I confess that I enjoy languages, and I’ve always had a had an interest in German because my dad spent time in Germany in the air force and always had a German grammar on a bookshelf while I was growing up. So, learning German wasn’t a task that I found oppressive. That said, I find that it is harder and harder to convince students that the effort is worth the payoff, and I see that more and more PhD theses are engaging German less and less. So is German worth it?

I found it to be so in the last week or so, and so I thought I’d pass along the experience. Chris Eberhart, Matthias Henze, and a couple of others hosted a conference on covenant here in Houston just before SBL. Through the various sponsors, it turned out that about 90% of the conference presenters were German. Of course, they conceded to the current winds  by presenting in English, but some discussion naturally occurred in German. So without facility in German, I’d have been lost. It turns out too that instructions about presenting in English didn’t make it around to all (or were not heeded?), and one of the presentations was in German. Though my listening is not attuned as my reading, I was able to keep up because I still make an effort to keep it fresh. While this example isn’t a common occurrence, this facility allows me to participate at a level not otherwise accessible.

More to the substance of the issue, different types of conversations go on within different language groups. For instance, when I was working on glory in Romans, I found that there was a discussion that took place almost singularly among German-language scholarship about the relationship of glory and righteousness. Of course, you don’t know that that discussion is there unless you have access to it through language facility.

Perhaps in another decade or two English will so dominate that facility in modern research languages will go by the wayside among NT scholars. But until then I’m holding up the banner.

In case you wonder how I keep up my German: I regularly read German novels on a Kindle with the dictionary set to a German-English dictionary so I can click on a word on the fly and get the translation. I don’t look up everything since my focus is more the story, but it keeps me in it regularly.

One of the great aspects of the internet is the access to books that are no longer under copyright, but they are of course by nature very old. Over the past several years I’ve started to hear more and more about contemporary open access (text)books that are coming available. Some are written primarily as open access online, such as Nijay Gupta’s Intermediate Biblical Greek Reader: Galatians and Related Texts. Others, however, are conversions of print books that have been released or edited for an online setting.

That appears to be the basis of this open access German textbook: A Foundation Course in Reading German, by Howard Martin, revised and expanded as an open online textbook by Alan Ng. The descriptor notes “This open textbook is currently maintained by Dr. Alan Ng and Dr. Sarah Korpi to support the University of Wisconsin online course German 391.”

After poking through it, I found the explanations clear and the examples helpful. Let me give an example: One thing that I have struggled to find with textbooks is a good introduction to “lassen” since it can communicate various things. While short and (appropriately) to the point, this lays things out clearly: https://courses.dcs.wisc.edu/wp/readinggerman/verbs-function-like-modals/

Hopefully those studying will find it helpful.

 

My good friend David Capes lost his son Daniel Capes recently to cancer. This endowed scholarship is a wonderful way to help his life continue to impact others. I commend you to participate.

A Word in Edgewise

Since our son, Daniel, died ten weeks ago, Cathy and I have established  The Daniel Ryan Capes Endowed Scholarship in Writing at his alma mater, Houston Baptist University.  It will be available to worthy junior or senior writing majors beginning fall semester 2020.  To fund the scholarship we will need to raise a minimum of $75,000 over the next three years.

Daniel and Toby 2 Daniel and his son, Toby (Summer 2018)

Daniel graduated from HBU in 2006 with a degree in writing.  His first job was as a technical writer on NASA’s Constellation project.  But his real passion was to become a story-writer for video games. His dream came true when he was able to use his writing skills to work with TimeGate, SixFoot, and Cryptic Studios creating story lines for various games.  Daniel loved a good story and a good movie; he knew the power of stories to instruct us, entertain us, and express our deepest…

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I (Ben) got interviewed a few weeks ago by David Stark for a blog series he’s doing on how to write when you’ve got multiple projects and commitments. Though a few weeks old, I’m just now posting about it myself because of a paperwork bomb that blew up here at HBU and sucked up an inordinate amount of my time. Perhaps you might find something helpful…

https://www.jdavidstark.com/pro-tips-for-busy-writers-ben-blackwell/

Perhaps you might know this but Forrest Gump is a modern take on Voltaire’s Candide, which was a critique of Leibniz’s monergistic perspective. While the movie Forrest Gump does not directly address monergism and synergism, the key theme is a debate between destiny and chance.

I had a student pull together key clips to pull this out several years ago. YouTube must be recommending it because it’s gotten a lot of recent comments, so I figured I’d pass along the clip as well:

If you are interested in further ideas about monergism and synergism in the Christian tradition, check out my forthcoming book where we compare and contrast how this works in regard to various perspectives on sin and salvation: Engaging Theology: A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Introduction.

Christosis CoverGot word that the Paul within Antiquity group at the upcoming Catholic Biblical Association will be discussing my book Christosis. I have learned to have much more tempered expectations about any doctoral thesis/dissertation having wider attention and longevity, so I can’t complain that it is getting wider attention. I am biased but I do think it’s the best book on Paul and theosis out there.

Michael Barber and Brant Pitre are heading up the Paul within Antiquity group at CBA. They along with John Kincaid have a really nice book on Paul that will hit the bookshelves any day now: Paul, a New Covenant Jew: Rethinking Pauline Theology. It has so many virtues, but let me highlight one in particular. I think it has one of the clearest explanations of the major approaches to Paul that I’ve read. That clarity and substance is then applied to their own reading of Paul.

Today is Irenaeus of Lyon’s feast day in the western calendar–June 28–so I thought it would be nice to highlight a few of my (Ben’s) essays and articles on Irenaeus’ theology, particularly through the lens of the reception of Paul’s letters, that I have written over the last decade or so.

“Paul and Irenaeus” in Paul and the Second Century: The Legacy of Paul’s Life, Letters, and Teaching, ed. Michael F. Bird and Joseph R. Dodson (London: T&T Clark, 2011), 190-206. This is an overview article about the general reception of Paul in Irenaeus’ works where I explore key historical issues and key themes.

“Deification in Irenaeus” in Christosis: Engaging Paul’s Soteriology with His Patristic Interpreters (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016). This is a chapter-length treatment of Irenaeus’ soteriology in general and theology of deification in particular. In detailing his theology, I also show his strong dependence upon Paul for generating these deification themes (immortality, adoption, etc.).

“Two Early Perspectives on Participation in Paul: Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria” in ‘In Christ’ in Paul: Explorations in Paul’s Theological Vision of Union and Participation, eds. Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Constantine R. Campbell and Michael J. Thate (WUNT II/384; Mohr Siebeck, 2015), 331-55. By using a comparison of Irenaeus and Clement, I further clarified my taxonomy of participation in patristic theology. I then explored key passages and themes related to Irenaeus (and Clement) on the topic of participation and Paul.

“Partakers of Adoption: Irenaeus and His Use of Paul,” Letter and Spirit 11 (2016): 35–64. Sonship and adoption are key themes in Irenaeus’ theology, and I provide a critical analysis that traces out the nature of Adamic and Abrahamic sonship that shapes the direction of Ireneaus’ argument.

“The Covenant of Promise: Abraham in Irenaeus” in Irenaeus and Paul (Pauline and Patristic Scholars in Debate); eds., Todd D. Still and David E. Wilhite (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2020). In the context of Irenaeus’ wider covenant theology, I specifically explore the nature of Abraham and the Abrahamic covenant in Irenaeus’ theology. Much attention has been given to Irenaeus’ use of Adam to ground his theology of creation to new creation, but he also uses Abraham to ground his theology of promise and fulfillment.