Free Online Biblical Training Courses

Over the last few months I have been interacting with hundreds of Christians in Africa through Facebook. What has become clear is that there is a real thirst to get further training in theology in order to be more effective in ministry. While Theology on the Web can support such training by providing free access to thousands of theological articles, commentaries and other books – it is an online library – and therefore does not offer any courses that visitors can follow.

Free Online Biblical Training Courses 1

In response to these requests for biblical training courses I have been searching the Internet for suitable material. After looking at their material carefully I have decided to recommend BiblicalTraining.org to my visitors. This non-profit organisation is headed by Dr Bill Mounce and offers free access to a superb collection of courses taught by world-class theologians, which can be downloaded and shared with others. The courses are divided into three levels:

  1. Foundations: Classes that are appropriate for all followers of Jesus. When you begin, they do not assume you know anything about the Bible, and they will teach you basic Bible content and beliefs.
  2. Academy: The university-level classes will take you deeper than Foundations but not assume you want to be taking graduate-level classes
  3. Institute: These seminary-level classes can fully prepare you with the biblical and theological training you need to be an informed leader in your church

Institute Level Courses

Here is a list of BiblicalTraining.org’s current Institute and other related courses:

I am currently greatly enjoying working my way through Craig Keener’s course on Acts, distilled from his recent 4,000 page commentary on that book. The BiblicalTraining.org site requires you to register in order to download the courses, but is completely free. I will shortly be adding direct links to relevant courses on my websites.

Do you know of any good Bible training courses? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Biblical Linguistics Digitisation Project

Biblical Linguistics Digitisation Project

Dr Dale Brueggemann contacted me recently to request that I make available key Biblical linguistics resources on my website in PDF. A great number of Greek & Hebrew lexicons and grammars are now out of copyright which still have value to Bible students and scholars. Dr David Instone-Brewer from Tyndale House has agreed to make available the language works that Tyndale House have digitised to form the start of what I am calling the Biblical Linguistics Digitisation Project. As my own knowledge of biblical language reference works is very limited I am very grateful to Dale and David for their expertise and advice when selecting material.

Here are the first volumes to be made available through this project. Note that due to the number of pages in each volume the file sizes are very large.

Material available so far

H.F.W. Gesenius, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament: With an Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1906. Hbk. pp.1127. [Click to download in PDF]

Marcus Jastrow [1829-1903], A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Tahmud Babli and Yerushalmi and the Midrashic literature: with an index of scriptural quotations. London: Luzac & Co. / New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1903. Hbk. pp.1736. [Click to download in PDF] [283 MB !]

Francis Brown, S.R. Driver & Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament with an appendix containing the Biblical Aramaic based on the Lexicon of William Gesenius as Translated by Edward Robinson. 1906. [Click to download in PDF]

J. Payne Smith, ed., A Compendius Syraic Dictionary Founded Upon the Thesaurus Syriacus of R. Payne Smith, D.D. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1903. Hbk. pp.626. [Click to download in PDF]

William Wilson [1783?-1873], The Bible student’s guide to the more correct understanding of the English translation of the Old Testament by reference to the original Hebrew. London: Wertheim & Macintosh, 1850. Hbk. [Click to download in PDF]

I am trying to find other material to scan and add to the project, so I will keep you all posted when new material is added. In the meantime, visit the Languages section of the Biblical Studies website for more resources.

Where were the nail-prints in Jesus’ hands – in his wrists or his palms?

This question was raised last Saturday during a day conference on biblical archaeology at Tyndale House in Cambridge. Put simply the problem was stated as follows:

Crucifixion normally involved nailing the victim to a horizontal beam through the wrist between the radius and the ulna (the two bones of the forearm). The nail was then firmly trapped by the carpals from ripping out of the hand between the fingers. If the victim were nailed through the palm of the hand the weight of the suspended body would simply cause the nail to pull through the flesh between the metacarpals. That much seems clear. However, in John 20:27 Jesus commands Thomas to:

“…See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” [Italics mine]

Surely, the argument goes, if the nail marks where in Jesus’ wrists then he would have told Thomas to look there for them and not in his hands?

A Possible Solution to the Location of the Nail Prints

I think the answer to the problem is fairly straightforward, once we look at the Greek text. The Greek word for hand – χειρ – which is used twice in the passage cited above means “A hand or any relevant portion of the hands, including, for example, the fingers.” (Nida & Louw, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, Vol. 1, p. 98.). The question is whether the word “hand” in Greek also included the wrist. The word “wrist” or “wrists” appears only in Acts 12:7 in the NIV New Testament. In the Old Testament it appears twice in the Genesis 38:27 & 30, in Jeremiah 40:4 and Ezekiel 13:18. In Acts 12:7 and in the Septuagint of the OT verses the “wrist” is a translation of χειρ. So, it would seem that “wrist” was included within the semantic range of χειρ and so the problem seems to be solved. John 20:27 could quite accurately be translated: “…See my wrists. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Nida & Louw note that there is a precedent for using a specific body part in place of the general term “hand”. Luke 15:22 reads “…Put a ring on his χειρ…” χειρ here is to be translated finger, not hand.