Good Books imageAnd now, as I sign off my month as 'executive editor' of BTW, time for something a bit more chim! Those of you who pay attention to the changing fashions of Old Testament scholarship will be aware of a recent debate between scholars who study Israel's history. On the one hand are the so-called 'minimalists', scholars such as Niels Peter Lemche (Copenhagen), Thomas Thompson (Copenhagen), Philip Davies (Sheffield), and Keith Whitelam (Stirling) who argue for the general position that the Old Testament books were composed very late in the pre-Christian era and contain very little reliable information for the reconstruction of Israel's earlier history. On the other side are the 'maximalists', scholars such as William Dever (Tucson, Arizona) and Baruch Halpern (Toronto) who argue that there are no good grounds for rejecting our most comprehensive source for Israelite history and that archaeology at many points supports the Old Testament account. (Not that all 'maximalist' or 'minimalist' scholars hold exactly the same positions as each other: but the terms are a convenient shorthand.)
     This is the background for this week's Good Book: Windows into Old Testament History. Evidence, Argument, and the Crisis of "Biblical Israel", edited by V.P. Long, D.W. Baker and G.J. Wenham (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002). The contributors include Kenneth Kitchen (Liverpool), Alan Millard (Liverpool) and Iain Provan (Vancouver), along with others who may be less familiar to BTW readers. They address the topic from a variety of angles, arguing that the Old Testament cannot be dismissed as easily as the 'minimalists' suggest. There are surveys of the arguments of 'minimalist' scholars, discussions of method, comparative studies which draw on evidence from the ancient Near East, and detailed studies of passages from the Old Testament. To quote from V.P. Long's introductory essay:

'From many different angles, these essays stimulate a more positive attitude toward the historical import of the biblical texts than is often displayed in current writing on the subject. They explore philosophical and hermeneutical issues, they advance improved literary approaches to texts, they open windows onto the ancient Near Eastern world of the biblical period, and they demonstrate synthetic approaches that combine textual and material evidences in arriving at well founded reconstructions. In all these ways they open windows into OT history.' (p. 21)

     Who ought to read this book? Not someone new to biblical studies. This is a 'discussion of discussions', a methodological survey of previous scholarship which assumes some knowledge of the issues addressed. However, if you have some previous exposure to Old Testament scholarship (such as might be gained, for example, from an Old Testament Foundations course), then this book might well be of interest. I recommend that you start with Long's introduction, go on to the discussions of method by Jens Bruun Kofoed and Iain Provan, and then perhaps read Kenneth Kitchen's survey of the external historical evidence for the reigns of David and Solomon. You will be both enlightened and entertained.
(Review by Dr Philip Satterthwaite)

     Last Wednesday we said goodbye to Daniel and Dorcas Wen and their two daughters, Debbie and Faith. Daniel has completed the M. Div and Dorcas will soon have completed the DipCS. They are returning home, where they expect to engage in long-term teaching ministries.
     Daniel gave a brief address in which he spoke from Philippians 3:17–14, 2 Timothy 4:7 and Revelation 2:10. His topic was ‘Fight the Fight Faithfully’ and he focussed on: single-mindedness; forgetting what lies behind (not being burdened by pride or by past failures); knowing Christ and ‘straining towards what lies ahead’ (Phil. 3:13). His chief prayer request was for prayer that he and Dorcas will remain faithful: other needs, he said, would come and go; this one will always be there. Those of you who know Daniel and Dorcas will know how dear these themes are to their heart. He concluded by thanking staff and students of BGST for their support and fellowship.
     We in turn are grateful to God for bringing Daniel, Dorcas, Debbie and finally Faith (a late arrival!) to us. Over these past 4 years their commitment to learn, their determination to serve Christ, and their gracious demeanour have been a real encouragement. We wish them God’s blessing as they settle into their new life. May what they have learned here prove to be useful to them as they minister to God’s people there.
     Chapel speakers for the coming weeks will be: Dr Ng Peh Cheng (2 Oct); Dr John Lim (Oct 9); Rev Ng Seng Chuan (Oct 16); Dr Philip Satterthwaite (Oct 23); and Dr Quek Swee Hwa (Oct 30).

  1. TENT 2003. First residential week will be held from 12-14 Dec 2002. We would encourage early registration to facilitate arrangements since it is a residential module. Please contact Dr John Lim for more details.

  2. CHILD DEVELOPMENT & MINISTRY FORMATION (CE355, 1.5 credits) BY DR NG PEH CHENG will be commencing on 17 Oct, 7-10pm. Individuals and children's workers will find the research on child spirituality informative and worthy of our attention to increase our passion for ministering to children. Please pick up a copy of the course description from the Library or visit our website for more details.

  3. BIBLE LANDS STUDY TOUR 2002. Registration is now opened! This year we will be visiting Greece & Turkey between 29 Nov to 11 Dec. The cost of S$3800 includes all expenses incurred during trip except for travel insurance and personal expenses. As we have limited places, register early to avoid disappointment. For more details, please contact Serene Woon.

  4. DISCIPLESHIP JOURNAL ANTHOLOGY (ISSUES 1 - 120) ON CD AT BGST LIBRARY. This journal contains practical advice and resources for small group leadership, one-to-one discipling, and your personal spiritual walk. Come and enjoy!

If We Could See Beyond Today

If we could see beyond today

As God can see,

If all the clouds should roll away,

The shadows flee;

O'er present griefs we would not fret,

Each sorrow we would soon forget,

For many joys are waiting yet

For you and me.


If we could know beyond today

As God doth know,

Why dearest treasures pass away,

And tears must flow;

And why the darkness leads to light,

Why dreary days will soon grow light,

Some day life's wrong will be made right,

Faith tells us so.


If we could see, if we could know

We often say,

But God in love a veil doth throw

Across our way.

We cannot see what lies before,

And so we cling to Him the more,

He leads us till this life is o'er,

Trust and obey.

- Norman J. Clayton

Wishing you God's blessings
on your Birthday!

Ms Wong Ee Kian  30/9
Mr Lim Yew Meng  30/9
Pastor Freddie Ho Wing Onn  1/10
Ms Dorothy Hwang  1/10
Ms Grace Lam Jr-Min  1/10
Dr Ling Moi Lin  2/10
Mr Gordon Tan Hang Leng  2/10
Mr Michael Teo  2/10
Mr Kwek Khee Leng  3/10
Mr Yue Fah Yong  3/10
Mr Leong Kwok Hoong  4/10
Mdm Lye Mui Fong  5/10
Mr Frederick Yong Tze Hin  5/10
Ms Opelia Rosario  5/10
Ms Linda Ang Poh Geok  6/10
Mr Matheus Mangentang  6/10

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This page is updated on 2 Oct 2002 by Leong Kok Weng
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