Category: Product Reviews

ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible

Posted by on 11/01/2017 in: ,

This week is the week for new titles. Our second release of the week is the ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible! Some very well-seasoned. and well-respected, theologians put together this study Bible: J.I. Packer, Michael Horton, Kelly Kapic, Michael Reeves, David Wells, and more. We have the full list of contributors on our website.

Since this is a brand-new release, we figured you might want to take a peek inside. In this blog you’ll learn about systematic theology, how this study Bible is put together, and how it works inside our app.

WHAT IS SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY?

Theology is the study of the nature of God and religious belief. There are two popular ways to study and write about theology, though: biblical and systematic. What’s the difference?

Biblical Theology is a ground-level approach. Scholars who write biblical theologies go verse-by-verse looking for themes and characteristics. When these findings are documented, authors will spend a lot of time explaining a passage and then make theological statements.

Systematic Theology is an eagle’s-eye approach. Imagine yourself up-high, looking across the whole landscape of the Bible, discovering theological connections across the entire book. When these findings are documented, authors write extensively about one theological tenet. Then, they use several verse references as their proof.

The ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible applies thoughts on core, theological topics to specific passages—making it a great resource for getting both a ground-level and eagle’s-eye perspective on Scripture.

SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY + STUDY BIBLE

Study Bible notes fall into one of ten categories: the attributes of God, revelation, mankind, sin, Jesus Christ, salvation, the Holy Spirit, church life, the Christian life, and the end times. The information will emphasize the historic doctrines of the Christian faith, while also respecting different views on secondary issues such as baptism, spiritual gifts, and details concerning last things.

In these notes, there are cross-references. These will point you to other study notes that address similar themes. This is done so that you learn to see a holistic account of the Christian faith, drawn from the entirety of Scripture. Additionally, there are 28 separate articles that succinctly explain the main tenets of the faith, expanding on the content of these study notes.

Lastly, this resource comes with two indexes. You can look through a canonical list which outlines every study note in the order it appears in the Bible. Within the app, you’ll be able to simply tap on this reference, and you’ll be taken straight to the entry. The second index is topical. If there is a theological topic you would like more information on, search through this alphabetical list. You’ll be shown the verse reference where Scripture and the study notes address this topic.

SEE FOR YOURSELF

If you’d like to read the above snippet, just tap or click on the image and it will be enlarged for you.

In Titus 3:4-6, all three persons of the Trinity are mentioned, and I underlined them in my reading. The ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible notes not only explain the relationship between the three, but gave me an understanding of how they are working together in this passage. If I tap the references there on the side, the split-window immediately takes me other entries on God’s triune nature.

I also found more information on this topic by going to the articles and choosing the one titled “God.” Here there is a lot of helpful information about God’s attributes with links to Scripture references.

LEARN MORE

What makes this study Bible useful? It gives you clarity on the attributes of God and Christian faith that are echoed across the pages of the Bible—without flipping a page. As always, this resource works in our Resource Guide, letting you know when a passage you are reading (in any translation!) is discussed in this title. It’s all right there, ready for you to read, no matter where you are.

If you’re interested in growing in your understanding of God’s characteristics and the theological themes of the Bible, check out the ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible.

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A Reformed, Christ-Centered Commentary

Posted by on 10/27/2017 in: ,

With the 500th anniversary of the Reformation next week, we’ve been looking for helpful resources for our Reformed folk—and we found one that we think some of you will enjoy greatly. The Reformed Expository Commentary Series is edited by Richard Phillips and and Phillip Ryken: two Reformed pastors dedicated to Christ-centered preaching paired with a vigorously Reformed doctrinal stance.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

Phillips and Ryken were both proteges of James Montogomery Boice. Sound familiar? Not too long ago we had the Boice Expositional Commentary Series on sale. Boice’s commentary set contains 27 volumes—that man knew how to write!

So, when Phillips and Ryken decided to produce their own commentary set, it was very important to them that they didn’t simply copy Boice. They wanted to make sure that their resource would be fulfilling a need.

A COMMENTARY THAT ANSWERS A NEED (OR 3)

Here are three needs that Phillips and Ryken want to fill:

1. There a few commentaries that extend from exegesis into exposition (answering technical questions while also applying the passage)
  • But this commentary set proclaims, explains, and applies the whole text within each set—perfect for sermons and Bible lessons
  • It also includes information on exegesis, text criticism, theology, and historical studies, but it shares the information in a way that can be used directly in a sermon
2. There are even fewer commentaries that teach a Christ-centered message that reflects Reformed doctrinal stances
  • But this commentary is consistently using a Christ-centered message is every passage of Scripture
  • And it is also staunchly Reformed, relying on the Westminster Confessions heavily
3. And lastly, barely any commentaries give real examples of their teaching being used in the pulpit
  • But this commentary organized as transcripts of sermons used by the authors—they were required to preach anything they included in this set!
  • And the information is so applicable, that even the editors continue to use this resource for their daily devotions

Most of this information was gathered from an interview conducted by Tim Challies, which can be viewed here.

BUT HOW DOES IT WORK?

First, we have to let you know that this resource works with the Resource Guide. If you’re in a passage of the Bible that this commentary references, our app will let you know. Just tap on “Reformed Expository Commentary” to access the information in the split-window.

Here’s what I found! The beginning of this sermon starts with an attention-getter, referencing The Lord of the Rings (automatic bonus points!). Then, it transitions into explaining how we can believe the miracles presented in the Bible and an explanation of the passage. Click on the images to see them enlarged.

LEARN MORE

Interested in Reformed theology, sermons, and Christ-centered teaching? Learn more about the The Reformed Expository Commentary Series by visiting our website.

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10 Literary Features of the Bible

Posted by on 10/17/2017 in: ,

The following content can be found in the introduction notes of the ESV Literary Study Bible.

The Bible is not a totally unique book. In general, its literary forms function in the same way that these forms function beyond the Bible. A story is a story, whether in the Bible or beyond it. A metaphor is a metaphor. Nonetheless, it is possible to make generalizations about characteristic literary features of the Bible, with no implication that these features do not exist elsewhere. Below are ten literary qualities or preferred literary techniques that we often find in the Bible.

1. A UNIFYING STORYLINE

Although the overall genre of the Bible is the anthology of individual books and passages, the Bible possesses a unity far beyond that of other literary anthologies. The technical term for a unifying superstructure such as we find in the Bible is metanarrative (big or overarching story). In the Bible, the metanarrative is the story of salvation history—the events by which God worked out his plan to redeem humanity and the creation after they fell from original innocence. This story of salvation history is Christocentric in the sense that it focuses ultimately on the substitutionary sacrifice and atonement of Christ on the cross and his resurrection from death. The unifying story line of the Bible is a U-shaped story that moves from the creation of a perfect world, through the fall of that world into sin, then through fallen human history as it slowly and painfully makes its way toward consummation and arrives at the final destruction of evil and the eternal triumph of good.

2. THE PRESENCE OF A CENTRAL CHARACTER

All stories have a central character or protagonist, and in the overarching story of the Bible God is the protagonist. He is the unifying presence from the beginning of the Bible to the end. All creatures interact with this central and ultimate being. All events are related to him. The story of human history unfolds within the broader story of what God does. The result is a sense of ultimacy that comes through as we read the pages of the Bible.

3. RELIGIOUS ORIENTATION

The subject of literature is human experience, and this is true of the Bible, too, but a distinctive feature of the Bible is that it overwhelmingly presents human experience in a religious and moral light. Events that other writers might treat in a purely human and natural light—a sunrise, a battle, a birth, a journey—are presented by the authors of the Bible within a moral or spiritual framework. Part of this moral and spiritual framework is the assumption of the biblical authors that a great conflict between good and evil is going on in our world and, further, that people are continually confronted with the need to choose between good and evil, between working for God’s kingdom and going against God.

4. VARIETY OF GENRES AND STYLES

Every literary anthology of the Bible’s magnitude displays a range of literary forms, but the Bible’s range may well top them all. We need to be alert to this, because the religious uses to which we put the Bible can easily lull us into assuming that the Bible is all one type of writing. The list of individual forms, if we include such specific motifs as the homecoming story or trickster or love poem, keeps expanding. The variety that we find in the Bible stems partly from the large categories that converge—history, theology, and literature, for example, or prose and poetry, realism and fantasy, past and future, God and people.

5. PREFERENCE OF THE CONCRETE OVER THE ABSTRACT

While the New Testament contains a great deal of theological writing, the general preference of biblical authors is for concrete vocabulary. This is especially true of the Hebrew language of the Old Testament. In the Bible, God is portrayed as light and rock and thunder. Slander is a sharp knife. Living the godly life is like putting on a garment or suit of armor. Heaven is a landscape of jewels. To read the Bible well, we need to read with the “right side” of the brain—the part that is activated by sensory data.

6. REALISM

The prophetic and apocalyptic parts of the Bible give us a steady diet of fantasy (flying scrolls, for example, and red horses), but the general tendency of the Bible is toward everyday realism. The Bible displays the flaws of even its best characters (Oliver Cromwell famously said that the biblical writers paint their characters “warts and all”). Although the Bible does not delineate the sordid experiences of life in the extreme detail that modern literary realism does, it nonetheless covers the same real experiences, such as violence, murder, sexuality, death, suffering, and famine. Of course the Bible differs from modern realism by showing us that there is a realism of grace as well as a realism of carnality. In other words, the Bible is not content to portray the degradation of a world that has fallen into sin without also portraying the redemptive possibilities of a world that has been visited by the grace of God and is destined for glory.

7. SIMPLICITY

Although the Bible is certainly not devoid of examples of the high style, especially in the poetic parts, its overall orientation is toward the simple. The prevailing narrative style is plain, unembellished, matter-of-fact prose. Shakespeare’s vocabulary is approximately twenty thousand words, Milton’s thirteen thousand, and English translations of the Bible six thousand. Biblical writers often work with such simplified dichotomies as good and evil, light and darkness, heroes and villains. Of course there is a simplicity that diminishes and a simplicity that enlarges. The simplicity of the Bible paradoxically produces an effect of majesty and authority.

8. ELEMENTAL QUALITY

The Bible is a book of universal human experience. It is filled with experiences and images that are the common human lot in all places and times. The Bible embraces the commonplace and repeatedly shows ordinary people engaged in the customary activities of life—planting, building, baking, fighting, worrying, celebrating, praying. The world that biblical characters inhabit is likewise stripped and elemental, consisting of such natural settings as day and night, field and desert, sky and earth. Even occupations have an elemental quality—king, priest, shepherd, homemaker, missionary.

9. ORAL STYLE

Even though the Bible that we read is a written book, in its original form much of it existed orally. This is true because ancient cultures were predominantly oral cultures in which information circulated chiefly by word of mouth. The literary forms of the Bible show this rootedness in an oral culture. The prevalence of dialogue (directly quoted speeches) in the Bible is without parallel in literature generally until we come to the novel. Everywhere we turn in the Bible, we hear voices speaking and replying. The spare, unembellished narrative style of the Bible arises from the situation of oral circulation of the stories. Additionally, many of the nonnarrative parts of the Bible show signs of oral speech—the prophetic discourses and oracles, the psalms (which were sung in temple worship), the epistles (which were read aloud in churches), and the Gospels (where the words of Jesus are a leading ingredient).

10. THE LITERATURE OF CONFRONTATION

When we read Shakespeare or Dickens, we find ourselves moved to agreement or disagreement, but we do not ordinarily feel that we have been confronted by someone or something that requires us to make a choice. By contrast, when we assimilate the Bible we feel as though we have been personally confronted with something that requires a response. While this choice is ultimately for or against God, the ideas of the Bible, too, require us to believe or disbelieve them. The Bible displays a vivid consciousness of values—of the difference between good and evil—with the result that it is virtually impossible to remain neutral about the ideas that confront us as we read the Bible.

LEARN MORE

Interested in learning more about the literary aspects of the Bible? Check out this resource in our store: The ESV Literary Study Bible! In fact, the content of this blog post comes straight from the introduction of this resource.

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Learn to Read Books of the Bible as Books

Posted by on 10/16/2017 in: ,

APPROACHING THE BIBLE AS LITERATURE

There’s no doubt you’ve realized that the Bible is a book, but have you ever thought about what that means? If you took a literature class is high school or college, you may remember that there’s a lot more to studying books than simply reading them. There’s a storyline, plot, characters, themes, motifs, genre and literary devices. Sometimes, the author’s intentions are easy to understand. And sometimes, the author’s intentions lie deep beneath the surface. Just like reading Shakespeare or Nathaniel Hawthorne, if we hope to understand the Bible, we have to understand how and why it was written.

But what will you gain by approaching the Bible as literature? First, you will be able to see the Bible as a metanarrative (a fancy word that means “one big story”). It’s incredibly neat to see patterns throughout not only books of the Bible, but the Bible itself. Secondly, you will be able to better understand and apply some of the more confusing books of the Bible—like Ecclesiastes.

WHAT RESOURCES DO I USE?

There are so many different ways to study the Bible, and it can be hard to know which resources will give you the information you want. Some study Bibles and commentaries are more vague, providing you with an array of different types of information. But recently we were able to add the ESV Literary Study Bible to our store—and it is the perfect resource for solving this problem.

READING THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES AS… A BOOK

Before you start reading Ecclesiastes, it’s probably good to get some background. The ESV Literary Study Bible loads their introduction notes with helpful information to get you ready. It covers the basics (such as format, patterns, rhetoric, and genres), but it also gives you a heads-up on some inferred literary intentions and theological themes.

One of the most helpful sections is called: “Ecclesiastes as a chapter in the master story of the Bible.” This resource always tries to teach you how each book of the Bible fits into the whole Bible. Here’s a snippet of what it shares:

“The book of Ecclesiastes has been called a Christ-shaped vacuum. Its contribution to the story line of the Bible is to record the longing of the human soul to find satisfaction and to point us toward the satisfaction of that longing in a Christ-centered experience of life. Jesus is the meaning of life, and if he is not at the center of our daily experience, we will find only futility and frustration.”

The Futile Quest to Find Meaning in Pleasure

Now, we’ll look at two examples of how this resource teaches you to read the Bible as literature and apply it to your life. Under this heading, you’ll find information on Ecclesiastes 2:1-11. In this passage, Solomon is telling his listeners about all the items he acquired in his search for pleasure. Because of his wealth, he was able to have anything he desired and yet, in the end, it was useless to him.

The study notes are helpful in revealing what is being communicated and how it applies to us:

 “The passage gives us a catalog of acquisitions and attempted avenues of pleasure. Even as we observe a courtly version of the acquisitive lifestyle, it is easy for us to see real-life applications: a fancy house and yard (vv. 5–6); possessions (v. 7); money, entertainment, and sex (v. 8). The passage asserts the paradox of hedonism: the more one searches for pleasure, the less of it one finds.

The World’s Most Famous Poem on the Subject of Time

In this section, the ESV Literary Study Bible covers the famous poem on time (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, “a time to be born, and a time to die…”). Poetry definitely requires more literary analysis in order to understand. Here’s what the resource shares on this section of Scripture:

The poem illustrates the haunting and cumulative effect of Hebrew poetry: by the time we finish the poem, we are emotionally convinced that there is, indeed, a time for everything. In terms of the rhythm of the book of Ecclesiastes, the poem is positive in mood: within the given that we cannot control the events of life, the poem (a) implies that life is as much good as bad, (b) embodies a spirit of calm resignation rather than protest in regard to the time-bound nature of human life, (c) affirms an order to human life, and (d) asserts the positive theme of timeliness (if we cannot control time, we can plug into its flow).

LEARN MORE

If you’re using these notes and you come across a term you don’t know—that’s okay! Many of the literary devices are hyperlinked to a glossary. Also, all of the verses are hyperlinked for easy study.

Want to starting reading books of the Bible as literature? Check out the ESV Literary Study Bible.

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The John Phillips Commentary Series

Posted by on 10/07/2017 in: ,

1) WHO WAS JOHN PHILLIPS?

Phillips was born in South Wales on February 11, 1927. He didn’t stay put there, however. He served in the British Army in Palestine, then moved to Canada, married the love of his life, and then found himself in the United States. For years he worked at Moody Bible Institute, serving as the Assistant Director of their Evening Extension School. Additionally, he directed the Emmaus Correspondence School, which was, at the time, the largest school of its kind in the world.

With this Doctor of Ministry, Phillips not only taught and organized academic study of God’s Word, but he wrote more than 50 books about the Bible, including complete sets of New Testament Commentaries, the Exploring the Bible Series and his Introducing People of the Bible Series

This man was a dedicated, hard worker who strived to teach others about God and His Word.

2) WHAT IS HIS COMMENTARY LIKE?

Currently, Olive Tree offers Phillips commentary collection that contains 27 volumes: 19 New Testament volumes and 8 Old Testament volumes. You can see the entire list by visiting our website.

Phillips uses the KJV translation of the Bible for all of his work, and speaks from an evangelical framework. He provides many illustrations and quotes, often applying the Bible to everyday life.

But what’s the best part of this resource?

The OUTLINES! Phillips made sure to make extensive outlines before he wrote content for his commentary. Here’s an example:

Not only does he break down large pieces of Scripture into shorter, easier-to-understand sections, but he works out of this structure through the entire commentary set. You’ll find Phillips thoughts and comments recorded in conversational sentences that make you feel as if you’re studying the Bible alongside him.

LEARN MORE

Wondering how commentaries work in the app, what books of the Bible are included in this set, or just want more information? Visit the the John Phillips Commentary Set’s product page for all that and more.

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A Little Research on the Hermeneia Commentary Series

Posted by on 09/27/2017 in: ,

Hermeneia is a Greek word, referring to a detailed, systematic exposition of scriptural work—a word entirely fitting for the title of a commentary series.

But what makes the Hermeneia Commentary Series different than any other commentary series? It might be difficult to discern. A quick search for the resource on the internet reveals a publisher-created description that might leave you with more questions than answers.

So, what’s the first step in deciding whether a commentary may be right for you? Check out the authors.

WHO WROTE HERMENEIA

This series has two main editors, one over-seeing the Old Testament contributions and the other over-seeing the New Testament.

Peter Machinist – Head of the Old Testament Editorial Board

Peter completed his undergraduate program at Harvard and then went to Yale, where he finished an MPhil and PhD. He then taught at several universities—Arizona, Michigan, and Munich to name a few. Then, in 1991, he returned to Harvard to teach in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, the Committee on the Study of Religions, and the Harvard Divinity School.

He recently retired at the beginning of 2017, and is now the Hancock Research Professor of Hebrew and Other Oriental Languages. However, he continues to be vastly interested in the cultural, intellectual, and social history of the ancient Near East—the primary reason he led the Old Testament Editorial Board for the Hermeneia Commentary.

Helmut Koester – Head of the New Testament Editorial Board

Helmut was a German-born, American scholar who sadly passed away at the beginning of 2016. He received several large degrees from the University of Marburg, University of Geneva, and Humboldt University of Berlin. Additionally, he was an ordained minister of the Lutheran Church.

Helmut spent his life fascinated by New Testament interpretation, the history of early Christianity, and archaeology. This led him to his final career as the John H. Morison Research Professor of Divinity and Winn Research Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard.

WHY READ HERMENEIA

Based on the bios of the two authors, it’s evident that these men are fascinated with history. This commentary series isn’t going to be application-heavy or relying on tradition. Instead, these men most likely come to the Biblical text like an ancient artifact that needs de-coding. That’s why, in the publisher’s description, there is this caveat:

“The editors of Hermeneia impose no systematic-theological perspective upon the series (directly, or indirectly by selection of authors). Its authors lay bare the ancient meaning of a biblical work or pericope.”

Instead of coming to the text with tradition and theology in mind, Hermeneia looks to the historical context first, and rather strictly. Additionally, the scholars invited to write for this publication come from a variety of cultural and theological backgrounds. That’s a very purposeful decision. Hermenia doesn’t want to portray a certain theological or cultural bent.

This is typical of a more liberal and post-modern approach to hermeneutics, fitting for these authors because Harvard Divinity School holds to a more liberal school of thought.

LEARN MORE

If you’d like to learn more about the individuals who put together this commentary, head on over to their publisher’s website. That’s how I gathered research for this blog! You can really Google anyone these days.

Then, if you’re interested in seeing all the Hermeneia commentaries that we offer, check out this page of our website.

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10 Books to Start Your Bible Education

Posted by on 08/18/2017 in: ,

1) The Moody Bible Commentary

This single-volume commentary is perfect for the beginner Bible student. It is exclusively composed by faculty at Moody Bible Institute, which has been rigorously teaching God’s Word since 1886. Walk through the entire Bible with insights from well-respected professors, learning the historical basics of each book while referencing helpful charts and biographies. The Moody Bible Commentary will help you better understand and apply God’s written revelation to all of life!

2) Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary

As you dig deeper into God’s Word, you may not know the definitions of some of the trickier terminology. That’s why Bible Dictionaries are helpful! Select words straight from your Bible text, and Nelson’s provides helpful definitions, facts, and maps to help further your understanding. Also, Nelson’s comes with a Visual Survey of the Bible, providing easy-to-understand depictions of historical events.

3) NIV Word Study Bible with G/K and Strong’s Numbers

Word Study Bibles give a complete index of a word, listing everywhere it can be found in the Bible. This is helpful when wanting to understand a word or topic in a more holistic way. What makes our version of this Bible unique is that it is packaged with a Strong’s concordance, also providing you with the Greek or Hebrew word and its definition. Prefer a different translation? We have multiple versions of our Strong’s Tagged Bibles!

4) God is Love

What’s the difference between a commentary and a systematic theology? While a commentary goes verse-by-verse, systematic theologies trace and define who God is and who we are throughout the Bible. Bray’s book is great for a beginner because of its conversational nature and structure. Instead of tackling massive theological quandaries, Bray finds different ways to incorporate theological distinctions inside one important topic: God’s love. Nervous about studying theology? Check out #8 in this list!

5) Greg Laurie 15 Volume Collection

Greg Laurie is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, CA. At age 19 he began his ministry by leading a Bible study of 30 people. Now, Harvest is one of the largest churches in America. This collection contains 15 of Laurie’s books, including Married. Happily., Dealing with Giants, Following Jesus in a Modern World, and more. Biblical education isn’t just about academics, but also about spiritual growth and learning to apply God’s Word to your life.

6) Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol I & II

John Calvin was an influential French theologian, pastor and reformer during the Protestant Reformation. In the Biblical-academic world, everyone knows his name. Although reading his Institutes is a challenge, they are some of the most significant Christian theological texts in history. This specific translation preserves the rugged strength and vividness of Calvin’s writing, but also conforms to modern English and renders heavy theological terms in simple language.

7) Apologetics for the Twenty-first Century

Apologetics–making a defense for the faith. Louis Markos walks through the history of Apologetics, following figures such as C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Francis Schaeffer, Josh McDowell and more. Then he teaches you how to think logically, making your own arguments for the existence of God, the historical Jesus, and confronting post-modernism.

8) A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology

Theology happens whenever we read, think, hear or say anything about God. This short books gives an introduction to the relevance of theology and the skills, attitudes and spiritual practices needed by those who take up the discipline. As you begin to pursue a Biblical education, lay the ground work properly. This book by Kelly Kapic is definitely a great start.

9) Visual Theology

This book is incredibly unique. With beautiful illustrations and flowcharts, you can learn theology easily from your device—but only with the Olive Tree Bible App. We are the only company offering this title in a digital format! For the budding theologian, this is a very helpful tool in wrapping your mind around the complexities of theology. Visit our webpage listing of this product for a chance to look inside!

10) Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith

Not only is this book incredibly informative, it is an enjoyable read. Reeves gives understanding to the most important characteristic of our God: His triune nature. This concept is incredibly difficult (and rather impossible, actually) to wrap our minds around. Yet, it is the crux of what separates our God from other gods–it is what makes salvation possible.

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5 Books for Spiritual Growth

Posted by on 08/07/2017 in: ,

SPIRITUAL GROWTH BUNDLE (27 VOLS.)

Our Spiritual Growth Bundle includes four Bible translations, five devotionals, and an array of books on spiritual growth. A few of those titles are The Power of Prayer, An Appeal to All That Doubt, and Holy in Christ. This is being discounted an incredible 81% for our Back to School sale, so we HAD to highlight it. All the titles included in this set are listed on our website, so follow the link above to learn more. ORIGINALLY: $102.74 | NOW: $19.99

GREG LAURIE COLLECTION (15 VOLS.)

Greg Laurie is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, CA. At age 19 he began his ministry by leading a Bible study of 30 people. Now, Harvest is one of the largest churches in America. This collection contains 15 of Laurie’s books, including Married. Happily., Dealing with Giants, Following Jesus in a Modern World, and more. Biblical education isn’t just about academics, but also about spiritual growth and learning to apply God’s Word to your life. ORIGINALLY: $149.85 | NOW: $14.99

PRAYING GOD’S WORD DAY BY DAY

Praying God’s Word is powerful. When you do this, you always know that you are praying His will because it’s His promises! Beth Moore put together this day-by-day format of her best-selling book, Praying God’s Word. Learn to seek the mind of Christ through daily, fervent prayer directly from Scripture. The best part about this book is that there are devotions for one-full year!
ORIGINALLY: $8.99 | NOW: $2.99


A LONG OBEDIENCE IN THE SAME
DIRECTION: DISCIPLESHIP IN AN
INSTANT SOCIETY

As a society, we are no less obsessed with the immediate than when Eugene Peterson first wrote this Christian classic. If anything, social media and the Internet may have intensified our quest for the quick fix. Peterson finds encouragement for modern pilgrims as we learn to grow in worship, service, and joy. This 20th anniversary edition of A Long Obedience in the Same Direction features these Psalms in Peterson’s widely acclaimed paraphrase, The Message. ORIGINALLY: $16.99 | NOW: $9.99

THE DEVOTIONAL BIBLE NOTES: EXPERIENCING THE HEART OF JESUS

Read the Bible and be encouraged by famous author Max Lucado. This study Bible brings together words of encouragement and gentle wisdom, all accessible with just a tap within our Bible app. The Devotional Bible is the perfect refuge for anyone that needs truth and encouragement to hold on to. By following the link above you will also be able to watch a video explaining how this resource works inside our app.
ORIGINALLY: $39.99 | NOW: $14.99



Want to see more deals? Check out our Back to School Sale! Know of any other great books on spiritual growth that should be on this list? Share in a comment below!

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Link Biblical Themes—Thompson Chain Reference Study Bible

Posted by on 07/05/2017 in: ,

Commentaries and study notes are great tools for understanding what the Bible has to say to us today. However, sometimes we forget that scripture itself can help us understand other parts of scripture. God’s inspired Word is a complex tapestry of themes all woven together, and the development of those themes can provide us with insight into the relevant message of the Bible.

Finding the pattern in this tapestry isn’t an easy task, though. I like to use the Thompson Chain Reference Study Bible, which links various themes together as they are touched upon and developed throughout Scripture. It quickly reveals thousands of thematic chains within my Olive Tree Bible App at the touch of my finger. Not only that, but this resource also contains a great study Bible, offering cross references, book outlines, book introductions, maps, and more.

Instead of simply telling you, I’ll show you how easy this tool is to use in five easy steps on my iPad.

1. PICK A PASSAGE

Pull up 1 Samuel chapter 17 up in your Bible, or any other passage you want to study. Your screen may look a bit different than ours depending on what device you’re using and the number of resources you have.

2. OPEN THE RESOURCE

Tap “Thompson Chain Reference” from the resource guide. Your split-window view will change to a list of verses directly related to your location in the Bible.

3. CHOOSE A VERSE

Select the verse you want by tapping on it in the split window. In this example we’ll choose 17:4.

4. PICK A THEME

You can now choose the theme you want to explore in the list under the verse. For example, choosing “1409 Giants” results in the following:

5. READ!

Now it’s as easy as tapping on each verse reference to get a pop-up window. There you can read verses that touch on the same topic. Now you’ve just learned more about giants in the Bible!

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Do You Know about These Two Unique Features of John’s Gospel?

Posted by on 06/16/2017 in:

It has been understood that John’s Gospel is a distinct chronicling of the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth. It’s so unique that biblical scholars have isolated it from the so-called Synoptic gospels. And if you’ve spent any amount of time with the beloved disciple’s gospel you’ve probably sensed its uniqueness, too.

But do you know some of the central features that make it distinct? Edward W. Klink III helpfully explains two such characteristics in his new John commentary (ZECNT), which is currently 50% off on our website.

Building on the pioneering work of C. H. Dodd, who “In the twentieth century … provided the most focused analysis” (53), Klink provides readers an extended introduction to two unique features of John in order to help readers interpret it rightly: dialogues and monologues.

Johannine Dialogues: Functions and Forms

Klink identifies two functions for the dialogues in John’s gospel. First, they serve an important role in developing its broader narrative, where the meaning lies not only in what is said, but in how what’s said moves the plot forward.

The dialogue brings meaning to Jesus’s person and work so that the characters—and therefore the readers—are exhorted to take a particular action, thereby moving the plot along toward it ultimate goal: “that you may believe” (20:31). (54)

Second, the dialogues give meaning and direction to the pericope where they occur. This narrative device serves to offer the necessary material to interpret the more narrow elements of the scenes themselves, as well as move the broader plot forward.

Such insights into the function of a dialogue provide lenses with which to understand the passage’s details and developing movement. Only by understanding the dialogical structure of the scene can the reader make sense of not only its details but also the rhetorical meaning of the interaction. (54)

Johannine dialogues come in three forms: social challenge, taking the form of an informal debate where the honor and authority of the interlocutor is challenged; legal challenge, in which a principle, idea, or point of law is formally debated; and rhetorical challenge, where conflict between two parties is intensified by reestablishing antithetical positions, rather than necessarily advancing an argument.

Klink suggests primarily seven formal dialogues in John’s gospel between Jesus and other characters, utilizing these three forms:

  1. Nicodemus (3:1–21) social
  2. Samaritan Woman (4:1–42) rhetorical
  3. Jewish Crowd (6:22–71) social
  4. Jewish Authorities and Jewish Crowd (7:14–52) social
  5. Jewish Authorities (8:12–59) legal
  6. Jewish Authorities (9:1–41) legal
  7. Jewish Crowd (10:22–42) social

Like Dodd, he makes clear John used dialogues deliberately in his narrative composition:

Using the conventions and patterns of ancient dialogue, the Gospel’s dialogues offer a dramatic theological presentation that engages the reader at numerous levels, drawing them more fully into the depth of the Gospel story that began in the conflict between darkness and the light (1:5) and ends in the cross. (57)

Johannine Monologues: Functions and Forms

Also unique in John’s Gospel is the use of several extended discourses, or monologues, of Jesus. Klink explains, “a monologue is similar to a dialogue in that it is set in the context of an engagement and conflict, but rather than engaging point for point it allows for a lengthy argument.” (57)

Like dialogues, Jesus’s monologues contain similar elements of rhetoric, challenge, and conflict. They also function similarly: “its significance is not merely the meaning of the language and the propositions of the argument but also what the language does” (57), especially how it is connected to the narrative elements before and afterward.

Klink explains that monologues will contain within the narrative flow dialogue and audience engagement. Yet attention isn’t meant to be on the conflict and resolution inherent within such scenes. Instead, “The monologue brings meaning to Jesus’s person and work so that the listeners—and therefore the readers—are exhorted to take a particular action.” (58)

He identifies four substantial monologues in John’s Gospel:

  1. The Identity of (the Son of) God (5:19–47)
  2. The Shepherd and the Sheep (10:1–21)
  3. “The Hour has Come” (12:20–50)
  4. The Farewell Discourse (13:31–16:33)

“As a whole, the monologues provide robust insight into the identity of Jesus and the work given to him from the Father,” concludes Klink. “The monologues also serve the narratives by facilitating the Gospel’s plot, depicting in great detail God’s own argument and explication of his person and work in the world.” (58)

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Leveraging the important interpretive insights of these two narrative features, Klink helps readers of the Fourth Gospel exegete it with care and precision in order to offer its theological and homiletical insights to those they shepherd.

Interested in learning more about the uniqueness of John’s Gospel? Don’t miss out on purchasing this commentary at half it’s normal price, available on our website.

This blog was written in coordination with Zondervan Academic.

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