Zondervan is doing another 50% off of my Greek syntax videos for a short time only. These are intended as a tutorial for my grammar and have supplemental information that goes beyond the grammar (e.g., greater discussion of verbal aspect, historical presents, etc.). Great gift for a graduate, pastor, or student entering second-year Greek.
The world has changed at a dizzying (and, concomitantly, nauseating, pace) in 2020, but one thing remains constant. Hebrews 13.8 declares, “Jesus Christ is the same—yesterday, today, and forever!” Yet, the Jesus Christ who is proclaimed in pulpits across the nation and spanning the globe is often conformed to the fashionable ideology of the day. He is not the same as he was yesterday.
The Church needs rock solid pastors and leaders who know the Lord and know the text. People who preach the same Jesus Christ the apostles proclaimed. We need leaders who have been trained well in Scripture.
I am in my fourth decade of teaching at Dallas Seminary. I have served under five of the six presidents this institute has had. One thing I have deeply loved about the school is its commitment to the word of God. It’s the only theological seminary I know of that, instead of offering a three-year Master of Divinity degree, offers a four-year Master of Theology degree. This has been the same from the beginning, 96 years ago.
The fourth year gives the student 33% more time than an MDiv to reflect, meditate, dialog, fellowship, and dig in. Things gel in that fourth year. And the high-level of biblically-based, earnest fellowship/discussions—from both the minutiae of the text to macro-current events that are reshaping our world, and everything in between—will almost never be replicated after you leave seminary. You will find that Christians—even Christian leaders—are usually just not that interested in the Bible. This sad state of affairs needs an equal and opposite reaction if evangelical Christianity is going to survive.
During the pandemic, potential students are really questioning the necessity of that fourth year, and questioning moving to Texas. It’s too expensive. It’s not necessary. I have a ministry right where I am. Dallas is too hot. It’s too great a sacrifice. My advice: Don’t shortcut your training when preparing for a lifetime of ministry. The Lord never put a premium on ignorance. His condemnation of the religious leaders of his day was both that they did not know the power of God or the Scriptures. Our students learn the biblical languages especially with a view toward faithful exegesis and exposition of the text. And yes, they pay a big price.
The One Dollar House
I grew up in Newport Beach, California. To move to Texas with my new bride was challenging. I was leaving a ministry in SoCal—a church where I was the assistant pastor. We bought a house for $1.00 (you read that right) and lived in it for most of my years of preparation in the ThM program.
(The house was part of the Homestead Urban Renewal program. Essentially, a lottery was set up for potential homeowners to get a foreclosed, dilapidated house in a very bad neighborhood for a buck and bring it up to city code. They had to own it for at least three years. Ours was at the very bottom of our list: house built in 1920, asbestos siding, lead paint, no AC, no heat, no shower, foundation shifting 12” from one end of the house to the other. And thousands upon thousands of roaches which we could never eradicate. We lived there for three and a half years, and we got to know poverty well—both because all our neighbors were very poor and because we shared in their economic state. We also got to see the underbelly of racism and oppression.)
In spite of our poverty, in spite of the sky-high crime rate in our neighborhood, in spite of the weather, in spite of the army of roaches, God provided for us. He saw us through our difficulties. He was faithful. The Sovereign of the universe, God himself, designed this wilderness experience for our good and his glory. These were formative years. We made the sacrifice because we believed that the ThM was the best way for me to prepare for a lifetime of ministry. And along the way, the Master Teacher put us through a curriculum of his own. I wouldn’t trade those years for a million bucks.
Tuition costs have gone up exponentially since the 1970s. And houses nowadays—even in Dallas—usually cost a bit more than a buck. But Dallas has one of the lowest unemployment numbers in the country. It’s been that way for decades. And DTS has made a remarkable, stunning offer to ThM students: fourth year free! The last twenty-four units will cost you nothing, nada, zilch—provided you take them the way they should be taken: on campus, in the flesh, in Dallas. The particulars are found at this link: https://www.dts.edu/admissions/tuition-aid/scholarships-discounts/last-year-free/.
Lots of things are competing for your time. But the deep-dive training that is a pastor’s and teacher’s requisite are a small price to pay in order to serve King Jesus for the rest of your days. And you just might find that the benefits and blessings that accompany you during the four years in Dallas are something that you would not trade for a million bucks.
The administration of Dallas Theological Seminary has neither endorsed this blog, nor was it even aware that I was writing it. These are my own reflections.
Guest post by Stratton L. Ladewig
In November, New Testament Papyri 𝔓45, 𝔓46, 𝔓47: Facsimiles (NTP) will be released—a collaboration between Hendrickson and CSNTM. This publication is the culmination of a project started in 2013 when CSNTM digitized the collection at the Chester Beatty (formerly known as the Chester Beatty Library). The following year, the portion of P46 that is housed at the University of Michigan was digitized. There will be two facsimile volumes: one with papyrus images against a black background and the other with a white background. We are excited about the developments in these manuscripts’ presentation. Four advancements in P45’s textual history are presented in NTP and are highlighted here: (1) digital reunification of the multiple fragments with their larger papyrus leaves, (2) the in-print release of a new plate containing twelve fragments, (3) the identification of a previously unknown leaf, and (4) a fuller presentation of folio 8.
The development of technology facilitated the opportunity to reassemble the fragmentary pieces of P45’s papyrus. Almost every leaf of the manuscript could rightfully be considered a fragment. Of its 30 known leaves, most are “mutilated”—to quote Frederic G. Kenyon (General Introduction, p. 6). However, several smaller pieces have been discovered since the manuscript was initially placed in glass, and it is these fragments that are addressed here. These smaller fragments are found in separate plates of glass from the larger portions to which they belong. In NTP, these later discoveries are reunited digitally and presented as they once were. The result is that a fuller testimony is recorded. At times, letters were split in half, each being found on separate portions of the papyrus in multiple plates of glass. It is stunning to see these fragments united in a full color, high resolution reproduction.
(Image caption: Left: a portion of P45 folio 16, Middle:
a portion of fragment #4; Right: a portion of fragment #5)
The second advancement in the presentation of P45 is the release of twelve fragments that are in print for the first time. These fragments are located in a single plate at the Chester Beatty. This release supplements the knowledge base of this witness to the NT. The contents of six of the fragments have been identified. As such, in the facsimiles, these are placed with their respective leaves—as mentioned above—giving a more complete record of the manuscript’s contents. On occasion, two fragments were found to belong to the same leaf. It is thrilling to realize that research on P45, as vast as the literature has been in the past 86 years, still has room for discovery.
Third, two of the fragments, which were identified by T. C. Skeat and B. C. McGing in 1991, belong to the same P45 leaf. These two are currently found in the same plate, but they are mixed with other fragments from a manuscript of Numbers and Deuteronomy, not P45. Nevertheless, because they originally came from a single papyrus leaf, they were arranged as such in the facsimiles. Their alignment relative to one another is tentative, but the text contained on them makes it clear that they form a new leaf that comes between folio 15 and folio 16. Although this is not a new discovery, the placement of these fragments together gives the reader a glimpse of the text that has not been available for hundreds of years.
Finally, the fragments of folio 8 were assembled into a composite P45 leaf. This leaf is composed of five fragments with a complex history. The fragments were inconsistently presented in Kenyon’s initial publication of the manuscript. At first, none of the five fragments were known to belong to P45, leaving some additional fragments of this leaf to be discovered after his transcription volume was typeset. However, not all the fragments made it into his facsimile volume or his transcription volume. NTP unites the portions of folio 8 into a composite presentation.
NTP highlights the work of the Center in capturing images of P45, P46, and P47. Yet, the presentation in the facsimiles brings four advancements in P45’s textual history. Together, they bring together rich images and reunification of fragments to give the reader a greater understanding of this manuscript’s witness to the wording of the NT.
Nearly nine decades ago, three of the earliest and most extensive New Testament papyri were made available to scholars through color photographs. These facsimiles, together with their authoritative transcriptions, have remained the primary access that biblical scholars and papyrologists have had to them. Until now. With the multi-volume publication of New Testament Papyri 𝔓45, 𝔓46, 𝔓47 coming out later this year, new, exquisite, exact-size images will become available in print. After digitizing these priceless manuscripts at the Chester Beatty in Dublin and the University of Michigan, CSNTM has collaborated with Hendrickson Academic in the endeavor to offer fresh, library-quality images of these third-century copies of large portions of the New Testament.
The facsimiles will be published both with a white background and a black background, each of which offers different views of the texts. Perhaps surprisingly to many, the black background images were found to be much more helpful for creating accurate transcriptions.
For this initial offering, the transcription of just 𝔓47 will be included with the images of all the manuscripts. 𝔓45 and 𝔓46 will follow in coming years, as the task of transcription still continues. The process of transcribing, however, which has been done in large part on the other two papyri, should yield far more precise results than Sir Frederic Kenyon’s editio princeps of the 1930s. It is no exaggeration to say that thousands of corrections to Kenyon’s transcriptions are in the offing. To be sure, most of these are quite minor, but some are fairly stunning. But every correction to Kenyon’s brilliant but somewhat rushed efforts bring us one step closer to understanding the text of the New Testament in third-century Egypt.
By the use of careful measurements, rigorous comparisons with multiple close-ups of individual letters and ligatures, and intense arguments (!), the editors (Stratton Ladewig, Robert Marcello, and Dan Wallace) are able to offer a new standard transcription of each papyrus. In this short blog, I offer but one animation that lays out our procedure. (Thanks go to my son, Andrew Jon Wallace, for producing this illustration.)
The 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland text in Mark 8:22 reads Καὶ ἔρχονται εἰς Βηθσαϊδάν. Καὶ φέρουσιν αὐτῷ τυφλὸν καὶ παρακαλοῦσιν αὐτὸν ἵνα αὐτοῦ ἅψηται. One variant is listed—Βηθανιαν for Βηθσαιδαν in D and a couple other witnesses. What is not mentioned is the variant for ερχονται. The majority of manuscripts here, along with the key majuscules א* and A, have the singular ερχεται. Kenyon reconstructed the wording of 𝔓45 as having the plural, though underdotting every letter as dubious. But this identification is almost surely incorrect. The space for the word and the shape of the letter fragments fits like a glove for ερχεται. Due to the difficulty of making out the letters in the old plates, one can understand the wrong guess. But with better photographs coupled with the comparisons that digital images readily afford, the CSNTM editors have concluded that 𝔓45 here has ερχεται.
Such may not seem terribly significant. Yet every small decision, every correction, every change to the identification of the text in question gives us a better sense of what these scribes wrote eighteen centuries ago. Further, the singular here does offer a slightly different interpretation on the passage. Although it is true that Jesus and his disciples came to Bethsaida, whether Mark wrote “they came” or “he came” has some significance. On occasion the evangelists use a singular verb with a compound subject. This throws the spotlight on the first-named subject. And frequently, that subject is Jesus (see John 2:2; 3:22; cf. also Matt 13:55; Acts 5.29; 16:31). Mark concludes his pericope on the healing of the blind man with this idiom (Mark 8:27: Καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ). It is a distinct possibility that he would begin the pericope the same way. Such would be a subtle and fitting inclusio in one of Mark’s better-crafted stories. And 𝔓45 might just tip the scales for us to see it.
I wrote a blog, “Not a Statistic to Me,” a few weeks ago. It was about my father, Beecher Wallace. Since that time the family has had a virtual memorial service for him, with special music, memories, and the gospel message. During this pandemic, we all feel a little disconnected. Human beings crave community; we are not designed to live in isolation. And although we could not celebrate Beecher’s life together in one physical place, we could celebrate it meaningfully and, in an ironic twist that social distancing has brought about, more intimately in many ways than otherwise.
If you have a loved one who has died and you are thinking of giving up on even having any kind of memorial service, take a look at this. It may give you some comfort and hope.
Several artists gave us permission to use their music for this memorial service. I’m grateful to them, to my brother and sister, and to Andrew Jon Wallace, my son who edited the service. See the links below to the memorial service and to additional memories from family members.