New Interpreter's Bible (12 Vols.) - Pre-Publication Examples

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This post has 271 Replies | 7 Followers

Posts 4763
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 2 2013 5:49 PM

tom:

IMHO...IMHO...IMHO... IMHO...IMHO...

Methinks thou dost protest too much. Geeked

Posts 255
Sogol | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 2 2013 6:14 PM

tom:

Hi Sogol,

I have not stopped; I have almost stopped, and there are several reasons for this.  The main one is my role as changed.  I am now a chaplain for a local heath care provider and I am also a chaplain for a local hospice organization.  I currently do not write sermons or a Bible study every week.

Thus, most of what Logos offers does not fit my need.  And what Logos has as it relates to spiritual care is simply garbage (IMHO).  The only package that I know of that I would purchase (if I didn't have all the books in hard cover to begin with) is the Fortress Press Creative Pastoral Care and Counseling Series (http://www.logos.com/product/4739/fortress-press-creative-pastoral-care-and-counseling-series).

This being said, I still do not trust Logos.  This has its roots from the L3 to L4 upgrade.  I lost a lot of personal data in this 'upgrade.'

This lack of trust continues because it doesn't look like Logos does much research with their products.   They get an idea, and go for it with little research. How much of the original logic has had to be rewritten for bugs/performance issues?  I will say a lot of it.  If the research was before hand, a lot of the issues would not have happened, and the team would not be going back again to look for ways to improve the performance of L5.

Another area (IMHO) where they did not do their research is with faithlife (with all of its flavors).  Why did Logos attempt to create a social media website when there are other much cheaper alternatives? Do the alternatives do everything that faithlife.com does?  No.  Still, the question IMHO is how much value does faithlife.com add to the Logos product line.  For me, that answer is zero.    I realize others will answer that question differently.  And for Logos, the question IMHO that needed to be asked when this product was still in the research stage was, 'Will the cost of creating and maintaining the software and hardware be less than the value it adds to its product line?'  Obviously that thought the answer was yes or else they wouldn't have done it.  Now, if you ask me, if Logos did some good research, they would have a good idea that another social media site for people to visit is not high on people's to-do list.

Logos is not also giving away their Faithlife study Bible.  I like the idea of using this app to bring more people to Logos.  Still, I believe, if they would have done their research, they would not have had the flair-up when they were trying to convince people that they should purchase this app on a subscription base.

Now, Logos is also a travel agent (faithlife tours).  IMHO, booking a trip through a software company is like asking Walmart to build your next home.

Anyway, at one time, I was a Logos only person.  I even moved everything that I had in other software programs into Logos.  This is no longer the case.  I now am willing to use other software programs.  And I will say that is my major change in how I decide to purchase items.

Thanks for your perspectives, Tom. I've been very happy with Logos overall, but I'm newer to it and haven't had any of the unhappy experiences that some older users like you speak of. Accordingly, my current strategy has been to limit my ebook purchases to just Logos and Kindle. I really, really hope to avoid building a library on a different platform if possible, and I think that will be possible for me as long as Logos stays reasonably responsive to customer needs/wants. Therefore, I do appreciate users like you posting your honest feedback here in the forums so that Logos knows what its users are thinking. Thanks again.

Posts 1829
mike | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Mar 31 2013 3:16 PM

how good is this commentary compare to the others? $500 is a lot of money to spend.

Posts 2964
tom | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Mar 31 2013 3:37 PM

mike:

how good is this commentary compare to the others? $500 is a lot of money to spend.

This commentary is a steal at $500.

Posts 1829
mike | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Mar 31 2013 10:00 PM

This commentary is a steal at $500.

Show me your art of seduction.(Convince me) Stick out tongue

Posts 1647
Rick | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 1 2013 6:09 AM

For me, Dan's posts starting on page one of this thread have been very good at showing their value.

Peace  Smile

Romans 14:19 (NRSV)
19 Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

Posts 5249
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 30 2013 12:53 PM

At the risk of repeating myself in this thread, and as a Bump I am once again posting this.

12 Gems from the 12 Volumes of the New Interpreter's Bible. I realize one person's gems may well be another persons, stones to be scattered but I hope you enjoy. Two very good reasons to get this commentary are: 1) It's covering the full Alexandrian cannon of scripture (i.e. Roman Catholic). 2) This is not only a decent historical/critical commentary but it is also a very good devotional commentary.

I believe all of my Gems below are taken from the reflections section (which contain applications and homiletical suggestions). This commentary could well be described as Interpretation commentary on steroids. Most everything covered in the Interpretation series is far more thoroughly covered in the NIB. The NIB is a moderate commentary generally respecting other views with top scholars from all theological persuasions. This is honestly the only decent series that covers the Apocrypha, yes anchor covers the books and is an excellent Critical commentary but has few theological insights, IMHO. 

https://www.evernote.com/pub/danielwilliamfrancis/nibsamples And here has a sample from every book of the Bible/deutrocanon (apocryphal books of the Bible found in the Catholic Church).

-Dan

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In Leviticus, the people of God are called to be holy, not because holiness is an arbitrary religion game that God wants played, but because God is holy. Because God is holy, God’s people are to be holy by being like God in the world. We can, therefore, do away with all the cartoon pictures of the sanctimonious holy person wearing a halo and a prudish glare. To be holy is not to be narrow-minded and primly pious; it is, rather, to imitate God. To be holy is to roll up one’s sleeves and to join in with whatever God is doing in the world. --Leviticus: Walter C. Kaiser Jr. Volume 1


The songs of mothers remind us that our story as the church is a part of what God has been doing since creation itself (1 Sam 2:8b), since the first giving of God’s promise to raise up a people (Luke 1:55). The history of God’s salvation does not originate with Jesus or with the church. The church is a part of the larger activity of God from creation onward. To be the community of Jesus as the Messiah is to be related to a God whose story is always larger than the church’s story. It is to be related to a God whose transforming power on behalf of the powerless does not originate in Jesus Christ but was already known to Hannah and simply finds new expression in the song Mary sings for the church. --The First and Second Books of Samuel: Bruce C. Birch, Volume 2

Along with other stories pertaining to Elijah, the miracles in this chapter have been commemorated in music and in art. In these re-creations of the story, attention is invariably drawn to the supramundane origin of Elijah's experiences. That is, indeed, the main point of the passage: It is the Lord, the God of Israel, who brings about these wonders. So, too, we dare to believe that things that seem impossible to human beings can be brought about by the Lord: Birds of prey may provide nourishment; the poor may have their victuals wondrously replenished; and even the dead may be resurrected. It is the Lord and no other god who performs such miracles. So we are called to believe as well. --The First and Second Books of Kings: Choon-Leong Seow, Volume 3

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.’ ” 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.” --Psalms: J. Clinton McAnn Jr., Volume 4

The appearance of wisdom and achievement of the aged is not to be confused with virtue. As with the earlier cases of the tragic death of a virtuous person and the apparent fruitlessness of a barren person, the author calls for an examination of the true nature of human strength and wisdom. What appears to be a tragic loss of life in the case of the wise youth indeed is not. Presumably the author could have chosen other figures to signify human strength, such as people of wealth or those with educational and political might. Instead he uses three extreme examples of human misfortune to highlight with clarity the significant values of virtue and justice for determining the dignity of human beings. The true failures, tragedies, and disasters in life are not what the wicked think they are. Moral vacuity expressed through a life of evasive pleasure, exploiting the weak, and perpetrating violence brings on a death and destruction that is far more devastating than the experience of mortality, which all human beings encounter. --Book of Wisdom: Michael Kolarcik, Volume 5

Pastoring is not, however, the sole responsibility of ordained ministers. To the contrary, authentic leadership requires “pastoral” care. Everyone who, in one way or another, in one arena or another, exercises authority and influence would do well to consider how the shepherd metaphor might impact his or her mindset and actions. Pastoring begins with the psalmist’s full awareness that “the earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,/ the world, and those who live in it” (Ps 24:1). As leaders and caretakers, we are not to use persons, things, and situations to personal advantage. Neither exploitation nor neglect is acceptable. Rather, we are to act as God’s stewards, protecting and providing for those who are entrusted to our care, but belong to God. Ezekiel 34 has much to say to leaders of every ilk, be they politicians, health care providers, supervisors, teachers, pastors, or parents.--Book of Ezekiel: Katheryn Pfisterer Darr, Volume 6


Amos was inspired to recognize that the daily life of Israel had completely given up the ethical standards of the Yahwistic religion. Whether he thought in terms of “covenant theology” or not, he clearly saw the treatment of the poor in Israel as a fundamental rejection of the relationship that Yahweh had established with Israel, which required obedience not only in worship but also in the maintenance of a just society. We might describe his evaluation in this way: It was an unhealthy society, so sick it could not survive much longer. But Amos spoke in terms of God’s activity in history. The death of Israel would not be from “natural causes”; it would be God’s work. We must not then conclude that God prefers to work via killing and burning.52 God allows human beings to chart their own courses, then finds ways to work through, or in spite of, what they do. --Amos: Donald E. Gowan, Volume 7

The move to the future tense indicates that the life of the kingdom must wait for ultimate validation until God finishes the new creation. The future tense of the beatitudes resists all notions that Christianity is a “philosophy of life” designed to make people successful and calm today, in the present moment. Christianity is not a scheme to reduce stress, lose weight, advance in one’s career, or preserve one from illness. Christian faith, instead, is a way of living based on the firm and sure hope that meekness is the way of God, that righteousness and peace will finally prevail, and that God’s future will be a time of mercy and not cruelty. So, blessed are those who live this life now, even when such a life seems foolish, for they will, in the end, be vindicated by God. --Matthew: Eugene Boring, Volume 8

The Word becoming flesh is the decisive event in human history—indeed, in the history of creation—because the incarnation changes God’s relationship to humanity and humanity’s relationship to God. The incarnation means that human beings can see, hear, and know God in ways never before possible. The Father-Son relationship of God and Jesus is the key to this changed relationship. God’s Son, because he is the incarnate Word, derives his identity from God (1:1, 18). The relationship between divine and human is transformed, because in the incarnation human beings are given intimate, palpable, corporeal access to the cosmic reality of God. --John: Gail R. O’Day, Volume 9

Shared worship, indeed, is central to Paul’s vision. He does not say that one should wait to share in worship until all aspects of belief and practice have been hammered out. On the contrary. He sees the mutual welcome, allowing people from very different backgrounds literally to worship together with one voice, as of the essence of the quest for a deeper unity. When we read this alongside Gal 2:11-21, we discover that this is not just a bit of good advice; it grows directly from the doctrine of justification by faith itself. The point of that doctrine is that all who confess Jesus as Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead belong in the same worshiping family, and at the same table. Shared eucharistic fellowship should not be the reward awaiting us at the end of ecumenical negotiations and agreements. It should be a central means by which we travel together along that road. --The Letter to the Romans: N. T. Wright, Volume 10

Whatever the reason for the special reference to those who held office in the Philippian church, the letter is addressed to the whole community. All are “in Christ Jesus” and so belong to the fellowship of God's people. Once again, the terms have become so familiar that we no longer appreciate their real significance. We think of “saints” as very special people and forget that we are all called to be saints—to be members of God's people and, therefore holy, like God. This new status belongs to those who are “in Christ,” who claim their new relationship with God because of their relationship with Christ. It is because Christ is God's holy one that those who belong to him are “saints” (the Greek word a{gioi [hagioi] means “holy ones”). Our proper emphasis on individual responsibility has tended to make us think of sanctity as something personal and private, but Christianity is primarily a calling to belong to a community. The church is not simply a group of individuals who happen to have responded to the gospel; it is the community of God's people, whose corporate life is an essential expression of their divine calling. Paul would certainly have endorsed John Wesley's maxim that “Christianity is essentially a social religion; and that to turn it into a solitary religion, is indeed to destroy it.” Paul's emphatic “all” (1:4, 7-8) will remind us how important this idea is. --The Letter to the Philippians: Morna D. Hooker, Volume 11

In contemporary America, the “appearances” of race and gender are instantly recognizable, for they have, through titanic struggles, finally been brought to general consciousness. On these fronts, the church's record has been mixed; despite some strong efforts toward genuine inclusiveness, racial and gender discrimination is still a reality within most denominations. The sort of discrimination of the poor person that James describes is less easy to see, partially because denominations tend to sort themselves out along socioeconomic lines. But to imagine a dirty and bewildered street person wandering into a Sunday morning fellowship seeking warmth and coffee is in most cases also to imagine a deeply uncomfortable fellowship. Such instances—and it is easy to multiply the ways in which people can, because of appearance, size, gender, sexual orientation, and status, seem to be “poor by the world's standards”—challenge the church's recollection that it is supposed to be a “kingdom” made up of just such inconvenient and unacceptable persons. When the poor cannot find a place in a Christian church, that church no longer has any connection to Jesus. --The Letter of James: Luke Timothy Johnson, Volume 12

Posts 2964
tom | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 30 2013 2:17 PM

Dan Francis:
At the risk of repeating myself in this thread, and as a Bump I am once again posting this.
Yes

Posts 102
Andrew Malone | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 1 2013 6:56 AM

Sorry if I've missed the answer in this lengthy discussion ... but is there any info on why NIB is not listed as running on mobile platforms? 

If it's a publisher's decision, fair enough. But if it's a Logos decision or, worse, a listing error, perhaps we should set Dan to more arm-twisting ... :-)

Posts 5249
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 1 2013 10:58 AM

Many pre pub items are not listed as being mobile compatible, Bob has assured us elsewhere all new contracts are mobile compatible but pages usually are not updated till release time.

-Dan

Posts 89
LogosEmployee
Sherri Huleatt | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 1 2013 11:03 AM

Dan Francis:

At the risk of repeating myself in this thread, and as a Bump I am once again posting this.

Thanks for weighing in, Dan!

Posts 8967
RIP
Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 1 2013 1:17 PM

Dan Francis:
At the risk of repeating myself in this thread, and as a Bump I am once again posting this.

Feel free to keep posting, Dan. This thread has 210 posts and 25,440+ views. There is a lot of interest out there. Don't be shy now. You're doing a great service.

Logos 7 Collectors Edition

Posts 5249
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 1 2013 5:04 PM

Super Tramp:
Feel free to keep posting, Dan.

I will post a few more try to put things up a couple times a week...

Here is the full treatment of the 64th Psalm.

PSALM 64:1-10, WHAT GOD HAS DONE

Link to: NIV-NRSV

<Page 929 Ends><Page 930 Begins>

COMMENTARY

Psalm 64 shows the characteristic features of a prayer for help or individual lament/complaint. Petition (vv. 1-2) is followed by complaint, which takes the form of a description of the enemy (vv. 3-6). Verses 7-9 consist of an affirmation of faith in God’s activity, and v. 10 calls for joyful trust and praise. As usual, it is impossible to determine the precise circumstances of origin and use. To be sure, destructive speech is employed to threaten the psalmist. But how and by whom? It is possible that the persecuted psalmist has sought refuge in the Temple from persecution or false accusation (see Psalms 5; 7; 61; Introduction), and it is possible that Psalm 64 was used in some sort of restoration ritual within a family or small-group setting. We simply do not know. As Tate judiciously suggests, “In any case, the psalm is a literary entity, apparently without any strong ties to a specific ancient context. The text generates its own context in interaction with the reader.”254 64:1-2. The psalmist characterizes this prayer as a complaint (v. 1a), and it apparently arises out of a frightening, threatening situation (v. 1b). The need to be hidden (v. 2a) reinforces the urgency of the threat (see 2 Kgs 11:2; Pss 17:8; 27:5; 31:20; Jer 36:26). The word that the NRSV translates “secret plots” (dws sôd) usually designates consultation for good purposes, but clearly not in this case (see also Ps 83:3). The NIV’s translation of v. 2b is probably more accurate, and by suggesting a sort of mob scene as opposed to a quiet conspiracy, it makes v. 2b a more all-encompassing request. 64:3-6. Verse 3 is similar to Pss 57:4 and 140:3, which suggest that the wicked use words as weapons. The bow-and-arrow imagery of v. 3b continues into v. 4. The word “ambush” in v. 4 is from the same Hebrew root (rts str) as “hide” in v. 2; thus the wicked do their own sort of hiding, but the psalmist desires to be hidden by God. The wicked may shoot (see Ps 11:2), but the psalmist trusts that God shoots back (see v. 7). In short, the psalmist entrusts his or her life to God. Such trust is the real essence of being blameless or innocent (see Commentary on Psalms 15; 18). In contrast to the psalmist’s dependence upon God, the wicked trust their own plans (v. 5a). They are convinced that they can do things secretly (v. 5b); the question in v. 5c further indicates their belief that they are autonomous (see Commentary on Psalm 1) and thus are accountable to no one (see Ps 10:13). Therefore, they continue to pursue “injustice” (v. 6a; see also Ps 58:2 NIV), convinced that they can do so with impunity (v. 6b) because of their own human capacities (v. 6c). Verse 6ab is made emphatic by the threefold repetition of a Hebrew root (cpj hpZ) translated “plot,” “devised,” or “plan,” and v. 6c prepares for the rest of the psalm. The word “heart” (bl leb) anticipates the final line of the psalm, and the affirmation of human capacity sharply contrasts with the psalmist’s focus on God, which begins in v. 7. 64:7-9. The shift at v. 7 is also marked by a reference to God in the third person, which gives the affirmation of faith in vv. 7-9 a sort of instructional tone. The repetition in vv. 7-10 of several words from vv. 3-6 serves to sharpen further the contrast between the psalmist’s faith in God and wicked persons’ faith in themselves. For instance, the words “shoot,” “arrow,” and “suddenly” in v. 7 recall vv. 3-4. God has arrows, too (see Ps 7:12-13). Thus the irony is that those who “shoot suddenly” will be “wounded suddenly.” Verse 8a is difficult, but the word “tongue” (@wvl lAsôn) recalls v. 3. Again, what the wicked perceive as their strength will be the cause of their undoing. The word “see” (har rA )â) in v. 8b recalls the question in v. 5b ; that is, those who thought they could not be seen will become a public spectacle. Those who improperly had no fear (v. 4b) will engender a proper fear in others (v. 9a), and the crowning irony is that the lives of those who fancied themselves all-powerful will end up leading others to proclaim and wisely recognize God’s powerful activity (v. 9bc). 64:10. The reversal between vv. 7-9 and vv. 3-6 is matched by the reversal between v. 10 and vv. 1-2. The psalmist’s complaint has become an invitation for others to “rejoice” and “glory” (see Ps 34:2). The righteous (see Pss 1:5-6; 97:11) and the “upright in heart” (see Pss 7:10; 11:2; 32:11; 36:10; 94:15; 97:11) <Page 930 Ends><Page 931 Begins> are those who live in dependence upon God rather than self. As the psalter has suggested from the beginning, to take refuge in God is the true source of happiness and joy (see Ps 2:12; Introduction). As with the other prayers for help, the movement from complaint to praise is not sequential or chronological; indeed, trust in God allows the psalmist to experience God’s protection and to rejoice amid ongoing threat and the continuing reality of evil. In short, the perspective is eschatological, summoning readers in every time and place to trust and to have joy in the midst of human self-assertion that threatens both individuals and the security of our society and the world.

REFLECTIONS

The talk of swords and arrows and snares, as well as the portrayal of God’s taking direct retributive action against the wicked, makes Psalm 64 seem rather far-removed from our contemporary world. Tate proposes, however, that it is more relevant than we might care to realize: “The psalm communicates a sense of anxiety and perplexity about the nature of human society that is at home in every generation. The supposed sophistication of modern society is not immune to deep awareness of destructive forces which threaten to reduce our semi-ordered world to chaos.”255 In fact, the bold affirmation of human capacity and autonomy in vv. 5b-6 characterizes the way that most people, including Christians, routinely operate. Individual decision making and public policy making rarely include consideration of anything beyond our own interests. Although we may not be quite as crass as the wicked are in v. 5b, we seldom make accountability to God and others a major factor in our deliberations. This, of course, goes a long way toward explaining the existence of the “destructive forces” that Tate mentions—poverty and the unrest it breeds, oppression of women and minorities and the hostility it generates, warfare to protect ethnic claims or national interests and the chaos it produces, and so on. In a real sense, Psalm 64 calls us to recognize and to confess the evil within ourselves and our society. It is also a call to faith—not to trust our own inclinations or capacities but to entrust our abilities and destiny to God. The structure of the psalm belies any facile understanding of divine retribution. For Christians, of course, the cross is a constant reminder that God does not exercise power by suddenly eliminating all evil and opposition. Rather, God’s power is made perfect in weakness (see 1 Cor 1:25; 2 Cor 12:9-10). For Christians, the resurrection is the sign of God’s victory, but we are called to live as people of the cross as well as of the resurrection (see Commentary on Psalms 13; 22; Introduction). Like the psalmist, we shall always find ourselves pleading and complaining as we confront the reality of evil (vv. 1-6), but because we ultimately trust God’s power rather than human power (vv. 7-9), we shall also find that even now joy is possible (v. 10). We trust that evil is sowing the seeds of its own destruction, and we greet signs of evil’s unraveling as what God has done (v. 9). Indeed, trusting God rather than self, we find the joy that liberates us for praise. <Page 931 Ends><Page 932 Begins>

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Josh | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 2 2013 1:51 AM

Super Tramp:

Feel free to keep posting, Dan. This thread has 210 posts and 25,440+ views. There is a lot of interest out there. Don't be shy now. You're doing a great service.

I'm all for more commentaries in Logos, however, this resource seems to have actually lost traction since this thread was started to promote it.

This is from late 2011:

This is from today:

Posts 10030
Forum MVP
NB.Mick | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 2 2013 2:28 AM

Josh:

this resource seems to have actually lost traction since this thread was started to promote it.

This is from late 2011:

This is from today:

Please be aware that the progress bar shows a percentage of production cost covered by expected revenue. We find in CP and PP that Logos sometimes readjust the production cost, which may go in both directions (but unfortunately most often into the more expensive one). Reason begind this may be e.g. the re-assessment of technical difficulties in the production process, but in case on non-PD works also news on royalty negotiations. This all means that a resource may be in increasing demand but still the bar jumps backward.

To me it seems that complex resources that take long to cross the line are fraught with contractual difficulties rather than technical ones, which means for me: It is there when it is shipped, everything else is guesswork.   

Running Logos 8 latest beta version on Win 10

Posts 2964
tom | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 2 2013 2:35 AM

NB.Mick:
Please be aware that the progress bar shows a percentage of production cost covered by expected revenue. We find in CP and PP that Logos sometimes readjust the production cost, which may go in both directions (but unfortunately most often into the more expensive one). Reason begind this may be e.g. the re-assessment of technical difficulties in the production process, but in case on non-PD works also news on royalty negotiations. This all means that a resource may be in increasing demand but still the bar jumps backward.
And someone from Logos (Bob?) did say that they had to readjust the cost on this pp.

Posts 255
Sogol | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 2 2013 7:03 AM

tom:

NB.Mick:
Please be aware that the progress bar shows a percentage of production cost covered by expected revenue. We find in CP and PP that Logos sometimes readjust the production cost, which may go in both directions (but unfortunately most often into the more expensive one). Reason begind this may be e.g. the re-assessment of technical difficulties in the production process, but in case on non-PD works also news on royalty negotiations. This all means that a resource may be in increasing demand but still the bar jumps backward.
And someone from Logos (Bob?) did say that they had to readjust the cost on this pp.

Here is Bob's 8/28/12 post where he announced the adjustment:

http://community.logos.com/forums/p/53532/391813.aspx#391813

Posts 5249
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 2 2013 9:28 AM

Was not planing on posting again here till Saturday but will be away from my computer over the weekend so here is the next snippet.

-Dan

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Acts 16:11-40, PAUL’S MISSION TO THE PHILIPPIANS

Link to: Acts 16:11 NIV-NRSV <Page 228 Ends><Page 229 Begins> <Page 229 Ends><Page 230 Begins>

COMMENTARY

Even though Paul’s urban mission remains centered in the synagogues of the diaspora, his turn toward the great cities of Europe reflects changes of cultural scenery and of missionary strategy. Compared to his mission in Roman Asia (see Acts 13—14), for example, Macedonia has a much smaller Jewish population and therefore a more pronounced pagan ethos. Paul’s encounter with a clairvoyant slave girl in Philippi, whose unscrupulous handlers have influence over the city’s rulers, is an evocative symbol of this region’s spiritual state. Moreover, Paul had to leave the city to worship Israel’s God, and he found that this same girl was the only “witness” within the city limits to the “Most High God”–empowered by “a spirit of divination” rather than by the Holy Spirit!544 At the end of his mission, the only “houses” that God rebuilt in Philippi are those belonging to Christian converts–first Lydia’s and then the jailer’s; in fact, Luke’s story is enclosed by references to Lydia’s “household” congregation (16:15, 40) and centered by the conversion of the jailer’s “household” (16:30-34). The reader is reminded, not without considerable irony, of Amos’s prophecy of God’s housing project among the nations (see 15:16-18): The absence of a Jewish testimony to the “Most High God” in pagan Philippi is finally supplied by repentant Gentiles. The plotline of this passage begins where most of Paul’s efforts do: on a sabbath in a place of prayer with attentive God-fearing Gentiles in attendance (16:11-15). But this place is not an urban synagogue but an informal setting at a riverside outside the city limits, where the most responsive in a group of religious women is a Gentile merchant, Lydia. Paul’s mission receives harsher treatment within the city limits, where he encounters the possessed slave girl (16:16-18; cf. 13:6-12) whose healing provokes a sharp legal challenge (16:19-24). As with the apostles before them (see 5:17-18; cf. 12:4-11), Paul and Silas are miraculously liberated from their shackles–in this case, by a timely earthquake rather than by heaven’s angel (16:25-26; see 5:19; cf. 4:31).545 Unlike the Twelve, however, Silas and Paul remain in prison much to the surprise of the jailer who awakened to opened prison gates and the expectation of a nighttime jailbreak (16:27; see 5:20-26). This occasions the famous missionary exchange between the terrified jailer, who asks his ambiguous question, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul’s retort, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” results in the conversion of a second household of Gentiles (16:28-34). Paul and Silas are released from prison the next day (16:35-36), but rather than depart with grateful acquiescence, citizen Paul excoriates the city’s magistrates for their abuse of Roman justice (16:37-38) before making a pastoral house call on Lydia’s congregation and then leaving for another city (16:39-40). The cache of common themes between this story and Paul’s Letter to the Philippians commends its role within the NT as the letter’s “canonical context.” Paul’s poignant reflection on his imprisonment and suffering in Philippians (Phil 1:12-14), especially in light of the Lord’s humility (Phil 2:6-8), is provided a narrative context by the Acts account, even though it was not written at Philippi. In this regard, the detailed description of the legal apparatus leading to Paul’s imprisonment may provide a set of images that enable a more powerful reading of Philippians 1. Paul’s preaching of the gospel during his imprisonment is vividly portrayed in Acts, where he sings praises and witnesses to the other prisoners and the jailer. The opposition of pagan religion to Paul’s teaching, perhaps even of the Roman imperial cult (Phil 2:9-11), that Paul indicates in his letter (Phil 2:15) is made more clear by Luke’s unflattering portrait of Philippi. The significant christological teaching found in this letter (e.g., Phil 2:5-11) is framed by Paul’s exhortation to “believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). In particular, this kerygmatic summary from the Paul of Acts captures nicely the central point Paul makes in Philippians against the potential threat of “the dogs” (Phil 3:2-4a) who boast of their nationality <Page 230 Ends><Page 231 Begins> and ritual purity as the true marks of covenant renewal (Phil 3:4b-6) rather than of their faith in Christ (Phil 3:7-11). Finally, the poignant images of hospitality, which frame and center this story, may well help the interpreter of Philippians recover the important epistolary theme of the congregation’s financial support of and partnership (koinwniva koinonia) with him in the ministry of the gospel (Phil 4:14-17; cf. 2 Cor 11:9). An element of that congregational partnership is the full participation of men and women in Paul’s mission there (Phil 4:2-3), which may explain Luke’s shaping of this story about the conversion of a woman and a man and their respective households. 16:11-15. A traveling itinerary (vv. 11-12) assures the reader that Paul arrives in Macedonia in response to his vision of the Macedonian man (vv. 8-10). Whatever reluctance Paul may have felt in leaving Roman Asia for Macedonia prior to his vision (see vv. 6-7) was probably not due to a difference in cultures or languages, since people on both sides of the Aegean Sea were thoroughly influenced by Greek culture and literature. The team’s base of operations is Philippi, “a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony.”546 The plotline of the activities that follow is initially shaped by two encounters with two very different working women. The first is “a certain woman named Lydia” (v. 14). According to literary pattern, Paul meets Lydia on a sabbath in a makeshift synagogue–in this case located outside of town (v. 13) as a “place of prayer”–that he frequented while staying in Philippi (v. 16). Evidently there is no synagogue in the city. The term “place of prayer” (proseuchv proseuche) is synonymous with “synagogue,” even though in this case the term designates a marginal location outside the city gates and beside a small river on the southern edge of town. The more informal setting allows rabbi Paul to sit with Gentile women gathered there, which may indicate the city lacks a quorum of ten Jewish males to congregate an assembly of Jews for worship.547 That Paul only supposed this was a place of prayer may well symbolize the insignificance of a Jewish presence within the city, more than a lack of familiarity with the cityscape–since he had arrived days earlier. All these narrative details contextualize the anti-Semitic slur of the slave girl’s owners (16:20). Paul’s posture toward these religious women may indicate the beginning of a worship service, with Paul acting as guest liturgist and rabbi. Lydia is among the women before whom he sits and speaks; her profile is sufficient to indicate the importance of her conversion for the wider Philippiain mission (see v. 40). One of the implied conclusions of James’s paradigmatic commentary on Amos is that God-fearing Gentiles attached to synagogues are preferred converts (see 15:20-21). The details of her spiritual biography are therefore similar to God-fearing Cornelius:548 she is a “worshiper of God, [who] was listening to us” (v. 14; cf. 10:1-8). Although Luke is ambiguous about her religious identity, it is more likely that she is a Gentile attracted to the synagogue than that she is a Jew, since his earlier use of similar wording in Acts 13:43 describes Gentile seekers who are attached to the local synagogue. Also, her personal name, “Lydia,” is Greek rather than Jewish; she is named after an ancient city well known for the fabrics she sells. Her attention to Paul’s message because “the Lord opened her heart” may well be the result of her good character, reflected in her hospitable reception of Paul (v. 15). The connection between hospitality–sharing goods with others–and responsiveness to the word of God is an important literary theme in both Luke and Acts (cf. Luke 24:29-31).549 This is another indication of her spiritual authority as first convert and leader of the church in Philippi. Several details of Lydia’s professional résumé indicate her success: She owns her own business and her own home.550 She is a “dealer in purple cloth” from Thyatira, a city well known for its <Page 231 Ends><Page 232 Begins> textile industry (v. 14; cf. Rev 2:18-29). Purple clothing was destined for the rich and royal in the Roman world, where it symbolized power and influence. A merchant in purple cloth, then, is someone who rubbed shoulders daily with society’s rich and famous. Luke’s use of Lydia’s personal name in his story may well indicate her social prominence.551 In his narrative world, however, even the socially prominent are spiritually impoverished without Jesus; Lydia’s eager response to the gospel is another illustration of this reality. 16:16-18. Paul’s exorcism of the divining slave girl recalls a similar encounter found in Mark’s Gospel (Mark 1:21-26; cf. Luke 4:41). At the beginning of his messianic mission, Jesus enters the synagogue at Capernaum to worship God. Among those in attendance is a demoniac who alone among the worshipers knows Jesus’ messianic identity. Jesus’ authority and, ironically, the truth of the gospel he proclaims are aptly demonstrated when he expels the demon from the worshiping community. Similar points are made by this episode in Acts. There is also the sense that the slave girl unwittingly has thrown down a gauntlet of sorts to Paul. His spiritual authority as a prophet-like-Jesus is thereby confirmed by this exorcism: Paul’s Holy Spirit is greater than the unholy spirit who speaks through the girl. Moreover, her public divination that Paul and Silas are “slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation” (v. 17), which goes on “for several days,” ironically introduces the kerygmatic theme that Paul’s conversion of the Philippian jailer will later illustrate (see vv. 30-31). The term “Most High God” is also used in worship of Zeus, to whom her own handlers may be attached and she their “slave” as well. Paul, of course, is “slave” to the Most High God of Israel (see 7:48), and his exorcism of the girl’s spirit is a demonstration of God’s authority over Zeus and all other pagan gods of the Philippian pantheon. This demonstration clears the way for a fuller expression of Paul’s prophetic authority and gospel when he leads the jailer’s household into the “way of salvation” (see 4:12; also 2:28; 9:2). The species of the girl’s unholy spirit is literally “a pythian spirit” and recalls the Greek Puqw`n (Python) myth of the dragon that guarded the Delphi oracle at Mt. Parnassus and was killed by Apollo. In Luke’s day, its name and legend were attached to someone with clairvoyant powers or, perhaps, to the trickery of a ventriloquist.552 The powers or trickery of this slave girl are apparently extraordinary or the Philippian public extremely gullible, since she “brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling” (v. 16). The formula Paul uses to expel the spirit from the slave girl recalls Peter’s command for healing “in the name of Jesus Christ” (see 3:6, 16; 4:10). Then as here the prophet’s use of “the name” to heal and make people whole again is not magical but confessional: Paul’s rebuke of the spirit expresses his surety of God’s triumph over evil. While an exercise of his spiritual authority, it is also symbolic of his kerygmatic claim that the risen Jesus is Messiah and Lord. This exorcism itself, then, aptly illustrates what Paul will later proclaim to the jailer, fulfilling the slave girl’s own prophecy: The Most High God saves the lost. 16:19-23. The dispossession of “property” is an important literary theme in Acts, typically serving as a barometer of relations with God. Evident exploitation of another for profit is especially condemning, not only of the girl’s owners but of the religious climate of Philippi that would support their religious profit-taking. The animus toward religious charlatans, especially those who exploited human “property” to satisfy their greed, is often expressed in Greco-Roman literature as well. The greedy owners’ immediate response to the healing of their slave girl, then, is hardly happy: “They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities” (16:19). Their motive for doing so is clearly financial; they saw that their profits “went out with the demon”!553 <Page 232 Ends><Page 233 Begins> The juridical terms used by Luke in this passage indicate that a lawsuit is brought against Paul for this loss of income. The “marketplace” (ajgorav agora) is the city’s secular synagogue where people assemble to conduct various transactions, including legal ones. The greedy owners follow a precise protocol in bringing their claims to the court: They go first to the “authorities,” who are responsible for public order, and turn Paul and Silas over to the local “magistrates,” who are responsible for settling civil claims. Perhaps realizing that loss of income due to the loss of a pythian spirit would not work well in a public court, the clever owners bring a more mean-spirited yet appealing accusation before the magistrates in two parts: “They are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us” (16:20-21). The initial charge appeals to Roman anti-Semitism and is propagandistic without legal merit. The clear intent is to incite prejudice against Jews in a pagan marketplace, and it is this appeal that sparks the crowd’s hostilities against Paul. Their second charge appeals to the legal “principle of incompatibility” according to which it is considered unlawful within the premises of a Roman colony to proselytize converts to a non-Roman cult.554 This charge is also without merit since by Paul’s day the principle was no longer followed in legal practice. Further, there is every indication that Paul recruited converts outside the city limits at the place of prayer and therefore was not in violation of this law in any case–unless the slave girl’s exorcism in Jesus’ name is considered an act of proselytizing her. It is significant that Paul’s religious practices, which Luke carefully links to the place of prayer, are recognized as “Jewish” and in sharp contrast with the Roman customs of Philippi (v. 21). In fact, the mob reaction against Paul, obviously incited by their anti-Semitic sentiments, makes this point all the more clear. Once again Luke portrays Paul as an exemplar of James’s primary concern for Jewish purity on pagan turf; Paul has not contaminated himself by accommodating to Gentile forms of religious observance. Paul is no “gentilized” Jew (see 15:20-21). There is no indication of a court verdict, unless the violent crowd is considered a jury of sorts and their attack on Paul and Silas constitutes an indictment of guilt. Without being granted any opportunity to defend their actions,555 Paul and Silas are stripped and beaten with rods by the order of the court, the standard Roman legal procedure (v. 22). They are then thrown into prison and are securely guarded (v. 23). These injudicious actions, however, will come back to haunt the magistrates by story’s end (see vv. 35-40). 16:24-34. The next scene introduces the city’s jailer, who will play a complementary role to Lydia’s in this drama. As its plotline unfolds he will personify the power of God’s grace that Paul proclaims. He appears as a functionary of civil authority who “following these instructions” puts Paul and Silas in solitary confinement, their feet fastened “in the stocks” (v. 24). These images of harsh treatment and loneliness serve two purposes. They recall the Lord’s prophecy that Paul would “suffer for the sake of my name” (9:16). Paul is imprisoned because he exorcized the girl’s divining spirit “in the name of Jesus Christ” (see v. 18). The jailer’s actions also stage the miracle that follows: Surely there is no escape at “midnight” from “the innermost cell” when one’s feet are “in the stocks.”556 The prison itself symbolizes a place where the cosmic and invisible battle between God and evil (or Zeus) is being waged. Paul and Silas are doing what exemplary believers must do when waiting for God to act: They are “praying and singing hymns to God” (v. 25; cf. 1:14). While observing their witness, the attention of their co-prisoners is directed to the source of liberating power; indeed, “that the other prisoners heard them proves–that the earthquake is God’s answer.”557 The earthquake strikes suddenly and opens the prison doors and unfastens the prisoners’ chains (v. 26), but no one leaves. Luke does not give the reason for this unexpected response to God’s intervention; however, had Paul and Silas left no one would have prevented the jailer from taking his life. The earthquake has also awakened him, but why he should consider taking his life prior to a <Page 233 Ends><Page 234 Begins> check of the innermost cell is the stuff of legend! Nor is it clear in any case why he should resort to such a dramatic solution to his problem, unless living is a fate worse than death (see 12:17). More likely, the jailer’s decision to take his own life is due to his religious conviction. Especially since earthquakes were thought to be acts of divine intervention, he may have thought it was an act of judgment from which his salvation is unlikely. The jailer’s response to Paul’s saving call makes perfect sense against this backdrop. Initially, he “fell down trembling [e[ntromo" entromos] before Paul and Silas” (v. 29; see also 10:25). This jailer is scared because he has “seen” his fate and it is not good. The question he poses of his prisoners, whom he now recognizes as agents of divine power, is utterly pragmatic: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (v. 30). That is, he wants to know whether or not his life can be spared by Paul’s God. The jailer’s story parallels Paul’s own story, which is the subtext of the gospel he now presents: “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (v. 31; cf. 1 Tim 1:12-14). This firm connection of belief and salvation is central to Luke’s account of Paul’s gospel (see 14:9; 15:11; cf. Rom 10:9), and it provides a succinct formulation of the “way of salvation” called for by the slave girl’s oracle (see 16:17). The repetition of “household” (oi\ko" oikos) both in Paul’s gospel presentation and then again in Luke’s following summary (16:32) recalls the images of “re-housed” Israel from Amos’s prophecy to remind the reader that God has granted Gentiles a share of Israel’s blessings (see 15:13-19). What is different about this second conversion story in Philippi, and yet complementary to Lydia’s, is that the jailer is not a God-fearer attached to a local synagogue; he is a pagan attached to the city prison, a symbol of opposition to the church’s mission. The referent of Amos’s prophecy concerning “all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called” (15:17) is thereby expanded to include even those pagan converts God calls out of spiritually desolate places that are full of evil spirits, moral rogues, and anti-Semitic sentiments. First a woman, now a man, and the households of both evince the universal scope of God’s saving work. As before in Lydia’s case (see v. 15), confirmation of the jailer’s salvation is demonstrated by his hospitality toward Paul and Silas. In this case, “he took them and washed their wounds . . . and brought them up into the house and set food before them” (vv. 33-34). With the festive meal, Luke adds that the “entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.” The combination of meal and joy strongly implies their celebration gathered around holy Eucharist, when Jesus’ suffering is remembered as an act of redemption. The faithful reader likewise sees in Paul’s suffering for the sake of Jesus’ name a means of grace that brings the jailer and his family into the way of salvation. 16:35-40. The account of the jailer’s salvation is sandwiched between episodes that tell of Paul and Silas’s legal problems. The present passage continues from 16:23, describing events the morning after the great earthquake. Paul and Silas are back in jail. “The police” (oiJ rJabdou`coi hoi rhabdouchoi) are now involved as delegates of the court who carry messages from the magistrates to the jailer on prison-related matters. Their message in this case is highly compressed, since Luke is not interested in what prompts their decision to “let those men go” (v. 35)–even though we can imagine why.558 Paul’s response, however, reflects the honor/shame culture of his world. He does not want the magistrates to brush the crumbs of their shameful behavior under the carpet of public scrutiny, and so he lists the grievances that resulted in his humiliation: public flogging, condemnation, and incarceration of innocent Roman citizens, without benefit of trial or defense attorneys (16:37). Imprisoning and flogging a Roman citizen without benefit of a trial is illegal; to do so publicly is a criminal act worthy of execution. No wonder the magistrates “were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens” (v. 38). The stunning new piece of information that Paul and Silas are both Roman citizens requires a rereading of Acts in two important ways. If Paul’s suffering is not due to political questions about his Roman citizenship, then it must be due to his religious identity. In this sense, the anti-Semitism of the slaveowners, motivated by greed, is true to public form. Beyond Palestine and the Jewish <Page 234 Ends><Page 235 Begins> synagogues of Roman cities, Paul suffers for being Jewish. Moreover, Acts tells us what the Letters do not: Paul is a Roman citizen, with all the rights and privileges due him. Even though the interpreter may set aside the historicity of Luke’s claim,559 Paul’s citizenship is an important, although typically ironic, feature of his apologia in Acts. In this regard, Paul’s acceptance of Philippi’s official apology (see v. 39) symbolizes his general attitude toward Rome in Acts. His point is that Rome is unable to subvert the work of God’s salvation in the world; and even this great empire must come hat in hand to the prophets of the Most High God. Paul and Silas depart the city only after having gone to Lydia’s home to encourage “the brothers and sisters there” (v. 40). Luke’s nice literary touch effectively encloses the narrative of the Philippian mission by mentioning hospitable Lydia’s faithfulness to the Lord (see v. 15). The sequence of their departure from the city following their visit to the Christian congregation gathered in Lydia’s home is deliberate and important–that is, her home lies within city limits. In absence of a quorum of male Jews to establish a urban synagogue (see vv. 13-14), believers now gather in the home of a God-fearing Gentile woman in witness to the gospel.

REFLECTIONS

1. “A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us” (16:14a). Much has been written about Luke’s view of women. Although largely oriented toward males (e.g., the prophets-like-Jesus of Acts are all males, with the possible exception of Priscilla and the daughters of Philip), Luke’s narrative world is still a location where females are given greater prominence and independence in comparison to his social world. Lydia is a literary example of a theological conviction: God’s saving grace dismantles various social barriers that cultivate strife between people. Mutuality is the watchword of a community of goods! Upon closer reflection, the case of Lydia is especially invigorating as an example of the church’s counterculture. She makes her entrance into Acts as a religious person without permission of or reference to her husband. The first place mentioned is not her home but a “place of prayer,” and when she does mention her home it is by self-reference: It is “my” home. The impression is given that she is self-sufficient, a successful businesswoman with a decent income whose hospitality demonstrates her fine character. In all these ways, Luke has Lydia play the role of an ideal convert. His depiction of the easy relations between a male religious leader and a female outsider symbolizes a counterculture that remains impressive even for our modern liberal democracies. Indeed, it is her home that becomes the spiritual center for the entire city, and the story’s presumption is that she becomes its spiritual leader. Yet Luke’s principal point is not sociological but theological: Lydia is saved because “the Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly” (16:14b). For all her evident social accomplishment, she had a spiritual need satisfied by hearing God’s word.

2. “What must I do to be saved?” (16:30 NIV and NRSV). Luke’s marvelous telling of the Philippian jailer’s improbable conversion is useful for reflection on the nature of Christian conversion. Paul and Silas’s worshipful response to their jailhouse suffering and their refusal to escape strikes most readers as odd if not humorous. These missionaries are incorrigible! But is not this Luke’s point? Typically, conversions are the by-product of the trenchant faithfulness of others, when believers are ever alert to the need and prospect of salvation. The polyvalence of the jailer’s cry for help is also instructive. Luke resists the divorce between bodily and religious species of salvation: The God who saves the jailer from the executioner’s sword is the same God who forgives him and his household of their sins. In fact, conversion often occurs at the intersection of the two wants, when the need for healing or physical rescue occasions the need to <Page 235 Ends><Page 236 Begins> hear the gospel appeal, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (16:31 NRSV). Note also that an extended protocol of conversion suggests a way of salvation beyond gospel preaching that includes Christian instruction (16:32), baptism (16:33), and caring fellowship (16:34). These are all sacraments of grace that initiate new believers more fully into their life with God.

3. “They were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens” (16:38 NRSV). For the first time Paul appeals to his Romans citizenship, and he does so strategically. In many ways the Paul of Acts personifies the church’s sometimes messy but potentially useful relations with the secular state, and this story narrates a case in point. The reader should first ask why Paul delayed insisting on his rights as a Roman citizenship until after his experiences of police brutality and illegal incarceration? Paul’s strategic acceptance of their apology (16:39) suggests a reversal of power that has become an important political matter only after the households of faith have been established in Philippi. The proper role of civil authority is not to dictate terms so that the church becomes yet another institution of its power. Rather civil authority is now obliged to safeguard the deposit of faith in their city as an institution of divine power (cf. Rom 13:1-7). Luke’s portrait of Rome in Acts is of the inability of secular authority to subvert the work of God’s salvation in the world.

Posts 846
Eric Weiss | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 2 2013 9:53 AM

This may be great for some preachers, but every time I've looked at the hardbound edition - our local used bookstore has a set for sale - I've wondered more and more if I need or will ever use this. I'm thinking of dropping my pre-pub order, or I may just hang on until it's ready for pre-pub and make my decision then. At the pre-pub price of $480 it does not look like a resource from which I'd likely ever get my money's worth. I may keep the dictionary, though.

Optimistically Egalitarian (Galatians 3:28)

Posts 11
James R Harlan | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 2 2013 11:36 AM

I am anxiously awaiting this publication. I do almost all my sermon preparation with Logos, and this is one missing resource that would make Logos just about complete. I hope we get there, and it gets published.

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