Big day in Advanced Greek today. Doing deep dives into adjectives and prepositions. Taking a very close look at the grammar of 2 Cor. 5:21 and the doctrine of imputation. I'll let you know how it goes.
Monday, October 18, 2021
Time to head off to class. But before I do, how about a quick cycling update? My plan was to write all afternoon, but the weather was such that it practically required me to get outdoors. Since I have a 10 mile race in Cary this Saturday on the American Tobacco Trail, I decided to check out the course. I started here.
Then I rode south for 5 miles before turning around.
As you can see, the trail is in great shape. I even saw some swampy areas of Cary I never knew existed.
All in all, a very nice day to get in a quick ride.
There just happened to be a Red Robin in the neighborhood. And yes, I indulged.
The laborer is worthy of his wages, right? Off to
persecute the saints teach class.
"As iron sharpens iron ...." My colleague Tracy McKenzie and I talking shop today. Such a great esprit on campus. I go to Tracy with all of my Hebrew questions.
Spend time with Jesus in his word today. Ask a friend for help if necessary.
That's all I got.
Sunday, October 17, 2021
"You're offering what nobody wants." Those were the opening words of Ulrich Parzany's sermon at the annual conference of the Bibel Studien Kolleg (Bible Study College) in Germany a week ago. Ihr bietet an was keiner haben will.
|The message starts at 1:01:03.|
I see this every time I drive into town and pass a used car business with only one vehicle for sale in the lot. The same car has been there for months.
I oftentimes think I should stop and inquire about the car if only to express some pity for the salesman. It's not our job as Christians to save the lost. That's Jesus' work. Our responsibility is to begin the hard work of sharing not only God's word but our very lives with the lost. Lifestyle evangelism will never lead anyone to reconciliation. But don't think that our lifestyle doesn't matter. If our lives aren't filled with love, laughter, mercy, and hope, why would anybody want what we're offering?
This is a long-term investment. Expect the world to be skeptical. They see a church divided against itself. They see showmanship and sexism and racism. Or worse. I've grown weary of the infighting, of the excuse-making. We've forgotten that our job is to build bridges with non-believers instead of walls.
Ihr bietet an was keiner haben will.
It would be easier, of course, to beat the lost over the head with Bible verses. But in the end, we can't say the words without playing the music. This is the challenge we must each face individually: Do I have something others will want? And if the answer is yes, then let's offer them the real deal by living out our faith in very everyday, ordinary ways. If we're truly salt, we need to get out of the salt shaker.
P.S. The Bible Studien Kolleg began as the Bibelschule Bergstrasse in Seeheim, a ministry of Greater Europe Mission. This was where Becky and I spent three months in 1978. Its new president at the time was Wilfried Reuter, a well-known and much-beloved German evangelist and musician. Later he would translate for Billy Graham at the 1993 crusade in Essen.
What I loved about these German believers was their passion for lifestyle evangelism. They sought to penetrate the non-Christian community not only with the message of God's love and saving power but through loving their neighbors sacrificially. That's why Christ told us that his life was an example for us. By following it and being faithful to that model, others are bound to see Christ in us and, hopefully, be drawn to him.
Much appreciation to my former Ph.D. student Mel Winstead for putting together this group of essays.
In our Advanced Greek Grammar class on Tuesday we're doing a deep dive into one of the essays -- Mike Shepherd's piece on the contribution Hebrew makes to the study of the Greek of the New Testament.
That's right -- Hebrew. That's why I own three Hebrew New Testaments. We do our Greek students a tragic disservice when we falsely detach them from the Jewish milieu of the New Testament documents. What kind of disciples are we making when our students enter the real world ill-equipped to connect their Greek studies with their Hebrew studies and unable to make sense of the Hebraic world in which the New Testament authors lived? Scanning my bookshelves I see about a billion books on New Testament Greek but hardly anything on the role that Hebrew plays in interpreting the New Testament. So thank you, Mike, for providing us with this balanced and provocative look at a very overlooked subject. Mike concludes:
Not only is it imperative to know Hebrew, Aramaic, and translation-Greek in order to understand the grammar, syntax, and semantics of the Greek NT, but it is also important for the exegete to look for potential Semitic wordplay behind the Greek text.
I could not agree more. (That's why I published an essay called New Testament Semitisms in The Bible Translator back in 1988.) To take only one example from Mike's essay, the wordplay involving Jesus' naming in Matt 1:21 "does not translate into Greek (or English)":
You are to name him Yahweh saves, for he will save his people from their sins.
Again, this is just one example. There is a surprising harvest in the rest of Mike's essay, a treasure trove awaiting discovery. It's like what Jesus told us about the kingdom of heaven -- it is small, hidden early, but surprisingly revealed later. All the little moments in the classroom count, fellow teacher. Every small piece of wisdom you offer matters, even if its results are invisible for the time being. You might not see any results at all, in fact. But just you wait. You'll be surprised at the generation of Bible students you helped to raise.
P.S. You might also enjoy these essays in this volume:
William Varner, "Who is Resisting -- the Righteous One or Someone Else?: James 4:6 and 5:6."
Benjamin Merkle, "Verbal Aspect and Imperatives: Ephesians as a Test Case."
Victor Rhee, "The Role of Chiasm for Understanding Christology in Hebrews 1:1-14."
Stanley Porter, "Defining Discourse Analysis as an Important New Testament Interpretive Framework."
Saturday, October 16, 2021
Easy running today. LOVED IT!
Easy days easy, hard days hard. An easy run is a break from the hard grind of training. It's also a break on the mental side of running. The brain is either working for or against us. Therefore, on easy days it's vital to rest the brain as well. No over-thinking or over-planning. Just turn the doorknob and go. I'm excited to put my body through its workouts in the oncoming days. Before, I was all about time, distance, and speed. I saw no reason to train unless I went all out. Now I get a much more profound sense of joy and fulfillment from my daily slow runs than I ever did beating my body up in order to get a number on a watch. A fast time is not the goal; deep, healthy conditioning of the body is.
That's it. Easy days easy, hard days hard.
Paul wrote, "The purpose of my instruction is so that all believers might be filled with love." I too have a goal for all my teaching.
My textbooks and videos will get you started on your own love affair with New Testament Greek. Making a goal of being able to read your New Testament in Greek is one of the best ways to make Bible study a positive part of your life -- if you do it well. The high rate of dropout for those who want to study Greek mars the joy of learning. I want you to experience the kind of learning that will make you love Greek forever with a profound sense of self-confidence.
I am forever indebted to my own Greek teachers for motivating me to become proficient in the language. Greek has truly been life-changing for me. But let's be clear: forced effort does not get you to the finish line. Attaining any long-term, important goal in your life must be an enjoyable process. It doesn't matter if you have language aptitude or not. You have the potential of becoming a reader of Greek. My goal is to help you succeed. Studying Greek is not about competition with others. Rather, studying Greek is to help us each fulfill our calling in life, and that is to know Christ and to make him known. After all these years of teaching I am still experiencing the joy of Greek -- both teaching it and learning it.
If you're interested, you can access my Greek resources here. But there are many other excellent tools for learning Greek out there, both in print and online. What more could we ask for?
In Monday night's 's Greek class I'll be introducing the participle.
Understanding particles will dramatically increase your ability to read New Testament Greek. In the New Testament, you're going to see particles everywhere. Hebrews is a good example.
Particles help you get sentence variety and can even allow you to construct clauses in a way that expresses subtle nuances of meaning. Always watch for the participle's claws! Get it?
So it's very important to know how to recognize participles and also how to use them. In my chapter on the participle we'll look at dozens of examples of how the participle works in Greek.
Practice your participles, guys! Keep those claws sharp!
Friday, October 15, 2021
Did a 3 mile run today in these wonderful shoes.
Yes, I said "run." You know me. I can't be content to sit back and relax. I want to move. I want to feel my legs and lungs and heart working in harmony. I want to get sweaty. Running isn't just a sport. It's a total way of life. I miss it when I can't do it.
I'm happy to report that my legs held up fine today. They feel rested and strong, despite putting them through their paces last Saturday. Tomorrow I will rest, and then maybe go for a longish run on Sunday. Next week, Lord willing, I want to do a hike I've long planned to do, and that is to climb the Maryland Heights Trail overlooking Harpers Ferry. I'm told the view from the overlook is simply unparalleled. The weather promises to be perfect, and the fall foliage should be in full display.
It's time to begin the journey to my next marathon, and I could not be more excited for this opportunity to race again. Can't stop, won't stop. Marathon training is a level of dedication you really have to dig for. But crossing that finish line is such a special moment.
On to the next challenge!
As y'all know, my final peak race of the year is the Richmond Marathon on Nov. 13. That's only a month away. It will be a big race for me. It will come only a few days after I commemorate Becky's death 8 years ago. If you're thinking, Is Dave going to go off on that tangent again?, I can assure you, I am. This has never been a blog merely about Greek or farming or running. I can read that stuff on any number of sites. What I love about blogs is the personal insight you get into a person's daily life beyond the trappings of the external. For those of you who have stuck with me through the years, consider this a virtual hug.
Losing Becky still has an impact on me. I can see how it's made me stronger, braver, and more compassionate. But there will always be a hole in my heart. Grief, like running a 31-mile ultra, is exhausting. How to get through it? Yes, you get behind yourself and push. But ultimately you rely on Someone Else's strength. Then, when life hands you unchosen suffering, you know what you're capable of.
Psychologists call this "post-traumatic growth." You find meaning through suffering, as did Paul and Peter and James. You didn't want the hand you were dealt, but there were also gifts. The gift of knowing the strength of the Lord. The gift of realizing how short life is. The gift of letting go. And most important of all, the gift of love. I have worked hard to face my pain and, in the process, have learned so much about myself. In the moment of supreme brokenness you see life's purpose with crystal-clear clarity. We are here to spread hope, a hope that is found only in Jesus Christ. When I wasn't expecting it, he held out his arms. Come, he said. And I did.
The best analogy for what I'm trying to say is running.To be a runner you have to be brave. You have to push your limits. You have to keep going when your body is crying out "Stop!" Running takes me to a place that is untouched by strife and politics and denominational squabbles. It takes me to a place where I feel the peace of Christ.
The result is that I am now, more than ever, convinced that nothing can separate me from the love of my God. Not death. Not pain. Not loss. Not heartache. My life is held in the hands of the One who threw the stars into space. I've got to believe he's never going to let me go.
Thursday, October 14, 2021
I missed doing my regular 389 pushups today because I went in to have my chalazion removed. The procedure lasted all of 3 seconds -- a quick incision, and voila!
The funniest thing is that the doc said that chilazions come back in the same place about 50 percent of the time, which means it's likely I'll soon be back to being extraordinarily ugly rather than my usual ordinary ugly. But for today, the patient is recovering and doing well. Thank you, Lord.
I am still basking in the joys of last weekend's ultra. Such a build up, such a great day, and then such a great recovery. I love that old Henry Ford quote: "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right." Last weekend I had to replace negative mantras ("You're not strong enough for this") with positive ones ("Take it one mile at a time"). Getting past 65 is so liberating in so many ways. You don't care what people say or how you look. Today I feel renewed, young, and ready to go out for a nice long run. Don't act your age. Act how you feel. I cheer as loudly for the last place finisher as I do for the first place finisher, for the older runners and for the younger runners alike. That's the beauty of our sport. Everyone gets to play and everyone feels welcome.
That's my "wisdom" for the day. Time to go out and feed the animals.
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
There's nothing I love more than adventures. Since my 70th birthday is just around the corner (June 9, 2022), I've been compiling an adventure bucket list of seriously epic proportions. I mean, you don't turn the BIG Seven-O every year. What should I do to celebrate? Here's my list so far:
- Hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim.
- Climb the Tetons.
- Take the Hadrian's Wall trail across England.
- Trek to Machu Pichu.
- Climb Kilimanjaro.
- Summit Mount Elbert in the Rockies.
- Backpack the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
- Climb the Swiss Alps again.
Right now I'm leaning towards going back to the Alps. I love these majestic mountains. My plan would be to visit old friends in Basel and Zurich and then make Zermatt my home base for climbs on the Allalinhorn, Plathorn, Mettelhorn, and the Rifflehorn. That would be pure perfection if you ask me.
|The 4,027-meter peak Allalinhorn, which is about the same elevation as the Breithorn which I summited in 2017. |
God created us with a passion for exploration. We are here on this earth for discovery, growth, service, creative accomplishment, and adventure. I use the word "adventure" intentionally. An adventure isn't simply a trip you take somewhere. It's a foray into every aspect of your existence. Adventure often requires bravery and courage. It may mean pushing yourself to your limits. You can even use adventure as a tool for decision-making. Where do I go in life from here? What is there left for me to discover? How can I still inspire others through my adventures and experiences?
We all have de-stressing activities we engage in during times of transition or anxiety. To me, that's what adventures are for. When I travel, even if it's only a few miles, I leave my worries behind. And remember: there are no age limits to adventure. It's something you can stick with for life. This is very different from the spirit-defeating dilemma of coming to the end of one's career with no anticipation that God still has something important in store for you. Adventure is my preemptive strike against sourness and burnout.
Sure, change can be painful. But as we welcome new challenges and see them as opportunities for personal development, we will surely grow.
I just got back from an easy 3 mile walk at the local high school.
The school district has actually designated this area of the school as open to the public even during school hours when the teams aren't practicing.
Of course, please keep in mind that just because a track is on government property does not mean that it is open to the public. The proper etiquette is to ask the school officials about it. "But my tax dollars paid for the track!" This argument only goes so far. Your tax dollars also pay for police cars but you don't get to borrow one when your car is in the shop. Please do not use the track if you're told not to.
Halifax County deserves a big "Thank you" from all of us who use this track for our workouts. It is a blessing we never want to take for granted.
Have you noticed how all of the NFL teams seem to be outperforming themselves on the field this year? Just look at any of the week 5 highlight reels. Rushing backs are scrambling for those extra few inches. Defensive backs are making really hard tackles. And the passing game? My goodness. Is this the era of offense or what?
What has made the difference? I think it's because the crowds are back. Stadiums are full again. And that must make a huge difference to the players.
At one time, the NFL adopted rules to control crowd noise. Fortunately they reversed their decision and crowds are again free to chant louder and louder. Obviously, players attach to that energy. You want to perform in a way that keeps that energy flowing. Playing professional football games in empty stadiums is hopefully now (or soon will be) a thing of the past. It had a highly negative affect on the teams. With fans absent, the home team advantage was almost halved. True, some quarterbacks had a great season last year, but even they must have missed the crowd support.
Maybe we could call this the power of encouragement. It's a power that probably best belongs in the hands of God. But he has entrusted that power to us as his creatures. Every day we have the privilege of speaking encouragement into the lives of others. When we tell each other that we are doing a wonderful job as fellow "players" in the game of life, we rise even higher to the occasion. Like you, I have people in my life who are constantly cheering me on. What a marvelous blessing. I am so blessed to call them friends.
True love encourages. It's just that simple. This means little acts of kindness and big acts of movement toward change. You have to be an encourager every day of your life. You will never feel more alive. In order to be our best selves, we need to build each other up.
Yesterday I got this pair of road racing shoes.
It's the Torin 5 by Altra. They are the lightest running shoe I've ever owned. They are LIGHT LIGHT LIGHT! Granted, I've only worn them once (yesterday) but trust me when I say that they feel twice as light as my old pair of New Balance 1080s. I frankly cannot believe how comfortable these running shoes are. I will put them through the paces as soon as I've fully recovered from Saturday's ultra. I expect the new EgoMax foam to provide more cushion than my previous shoes. I picked up my pair from our local running shoe store in Wake Forest -- Run-N-Tri Outfitters. My thanks to Bryan Staffey and his peeps for great service and even a discount. Bryan himself has decades of experience in the world of competitive running and has trained his staff in fitting techniques and bioomechanics of the running foot. They will listen to your problems and help you make a sound decision.
I hope you will consider trying on a pair of Torin 5s when you're in a shoe store. Maybe they will work for you.
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Before heading home I wanted to thank two people. First, today my assistant Hayden shared with my Greek class how to use the TLG search engine for doing Greek word and grammatical searches.
Thank you, Hayden! Secondly, a huge shout out to Seth who won a free book today by scoring a 109/110 on today's quiz.
Well, done, Seth! The book is none other than my esteemed colleague Ben Merkle's new beginning Greek grammar (with Rob Plummer), which is excellent in every way.
All in all a great two days in the Forest of Wake. Hope y'all are doing well wherever you are.
You gotta love Tom Brady.
Did you see the game this weekend? They're saying that Brady is too old for football. Apparently he didn't get the memo. "Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years," wrote Samuel Ullman. "We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but giving up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul."
Ya gotta love all them seasoned citizens who are still getting it done!
Time for some last minute prep for my Advanced Greek course today.
Stan Porter's chapter on the perfect tense is a rich source of information. I agree completely with his view that there are 3 (and not 2) aspects in Greek, that the concept of binary opposition plays a key role, and that a "semantic cline" exists from the least marked to the most marked aspect (aoristic aspect to imperfective acpect to perfective aspect -- using my nomenclature for the aspects).
I like to state the obvious. 😇
Monday, October 11, 2021
Today it's back to campus, where nobody will ask me about my weekend race or really care for that matter. Sniff. Can't it be about me just once? Getting back to your "normal" life after a peak race is like the day after Christmas. Such a mountain top, and then the daily grind. Truth be told, I love teaching every bit as much as I love running. It's just a matter of focus. It's time now to build the body back up slowly, and then gradually begin training for my next race. Today my message therapist will work on my legs for an hour and a half. Then it's back to exercising. Swimming helps a lot during the recovery period. I will take at least a week off from running. Just listen to your body. It will tell you. So will dark chocolate and almonds. Recovery is always harder than training. Running causes fatigue and tearing in your muscles. I hate to say it, but the older we are the harder it is to recover quickly. Take time off if you can't shake an ache. Knowing that there others out there who can relate to what you're going through can also help. Eat "real" food. Take advantage of the psychological benefits of resting. Allow your body to replenish its energy stores and repair damaged tissues.
I may be physically resting but my mind is going a thousand miles per hour. Lots of fun stuff to teach this week, including how the perfect tense works not only in Koine Greek but in Spanish, German, and Latin. Just for fun, which of these examples is a match for the Greek perfect tense (there's only two of them):
1. I have arrived.
2. I have lived in Virginia for 22 years.
3. I have visited Paris.
4. Global warming has been studied for some time.
5. A bear has been in the area.
6. The video has been uploaded.
Have a great week,
Sunday, October 10, 2021
It was an overcast day for yesterday's High Bridge 50K in Farmville. The race did not disappoint! Conditions were perfect from the get-go. Yes, there was a threat of rain, but it didn't begin pouring down until after the race. We arrived at the finish line and then were bused to the start 31 miles away.
This event attracts runners of all different levels. In fact, according to a pre-race show of hands, there were more first time ultramarathoners present than otherwise. The race started at 8:00. I began at the back of the pack as I always do.
Before long I found my pace, which just happened to coincide with the pace these guys were running.
I must have followed them for 24 or 25 miles before they found another gear and left me behind. I knew this race would be a good test of my fitness. Everything seemed to be going well until the very end, when I had to negotiate about a mile of uphill before entering the town of Pamplin.
I had been running hard but now I had to dig really deep. During the pre-race briefing, Steve Englund, the race director, told us he had three goals for us going into today's race: Have fun, stay safe, and finish.
He promised to be there personally for each of us as we crossed the finish line. So you can imagine my joy and relief when I finally got a glimpse of him.
Thank you, Steve!
My body held up really well, thank the Lord. Nothing ever "hurt" though today I am feeling stiff. I am happy with my pacing, execution, and endurance. There was a ridiculous amount of top talent here, including this muscular guy.
Hey, you got it, flaunt it. I almost took my shirt off, too, but I didn't want to embarrass him.
I would give the race 5 stars out of 5.
The race was managed and executed flawlessly.
Lessons learned? I need to be tougher. I need to run more by feel than by time. My workouts need to be longer.
I can still improve. So can you. 😀
Friday, October 8, 2021
Well, I guess I'm feeling a little pensive today. Tomorrow is the big race. I have no clue how long I've been training for it but it feels like an eternity. (Okay, that's a bit overly dramatic, but it feels that way.) "Daunting" is the only word that comes to mind. At 7:00 am we runners will be bused to the starting line in Burkeville, VA. Do you even know where that is? Most people don't. The starting area will be energized like you can't believe. But then, after we start running, the field of 73 contestants will thin out. During a 31 mile race it's likely you will never see another competitor out there on the course. I will run for many hours alone on the trail, seeing only aid station workers every 5-6 miles. The "monotonous trudge" will have begun.
"Monotonous" is the operative word here. You have to maintain a pace that will keep you from flirting with the race cutoff time at A4 (aid station 4). At some point in the race my imposter syndrome will kick in. "You don't deserve to be out here with the big boys, Dave. You're not an ultra runner." I can see it already. At any moment the RD (race director) will tap me on the shoulder and say, "Sorry, Dave, but there's been an unfortunate mistake. We emailed an acceptance letter to the wrong person." Even if that never happens, I'll still partly feel like a fraud.
Ultra runners have one goal, and that is to run as efficiently as possible. They have to learn to move very consistently for a very long time. The greatest danger is overdoing it to the point where you burn out psychologically. And why do they do it? I'll let G. K. Chesterton answer that question: "A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame and money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well."
The New Testament has a lot to say about this kind of dedication -- when life becomes same-old-same-old and monotonous. I don't know about you, but I find it easier to be a Christian on the heights or in the depths. On the heights we are sustained by the thrill of it all. In the depths we are driven to God by sheer desperation. For me, it always takes a lot more grace to face the grind -- those ordinary, day-by-day, run-of-the-mill times when we have to run and not grow weary. Thankfully, there's as much grace for the grind as for the glorious heights and the inglorious depths. His grace is sufficient for it all.
That's why I love trail ultramarathons. No fanfare. No huge crowds like in Chicago or DC. Just a monotonous trudge. And an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the blessings I so often take for granted. Truly, it's "life in a day."
Can't wait to teach on textual criticism in our beginning Greek class this Monday night. We'll begin with a quiz over our textbook.
Then we'll look at the purpose, goals, history, materials, etc. of the art and science of textual criticism.
We also have to deal with the debate over methodology.
Finally, I am eager to walk my students through an example or two. I think I'll choose one from Matthew and one from John.
For instance, did Jesus condemn all anger or only "causeless" anger? Big question!
I so wish you could join us. Call me crazy, but I don't think the subject is that hard. And yes, I still believe that the goal of textual criticism is the recovery of the original text. A good friend of mine agrees.
You can check out Abidan's book here. I'm not going to blog in-depth about this right now. But I feel it's our duty as Bible readers to be at least familiar with this subject. I love that we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to New Testament textual criticism. This is a provision from the Lord. In that light, how can we afford to be apathetic about the topic?
Thursday, October 7, 2021
So this is what's been happening in my life:
1. Saw the eye doc about my chalazion -- which, by the way, is now so big I had to take out a birth certificate on it. When he saw the size of my affectionate little bump, his eyes widened and his jaw dropped, as if to say, "This kind comes out only by prayer and fasting." He wanted to excise it right then and there, but when he heard that I'd be running for 7 hours this weekend decided to postpone the procedure until next week. I'm going to miss my chalazion. It's almost part of the family.
2. Mark, the trainer at the Y, was a big help today as he walked me through the proper form for the machines in the weight room.
He told me that good form is always more important than the number of pounds you're lifting. So my goal today was to double-check my technique with a weight training specialist. The better your form, the better the result and the less likely you are to get injured.
|Look mom, I'm lifting! |
3. Race weather on Saturday is not looking good. There's now an 80 percent chance of rain, which itself isn't an issue (they don't cancel races for rain). But if a chance of thunderstorms develops, I'm afraid the race director may cancel the race altogether and postpone it till next year. But I'm even more afraid of lightening, especially during a trail race where the aid stations are 5-6 miles apart. So we'll see. I actually enjoy running in the rain. Must be all those days of liquid sunshine back in the Islands.
4. Oh, one last thing. I see there are now 8 male entrants in this weekend's ultra who are in the geriatric division (60-69). Imagine a group of seasoned citizens, all strangers, coming together to compete against one another. For some reason, this actually makes me laugh. I think it just speaks to how important it is to keep active, especially as one grows older. While our lives are all different, our goal is the same: stay active and healthy for as long as we can. No bells and whistles, just the trail and some healthy competition.
Let the games begin, rain or not!