Greek Goes On in Davao City

One of the things Sora and I sought to do in Davao was to labor in such a way that what we did would not cease with our departure. Knowing that our term in the Philippines was likely to be limited to three years, we wanted to leverage our gifts so that they would be multiplied and continue to have effects for years after we left.

The power of missionary work is in the formation of relationships. And in the Internet age, these can continue to be effective. 

One of my Greek students, Wayne Dimaano, is teaching a Greek class via his church’s Bible institute. He keeps in touch by FB messenger with questions about grammar:


As you can see from the mention of Quizlet, we also share flashcards and other teaching materials. 

Pastor Wayne forwarded this photo of the large number of students who showed up for his first Greek class:


(I recall a similar huge turnout for my first Greek class. There will always be some attrition when it becomes clear that  there is no royal road to the knowledge of Greek, but with that many students, Wayne will surely have a good number left.)

Wayne and I continue to share books and discuss exegetical questions and theology. Now that I’m in the same time zone (in Singapore and soon in Indonesia), I can respond quickly while we are both awake.

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Final Essays for Bandung

Before leaving STT St. Paul’s in Bandung, Indonesia, I left the students some essay questions, which were then translated into Bahasa Indonesia by the Rev. Yopie B.  I reproduce them here for our readers’ enjoyment.
(Recommended sources: R. Hays, Reading Backward; N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God; R. Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel.)

Essays:

In 10 pages or less, answer ONE of these questions:

1. Explain how the NT epistles and the book of Revelation identify Jesus as divine while still holding to monotheism.
2. Explain how Jesus Himself and the authors of the four canonical gospels use the Old Testament to make the claim that Jesus is identified with the God of Israel.
3. List and explain five main ways that the OT asserts monotheism and show how the NT used those ways to say that Jesus is included in the identity of Israel’s God.

Colvins in Bandung

If our kids are looking more colorful than usual, it is because they’re wearing batik to their first Indonesian worship service.   
It has been a mixed visit so far. For me, a fruitful week of ministry. For Sora and the kids, a painful time fighting the sort of digestive tract illness that we thought we would not experience, since we were coming already from the Philippines.

I preached on Psalm 42 & 43 for GAI St. Paul’s in Bandung, Indonesia this morning. Many thanks to Pr. Denny Kussoy for translating my sermon. 

  
Matt preaching with Pr. Denny Kussoy translating. 

The congregation on Sunday included many students from my week-long intensive class at the Bible College.

 
Above: Students at STT St Paul’s Bible College during Matt’s class. 

At lunch on Sunday, Rev. Yopie Buyung explained that he believes Biblical theology (in the technical sense) is greatly needed in Indonesian churches. I believe it. The delighted looks of the students as I explained how the New Testament claims Jesus to be God made it clear that they had not heard it put this (Jewish, Old Testamentish) way before, and that they will be USING these arguments in their own conversations with those who do not know the Lord, or deny that we should worship Him, or who think that “it is far from God’s glory to beget a son”.

Here are the essay assignment questions that I left for the students to write. (Pak Yopie translated them into Bahasa Indonesia.)

Essays:

In 10 pages or less, answer ONE of these questions:

1. Explain how the NT epistles and the book of Revelation identify Jesus as divine while still holding to monotheism.

2. Explain how Jesus and the four gospels use the Old Testament to claim that Jesus is identified with the God of Israel.

3. List and explain five main ways that the OT asserts monotheism and show how the NT used those ways to say that Jesus is included in the identity of Israel’s God.

Unfortunately, our family has been dealing with some sickness. Three kids came with me to church, wearing their new batik clothing. Sora stayed back at the guest house with Naomi, who is still recovering. Later, Isaiah and Hosanna also lost their lunches. Everyone is on the mend, however.

We have one more day in Bandung. Rev. Yopie and his wife Hertina and younger son Rexa have been taking very good care of us. Indonesian hospitality is justly famous, and Pak Yopie’s family has been amazing in that respect. 

Tuesday, we head to Jakarta for four days, then to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, en route to meet with our SAMS directors and other SAMS missionary families at a retreat in Kep.
Pray that:

– Our kids will recover quickly, and that we will have no more illness on this trip. 

– We may have a pleasant and uneventful train ride full of beautiful scenery from Bandung to Jakarta.

– The STT St. Paul’s students will continue to pursue the Biblical approaches to Christology and theology that I introduced them to in the lectures this week, and that the Lord may bless those methods with good fruit. 

– That our kids will continue to be good ambassadors for our family and the REC and ACNA. The boys especially have done a good job so far, even though they don’t like being the center of attention. (Hosanna on the other hand, loves being the center of attention, and is apparently in her element being greeted and photographed, whether by Filipinos or Indonesians.)

   
   Thanks to Natalina H for the pictures!

Radio Show

Thanks to my friendship with Pastor Vic Bernales, I was introduced this afternoon to Rev. Michael Hong, the owner and proprietor of Mango Radio, which broadcasts evangelical radio programs in Zamboanga and here in Davao City. Pastor Hong has a heart for bringing the gospel to Muslims here on the island of Mindanao by using radio. 

It was a fruitful discussion, and the result was that I will be starting a live one-hour radio show on June 1st. There will then be a four week break while our family is in Indonesia and Cambodia in June, and I will resume broadcasting after June 28. We hope to air the show at rush hour, but Mango is currently still trying to obtain a frequency for broadcasting in Davao. It will also be broadcast via the Internet. 

The show will be devoted to explaining Scripture, using history and the original languages and the Jewish background. I’ll be trying to make these things clear and accessible — something I have striven to do for many years in my high school classes. 

I need a name for the show. Any suggestions?

  
Above: Matt and Pr. Michael Hong in the Mango Radio studio.

Pray that the show will be a success and a blessing both to Filipino Christians and to those who do not yet own Christ as the world’s Lord. 

Update on Bible Teaching

Sorry for the slow month of blogging; Sora has been gone since mid-March in Dulag, Leyte. I have seen her photos as they come in on my iOS Photostream, but I have assured her that I will leave them for her to blog. She returns tomorrow, so maybe she’ll put up something exciting and midwifery-related then.

I’ve been keeping busy too: Faith Academy is entering the last month of the school year, and I am pressing to finish Dante’s Inferno with the juniors and seniors in my Epic literature class. The 10th grade New Testament class will finish Romans this week – conveniently, because I have been teaching it to my adults at UCRC’s Bible study as well. My work isn’t as photogenic as Sora’s. If you’ve seen one shot of me lecturing in front of a whiteboard, you’ve seen them all. Here’s my lectern in the Faith Academy NT class: tiny center-column reference edition NKJV, and slightly bigger Biblia Graeca (LXX + NA28 in one binding) perched together on one lectern.

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The Biblia Graeca is a delight to use for teaching and study: the marginal apparatus of loci citati vel allegati is the best in the business, far more comprehensive and enlightening than most cross-references in most English translations, and with the added benefit of having the LXX from which the quotations and echoes are derived right there in the same binding. This was the Bible I received from the hand of Bishop Daniel Morse at my ordination last December.

It has been a great semester for rethinking Romans and Pauline theology: after 5 months, I’m nearing the end of N.T. Wright’s magnum opus Paul and the Faithfulness of God. My thinking was also helped by Andrew Perriman’s The Future of the People of God. I am very thankful for ebooks: Logos Library also picked me as a reviewer for their Anglican Silver package, so now I have access to a lot of books that would be difficult to find here in Davao City.

The Romans class at UCRC has been very well attended, with new folks joining from week to week, including two more since this photo was taken:

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Comments from the participants have been very appreciative: they are finding that a covenantal, narratival, and historical perspective on Paul helps them make sense of other passages of Scripture and see the big picture better. In my view, this is one of the most needed things here in the Philippines, and people who love Jesus are hungry for it.

I’ve also received word that my application to teach at Koinonia Theological Seminary (a Methodist-affiliated evangelical seminary here in Davao City) has now been put before the board of that institution for consideration.

My Greek class and Latin class are on break for Holy Week, but will resume next week.

Questions in the Greek class

We are on chapter 10 of James Turney Allen’s The First Year of Greek. The students spent the day practicing their participles. I have the utmost admiration for them as they are wrestling with an inflected language, Greek, but translating it into and out of English, which usually accomplishes its purposes with other devices, such as auxiliary verbs.

Often, the highlight of the class for me is when we are finished for the day. That’s when the pastors and elders start asking theological questions. Today, since we had practiced participles, Mario A. asked, “So at the end of Matthew, is Jesus commanding the disciples to ‘go’, if it’s a participle, not an imperative?”

It was an excellent question. The Greek reads: πορευθέντες ⸀οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, ⸀βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος, (ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΤΘΑΙΟΝ 28:19)

I explained that the Greek literally says “Having gone, instruct all the Gentiles, baptizing them…”, but the use of an aorist participle indicates that in order to teach the Gentiles, the disciples will first need to leave the mountain where they are standing.

There is a question like this every week. These men apply their Greek knowledge to the a Scriptures as soon as they assimilate each concepts. Each week, they ask questions that they didn’t know how to ask just the week before.

Greek for Pastors and Elders

The students in my Greek class are doing excellent work. Their pronunciation was already great after just 3 meetings, and they are asking very good questions about syntax and morphology. It will likely take most of a year to finish all of Greek grammar with them, but they seem to be ready and eager for it.

At the end of the 90 minute session today, we looked at Pr. Vic’s copy of Nestle-Aland 27 and discussed the use of the apparatus criticus. There was a moment of amusement when, in an effort to show Pr. Jurem what some of the signs mean, I asked Pr. Vic to pull out the insert card of sigla, which is in German. “That’s OK, though, they’re all in the book too. See?” – and confronted him with another page of explanation, this time in Latin. (Of the learning of languages there is no end.)

My goal of the class is that faithful men who are already leaders in the evangelical churches here in Davao might be able to handle the Word in the original Greek. That doesn’t just mean giving them a knowledge of Greek so that they can read the GNT, but also actually putting the book into their hands. Pr. Vic is a scholar already, with a copy of Novum Testamentum Graece (NA27) that is more well-worn than mine. But, as he explained today, the Greek New Testament is not available in Davao, and is actually pretty hard to find anywhere in the Philippines.

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To that end, when my students are nearing the end of their introductory Greek training, I would very much like to give each of them their own copy of the Novum Testamentum Graece (Nestle-Aland 27 or 28, preferably the editions with the dictionary at the back). It’s not beyond our means to buy them ourselves, but some of our senders may want to share in this very literal equipping of the saints. If you’re interested, please email me (colvinmission@gmail.com ). We will only need maybe 6 or so, and not until later this year.

We’re on chapter 5 of 80 right now, and I’ve never been more excited to teach Greek.