Saturday, December 28, 2013

Dialogues with Michael Coogan (Genesis 1:2)

Michael Coogan (The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures) makes another claim about the opening verses of Genesis, particularly, Genesis 1:2. He maintains that the word usually translated "deep" in that passage does not have the definite article in Hebrew, therefore, it should be rendered without the definite article in English.

"Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters" (Gen 1:2 NIV).

The Hebrew term that is rendered "the deep" is תְּהוֹם (tehom) which is also translated "the great deep" in Gen 7:11 (KJV), etc. Robert Alter also uses the definite article at Gen 1:2 in his translation: "and the earth then was welter and waste and darkness over the deep and God's breath hovering over the waters"

Many other examples could be given where a noun does not have the article in Hebrew or Greek, but it's still definite rather than indefinite or qualitative. A famous example we have from the LXX Greek text is Gen 1:1 which employs the anarthrous noun for "beginning" but should be understood as definite "the beginning."

Dialogues With Michael Coogan (Genesis 1:1)

Scholar Michael Coogan insists that the rendering "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" is grammatically incorrect, according to the original Hebrew reading of Genesis 1:1. He makes this claim in his introductory work to the Old Testament. While the respected translator and scholar Robert Alter departs from the traditional reading of Gen 1:1 and prefers to translate 1:1 with "When God began to create heaven and earth"--one thing I've learned about translation is that one must be careful about stating something in absolute terms that can be understood in more than one way.

For instance, notice what the NET Bible states about Genesis 1:1, which explains why many Bibles do stick with the traditional reading of 1:1:

The translation assumes that the form translated “beginning” is in the absolute state rather than the construct (“in the beginning of,” or “when God created”). In other words, the clause in v. 1 is a main clause, v. 2 has three clauses that are descriptive and supply background information, and v. 3 begins the narrative sequence proper. The referent of the word “beginning” has to be defined from the context since there is no beginning or ending with God.

[END QUOTE]

See the NET Bible for a discussion of some issues that affect the translation of Gen 1:1. But my point is that Coogan too strongly maintains that the reading found in KJV and other Bibles is grammatically incorrect based on the original Hebrew when he should have noted that it's a viable option, even if he disagrees with how others have elected to construe the Hebrew text.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

ONOMA in Philippians 2:9-11 (Moulton-Milligan)

Moulton and Milligan express their view of ONOMA (Philippians 2) when writing:

"By a usage similar to that of the Heb. SHEM, ONOMA comes in the NT to denote the character, fame, authority of the person indicated (cf. Phil. 2:9f, Heb 1:4). With this may be compared the use of the word as a title of dignity or rank, as in P Oxy I.58.6 (A.D. 288) where complaint is made of the number of officials who have devised 'offices' for themselves--ONOMATA hEAUTOIS EXEURONTES, and provision is made that, on the appointment of a single trustworthy superintendent, the remaining 'offices' shall cease-14f. TA DE LOIPA ONOMATA PAUSHTAI."

See the entry for ONOMA in M-M.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

2 Peter 2:1--Redemption and the Redemptive Agent

The difference between Acts 20:28 and other passages that speak of Christians being redeemed or purchased seems quite striking. While some scholars may wish to attribute the putative disparity to Luke's individual view of God's salvific activity through Christ, it appears that the GNT as a whole does make a vital distinction between God's divine act of redemption and the redemptive agent, Jesus Christ.

For instance, while Luke employs περιεποιήσατο in Acts 20:28 ( a morphological form that occurs once in the GNT), other verses from the Pauline and Johannine literature use a form of ἀγοράζω:

ἠγοράσθητε γὰρ τιμῆς· δοξάσατε δὴ τὸν θεὸν ἐν τῷ σώματι ὑμῶν (1 Cor 6:20).

τιμῆς ἠγοράσθητε· μὴ γίνεσθε δοῦλοι ἀνθρώπων (1 Cor 7:23).

1 Cor 7:22 relates that "anyone in the Lord" is also "a slave of Christ," indicating that the one who purchased or redeemed the Corinthians is Christ. (Notice Paul's discussion regarding πορνεία in 1 Cor 6:19-20 as well.)

2 Pt 2:1 employs τὸν ἀγοράσαντα αὐτοὺς δεσπότην and it could fittingly refer to Christ since Peter writes elsewhere that Christians were "redeemed" (ἐλυτρώθητε) from vain conduct by means of Christ's precious blood (1 Pt 1:18-19). Compare Luke 24:21; Titus 2:14.

Finally, the Lamb bought (ἠγόρασας) persons for God out of every tribe and nation (Revelation 5:9). Maybe Rev 14:3 primarily has Christ's role in mind then, when it reports that the 144,000 have been purchased from the earth:

οἱ ἠγορασμένοι ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς.

I therefore conclude that Christ could well be the δεσπότης spoken of in 2 Pt 2:1 and Jd 4. What is more, Luke may have intended to highlight God's preeminent role in the divine act of salvation. God sent His Son to redeem obedient humankind (Gal 4:4-5); He thus purchased us by using the Lamb to redeem persons of faith (Gal 3:13).

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Answering Questions from Someone Wanting to Know More About God

Has science solved the problem of why something exists rather than nothing?

1) Gottfried Leibniz famously asked why is there something rather than nothing. I know that certain scientists have tried to answer this metaphysical question, although I'm not sure that science can satisfactorily reply to Leibniz. I respect the place of science in rational discussions. However, why something exists when it's possible that nothing might have existed is a question that seems to exceed the purview of science. We must also remember that "nothing" is being used by Leibniz in a metaphysical rather than scientific sense.

2) Is light-speed still the cosmic speed limit? The notion of things going faster than light seems to have been refuted for now. And the second video link you included is less than clear about what "nothing" means. In other words, the term "nothing" can be defined within a quantum context or it can be fleshed out metaphysically. To make the discussion fair, a term needs to be used monosemically as opposed to being used equivocally.


3) I personally do not believe that free will is an illusion. It's somewhat of a mystery how free will exists, but one could argue for free will by appealing to moral responsibility and counterfactual freedom. Peter van Inwagen has written extensively on incompatibilist free will. Nancey Murphy also provides evidence that free will may possibly arise from an initially deterministic system. Think about the robot in "I, Robot" that learns how to wink; maybe free volition can be produced in a similar way from a system (the brain) that's supposed to be wholly deterministic.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

John 1:14 and Temple Theology: Why the Resistance?

Lately, I've been asking myself why I'm so resistant to seeing temple theology in John 1:14. The claimed allusion is a viable possibility to me--but it's more of an inference (IMO) than a result of solid exegesis. Alford (et al) presents a strong historico-exegetical case for making a connection between 1:14 and the shekinah presence of YHWH. However, to jump from there to the idea that Christ is YHWH appears to be rather hasty or premature. There are also lines of evidence that suggest one should not think the Shekinah presence of God is at play in 1:14 of the Fourth Gospel.

A.T. Robertson certainly sees an allusion to the Shekinah in John 1:14:

"First aorist ingressive aorist active indicative of SKHNOW, old verb, to pitch one's tent or tabernacle (SKHNOS or SKHNH), in N.T. only here and [Revelation] 12:12; 13:6; 21:3. In Revelation it is used of God tabernacling with men and here of the Logos tabernacling, God's Shekinah glory here among us in the person of his Son."

And there are plenty of other recent studies affirming the same idea. On the other hand, Benny Thettayil refers to a number of studies that might refute the common interpretation of John 1:14. See his work In Spirit and Truth: An Exegetical Study of John 4:19-26 and a Theological Investigation of the Replacement Theme in the Fourth Gospel, pages 369ff. He evidently accepts the common understanding of the text but does review evidence to the contrary.

Temple theology could be present in 1:14. I just believe the evidence (at this time) cuts both ways.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Apanthsis and 1 Thessalonians 4:17

Here is a little more information about 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and what it potentially teaches us about life in the heavens for all eternity.

C.A. Wannamaker remarks concerning this significant textual unit:

"Since they are to be taken up into the air to meet Jesus this can only refer to their being led to heaven with Jesus"(The Epistles to the Thessalonians: a commentary on the Greek text. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1990. Page 176).

(1) As I pointed out in an earlier post, there is no apodictic (or even compelling) evidence that demonstrates APANTHSIS is a terminus technicus used to delineate the action of meeting and subsequently accompanying a dignitary. There was once a custom of engaging in such actions; however, proof for the custom being practiced is not necessarily evidence for a terminus technicus. Notice that the LXX (Exod 19:17) applies APANTHSIS to the Israelites 'meeting' with God at Sinai.

(2) The GNT use of APANTAW/APANTHSIS could have been influenced by LXX usage more so than Hellenistic lingual employment. We simply do not know with any degree of certainty. Joseph Plevnik writes: "The term PAROUSIA was hence used in the technical sense neither by the apostle nor in Hellenistic or Roman sources" ("1 Thessalonians 4,17: The Bringing in of the Lord or the Bringing in of the Faithful?", Vol. 80 1999: 537-546).

(3) We are told that the virgins in a Matthean parable 'go out to meet'(EXHLQON EIS hUPANTHSIN TOU NUMFIOU) the bridegroom. See Matt 25:1. Matt 25:7 even adds: IDOU hO NUMFIOS EXERXESQE EIS APANTHSIN. Later Matthew writes that the bridegroom arrives (HLQEN) and the discreet or wise virgins go in with him to the marriage feast (KAI hAI hETOIMOI EISHLQON MET' AUTOU EIS TOUS GAMOUS KAI EKLEISQH hH QURA). See Matt 25:10.

We must remember that Jesus is relating a parable and some of the details cannot be pressed too far. Therefore, while Matthew does say that the bridegroom arrives and that the imprudent virgins seek to get in the door of the wedding feast after it has been shut, we have no reason to believe that the wedding feast is celebrated on the earth. One piece of information that is withheld from the reader is the general setting of this parable. Where is the wedding feast celebrated? Is it at the bridegroom's house or at the house of Christ's bride? Do the virgins accompany the bridegroom back to his residence or does he feast at the bride's house? See John 14:1-3.

Blog Posts on Melito (Links)

I enjoyed reading these posts. Please visit these blogs:

http://matt13weedhacker.blogspot.com/2011/05/more-anf-tampering-by-later.html
http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2011/12/james-whites-misuse-of-melito-of-sardis.html

You'll find insightful remarks made about Melito of Sardis

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Does John 1:14 Allude to the Shekinah?

I contend it's less than self-evident that John is referring to the Shekinah glory or some other manifestation of divine glory in the Fourth Gospel's Prologue (specifically, 1:14). While some commentators have tried to demonstrate an allusion to the Shekinah in the Johannine Prologue by relying on the Greek word ἐσκήνωσεν, BDAG Greek-English Lexicon simply notes that there may possibly be an allusion to the Shekinah in John 1:14.

However one chooses to understand the apostolic words in John's famed Prologue, the theme of Messiah's glory is admittedly a prominent one throughout the Fourth Gospel: "This beginning of his signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him"(John 2:11 WEB).

There is no doubt that Jesus displayed glory during his earthly existence, but this glory was derived as John 1:14 makes clear: "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth" (ASV).

Irenaeus of Lyons correspondingly writes: "But what John really does say is this: 'And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.'" (See AH 1.8.5)

In fact, even prior to the Logos becoming flesh, he subsisted in a position of glory alongside the Father; but John does not necessarily say that the glory of the Son WAS the glory of the Father or vice versa.

Regarding the glory of the Messiah, the book Insight on the Scriptures (Published by the WTBTS) states: "Concerning Jesus' first miracle, the Bible says that 'he made his glory manifest.' (John 2:11) Glory here refers to an impressive evidence of miraculous power identifying Jesus as the promised Messiah. (Compare Joh 11:40-44.)"

As for John 17:5, Insight makes the following observation: "Jesus used the term [glory] to refer to the exalted state that he enjoyed in heaven before coming to earth" (Cf. Insight, 1:964).

The Insight book teaches us that the term glory must be defined in harmony with its literary context. It obviously does not mean the same thing in all contexts.

A number of commentators want to see allusions to the Shekinah glory in John 1:14. From this concept, it's often inferred that Christ is equal (consubstantial) with the Father. For example, Clarke's Commentary makes the following claim:

"And dwelt among us - Και εσκηνωσεν εν ἡμιν, And tabernacled among us: the human nature which he took of the virgin, being as the shrine, house, or temple, in which his immaculate Deity condescended to dwell. The word is probably an allusion to the Divine Shechinah in the Jewish temple; and as God has represented the whole Gospel dispensation by the types and ceremonies of the old covenant, so the Shechinah in the tabernacle and temple pointed out this manifestation of God in the flesh. The word is thus used by the Jewish writers: it signifies with them a manifestation of the Divine Shechinah."

But there might be other ways to explain a Shekinah allusion.

A) One could view John 1:14 as an implicative account that points to the prophet greater than Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15). Such an interpretation can be substantiated by considering the apostolic words recorded at John 1:17. Cf. 2 Corinthians 3:7-18; Acts 3:19-26.

B1) Another OT text that may be pertinent here is Exodus 23:20-26. It could point to Christ serving as the Angel (MAL'AK) of YHWH, that personal agent who carries out duties as the Leader of God's people through the spirit of YHWH. Personally, I do not believe that the Angel of YHWH is identical with YHWH since Zechariah 1:12, 13 makes a distinction between God and His angel. In that fateful passage, the angel poses a question to YHWH and God replies with comforting words. While one could argue that the angel simply functions as a mediating agent in this account (with no ontological implications), I do not think that this explanation tells the whole story. David L. Petersen (in his commentary on Zechariah) points out that the angel's words have a penetrating quality to them: "How long will you be without mercy for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah that have felt your anger these seventy years?"

B2)The text indicates that the Angel really is perplexed over the current state of Judah. He does not know what YHWH knows and so poses the aforesaid question to Him. The angel sees that seventy years have passed by and the whole earth is tranquil while God's people still appear to be experiencing the heat of divine anger. "How long," he wonders. By uttering these words, God's angel sounds forth a lamenting request that has been echoed by God's people throughout human history. If he is the preexistent Christ, then the biblical evidence would suggest that the Lord Jesus Christ is perhaps not consubstantial with the Father.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

More on Jeremiah 51:41 (Paronomasia)

"O how She′shach has been captured, How the Praise of the whole earth has been seized! How Babylon has become an object of horror among the nations!" (Jeremiah 51:41, Revised NWT, 2013)

NWT footnote states: "This appears to be a cryptographic name for Babel (Babylon)."

“See how Babylon has been captured! See how the pride of the whole earth has been taken!
See what an object of horror Babylon has become among the nations!" (Jeremiah 51:41, NET Bible)

"Heb 'Sheshach.' For an explanation of the usage of this name for Babylon see the study note on Jer 25:26 and that on 51:1 for a similar phenomenon. Babylon is here called 'the pride of the whole earth' because it was renowned for its size, its fortifications, and its beautiful buildings" (Footnote in NET Bible).

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Jeremiah 51:41 and Paronomasia (Beitzel)

"How is Sheshach taken? and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised? how is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations?" (Jeremiah 51:41 KJV)

Barry J. Beitzel writes:

"Atbash. Atbash is an oratorical device according to which letters of one or more words, counted from the beginning of the alphabet, are exchanged for corresponding letters counted from the end of the alphabet (e.g.' = t, b = s, etc.). Embedded in Jeremiah's grim oracle of doom directed against Babylon and the king of Babylon (chaps. 50-1) is the enigmatic Sheshak (51:41). Enigmatic, that is, until one recognizes that the letters which comprise the word ssk are actually atbash for bbl, 'Babylon' (cf. 25:26). In this same chapter (v 1), Jeremiah describes the inhabitants of Babylon by means of the otherwise mysterious lb qmywhich, through atbash, becomes ks'dym, 'Chaldeans,' known to have been contemporary inhabitants of the great city."

Atbash is a form of paronomasia. See Beitzel, "Exodus 3:14 and the Divine Name: A Case of Biblical Paronomasia." Trinity Journal 1 NS (1980): 5-20.

We read the following in John Calvin's commentary on Jeremiah and Lamentations:

"But he calls Babylon here Sheshach, as in Jeremiah 25. Some think it to be there the proper name of a man, and others regard it as the name of a celebrated city in Chaldea. But we see that what they assert is groundless; for this passage puts an end to all controversy, for in the first clause he mentions Sheshach, and in the second, Babylon. That passage also in Jeremiah 25 cannot refer to anything else except to Babylon; for the Prophet said, 'Drink shall all nations of God's cup of fury, and after them the king of Sheshach,' that is, when God has chastised all nations, at length the king of Babylon shall have his turn. But in this place the Prophet clearly shows that Sheshach can be nothing else than Babylon. The name is indeed formed by inverting the alphabet."

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

"Storing Up Earthly Treasures" and Greek Aspect

“Stop storing up for yourselves treasures on the earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal. Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, and where thieves do not break in and steal" (Matthew 6:19-20 Revised NWT).

A friend once asked me if this verse describes a punctiliar event or a durative (ongoing) one. Should Jesus' followers "store up treasures in heaven" once or do it continually?

My answer: θησαυρίζετε is present imperative active 2nd person plural.

Our current knowledge of aspect and Aktionsart leads me to believe that context (or cotext) must determine whether Jesus' words should be understood as denoting continuous action--durative or progressive--over against believing that he had in mind singular or punctiliar action.

It seems likely that Jesus meant the Christian activity of storing up treasures is an ongoing process and not a one-time event. Not only does the present "tense" suggest this understanding, but verses such as Mt 6:33-34 buttress this view.

In conclusion, relational markers in the text must elucidate a speaker's intended meaning along with the morphological forms of Greek verbs.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

The Simplest Explanation of Biblical Greek Is the Best One

Ockham's Razor (the law of parsimony) is a handy tool that can be used in many academic fields. Sorry that it can't be used to literally shave anything away.

But to illustrate how the famed "law of parsimony" works, consider some explanations that have been given for the kind of Greek we find in the New Testament. There was a time when some thought that the form of Greek encountered in Matthew or Revelation was "Holy Ghost Greek." That is, a special type of Greek produced by the Spirit of God. But that position eventually softened and it was then claimed that the Greek of the NT is special (unique) because it contains Hebrew-Aramaic idioms throughout the text.

We now know that the simplest explanation for NT Greek--this is where Ockham's razor comes into play--is that Matthew-Revelation was written in Koine Greek (the common Greek of the day) and not some SUI GENERIS dialect unknown to the Hellenes: the simplest explanation is probably the most likely and best one. However, we don't have to speculate what type of Greek the NT writers used; there is strong textual evidence from the first century era. On page 10 of their well-known grammar, Dana and Mantey inform us that the NT writers employed "the language of the masses," as might be expected.

We have numerous Greek inscriptions and papyri that add weight to this conclusion. We don't need some extravagant hypothesis to explain NT Greek. Ockham's Razor wisely teaches us that all other things being equal (CETERIS PARIBUS), the simplest explanation is normally the best one (don't multiply entities unnecessarily).

Friday, November 01, 2013

Brief Commentary on Daniel 9:24 (Most Holy)

"Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy" (Daniel 9:24 NIV).

"There are seventy weeks that have been determined upon your people and upon your holy city, in order to terminate the transgression, and to finish off sin, and to make atonement for error, and to bring in righteousness for times indefinite, and to imprint a seal upon vision and prophet, and to anoint the Holy of Holies" (NWT, 1984).

It's interesting, but not all that consequential exegetically speaking, that NIV treats the Hebrew for "everlasting" as an attributive. But the NWT construes the same term predicatively ("for times indefinite"). The NET Bible favors the reading, "perpetual righteousness" in its text (also treating the Hebrew attributively). Darby's translation and Young's Literal Translation arrange the construction with syntax resembling NWT (1984).

Of course, those familiar with NWT also understand why OLAM is rendered "times indefinite" rather than "everlasting" or something to that effect. Yet the revised NWT (2013) has taken a different approach to translating this Hebrew word.

One Biblical website offers these insights on Daniel 9:24:

"Everlasting (05769) (OLAM) means forever, eternity, i.e., pertaining to an unlimited duration of time, usually with a focus on the future.

The Amplified Bible serves as a 'mini' commentary adding that the seventy sevens will...

bring in everlasting righteousness (permanent moral and spiritual rectitude in every area and relation)"

[END QUOTE]

Friday, October 25, 2013

Eastern Approach to God

Eastern Orthodoxy lays great stress on inwardness, the mysteriousness of God and His incomprehensible ways. The Cappadocian Fathers reveled in the paradoxical nature of the Trinity. For these men, the doctrine's truthfulness is ineffable, but salvific:

"When I think of any one of the three I think of him as the whole, and my eyes are filled, and the greater part of what I am thinking escapes me. I cannot grasp the greatness of that one so as to attribute a greater greatness to the rest. When I contemplate the three together, I see but one torch, and cannot divide or measure out the undivided light" Gregory Nazianzius).

See http://sermons.logos.com/submissions/55169#content=/submissions/55169

Gregory of Nyssa writes: "Now if any one should ask for some interpretation, and description, and explanation of the Divine essence, we are not going to deny that in this kind of wisdom we are unlearned, acknowledging only so much as this, that it is not possible that that which is by nature infinite should be comprehended in any conception expressed by words" (Against Eunomius 3.5).

What are we to think about a view that focuses on inwardness to the almost total exclusion of exteriority? To illustrate what I'm pinpointing here, consider the example of Bernard of Clairvaux (a French abbot who was canonized in 1174 CE) and Peter Abelard (a philosopher-theologian of the Middle Ages). Both men were Trinitarians, but Abelard highly valued reason, whereas Bernard preferred a mystical approach to God--one that was primarily spiritualistic. The result was that Bernard viciously opposed Abelard, which evidently contributed to the latter's physical demise.

Karen Armstrong cites the painful lesson learned from this telling episode of religious history:

"Bernard, however, seemed afraid of the intellect and wanted to keep it separate from the more emotional, intuitive parts of the mind. This was dangerous: it could lead to an unhealthy disassociation of sensibility that was in its own way just as worrying as an arid rationalism" (A History of God, p. 203-204).

While I have no desire to worship at the altar of rationalism or evidentialism, I believe that rationality plays an important part in worship to God (Rom. 12:1, 2). For the aforementioned reasons, I have a problem with the Eastern approach to worshiping and serving God.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Aquinas' First Way (Proof) for the Existence of God

I answer that, The existence of God can be proved in
five ways.

The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

Thomas Aquinas lived from 1224-1274.

EN ATOMWi in 1 Cor 15:52

I've posed this query in other forums and just wondered what my blogging audience might have to say.

There is a question that I've wondered about on and off for a number of years and I want to ask what you all think.

As most of you here know, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that while the Bible is not a scientific treatise, when it touches on scientific matters--it is believed to be spot on (as the Brits say). For instance, Isaiah talks about the "circle" of the earth (Isa 40:22), apparently referring to the oblate spheroid known as planet earth and Job also speaks of the earth hanging upon nothing (Job 26:7). This point also comports with our present understanding of centripetal and centrifugal force.

Paul likewise writes that "star differs from star in glory," thus confirming what we know today about the variegated celestial bodies that comprise part of God's creation. (See 1 Cor 15:41.)

With the foregoing in mind, I must say that the apostolic use of EN ATOMWi in 1 Cor 15:52 has me somewhat perplexed. After all, do not the words recorded in this account imply or explicitly say that an atom (as was thought in ancient times) is indivisible?

According to BDAG, ATOMOS basically means "uncut" or indivisible. Moreover, the term is used of an entity "that is viewed as such a unit that it cannot be cut, esp. because of the smallness (e.g. particle of matter, uncompounded word) indivisible . .
."

Aristotle uses the phrase EN ATOMWi when referring to time (see Phys. 236a, 6).

I don't want to imply that this question is about to make me stumble. But I just wanted to see if others have noticed this point before. Modern-day physics has taught us that atoms can undergo both fission and fusion. Atoms are evidently not indivisible since physicists now write about particles known as quarks that are more basic than atoms.

IMHO, the definition was appropriate for first century minds or for ancient thinkers like Epicurus or Democritus, who were not aware of the atom's ability to undergo nuclear fission or fusion. Even moderns had to learn progressively that the atom is in fact reducible to smaller constituents. Moreover, the Greek ATOMOS seems to have more to do with the putative inability of an atom to be divided than with its "size."

Thanks for your consideration,
Edgar

Friday, October 11, 2013

Logical and Scientific Proof for God's Existence

From time to time, I receive queries about the subject of God's existence. My correspondents want to know what logical and scientific proof there is for God's existence.

Most intellectuals throughout history (especially before the modern period) likely have believed in God. An author named Max Fishler wrote a book on this very subject many years ago. Examples of theistic philosophers include Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Georg Hegel, Immanuel Kant, and Soren Kierkegaard.

The philosophical (logical) evidence for God's existence is multifaceted. There have been numerous arguments put forward to prove there is a Supreme Being. But keep in mind that philosophical arguments generally are not apodictic (i.e. irrefutable or incontrovertible). No logical argument is airtight: fault can be found with almost every line of reasoning proferred. But Thomas Aquinas advanced the cosmological argument for the existence of God. See his Summa Theologica.

Aristotle sets forth proof for God's existence in his work Metaphysics (book 12). There is also the Kalam cosmological argument posited by the medieval Islamic philosophers and (in our time) by William Lane Craig.

The Kalam approach could be formulated this way: A) Everything that begins to exist has a cause; B) The universe began to exist; C) Therefore, the universe has a cause. Of course, the argument becomes lengthy and complex, so I merely give you the following as an example.

I believe there is scientific evidence that points toward the existence of God. I'm reading a complex book now that uses new insights from physics to argue for God's existence. One example is the second law of thermodynamics, which suggests that the universe has not always obtained. How did it come into existence? What is the most reasonable explanation? Additionally, the fine-tuning of cosmological constants might suggest that some intelligent entity made the precision of these constants possible. For example, the ratio of gases in the earth's atmosphere or the earth's tilt. Stephen Barr has written an interesting work on the relationship between faith and physics.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Quote from Miroslav Volf on Divine Gender

"The ontologization of gender would ill serve both the notion of God and the understanding of gender. Nothing in God is specifically feminine; nothing in God is specifically masculine . . ." (Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace, 171-173).

Different Theories of Mind

1. Materialism (only brain states exist)

2. Functionalism (software/hardware analogy of mind). Hilary Putnam used to be a functionalist.

3. Eliminative Materialism (brain states only with no emotions, beliefs or desires)

4. Biological Naturalism (consciousness arises from neurobiological processes)

5. Absolute Idealism (ideas constitute the fabric of reality)

6. Subjective Idealism (only ideas, minds and not matter--God makes sure that things are perceptible)

7. Occasionalism (God causes our thoughts and bodily motions to coincide: the deity is the only cause of our actions)

8. Substance Dualism (res extensa and res cogitans: Descartes says he is the latter rather than the former)

⃰Substance dualism allows for the possibility of disembodied existence as a thinking thing.

Granted, there seems to be a difference between physical and mental properties (warmth and feelings of warmth).

The mind-body problem thus arises. It revolves around causal interaction (hammer hits thumb, I feel pain or enough beer goes down my throat and I feel euphoric). How can something mental exert causal force on a physical entity or vice versa?

Friday, September 27, 2013

APO (PRO) KATABOLHS KOSMOU-The World's Founding

Here are some thoughts on the world's founding.

For KATABOLH, BDAG Greek-English Lexicon has:

(1) "the act of laying someth[ing] down, with implication of providing a base for someth[ing], foundation"

and

(2) "a [technical term] for the sowing of seed, used of begetting" (page 515).

Therefore, I'd say that KATABOLH potentially means "foundation" or in certain contexts may have that meaning (sense).

David Aune notes that the formula PRO KATABOLHS KOSMOU "uses the act of creation as a protological reference point in a variety of ways" while he also remarks that Barnabas 5:5 quotes Gen 1:26. It's an allusion which has the effect of "connecting the formula [APO KATABOLHS KOSMOU] with the creative events narrated in Gen 1:3-25" (See the Word Bible Commentary series, Vol. 52B:748).

Aune again writes that the formula APO (PRO) KATABOLHS KOSMOU is employed in five ways by NT or Christian writers. He says that Lk 11:50 illustrates how the formula refers to "events occurring since the beginning of history" (Vol. 52B:748).

Hb 4:3, according to Aune, speaks of "the creation of the universe." But I believe this verse is particularly referring to the time period after Adam and Eve's creation. Either way, I do not see how the Witness belief in the world's founding is a stretch.

N.B. Aune obviously does not concur with the Witness interpretation of matters. But even he has to admit that Lk 11:50 speaks of a historical event. However we understand the phrase APO (PRO) KATABOLHS KOSMOU, I think Mounce rightly observes that Rev 13:8; 17:8 do not teach determinism when they employ such language:

"Those that dwell upon the earth stand in awe when they behold the beast. They are those whose names have not been written in the book of life (Cf Ps 69:28; Isa 4:3; Rev 3:5) from the foundation of the world. John is not teaching a form of determinism (according to 3:5 names may be blotted out of the book of life), but emphasizing the great distinction that exists between the followers of the Lamb and those who give allegiance to the beast" (Bill Mounce, Revelation, pages 312-313).

Even Aune finds certain readings of both apocalyptic passages hard to swallow and submits that they have likely undergone redaction, which explains the present negative formulations found in Revelation 13:8; 17:8.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Brief Review of Luke Timothy Johnson's "The Real Jesus"

Luke Timothy Johnson's work The Real Jesus focuses on certain twentieth century attempts to locate Jesus of Nazareth in human history via critical methodologies. While Johnson primarily takes the Jesus Seminar to task for its "ersatz" scholarship, he also refuses to tread lightly on the sophisticated discussions produced by Catholics John Meier and Raymond E. Brown. Overall, Johnson's book is an authentic thought provoking page-turner. His comments on the current state of biblical scholarship in the academy are insightful and revealing. For instance, those who strike out in a quest for the "historical Jesus," who is distinguished from the "Christ of faith" seem to assume that there is a metaphysical dichotomy between objective facts and subjective values. History supposedly fits into the former category: it is putatively value-free and objective. Johnson, however, argues that "History is . . . the product of human intelligence and imagination" (page 81). The upshot of Johnson's analysis is that one can no more find the "real Jesus" by employing the tools of historical criticism than one can discover the "real Socrates" by examining so-called historical accounts of his life. History is not simply the objective recounting of events.

Not only is Johnson apprehensive when it comes to Kantian bifurcations, but he also notes that the Jesus Seminar and other modern scholars who have accepted the basic premises of historical criticism fail to adequately critique the limit and extent of human cognition. They subsequently disregard anything that cannot be grasped by human conceptual tools, things that can be dubbed "intellectual." Johnson warns that this approach is fraught with epistemic perils since the methodology sets aside miracles from the outset. By ruling out miracles ab initio, the means of detecting truth in the Biblical materials is inherently limited and proves to be unfit for hermeneutical tasks.

http://www.amazon.com/Real-Jesus-Misguided-Historical-Traditional/dp/0060641665/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379627324&sr=1-1&keywords=luke+timothy+johnson+real+jesus

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Meaning of Ephesians 1:4

Ephesians 1:4: "according as He did choose us in him before the foundation of the world, for our being holy and unblemished before Him, in love" (YLT)

The Pulpit Commentary states: "The Father chose the heirs of salvation, selected those who were to be quickened from the dead (Ephesians 2:1) and saved, they [sic] chose them in Christ - in connection with his work and office as Mediator, giving them to him to be re-decreed (John 17:11, 12); not after man was created, nor after man had fallen, but 'before the foundation of the world.' We are here face to face with a profound mystery. Before even the world was founded, mankind presented themselves to God as lost; the work of redemption was planned and its details arranged from all eternity. Before such a mystery it becomes us to put the shoes from off our feet, and bow reverently before him whose 'judgments are unsearchable and his ways past finding out.'"

MY RESPONSE: Nevertheless, I believe that a number of exegetes today explain Eph 1:4 as applicable to a group of people, to wit, the elect--and not to individuals composing that group. In other words, God knows that some will accept His offer of salvation and others will reject it. But the Supreme One wills that all humans be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4). Men and women are therefore not passive objects (pawns) in the divine work of salvation: we are free to choose God or spurn Him (Heb 3:12-14). Ergo, God, since He evidently knows all that it is possible to know, is aware that there is an indeterminately numbered group of persons who will respond to His free unmerited gift. So He either chooses not to know or knows as indeterminate the decision that men and women will make vis-à-vis His glorious Person and offer of salvation. My understanding of omniscience is consistent with that of Richard Swinburne who thinks of God in these terms:

"A person P is omniscient at a time t if and only if he knows of every true proposition about t or an earlier time that it is true and also he knows of every true proposition about a time later than t, such that what is [sic] reports is physically necessitated by some cause at t or earlier, that it is true" (Swinburne, 1977, 175).

See http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/eternity/

Justin Martyr and Eternal Torments (from Βασίλειος)

Βασίλειος writes:

I think I can offer all the citations. Yet it may be better if Edgar makes a new post for the specific topic.

For Justin: I have read the entire work of Justin and I don't remember anywhere his saying that there would be eternal torments. He speaks of torments after death until the final judgmenet, which is the end of the Millenium, and then utter distruction. In his 1st Apology, he speaks of the immortality of the soul, but he doesn't say that all souls are immortal. The rest of his works shows that only the souls of the faithfull can be considered as immortal because of the kidness of God. The fate of the wicked souls is evident here:

"'But I do not say, indeed, that all souls die; for that were truly a piece of good fortune to the evil. What then? The souls of the pious remain in a better place, while those of the unjust and wicked are in a worse, waiting for the time of judgment. Thus some which have appeared worthy of God never die; but others are punished so long as God wills them to exist and to be punished.'
"'Is what you say, then, of a like nature with that which Plato in Timoeus hints about the world, when he says that it is indeed subject to decay, inasmuch as it has been created, but that it will neither be dissolved nor meet with the fate of death on account of the will of God? Does it seem to you the very same can be said of the soul, and generally of all things? For those things which exist after God, or shall at any time exist, these have the nature of decay, and are such as may be blotted out and cease to exist; for God alone is unbegotten and incorruptible, and therefore He is God, but all other things after Him are created and corruptible. For this reason souls both die and are punished […].
CHAPTER VI -- THESE THINGS WERE UNKNOWN TO PLATO AND OTHER PHILOSOPHERS.
"'It makes no matter to me,' said he, 'whether Plato or Pythagoras, or, in short, any other man held such opinions. For the truth is so; and you would perceive it from this. The soul assuredly is or has life. If, then, it is life, it would cause something else, and not itself, to live, even as motion would move something else than itself. Now, that the soul lives, no one would deny. But if it lives, it lives not as being life, but as the partaker of life; but that which partakes of anything, is different from that of which it does partake. Now the soul partakes of life, since God wills it to live. Thus, then, it will not even partake [of life] when God does not will it to live. For to live is not its attribute, as it is God's; but as a man does not live always, and the soul is not for ever conjoined with the body, since, whenever this harmony must be broken up, the soul leaves the body, and the man exists no longer; even so, whenever the soul must cease to exist, the spirit of life is removed from it, and there is no more soul, but it goes back to the place from whence it was taken.'—Dialogue with Trypho, V-VI.


Wherefore God delays causing the confusion and destruction of the whole world, by which the wicked angels and demons and men shall cease to exist, because of the seed of the Christians, who know that they are the cause of preservation in nature. Since, if it were not so, it would not have been possible for you to do these things, and to be impelled by evil spirits; but the fire of judgment would descend and utterly dissolve all things, even as formerly the flood left no one but him only with his family who is by us called Noah, and by you Deucalion, from whom again such vast numbers have sprung, some of them evil and others good. For so we say that there will be the conflagration, but not as the Stoics, according to their doctrine of all things being changed into one another, which seems most degrading.—Apology 2, VII

Friday, September 13, 2013

Admin Matters

I appreciate all who follow this blog. There have been times when I have been ready to quit blogging, but the readers have kept me going. I've been busy lately, so I have not had time to answer many questions. I do plan to address some recent comments that have been posted here, however. I also just ask that comments be made under the appropriate threads. I sometimes flex this rule. But it will be more strictly enforced in the future.

Thanks again!

Edgar

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

H. F. D. Sparks Commenting on The Assumption of Moses

The following quote is taken from the book The Apocryphal Old Testament
Published in print February 1985 | ISBN: 9780198261773

Published online April 2009. This work is made available by Oxford Biblical Studies Online. See http://oxfordindex.oup.com/view/10.1093/obso/9780198261773.003.0012?rskey=qDCJ63&result=1&q=St%20Gelasius

The Assumption of Moses

The Assumption is preserved only in an incomplete Latin version, which has survived as the underwriting on a single quire of a 6th or 7th cent. palimpsest in the Ambrosian library at Milan (Cod. C73 Inf.). This palimpsest contains on other quires the Latin fragments of Jubilees and also fragments of an anonymous heretical commentary on St. Luke. The text was published by Ceriani in 1861 in the first fascicle of his Monumenta Sacra et Profana. Although the first three lines of the Assumption are unfortunately wanting, it seems that the work started at the beginning of the quire. But at the end the text breaks off in mid-sentence, and there are no means of knowing how much has been lost.

The MS itself gives the work no title. The common title, ‘The Assumption of Moses’, was inferred by Ceriani from the fact that Gelasius of Cyzicus, in his Collection of the Acts of the Council of Nicaea, quotes i. 14 and explicitly attributes it to the Assumption, 1 a work independently proved to have been known in the early Church from references in other patristic writers and from the ancient lists of apocryphal books.

Nevertheless, the identification is not certain. The lists mention a ‘Testament’ of Moses as well as an ‘Assumption’; and ‘Testament’ is a description that fits the contents of our fragment very well. Moreover, the lists all place the Testament before the Assumption. A variety of possibilities is therefore opened up. Three of them may be stated: (1) that our fragment is indeed the Assumption, as Ceriani inferred, and that the Testament either has been lost or is Jubilees under another name (this last hypothesis will explain why the fragments of Jubilees were found in such close proximity to our fragment in the same palimpsest); (2) that our fragment is the Testament and not the Assumption, and that Gelasius's ascription of i. 14 to the Assumption is due to confusion on his part between the two (in this case it is the Assumption which has been lost); and (3) that the Testament and the Assumption, originally two distinct works, were at an early date combined and subsequently circulated as the ‘Assumption’, and that it is the opening of this combined work which has been preserved in our fragment (this was Charles's view).

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Psalm 45 and PROSKUNEW (From "Christology and the Trinity"-Volume 1)

In the unparalleled and beautiful Messianic Psalm 45 (44 LXX), the Hebrew lyricist treats his readers to one of the greatest literary and spiritual accomplishments in human history. The psalmist proclaims that his words are heartfelt utterances about a king. His tongue consequently becomes like a writing instrument as he pictorially relates the beauty and glory of the Potentate that God supremely blesses (Ps 45:1, 2) for all eternity. This King is indeed mighty, prosperous and most capable of utterly annihilating his enemies in truth and righteousness as his weapons accurately penetrate the heart of his adversaries with incomprehensible precision (Ps 45:3-5).

As the psalmist continues delineating the royal activities of Yahweh's King, he goes into some detail describing the profuse and aromatic oils that emanate from the King's garments as his queenly consort stands at his right hand, while she too appears arrayed in exquisite and aromatic garments (Ps 45:10). Though this entire psalm is dramatic and quite telling, we must stop now in order to focus on Ps 45:11-12 (44:12, 13 LXX). This verse in the LXX reads: kai proskunesousin autos thugateres Tyrou en dorois to prosopon sou litaneusousin hoi plousioi tou laou.

The Hebrew text indicates that it is the queenly consort herself who should bow down to the King. Originally, the psalm evidently had reference to an anointed Judean king who sat upon the throne of Jehovah (1 Chron 29:23). It is a nuptial ode that scholars have associated with Solomon or with the wedding of Ahab (Buttenwieser 84-85). The psalm most certainly does not apply to a pagan king in its initial fulfillment, however, since it is YHWH who anoints the mighty King (Ps 45:8, 9). Knowing the possible identity of the King in the song's initial application is important, for this insight helps us to understand in what sense either the Maiden of Tyre or the queenly consort of the King is to render proskuneo to him.

While proskuneo in Ps 45:11-12 could certainly mean that the Maiden of Tyre or the queen worships the King, it is more likely the case that the song depicts the queen or the Maiden of Tyre simply bowing down to the King with great deference or respect. This point is especially clear in the LXX where the Maiden of Tyre seeks the King’s favor by means of expensive and very precious gifts (Buttenwieser 86). Thus, the psalmist's use of proskuneo does not seem to denote “worship,” but simply refers to a display of respect for a superior (God's royal Messiah whom He has anointed and blessed). The usage of proskuneo in Ps 45:11-12 appears to reflect that found in Mk 5:6 and other texts that involve Jesus (Jn 9:38). Compare Ralph Earle’s comments concerning Mk 5:6 in his Word Meanings in the New Testament.

Friday, August 30, 2013

John Hick Explains the Distinction Between BIOS and ZOH in Johannine Literature

"In Johannine terms, the movement from the image to the likeness [of God] is a transition from one level of existence, that of animal life(Bios), to another and higher level, that of eternal life(Zoe), which includes but transcends
the first. And the fall of man was seen by Irenaeus as a failure within the second phase of this creative process, a failure that has multiplied the perils and complicated the route of the journey in which God is seeking to lead mankind."

ZOH may include but transcend BIOS in the case of humans, but we would not apply the term BIOS to Jehovah, Christ or the angels (as well as the 144,000 who are raised from the dead). If it's correct to say that BIOS refers to "animal life" or biological organisms (as commonly understood) then God (or those spirits he has created) should not have the term BIOS applied to him. Elsewhere in the same work, Hick describes BIOS as "the biological life of man" [or animals] which is to be contrasted with ZOH.

See Hick's work here: http://mind.ucsd.edu/syllabi/02-03/01w/readings/hick.pdf

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Origen of Alexandria Believes That Jude Mentions "Assumption of Moses"

In De Principiis III.2.1, Origen writes:

"We have now to notice, agreeably to the statements of Scripture, how the opposing powers, or the devil himself, contends with the human race, inciting and instigating men to sin. And in the first place, in the book of Genesis, the serpent is described as having seduced Eve; regarding whom, in the work entitled The Ascension of Moses (a little treatise, of which the Apostle Jude makes mention in his Epistle), the archangel Michael, when disputing with the devil regarding the body of Moses, says that the serpent, being inspired by the devil, was the cause of Adam and Eve’s transgression."

Origen believed that Jude invoked The Ascension of Moses (also known as The Assumption of Moses) when he mentioned the Devil having a dispute with Michael over the body of Moses.

De Principiis is also called Peri Archon in Greek.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Matthew 24:30 (Sign of the Son of Man)

I'd like to quote what Donald Hagner writes (in his Word commentary concerning Matthew 14-28, pp. 713-714) and then make a few observations. Hagner points out:

"When Matthew introduces the reference to the appearance of TO SHMEION TOU hUIOU TOU ANQRWPOU EN OURANWi, 'the sign of the Son of Man in heaven,' with TOTE, 'then,' and introduces the following reference to the actual coming of the Son of Man with another TOTE, he makes it impossible to take the sign as either the phenomena in the sky of v 29 or as itself (as an appositional genitive) the coming of the Son of Man mentioned in the last half of the present verse [Mt 24:30] (contra Gundry; Bruner). Matthew thus apparently regards the appearing of the sign of the Son of Man as something independent of both, but if so, it is very difficult to know what he has in mind. It is obviously some further spectacular event that will by its conspicuousness alert the world to what immediately follows, the parousia itself (cf. the question of v 3). Possibly the 'sign' is the setting up of an 'ensign,' which is often mentioned (see, e.g., Isa 18:3; 49:22; Jer 4:21; 1 QM 2:15-4:17) together with a trumpet call (thus Glasson, Schweizer, Hill)."

As you can see, Hagner thinks that it is impossible for the genitival construction in Mt 24:30 to be appositional in view of the way Matthew employs TOTE. After all, the apostle writes:

KAI TOTE FANHSETAI TO SHMEION TOU hUIOU TOU ANQRWPOU EN OURANWi KAI TOTE KOYONTAI PASAI hAI FULAI THS GHS KAI OYONTAI TON hUION TOU ANQRWPOU ERXOMENON EPI TWN NEFELWN TOU OURANOU META DUNAMEWS KAI DOXHS POLLHS.

According to BDAG(PAGE 1012), TOTE in Mt 24:30 introduces that which follows in time. And not only do we have TOTE in 24:30, but KAI TOTE, "and then." At any rate, we are dealing with a portrayal of subsequent events in Mt 24:30. Matthew thus outlines the Son of Man's "appearance" by using TOTE as follows:

(1) Heavenly phenomena occurs (Mt 24:29).
(2) And then (KAI TOTE), the sign of the Son of Man
appears in heaven.
(3) And then (subsequent to this phenomenon) all the
tribes of the earth beat themselves in grief and they
see the Son of Man's coming.

Of course, I'm willing to hear what others have to say about this matter, but Hagner's explanation makes sense to me (which is not to say I think he's correct). I also recommend that you consult BDAG for more on SHMEION. For an interesting and helpful discussion of Mark's eschatological account (Mk 13:24-27), see GRB Murray's Jesus and the Last Days (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1993), pp. 427-432.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Prophet Isaiah Could Have been Sawn Asunder

"On account of these visions, therefore, Beliar was wroth with Isaiah, and he dwelt in the heart of Manasseh and he sawed him in sunder with a wooden saw. And when Isaiah was being sawn in sunder, Belchira stood up, accusing him, and all the false prophets stood up, laughing and rejoicing because of Isaiah" (The Ascension of Isaiah 5:1-2).

See http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/ascension.html

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sexism? Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and Others

Donald Bloesch (Is the Bible Sexist?, pages 94-95) thinks that "later Judaism" manifested an increasingly coarse attitude toward women as indicated by daily prayers like "I thank thee, O Lord, that thou hast not created me a woman." However, this disposition apparently was not limited to ancient Jews since Augustine of Hippo believes that man, not woman, is the image and glory of God, Ambrosiaster likewise considers women inferior to men and even Thomas Aquinas evidently thinks that women are (in one sense) defective males in whom reason evidently does not predominate. Of course, I've read articles that try to ameliorate Thomas' position. However, such arguments don't seem all that convincing in light of the ST 1.91.1, Reply 1:

"As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence; such as that of a south wind, which is moist, as the Philosopher observes (De Gener. Animal. iv, 2)."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Must a Person Believe in the Trinity Doctrine to be Counted a Christian?

"The church is the community and a Christian is someone who, when the identity of God is important, names him 'Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.' Those who do not or will not belong to some other community" (Robert Jenson, Systematic Theology, 1:46).

Monday, August 19, 2013

Did Tertullian Move Toward Heresy?

Was Tertullian really a heretic by the prevailing (orthodox) standards of his day and those standards which obtained a century or so later? Interestingly, a number of scholars are now answering this question with a resounding "nay!"

One powerful line of evidence that suggests Tertullian never stopped being "catholic" is the fact that (for a time) Cyprian of Carthage evidently read nothing but the works of Tertullian. He in fact called him "the master" and tried to emulate his approach vis-à-vis theological and salvific issues (Vide Jerome, De Viris Illustribus, Chapter 53).

Yet there are other lines of evidence that indicate Tertullian, by the standards of orthodoxy prevailing during his time and shortly thereafter, was not a heretic.

T. Barnes writes: "Tertullian's later writings receive abuse and condemnation in subsequent ages. Many of the charges are unmerited"(83). He concludes that Tertullian was bold enough to sound forth an "unpalatable truth," namely, that "the church is not a conclave of bishops" but functions as the ordained locus of the Holy Spirit. In other words, where the Spirit of God is, there is the church (Ibid., 83-84). Cf. Pudicitia 21.17:

"And accordingly 'the Church,' it is true, will forgive sins: but (it will be) the Church of the Spirit, by means of a spiritual man; not the Church which consists of a number of bishops (ecclesia spiritus per spiritalem hominem, non ecclesia numerus episcoporum). For the right and arbitrament is the Lord's, not the servant's; God's Himself, not the priest's."

William Tabbernee believes it is "highly unlikely" that Tertullian "ever separated from the catholic church at all." He also argues that the fiery Carthaginian surely did not found the group known as the Tertullianists, a post-Montanist sect (475-476). While Tertullian's works are supposedly condemned by Pope Gelasius in the Decretum Gelasianum, patristic scholars note that this document could be forged (Cf. J. Quasten).

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Matthew 24:48 and EAN DE EIPHi

One point to consider about the construction in Matthew 24:48 is that Jesus doesn't technically say that the "evil slave" will begin to think his master is delaying or that he will beat his fellow servants, etc. Rather, Matthew uses ἐὰν δὲ εἴπῃ which means that we have a third class conditional in 24:48.

Richard A. Young states that a speaker/writer who employs the third class conditional thinks that it has the prospect of coming to fruition, but the outcome is left undetermined. See https://bible.org/article/second-thoughts-first-and-third-class-conditions-some-exegetical-distinctions for more information on these kind of conditionals in Greek.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Does Tertullian Clearly Distinguish the Persons of the Trinity?

Certain ecclesiastical historians (Jean Danielou and Jaroslav Pelikan) have argued that Tertullian possibly does not distinguish the three Persons of the Trinity, as one might expect, if he was really a Trinitarian qua Trinitarian. Reading Adv Praxean 12, I think they might be right. It says:

"If you are still offended by the plurality of the Trinity, on the ground that it is not combined in simple unity, I ask you how it, is that one only single speaks in the plural, Let us make man after our image and likeness,1 when he ought to have said, Let me make man after my image and likeness, as being one only single . Also in what follows, Behold, Adam is become as one of us, he is deceptive or joking in speaking in the plural while being one and alone and singular. Or was he speaking to the angels, as the Jews explain it, because they, like you, do not recognise the Son? Or, because he was himself father-son-spirit, did he for that reason make himself plural and speak to himself in the plural? Nay rather, because there already was attached to him the Son, a second Person, his Word, and a third Person, the Spirit in the Word, for that reason he spoke in the plural, Let us make, and Our, and Of us."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Aquinas Believes That Christ Still Has His Fleshly Body

Thomas Aquinas writes:

Christ's body in the Resurrection was "of the same nature, but differed in glory." Accordingly, whatever goes with the nature of a human body, was entirely in the body of Christ when He rose again. Now it is clear that flesh, bones, blood, and other such things, are of the very nature of the human body. Consequently, all these things were in Christ's body when He rose again; and this also integrally, without any diminution; otherwise it would not have been a complete resurrection, if whatever was lost by death had not been restored. Hence our Lord assured His faithful ones by saying (Mat. 10:30): "The very hairs of your head are all numbered": and (Lk. 21:18): "A hair of your head shall not perish."

But to say that Christ's body had neither flesh, nor bones, nor the other natural parts of a human body, belongs to the error of Eutyches, Bishop of Constantinople, who maintained that "our body in that glory of the resurrection will be impalpable, and more subtle than wind and air: and that our Lord, after the hearts of the disciples who handled Him were confirmed, brought back to subtlety whatever could be handled in Him" [St. Gregory, Moral. in Job 14:56]. Now Gregory condemns this in the same book, because Christ's body was not changed after the Resurrection, according to Rom. 6:9: "Christ rising from the dead, dieth now no more." Accordingly, the very man who had said these things, himself retracted them at his death. For, if it be unbecoming for Christ to take a body of another nature in His conception, a heavenly one for instance, as Valentine asserted, it is much more unbecoming for Him at His Resurrection to resume a body of another nature, because in His Resurrection He resumed unto an everlasting life, the body which in His conception He had assumed to a mortal life.

See Summa Theologica (Tertia Pars, Quest. 54, Art. 3)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hebrews 10:26-31

The wording, "after having received the accurate knowledge [τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν τῆς ἀληθείας] of the truth," is evidently a reference to Christians and apparently encompasses more than just a knowledge of Christ's atoning sacrifice. Such knowledge as spoken of in Epistle to the Hebrews actually entails an intimate acquaintance with many details regarding the Christian faith. The writer of Hebrews certainly does not have unbelievers--ones who have merely been presented with the Gospel--in mind; he is talking about believers, who accurately (i.e. fully and deeply) come to know the truth about God and Christ, then reject such knowledge because they develop a wicked heart lacking faith (Heb 3:12). It is important to note that the author of Hebrews is referring to those who willingly and persistently sin. He is not talking about those Christians who commit transgressions out of ignorance:

"Apostasy can only occur μετὰ τὸ λαβεῖν . . . a condition which is explained in detail in chap. 6 [of Hebrews]. Without this preceding knowledge of the covenant its willful repudiation is impossible. Those spoken of in ver. 25, as having abandoned meeting with their fellow Christians, and possibly as having neglected, if not renounced, the confession of their hope, were perhaps alluded to here, as on their way to apostasy. They are warned that they are drifting into an irredeemable condition, for to those who have repudiated and keep repudiating the one sacrifice of Christ, οὐκέτι περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ἀπολείπεται θυσία"(Expositor's Greek Testament 4:348).

"It is most important here to keep this cardinal point distinctly in mind; that the Ἐκουσίως ἁμαρτάνοντες are not mere professors of religion, but real converts, or else ver. [Heb 10:29] becomes unintelligible . . ." (Alford's Greek Testament 4:199).

The text is more intelligible if we interpret Heb 10:29 as a reference to a hypothetical apostate Christian. Notice that the writer also uses ἡμῶν in 10:26. How could he be
referring to non-Christians or those who have simply been exposed to the Gospel since he employs ἡμῶν?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Differences Between the Great Crowd and the 144,000

Firstly, the 144,000 are said to hail from the 12 tribes of Israel, and they have a definite number; conversely, the "great multitude" comes from all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues and they cannot be numbered. Granted, the kings and priests of Revelation 5:9-10 are said to come from diverse backgrounds too. But it seems odd for John to describe the 144,000 as Israelites in Revelation 7:1-8, then do a literary flip, as it were, and talk about the 144,000 as an indefinite and uncountable group from all tribes, etc.

While there are certainly differing scholarly views of Revelation 7:9, Robert L. Thomas thinks that META TAUTA EIDON "indicates a vision that is distinct from the preceding one" of Revelation 7:1-8. Furthermore, he reasons that the 144,000 and the great multitude cannot be the same group since "The earlier one was numbered, but this one is innumerable. One is exclusively Jews, the other is not. One is facing a period of wrath, the other has been delivered from it (Beckwith; Scott). This multitude includes far more than the 144,000" (Thomas, Revelation 1-7, page 484).

It has been suggested that the great multitude could be a heavenly group. Regardless of that debate, I just find it hard to believe that the multitude is numerically identical with the 144,000. Numerical identity is a concept that tries to explain what it means for two objects (A and B) to be the same. For instance, if the apostle named Paul who lived during the first century is numerically identical with the apostle of the same name resurrected to heaven by God, then the two "Pauls" are the same person. The above mentioned principle would similarly apply to the 144,000 and the great multitude, if they are numerically identical. But it's highly doubtful that they constitute the same (numerically identical) group.

The Constitutions of the Holy Apostles on Acts 7:56

to Him that has given us Himself for an earnest of the resurrection; who was taken up into the heavens by the power of His God and Father in our sight, who ate and drank with Him for forty days after He arose from the dead; who is sat down on the right hand of the throne of the majesty of Almighty God upon the cherubim; to whom it was said, "Sit Thou on my right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool;" whom the most blessed Stephen saw standing at the right hand of power, and cried out, and said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God," as the High Priest of all the rational orders,—through Him, worship, and majesty, and glory be given to Almighty God, both now and for evermore. Amen.

Constitutions of the Holy Apostles VI.6.30

Friday, August 09, 2013

More Comments on John 6:49 (Died in the Wilderness)

I wanted to get these comments all in one place:

Jamison, Fausset and Brown explain John 6:49 thus:

"recurring to their own point about the manna, as one of the noblest of the ordained preparatory illustrations of His own office: 'Your fathers, ye say, ate manna in the wilderness; and ye say well, for so they did, but they are dead—even they whose carcasses fell in the wilderness did eat of that bread; the Bread whereof I speak cometh down from heaven, which the manna never did, that men, eating of it, may live for ever.'"

Clarke's Commentary on the Bible also makes this observation:

"It was an opinion of the Jews themselves that their fathers, who perished in the wilderness, should never have a resurrection. Our Lord takes them on their own ground: Ye acknowledge that your fathers who fell in the wilderness shall never have a resurrection; and yet they ate of the manna: therefore that manna is not the bread that preserves to everlasting life, according even to your own concession."

William Milligan and William Moulton (in their commentary on John) point out that Jesus' mention of the wilderness (John 6:49) is not accidental. It calls to mind verses like Numbers 14:35, which indicate that the wilderness was the place of disobedience and where obstinate men perished. Specifically, they write:

Ver. 49. Your fathers did eat the manna in the wilder ness, and died. No other bread has given life eternal. Even the manna, the bread given out of heaven, did not bestow life on their fathers, who (as the people themselves had said) ate the manna in the wilderness. It seems very probable that the addition 'in the wil derness' is more than a mere repetition of the words of ver. 31. It recalls Num. 14: 35; Ps. 95: 8-11, and other passages, in which 'the wilderness' is specially mentioned as the scene of disobedience and of death ; and thus the fathers, who (Deut. 1 : 32) ' did not believe the Lord ' and died, are contrasted with the believer who ' hath eternal life' (ver. 47). Ver. 50.

MY RESPONSE: It seems to me that Jesus' remarks in 6:31 actually follow the request in 6:28 which is premised upon the requisite works that please God. They asked for a sign because Jesus claimed to be the one God had sent (6:29). They may or may not have perceived a link between Jesus' utterance and Daniel 7:13-14. Either way, I don't see how death as punishment cannot be the issue. The "death in the wilderness" motif is cited in 1 Corinthians 10:3-5; Hebrews 3:17. Even Jude 5 refers to those males who died in the wilderness despite eating manna.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Notes on 2 Corinthians 3:18

Text: ἡμεῖς δὲ πάντες ἀνακεκαλυμμένῳ προσώπῳ τὴν δόξαν κυρίου κατοπτριζόμενοι τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα μεταμορφούμεθα ἀπὸ δόξης εἰς δόξαν καθάπερ ἀπὸ κυρίου πνεύματος (2 Corinthians 3:18 W-H with Diacritics).

1. ἀνακεκαλυμμένῳ-Perfect participle passive voice. See 2 Corinthians 3:14. Dative of manner ("with unveiled face"). See Zerwick, Grammatical Analysis, page 540; Biblical Greek Illustrated by Examples (sec. 60).

2. κατοπτριζόμενοι-"Present middle participle of κατοπτρίζω, late verb from κάτοπτρον, mirror (κατά, οπτρον, a thing to see with). In Philo (Legis Alleg. iii. 33) the word means beholding as in a mirror and that idea suits also the figure in 1 Co 13:12. There is an inscription of third century B.C. with EGKATOPTRISASQAI EIS TO hUDWR, to look at one's reflection in the water. Plutarch uses the active for mirroring or reflecting and Chrysostom takes it so here. Either makes good sense" (Robertson's Word Pictures).

3. κατοπτριζόμενοι, "the present middle participle of κατοπτρίζω (only here in NT). In the middle it means 'to reflect as a mirror' (A-S, p. 242). Since they did not have glass mirrors (only bronze) in Paul's day, 'glass' [KJV] is incorrect" (Word Meanings in the NT, 251).

4. ἀπὸ δόξης εἰς δόξαν-"The idea in the phrase before us is; that there is a continual increase of moral purity and holiness under the gospel until it results in the perfect glory of heaven" (Barnes Notes on the Bible).

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Robertson and Vincent on 1 Corinthians 11:7

Taken from Robertson's Word Pictures

The image and glory of God (εικων και δοχα τεου — eikōn kai doxa theou). Anarthrous substantives, but definite. Reference to Genesis 1:27 whereby man is made directly in the image (εικων — eikōn) of God. It is the moral likeness of God, not any bodily resemblance. Ellicott notes that man is the glory (δοχα — doxa) of God as the crown of creation and as endowed with sovereignty like God himself.

The glory of the man (δοχα ανδρος — doxa andros). Anarthrous also, man‘s glory. In Genesis 2:26 the lxx has αντρωπος — anthrōpos (Greek word for both male and female), not ανηρ — anēr (male) as here. But the woman (γυνη — gunē) was formed from the man (ανηρ — anēr) and this priority of the male (1 Corinthians 11:8) gives a certain superiority to the male. On the other hand, it is equally logical to argue that woman is the crown and climax of all creation, being the last.

[END OF QUOTE]


Next, we read in Vincent's Word Studies:

Image and glory (εἰκὼν καὶ δόξα)

For image, see on Revelation 13:14. Man represents God's authority by his position as the ruler of the woman. In the case of the woman, the word image is omitted, although she, like the man, is the image of God. Paul is expounding the relation of the woman, not to God, but to man.

John 6:49 Meaning of the Wilderness and Death

Greek: οἱ πατέρες ὑμῶν ἔφαγον ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τὸ μάννα καὶ ἀπέθανον (WH with Diacritics)

"Your forefathers ate the manna in the Desert, and they died" (Weymouth NT).

"Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died" (NIV).

Theodore of Mopsuestia's commentary on this passage:

" 'Your fathers who ate manna,' he says, 'were not only not delivered from the sentence of death, but every last one of them in fact died in the wilderness, and not one of them was found worthy of entering the promised land. But whoever eats this food is freed from death."

See Commentary on the Gospel of John (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2010), p. 68.

Thomas Aquinas remarks similarly in his Commentary on John:

"Secondly, he mentions for how short a time this was done, saying, in the desert: for they were not given manna for a long period of time; and they had it only while in the desert, and not when they entered the promised land (Jos 5). But the other bread [from the true heaven] preserves and nourishes one forever. Thirdly, he states an inadequacy in that bread, that is, it did not preserve life without end; so he says, and they are dead. For we read in Joshua (c 5) that all who grumbled, except Joshua and Caleb, died in the desert. This was the reason for the second circumcision, as we see here, because all who had left Egypt died in the desert."

See http://dhspriory.org/thomas/John6.htm

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Irenaeus of Lyons Commenting on Exodus 33:19-22

‎"The prophets, therefore, did not openly behold the actual face of God, but [they saw] the dispensations and the mysteries through which man should afterwards see God" (Irenaeus, Against Heresies IV.20.10).

Then Irenaeus writes: "If, then, neither Moses, nor Elias, nor Ezekiel, who had all many celestial visions, did see God; but if what they did see were similitudes of the splendour of the Lord, and prophecies of things to come; it is manifest that the Father is indeed invisible, of whom also the Lord said, 'No man hath seen God at any time' " (Ibid. IV.20.11).

He's discussing Exodus 33:19-22. Interesting how he applies this text to the Father. Furthermore, when he quotes the Lord's words, evidently referring to John 1:18, he likewise applies these words to the Father.

Regards,

Edgar

Criticisms of C. F. Burney (Colossians 1:15 and the Midrashim)

C. F. Burney wrote an article that has garnered attention in some circles: "Christ as the APXH of Creation," JTS 27 (1926) 160–177.

This article submitted that Colossians 1:15 exposits the first word of Genesis 1:1 (doing so midrashically), but accomplishes this job indirectly by alluding to Proverbs 8:22.

[See also Jeffrey S. Lamp, "Wisdom in Col 1:15–20: Contribution and Significance," JETS 41/1 (March 1998) 45–53.]

While the scholarly community at large has spoken approvingly of Burney's thesis, as with other matters, not all concur with his overarching thesis:

"This thesis [of Burney's] would presuppose that the passage was an exegesis of the Hebrew text, but the insight that 1:15-20 is a citation of a Hellenistic Christian hymn does away with this assumption. Moreover, it cannot be carried through in particulars without the aid of artificial explanations, and it is not sufficient for comprehension of the whole context--for this would be necessary if ARXH (beginning) from the second strophe is to be included. For a critique, cf. Jervell, Imago Dei, p. 200, n. 107; Gabathuler, Jesus Christus, Haupt pt der Kirche, 26-29; Feuillet, Le Christ sagesse, 189-91" (Eduard Lohse, Colossians and Philemon, page 47).

What Lohse means with respect to the "hymn" of Colossians 1:15-20 is that if we do possibly have what amounts to a pre-Pauline hymn in these verses, then it would seem unlikely that Paul is explaining a Hebrew text (as Burney suggests) since the hymn would evidently have Hellenistic as opposed to Semitic textual roots. Moreover, other NT "hymns" like Philippians 2:5-11 or 1 Timothy 3:16 would also have Hellenistic origins. That's provided these passages are truly hymnic.

But another criticism I have of Burney's work is that I believe he committed what Carson would later call "exegetical fallacies." One such fallacy is known as illegitimate totality transfer (as James Barr labels it). Neither RESHITH nor ARXH probably have all the meanings in any one context of usage (USUS LOQUENDI) that Burney attributes to each term. It's usually fallacious to believe that language works that way.

I do not think that the Midrashim always or necessarily engage in positing several different meanings for one word in a determinate context. The Midrashim may offer commentary on different levels of meaning that a word or verse has, but they do not have to posit multiple senses for words used in concreto. What I am saying is that Burney suggests RESHITH/ARXH possibly mean (i.e. lexically denote) "in RESHITH" "by RESHITH" "into RESHITH" "beginning" "Sum-total" "head" and "firstfruits" all in one context. This approach seems to be an example of illegitimate totality transfer. Midrash as an explanatory approach does not commit the exegete to the so-called ILL. See Burney, p. 176-177 and http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/tmm/tmm07.htm

This post is urging that Burney is probably wrong in his analysis of RESHITH/ARXH because we now know that language generally does not operate in the way he contends. I do not even think that one who does Midrash is committed to the view that some Hebrew or Greek word in Scripture must bear multiple senses all at once within a given context.

I am not primarily trying to account for what the apostle Paul may or may not have done. My point is that it's usually fallacious to maintain that a word means S1, S2, S3, S4, S5, Sn in any given literary context where "S" represents a given "sense" for a particular sememe/morpheme/lexeme.











Thursday, August 01, 2013

Philo of Alexandria's Relationship with Greek Philosophy

Here are some points on Philo and Greek philosophy.

J. N. D. Kelly ("Early Christian Doctrines," page 20)
writes:

"Guided by the Middle Platonists he so much admired, Philo taught that God is utterly transcedent; He transcends even virtue, knowledge and absolute goodness and beauty, the eternal Forms which his revered master, Plato, had postulated. God is pure being (TO ONTWS ON), absolutely simple and self-sufficing, and can be described as 'without quality' (APOIOS)--which probably means that, by his transcendence, He cannot be included in any of the logical categories in which we classify finite beings."

From the illustrious historian of philosophy, F. Copleston ("A History of Philosophy: Greece and Rome"
Vol II: 202:

"Filled with admiration for the Greek philosophers Philo maintained that the same truth is to be found in both the Greek philosophy and Jewish Scriptures and tradition. While believing that the philosophers had made use of the Sacred Scriptures, he at the same time did not hesitate to interpret the Scriptures allegorically when he deemed it necessary."

See Philo, De Opificio Mundi 24-25.

"What is important, from the point of view of his metaphysic, is that he identifies the Logos with the Platonic world of Forms or archetypes, of which the sensible world is a copy" (Kelly, 21).

See http://www.amazon.com/Early-Christian-Doctrines-J-Kelly/dp/006064334X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375379504&sr=1-1&keywords=jnd+kelly+christian

http://www.amazon.com/History-Philosophy-Greece-Parts-Volumes/dp/B000MUNXJS/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375379540&sr=1-7&keywords=copleston+greece+rome

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Holy Angels of God

God's loyal angels are called "holy" and "elect."

"the Son of man also shall be ashamed of him, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels" (Mark 8:38; Rev. 14:10-12).

"I charge thee in the sight of God, and Christ Jesus, and the elect angels" (1 Tim. 5:21).

(both quotes are taken from the ASV)

Concerning 1 Tim. 5:21, Gordon Fee observes:

"The inclusion of the elect angels is unusual and serves to intensify the solemnity of the charge. Elect may either refer to the angels as the chosen ministers of God who carry out his will (Bernard) or serve as a contrast to the fallen angels (Kelly), probably the latter, given the context of judgment" (Fee, Gordon. 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus. P. 131).

When Jesus speaks of TWN AGGELWN TWN hAGIWN in Mark 8:38, he evidently means that the angels are "holy, set apart, sanctified, and consecrated" to God (Zodhiates). While we want to avoid what James Barr called "illegitimate totality transfer," I think that the aforementioned definitions of hAGIOS overlap with one another. The lingual sign HAGIOS points to the faithfulness and sinlessness (IMHO) of God's loyal angels. This holiness is derived, however, and not self-caused as is the holiness of God.

In the Similitudes, we also read:

"But you, having been strengthened by the HOLY Angel,and having obtained from Him such intercession, and not being slothful, why do not you ask of the Lord understanding, and receive it from Him?" (Sim. 5.4.2)

Thus, even in the patristic writings, the angels are recognized as being "holy."

The "little child" of Isaiah 11:6 (John Gill)

and a little child shall lead them;

Gill's remarks:
become through the grace of God so tractable, that they shall be led, guided, and governed by the ministers of the Gospel, Christ's babes and sucklings, to whom he reveals the great things of his Gospel, and out of whose mouths he ordains praise. Bohlius interprets this little child of Christ himself, by whom they should be led and directed, see ( Isaiah 9:6 ) and the following passages are referred to the times of the Messiah by the Jewish writers; and Maimonides in particular observes, that they are not to be understood literally, as if the custom and order of things in the world would cease, or that things would be renewed as at the creation, but in a parabolical and enigmatical sense; and interprets them of the Israelites dwelling safely among the wicked of the nations of the world, comparable to the wild beasts of the field. (This verse may apply to the future state when all things will be restored to their original state before man fell. By Adam's sin, death and bloodshed were introduced into the creation. ( Romans 5:12 ). In the final state these will be removed and the wild nature of animals become tame. Editor.)

Interesting thought. Scholars debate whether the description in Isaiah is symbolic or literal.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Another Dissertation on The Johannine Comma

See https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/16486

It's a doctoral thesis that is under embargo until 8-15-2013. So there's limited access for now.

Regards,

Edgar

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Is It Possible for a Unipersonal Being to Love Himself?

My response to Trinitarians who argue that since God is eternally love, he must be triune is the command quoted in Mt 22:39, namely, "You must love your neighbor as yourself."

I concede that God did not become love but IS love eternally [or everlastingly] (1 Jn 4:8): love is Jehovah's essence or nature, as the "Draw Close to Jehovah" book points out. Ergo, why can't a non-created unipersonal being, who is everlasting love, love Himself prior to loving anyone else? If the unipersonal God of the Bible has
always loved Himself, then He has supremely loved the One who is worthy of being supremely adored.

And if I can become a (quasi) object by conducting a rationally inward form of discourse with myself, then why can't the unipersonal God of the Bible make Himself the supreme object by loving Himself as He loves others whom He has created? It seems to me that before I direct my affections toward a particular beloved entity (i.e. an external and
alterior personal object like my son or wife) in a scripturally proper way, I must first have proper love for myself.

Friday, July 19, 2013

How Should We Understand 1 Peter 4:14?

I will now post what I have found concerning the syntax of 1 Peter 4:14:

MAKARIOI hOTI TO THS DOXHS KAI TO TOU QEOU PNEUMA EF' hUMAS ANAPAUETAI.

Most works that I've referenced focus on the two occurrences of the definite article TO in this passage.

"The articles [TO . . . TO] relate the modifiers THS DOXHS and TOU QEOU to PNEUMA" (Brooks and Winberry, Syntax of NT Greek, p. 79).

This book on Greek syntax suggests the rendering, "The Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God rests upon you."

Norman Hillyer (1 and 2 Peter, Jude, p. 135) thinks that the construction TO THS DOXHS KAI TO TOU QEOU PNEUMA is an example of hendiadys that should be rendered, "the glorious divine Spirit." Hillyer also believes there is a clear example of hendiadys in 1 Pet 2:25. Most works that I've consulted, however, do not construe the syntax in 1 Pet 4:14 as Hillyer does.

Concerning the textual issues surrounding 1 Peter 4:14, Bruce Metzger states:

"After DOXHS a considerable number of witnesses, some of them early, read KAI DUNAMEWS. The words are suitable to the context, but their absence in such diversified witnesses as P72 B K Psi 049 330 Tertullian Ephraem Cyril Fulgentius al, and the fact that those that have the addition present it in somewhat different forms, sufficiently condemn all of them as homiletic supplements to the original text" (A Textual Commentary on the GNT, p. 624-625).

A. T. Robertson (A Grammar of the Greek NT, p. 767) notes that when Peter writes TO THS DOXHS, it is an elliptical construction, in which PNEUMA is to be understood (i.e. "the spirit of glory").

One other thought that occurred to me is the likelihood that the construction in 1 Pet 4:14 that we've been discussing is a genitive of apposition.

Concerning the genitive of apposition, Richard A. Young writes:

"The genitive of apposition explains or identifies the head noun, giving more specific information. The genitive of apposition is unusual in that the head noun does not have to be in the genitive case. Apposition can be made clear in English by using 'namely,' 'that is,' or 'which is.' This is sometimes called the epexegetic genitive" (p. 39).

Examples of the genitive of apposition are Jn 2:19; 2 Cor 1:22; 5:5.

1 Peter 4:14 could be a genitive of apposition. I'd be willing to entertain any opposing views, however.

In answer to my challenge, someone wrote:

"Doesn't a genitive of apposition usually has the
'[article] noun [article] noun' form?"

MY RESPONSE:

I'm not aware of any such restriction regarding genitives of apposition. Wallace lists Romans 4:11 as an
example of a genitive of appoposition and it has KAI SHMEION ELABEN PERITOMHS SFRAGIDA THS DIAKAIOSUNHS THS PISTEWS THS EN THi AKROBUSTIA EIS TO EINAI AUTON PATERA PANTWN TWN PISTEUONTWN DI' AKROBUSTIAS EIS TO LOGISQHNAI AUTOIS THN DIKAIOSUNHN

Nevertheless, I no longer think that 1 Pet 4:14 might be a genitive of apposition in view of the way Peter no doubt utilizes KAI in the text. KAI is probably ascensive here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

One Link to My Dissertation: Metaphor and Divine Paternity

See http://www.scribd.com/doc/118352057/Metaphor-and-divine-paternity

Regards,

Edgar

Dissertation on How Deuteronomy Portrays Divine Paternity

http://digital.library.sbts.edu/handle/10392/365?show=full

Description: This study investigates the literary and theological context of Deuteronomy 32, 1, 8, and 14 (in that order) where the fatherhood of God is revealed. Subsequently, it discusses the structure and genre of each chapter. Finally, it analyzes the verses in their context that speak of God as the father of Israel (Deut 32:6, 18; 1:31; 8:5; 14:1-2).

Chapter 4 logically begins with Deuteronomy 32, for there it reveals Yahweh as the progenitor of Israel. Moreover, it is the only occurrence in Deuteronomy where the word "father" is used metaphorically for Yahweh. Deuteronomy 1 reveals Yahweh as caregiver , as he is compared to an earthly father carrying his son. Deuteronomy 8 continues the caregiving theme in the form of Yahweh disciplining Israel for their refinement and for their good. Deuteronomy 14 presents Yahweh's fatherhood as covenant partner .

Against Heresies V.36.1 (Irenaeus)

For since there are real men, so must there also be a real establishment (plantationem), that they vanish not away among non-existent things, but progress among those which have an actual existence. For neither is the substance nor the essence of the creation annihilated (for faithful and true is He who has established it), but the fashion of the world passes away; that is, those things among which transgression has occurred, since man has grown old in them. And therefore this [present] fashion has been formed temporary, God foreknowing all things; as I have pointed out in the preceding book, and have also shown, as far as was possible, the cause of the creation of this world of temporal things. But when this [present] fashion [of things] passes away, and man has been renewed, and flourishes in an incorruptible state, so as to preclude the possibility of becoming old, [then] there shall be the new heaven and the new earth, in which the new man shall remain [continually], always holding fresh converse with God. And since (or, that) these things shall ever continue without end, Isaiah declares, For as the new heavens and the new earth which I do make, continue in my sight, says the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And as the presbyters say, Then those who are deemed worthy of an abode in heaven shall go there, others shall enjoy the delights of paradise, and others shall possess the splendour of the city; for everywhere the Saviour shall be seen according as they who see Him shall be worthy.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Was Christ Always KURIOS?

John 20:28 is a controversial passage that has been explained in a sundry and diverse ways. The brilliant exegete Theodore of Mopsuestia (one who affirmed Christ's Deity) felt that John 20:28 was not addressed to the Son, but to the Father of our Lord and Savior. Of course his approach was condemned in 553 C.E. and does not have wide acceptance today, though it is certainly a probable view at the very least.

Frankly I have no problem with calling Jesus KURIOS or QEOS. Yet this doesn't mean that Jesus is Almighty God. In Col. 1:15, 16, human and angelic rulers are called KURIOTHTES. Acts 2:36 also tells us that Christ was made KURIOS--he was not always such. Yes, he was QEOS in his pre-human existence, but I think that John makes a vital distinction between the Almighty hO QEOS and the one who was QEOS (without the Greek article).

Scholar J. Gwyn Griffiths writes that QEOS in Jn 1:1c, "Taken by itself" could be rendered "And the Word was (the) God" or "and the Word was (a) God" (See "The Role of Theology and Bias in Bible Translation" by Rolf Furuli). Many students of the early fathers also know Origen thought that God with the article denotes something different than God without the article in Jn 1:1c.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Trevor Burke Discusses Paraleipsis (Paralipsis) in Thessalonians

New Master of Theology Dissertation on the Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7)

http://invenio.lib.auth.gr/record/132539?ln=el

Free download, but it's written in Greek. The author is Pavlos D. Vasileiadis.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Paraleipsis (Paralipsis) in Scripture by Koester

These comments from Craig R. Koester might be useful where the conscription of rhetoric in the Bible is concerned. The Greek construction upon which he remarks is περὶ ὧν οὐκ ἔστιν νῦν λέγειν κατὰ μέρος(Hebrews 9:5):

"The author concludes his description of the furnishings [of the Tabernacle] by commenting that he cannot deal with these things in detail (cf. 11:32). Rhetorically, passing by something without detailed comment was called PARALEIPSIS (Rhet. ad Her. 4.27 Sec. 37' Lausberg, Handbook SS 882-886). By identifying some aspects of a large topic while refusing to make detailed comment, the speaker alludes to his familiarity with the subject matter, while relativizing its importance. Here, Hebrews makes clear that what is most important is not the sanctuary, but the ministry that takes place within it" (Hebrews: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Anchor Bible Commentary. New York: Doubleday, 2001), 404.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Donald Mastronarde on Greek Grammatical Gender

Greek Gender and Some Johannine/Pauline Verses

Richard A. Young (Intermediate New Testament Greek, page 76) reveals that the antecedent of the masculine pronoun hOS in 1 Tim 3:16 is the neuter noun MUSTHRION. He suggests that the shift in gender signals a reference to someone personal, namely, Christ.

Also, in John 16:14, the apostle uses a masculine pronoun (EKEINOS) when referring to a neuter antecedent (PNEUMA). An interlocutor once disagreed with me on this point by arguing that EKEINOS actually should be construed with PARAKLHTOS in 16:7:

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you."

My interlocutor provided the translation. My response was:

You may be right about John 16:14. Since John employed EKEINOS (the "far away demonstrative"), the antecedent of EKEINOS may well be PARAKLHTOS in John 16:7. What you say may also be true of John 14:26, where EKEINOS could point back to PARAKLHTOS. However, EKEINOS could just as easily refer to PNEUMA in both passages as Young points out in his grammar (page 78). Its really hard to tell.

Interestingly, Daniel B. Wallace disagrees with Young and thus sides with you on this issue. Personally, I think either construal of EKEINOS does not prove the masculinity of the Holy Spirit. Wallace points out that not only is PNEUMA appositional to PARAKLHTOS, but the relative pronoun that follows PNEUMA is also neuter; on the other hand, he rightly concludes that such a construction does not prove the personality of the Holy Spirit. But you too present a strong line of reasoning.

Also note the pronoun-antecedent usage in Rom. 2:14; 1 Cor. 6:9-11.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

More Evidence That BASILEUS Refers to Males Only

In a book edited by John Haldon (A Social History of Byzantium), Liz James writes about the activities of Eirene, an eighth-century empress of Byzantium:

"Wallace-Hadrill saw queens as honorary men because of their links to power, authority, prestige, and honor. In response, Stafford argued that queens did not become men because the title 'king' was reserved for men alone. To suggest otherwise would be to suggest that the title 'king' could be separated from the person of the king and thus filled by either sex. Thus the public body of the ruling queen was not a king's body but a queen's, gendered feminine not masculine. The case of Eirene supports this view. The only evidence for Eirene using the male title BASILEUS is limited to her signature as 'emperor of the Romans' on a couple of legal documents and the use of BASILEUS on one gold coin from Sicily. If Eirene needed to construct herself as a man, as a BASILEUS,then one might expect this title to feature on all of her official documentation, on all coins and seals. Instead, she used the feminine form, BASILISSA, which was also the title which Byzantine historians of her reign use for her."

The Sicilian coins are not easy to read because the lettering is obscured.

See p. 45-46 of the this book.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Old Interpreter's Bible on 1 Corinthians 7:25 and Parthenoi

Some years ago, I copied numerous pages for general study and when I did graduate work. I'll probably never work my way through everything I copied, but there is something from the old Interpreter's Bible I'd like to share. Taken from the commentary on Corinthians, we read:

"The Greek word (παρθένοι), translated unmarried (RSV), is literally virgins (KJV); but it is clear from what follows that the apostle has in mind the unmarried men as well as the maidens (Rev. 14:4). It may be that these are people who have taken a vow of celibacy" (Interpreter's Bible, page 84).

Now there's a lot in this brief quote that we can analyze. The Interpreter's Bible claims that the Apostle Paul is referring to both women and men in 1 Cor 7:25. Yet not all concur with this sentiment:

"Now regarding your question about the young women who are not yet married. I do not have a command from the Lord for them. But the Lord in his mercy has given me wisdom that can be trusted, and I will share it with you" (1 Cor 7:25 NLT).

"Concerning unmarried women I have no command to give you from the Lord; but I offer you my opinion, which is that of a man who, through the Lord's mercy, is deserving of your confidence" (Weymouth).

But the NET Bible renders this passage: "With regard to the question about people who have never married, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my opinion as one shown mercy by the Lord to be trustworthy."

The note for 1 Cor 7:25 (NET) explains:

Grk "virgins." There are three main views as to which group of people is referred to by the word παρθένος (parqenos) here, and the stance taken here directly impacts one's understanding of vv. 36-38. (1) The term could refer to virgin women who were not married. The central issue would then be whether or not their fathers should give them in marriage to eligible men. (This is the view which has been widely held throughout the history of the Church.) (2) A minority understand the term to refer to men and women who are married but who have chosen to live together without sexual relations. This position might have been possible in the Corinthian church, but there is no solid evidence to support it. (3) The view adopted by many modern commentators (see, e.g., Fee, Conzelmann, Barrett) is that the term refers to young, engaged women who were under the influence of various groups within the Corinthian church not to go through with their marriages. The central issue would then be whether the young men and women should continue with their plans and finalize their marriages. For further discussion, see G. D. Fee, First Corinthians (NICNT), 325-28.

The NET Bible therefore probably does not mean to include men and women "in the mix" (so to speak) when it chooses the rendering "people who have never been married" but primarily has women in mind. However, you have likely noted that the Interpreter's Bible includes Revelation 14:4 to apparently show that men are perhaps called virgins in that apocalyptic book. That's another testimony to how we should understand John's words in the Bible's final work.

In his NIV commentary on Revelation, Craig Keener writes that although male virgin language is rare, we do find this use in 1 Cor 7:25 and possibly in Revelation 14:4. Even though we may have a surface use of masculinity in 14:4, that does not mean all members of the 144,000 are males in the prophecy's fulfillment. But describing these Christians as male harmonizes with John's earlier vision in the same book:

καὶ ἤκουσα τὸν ἀριθμὸν τῶν ἐσφραγισμένων, ἑκατὸν τεσσεράκοντα τέσσαρες χιλιάδες, ἐσφραγισμένοι ἐκ πάσης φυλῆς υἱῶν Ἰσραήλ (Revelation 7:4 WH).

How are the 144,000 delineated in 7:4? As the "sons of Israel" (υἱῶν Ἰσραήλ). This wording along with the whole tribes scenario leads me to believe that "virgins" in 14:4 should be understood as having a masculine sense.