see Excursus" statements are linked and some are not. It oughtn't be a hard thing to fix.


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#12 Dan Francis

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 07:59 PM

Done, and will do if I come across any others not linked

 

-Dan



#13 Dan Francis

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Posted 05 June 2014 - 11:28 AM

My apologies for the huge font in my samples.... that was how it comes when I paste is out of Accordance....

 

-Dan



#14 Joel Brown

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Posted 05 June 2014 - 11:50 AM

Don't forget, you can always Paste and Match Style in your browser so that it shrinks down a bit :)


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#15 Serpentium

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 01:58 PM

If i was to rate mulit-volume dictionaries  I would stay say Anchor is still top, ISBE revised is a good compliment to it and a close second. NIDB comes in next and in a few way is ahead of Anchor/ISBE because of it's newness, but generally I still found anchor more in depth, NIDB has quickly become my go to dictionary because not only is it up to date but usually it covers things  well enough to satisfy my needs. I of the multi volumes I have used Zondervan clearly is last place in my mind.
 
I would say the NISB study Bible is my second favourite study bible with NOAB just a little higher up for me (and it;s more theological notes and applications are very nice). Below I will place another Study Bible example and an article from NIDB.
 
-dan


Accordance doesnt have NOAB, so better a NISB in Accordance than a NOAB somewhere else, no?
About AYBD, NIDB and ISBE I don't know. I mean you said AYBD is the best, but NIDB is more recent in some aspects. I read that AYBD is not so evangelical. So...if you pick just one, which one?

#16 Dan Francis

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 05:10 PM

Accordance doesnt have NOAB, so better a NISB in Accordance than a NOAB somewhere else, no?
About AYBD, NIDB and ISBE I don't know. I mean you said AYBD is the best, but NIDB is more recent in some aspects. I read that AYBD is not so evangelical. So...if you pick just one, which one?

 

NOAB is more liberal, more concise and usually doesn't inject theological conclusions. If you are using WS I would say NOAB is great to add to your Library. NISB is wonderful and if you are on the more evangelical side of the spectrum most likely going to be a better choice for you. Given the price difference ISBE is a hands down winner and you are not going to be at any serious disadvantage. Go to ISBE Revised to see more my comments on the dictionaries. I still find NIDB to be a nice starting point before moving on to ISBE and or Anchor. if I had to choose just one it likely would be Anchor, but ISBE is solid and a great bargain.

 

-Dan



#17 Dan Francis

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 05:13 PM

Don't forget, you can always Paste and Match Style in your browser so that it shrinks down a bit :)

 

The one issue there is changes the font and the greek and hebrew look like gibberish.

 

-dan 



#18 Ken Simpson

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 05:49 PM

Really Dan? Hadn't noticed that. What I usually do is paste everything, then select it, then press the "remove format" widget that looks like an eraser (2nd from the left, top line in the forum post header menu) Seems to leave my Gk and Heb all looking fine. Are you sure you have your Greek and Hebrew set to export as Unicode?


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#19 Dan Francis

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 06:12 PM

I tired it earlier and safari changed the greek and hebrew fonts on me.

 

-dan

 

PS: My bad, i missed unicode portion of your message... I have now  selected it now and tested it below.

 

EDEN, GARDEN OF (PLACE)  [Heb gan-ʿēden גַּנ־עֵדֶן]. The place where the first humans are placed by Yahweh and from which they are later expelled. In Genesis 2–3 it is described as a place of beauty and abundance. Elsewhere it is designated as Yahweh’s own garden (e.g. Isa 51:3; see GARDEN OF GOD) and even in Genesis 2–3 it is probably meant to be understood primarily as a dwelling place of Yahweh rather than simply a place of human habitation. Scholarly debate over Eden has concerned the etymology of the name, the various biblical references, and the location of Eden. See also BETH-EDEN (PLACE).
 
AYBD, s.v. “EDEN, GARDEN OF (PLACE),” 2:281.
 
EDEN, GARDEN OF  ee´duhn [גַּן־בְּעֵדֶן gan-beʿedhen]. Most readers of the Bible associate Eden with Gen 2–3, yet it is important to note that the word occurs in several other places in the OT: Isa 51:3; Ezek 31:9, 16, 18; 36:25; and Joel 2:3. From these texts one can see that Eden is a location abundantly blessed with fertility. Sterility and death have no place there.
The etymology of Eden has been the subject of considerable discussion. A common approach in the modern era has been to derive the Hebrew word from the Akkadian edinu (which, in turn, derives from Sumerian) meaning, “plain, steppe.” Some have gone further and located Eden in an especially fertile area within the vicinity of the Persian Gulf. Given the deep Mesopotamian roots of much of the material in Gen 1–11, this perspective has had much to recommend it. On the other hand, there is a root ʿdn (עדן) that means, “to be fertile, luxuriant,” and some believe the nominal form derives from this verbal root that is native to the Hebrew language. Those who are partial to the Akkadian etymology have argued that this particular verbal stem is denominative (i.e., a secondary formation from a pre-existing noun) and therefore sheds no light on the origin of the root itself. A bilingual Aramaic-Akkadian inscription from Tel Fekherye has provided new philological data in support of the Hebrew root with a meaning of “making luxuriant [through water]. ” The LXX and the Vulgate translate the phrase ganʿedhen as “garden of fertile luxuriance” (paradeisos tēs tryphēs [παραδείσος τῆς τρυφῆς] or in Latin, paradisus voluptatis).
One key to understanding the symbolic nature of Eden is the description of its location in Gen 2:10–14. The Garden is characterized by four rivers that flow from it: the Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates. Though the latter two are clearly identifiable with the great rivers of classical Mesopotamia, the first two are not so easy to pin down. Given that the Gihon is said to flow around the land of Cush—which in turn is frequently identified with Nubia—it may be a reference to the origins of the Nile. If so, Eden would have been the source of all the great freshwater sources known to the ancient Israelite. Because the Gihon Spring flows beneath Jerusalem (and Eden was associated with Jerusalem, see below), the Gihon River may also have been associated with this spring.
It is significant that no single geographic location can be identified as the origin of all these rivers. The function of this text is more theological than topological. The fact that the rivers are four in number points to the universal reach of Eden, for classical Mesopotamian sources frequently divide the world into four quadrants and the living waters of the earth are thought to emerge from a sacred center. And because the sources of rivers tend to be found in mountainous regions (and are so depicted in ANE art), it is likely that Eden was thought of as a cosmic mountain. The mountainous character of the Garden of God is made explicit in another Eden tradition found in the Bible: Ezekiel’s famous oracle against the king of Tyre (28:11–19, esp. v. 14). We also know from Ps 24:2–3 that there was an intimate connection between the founding of the world on top of mythic waters and the establishment of the Temple: “God has founded [the world] on the seas, and established it on the rivers. Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?” For an Israelite reader, it must have been a commonplace to associate Eden with the sacred center of Jerusalem.
It is striking to note that kings in Mesopotamia often described themselves as great gardeners. One relief from the palace of Ashurbanipal shows a garden built on a mountaintop with irrigation channels crisscrossing its slopes and a number of different flora growing upon its slopes. This calls to mind the garden that God plants in Eden with its abundant flora (Gen 2:9) and the appointment of Adam as its steward (2:15). Given the symbolic lineage between Zion and Eden it is not surprising that recent excavations in Jerusalem have revealed that tremendous care was put into its irrigation systems such that it could be a location of an abundant variety of trees and other ornamental vegetation. The lushness of the Zion was meant to conjure the primordial abundance of Eden.
Striking confirmation of the strong affinities between the Garden of Eden and the Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem can be found in late Biblical and Second Temple literature. In Ezek 47:1–12, the prophet is taken in a vision to the entrance of the Temple. There he is witness to an extraordinary miracle: waters issue from the threshold of the building and begin to make their way out of the city of Jerusalem. As they head toward the region of the Dead Sea and the vast desert that surrounds it, the waters gradually grow in strength and slowly turn this barren desert into a luxuriant garden. On the banks of this river “grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing” (47:12). This return of the wilderness to an Edenic state is picked up by the author of Revelation in the very last chapter of the Christian Bible (Rev 22:1–2). In this vision, all of creation will be returned to the paradisiacal state in which it was made through the mediation of God’s appointed dwelling place in Jerusalem.
 
Bibliography:  Gary A. Anderson. “The Cosmic Mountain: Eden and Its Early Interpretation in Syriac Christianity.” Genesis 1–3 in the History of Exegesis. G. Robbins, ed. (1988) 187–224; Richard J. Clifford. The Cosmic Mountain in Canaan and the Old Testament (1971); Jonas Greenfield. “A Touch of Eden.” Orientalia J. Duchesne-Guillemin emerito oblata (1984) 219–24; Jon Levenson. Sinai and Zion: An Enquiry into the Jewish Bible (1985); Lawrence Stager. “Jerusalem and the Garden of Eden.” EI 26 (1999) 183–94.
 
GARY A. ANDERSON
University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN
 
NIDB, s.v. “EDEN, GARDEN OF  ,” n.p.

Edited by Dan Francis, 06 June 2014 - 06:18 PM.


#20 Ken Simpson

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 07:53 PM

Beeyoootiful!


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