Pictorial Library: 1-2 Corinthians

BiblePlaces.com has just released their latest Photo Companion to the Bible, 1-2 Corinthians, and it is a winner!

What is a Photo Companion to the Bible?

Simply put, it is one of the most valuable teaching resources that Bible teachers (or students) can acquire because it helps the user better understand the cultural and geographical references of a particular book of the Bible. Bible teachers are wise to provide visual support for their teaching; and the Pictorial Companion is perfect for this purpose.

“This photo collection is remarkable! It provides a wonderful tour of the city and also includes pictures and interpretations of objects related to both the background and the subject of the text. Viewing the slides, I felt as if I I had found a pearl of great price that both informs and enriches one’s understanding of this letter.”

David E. Garland, Professor of Christian Scriptures, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University; author of 1 Corinthians in the BECNT series

Here is BiblePlaces.com’s description of this collection:

The Photo Companion to the Bible is a unique collection of digital photographs that illustrate the biblical text verse by verse.

  • PowerPoint-based resource
  • Library of images provides broad selection
  • Created by a team of professors and scholars
  • Organized by chapter and verse
  • Each chapter is illustrated by 45–200 photographs

What’s included in the 1-2 Corinthians Photo Companion?

This resource includes 2,500 photos. However, these aren’t 2,500 random photos that are somewhat related to First or Second Corinthians. These photos are organized by chapter and verse with helpful explanatory notes provided in PowerPoint format. While they are ready for use upon arrival, you may want to move the photos into your own presentation format.

While the photos are what catch the eye, the notes are a critical element of this resource. These notes are not a collection of random quotes gathered from the Internet for Uncle Joe’s Blog. They are produced by genuine scholars who have expertise related to the topics.

“When I discovered the resources offered through BiblePlaces.com I was thrilled. The photos have been a tremendous help to me! They are high quality, wisely organized, and reasonably priced. As one who loves geography, history, culture, and archaeology, these images have been a tremendous blessing and have greatly enriched my ministry.”

Pastor Joel DeSelm, South Bend, Indiana

What makes this collection better than what I can get in a study Bible or a biblical backgrounds textbook?

Admittedly, there are some good illustrated study Bibles and biblical background commentaries/textbooks available. However, the very nature of those publications limits their true effectiveness in visually illustrating the biblical text. The most obvious advantage of the Photo Companion to the Bible is the sheer volume of photos it provides for each chapter of the Bible. For example, at most, a printed text, whether a study Bible or a textbook, is limited to a few illustrations for a whole book of the Bible. Let’s be generous and say there is one illustration per page of that text. However many illustrations that would be for a particular published text, it pales in comparison to the 50, 70, 100, or more photos per Bible chapter that are provided in this library!

What are some highlights from this collection?

  • The city of Corinth and its archaeological remains
  • Images illustrating the worldly wisdom of Greco-Roman society
  • Photos of athletic competitions, racetracks, and prizes
  • Photos of Greco-Roman temples and meat markets
  • Coins illustrating orators and the Emperor Nero
  • Biblical scrolls showing Paul’s use of the Hebrew Bible
  • Papyrus letters, scribal tools, and artwork of scrolls
  • Ancient manuscripts related to stewardship, lawsuits, and divorce
  • Busts and portraits illustrating ancient head coverings
  • Traditional tents and portrayals of tent-making
  • Statues of famous individuals known to the Corinthians
  • Weaponry, armor, and strongholds from the biblical world
  • Imagery of planting, building, temptation, judgment, household gatherings, communal meals, grief, joy, decay, conflict, sowing, and reaping
  • Frescoes illustrating marriage, worship, sacrifice, prayer, freedom, conscience, judgment, field work, sailing, worship, and pagan wisdom

Can you give me an example of how this works?

The following elements are provided in a slide related to 1 Corinthians 13:2.
1. The biblical text or phrase.
2. The photo or illustration.
3. Identification or explanation of the photo or illustration.
4. Commentary relating the photo to the text.

Using the 4 point guide above, all the elements below are included in a PowerPoint slide:

  1. “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge…”
  2. [note the photos in the Companion do not have the © statement]

3. Library of Celsus at Ephesus

4. Paul was in Ephesus when he wrote 1 Corinthians (1 Cor 16:8). The Library of Celsus, built in AD 110, once housed some 12,000 scrolls. It is noteworthy that during Paul’s stay at Ephesus (from which he wrote this letter to Corinth), a number of new followers of Jesus who had previously practiced magic brought together their books and burned them publicly (Acts 19:19).

FREE SAMPLES!

Download the free PowerPoint of 1 Corinthians 13 here.
Download the free PowerPoint sample of 2 Corinthians 4 here.

How much does it cost?

The regular list price for the Photo Companion to the Bible: 1-2 Corinthians is $109, which is a bargain. However, this resource is currently on sale for $69, and you can order here!

Disclaimer

I have some photos in this collection. However, I am recommending it here because I believe in the product. I personally use the Bible Companion: Acts in my Life of Paul course at Baptist Bible College, and have received many comments from students about how helpful the images are in illustrating the text.

To My Students: A Gentle Reminder

The typical hubris of a college student may not be more evident than when completing course evaluations. An example of this is a criticism that says something like, “I don’t like [a specific assignment] and it is a waste of time that could be better spent doing [a type of assignment I prefer].” Because course evaluations are anonymous, professors have no way of interacting with the student to better understand their issue(s), or to help the student better understand the teacher’s process in the classroom.

A few questions, might help my students understand my process.

A. Do you have any idea of the purpose of that assignment you think is a waste of time? Likely, you don’t because you never asked for an appointment to discuss the pros/cons of such an assignment. Understanding the purpose of an unpleasant task may give it a measure of meaning, and thus make it more tolerable. For my part, perhaps I can help by explaining better the purpose of each of the assignments in future classes.

B. Have you considered that a variety of assignment types are offered to connect with a variety of learning styles/preferences? I often note things that I don’t particularly enjoy without giving consideration of how that thing affects others. Are you like me?

C. Have you considered that the professor may know just a bit more about the process, and that practicing patience may reveal a positive value from the assignment? I’ve noticed in both my kids and my students an immediate negative reaction to assignments/tasks they don’t like for whatever reason. I’ve also noticed that very often the immediate negative reaction prevents them 1) from recognizing that I know more about the process, and 2) from realizing the value of the process.

All of this reminds me of Peter’s interaction with Jesus at the last supper and the subsequent walk to the Garden of Gethsemane (John 13-17). I can see Peter evaluating this event as follows: “It was a waste of time for Jesus to wash our feet. Quite frankly, that time could have been better spent in fellowship.”

Jesus had an outcome in mind. To whit: that the disciples would learn demonstrate love for one another through humble service. To move them toward this outcome, Jesus chose to demonstrate humility and be an example that they should follow, which he explained in John 13:15. Peter didn’t know Jesus’ intention, but thought he knew better. In fact, even after Jesus explained to Peter that he would understand later (vs 7), Peter categorically told Jesus, “You shall never wash my feet” (vs 8). Peter had already made up his mind on this one.

Here’s a closing question to my students: Are you too much like Peter when you walk into the classroom? In other words, do you quickly evaluate the value of an assignment (whether that be related to the content or the type of assignment) without understanding the big picture? If the answer is yes, then you are not getting the most value you can get from your investment in an education.

Based on seeing this type of scenario many times, my suggestion is to slow down. Before becoming critical about this or that type of assignment, go through the process. The outcome or results will likely be better than you anticipated.

Four Blood Moons: A Review

Following is a guest book review by my friend, Doug Kutilek. Doug is an author, linguist, Bible teacher, missionary, and gardner. He publishes As I See It, a monthly electronic magazine, which can be requested via an email at DKUTILEK@juno.com.

Four Blood Moons: Something is about to Change by John Hagee.  Brentwood, Tenn.: Worthy Publishing, 2013.  257 pp., paperback.

This is but one more volume in the flood of ill-considered, sensationalist “end-times” prophecy books that sell by the thousands, even millions, to the ill-informed and gullible.  Issued in 2013, before any of the much-sensationalized “blood moons” occurred, I read it in July 2015, with only one “blood moon” yet to go (and only after being repeatedly “encouraged” by a person in my Sunday Bible class, who gave me a copy of the book, to do so—I pretty accurately suspected what it would be before I read it, and don’t like to spend my increasingly limited time on such ephemeral stuff of less than “dubious” worth).

The book is awash with page-filling and book-lengthening “fluff”—irrelevant stuff, anecdotes, stories and asides—that are not germane, or only marginally so, to the announced topic of the book.  Only in the final third of the book do the “blood moons” come into direct discussion.

Here is the premise: there will be a series of four lunar eclipses—designated “blood moons,” so-called because when the moon is in the earth’s shadow, it has a reddish tint, since only light from the red end of the spectrum, being refracted by the earth’s atmosphere, illuminates the moon’s surface.   These four lunar eclipses, occurring on consecutive Passover (spring), Tabernacles (fall), Passover and Tabernacle festivals, over a period of 18 months, with a solar eclipse occurring sometime in the midst of this period, are alleged to be heralds of some monumental event in the history of Israel.

Hagee claims that the identification of the sun, moon and stars in Genesis 1:14, where they are said to serve for “signs and seasons and days and years,” means that they are to serve as prophetic sings, rather than the obvious contextual meaning that they would be markers of the passage of time, in short, a calendar.  He then leaps to Joel 2:28-32 and Acts 2:17-21, with a bit of Matthew 24:29 and Revelation 6:12 and 8:12—all chronologically during the Great Tribulation, not before—where the sun and moon are signs, or at least dramatic phenomena occur involving them.

Hagee assumes that the reddened moons and the darkened sun are references to solar and lunar eclipses, respectively.  However, eclipses are highly transitory events—minutes for solar ones, mere hours, start to finish for lunar ones, and neither visible from any but a very tiny fraction of earth (I have heard that the large majority of the “blood moons” Hagee references are not visible at all from Israel).  Far better, in context, especially Joel’s “columns of smoke,” to interpret the reddened moon and obscured sun to be references to dust and particulate matter in earth’s atmosphere which alter their appearance.  We know from direct observation that several things can cast large amounts of particulate matter high into the atmosphere, even the stratosphere, where they alter the appearance of the sun and moon—first, the smoke from fires.  Huge amounts of forest will burn during the drought of the Great Trouble (Revelation 8:7).  Back in the early 1990s when a majority of Yellowstone National Park’s forests were foolishly allowed to burn unhindered, we had high altitude haze from the smoke in south-central Kansas, more than a thousand miles away, from that one fire.  Oil fires, like those of the 1990s in Iraq, could also occur.  And there are volcanoes—Mt. St. Helens’ (1980) and Mt. Pinatubo’s (1991) eruptions spewed fine dust into the stratosphere, as did the much larger eruption of Krakatoa in 1883.  Weather patterns were changed following these eruptions, and there were reports of dramatic reddened sunsets world-wide for several years after Krakatoa.  Imagine a dozen or two—maybe many more—such eruptions all at once, in conjunction with vast forest fires.  And there is also the possibility of nuclear explosions—everyone has seen the “columns of smoke” arising from nuclear blasts.  These suck up many tons of dust and debris and carry it high into the atmosphere.  So, any one of these three—fires, volcanoes and nuclear explosions—or any combination of two or all three, could account for a reddening of the moon and a darkening of the sun, which would persist for at least months, and would be visible everywhere on the globe—a far, far, better fit than Hagee’s highly limited in time and place blood moons.

Hagee also claims three previous four-blood-moon events were tied to major events in Jewish history.  1492—the year of the expulsion of Jews from Spain, is claimed as tied to four blood moons of 1493-4; the founding of the State of Israel is tied to the blood moons of 1949-50; the famous six-day war of June, 1967 is tied to the four blood moons in 1967-8.  These are claimed as “the most important dates in all of Israel’s history,” a highly dubious claim—one could argue that the destruction of Solomon’s temple and the Babylonian exile in 586 B. C, the destruction of Herod’s temple in 70 A.D.; and the Holocaust of 1938-1945 have all of Hagee’s “most important dates” except perhaps, 1948, beat by a mile in importance (to say nothing of the coming of Messiah in the first century!).  Hagee has merely cherry-picked events that correspond, more or less (very much less), to the periods of the consecutive blood moons.  But there is one big problem—the blood-moon series’ in 1493-4, and 1949-50, came entirely AFTER the important event they are associated with, and all but one of the four blood moons did so in 1967-8.  However, the four blood moons of 2014-5 are claimed as heralding some FUTURE event, so the claimed analogy breaks down badly.

Then, contextually, the blood moons of 2014-5 CANNOT be the signs in the sun and moon of the Great Tribulation spoken of by Joel, Peter, Jesus and John, since those occur in the latter half of that still-future seven-year period.  To claim any connection is groundless sensationalism, and very poor Bible exposition.  (Hagee does claim to be both pre-mil and pre-trib in eschatology).

And what are we told these blood moons are a sign of?  Nothing except a vague declaration that “something is going to happen” regarding Israel.  No doubt true, but then just about any kind of event would fit the bill.

There are many factual errors in Hagee’s narrative regarding historic events, which I will not reference here.  Hagee displays what, to me, is a remarkable lack of a solid grasp of the over-all and in-particular teaching of Scripture, adopts really poor Bible hermeneutics, and stumbles into some monumental blunders, including the assertion that Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Transfiguration (which is in Galilee), rather than the Mount of Olives (which is just east of Jerusalem).

So far, just two months short of the final blood moon (September 28, 2015) nothing monumental in Israel’s history has happened.  Nor do I expect it to.  The whole premise of this book, and the claimed supporting evidence is a lot of hooey.  And when it proves to be just one more unfounded, alarmist / sensationalist book, it will tend to serve to discredit the Bible in the minds of unbelievers, like the recent failed predictions of the Second coming.  Hagee has sold a huge number of copies of this book—my copy is from the 23rd printing.

It seems that the market for such sensationalist literature is insatiable, no matter how poor, no matter how groundless their claims may be.  People do have itching ears, and crave to either tell or to hear something new.  Whether it is true or not is apparently optional.

Doug Kutilek

 

@SquareTrade Is For Real

square-tradeBackground

Just under 3 years ago, I bought a MacBook Pro from Amazon and had to decide whether to extend my warranty coverage with AppleCare or Square Trade. I compared the prices and coverages and realized the latter simply offered more, MUCH MORE coverage for less money. But I had no idea if Square Trade was as good as they advertised themselves to be. In fact, it sounded too good to be true!

Square-Trade-coverage

I’m fairly skeptical when buying insurance or warranty extensions, believing it’s mostly a racket and, in the end, will not be all it is advertised to be. In spite of my skepticism, however, I often extend my warranties and hope for the best.

I feel compelled to protect myself because I realize I’m not the kind of Mac owner I see at the coffee shop. You know, the one whose aluminum body MacBook remains shiny and spotless. The one whose monitor doesn’t have smudges or scratches. I. Am. Not. That. Person. I have two kids (ages 10 and 3) who have been known to use my laptop as a spring board or step stool or decorate it with stickers. As rough as they are, though, I’m more rough on the unit. I don’t worship my Mac. I use it as a serious tool, and it shows: scratches, dents, smudges, stickers, missing foot pads, and metal eaten away from HOURS of resting my palms on it.

By now, you must realize something went wrong with my laptop and I am reviewing Square Trade’s warranty. If that’s the case, you are correct.

My Story

About 6 weeks ago, which was a few months before my warranty expired, I was unable to insert a dvd into my SuperDrive® and assumed the reason was a recent tumble my computer experienced. Since the earphone jack had not worked for some time, the two issues gave me the incentive to get it fixed. So, having forgotten I bought Square Trade instead of AppleCare, I went to Apple and was surprised that I didn’t have coverage, which likely would not have been covered by AppleCare anyway.

Puzzled about my lack of coverage and certain that I had purchased extended coverage I went to my Amazon account and called up my previous purchase records. There it was: Square Trade. At the moment, I had no memory of buying it or registering it, but had done both over 2 1/2 years prior. I was nervous, but made the call anyway.

A friendly customer service representative (CSR) answered and helped me sort out my account and make my claim. “What is the problem?” he asked. I explained my SuperDrive® malfunction and earphone jack problem and asked what’s the process to make a claim and get my computer fixed. He asked for me to hold while he updated my file, and when he returned he outlined my options: 1) I could send it to Square Trade and have their techs repair the unit, or 2) I could take it anywhere I wanted for repair and send a receipt for reimbursement. I initially chose option 1 and had a shipping box sent to me, and within minutes I had an email confirming the process and my decision to send it in for repair. However, my skepticism kicked in and I couldn’t bring myself to send it to Square Trade for repair. This was simply too good to be true and too easy. After the shipping box sat in my office for 2 weeks, I called to report my change of mind and ask for option 2. The CSR simply said “okay, let me change your file and give you a new confirmation number.” Within minutes, I had a second email, confirming my decision to choose a technician and be refunded.

Still skeptical, but feeling a little more confident I began to look for local technicians to do the work. I took my laptop in and the tech began work the next day. He called back to say that he didn’t think the SuperDrive® problem was due to a drop, it was something else that would only be revealed after he dug a little deeper, which required a go-ahead from me. He also said, that my earphone jack was likely a logic board problem and that my hard drive was showing signs of failure. All told, the price was upwards of $600 to fix what he thought was wrong, and more if the SuperDrive® was busted. I hoped for the best, gave the go ahead and about a week later, my laptop was fixed. It had a new logic board, new hard drive and a re-aligned SuperDrive®. Oh, the problem with the SuperDrive® was a plastic coin my son had inserted into the slot. I didn’t know he had done that, but realized the culprit immediately when the tech sheepishly said, “there was a coin in your SuperDrive®, a gray plastic coin.”

After paying for the repair, I immediately scanned and emailed my receipt to Square Trade. Within minutes, I received a note declaring payment would arrive within 7-10 business days. Now the wait. It was excruciating because I didn’t have $600 to throw at this thing if Square Trade didn’t come through. As promised, the check arrived without any hesitation for the additional cost of a hard drive, which was never mentioned in my discussion with the CSR.

Conclusion

Square Trade is for real! Their promises were too good to be true, but they were true. Their customer service reps were extremely easy to work with, and understanding of my skepticism. I still can hardly believe how well this worked, but I have the check in hand to prove it.

Thanks Square Trade for doing business the “old fashioned way” with integrity and courtesy.

Screwtape Letters Part 9: Repost

UPDATE: This is a repost (with certain edits/improvements) of my most popular blog series in honor of the 50th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ death. Click here to get your copy of the 50th anniversary annotated edition.

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screwtape50thbChapter 12 This chapter offers a disturbing, yet enlightening look at how men can be deceived, distracted, and destroyed by Satan’s lifeless offerings. While Screwtape is writing specifically about a “lukewarm Christian,” I think the illustration is also valid for professed unbelievers who believe their own moral values sufficiently replace the “need” for God. After bringing his target to be sufficiently dull toward his relationship with God, Demon Wormwood is told that he (Wormwood) “will be gradually freed from the tiresome business of providing Pleasures as temptations . . . [you] will find that anything or nothing is sufficient to attract his [the target’s] wandering attention” (italics added). Screwtape continues,

“You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s newspaper will do. You can make him waste his time not only in conversations he enjoys with people whom he likes, but in conversations with those he cares nothing about on subjects that bore him . . . All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say, as one of my own patients said on his arrival down here, ‘I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked‘” (italics added).

Take note of the tragedy and waste found in the last sentence: ‘I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked.” Imagine: In the end that you discover that not only have you not done what you should have done, but you also realize that you didn’t even like what you had done instead. You were the ultimate sucker. Screwtape’s conclusion is that, “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” Beware: The gentle road is one that dulls our senses and leaves us vulnerable to Wormwood’s deceptions. To be continued . . .

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