All posts by Phillip Marshall

Fun With Linguistics: Productivity

In linguistics we have a term for how you can use patterns to create new words: productivity. For example, the -ly suffix can be added to many adjectives to create new adverbs: “nice” becomes “nicely” while “able” becomes “ably.” That’s a productive pattern. What’s amazing is that children who are learning to speak a language natively start using such productive patterns intuitively, without ever being told explicitly how to do it. And they are correct most of the time. But when they misapply a productive pattern, it’s often funny. Tonight, I heard another funny. This evening Andrew and Kathryn (our 7 year old twins) decided they would sleep under a make-shift tent created by draping bed sheets over chairs and stools. As I was helping them lay down their make-shift beds, Andrew determined that he would use a huge beach towel as his “blanket.” Kathryn objected, misapplying a productive word-formation pattern:

“But . . . that’s not . . . blanketable.”

I’m still smiling. 🙂

New Blog by Cheryl Marshall

My gracious and lovely wife has picked up her proverbial pen to begin blogging. In the last two days she is already more prolific than I am on actual blog posts for 2012! Her blog, Women Walking Wisely, provides her ruminations and biblically-informed thoughts on a variety of things that average, everyday Christian wives, mothers, daughters, and women may find interesting and helpful. I know that I have benefited over the years from her wise words and godly counsel–I hope that you will, too. You can find her blog at Women Walking Wisely. Happy New Year, and congratulations, Cheryl Marshall!

Summer Biblical Hebrew at Southwestern Seminary in Houston

ANNOUNCEMENT:  I’m teaching Turbo Hebrew at Southwestern Seminary-Houston starting Monday, May 8 9.  We will cover a full year of Biblical Hebrew in 10 wks, and the course meets Mondays/Thursdays from 8am to noon each time. In order for the course to make we need enough people committed by the end of the day tomorrow–Tuesday, May 3.  Please email me (psmarshall AT gmail DOT com) if you need details and I’ll get you set up.

Also, you could contact the following about enrolling:

Hudson Hanks (hhanks@swbts.edu)
Director of Business & Student Services
713.634.0011 ext. 222

In Memoriam: Prof. Anson Rainey (1930-2011)

I just received word today that the long and illustrious career of Anson Rainey ended yesterday when he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. If you’d like to see the scholarly achievements of a bright light in studies of ANE language and culture, click here. It appears that the list of published works was last updated around 2008, so it is incomplete. But at last count, he had authored/edited 9 books, 112 articles in scholarly journals, and 48 essays which were components of books.

I’ve recently been listening to St. Augustine’s Confessions, and I came across this gem that I didn’t remember when I read the book in college: “And this idea sprang up in my mind out of my inmost heart, and I wrote some books–two or three, I think–On the Beautiful and the Fitting. Thou knowest them, O Lord; they have escaped my memory. I no longer have them; somehow they have been mislaid.” I’m tickled to imagine that someone could have written a few books and forgotten them or misplaced them! The only type of person who can even remotely begin to empathize with Augustine is one who is incredibly prolific–and Prof. Rainey was certainly that! I wonder how many books Prof. Rainey wrote and never published. . . . May God rest his soul.

Dr. Robert Holmstedt on Writing Book Reviews

Robert Holmstedt of the University of Toronto recently posted a piece over at Ancient Hebrew Grammar on the function of book reviews, in light of a few negative reviews of his book Ruth: A Handbook on the Hebrew Text.  He makes some great comments on what a review should aim for, especially how reviews ought to assess the success of any work based on the author’s purpose (and the series’ purpose, if it is a volume in a series).  I recommend that all my students take a look at what Holmstedt has to say on this.

Handel’s Messiah

Tonight my wife, three children, and I want to First Presbyterian of Houston to our first ever Messiah Sing-Along.  The orchestra was conducted by my colleague from HBU, Dr. John Yarrington.  The music was splendid; my singing . . . well, that was clearly unworthy of the Lamb who is worthy, as the last choral piece proclaims.  I offer my congratulations to Dr. Yarrington for a beautiful performance, and my thanksgiving to God that such a work exists to draw our attention and devotion to Jesus the Lamb and the King of Glory.  I think that tonight may have been the beginning of an annual family tradition for us.

For those who are unaware, my old doctoral supervisor (when I was at Southern Seminary), Dr. Daniel Block (now at Wheaton) wrote a piece analyzing Handel’s Messiah from a biblical and theological perspective.  If you plan to listen to it or attend a performance, please do read over Block’s essay before you go; it will greatly enhance your ability to understand and enjoy the spiritual themes of the work.  You can get it here.

12-13-10  You can get the polished, published version of Dan Block’s essay in the following journal article: “Handel’s Messiah: Biblical and Theological Perspectives,” in Didaskalia 12 (2001): 1-23.  Thanks, Dan, for pointing us to this text!

Congratulations to Dr. Greg Welty

I forgot to mention this the other day when “Between the Times” made the announcement, but let me publicly join the chorus of those congratulating Dr. Greg Welty for his appointment to Associate Professor of Philosophy at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Here is the paragraph from Between the Times:

“We at BtT would like to welcome Drs. Michael Travers and Greg Welty to the faculty at Southeastern. . . .  Dr. Welty has been appointed to the faculty as Associate Professor of Philosophy at Southeastern. Dr. Welty comes to our campus from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he has served as Assistant Professor of Philosophy. Dr. Welty comes with a credibly furrowed brow, as he completed his B. A. in Philosophy from UCLA, his M. Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and his M. Phil. and D. Phil. from University of Oxford.”

Southeastern will be incredibly blessed by this man of “credibly furrowed brow.”  I’ve known Dr. Welty for the past 15 years and can say that he is not only a lucid thinker and communicator, but also a man marked by faithfulness–to God, to family, to the Lord’s church.  It will be a great loss to  Southwestern Seminary, but there are bright days ahead for Southeastern.  So, congratulations to Greg Welty and to SEBTS!

SWBTS Faculty Photo of Greg Welty

Pray for Dr. Peter Gentry

UPDATE 2-22-10:

I spoke with Peter Gentry tonight by phone and received an update.  His surgery on Dec 2 was successful.  The surgery and biopsy indicated that the cancer was encapsulated, and a recent PSA test came back practically zero–very good news indeed.  The doctor had ordered that he not exercise for 6 wks.  So, 6 wks after surgery, he flew to Germany to conduct some research and started swimming every day.  He’s now swimming up to about 600 meters/day (almost 3 miles per week–I barely walk that much in the same amount of time!).  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!  He asks for continued prayers as he becomes stronger, knowing that his life was and still is ever in the strong hands of his faithful God.

Phillip

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On Dec 2, Dr. Peter Gentry (Septuagint guru, professor of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and my doctoral mentor) will be undergoing surgery in Louisville for prostate cancer.  His prognosis so far is good, but surgery and cancer are always a big deal.  Please pray for this dear brother.  I spoke with him yesterday (Monday) and he was in good spirits and is trusting in God and his goodness.  I hope to be able to provide an update in the days ahead.

Proper Nouns in Judges 5:19-27

One of the great difficulties in reading the Hebrew Bible, especially for beginners, is knowing when the unfamiliar word you’re seeing is a place-name/personal name or a common noun. The beginnings and endings of proper nouns can look like grammatical affixes (morphemes), and if you analyze them as such, they can lead you on a wild goose chase. For ex., in v. 23 if you don’t realize that מֵר֗וֹז is the name of a city (Meroz), you could mistakenly assume that מֵר֗וֹז is an adverbial prepositional phrase: the preposition מִן (with nun assimilated, and compensatory lengthening due to not being able to place dagesh forte in word-initial resh) affixed to some Hebrew noun רוֹז that you can’t find in your lexicon! In order to help you, my beloved Hebrew reading class, avoid this unfortunate problem (I’d much prefer to see you reading Hebrew, rather than chasing geese!), I’ve provided you with a list of the proper names in your next reading assignment: Judges 5:19-27.

v. 19 כְנַ֔עַן = Canaan;

בְּתַעְנַ֖ךְ = Taanach;

מְגִדּ֑וֹ = Megiddo

v. 20 סִיסְרָֽא = Sisera

v. 21 קִישׁוֹן֙ = Kishon (river)

v. 22 none

v. 23 מֵר֗וֹז = Meroz

v. 24 יָעֵ֕ל = Jael;

חֶ֣בֶר הַקֵּינִ֑י = Heber the Kenite

v. 25 none

v. 26 סִֽיסְרָא֙ = Sisera

v. 27 none

[Note:  This material can be accessed as a handout/document here.  RE: Hebrew font size, if you want to see this bigger and better, increase the viewing size of your browser window by keeping the CONTROL key pressed and clicking on the “+” key until the size is appropriate. To decrease the size, keep the CONTROL key pressed and click on the “-”.]

Proper Nouns in Judges 5:19-27

 

One of the great difficulties in reading the Hebrew Bible, especially for beginners, is knowing when the unfamiliar word you’re seeing is a place-name/personal name or a common noun.  The beginnings and endings of proper nouns can look like grammatical affixes (morphemes), and if you analyze them as such, they can lead you on a wild goose chase.  For ex., in v. 23 if you don’t realize that מֵר֗וֹז is the name of a city (Meroz), you could mistakenly assume that מֵר֗וֹז is an adverbial prepositional phrase: the preposition מִן (with nun assimilated, and compensatory lengthening due to not being able to place dagesh forte in word-initial resh) affixed to some Hebrew noun רוֹז that you can’t find in your lexicon!  In order to help you, my beloved Hebrew reading class, avoid this unfortunate problem (I’d much prefer to see you reading Hebrew, rather than chasing geese!), I’ve provided you with a list of the proper names in your next reading assignment: Judges 5:19-27.

 

v. 19    כְנַ֔עַן = Canaan;

בְּתַעְנַ֖ךְ = Taanach;

מְגִדּ֑וֹ = Megiddo

 

v. 20    סִיסְרָֽא = Sisera

 

v. 21    קִישׁוֹן֙ = Kishon (river)

 

v. 22    none

 

v. 23    מֵר֗וֹז = Meroz

 

v. 24    יָעֵ֕ל = Jael;

חֶ֣בֶר הַקֵּינִ֑י = Heber the Kenite

 

v. 25    none

 

v. 26    סִֽיסְרָא֙ = Sisera

 

v. 27    none

 

 

 

The Homegoing of OT Scholar D.J. Wiseman

This past week I received a news letter from Pete Williams of Tyndale House notifying that Donald Wiseman had passed away.  Below I am pasting a tribute to Dr. Wiseman written by Professor Alan Millard (Univ. of Liverpool), which Pete had sent along.  I’m very thankful for the way in which Wiseman united a lively faith with his sharp intellect.  May his tribe increase!

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Professor Donald Wiseman (1918-2010)
The passing of Donald Wiseman on 2nd February, 2010, marks the end of an era in the story of Tyndale House and the Tyndale Fellowship. After a year reading history at King’s College, London, W. J. Martin persuaded him that study of the biblical world and its languages would be more valuable to the church and biblical studies, so he turned to Hebrew and Assyriology. Martin had been the major stimulus in the creation of Tyndale House and Donald Wiseman saw its strategic potential. He gave much time and thought to the affairs of the House, serving as Chairman of the Biblical Research Committee, which had the initial responsibility and of the Tyndale House Council, which inherited it, from 1957 to 1986. As Chairman of that and other committees, he guided discussion with wisdom, patience and humour, ensuring sensible decisions were made. When there were doubts in UCCF (then IVF) circles about continuing financial support, he insisted that the House was providing a service which no other evangelical institution offered and had potential for much more. When problems of space for the Library arose, it was Donald who suggested the annexe which was built as The Hexagon in 1984.

He saw the priority for Tyndale House lay in biblical research, supplying positive information and arguments to oppose widely taught liberal views about Scripture. His vision was well expressed by John Stott in 1992, ‘We shall never capture the church for the truth of the gospel unless and until we can re-establish biblical scholarship, hold (and not lose) the best theological minds in every generation, and overthrow the enemies of the gospel by confronting them at their own level of scholarship’ (Quoted by Tom Noble, Tyndale House and Fellowship, 239).

Like Martin, Donald Wiseman was a great enthusiast and encourager of others, in Britain and abroad. He chaired the Tyndale Old Testament Study Group from 1951 to 1981, taking time and trouble to find young scholars whom he could introduce to the Group so that they would know there were others who could support them in their often lonely  research. The Bible is a product of the ancient Near East, so he recognized that it should be read and assessed in the light of knowledge about that world. With that in mind, aware of the value of the archaeological contexts of ancient artefacts, he set up the Tyndale Biblical Archaeology Study Group in 1958, which, although not functioning regularly in recent years, brought together linguists and archaeologists to evaluate and apply new and old discoveries to biblical studies. On his initiative papers were brought together as Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel (1965) and Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives (1980) and he stimulated other publications by fellows of Tyndale House (e.g. David Tsumura, The Earth and the Waters in Genesis 1 and 2, 1989). A volume of  essays by members of the Old Testament Study Group was dedicated to him in gratitude for his many years of devotion (R. S. Hess, G. J. Wenham. P. Satterthwaite, eds., He Swore an Oath (1994).

His experience and knowledge marked Donald as a major contributor to, and Editor of, the New Bible Dictionary (1962, 1982, 1996) and The Illustrated Bible Dictionary (1980). For many years he was Editor for Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries and gave his skills to a variety of other Christian publications.

Donald was always ready to help a cause he thought would be fruitful in the service of his Saviour, preaching and teaching and holding informal groups for Bible Study. The number who faced the claims of the Gospel through meeting him cannot be told, neither can the number whose lives and careers he has influenced or guided.
As one of the latter, I give thanks for his life, his service and his fellowship.

Alan Millard