Category Archives: Art

Jayber Crow on Silence in Worship

Jayber on those beautiful moments of silence when the congregation stills itself before the living God:

“I liked the naturally occurring silences—the one, for instance, just before the service began and the other, the briefest imaginable, just after the last amen. Occasionally a preacher would come who had a little bias toward silence, and then my attendance would become purposeful. At a certain point in the service the preacher would ask that we ‘observe a moment of silence.’ You could hear a little rustle as the people settled down into that deliberate cessation. And then the quiet that was almost the quiet of the empty church would come over us and unite us as we were not united even in singing, and the little sounds (maybe a bird’s song) from the world outside would come in to us, and we would completely hear it.But always too soon the preacher would become abashed (after all, he was being paid to talk) and start a prayer, and the beautiful moment would end. I would think again how I would like for us all just to go there from time to time and sit in silence. Maybe I am a Quaker of sorts, but I am told that the Quakers sometimes speak at their meetings. I would have preferred no talk, no noise at all.

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All That Agony for $7.99

When I read Paul House’s Old Testament Theology, it was clear to me that he had thought deeply about the literary structure of every book of the OT. I’m not talking about rehashing the notes of some prof whose class he took; I’m talking about reading the book, agonizing over how it’s put together, assessing the various proposals for structure, and then making a decision about how you think it’s structured that you’re willing to put in print. I was stunned and daunted by the time and effort I knew went into that project. That experience gave me, I think, the ability to tell when an author is really engaging the biblical material and when he’s trotting out a shallow schtick that he’s used in a talk or a lecture that he’s given a thousand times. I want to read authors who are writing from the overflow of long slow meditative reading of the whole Bible.

Imagine doing what House did for the OT for every book in the Bible, or at least making the attempt.

That’s the kind of book I tried to write. I’m not claiming that I nailed the structure of every book of the Bible, but I agonized, read, re-read, tried to see the whole, to remember all the pieces, and to put it all together.

The point of relating all this is to observe that you can get the Kindle version of the fruits of all my agony and struggle with the most important book in the world for $7.99.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining! I’d love for everyone to have it in print or on Kindle (which you don’t have to have a Kindle to be able to use–you can get a free Kindle app for your computer or some other device). If I could afford it, I’d give copies away. It wasn’t written to make money. It was written in an effort to help people understand the structure of the particular books of the Bible and the Bible as a whole.

So thinking about all that effort for the low price of $7.99 has given me a whole new appreciation for the way that songwriters must feel about their albums, novelists about their books, moviemakers about their films. You get the picture. How do you put a price on a human being’s attempt at art–the attempt to help other people see what’s there–which arises from the soul, accompanied by many cries for God’s help, forged in disciplined labor, aided by talented careful editors, and brought out by an exemplary publishing company?

I don’t know how to answer that question, but I’m again thankful for God’s mercy, for life, and for the opportunity to have written this book.



Filed under Art, Bible and Theology, Biblical Theology, Current Events

Free Album from Andrew Peterson

Just give these underlined words a smack.

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The Four Holy Gospels, by Makoto Fujimura

I enjoyed Justin Taylor’s interview with Makoto Fujimura on art and the illumination of The Four Holy Gospels.

JT gave this breakdown of the interview:

00:00-2:00 What is an illuminated Bible?

2:00-2:45 Why was this Fujimura’s most “exhausting and “exhilarating” project?

2:45-4:55 Why does he think this will be the project he will be remembered for?

4:55-5:55 Brief overview of Fujimura’s life before he became an artist

5:55-8:20 Growing up in a non-religious but highly creative home

8:20-11:50 Being an agnostic moralist at Bucknell, and the impact of the KJV and poetry and literature as a preparation for faith

11:50-13:15 Meeting his wife and moving to Japan

13:15-19:30 How the Lord used missionary friends, a pastor, and William Blake’s poem Jerusalem to bring him to faith in Tokyo

19:30-21:30 How unbelieving artists can be haunted by beauty and alienated from the beauty they create when they don’t have room for transcendence

21:30-24:00 His double exile—his conversion and evangelism changed artists’ perception of him, and people in the church didn’t understand the importance of art, and the founding of the International Arts Movement

24:00-27:15 What Fujimura would say to pastors who like art and want to encourage and influence arts but who “don’t really get art.”

27:15-30:55 What Fujimura would say to artists who feel like their creativity is in tension with creedal theology.

30:55-36:00 What Fujimura would say to people who want to be affected by art and to grow in their appreciation for art but don’t know what to do, and how The Four Holy Gospels might help

Earlier Crossway had produced this video, which takes you inside the studio:

The Four Holy Gospels makes me feel even more honored that Crossway published my book.

May the Lord bless Crossway for their evident commitment to excellence and to the elevation of people’s minds and hearts as image bearers of the one true and living God. For more on “rehumanizing” culture, do check out Fujimura’s work at the International Arts Movement.


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Interview with Bryan Litfin on His First Novel, The Sword

Bryan Litfin is Professor of Theology at Moody Bible Insitute. His book Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction, is what you would expect from a patristics scholar, but now he has also written a novel, The Sword, which is the first volume in “The Chiveis Trilogy.”

The book is set in a future time when the Bible has been lost, only to be rediscovered. I think it captures the kind of society the gospel encountered as it spread through the Roman world.

I got The Sword at ETS, and after our Christmas company left town I indulged myself on it. I could not put it down, and I commend it to you. As I told Bryan when I wrote to ask him if I could interview him here, the book made me love my sweet wife more, made me more grateful to have the whole Bible, and helped me feel more deeply the sheer wonder of life in this world. I commend it to you.

Thanks to Bryan for agreeing to do this interview! I hope it spurs you to pick up The Sword. My questions are in bold, followed by Bryan’s answers.

Was The Sword your first foray into fiction or was it preceded by other published short stories or books?

In 2007 I published a popular-academic book on the ancient church called Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction (Brazos).  After that came out, I got bitten by the fiction bug and decided to try my hand at it. The Sword is my first fictional work and is the first volume in a trilogy.

What have been the most significant works of fiction that shaped your approach to writing?

I’m not sure it was fictional works that primarily shaped my writing. Rather, I read many, many books on “how to write fiction” and those played a larger role. However, there are certainly some novels that influenced my thinking. The Lord of the Rings was inspirational. In Christian fiction, I point to the works of Stephen Lawhead, particularly Byzantium. Two other novels that influenced me, and which remind me of The Sword in some ways, are Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose, and Walter Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz.

The book reminds me in some ways of Quo Vadis. Was that novel significant in your thinking?

No, but I have been told by others I should read this and I’d like to.

How did you approach the writing of fiction? I’ve seen references to the research you did on writing fiction. Was there something that was most helpful in your work? Did you read “how to” books or just great fiction itself?

My approach to fiction was to (a) admit I’m a total novice, (b) go research and become knowledgeable,  and (c) start writing. I went to the public library and read everything they had on the craft of fiction. I also bought some “how-to” books and they were very helpful. In particular I was struck by some of the plot techniques for developing the archetypal hero in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  Another insightful book was Ron Benrey, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Christian Fiction.

Yet I have to say, I learned more about writing fiction from my excellent editor, Erin Healy, than from any particular book.  She and I worked through the manuscript with a fine-toothed comb.  Along the way I was like a disciple sitting at the feet of a master. The quality of Erin’s own books prove she knows writing. The Sword greatly benefitted from her expertise.

I saw a video clip where you said teaching was your “day job.” Did you work on the novel through the “meat” of the day or only on the margins?

My approach has been to take the time afforded by the academic schedule to write my novels.  During the semester, my main writing day is Thursday, when I do not have classes.  I also write intensively over Christmas break, spring break, and summertime. When things get intense I also snatch time at night or on the weekends. The process of writing The Sword took more than three years from the day I woke up with the idea to the day it came out from Crossway.  Sometimes I would write a few chapters and then set it aside.  For example I wrote chapters 1-4, then I did not come back to it for several weeks.  It bothered me the whole time that I had left Ana with a bag over her head.  I was relieved to get it off her in chapter 5.

Was writing this book significantly different than the academic writing you’ve done?

Yes!  I have found fiction to be a very different kind of writing. Of course, the process of putting words together and then re-reading them to choose better words or make it smoother is the same. But the content of the words is so much different than academic writing!  I am not trying to argue a thesis in fiction.  I am trying to entertain, and to elucidate the human condition before God along the way.  I had to learn all sorts of things that academic publishing does not teach you:  like how to do attributions (“he said”), or when to “show” and when to “tell,” or how to stay in a character’s point of view, or how to arrange scenes for maximum effect.  It has been a steep learning curve but I’m well along it now, I think.

The other main difference is the creativity that is required. The content of academic writing is there for you already. You just have to lay out the evidence from your research. But in fiction, you are dependent on ideas hitting you. Sometimes you have to daydream for an hour before you write anything down. You have to visualize it, see it in your mind. For me this was greatly aided by traveling around in Europe with my students or on trips of my own. I could “see” the landscape of Chiveis. I had walked the same trails that my characters were walking.

I’m curious as to what influenced the decision to do a trilogy as opposed to a stand alone volume – was it simply too long a story for one book?

I pitched the book as a potential trilogy but Crossway did not sign onto that right away. They only contracted The Sword at the outset. However, once it was written, we could all see that the ending begged for more. And that is probably the number one thing my readers tell me: “You left me hanging, I can’t wait until the next one!” Well, The Gift comes out this April, and my editor Erin says it is even better than The Sword.

I think you are right that it was too long a story for one book.  I always conceived of this as a hero’s tale, a quest, an epic. The trick is to make each novel stand on its own as a complete work, and yet to write an over-arching story that encompasses all three.  I am in the process right now of concluding that metanarrative. All I can say is, Teofil and Anastasia have one incredible adventure – and the things they encounter in The Sword are just the tip of the iceberg.

Do you have the plot for the other two books fully mapped out, or is there a general destination with things developing along the way?

Over time I have learned what my personal approach to writing is.  I outline extensively. I write a scene by scene account of what I think is going to happen.  I take notes on what the main theological through-line is. I delineate themes I want to weave into the story.  I discipline myself not to start writing until I know where things are headed. This keeps me from writing myself into plot dead-ends.  However, I maintain flexibility with that outline.  Sometimes the characters get “talking to each other” as my fingers are flying over the keyboard, and I run with it. Sometimes a scene takes a different turn on me.  Sometimes I type a line and then realize, “There. That’s it. That is how the scene must conclude,” even though I had other ideas. So it is a balance between mapping it out and letting the Muses take over.

Do you have other fiction and/or academic writing planned after the trilogy?

During the time I have been writing fiction I have not stopped my scholarly publishing. After the conclusion of the Chiveis Trilogy I hope to write a church history book and some more articles and chapters in academic works. But I have enjoyed fiction too much to stop doing it, if the Lord gives me further opportunities. My instinct is to go with historical fiction, set in the ancient church period since that is my academic specialty.


Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Bryan!

Those who want more on The Chiveis Trilogy should check out the website, where there are videos and forums.

Enjoy the adventure!



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David C. Parker, Codex Sinaiticus: The Story of the World’s Oldest Bible

Hendrickson Publishers and the British Library have teamed up to produce a new facsimile of Codex Sinaiticus (best price here), an exciting piece of work I hope to say more about later.

The facsimile is one of the results of an agreement between the Archbishop of Sinai, the Chief Executive of the British Library, the Director of the Leipzig University Library, and the Deputy Director of the National Library of Russia, St Petersburg. These notables came together and agreed to collaborate in making Codex Sinaiticus available. So high-resolution photos of the manuscript are on the Codex Sinaiticus Website, the facsimile of the Codex has been produced, and now the history of the Codex has been told. The reason these dignitaries from Britain, Egypt, Germany, and Russia were involved is fully explained by David C. Parker in Codex Sinaiticus: The Story of the World’s Oldest Bible.

Parker has related the story of this Codex in way that all parties involved have endorsed, and given the convoluted history, that was no small task. He begins with a fascinating look at what would have been involved in producing this manuscript in the ancient world, and from there he tells the story of how the manuscript became known in the modern west.

Anyone interested in text criticism or in the history of the transmission of the text of the Bible will find this book delightful. The team of scribes who produced the manuscript were not just copyists but artists and craftsmen. Parker takes the reader through the whole process of preparing the parchment (which “is distinguished from leather by the fact that it is not tanned” [43]). From there, Parker walks through the work of the scribes in such matters as laying out the pages, paragraphing, ornamenting, and scripting the text. He even discusses how it appears they divided the work, how they edited their own mistakes, which scribe was the sloppier, and which one appears to have been the senior member of the crew. The volume is complemented with lovely full color plates that illustrate various things Parker discusses, such as hair follicles, veining, and preparation cuts in the parchment. Anyone who wants a fuller understanding of what goes into text criticism should read this book.

Anyone interested in church history and the intersection of diplomacy and scholarship will be romanced by the intrigue of the tale of how the manuscript was removed from St Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai in Egypt to St Petersburg in Russia, with some leaves landing in Leipzig, while the bulk of the Codex was later removed from Russia to London. Was the manuscript about to perish before Tischendorf rescued it? Did the monks mean to donate it to the Tsar? Did Tischendorf steal it? This is one of those books that kept me up past my bedtime because I had to know how this stranger-than-fiction story would reach resolution.

Parker takes a more relativistic view of the canon and the stability of the text than is warranted, and he is more skeptical of the reliability of ancient testimony than necessary. Still, you’ll find the testimony reported and discussed, and that in itself has great value. I think, too, that some of Parker’s own statements about the canon and the text’s stability undermine his fluid view and establish the antiquity and reliability of what this ancient Codex transmits.

Codex Sinaiticus is “the oldest surviving complete New Testament, and is one of the two oldest manuscripts of the whole Bible” (1). Congratulations and immense gratitude are due to the parties involved making it available, and to David Parker for his work in telling its story.

Get a copy of The Story of the World’s Oldest Bible, how it was prepared, produced, and preserved, for yourself, your pastor, and your favorite seminarian here.

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Crossway ESV Bible Atlas

If you don’t have a Bible Atlas, this is the one to get. If you already have an older one, the updated graphics and information in this one are, in my opinion, compelling reasons to update. This thing is beautiful, and what a blessing to have such resources! Enjoy.

Crossway ESV Bible Atlas, John D. Currid and David P. Barrett

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On Re-Reading Homer’s Iliad

Homer’s noble high-born lords
Think mainly of themselves,
Lasting words and shining swords,
Through flesh and soul they delve.

Yet the highest truths we have
He does not seem to know:
For sinful guilt he gives no salve;
No peace with God does show.

Reading him, one must ask why
There’s good in his wide world,
In lust and shame his gods still lie,
Their vain desires unfurled.

Not even Zeus, in all his pride,
From destiny is free,
Decreed fate he can’t outstride
To govern what will be.

No hope in Priam’s city now
Across the wine-dark sea,
Nor can the black ships show somehow
A way of life to thee.

Tragic ruin, futile rage,
The melody he sings,
A song now sung from age to age,
Still the high beauty rings.

For though he lacked the highest truth
This world his blind eyes saw,
And what he saw his tongue unloosed,
Thrilling the heart with awe.


Filed under Art, Attempts at poetry, Books, Literature

Imagination Captured!

I noted recently that my sons and I enjoyed the first two books of Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga. We’re praying that God will bless him as he writes book 3, and that he’ll hurry up and finish so we can read it!

Anyway, the other day my 6 year old brought me this sketch of Podo Helmer, the Pirate turned noble grandfather in the stories.

I’d say his imagination has been captured.

Andrew Peterson has a spot on his website for pictures like this one, so we’re hoping Jake’s drawing of old Podo might make its way onto the big screen.

Recommendation: if you have kids, read these books together!


Filed under Art, Books, Current Events

“Merciful to Me” from Reformed Praise

I’ve noted before that I think Eric Schumacher is one of the best poets at work on the craft in this generation. He writes to help the people of God praise the name of God, celebrating God’s saving mercy in Christ by the power of the Spirit.

Eric writes of the new album from Reformed Praise, “Merciful to Me“:

“As many of you know, I collaborate in song-writing with David Ward (and others) through the ministry of Reformed Praise.

This month we released our latest album, Merciful to Me. It was co-produced by David Ward and Steve Cook (of Sovereign Grace Music). It contains the vocals of Devon Kauflin, Shannon Harris, Jake Armerding, Lucia Newell, and others, as well as a host of great instrumentalists from around the country. The 13 tracks are an eclectic mix of styles, including bluegrass, pop, classic jazz, driving rock, and orchestral arrangements.”

On the album’s webpage, you can read about the project and sample the songs, which are described as follows:

1. Merciful to Me – A guitar-driven ballad featuring ac. guitar, piano (very light), kit on brushes, some percussion, soprano sax, and fretless bass
2. There Is No Greater Portrait – A piano and orchestra driven arrangement by Bob Parsons
3. Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken – A guitar-driven ballad with kit on brushes, piano, fiddle
4. O Jesus – Energetic pop arrangement with a drum loop and tasty electric guitars
5. O God the Holy Spirit – Another piano and orchestra driven arrangement by Bob Parsons
6. So I Will Come – A guitar driven ballad featuring Shannon Harris on vocals with acoustic bass, piano, and a string trio
7. Jesus, Lover of My Soul – A Dave Matthews inspired setting with layered acoustic guitars and saxes
8. The River – A driving rock arrangement led by acoustic guitar, then handed off to an electric guitar
9. Glory Is Certain – A pseudo-Celtic flavor: live guitr, djembe, acoustic bass, and vocals with added mandolin and Irish whistle
10. There Is No Sin that I Have Done – A very sparse, guitar driven ballad with upright bass and pedal steel guitar
11. O Weary Saint – Another sparse setting, piano-driven with Irish flute and cello
12. Begone, Unbelief – A foot-stompin’ bluegrass setting with live guitar, vocal, drums, and upright bass with added dobro, mandolin, and fiddle
13. Majestic Sweetness – A classic jazz ballad arrangement inspired by Bill Evans’ work on the Miles Davis “Kind of Blue”

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Free PDF of Leningrad Codex

Download a PDF of the manuscript behind BHS for free here.

I searched the database for “Leningrad Codex” and the results of the search are on this page.

It’s great to have these manuscripts, of course, but they’re worthless if unread. May we live in the book.

HT: Charles Halton


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Stephen P. Lawhead’s Byzantium

I bought Byzantium, a novel by Stephen R. Lawhead, when Justin Taylor blogged on it. I love to read fiction, but when I do, good plots tend to dominate my free time and steal some hours when I should be sleeping. Being robbed of shut-eye, however, pays me back with more vacuum capacity for sucking the marrow out of life. Reading great literature is as stretching and strengthening as it is taxing and exhausting. Often I need a little extra push to plunge back into this fiction vortex, the push that pulls me away from something I “should” be reading and forces me to read something I’ve been wanting to jump into.

In this case, the push came from Andrew Peterson, who made an offhand remark in a book review that he had named his first-born son after the main character in Lawhead’s Byzantium. That’s a pretty strong shove!

So I commend to you this novel: set in the middle ages, about the journey of an Irish monk (a man not unlike Saint Patrick), who is a scribe involved in the production of a famous manuscript, is made the slave of Vikings, stands before the Emperor in Constantinople, is enslaved by wicked Saracens only to be befriended by noble Muslims, and through these many adventures sees a Beowulf like figure, King of Skania, converted to Christianity.

Need some more motivation? The Irish Monks practice believer’s baptism by immersion!

This is a fascinating trip to another time and place, combining history and fiction. Lawhead explains:

As for Aidan mac Cainnech, he is a fictitious amalgamation of several Irish saints who were active at the time. No one person did all the things my Aidan did in the book, but the events described in Byzantium were based on the kinds of actual adventures pilgrim saints of Aidan’s day endured.

In another Q&A, Lawhead writes:

Many of the events mentioned in the book – the political upheaval, the intrigue within the Islam court, and others – are genuine. I wanted to make the book as historical as possible without sacrificing the story – after all, it is not a history textbook, but a novel. With me, story wins every time.

Byzantium is a story that waters seeds of hope, fertilizes soils of perseverance, and puts the sun’s life giving rays to unfolding leaves of virtue. Go ahead, travel from Ireland to Arabia through Byzantium and back at the end of the 9th Century. Cross the seas on Viking ships and the deserts on Arabian horses. Tread the paths of an Irish Monk on a journey through the death of vanity to the resurrection of faith.


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Andrew Peterson’s On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

Do you want to read a thrilling novel about the conflict for the fate of the world between the Fangs of Dang (snake-men, seed of the serpent) and the seed of the woman (little children who have lost their father and have a strong, noble mother)? Let me commend to you Andrew Peterson’s On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.

The other night my sweet wife was at book club and the bed-time routine was my responsibility. We got to reading this one and had a hard time stopping! The boys finally got to bed, and I couldn’t resist finishing the book. The music in the pages is full, and there are moments when the minor keys would overcome the majors, only to have the melody of beauty, truth, and goodness resurface and triumph. O the gladness of the flames of hope rising out of the embers and ashes to burn brightly again! (As if from a great distance, the tune of AP’s song, “In the Night, My Hope Lives On” wafts faintly through the leaves).

Explaining why he plays the dark keys and not just the white ones in his stories, Peterson states:

“Sometimes it is necessary to paint the sky black in order to show how beautiful is the prick of light. Gather all the wickedness in the universe into its loudest shriek and God hears it as a squeak at best.”

This is the first book in The Wingfeather Saga, which having read I promptly bought the second volume and am eager to see the third appear.

Check out the Series Website, where there are illustrations, an encyclopedia, maps, and more.

Peterson celebrates art, music, and literature, and puts mathematics in its proper place. There are hints of a wider back story, a framing meta-narrative along the lines of what the Silmarillion provides for The Lord of the Rings. I’m eager to see how these hints, some of which are embedded in lovely poetry, get teased out.

Thank God for Andrew Peterson, in whose music and literature we hear echoes of the beauty just around the bend. Those lovely traces of something better call us to the world for which we were made–they summon us to live the nobility and virtue worthy of the high call placed on those made in the image and likeness of the one true and living God.


Filed under Art, Books, Literature

Andrew Peterson: In the Night My Hope Lives On

In his song, “In the Night My Hope Lives On,” Andrew Peterson has turned Romans 15:4 into poetry and put it to music that will stir the soul. It left me wiping my eyes from the pain of the beauty of hope.

Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Praise God for the mercy that beats in his holy heart.

The song is on the new album, Counting Stars, which you can download, or get as a physical CD. There’s a nice write-up on the album over at

Nashville’s bard of biblical theology himself gave me permission to stream the song here (click through to the site to stream the song – thanks to Josh Philpot for making this possible), and the lyrics are below:

In the Night My Hope Lives On
by Andrew Peterson

I am weary with the pain of Jacob’s wrestling
In the darkness with the Fear, in the darkness with the Fear
But he met the morning wounded with a blessing
So in the night my hope lives on

When Elisha woke surrounded by the forces
Of the enemies of God, the enemies of God
He saw the hills aflame with angels on their horses
So in the night my hope lives on

I see the slave that toils beneath the yoke unyielding
And I can hear the captive groan, hear the captive groan
For some hand to stay the whip his foe is wielding
Still in the night my hope lives on

I see the armies of the enemy approaching
And the people driven, trembling, to the shore
But a doorway through the waters now is opening
So in the night my hope lives on

Like the son who thought he’d gone beyond forgiveness,
Too ashamed to life his head–but if he could lift his head
He would see his father running from a distance
In the night my hope lives on

I can see the crowd of men retreating
As he stands between the woman and their stones
And if mercy in his holy heart is beating
Then in the night my hope lives on

I remember how they scorned the son of Mary
He was gentle as a lamb, gentle as a lamb
He was beaten, he was crucified, and buried
And in the night, my hope was gone

But the rulers of the earth could not control Him
They did not take his life–he laid it down
All the chains of death could never hope to hold him
So in the night my hope lives on

I can see the Son of Man descending
And the sword He swings is brighter than the dawn
And the gates of Hell will never stand against him
So in the night my hope lives on


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Pretty Good Advice for Preachers, Too

Shakespeare presents Hamlet giving advice to a troupe of actors, and as I watched the fabulous reproduction of Hamlet pointed to recently by JT, it struck me that those who preach the word should heed this advice, too:

Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to
you, trippingly on the tongue: but if you mouth it,
as many of your players do, I had as lief the
town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air
too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently;
for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say,
the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget
a temperance that may give it smoothness. O, it
offends me to the soul to hear a robustious
periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to
very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who
for the most part are capable of nothing but
inexplicable dumbshows and noise: I would have such
a fellow whipped for o’erdoing Termagant; it
out-herods Herod: pray you, avoid it.

First Player
I warrant your honour.

Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion
be your tutor: suit the action to the word, the
word to the action; with this special o’erstep not
the modesty of nature: for any thing so overdone is
from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the
first and now, was and is, to hold, as ’twere, the
mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature,
scorn her own image, and the very age and body of
the time his form and pressure. Now this overdone,
or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful
laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the
censure of the which one must in your allowance
o’erweigh a whole theatre of others. O, there be
players that I have seen play, and heard others
praise, and that highly, not to speak it profanely,
that, neither having the accent of Christians nor
the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so
strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of
nature’s journeymen had made men and not made them
well, they imitated humanity so abominably.

First Player
I hope we have reformed that indifferently with us,

O, reform it altogether. And let those that play
your clowns speak no more than is set down for them;
for there be of them that will themselves laugh, to
set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh
too; though, in the mean time, some necessary
question of the play be then to be considered:
that’s villanous, and shows a most pitiful ambition
in the fool that uses it. Go, make you ready.

If you’ve never enjoyed Shakespeare’s Hamlet, you should watch this riveting production.

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The LORD Our Righteousness

“In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness'” (Jeremiah 23:6, ESV)
The capitalized LORD renders the divine name, Yahweh, which in olden time was often rendered “Jehovah.” The word “righteousness” in Hebrew can be transliterated (i.e., put in English letters) like this: tsidkenu.

Now we’re ready to consider Robert Murray McCheyne’s poem “Jehovah Tsidkenu”

I once was a stranger to grace and to God,
I knew not my danger; and felt not my load;
Though friends spoke in rapture of Christ on the tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu was nothing to me.

I oft read with pleasure, to soothe or engage,
Isaiah’s wild measure and John’s simple page;
But even when they pictured the blood-sprinkled tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu seemed nothing to me.

Like tears from the daughters of Zion that roll,
I wept when the waters went over His soul,
Yet thought not that my sins had nailed to the tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu—’twas nothing to me.

When free grace awoke me by light from on high,
Then legal fears shook me, I trembled to die;
No refuge, no safety in self could I see—
Jehovah Tsidkenu my Saviour must be.

My terrors all vanished before the sweet name;
My guilty fear banished, with boldness I came
To drink at the fountain, life-giving and free—
Jehovah Tsidkenu is all things to me.

Jehovah Tsidkenu! My treasure and boast,
Jehovah Tsidkenu! I ne’er can be lost;
In Thee shall I conquer by flood and by field—
My cable, my anchor, my breastplate and shield!

Even treading the valley; the shadow of death,
This watchword shall rally my faltering breath;
For while from life’s fever my God sets me free,
Jehovah Tsidkenu my death-song shall be.

HT: Phil Johnson

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What Did the Temple Look Like?

Justin Taylor provides a nice article with great visuals from the ESV Study Bible.


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Notes on Characterization from Brown’s Hope Amidst Ruin

So this is the final installment of my notes on how narrative literature works from Brown’s Hope Amidst Ruin. For more, you’ll have to read the book for yourself, which I don’t think you’ll regret doing. Here’s what he says about Characterization:

“Characterization refers to how an author portrays the characters in his narrative” (108).

“There is a scale of means, in ascending order of explicitness and certainty, [for accomplishing characterization]. . . . The lower end of this scale—character revealed through actions or appearance—leaves us substantially in the realm of inference. The middle categories, involving direct speech either by a character himself or by others about him, lead us from inference to the weighing of claims. . . . With the report of inward speech, we enter the realm of relative certainty about character. . . . Finally at the top of the ascending scale, we have the reliable narrator’s explicit statement of what the characters feel, intend, desire; here we are accorded certainty, though Biblical narrative . . . may choose for its own good purposes either to explain the ascription of attitude or state it baldly and thus leave its cause as an enigma for us to ponder” (Alter, Art of Biblical Narrative, 117, cited in Brown, Hope Amidst Ruin, 108–109 n. 57).

“characterization is also a means by which the narrator expresses his own point of view and shapes his reader’s perspective” (109).

“Biblical characters are primarily depicted through word and action. Only rarely does a narrator employ direct characterization” (112).


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