Avoid the Bots

Sounds like a SciFi movie, eh? Alien mechanical menaces sporting incredible strength and intelligence, vulnerable only to precision air strikes by the world’s greatest Air Force (OK, that last part was a shameless plug).

I wish. Bots and Spiders, far from being from space, are software search/crawling routines that wander the Internet. The good ones cull sites for linking through search engines like Google, Yahoo, etc. That helps everyone.

Evil bots and spiders sold their souls to serve the spammers from Gehenna. They primarily seek email addresses on web sites, then feed them into the great spamming databases in the place of eternal junk email torment. The vile spammers then suck the life blood from your bandwidth and time by offering all kinds of, uh, personal enhancements and dream dates.

So why do you care? Everyone should avoid openly posting email addresses on blogs and websites in a usable form, i.e., as a link. If you want to pass your email address to someone, use a non-link with separators like deathbots_at_gehenna_dot_com or without the separators like “nastyspider at thepit dot com”. There are lots of other variations that will protect your email address, so be creative. Remember, though, that your intended recipient must be able to decode your clever encoding. For your own protection, just don’t post a usable link.

You’ve been warned. The bots are out there lurking, searching, never sleeping, ever culling. Do your part–don’t feed them, especially after midnight.

Posted by the ever helpful Bob Mattes, who always has your best interest at heart. Trust him. Even with your credit card. Please.

Another New Policy

I am announcing another new policy on this blog: the editors will decide on each comment, up or down (though comments will not be held for moderation except for first-time comments). If anyone has a question with regard to a particular comment, then you can email one of us about it (email whoever is moderating that particular thread). Do not post a comment whining about a particular comment. The editor will then consider and make a decision. But talking about whether someone else’s comment is on topic, or should get a strike is itself off topic, and does not need to be for public consumption. Such comments in the future will garner a strike.

Bob’s Reference Short List

Posted by Bob Mattes

Since we seem to be on a roll with new book recommendations, I thought that I’d throw some balance in here with some older books. So there!

Seriously, here are some references of which I am very fond. Most reach back a bit to a time when the distractions were fewer (no HDTV football-how did they survive?) When I first trusted the Lord, I flocked to “modern” stuff and the NIV. As I matured, I broadened my scope to include works closer to or during the Reformation period and more literal translations.

For seminary graduates, you have bookshelves full of references that you may or may not use regularly. I’m in the same boat, much to my wife’s occasional consternation. However, there are some that I use on a regular basis that you usually don’t see in seminary classes. On the other side, none require a seminary degree to use effectively. So, here goes:

1599 Geneva Study Bible – The Bible translation and notes done by the early Reformers in Geneva. The notes are awesome. This is a modern reprint of the exact original text corrected only for modern spellings. The leather version comes with a CD with the Bible in PDF format. Every Reformed Christian should have one of these. I use mine regularly for devotions and in worship.

Reformation Study Bible – The modern successor to the 1599 Geneva Study Bible. It also has great text notes plus theological notes originally written by J.I. Packer and later published as J.I. Packer’s Concise Theology. Originally called the New Geneva Study Bible in NKJV, now in the ESV. I like the NKJV edition better, but have both translations.

The Westminster Annotations and Commentary on the Whole Bible (6 Volumes, 1657) – Facsimile edition, but very readable even though the type is small. Verse-by-verse comments by some of the Westminster Divines and others provide great theological insights into the Divine’s exegesis. Contains some of the best, no-nonsense verse notes I’ve ever seen. I use this all the time.

New Self-Interpreting Bible Library (4 vols., 1914 ed.) – Facsimile edition. Original notes written by John Brown of Haddington, 1st ed. published in 1778. Excellent reference by a master Bible scholar. Besides the Bible notes, it holds an outstanding compendium of Bible information in the first volume. It’s way more than a study Bible. So good that it was updated and published until the early 20th Century.

An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith – Outstanding commentary on the Confession by Robert Shaw, originally published in 1845. Very practical and pastoral commentary from a gifted Scottish pastor and theologian. I have an electronic version on my PDA as well.

Reformed Confessions Harmonized – Outstanding reference edited by Joel Beeke and Sinclair Ferguson. Harmonizes the Three Forms of Unity, 2nd Helvetic Confession, and the Westminster Standards. Vividly displays the beauty and agreement of these great Reformed standards. In addition, it has a large bibliography of orthodox Reformed doctrinal works by topic in the back. Very handy.

Calvin’s Institutes (Beveridge Translation) –  By popular demand, I’ve added this to the list. Everyone should already have at least one of these. If not, get thee to a bookstore or click the link! Everyone should have been issued a copy along with instructions for the secret handshake at your first induction into the Reformed union (just kidding!)

Historical Theology (2 vols.) – Based on the lecture notes of William Cunningham (Professor of Church History, New College, Edinburgh, from 1843-1861?), this traces the history of Christian theology from the beginning up to his day. A masterful work with great attention to detail. I don’t think that I’d want to take one of his exams.

The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation – Another great reference by William Cunningham, this one also based on his lectures. Here he details the major players in the Reformation and the development/recovery of the major Biblical doctrines that we hold so dear. Another great antidote to those who would rewrite that history today.

The Systematic Theology of John Brown of Haddington – Originally published in 1782 under an even longer title. What makes John Brown’s systematic so intriguing is that as a solid, orthodox, confessional, and influential Reformed pastor and professor, he writes from the point of view of the covenants, something on which New Perspective on Paul adherents and Federal Visionists seem to think they have a lock these day. John Brown provided a great antidote over 100 years ago.

The Complete Word Study Bible and Dictionary Pack – Edited by Spiros Zodhiates for AMG, this is a super and “concise” original language reference set for both pastors and laymen alike. Each word in the text is morphologically tagged. Definitions are tied with examples of uses by verse, providing somewhat of a concordance capability as well. It also puts particular usages into real context. I have this in Logos (see below) on my computer and in my PDA with Olive Tree’s Bible Software. I never leave home without it.

Logos Bible Software 3 – With over 10 years of poking around Bible study software, I can say without reservation that Logos dominates the field in capability. It’s exegetical and passage analysis tools blow the competition away. I’ve lost track of the number of references I have in this setup (easily several hundred), but they take 1.9GB of space on my hard disk. This greatly helped stabilize the growth rate of shelf requirements here. I personally started with the Original Language Edition, which contains a host of language resources, text variants and fragments, lexicons, and analysis tools. The integration of the electronic resources, e.g., crosslinking within the Westminster Standards and them to A.A. Hodge’s Commentary on the WCF. Space doesn’t permit listing all the power packed into this software system. This overall system doesn’t come cheap, but has paid off by dramatically reducing the time for research and preparation for teaching.

Olive Tree Bible Reader – Carry a robust Bible study library in your pocket, especially for those like me who never cared much for laptops. The multiple-windowed reader is actually free as are many common references and texts (over 100). Bible translations in many languages, including Greek and Hebrew, lexicons, cross-references, commentaries, books, pictures, and videos are all available for the reader. The Greek and Hebrew fonts look great. I would never leave home without this. Available for Palm, Windows Mobile, Smartphone, Blackberry, Symbian, Java cell phones, and iPod.

Well, that’s my short list of recommendations for basic references. You will see me cite many of these in posts either exegeting passages or discussing historical developments. I hope that the list helps someone.

Posted by Bob Mattes