Tag Archives: Augustine Institute

My New Talk on Leviticus

The Book of Leviticus has always puzzled Bible readers. We come looking for inspiration, prayer and hope amid the challenges of life in the Valley of Tears, but instead we find rules about sacrifices, priestly garb, foods to avoid, skin diseases and other topics that seem like mere relics from the ancient past. Yet Leviticus is not just about rules and ritual purity. It is about the holiness of God. It shows us how holy He is and how he calls each one of us to be holy. In fact, to me, Leviticus is the Old Testament version of “the universal call to holiness” famously proclaimed by the Second Vatican Council. In fact, that’s exactly it: “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy” (Lev 19:2 ESV). God is holy, that is, “set apart” from us. He’s different, other, separate from our sinfulness and selfishness. He wants us to leave behind the petty desires of the world and become truly holy like Him.

If you want to learn more about Leviticus, check out my new Lighthouse Talk on mp3 and CD from the Augustine Institute: “Leviticus Explained”. I hope you enjoy it!

New Short Course On Wisdom Literature

Today, the Augustine Institute released my new short course on Wisdom Literature. In it, I teach 30 minute video sessions on Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Sirach and Wisdom of Solomon. This non-credit video course is available as a standalone for $59 and also as part of the monthly short course subscription of $23/month.

The course is available here: https://courses.augustineinstitute.org/courses/wisdom-literature

The short course program from the Augustine Institute is an easy way to encounter new ideas very quickly. The courses vary in length, but tend to consist of six or more 30-minute video lectures, accompanied by quizzes, links and other material. Right now, we have about twenty courses available and we add a new one every month.

It’s worth mentioning that I also teach the first course in the Short Course curriculum, “The Story of the Old Testament.” You can find that one here: https://courses.augustineinstitute.org/courses/old-testament

I hope you have a chance to check out these courses and the others. I hope that you’ll enjoy them! If you have suggestions for future short courses I should teach, put them in the comments on this post.

ESV Catholic Edition Bible Now Available on Verbum

I just bought it myself! While the Augustine Institute released the original American edition of the ESV Catholic Edition Bible back in December 2019 under the title, “The Augustine Bible,” no digital edition has been available until now. This week, with the launch of Logos/Verbum 9, the Faithlife company has put out the first digital edition of the ESV Catholic Edition Bible. It will now become my “top Bible” in my prioritization of resources in the Verbum platform.

What is Verbum?

While I love BibleWorks and have been using it for almost fifteen years, this small company shut down a couple summers ago. I hope that one day BibleWorks will return bigger and better! But until the theology of resurrection applies to software, there are two other options for Catholic Bible Students: Accordance and Verbum. Since these programs are big and expensive digital libraries, you have to make a choice early on. Accordance used to be only for Mac users, but now has a PC version, but I’ve never used it. Verbum is the Catholic version of the widely-used Logos Bible Software program. This program has been around for decades and has the biggest digital library of any Bible software. It includes everything from Bible commentaries, Church Fathers, dictionaries, encyclopedias, original language search, papal documents, theology books and on and on. I use it every day and believe that software of this caliber has become indispensable for biblical scholarship.

What to do with the ESV Catholic Edition in Verbum?

I’m so happy that they were able to put the ESV Catholic Edition into production so quickly. Now you can search the text, copy the text, look for details in the text and examine it statistically. I know I’ll be diving in to the deuterocanon, getting stats and publishing them here. But I’ll be so happy to finally use the ESV-CE text as my base text in the electronic format. I can’t quite believe this day has arrived!

Where to Get It

If you want to pick up a digital copy for yourself, it’s only $9.99 right now which is half of what a paperback print Bible costs. Here’s the link: https://verbum.com/product/192293/the-augustine-bible

If you aren’t ready to take the Verbum plunge yet, that’s not a problem, you can get a free basic version of the software to run the translation here: https://verbum.com/product/168882/verbum-8-basic

New CD/mp3 Talk on the Dark Passages of Scripture

I’m excited to announce that my talk on the Dark Passages of Scripture was just put out by the Augustine Institute as the CD-of-the-month. Of course, you can download it as an mp3 as well. Not the cheeriest picture, I realize–but I guess it gets the point across!

This talk is based on my book, Light on the Dark Passages of Scripture (OSV). I deal with some of the tough stuff in Sacred Scripture. Passages in the Old Testament can be frightening or strange, certainly difficult to read. I tried to shed some light in the dark corners of the Bible to reveal how to understand the balance of God’s justice and his mercy. I deal with questions about the Canaanite conquest, innocent suffering, hell, and ultimately the Cross. I hope you find it helpful and enjoyable. If you take a listen, I’d love to hear from you if you want to leave a comment on this post.

Interviews on ESV-CE and Catholic Answers, links

I just wanted to give you a few links here on a few recent things I’ve been involved with:

First, I did a Q&A Interview over at the Catholic Bible Talk blog about the ESV Catholic Edition. Here’s an excerpt:

  • A: The Translation Oversight Committee of the ESV has been very attentive to scholars’ and leaders’ concerns and suggestions, issuing a few lists of changes over the years since the first publication of the ESV in 2001. As long as Crossway continues to gather this committee, there is always the possibility for minor tweaks to the text. I would imagine the primary area where Catholic input would improve the translation is in the deuterocanonical books.  I think it is important that the ESV text be regarded as stable, so I do not think we’ll see a major revision, but minor corrections and improvements. I think Catholics and Protestants will be pleasantly surprised by the common ground they share when they study this translation together.

Second, I appeared on Catholic Answers radio show a couple weeks ago:

Third, I’ve also appeared on the Formed Now! show at the Augustine Institute a few times recently (sorry! paywall):

Fourth, I put together a Short Course on the Old Testament, which is housed in the Augustine Institute Short Course platform. The link to my particular course is here: https://courses.augustineinstitute.org/courses/old-testament

Fifth, I have had a few posts go up at Faith and Culture, the Augustine Institute’s journal:

It looks like I’ve been busier than I thought I was. I have a lot of other things cooking right now, but nothing ready to serve up just yet. I hope to have some more things to share with you in the not-too-distant future. Until then, happy Bible reading!

The Headwaters of Christian Prayer: Messianic Hope in the Shape of the Psalter

This is my third and last installment of Summer Scripture lectures I was originally slated to deliver at the Institute for Pastoral Leadership at University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, IL. They have been holding a Summer Scripture Conference for decades and I’m sad that we weren’t able to come together this summer because of the pandemic. But thanks to IPL and my home institution, the Augustine Institute, for teaming up to support this short series.

This lecture dives into the Book of Psalms to show how the canonical shape of this premiere collection of sacred song from ancient Israel has a messianic orientation. David, to whom the bulk of the Psalter is attributed, forms the heart and soul of the collection and the five-book structure comes to us in a highly “Davidic” mode. To pray the psalms is to pray like David. Since Jesus presents himself as the “New David,” then to pray the psalms is to pray like Christ. I hope you enjoy this presentation!

Thanks, again, to the IPL and to the Augustine Institute for making this series possible!

The Book of Wisdom as Model for Christian Reception of the Old Testament

The video below is the second installment of my lectures that were supposed to be delivered at the 2020 Summer Scripture conference event at the Institute for Pastoral Leadership in Mundelein, IL. I am sad that we had to cancel the conference due to the pandemic, but happy that I am still able to share my paper with you.

This lecture is on how the Wisdom of Solomon serves as a model for how Christians read the Old Testament. Its origin in the milieu of Hellenistic Judaism, its philosophical approach and its interpretation of biblical events set the stage for the New Testament’s own perspective on the Old Testament. I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks again to the co-sponsors of this video lecture series: the Institute of Pastoral Leadership and the Augustine Institute!

Sirach 44–50 and Hebrews 11: The Hall of Heroes and the Cloud of Witnesses (video lecture)

Thanks to the Institute for Pastoral Leadership at University of St. Mary of the Lake and to the Augustine Institute for co-sponsoring this lecture I delivered via video recording only in lieu of the canceled Summer Scripture 2020 event!

In this video lecture, I examine the similarity and connection between Sirach 44–50 and Hebrews 11. Both of these passages present the heroes of the Bible as examples for us to follow.  This lecture was recorded a few weeks ago in June 2020. I hope you enjoy it:

You can find out more about the Summer Scripture 2021 event here: https://usml.edu/ipl/summerscripture/

 

Saint Augustine and Demons on Pillars

augustinedemons1

Yesterday, I picked up my copy of Augustine Confessions from the Penguin Classics series, translated by the most splendidly morbid translator, R.S. Pine-Coffin. The cover has a picture of Augustine as bishop taken from a “French illuminated manuscript in the Bibliothèque Nationale” in Paris. What struck me as a little odd, however, were the pillars standing behind the great saint. Each pillar had a human figure on top, with a winged demonic creature behind. So, I asked my colleague, Dr. John Sehorn, “What do these demon figures on pillars mean?” After some digging, he found a good explanation, while I found more versions of our given picture. Unfortunately, none of the online versions of this illuminated page are both complete and high resolution, so I’m including a couple different versions in this post.

The artwork that I saw on the book cover omitted much of the page. In fact, the page actually has two illuminated scenes. Top register include St. Augustine with attendants talking with a pagan. The pagans are saying, “Quare Romani tanta mala paciuntur” or “Why have the Romans endured such great evils?” St. Augustine responds “Propter mala culpe perpetrata per vos sugestione demonum,” or “Because of offenses perpetrated by you at the suggestion of demons.” This little conversation leads to an explanation of the whole image. On the left hand side, a group of pagans is confronting St. Augustine with a challenge to faith—very similar to challenging questions raised today like “why do bad things happen to good people?” Their question is a bit different, simply, “Why would a just, loving, merciful God such as you proclaim, if he were really all powerful, allow such a great civilization such as Rome be destroyed by the barbarian hoardes?” It is a question that Augustine himself asks in one of his most famous works, The City of God. Augustine’s response here is a paraphrase of the book, where his answer is that God is bringing judgment on the sins of Rome. In particular, I think the artist is point to Book II, chapter 26.

This brings us to the background of the image, where we see a bunch of people robed in brown, kneeling down and looking at the figures on pillars. The kneeling people represent the pagans of Rome and the human figures on idols represent the gods of Rome. The demonic whisperers are animating these false gods, like St. Paul teaches “I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God” (1 Cor 10:20). Thus the answer to my question is that the winged demons are the spiritual powers behind the false gods of Rome like Saturn, Vesta and Venus.

augustinedemons

The bottom register depicts St. Orosius, a student of St. Augustine, preaching to the Romans while demons dance around the city. Presumably, the demons represent the evil barbarian forces which are about to overrun the city. The demons are celebrating the downfall of the great city and the spread of chaos. The saint meanwhile is telling the Romans, “Roma destruetur propter peccata hominum,” “Rome shall be destroyed because of the sins of men.”

In this explanation and even in the transcription of the words, I am relying heavily on Les manuscrits à peintures de la Citè de Dieu de Saint-Augustin by Alexandre Laborde, vol. II (Paris: Société des bibliophiles François, 1853-1944; 1909), pp. 408-409. Here is his text in full:

LIVRE II. – fol. 23. – H. om, 325× om,230. – Saint Augustin et les païens, Orose et les Romains. – Deux registres.

I° Dans une sale spacieuse, aux fenêtres grillagées, dont le sol est recouvert de dalles vertes, des colonnes en marbre de couleur, places contre le mur de droite, soutiennent des idoles qu’assaillant des diables. Dans le fond, un groupe de païens implorent à genoux ces divinités. Au premier plan à gauche, les Romains debout discutent. Le chef du groupe déploie une banderole et s’adresse à saint Augustin: Quare romani tanta mala paciuntur. En face à droite, saint Augustin, en évêque, recouvert d’une dalmatique rouge et suivi de huit ecclésiastiques, répond: Propter mala culpe perpetrata per vos sugestione demonum.

2° Nous sommes à Rome, ville française du xve siècle, aux maisons rouges et jaunes, entourée de murs crénelés que le Tibre, mince filet bleu, baigne de ses eaux. Six diables se tenant par la main deansent au dehors. Sur une place publique, à l’intérieur, un docteur, probablement Orose, barbu et tête nue, vêtu d’une robe brune, s’adresse à un groupe de vingt Romains des deux sexes, richement vêtus et leur dit: Roma destruetur propter peccata hominum.

I don’t know if you had the same question as I did when looking at this picture for the first time, but I do think that the illumination does a great job of visually summarizing St. Augustine’s argument. Good job, Anonymous Illuminator!