- I would recommend reading Ryrie to anyone. Even if you're not a Dispensationalist, having his perspective available will lend a clarity to the various contexts of Scripture--social, theological, systematic, progressive, and other wise--that will deepen your understanding of not only what God was doing, but some of the mistakes inadvertently driven by theological models imposing on the Scripture. But reading Ryrie is a must for anyone eager for God's word, pastor, academic, or even lay believer.
- When used with competence this is the best Bible reseaere tool on the market. You will have achieved a seminary level education if you follow these practices: put your books on reading plans, follow every reference to background data, then corroborate your findings against original language study, a sociolinguistic study, i.e. the function of language in society.
- God spoke Greek in the New Testament to the church at large. The Orthodox church is the Greek church, and was the original church--Greek was the lingua franca of the day in Palestine in Jesus' time, and would have been the best way to communicate to everyone the truths of the Gospel and the kingship of Christ. By contrast, the "Hebrew" bible is a 9th century manifestation of some Jewish Scribes whose tradition was exclusively "anti-" Christian in nature, as well documented by the Apostolic fathers. The differences between the Greek OT (Septuagint) and the so-called Hebrew OT are pretty tremendous in many places and explains well why our Gospels were written the way they were. This set is wide in its range, but pretty shallow when it comes to the texts of the Greek Scriptures that were in circulation at the time of Christ and that were used by all the Apostles. If they deepen their study of those texts in circulation at the time (Theodotion, Symmachus, and Aquila), along with historical studies of their use at the time, then this set might be worth the cost.
- Greek is the language of the third iteration of the Beast (per Dan. 2 & 7, 8). One of the primary fulfillments of Amos's "famine of the hearing of the words of YHWH" was instituted by YHWH when He had the Apostolic writings written in this Gentile language of the Beast. The DSS has Lion's share agreement with the Masoretic text (approx. 90%, if memory serves) compared to LXX. Huge amounts of Biblical prophecy are locked in Hebrew and can only be accessed by someone with knowledge of Hebrew (i.e. non-Hebrew speakers must rely on others to avail them of this info, assuming that such others can perceive it themselves). All that said, adding more quality Greek resources to the next version of CE would not be objectionable. YHWH's choice to use the language does make contending with it a necessity.
- I was eager to read the second volume for the sake of research into the Synoptic Gospels, and their relation with the rest of the NT possibly. Psalms in the NT presumes the old Q theory of Gospel transmission and thereby devotes much of what I would consider wasted space on pure speculation to fall in line with the theory. While they conduct a decent survey of where the Gospels seem to invoke, quote or otherwise use the Psalms, I would say that there are a number of inadequacies, as many scholars of late have come to demonstrate about the theory. I recommend a more linguistically rigorous model of investigation. See DA Carson, Stanley Porter, et al.
- I used this title in my MA thesis at Regent University, entitled: Antilanguage in the Synoptic Gospels: A Sociolinguistic Inquiry. I highly recommend this work as a key to understanding the differences between our world and a historical reconstruction of the 1st Century world of the New Testament. As a Christian sociolinguist myself, understanding how language is culture (not just connected to it, but actually IS culture) makes tremendous inroads to what the disconnect between Jesus and his religious and national compatriots actually was as presented in the NT material. This work walks you a great deal down that path. Very profitable.
- As far as digging into the world of the New Testament, you cannot do better than Malina, Rohrbaugh, and Pilch, in my opinion. After interacting with many people inside and outside the church, I have found every answer to the difficulties people have with many of the difficult passages of the New Testament find their answers in understanding the value systems, and economic/government/sociological structures under girding the unspoken understanding behind the text of the New Testament. I like to tell my parishioners that understanding the New Testament communication is analogous to Bob Ross painting one of his master pieces: he always starts with the furthest background pieces (first sky, clouds, background mountains, etc) and only then works his way to the foreground pieces (closest trees, bushes, shoreline ripples, etc). These authors send that message again and again: do NOT start with the text (i.e. foreground), but start with the context (background), and then you will come back to the text much closer in understanding to the way the original audience would have. A quick illustration can be found in the oft-repeated indictments attributed to Jesus of statements against these unnamed folk called "the rich": they have a hard time getting into the kingdom, they cannot serve two masters, their cares choke out the Word of God's fruitfulness in their lives, etc. In today's free-market economic world, a predominantly non-agrarian one, a predominantly democratic-work-your-way-up-the-ladder world, how are we to see these statements? Well, as Malina and his associates rightly point out: coming from today's world, we cannot. But if we see these statements in light of the Mediterranean hierarchical, top 10% aristocratically run, slave-trading, 90% agrarian, fiercely patron-oriented world, Jesus' words begin to take on new significance and color. For all the limitations that using Models of this world may have, this reviewer has never read works that bring the text of the New Testament off of the floating-fluffy-cloud world of theology, and firmly planted back into the ground of the real world where people live, eat, breath, and love with all their soul and strength. Highly recommended.