Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pulpit Review: More Old Testament Resources


Bartelt, Andrew H. and Andrew E. Steinmann. Fundamental Biblical Hebrew/Fundamental Biblical Aramaic. St. Louis: Concordia, 2012 (2000, 2004). 378 Pages. Cloth. $62.99. https://www.cph.org/p-2918-fundamental-biblical-hebrew-and-aramaic.aspx (P)

Bartelt, Andrew H. and Andrew E. Steinmann. Workbook and Supplementary Exercises for Fundamental Biblical Hebrew and Fundamental Biblical Aramaic. St. Louis: Concordia, 2004 (2000, 2003). 294 Pages. Spiral. $24.99. https://www.cph.org/p-2921-fundamental-biblical-hebrew-and-aramaic-workbook.aspx (P)

Simonetti, Manlio and Marco Conti, editors. Thomas C. Oden, General Editor. Job (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Old Testament VI). Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006. 253 Pages. Cloth. $40.00. http://www.ivpress.com/ (P) 


Ferreiro, Alberto, editor. Thomas C. Oden, General Editor. The Twelve Prophets (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Old Testament XIV). Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003. 366 Pages. Cloth. $40.00. http://www.ivpress.com/ (P) 


More high-powered and worthwhile resources for understanding the Old Testament are in store for you in this review.

First, we head to CPH for the fundamentals of Aramaic and Hebrew:


This new volume contains both fundamental biblical Hebrew and Aramaic.

The fundamental biblical Hebrew is organized in a manner that facilitates learning and serves as an easy-to-use reference tool, including vocabulary, morphology, and syntax. While it serves as a basic Hebrew textbook and grammar for the purpose of theological study, it is useful for college, university and seminary courses, as well as a desk reference for pastors engaged in the study of the Bible in its original language.

The Hebrew section also includes translation and reading exercises, a full set of verb paradigm charts (regular and irregular), and a Hebrew-to-English glossary.

The fundamental biblical Aramaic section follows the Hebrew text to enable undergraduate and seminary students, who possess a working knowledge of biblical Hebrew, a quick reading proficiency in biblical Aramaic. While it is not designed to introduce other Aramaic dialects, such as Old Aramaic, Jewish Palestinian Aramaic, Palmyrene or Nabatean, it is written so that the advanced student who wishes to pursue further study by exploring ancient Aramaic dialects may do so. To that end, from time to time, reference is made to the historical developments in ancient Aramaic. 


This grammar concentrates on biblical Aramaic, primarily emphasizing the grammatical features the student needs to understand in order to read. Its structure allows the student to finish the grammar and to progress on to reading the actual Biblical texts in a typical semester. All the exercises, with the exception of the beginning ones, are drawn from the Bible, exposing the student to actual biblical Aramaic while learning the grammar.


The exercises in this workbook reproduce the exercises in the chapters of Fundamental Biblical Hebrew. More space is provided for writing out the exercises. The chapter summaries from the textbook are included at the end of this workbook. In addition, at the end of each chapter's exercises are supplementary exercises. Two principles will be apparent to anyone using these supplementary exercises:

1) The supplementary exercises require students to reproduce basic Hebrew forms, including forms of weak verbs, as an aid to learning the basics of Hebrew morphology.

2) This workbook emphasizes reading actual Biblical Hebrew as an aid to learning syntax. The texts reproduced are exactly as they appear in the Hebrew books of the Old Testament.

(Publisher's Website)

I must admit being intimidated by returning to a rigorous study of the Biblical languages of the Old Testament scriptures. Perhaps you are, too. Our Winkel, in recent years, has had at least one Old Testament exegetical study a year. Yes, I did two of them. Recently, our congregation has done two long-term OT Sunday Morning Bible studies (Jesus in the Book of Isaiah, Judges). They have been good for me to help get my Hebrew skills back into shape.

I didn't have the benefit of Dr. Steinmann's excellent Aramaic grammar while I was at the Sem, but I do now. I loved my Aramaic class, even though it was rigorous, yet learned a lot by the last third of this volume. The first two thirds are the latest edition of Dr. Bartelt's Hebrew text. We got to test it at 801 in the late 1990's. I still have my original letter-sized version with spiral binding made by the seminary copy shop. I have yet to copy my notes over into this handsome new edition.

Vocabulary in both parts was chosen on the basis of frequency in the Biblical text. Hebrew consonant and vowel characters are readable, even without magnification. The companion workbook reproduces exercises from the text so that your hardcover can be used and reused as necessary.

I appreciate the opportunity this text gives me (and you) to revisit a seminary-given skill for the sake of the Gospel of Christ.


We mistakenly overlooked the following two ACCS titles during our main run of reviews on the series. We aim to correct this oversight now.

The book of Job presents its readers with a profound drama concerning innocent suffering. Such honest, forthright wrestling with evil and the silence of God has intrigued a wide range of readers, both religious and nonreligious.

Surprisingly, the earliest fathers showed little interest in the book of Job. Not until Origen in the early third century is there much evidence of any systematic treatment of the book, and most of Origen's treatment is known to us only from the catenae. More intense interest came at the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth.

The excerpts in this collection focus on systematic treatment. Among Greek texts are those from Origen, Didymus the Blind, Julian the Arian, John Chrysostom, Hesychius of Jerusalem and Olympiodorus. Among Latin sources we find Julian of Eclanum, Philip the Priest and Gregory the Great. Among Syriac sources we find Ephrem the Syrian and Isho'dad of Merv, some of whose work is made available here for the first time in English.

In store for readers of this volume is once again a great feast of wisdom from the ancient resources of the church.

Manlio Simonetti, a widely acknowledged expert in patristic biblical interpretation, teaches at the University of Rome and at the Augustinian Patristic Institute in Rome. He is the author of several books and Bible commentaries, including Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church: An Historical Introduction to Patristic Exegesis (T & T Clark).

Marco Conti (Ph.D., University of Leeds) is professor of medieval and humanistic Latin literature at the Ateneo Salesiano and lecturer in classical mythology and religions of the Roman Empire at the Richmond University in Rome.

(Publisher's Website)

I look to commentaries to help me find what I've missed in my exegetical study of a text. Sometimes, commentaries help when you are pressed for time. Preaching on Job 19:23-29 for a funeral? Gain the insights of Julian of Eclanum, Ephrem the Syrian, Chrystostom, and Gregory the Great to comfort those who mourn with our Resurrection hope in Christ (105-106).

Is wisdom reserved only for the old? Reconsider Elihu's speech  (32:1-14) as you encourage the young. Chrysostom says:

Why is it not said, But then, why did you not fight from the start together with us in order to defend God? He answers, I withdrew into my age, while I expected, he says, to hear you pronounce a beautiful and wonderful speech. Notice how he did not look fo rhonors, how he conceded them the first rank, how he showed that even then now he would not have spoken if they had not compelled him to do so (164).

When I write reviews of Study Bibles, I often zoom in on the Behemoth and Leviathan (40:15ff, 208). How do they handle it? Is it a myth? A hippo? At least the Fathers confessed it was a Dragon! Modern creation science holds it to be one, too, a dinosaur!

Our second ACCS volume covers the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament, minor in size, but not in stature or content.

"And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, [the risen Jesus] interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (Lk 24:27).

The church fathers mined the Old Testament throughout for prophetic utterances regarding the Messiah, but few books yielded as much messianic ore as the Twelve Prophets, sometimes known as the Minor Prophets, not because of their relative importance but because of the relative brevity of their writings.

Encouraged by the example of the New Testament writers themselves, the church fathers found numerous parallels between the Gospels and the prophetic books. Among the events foretold, they found not only the flight into Egypt after the nativity, the passion and resurrection of Christ, and the outpuoring of the Spirit at Pentecost, but also Judas's act of betrayal, the earthquake at Jesus' death and the rending of the temple veil. Detail upon detail brimmed with significance for Christian doctrine, including baptism and the Eucharist as well as the relation between the covenants.

In this rich and vital resource edited by Alberto Ferreiro you will find excerpts, some translated here into English for the first time, from more than thirty church fathers, ranging in time from Clement of Rome, Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (late first and early second centuries) to Gregory the Great, Braulio of Saragossa and Bede the Venerable (late sixth to early eighth centuries). Geographically the sources range from the great Cappadocians--Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa--John Chrysostom, Ephrem the Syrian and Hippolytus in the East to Ambrose, Augustine, Cyprian and Tertullian in the West and Origen, Cyril and Pachomius in Egypt.

Here is a treasure trove out of which Christians may bring riches both old and new in their understanding of these ancient texts.

Alberto Ferreiro is professor of history at Seattle Pacific University in Seattle, Washington.

(Publisher's Website)

I do not envy the task General Editor Thomas Oden assigned to Alberto Ferreiro. I pray his diligent, attentive, and far-ranging work on the Twelve Prophets will bring these books back to the importance they had in the estimation of the Fathersx (xvii).

Irenaeus shows the Christology in Hosea (1:1-3, 3). Gregory the Great (64) helps us better understand the two comings of Christ through Joel 2:1-11. Amos foresaw Christ. Read Cyril of Jerusalem on Amos 4:1-13, 96). With Ambrose, read Jonah 4 in the context of Redemption (148). Meditate on the Incarnate word with Theodoret of Cyr and Micah 5. Improve your preaching by reading good mini-sermons in The Twelve Prophets, part of Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture.

We believe we have one remaining title to review in the ACCS. We hope to receive, read, and review that title for you in the near future. In the meantime, God bless your study of the "older testament" in the original Hebrew and Aramaic with the insights of the Church Fathers and encouragement from the Lutheran Confessions.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

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