Reading and Study Schedule for 2010

December 26, 2009

Bible Study, Eschatology

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=bible&iid=7310372″ src=”7/c/e/c/Page_from_Wycliffes_4504.jpg?adImageId=8664121&imageId=7310372″ width=”380″ height=”600″ /]To the side is a page from a Wycliffe Bible.  It is considered a precious antiquity of our Church History.  Created in the 14th century and copied by hand, these bibles represent some of the earliest translations into English.  Parchment type books from this era were extremely valuable, often costing an amount equal to a small farm or vineyard.  Major libraries only contained a few dozen works.  As you know, men and women throughout the ages were persecuted and sometimes killed for attempting to translate or make scripture available to the masses.  Such was the Church of Rome prior to the reformation.  They mandated that only clergy should read and interpret scripture; the laity were supposedly incapable of achieving correct understandings.  Even today, massively large cultures are devoid of opportunities to study and become acquainted with God’s Word themselves.  I would doubt that there would be a single, public Christian Book source for the entire Chinese Empire.

Of course, you and I mostly take biblical access for granted; almost infinite seem the sources.  What hasn’t changed since the creation of mankind, though, is man’s responsibility and duty to know, understand, and meditate on God’s Word.  Along with prayer, worship, preaching, and the sacraments, bible study is a necessary “means of grace” for our Christian growth.

But all of this is probably more of an introduction than we really need.  Most of us desire to study the bible and don’t need too much of an exhortation to do so.  What occurs in my life though is that I tend to read a little of this and a little of that and as a result suffer in quality of study and closeness with the Lord.  Bible study, rightly pursued, is a spiritual act that depends on the Holy Spirit for guidance.  Illumination of the Word is how God instructs us and furthers our sanctification.  What I would like to put forth with this post is a plan for organized study throughout the upcoming year.

I put this out for three reasons.  First, as sort of a billing for the coming year.  Many of the posts for this blog will incorporate thoughts generated as a result of the reading.  Second, in an effort to maintain discipline, I’m attempting to make myself accountable to those I know.  Lastly, in the off chance that someone else has similar interests, I want to provide a means for them to join in.  This is blue-collar stuff.  I’m not an academic and will  be reading these books and much of scripture for the first time.  I’m not a teacher and will lean heavily on the illumination of the Holy Spirit and the scholarly work of others.  For anyone who wants to participate for any portion, in any amount, please know that you are welcome to do so.  Robust comments are good for fleshing out problems and sharing thought.

This study will consist of two parts, both will run concurrently.  The first part will be to read “The Hermeneutical Spiral” by Grant Osborne, followed by the reading and simple charting of the entire canon of scripture while using Keith Mathison’s book “From Age to Age” as a guide.  The second part will be an extensive overview study of eschatology from the Reformed perspective through the reading of 14 more books. 

Why? I want to read the bible through in a year’s time.  I read an article a long time ago, I can’t remember the source, it described the experience of a lawyer who was curious as to how long it would really take to read through the entire bible.  He proceeded to read straight through without meditation (not recommended in practice) and found that it only took him 80 hours to complete the task.  A week’s vacation would be enough to get that done!  For my part, I intend to take the year and not rush it.  The reading will be done as my daily devotion and will be accompanied by much prayer and meditation.  The basic charting is described in Osborne’s book and is intended as a means to go over the main points of each chapter.  More about that later. 

Originally, I intended to just study eschatology.  But since the proper study of eschatology is concerned with more than just the end times, I decided it would be good to broaden the scope.  Keith Mathison says this:

“Eschatology in a broader sense concerns what Scripture teaches about God’s purposes in Christ for history.  As such, eschatology does include a study of the consummation of God’s purposes at the end of history, but it also includes a study of the stages in the unfolding of those purposes.”

Through both parts, I believe we’ll get a good grasp of the architecture of the entire Word of God.  Below is a list of the reading material in the intended order.  I want to keep the schedule loose.  Ultimately, if it takes a year and half to go through all this, then so be it.  However, I’m confident that if you make your hobby bible study for the year, then this is very realistic.  For part one, I figure about 3 weeks for the first book, which is crucial for both parts, then the remainder of the year for “From Age to Age” and the scripture.  Bear in mind that there are 66 books so the pace will have to be greater than a book a week.  I feel that most of the longer books are do-able in that amount of time with maybe Psalms being the exception.  Again, meditation is important.  Keep your own pace.  Part two will begin in earnest in February. 

Including the two books from part one (not the scripture) and the 14 books from part two, there are roughly 5337 pages.  If you keep a pace of 15 pages a day, you’ll finish in a year with time to spare.  Some of the books are more complicated than others, but remember, this is an overview project.  Much of the information will be repeated and reinforced as you go through the book list.  Don’t get bogged down in this and don’t say good-bye to your family for a year. 

Well, there you have it.  I’ve officially stuck my neck out.  I hope you enjoy the reading (or watching me sweat).

Part One:

  • The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation  by Grant Osborne – In this newly revised and expanded edition, Grant Osborne provides seminary students and working pastors with the full set of tools they need to move from sound exegesis to the development of biblical and systematic theologies and to the preparation of sound, biblical sermons.  Osborne contends that hermeneutics is a spiral from text to context a movement between the horizon of the text and the horizon of the reader that spirals nearer and nearer toward the intended meaning of the text and its significance for today.  Well-established as the standard evangelical work in the field since its first publication in 1991, The Hermeneutical Spiral has been updated to meet the needs of a new generation of students and pastors. Thorough revisions have been made throughout, new chapters have been added on Old Testament law and the use of the Old Testament in the New, and the bibliography has been thoroughly updated.
  • From Age to Age – The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology  by Keith Mathison – Using the narrative method of biblical theology, From Age to Age traces the eschatological themes of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, emphasizing how each book of the Bible develops these themes that culminate in the coming of Christ and showing how individual texts fit into the overarching picture.
  • The Reformation Study Bible


Part Two:

  • Introducing Covenant Theology  by Michael Horton – FRONT FLAP Covenant theology 101 “It’s not just that we were created and then given a covenant,” writes author Michael Horton. “We were created as covenant creatures-partners not in deity but in the drama about to unfold throughout history.” While some Bible readers quake at the mention of “covenant” or “doctrine,” it is vitally important to recognize and understand the significance of covenant and its role in bridging the gap between sinner and salvation. Why? Because to understand covenant theology is to understand how it unifies the diverse teachings of Scripture, binds the Old and New Testaments as one narrative, and enriches the meaning in your relationship with the Triune God. Whether new to Reformed theology or not, every believer needs to understand the importance of covenants. God of Promise unpacks covenant theology so you can explore the core of Christianity: knowing-and honoring-the promises of our Creator.
  • The Promise of the Future  by Cornelis P. Venema  – A major new study of what the Bible teaches about the future. The chief note sounded is one of hope. ‘The future is bright because it is full of promise, the promise of God’s Word’. The Promise of the Future fills a gap in Reformed theology in the area of eschatology. For too long the last things have been understood to be only about the Parousia and the final judgement. Cornelis Venema has written an exhaustive treatment of the subject with the view that eschatology began with the birth of Christ, continues at the present time, and will be finally consummated at the restoration of the heavens and the earth. This is completely correct, and his handling of the subject is wide-ranging and very good. I believe that this book could very easily become a standard work on eschatology from the viewpoint of Classical Reformation theology.
  • The Eschatology of the Old Testament   by Geerhardus Vos – In this previously unpublished material, a pioneer in reformed biblical theology examines the hopes, expectations, and understanding of Old Testament saints regarding the future. Compiled from several manuscripts relating to Geerhardus Vos’s course on Old Testament eschatology, this volume weaves together the most complete text of his study on the subject. Vos addresses a wide range of questions surrounding both individual and collective eschatology from key passages throughout the Old Testament. Whether he is discussing the intermediate state or the meaning of Sheol, Messaniac expectations or the Day of the Lord, Vos’s supernaturalism contrasts with the hopelessness of naturalistic views.
  • The Pauline Eschatology  by Geerhardus Vos – Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary,describes this book in the foreword as “a classic of unprecedented insight into the structure of Paul’s theology.” Vos’s basic thesis is that to unfold Paul’s eschatology is to set forth his theology as a whole, not just his teaching on Christ’s return.  The author begins by discussing the structure of Paul’s eschatology, the interaction between his eschatology and his soteriology, and the religious and ethical motivation of his eschatology. Succeeding chapters treat the coming of the Lord and its precursors, the man of sin, the resurrection, chiliasm, the judgment, and the eternal state.  The Pauline Eschatology, originally published in 1930, includes a bibliography and an appendix on the eschatology of the Psalter.
  • The Bible and the Future  by Anthony A. Hoekema – Hoekema delivers a very comprehensive, articulate, and biblical presentation. For Christians who are familiar with the different views of the millenium, his view is one of Amillenialism. Even if one does not agree with his disposition one will agree that his is well stated and honestly biblical in approach (whether completely accurate or not only God can reveal…and He will). Using his model of “already/not yet” for the Kingdom of God, the reader is in for an illuminating ride through the Scriptures in an attempt to come to a well-balanced eschatology. For anyone interested in Christianity of the Reformed ilk this is a classic work on the issue. Consistent, readable, and incredibly insightful, “The Bible and the Future” will instruct and inspire all Christians and offer hope and grace to those who aren’t….yet.
  • The Narrow Gate and the Heavenly Footman  by John Bunyan – Who goes to heaven? And how do people get there? In these two short, yet profound, works John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, gets to the heart of what the Bible teaches about the way to heaven and exhorts his readers to make sure that they are on the road that undoubtedly leads to the Heavenly City. 
  • The Puritan Hope  by Iain H. Murray – In this landmark book, first published in 1971, Iain Murray, traces the “Puritan Hope” of a glorious and worldwide revival before the second coming of Christ, from the Reformation onwards. He shows how this hope, or strong conviction of coming revival, was embraced firstly by the giants of Puritanism, then by men like David Brainerd, Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitefield. This optimistic view of soon-coming blessing was the driving force behind William Carey, and others who followed him, during the beginnings of the modern missionary movements. With scholarly exegesis of Scripture and much historical and biographical material Murray clearly explains and illustrates the Puritan Hope. Finally, he traces the eclipse of this Scriptural emphasis and the corresponding decline in missionary activity. This is an excellent book which deserves to be read by all evangelical Christians who are seeking a Biblical basis and historical forerunners of the great end-time Revival.
  • A Case for Amillennialism  by Kim Riddlebarger – Amillennialism, dispensational premillennialism, historic premillennialism, postmillennialism, preterism. These are difficult words to pronounce and even harder concepts to understand. A Case for Amillennialism presents an accessible look at the crucial theological question of the millennium in the context of contemporary evangelicalism. This study defends amillennialism as the historic Protestant understanding of the millennial age. Amillennarians believe that the millennium of Christ’s heavenly reign is a present reality, not a future hope to come after his return. Recognizing that eschatology, the study of future things, is a complicated and controversial subject, Riddlebarger provides definitions of key terms and a helpful overview of various viewpoints. He examines related biblical topics as a backdrop to understanding the subject and discusses important passages of Scripture that bear upon the millennial age, including Daniel 9, Matthew 24, Romans 11, and Revelation 20. Regardless of their stance, readers will find helpful insight as Riddlebarger evaluates the main problems facing each of the major millennial positions and cautions readers to be aware of the spiraling consequences of each view.
  • Four Views on the Book of Revelation  by C. Marvin Pate, Stanley N. Gundry, Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., and Sam Hamstra Jr. – Four Views on the Book of Revelation are presented, critiqued, and defended: preterist, idealist, and the classical dispensationalist and progressive dispensationalist forms of the futurist approach.
  • Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation   by Dennis E. Johnson – The book of Revelation is an unveiling, a vivid disclosure of invisible realities. Yet its bizarre imagery often leaves us puzzled. Dennis E. Johnson deftly guides us through questions about how to interpret Revelation, what it meant to its original audience, and how it equips us today. He explains that Revelation fortifies the church against the Enemy’s wiles by disclosing the profound paradoxes of Christ’s victory and glory. The central themes of Revelation converge with Christ’s triumph over the Enemy.  The best all-around commentary on Revelation. Not as technical as Beale, up-to-date, unlike Hendricksen, but no fluff is found here either. A very helpful, user-friendly, and pastoral piece of work. If you buy only one commentary on Revelation, this should be it. – Monergism
  • The Man of Sin: Uncovering the Truth About the Antichrist  by Kim Riddlebarger –  Christians have always been fascinated with the Antichrist, but recently the interest seems to have reached an all-time high, with pop culture depictions and speculation leaving many people confused or even frightened. But what does the Bible really say? What have Christians throughout history believed about the Antichrist? Should we fear the Antichrist or such things as the mark of the Beast? Have some end-times prophecies already been fulfilled?  Pastor and professor Kim Riddlebarger carefully untangles the confusion surrounding this biblical doctrine. He considers common beliefs about the Antichrist and end times, closely examines the relevant scriptural passages, and explains how these passages have been interpreted historically by the church.
  • Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism   by John H. Gerstner – Dispensationalism is the majority report among evangelical Christians in America today. Tens of millions of Christians are committed to this perspective on the Bible and history. Sadly, they are generally so indulgent in this view that they seem little aware of alternative evangelical approaches to Scripture.  In this devastating critique of dispensationalism, noted historian and biblical scholar John H. Gerstner, Ph.D. (Harvard), focuses on several of dispensationalism’s leading errors. He demonstrates that dispensationalism not only provides a prophetic scheme for interpreting history, but a whole new theology that makes serious alterations to evangelical doctrine.  Gerstner, a former dispensationalist himself, carefully demonstrates through abundant citation of original sources that dispensationalism promotes dubious evangelicalism, spurious Calvinism, and overt antinomianism. In this edition he also replies at length to his dispensational critics.
  • Dual Citizens: Worship and Life Between the Already and the Not Yet   by Jason J. Stellman – New covenant believers live between “the already” and “not yet,” a point in redemptive history between the partial and complete fulfillment of God’s promises. This means they are exiles and pilgrims in the divinely ordained overlap of the ages. As Rev. Jason J. Stellman argues in his book Dual Citizens: Worship and Life between the Already and the Not Yet, this biblical motif shapes the identity of Christians at every turn and affects their every activity in both the sacred and secular realms. Stellman explores the Christian pilgrimage with deep biblical insight, humor, and relevance to our contemporary context, revealing how Christians are to think of themselves and their role this side of heaven.
  • Last Things First: Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology   by J.V. Fesko – We think that we know the first three chapters of the Bible well Creation and the Fall, we say, knowingly. But have we ever stopped to consider that Jesus in the book of Revelation is called ‘the last Adam‘ and the ‘Alpha & Omega‘? Should this make a difference to how we look at the first three chapters of Genesis? Dr. John Fesko, the newly-appointed Academic Dean of Westminster Seminary California (July 1, 2009) says that it does and that without seeing Christ and the end days, we cannot understand the first days. Over the controversies that surround these first three chapters he says ‘there are many theologians who represent different schools of thought. Is there a better way to approach the opening chapters of Genesis in spite of the debate? The answer to that question is an unqualified, ‘Yes‘ The way through the impasse is to interpret Genesis in the manner presented in the New Testament. More specifically, one must interpret Genesis 1-3 in the light of Christ and Eschatology.‘ By doing this, John is able to explain this important portion of scripture from a holistic Christological viewpoint, one that is consistent throughout scripture. If you are tangled up on origins in Genesis then this may be your way through the maze.
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