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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Lorin's Musings: BIC Update 3

Update 3 on BIC commentary page at Although some finishing revisions on hyperlinks etc. still remain, at long last I have been able to convert the Greek grammar LEARNING BIBLICAL KOINE GREEK to a fully formatted Internet version. This was the grammar used in teaching the first two years of biblical Greek at Gardner-Webb University. Now it is available free of charge and in a revised format as volume 35 of the BIC commentary series. The updating of the remaining hyperlinks inside the PDF and HTML files will take place over the coming weeks. Additionally, the PPP files are being converted over to use the Unicode Greek font system that saves having to download and install a special set of Greek fonts

One additional new addition is the embedding of a set of SHARE buttons on both the home page and also the BIC home page. This will facilitate easy sharing of these web URLs with others via a variety of options. Figuring out the programing of this was indeed a 'fun time' for me. But it did help me dust off a lot of the cob webs on my writing of html code.

BIC Update 2

Progress continues on the revision of the BIC commentary page at Now the section on the Gospels, Acts, and the letters of Paul have been completely updated. The current format is more flexible and should boot up okay in smart devices with smaller screens. Both Bible studies / sermons and scripture study supplementary tools are included now.

The next challenge is completing the other pages inside the commentary. This revision will continue over the next few weeks and should be completed by the end of June (2015).

Saturday, May 23, 2015

BIC update

Updating work on continues on the commentary series at The sections on the LIFE AND MINISTRY OF CHRIST, the four gospels, and ACTS are now updated to contain hyperlinks on all related materials presently posted at The format of these pages has evolved hopefully into an easier to follow structure.

Suggestions for format improvement are gladly welcomed at

The goal is to complete the updating of the BIC page over the coming weeks. Then intensive research and writing on the Paul project will pick back up and be completed by the end of the summer.The background commentary is approaching 1,000 pages with about 300 left before its completion.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Finding decent commentaries

My actual retirement years (2010-present) have provided me with a lot more time to do research and writing of commentary materials on the New Testament. With a Logos digital library now approaching 19,000 volumes, the depth of secondary resources is gradually reaching a level where serious analysis of these resources becomes adequate.

But here is where the frustration sets in big time. When working through a scripture text, typically I have between 50 and 100 commentaries available to me on a text that reflect the full range of viewpoints in English, German, French, and Spanish. But repeatedly, I find the vast majority of them to be of little legitimate use. Commentary writers, even though having a scholarly reputation, are often just dumb! They often are ignorant of the fine points of ancient Koine Greek, and especially in comparison to the classical Attic Greek background. Add knowledge of Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic, except that the majority don't seem to know how to do that. Generally the European writers are better at their language skills.

Especially frustrating is the woeful ignorance of a first century Latin, Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic mindset! The world of Paul did not think like moderns. It didn't often think like the limited Aramaic/Hebrew world of Jesus in Palestine. I can't imagine a legitimate understanding of the NT without a thorough grasping of these very different first century mindsets. And the Latin mindset of the Romans needs to be included in this mixture. Language is a key to a culturally conditioned thought world, but thorough knowledge of the language is absolutely essential to penetrating into that ancient thought world. It cannot be done based on translations. One is delusional to think that he can do it without the language skills.

And what really ticks me off is the abysmal ignorance of literary writing strategies in these first century thought worlds. Skill here requires thorough mastery of not just how the writers of the first century put their ideas together, but an equal mastery of modern literary strategies in the languages of the modern western world. Interpretation is the building of connective bridges between these two worlds. You have to know both to build real bridges!

Closely linked to this ignorance is the deeply inadequate knowledge of the social history of the first century. I'm not talking about formal history, although especially among more conservative commentators I often run into a fantasy reconstruction of even the formal history of the first century. Or, else ignorance of how to properly use history in biblical interpretation. The most common blunder is the making of broad generalized statements completely overlooking the huge diversity  of thinking across the Mediterranean world of the first century. Most conservatives would be highly offended at the idea that the religious thinking of the American KKK typifies all conservative religious thought. But these kinds of statements often surface in commentaries about the first century world.

But the ignorance of social history is more appalling. By that, I mean the history of social interactions between groups, individuals, and groups to individuals etc. The pages of the NT are literary soaked with such social history reflecting Greco-Roman and Jewish values and customs. And the diversity among just ancient Jews is enormous as well, e.g., Hellenistic Jews over against Hebraistic Jews.

In spite of these frustrations, a few bright lights are present among the maze of commentary writers. And a goodly number of them are evangelical, although mostly British rather than American. Writers like Aune, Theisen etc. have paid the price linguistically, literary wise, and historically to be able to plow deeply into the text for the richer meanings that it contains. The one consistent problem is that these tend to come up short when attempting to interpret that meaning over into a contemporary world.  Modern agendas -- denominational, theological etc.-- all too often get in their way.

In teaching the PhD seminar on Critical Methodology at SWBTS years ago, the one theme that I sought to instill into the thinking of these students was to think holistically. No interpretive method is adequate if it becomes lopsided in over emphasizing one angle of the text to the neglect of the other. And all angles must be considered in legitimate interpretation.

To the young, aspiring theologs out there, my appeal is passionate: Pay the price to learn all these different, often difficult skills. And just as importantly, learn how to bundle them together in a holistic approach to the text. You can't imagine how much is actually present in the sacred scripture text for those willing to pay the price. And the folks in the pew are drying up spiritually from sermons with little true scriptural foundation under them.

Here is one critically important way to reverse the decline in American Christianity. A true "Back to the Bible" emphasis where studying it seriously becomes exciting and life changing.   

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Getting Old

Getting old proves to really be challenging at times. This is happening to me more and more at 73+ years of age.

The primary challenge for someone who has been very active all of my life is the increasing limitations on what I can do. But reality cannot be brushed away as though it doesn't exist. One's body won't let the mind get away with such delusion.

For me, this spring has posed two of the bigger obstacles. Declining health has forced me to give up teaching a SS class at our church here in Costa Rica. I've been privileged to lead this class of adults almost the entire time that we've been here since Sept. 2010. I though at first that letting go of this responsibility would give me time and energy to then devote to the weekly Bible study group that meets at our home each Wednesday. But this has proven to be wrong thinking. Consequently the final meeting of this group at our home will be this coming Wednesday morning, May 20. Thus for the first time in my entire adult life I will not be teaching or preaching to a group of people on a regular basis since the middle 1960s.

Humanly speaking these pose huge threats to me. But in praying my way through all of this, the Lord has granted a wonderful sense of peace about everything. I know out of my family heritage from both my father and grandfather that I must have something constructive and productive to do if my earthly life is to continue on.

For several decades, my prayer has been that God would enable me to enjoy an active and productive retirement with serving Him through serving others at the center. Thus far He has seen fit to answer that prayer in the affirmative in so many ways that I could never have anticipated.

What seems now to be the continuation of that answer to prayer is found in my web site, What was begun in 1998 as a learning aid for my students at Gardner-Webb University has evolved into a global ministry for providing Bible study materials free of cost. Over the past several weeks some 250 people average coming into seeking such materials each week. There are so many projects not yet completed that enough work remains to keep me busy for quite some time to come. Increasingly the health limitations push me to focus more and more attention on research and writing Bible studies for the Biblical Insights Commentary series at

As Claire and I begin completing the plans to move to the Texas Baptist Retirement Center in San Angelo, Texas at the end of the year, my spare time will be devoted to cranfordville. For this I give God profound thanksgiving!