Ministry and graduate school

Jake Mailhot discusses “how to juggle ministry while attending seminary.” The post takes its cues from Danny Zacharias and Ben Forrest’s Surviving and Thriving in Seminary (Lexham, 2017).

Mailhot aggregates several lines of advice, but one particularly key piece is the anecdote that

A mentor of Ben’s recalled writing in his Bible as a young seminary student, “I’d rather burn out for the Lord than rust out!” Reflecting on that memory nearly fifty years later, he regretted such a perspective and encouraged all who were in the room to do neither! Burning out and rusting out are both ways to ruin one’s legacy. Neither one is the calling that God has placed on the leaders of his church. Rather, as a seminarian you are called to live in the tension between studying and ministering.

Whether specifically in seminary, another form of higher education, or another place of heavy demands, trying to learn to live well with this tension requires healthy boundaries for those various demands. And as a help in maintaining those boundaries, it can often be useful to recognize the “opportunity cost” of saying “yes” to a commitment when there are—as there always are—finite resources with which to fulfill that commitment. A “yes” to Netflix or a given “one more” ministry opportunity will, by definition, be a “no” to something else like time in study or with one’s family. That tension probably never disappears, but it does need to be navigated as wide-eyed as possible to avoid the blindness of “Lord, did we not …?” (Matt 7:22–23).

For the balance of Mailhot’s reflections, see his original post. For Zacharias and Forrest’s volume, see Lexham Press or Logos Bible Software. For some reflections about developing healthy boundaries, see Henry Cloud’s Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life (Zondervan, 1992).

Logos 7 academic basic

Logos Bible Software logoIn addition to Logos 7 basic, Logos 7 academic basic is available for free. Resources included in the package are sufficient to get one’s feet wet with the principles of how research in and with biblical languages work in Logos—namely:

Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew lexicon
Lexham Bible Dictionary
Septuagint (Lexham English and Swete Greek editions)
Lexham Hebrew Bible
Greek New Testament (SBL)
Lexham Textual Notes
Abbot-Smith Greek Lexicon

For additional information about Logos 7 academic basic, see the LogosTalk blog. To download the package, see the Logos website. For other discussion, see also Logos 7 Basic for free and Trial versions of Biblical Studies software.

Reading for writing

Cal Newport outlines the basics of how he reads when working on a project. According to Newport,

The key to my system is the pencil mark in the page corner. This allows me later to quickly leaf through a book and immediately identify the small but crucial subset of pages that contain passages that relate to whatever project I happen to be working on.

For the balance of Newport’s process, see his original post. For broader suggestions about effective and efficient reading, see for example Rick Ostrov’s Power Reading and James Sire’s How to Read Slowly.

Bitzer on the “enthymeme” in Aristotle’s rhetorical theory

Bust of AristotleMuch ink has been spilled in attempting to define the enigmatic category of “enthymeme” that plays such an important role in Aristotle’s rhetorical theory. Aristotle calls enthymemes “the body of proof” (Aristotle, Rhet. 1354a [Freese, LCL]; σῶμα τῆς πίστεως), but nowhere explicitly defines the category.

The typical “textbook definition” tends to try to define enthymemes around either (a) their formal incompleteness in missing one or more premises or (b) their use of more tenuous premises. In his 1959 essay in the Quarterly Journal of Speech, however, Lloyd Bitzer helpfully situates the enthymeme by comparison to other types of syllogisms that Aristotle discusses. Bitzer suggests that

(1) Demonstrative syllogisms are those in which premises are laid down in order to establish scientific conclusions; (2) Dialectical syllogisms are those in which premises are asked for in order to achieve criticism; (3) Rhetorical syllogisms, or enthymemes, are those in which premises are asked for in order to achieve persuasion. (405; underlining added).

Thus, on Bitzer’s reading, the distinguishing features of the enthymeme are not its completeness or incompleteness or the kind of premises it involves. Rather, what sets apart the enthymeme is the manner in which and purpose for which the argument’s premises are obtained.

Focus—there’s an app for that

For various reasons, focus can be difficult in a whole host of contexts—at work, at home, or during recreation. One contemporary culprit that can all too easily hamper efforts to “lose” oneself in the “play” of the real world are the digital devices and media with which some of us are constantly surrounded. As a helpful set of “training wheels” to foster better focus amid such distractions, enter Freedom.


For a quick overview of how to configure and begin using Freedom, see the clip below.


For additional discussion of the significance of focus and concentration, and (especially Internet-enabled) humans’ susceptibility to distraction, see Better attention than a goldfish, Eliminating distractions, Hyatt’s interview with Newport, Productivity assessment, Skills to cultivate for better work, Staying focused, Tips for better focus.

Reviving closed tabs in Logos

As of v. 7.8, Logos Bible Software supports reopening closed tabs both via panel menus and keyboard shortcuts (PC: Ctrl + Shift + T, Mac: Cmd + Shift + T). Conveniently at least for PC users—and I suspect also for Mac (?), the keyboard shortcut is the same one that will revive tabs in major browsers like Google Chrome.

For additional details and a walk through of how to access this feature through the panel menu see the LogosTalk blog.

Staying focused

Over at the Evernote blog, Valerie Bisharat has some helpful reflections on “how to avoid focus-stealing traps.” One particularly interesting study that Bisharat cites is

from the University of Texas at Austin [and] suggests that having our cell phones within reach – even if they’re powered off– reduces cognitive capacity, or ability to concentrate.

The cognitive pull of our devices is something that can be difficult to recognize, present with us as they often are. But the possibly deleterious effects on concentration that derive from having too much access to novel stimuli is certainly something that bears careful consideration.

For the balance of Bisharat’s comments, see her original post on the Evernote blog. On the same theme, see also Michael Hyatt’s interview with Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (Grand Central, 2016).

Middleton on Psalm 51

Over on his blog, Richard Middleton abstracts his essay “A Psalm against David? A Canonical Reading of Psalm 51 as a Critique of David’s Inadequate Repentance in 2 Samuel 12” from Explorations in Interdisciplinary Reading: Theological, Exegetical, and Reception-historical Perspectives (Pickwick, 2017).

For additional discussion of the volume, see Castleman, Lockett, and Presley, eds., “Explorations in interdisciplinary reading” and “Explorations in interdisciplinary reading” is out.

Jordanian lead codices report

The Centre for the Study of the Jordanian Lead Books has released a 1100+-page report on the codices that is openly available on the Centre’s website.

For additional links related to the codices, see PaleoJudaica and Donnerstag Digest (March 31, 2011)A Selective Summary of Fields, “The Dead Sea Scrolls Today”On the Web (August 24, 2011)On the Web (August 30, 2011)On the Web (September 1, 2011), and On the Web (September 6, 2011).

Burkett on Aristotle’s “Rhetoric”

John Burkett headshotTexas Christian University’s open, online thesis repository contains John Burkett’s treatment of Book III of Aristotle’s Retoric. The project is a commentary-style work on that book that strives to complete the project that William Grimaldi began with Books I and II. According to the abstract,

This new commentary on Aristotle’s Rhetoric III serves the purpose which the text held at the Classical Lyceum: elucidating Aristotle’s theory of style (lexis) and arrangement (taxis) for scholars, teachers, and practitioners of rhetoric. This commentary provides a much needed update because the last commentary, written by Cambridge classicist E. M. Cope in 1877, is now understood as a misinterpretation that reads Aristotle Platonically, takes seriously only rational appeals, assumes a mimetic theory of language that depreciates style, and misdefines central concepts like the enthymeme and common topics. Providing a new interpretation, this commentary may be summarized by three adjectives: Grimaldian, rhetorical, and accessible. First, this Grimaldian commentary applies the new rhetoric philosophy of William M. A. Grimaldi, S.J., which he explicates in Studies in the Philosophy of Aristotle’s Rhetoric (1972) and in his two-volume Commentary (1980-1988), wherein Grimaldi develops an integrated and contextual interpretation of the Rhetoric. Second, this rhetorical commentary observes the rhetoric in the Rhetoric since Aristotle typically practices what he teaches: writing with enthymemes, defining by metaphor, clarifying by antithesis, and arranging units by thesis, analysis, and synthesis. This commentary observes how Aristotle applies his three rhetorical appeals (êthos, pathos, logos), his theories of propriety (prepon), exotic (xenos), and virtue (aretê) in style, and the systems of Greek imagery, all of which develop a unified and interactive theory of invention, style, and arrangement. Attention is given to Aristotle’s creative theory of metaphor, being a tropos (turn) and a topos (place) of invention, functioning as a stylistic syllogism for creating knowledge with quick, pleasant learning. Arrangement also functions creatively with localized topical procedures for responding to the particular needs of each part of a composition. Third, this accessible commentary features text, translation, comments, and glossary for readers who may not be familiar with Aristotle’s idiom but who have an interest in his rhetorical theory and technical terms. Finally, incorporating recent scholarship, this commentary provides insights from classical rhetoric and new rhetoric, showing their interrelationship and how contemporary research in rhetoric builds on and helps to elucidate Aristotle’s expansive rhetoric as a general theory of language.

For the project’s full text, see TCU’s repository. On a personal note, I had the privilege of working for John while he was working on this project. Discussions with him about some of the more problematic approaches to Aristotle’s Retoric that are noted above proved quite enriching, helpful, and informative, and I’m delighted to see that his project is openly available for interested readers’ consumption.