Homiletics 2 File 17 Professor Carl Fickenscher II Question by: Joshua >> JOSHUA: So then, how do we find that kind of information? Some of it is in the Bible itself, but not all of it. Are there certain commentaries we should use? >> PROF. FICKENSCHER: Another excellent question. And as we go through each of these steps, we do want to look at the resources that will be helpful to you in accomplishing them. Let me give you a caution, to begin, as you ask about commentaries. Commentaries will have certain valuable information to be useful at this step, but not perhaps what you think. At this point, we're only looking for information that gives us the broad scope of the book and the background of the book. The commentaries will each have material of that nature in the very front of those books. For example, if you're working with the gospel of Luke on the Transfiguration, yes, Lenski's commentary or Just's commentary on Luke will have excellent isagogical information in the very front of the volume. But I would caution you at this point not yet to turn to Luke 9 to read what the commentator says about the Transfiguration, about your chosen text, because that will tend to give you tunnel vision. It will prevent you from really being able to do the creative thinking on your own that you would like to do at this point. There's a place for that later. At this point, commentaries hold only that particular role. Just the isagogical information. Really better at this point would be a number of other sources. For example, one that you probably have readily available, the Concordia Self Study Bible. The Concordia Self Study Bible is very helpful for background material on each of the Bible books. In this particular case, if we were preaching on the gospel of Luke and his account of the Transfiguration, we could look at the pages that introduce the gospel of Luke, and in the Concordia Self Study Bible, we have items like this: "God's Grace in Luke." What God is doing to work through the gospel to deliver salvation through Christ as depicted in the gospel of Luke. Luther on this particular book. Some thoughts that Martin Luther gave us about the particular book. And then these very particular isagogical items: The author, the recipient and purpose of the book, the date and place of writing, the style of the book. For example, we note that Luke used a very elegant style of Greek in his writing. Characteristics unique to this particular book. Sources. We mentioned earlier that Luke himself indicated that he had used sources, compiled sources of various nature, eyewitnesses and perhaps also written sources, to write his book. The plan of the book. In other words, a broad movement of the book. And also an outline. So these are the very sorts of items that you're looking for to begin your study of the book itself before looking at the text more specifically. That's a very easily available source, and really very helpful. A little more in depth background for books, the study background of the books would be books that are actually specifically called introductions or isagogical texts. One for the New Testament that we might use is one by Donald Gutherie entitled "New Testament Introduction," and that's the generic term for this sort of book, an "introduction." Gutherie spends many, many pages talking about the very same information that the Concordia Self Study Bible gave us in just a couple of pages. He'll go through the various arguments for who Luke was and who his original recipients may have been, argue from one perspective and refute it from another perspective, and after a very lengthy argumentation, he'll give you his conclusions about each of these items of information. And of course there are other excellent New Testament introductions as well, like one by Martin Franzman that is available from Concordia Publishing House. An Old Testament equivalent of this would be the "Introduction to the Old Testament" by Young. This is one that is also frequently used in conservative circles to look at the background of the Old Testament books. And then for specific information on geography, for other information about some of the history that might comprise the settings of the book, things like Bible dictionaries, "Harper's Bible Dictionary" is a one volume option that would give you an article on Luke, for example. It would give you a brief article on the Transfiguration, which would be something of perhaps note later on. And then there are also even more in depth works like here "The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible," which is a multivolume set in a number of volumes that gives very lengthy articles on particular historical figures, the geography involved, and all of those things. And there are other sources as well, like atlases, that might help in certain readings to get a movement. For example, in the Old Testament narratives as Israel moves through the wilderness in the book of Numbers, an atlas might be helpful to see some of the geography involved there. These are the sorts of sources that are most helpful at this stage in the process as you're looking simply for the background of the book, and as I said, once again, save those commentaries, other than the introductory sections, for a little bit later on in your process.