the Bible isn’t boring

John Piper on the Bible

God’s gift to you this year

Jeff Mangum taught out of Psalm 19 last Sunday to complete the two part series on the value of God’s word.

how would it change our daily routine if we really believed what David said in this Psalm about the word of God, (especially the part that I bolded below)?

7(G) The law of the LORD is perfect,[c]
(H) reviving the soul;
(I) the testimony of the LORD is(J) sure,
(K) making wise(L) the simple;
8(M) the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is(N) pure,
(O) enlightening the eyes;
9the fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules[d] of the LORD are(P) true,
and righteous altogether.
10More to be desired are they than(Q) gold,
even much
(R) fine gold;
(S) sweeter also than honey
and drippings of
(T) the honeycomb.
11Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
(U) in keeping them there is great reward.

John Piper has some New Year’s advice for us too.

Give Yourself to the Word

God has a gift for you in 2010. An infinitely valuable gift—his word. Receive it. Hold it fast. Give yourself to it. Amen.

But most of us won’t. why is that?

biblical literacy

Austin Stone Community Church has just had the first week of a short series on the importance of reading the Bible.

I saw somewhere the other day that a slight majority of professing believers doesn’t even have biblical literacy as a goal. Obviously, those folks do not really believe that all scripture has been breathed out by God and is useful … so that we can be complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

yesterday I ran across this fantastic article from David Nienhuis on the problem of evangelical Biblical illiteracy.

here is how he defines Biblical Literacy:

What is biblical literacy? Coming to an agreed-upon definition is itself part of the problem. I think all would agree that, at base, it involves a more detailed understanding of the Bible’s actual content. This requires: (1) schooling in the substance of the entire biblical story in all its literary diversity (not just an assortment of those verses deemed doctrinally relevant); (2) training in the particular “orienteering” skills required to plot that narrative through the actual texts and canonical units of the Bible; and (3) instruction in the complex theological task of interpreting Scripture in light of the tradition of the church and the experience of the saints.

here is his set up of the problem. Go read the rest for more details.

These numbers serve to underscore the now widespread recognition that the Bible continues to hold pride of place as “America’s favorite unopened text” (to borrow David Gibson’s wonderful phrase), even among many Christians. As a professor of New Testament studies at Seattle Pacific University, I know this reality only too well. I often begin my survey of the Christian Scriptures course by asking students to take a short biblical literacy quiz, including questions of the sort mentioned above. The vast majority of my students–around 95 percent of them–are Christians, and half of them typically report that they currently attend nondenominational evangelical churches. Yet the class as a whole consistently averages a score of just over 50 percent, a failing grade. In the most recent survey, only half were able to identify which biblical book begins with the line, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Barely more than half knew where to turn in the Bible to read about the first Passover. Most revealing in my mind is the fact that my students are generally unable to sequence major stories and events from the biblical metanarrative. Only 23 percent were able to order four key events from Israel’s history (Israelites enter the promised land; David is made king; Israel is divided in two; and the people of Judah go into exile), and only 32 percent were able to sequence four similarly important events from the New Testament (Jesus was baptized; Peter denies Jesus; the Spirit descends at Pentecost; and John has a vision on the island of Patmos). These students may know isolated Bible trivia (84 percent knew, for instance, that Jesus was born in Bethlehem), but their struggle to locate key stories, and their general inability to place those stories in the Bible’s larger plotline, betrays a serious lack of intimacy with the text–even though a full 86 percent of them identified the Bible as their primary source for knowledge about God and faith.

uniqueness of the Bible

Paul T. McCain posted this from Ernest Koenker about why reading the Bible is a worthy goal for the new year.

The Bible is not simply an historical account or a literary masterpiece; it is the witness to Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and it presents the Deus loquens, the God who uses the Bible to speak to us today. God Himself works through the means of His grace today just as He worked through the prophetic and apostolic preaching. Today again the good news is proclaimed by a preacher standing in obedience to the Word, and it is heard by a congregation that is also dependent on this Word.— Ernest Koenker, Worship in Word and Sacrament,p. 25.

One thing that becomes crashingly clear when reading the Bible through like a novel is that its unifying theme is God’s passionate pursuit of people. His Word is the window into His nature and character.

PocketBible for iPhone

I have been using Laridian’s PocketBible software on my PDA then phones for a long long time. I used it on my old Handspring Visors, my Treo300 phone, my Treo600, my samsung PPC6500 (windows Mobile), and even on my Windows computer. For powerful Bible software on the go, it has been a dream. Lots of good selections on Bibles and other books to purchase. Very well integrated. just a dream. Love it.

The only drawback to getting an iPhone was losing my PocketBible software. For almost 2 years, I haven’t had it. Other solutions that became available when the Apple App Store became a reality were not nearly as good. The web based subscription that Laridian devised was ok, but not nearly good enough.

(by the way, Logos is the way to go for desktop bible software. I have also been using it for years on Windows and Mac computers. Again user friendly, intuitive, lots of books. Tom Ascol’s review of Logos for Mac is here.)

finally Laridian has released (been approved by the Apple Store) PocketBible for iPhone. I cannot adequately express how happy this makes me. I messed with it for a good long while last night and I can report to you that it is very nicely done. functionality is fairly intuitive. All of the Bibles and books that I had previously purchased were easy to access and download. (I did have some trouble because the Laridian servers were getting hit pretty hard yesterday, but I succeeded in downloading everything to the phone).

I feel like my old friends are back in my shirt pocket where they belong.

anyway, the price is free for the software and some free (noncopyrighted) books. Give it a go. See if you don’t like it.

Laridian press release with link:

PocketBible has been approved for sale on the App Store. Depending on where you live, it might be available already. Search the App Store for PocketBible or try this link.

Of course, PocketBible for the iPhone will work with all of your PocketBible books and Bibles. And here’s the best news — it’s FREE!

Yes, you can download and install PocketBible for no cost on the App Store!

Naturally, you can add additional books and Bibles to your PocketBible library and use them with PocketBible for iPhone. Simply select the Order Form link above. Once you’ve made your purchase, launch PocketBible on your iPhone or iPod touch and select the Menu button, then “Add / Remove Books”. Enter your customer ID (or email address) and password to download books directly into PocketBible!

PocketBible for iPhone requires OS 3, so if you’ve not yet updated your iPhone or iPod Touch to this latest version of the operating system, you may want to do that soon.

another reminder

Here from Justin Taylor is another reminder of the importance of an essentially literal approach to Bible translation. Quoting Robert Alter:

My notion of effective translation of the Bible involves a high degree of literalism–within the limits of reasonably acceptable literary English–both in regard to representing the word choice and the word order of the Hebrew. . . . [T]he precedent of the King James Version has played a decisive and constructive role in directing readers of English to a rather literal experience of the Bible, and . . . this precedence can be ignored only at considerable cost, as nearly all the English versions of the Bible done in recent decades show.

Bible translation tribes

iMonk quotes Scot McKnight’s breakdown of which evangelical tribes prefer which translation of the Bible. Interesting stuff. I don’t know if he meant for it to be amusing, but it kind of is that too.

Scott Mcknight recently came right out and said it: We do translations by tribes:

“NRSV for liberals and Shane Claiborne lovers;
ESV for Reformed complementarian Baptists;
HCSB for LifeWay store buying Southern Baptists;
NIV for complementarian evangelicals;
TNIV for egalitarians;
NASB for those who want straight Bible, forget the English;
NLT for generic brand evangelicals;
Amplified for folks who have no idea what translation is but know that if you try enough words one of them will hit pay dirt;
NKJV and KJV for Byzantine manuscript-tree huggers;
The Message for evangelicals looking for a breath of fresh air and seeker sensitive, never-read-a-commentary evangelists who find Peterson’s prose so catchy.”

I like and use the ESV mainly, but very much like and use the NIV and the HCSB as well.

Never have liked or used the NASB very much. I tried to, but it only gets looked at on hard verses where I want another perspective on the text.

neutral on KJV and NKJV. grew up with them, have verses memorized in KJV and enjoy quoting it, but really don’t use it much.

I actively dislike the NLT, the TNIV and the Message.