Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament 

Why did you study Greek in seminary or college? Most of us would claim it was to better understand the Word of God. Yet for too many of us, our Greek usage in everyday Bible study is a few word studies and recognizing what an “aorist” is when we read an English-language commentary. These commentaries are often based on an English translation and then comment on how the translation is either helpful or needs improvement.

The Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament (EGGNT) series finds its niche by focusing on the actual Greek New Testament, rather than a translation. Yes, for those who would quibble, it’s actually based on the United Bible Societies 5th Edition (UBS5) version of the Greek text. Therefore, rather than address translation adequacies and inadequacies, the authors are able to focus on the grammar and structure of the original.

Murray J. Harris, who authored the EGGNT volume John, was the originator of this series that is now published by B&H Academic. Harris was trained by some of the foremost scholars of the 20th century until he became one of them, and his insights are not only academic, but also pastoral and filled with the wisdom of long service to the Lord Jesus.

Taking the EGGNT: John volume separately from the series, the following items should be noted. First, while the other volumes in this series contain the Greek text, this one does not. While this move saved space and produced a single-volume work, it does require that the reader supply the Greek text. The work is based, as stated, on the UBS5 text, which was released in 2014. This may be a drawback to some readers, yet it should not be.

Second, readers of the EGGNT: John volume will realize the benefit of improving their old Greek skills. Rather than fleeing from this Greek-based commentary out of fear of rust, readers will begin to see the Greek become easier to work with. Further, readers will better see the context of various Greek terms. True, one will still need a bit of vocabulary help, but seeing the insight from Greek will improve the overall use of Greek by the preacher or teacher.

Finally, Harris’ overall insights are valuable for the preacher and teacher. His brief overview of the background for John is helpful, including explaining some of the basis for the traditional understandings of authorship. His explanations of the textual structure provide guidance for teaching, and his homiletical suggestions are almost too useful for the hurried preacher – use your own skills, do not just copy his!

Anyone seeking a better understanding of the Gospel of John will benefit from Harris’ work on the Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament: John.

Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament: John by Murray J. Harris; 2015, B&H Academic, Nashville.

Doug Hibbard is pastor of East End Baptist Church in Hensley.


Book review: The 'James Code'

DALLAS (BP) – When you get down to it, there are really only three relationships in life, GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins says: an upward relationship between man and God; an inward relationship with oneself; and an outward relationship between man and the world around him.

Those three relationships exist regardless of time or place -- a lesson Hawkins learned throughout 25 years as a pastor, from wheat-farming country in Oklahoma to cosmopolitan and business centers in Fort Lauderdale and Dallas. They spurred the creation of a now-complete trilogy of books, culminating with the release of "The James Code: 52 Scripture Principles for Putting Your Faith into Action."

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Urban Legends of the New Testament

Were there three kings of Orient at the manger? Where was the manger, anyway? A cave, a barn or somewhere else? These questions are among the 40 addressed in David A. Croteau’s “Urban Legends of the New Testament,” recently published by B&H Academic Press.

What is an “urban legend” of the New Testament? According to Croteau, it is a “commonly circulated myth, repeated throughout the culture as common knowledge, but which isn’t true.” For the New Testament, this includes misunderstandings about the original culture of first-century Israel, as well as well-intended, but erroneous, explanations of Greek vocabulary. It is Croteau’s assertion that we who take the Bible seriously should also strive to get it right. We need to eliminate the urban legends from our teaching and preaching.

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Review: Proclaim software impresses

As a church communications director at my previous church, I spent my share of time using (fighting with) presentation software.

Whether is was PowerPoint, MediaShout or ProPresenter it amazed me how differently each approached the goal of showing content.

That’s part of what intrigued me about sitting down with a copy of the Proclaim software.

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Book review: Brain Savvy Leaders

By Doug Hibbard

Leadership books are everywhere and have been for some time. They range from seriously deep to the farcical. It appears that everyone has a leadership theory, and so everyone has a book to write. The question for Charles Stone is whether or not “Brain Savvy Leaders” rises above the clutter of the market.

First, let us examine his basic premise. Stone, who blogs extensively about the connection between neuroscience and ministry, tells the reader that the way the brain works is critical to understanding leadership. His premise is that ministry leadership should consider not only how their minds work, but also the impact neuroscience has on their communication and their followers. I would note, positively, that Stone sticks with neuroscience as his term and not neurology — he is not a “neurologist,” which is a medical specialty.

Along this path, Stone presents that we, as Bible believers, need not fear the science of the brain. After all, if the brain is part of how we are created, then learning about the brain furthers our understanding of how God made us. As we grow in that understanding, we are more equipped to work together.

From there, he goes on to present a mixture of Scripture and science, showing how the brain works and how that affects us spiritually. One of the more valuable sections deals with stress hormones and their overall effect on performance. To summarize, stress does have physiological effects on the brain, which make it harder to make decisions. Even though we may feel like we make good decisions under stress, the truth is just the opposite. Cortisol is only your friend in crisis, and you need time to recover.

From a theological perspective, Stone’s analysis dovetails well with Scripture. He clearly recognizes the Bible as the top-line authority on what we do in ministry. This includes noting passages in the Psalms about rest and Proverbs about diligence, but tops out with the reminder that our purpose is to seek the kingdom of God.
The concluding chapter provides a plan to implement Stone’s ideas. This practical addition moves the work of “Brain Savvy Leaders” from a theoretical exercise to a practical work. While this is not the first book I would hand to someone developing their leadership skills, it’s definitely a great “next-step” learning book.

Doug Hibbard is pastor of East End Baptist Church, Hensley.