1 Samuel Bible Studies

Some time ago, my wife, Koula, and I wrote a series of Bible studies on 1 Samuel. We had in mind small groups within a church, or individuals.

These studies are now available for FREE download from Mountain Street Media.

The download gives you ten studies that work through all of 1 Samuel:

  • Study 1 The blind leading the blind (1 Samuel 1-4)
  • Study 2 Putting God in a box (1 Samuel 5:1-7:14)
  • Study 3 The people’s choice (1 Samuel 7:15-10:27)
  • Study 4 An eye-catching king (1 Samuel 11-12)
  • Study 5 Mishmash at Michmash and dismissal at Gilgal (1 Samuel 13-15)
  • Study 6 The LORD’s choice (1 Samuel 16-17)
  • Study 7 Loyalty and disloyalty amongst the royalty (1 Samuel 18-20)
  • Study 8 Seek and destroy (1 Samuel 21-24)
  • Study 9 Friend or fiend? (1 Samuel 25-27)
  • Study 10 The LORD keeps his word (1 Samuel 28-31)

The studies put 1 Samuel within their canonical context, and also have an eye on how it finds its fulfilment in Christ.

Mountain Street Media also have a few other studies you might like to check out.

BHS: Reader’s Edition—Obadiah Sample (free)

The BHS: Reader’s Edition, which Donald Vance, Yael Avrahami, and I produced (co-published by Hendrickson and the German Bible Society), is being launched officially at the Society of Biblical Literature conference in San Diego next week.

There is now a free sample from the Obadiah section of the Reader available for download. Click HERE to get it.

If you’re at the SBL conference, you can pick up a copy of the Reader for 50% off the normal price. That means you can get a copy at the conference for about US$30 (hardcover) or US$40 (imitation leather).

The Reader is also available for order from Amazon.com and Christianbook.com.

BHS Reader’s Edition

Since 2008, I’ve been working on a Reader’s Edition of BHS (Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia) with Don Vance and Yael Avrahami. With Hendrickson and the German Bible Society we are set to launch the new publication at the upcoming annual congress of the Society of Biblical Literature in San Diego in just a few weeks.

The BHS Reader’s Edition uses the current BHS but replaces the text critical apparatus with a parsing and contextual vocabulary apparatus. It will be available in two formats.

  1. A standard hardcover edition, comparable to the Text Critical edition.
  2. A soft leather bound edition.

Jim West has recently reviewed the work, and included some photos. His verdict:

This is a really lovely book, both in terms of the quality of the physical components and the content of the editorial work.   I recommend it unreservedly.  It far surpasses its competitors in both of the areas just mentioned.

Hardcover

Soft Leather

A page from Zechariah. Photo by Jim West

What Happens at the Lord’s Supper

http://www.biblestudyandthechristianlife.com/lords-supper/I’ve written a short blog piece at Bible Study and the Christian Life on what happens at the Lord’s Supper. It builds off the Last Supper as a redefinition of the Passover, and uses a modern analogy to help us think correctly about it. Note, by definition no analogy is perfect. If it were, it would be the thing to which it’s trying to point. So there are limitations to the analogy I use, but I hope it gets us thinking in the right direction.

Scotland the Brave?

I’m neither a Scot, nor a Brit of any description. I’m an Australian of Greek heritage. So I don’t have a directly vested interest in the outcome of the Scottish referendum on the question of independence from the United Kingdom. And nor do I have the benefit of an insider’s view of the issue.

However, in my admittedly distant opinion, Scottish ‘independence’ is a brave move—too brave, actually.

Scotland already is independent! It is a constituent member of a united kingdom of countries and territories—a free society. The referendum is not so much about independence as secession: going it alone. Very much alone!

The pluses of remaining in the Union seem far greater than the negatives. Nationalism shouldn’t outweigh the heavy benefits of momentous cooperation.

I fear that if Scots choose to pick up their ball and go home with it, they will be the ones to suffer. It will be largely game over! Scotland will become exactly what their name translates to in Greek: Σκοτία—darkness.

This will not be a Braveheart moment, but more likely a foolhardy faux pas, from which it will be difficult to recover.

I think of Lady Macbeth’s words, when it dawns on her that finally getting what she always wanted isn’t really be all it’s cut out to be:

Nought’s had, all’s spent,
Where our desire is got without content;
‘Tis safer to be that which we destroy
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.

(Macbeth, Act III, Scene 2, l.4–7)

I don’t think secession will ultimately make Scots content. I could be wrong on this—after all, I’m not a Scot and have never dwelt in Scotland. But the view from here certainly looks doubtful and dim.

So, Scotland, from a friendly neighbour Downunder: Don’t do it! Yes, England has bullied you in the past, but let bygones be bygones. You’ve got it good now. Why do you want to start all over again? The concept of the nation-state is dying a slow death in this global community, so don’t opt for a sickly existence in quarantine. Stick with the healthy. You already have your own football league and (theoretically anyway) you can still win the World Cup! So please stick with the premier league of nations.

Don’t do it, Scotland! Don’t do it!

Buried Coins: Parable of the Talents

I’ve written a blog post for Bible Study and the Christian Life that looks at how a recent archaeological find sheds light on Jesus’ Parable of the Talents. It turns out that the parable is not primarily about business or investment.

Check it out HERE.

A hoard of bronze coins dating to AD 70, discovered by the Jerusalem–Tel Aviv Highway. © Vladimir Niihin. Israel Antiquities Authority

Robin Williams and Depression

News came today of the premature passing of acting genius, Robin Williams. Many who’ve been entertained and even mesmerised by his stunning artistic skills will mourn his death. And no doubt his family are distraught.

It’s no secret that Williams suffered from severe depression. Unfortunately, it seems to have played a significant role in his early death.

Depression is a sinister illness. It is not a character flaw. No one wills depression on themselves anymore than anyone wills a disability on themselves. It’s easy for those of us who don’t suffer clinical depression not to grasp just how awful and debilitating depression can be. Its invisibility and lack of external physical symptoms, however, make it no less an illness.

Depression lies to those who suffer from it. As humans, our feelings are our natural innate emotional responses to external influences. They are hard to control, because they are reflex responses.

For those of us who don’t suffer clinical depression, our feelings work with normal reflexes and help us adapt appropriately to circumstances. We feel happy in favourable circumstances, and angry in unjust circumstances. We feel sad at bad news, which is a normal kind of depression. But we also tend to feel better when things change or time passes. We bruise normally, and we heal normally.

Yet for those of us who do suffer clinical depression, the bruising runs deeper, and it doesn’t heal normally. The feelings fall out of alignment with reality and don’t respond positively when things change. This means the feelings actually begin lying to us about how things really are. Usually this produces a profound bleakness, but sometimes it can be an undue euphoria. In either case, since feelings are emotional reflexes, one can’t simply snap out of it. And so the vicious cycle continues.

This makes life very difficult, and often things appear very dark. Trying to function in the midst of depression is like trying to run uphill on blistered feet while pulling a fridge behind you. Others can’t see the blisters or the fridge, so things probably appear normal to them. But the weight of depression is still very much there.

Those of us who don’t suffer depression need to understand better that depression is neither a sin nor a fault. And nor is it a fake illness. Its invisibility makes it no less real.

Depression is an illness that requires treatment, patience, compassion, and care. Those who suffer don’t always need to have their problems solved. Most of the time they just need to be heard, understood, and encouraged. They need to know that things are not hopeless. That they do have options. That they are appreciated and valued for the person they are now, and not just the person they are when not depressed. That although things can fluctuate, and depression may well come again, there are still benefits in persevering and seeking help. That they are not alone. That you will sit with them through the darkness.

In calling us to love our neighbour as ourselves, Jesus urges us to focus on people as people. To bear each other’s burdens, as he bore ours. To go the extra mile, even as he went from heaven to hell. To treat the ill as we would treat him. To seek to serve rather than seek to be served. To be light and life in the midst of darkness and death.

There are no easy cures or answers to depression. If only those of us who suffered could simply flip a switch and turn it off! Alas, that’s not how reality is. Feelings lie to those of us who suffer depression. Those of us who don’t suffer shouldn’t believe the lie that ‘it can’t be that bad’.

Let’s all be real about depression.

Robin Williams’ death is a tragic reminder of just how awful this illness is. Hopefully his passing brings greater awareness and understanding. Depression is just one of those things that makes us long for the age to come. In the meantime, let’s be Christlike to those in need.

Vale Robin Williams.