Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's a . . . book!

Name: NIVAC Deuteronomy
Delivered: August 21, 2012
Height: 9.1 inches
Weight: 2.4 pounds
Length: 880 pages
Proud Parent: Daniel Block

It's true, Daniel Block's NIV Application Commentary on Deuteronomy has hit the shelves. Remember the sneak preview I gave you back in February?

The gestation period for this one was more than 10 years.  All of us who have had the privilege of studying Deuteronomy with Dr. Block are delighted to see a safe delivery. Now all of you can share our joy. Congratulations, Dr. Block!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

table talk: listening in on ancient conversations

Clement of Alexandria
I've spent most of today with Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther, though I did run into Tertullian unexpectedly in the library stacks. Yesterday it was Augustine, Origen, Ambrose, Gregory of Nazianzus, Hilary of Poitiers, and — my new buddy — Clement of Alexandria. I got lost in the stacks more than once trying to find all of them, and some are still hiding even today. Monday I listened in on medieval Jewish rabbis as they argued about the proper interpretation of what I'm calling the "name command" (Exodus 20:7 and Deuteronomy 5:11). I feel like an aural archaeologist, listening in on ancient sermons, reading ancient correspondence, digging through pages of books long-forgotten to find treasure.

Part of writing a dissertation is learning to listen. Before I start speaking I need to hear what others have to say. And they've been saying things for a long time. Things I, and all of us, need to hear. None of them wrote in English, so I'm navigating other languages (Greek, Latin, French, German) and a variety of translations, thankful for those who have labored before me. None of them shared my cultural context, so I'm also trying to understand what was important to each of them—what made them say it that way, thankful for friends who have more experience than I do in this strange, old world. By listening I've learned new words like apophaticism (don't ask me to explain that one), found new places in the library (the 270s) and online (, and discovered that I could spend the rest of my life listening and never get anything written.

After another day of digging it will be time to take stock of what I've learned and make a big decision: who will I invite to be part of my first chapter? Who best articulates the various ways God's people (Jewish and Christian) have understood the name command across the ages? There won't be room at the table for everyone, so I'll need to draw up an elite guest list and decide how to moderate this discussion. I'm sure all the church fathers are on pins and needles waiting to find out if they made the cut. Meanwhile, the library workers will all give a deep sigh of relief that Carmen is done digging, for now.