Chafer Bible Conference 2019

I had the privilege last week to be invited by Dr. Robbie Dean to be a keynote speaker at the Chafer Bible Conference 2019 in Houston, Texas. The folks were very gracious, hospitable, and most important, eager to engage and follow God’s word.

Below are the session titles and links to the videos for each session.

Session #1: Telling His Stories: The Artistry of the Biblical Narrative

Session #2: Telling His Stories: The Artistry of His Narrative: Genesis

Session #3: Telling His Stories: The Artistry of His Narrative: Jonah

Session #4: Singing His Songs: The Artistry of Biblical Poetry

Session #5: Singing His Songs: The Poetic Artistry of the Psalms

Session #6: Singing His Songs: The Poetic Artistry of the Song of Songs


IVP New Commentary on the Song of Songs

IVP has just released volume 19 The Song of Songs by Iain M. Duguid for their new edition of their Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries series. This volume is intended to replace the fine volume by G. Lloyd Carr. While I have not read the entire volume as of yet, I can offer a few observations.   While both introductions are approximately the same length, Duguid’s volume is 15 pages shorter on the commentary side. The commentary section is divided between three divisions: Context, Comment and Meaning. Since it is a newer volume, the author does interact with Exum’s and Hess’ newer commentaries as well as older ones such as Pope and Longman. However, he did not include Dan Estes’ commentary on the Song in the Apollos Old Testament Commentary series.

Duguid argues against Solomonic authorship and leans to a date after the exile as the most likely (23). His approach to the Song is a literal one plus something else. While he states that he rejects the fanciful allegorical reading, and believes the “natural” interpretation to be the correct one, he wants to “go further than this and bridge the two interpretations” (37). So throughout the volume this “bridge” is evident in his regular mentioning of Jesus Christ. His understanding of Luke 24:44-45 as the evidence that “every part of the old Testament speaks to us of the suffering of Christ and the glories that will follow” (51) allows him to construct this “bridge” with materials that are non-existent in the Song. Although he does not want to be seen as championing the allegorical approach, he wants to hold to “two broad categories, which we may call the ‘spiritual’ approach and the ‘natural’ approach” (28). This is unfortunate. While I look forward to reading the commentary section itself, I do hope Carr’s volume stays in print.

The Huffington Post and the Song of Songs

Someone has said that everyone has their 15 minutes of fame. I guess I am having mine. I was mentioned in an article at The Huffington Post (here). I am preaching on the Song of Songs for one of our Project Jerusalem Church plants, Restored Baptist Church in Wilkes-Barre PA this Sunday. Also, check out the local news story (here) and an editorial about Restored billboard (here).

While I understand the editorial, it saddens me that a Christian would criticize another believer in the press (cf. Matt 18).

The Huffington Post and the Song of Songs

Someone has said that everyone has their 15 minutes of fame. I guess I am having mine. I was mentioned in an article at The Huffington Post (here). I am preaching on the Song of Songs for one of our Project Jerusalem Church plants, Restored Baptist Church in Wilkes-Barre PA this Sunday. Also, check out the local news story (here) and an editorial about Restored billboard (here).

While I understand the editorial, it saddens me that a Christian would criticize another believer in the press (cf. Matt 18).

Hollywood tackles the Song of Solomon

One scholar I read recently on the Song of Songs related that she was glad that Hollywood has not made a modern movie of the Song of Solomon as of yet. That is about to change. This September the same motion picture company that produced the Christian film, Fireproof, is releasing The Song. (See article and trailer here). The film follows Jed King, an aspiring singer who meets and falls in love with a vineyard owners daughter at their vineyard harvest festival.  He marries her and his career takes off. Tempted with all the trappings of a successful music career, Jed must make choices. The article states that the music driven film surfaces themes of “temptation, redemption and the power of forgiveness.” Sorry, but I am at a loss to see how a close reading of the Song “inspires” such themes. The trailer reminds me more of Ecclesiastes than the Song! But it is unfair to judge a movie by its trailer so I will withhold judgment until October.

Conference on the Song of Songs

For those interested in the Song of Songs Harvard Divinity School hosted a panel discussion (April 15, 2013) and featured a conversation between four scholars on The Song of Songs:Translation, Reception, Reconfiguration. The panel included Cheryl Exum of the University of Sheffield, Michael Fishbane of University of Chicago Divinity School, Paul Griffiths of Duke University, and Stephanie Paulsell of HDS. Exum was the most profitable and held to the biblical text. Fishbane shared from a Jewish perspective; Griffiths from a Roman Catholic one from the Latin Vulgate and Paulsell from a Protestant point of view.  All (except Exum) suggested multiple readings (including allegory) as legitimate reading strategies for this book. For those interested in the Song the video is worth the viewing time. The video runs an hour and forty-two minutes. Each was allotted approximately 20 minutes. A Q&A with the audience followed.

Valentine Day and the Song of Songs

My daughter shared this really cute video about the proverbial relationship  “doghouse.”  If you understand “spending time in the doghouse,” you will appreciate the video.  There is a follow up that provides the genesis of the video and it promoted this blog post concerning the Song of Songs a few days before Valentine Day.

Once you view the second video you realize the capitalism (and creativity) of retailers on Valentine Day.  But in the Song there is no Valentine Day. Based on that observation some of you may wish to live back in Solomon’s a day!  There was no gift giving expectations! There was no struggle with what gift not to buy for V-Day.  While it is true there is no day dedicated to proclaiming love and affection in the Song, it is equally true that ALL the days (and nights!) of these two lovers are devoted to love’s proclamations and subsequent erotic actions!  In this relationship everyday is Valentine Day!  If this is true and February 14th is mainly for giving romantic gifts, you can almost hear your wallet crying.

In my study for this post, I had hoped to find that the Song would argue against such crass commercialism and the trappings of Valentine Day i.e. expensive jewelry, rich chocolate, etc. Instead I found that the female lover was worthy of a fine-jeweled necklace and rich ornamental earrings (SoS 1:10, 11). Her appetite also craved the food of the day,  “love food” to keep her energy for their evening of passion (SoS 2:5)!

There seems to be no escaping the trappings of the 14th day of the second month of the year.  So follow the Song; skip the vacuum and blender as gifts and think biblically in your offering.  However, as you consider your 2014 V-day gift I would suggest that while you want to follow a literal interpretation AND application of the biblical text, in this instance skip the literal apples and raisin cakes,….. splurge for Godiva chocolates—in the shape of apples and dark chocolate covered raisins just to be closer to the text. Buying a bag of apples and a loaf of raisin bread could land you in the doghouse this weekend!

Preaching the Song of Songs

In my distraction in dealing with Trigeminal neuralgia and a CSF leak, I failed to post a paper I delivered at the Council for Dispensational Hermeneutics in Houston Texas, October 3-4, 2012.

It was entitled, “Preaching the Song of Songs: How Should Pastors Handle, ‘Bellies,’ ‘Navels,’ and ‘Breasts,’ from Their Sunday Morning Pulpit?: A Test Case in Literal Hermeneutics AND Literal Application.” McGinniss_Preaching-the-Song-of-Songs copy The title did generate some buzz and one participant thanked my dean for having the foresight to schedule it right after lunch!  He mentioned that no one would fall asleep with that topic…and from my vantage point…no one did 🙂

A Book on Preaching the Song of Songs

picJust finished Douglas Sean O’Donnell’s, The Song of Solomon: An Invitation to Intimacy in the Preaching the Word series from Crossway (2012).  This 183-page book consists of an introductory message covering 1:1 and then nine more actual sermons on the Song of Solomon (each about 10-12 pages long).

This book of messages is very well-researched and this is its number one strength.  O’Donnell’s ten messages cover 118 pages.  And while endnotes normally drive one a tad nutty, they were much appreciated in this endeavor and cover another 35 pages!   His first chapter which is really an introduction to the Song (and which is very good) has 53 notes alone.

O’Donnell is to be commended for not shying away from most of the difficult texts of the Song such as 4:1—5:1—although he goes only so far in unpacking the metaphors in the more erotic 7:1—10. After explaining thighs and bellies (7:1b; 2b), he leaves the rest of the imagery (“navel”) to be figured out by his hears (101).  One can hardly blame the preacher.

It may sound strange for one who loves Jesus to suggest that he is not in this book of the Bible by interpretation or application. But a literal interpretation should lead to a literal application. However, this is not always the case for O’Donnell and this creates one weakness in this book: O’Donnell’s Christological lens.  While he recognizes the literal interpretation of the text, he often allows dubious connections to create contemporary application.  For instance in 8:5, “Who is this coming up from the wilderness, Leaning on her beloved?” From the word “leaning” in the text, O’Donnell first mentally connects to the hymn, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” and then links by only one word to “leaning on Jesus’ bosom” (John 13:23 KJV) and then jumps to this application: “The way Christians are to lean upon Jesus is similar to the way a wife is to lean upon her husband” (113).  While I agree that all Christians should “lean on Jesus,” unfortunately, hermeneutically, “one can hardly get there from here.”

For those interested in a study of the Song or attempting to preach it, the book is not the final word but it is a first one, (at least on preaching this OT hard text) and a good one at that.

The Song, Wedding Vows & TN

Those familiar with this blog recognize that one of my favorite books in the OT is the Song of Songs.  I have been back in it recently since I have written a paper on preaching the Song, which is to be presented at the Council of Dispensational Hermeneutics in Houston, TX, October 3-4. At the same time I am finishing the writing of my paper and practicing my copy editing skills, I am contemplating 33 years of marriage to my wife, Joy, on September 8.

At about the same time we celebrate our wedding vows I will have been diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia for two full years. Besides the frequent teeth-shattering jolts of TN pain that I have experienced everyday—sometimes hundreds of times a day for two full years, I have had six surgeries within the past 16 months: four that actually went into the skull to the brain stem and two to fix complications due to the last two craniotomies. Even as I write we are fighting a CSF leak (Cerebral Spinal Fluid), which is a complication of my last two MVD’s! And like the unbelievable intensity of TN pain, it has been an unbelievable two years.

But in the midst of such incredible pain and the fear of more pain is love, a love that was promised 33 years ago—when we were both very young and very healthy and probably very naïve about the future.  While there are a number of marriages that break under the strain of serious disease, ours has continued to grow.  This is something I do not take for granted since too many marriages run shipwreck on the rocks of chronic illness.  A NYT article (Nov 12, 2009) reports that in one study 12 percent of patients divorced during a serious illness. If that study is broken down by gender, the results suggest that if a man is sick 3 percent experience the end of a relationship.  If it is the woman who receives the bad news from her doctor, the percentage jumps to 21 percent of guys who either divorce or separate from their spouse. I have no such fears.  Not because the statistics are on my side but because Joy promised 33 years ago to love me “in sickness and in health” and she believes and lives out Song 8:7.

“Many waters cannot quench love

Nor will rivers over flow it.”

It is not easy to live with someone in chronic and intense pain.  In my case there is nothing Joy can do for me when the unpredictable pain strikes.  But Joy never shies away from my pain or me.  On the contrary, when she sees (or hears) me in pain, she stops what she is doing, and comes over and enters into the pain.  A gentle hand on my shoulder, a squeeze of my hand in hers reminds me that I am not alone.  It also reminds me of a love that cannot be quenched by the raging river of pain or will unfortunate circumstances of life overflow it.

While there may be nagging fears that haunt our future, the one fear that does not haunt is Joy’s love—even in the midst of TN.