Saturday, October 14, 2017

Gerhard von Rad and Genesis 1:2

Genesis 1:2(NASB): "The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters."

The Hebrew term that is rendered "the deep" is תְּהוֹם (tehom), which is also translated "the great deep" in Gen. 7:11 (KJV) since it's coupled with the adjective רָב. Theologians/Bible scholars often interpret Gen 1:1-2 as a polemical answer to the Babylonian myth of Tiamat and Marduk. Gerhard von Rad apparently buys into this idea too. However, the Babylonian narrative is set within a polytheistic context unlike Genesis. But even more devastating to the Tiamat theory is the linguistic evidence against it.

For instance, scholar Victor Hamilton interacts with the claims regarding tehom and Tiamat, and I believe he shows it's uncertain that these words are cognate. In fact, there are reasons to believe otherwise. From what I've read, Mitchell Dahood (a late and esteemed philologist) seriously questioned the supposed linguistic connection between tehom and Tiamat.

For Dahood's exact quote, see

It is page 96, footnote 34. Dahood spoke of the "unsustainable connection" between these words. So the objections I've found to associating tehom with Tiamat seem devastating.

Dahood writes that the linguistic correspondence between tehom and thm (Ugaritic) is "much more likely" than a connection between tehom/Tiamat. Yet the Akkadian term related to tehom is also evidently cognate. According to biblehub, there are 36 occurrences of tehom in the Hebrew Bible, I think.

For now, I reject the Tiamat connection (linguistic association) with tehom; there is too much evidence against it. The myth that Tiamat is cognate with tehom began spreading after Hermann Gunkel (a German OT scholar) began to perpetuate the idea. Linguistically, it is nigh impossible to prove: weigh the evidence and arguments carefully, then you decide.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Gerhard von Rad and Genesis 1:1

As a side note, von Rad's first name is the German equivalent (version) of my middle name (my nomen). I go by Edgar in professional circles, but old friends, my family, and my wife call me "Gerard."

On page 46 of his Genesis commentary, von Rad concedes that Gen. 1:1 could be understood--from a grammatico-syntactic perspective--as an introductory clause to 1:2 or 1:3. However, he insists that 1:1 must be understood as an independent sentence from a theological perspective. So it ought to be rendered: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Hence, we learn God freely and in accord with his omnipotent volition determined that the cosmos would have "a beginning of its subsequent existence" (46).

Additionally, von Rad contends that bara signifies "the divine creative activity," which has no analogy in creation (47). He believes the word is intentionally used to denote creatio ex nihilo or divine effortlessness--creation without the use of any preexistent material unlike Plato's Demiurge in his famous work, Timaeus. That deity creates sensible objects by means of recalcitrant matter, but YHWH creates ex nihilo. There is apparently no creative struggle delineated in the opening verses of Genesis. Yet does von Rad go too far when claiming that bara unequivocally denotes creatio ex nihilo? Maybe he does in the light of 2 Maccabees 7:28 and Heb. 11:3. On the other hand, he is likely correct that bara rules out the divine employment of already existent material.

Kenneth A. Matthew provides a more nuanced view in his New American Commentary on Genesis. See pages 136-142.

Collection of Scriptures That Discuss Seeing God "Face to Face"

Genesis 32:30-Jacob wrestles with an angel, who is also identified as Elohim by the prophet Hosea (12:3).

Exodus 33:19, 20-Moses is told that no one can see the face of YHWH (Jehovah) and live.

Numbers 12:8-"Mouth unto mouth I speak with him, and by an appearance, and not in riddles; and the form of Jehovah he beholdeth attentively; and wherefore have ye not been afraid to speak against My servant -- against Moses?'" (YLT)

"With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” (ESV)

NIV says, "With him I speak face to face . . ."

Deuteronomy 5:4-"Jehovah spake with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire" (ASV)

Deuteronomy 34:10-"And there hath not arisen a prophet any more in Israel like Moses, whom Jehovah hath known face unto face" (YLT)

1 Corinthians 13:12-"For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known" (NET).

Compare 3 John 14.

See 2 Cor. 3:18. Also with 2 Cor. 4:6, "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God" (ESV) is manifested ἐν προσώπῳ Χριστοῦ.

Revelation 22:3-4-"And there will no longer be any curse, and the throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city. His servants will worship him, and they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads" (NET Bible).

Sunday, October 08, 2017

The "Sea" in Revelation

The Greek noun phrase ἡ θάλασσα can be rendered "the sea." Commentator J. Ramsey Michaels (going from memory here) reports that John uses "sea" language some 26 times with varying nuances. The first occurrence is apparently Revelation 4:6:

καὶ ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου ὡς θάλασσα ὑαλίνη ὁμοία κρυστάλλῳ· καὶ ἐν μέσῳ τοῦ θρόνου καὶ κύκλῳ τοῦ θρόνου τέσσερα ζῷα γέμοντα ὀφθαλμῶν ἔμπροσθεν καὶ ὄπισθεν. (Nestle 1904)

Here, John perceives what appears to be a glass sea likened to crystal. It is clear that sea does not refer to the wicked sea of humankind in this context; that particular understanding of the word "sea" in Rev. 4:6 leads to interpretational absurdities. Granted, there are a number of scholars who desire to construe the "sea" (even in the throne-vision scene) in harmony with combat motifs. Christopher A. Davis believes that the "sea" of Rev. 4:6 tries to oppose God, but he exercises sovereignty over this figurative body of water. Yet I am more convinced that Revelation uses temple imagery in 4:6. See Buchanan, George Wesley. The Book of Revelation: Its Introduction and Prophecy. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2005, Page 155. Compare Revelation 15:2.

Another set of verses indicating that the "sea" does not always depict evil, wicked humanity or forces opposed to God is Revelation 10:2-8.

Revelation 10:2: καὶ ἔχων ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ βιβλαρίδιον ἠνεῳγμένον. καὶ ἔθηκεν τὸν πόδα αὐτοῦ τὸν δεξιὸν ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης, τὸν δὲ εὐώνυμον ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς,

A strong angel places his right and left feet upon sea and earth respectively. What does the sea represent in this context? Anthony Charles Garland believes that the sea and land together depict the entire globe, not necessarily alienated humanity. See

Revelation 10:5 refers back to the angel, who stood astride sea and land: Καὶ ὁ ἄγγελος, ὃν εἶδον ἑστῶτα ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ἦρεν τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ τὴν δεξιὰν εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν

In a similar vein, the resurrected Christ proclaimed that all authority had been given him in heaven and on earth. Matthew Poole understands the angel in Rev. 10:2ff to be Christ.

The Pulpit Commentary offers these remarks on Rev. 10:2:

And he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth. Thus it is indicated that the revelation which is to follow affects the whole world, and is not partial in its operation, as were the judgments set forth under the earlier trumpets. Wordsworth (following Hengstenberg) sees in the earth an emblem of worldly power, and in the sea a symbol of the agitation and turbulence of nations.

While the sea, understood as turbulent or wicked humankind cannot be ruled out, I don't believe Hengstenberg's is the most probable explanation.

From The Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable:

The angel stood astride the earth and the sea symbolizing his authority over the whole world ( Revelation 10:5; Revelation 10:8; Revelation 7:2; cf. Exodus 20:4; Exodus 20:11; Deuteronomy 11:24; Psalm 68:22; Psalm 69:34). The implication is that his message involves the whole world. Other less likely views, I think, are that his stance symbolizes the universality of the message, [Note: Morris, p137.] or that he was defying the sea"s instability. [Note: Swete, p127.]

13:1-2; 20:13; 21:1-4.

More later!

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Monarchia: The Etymology and Signification of a Term

I believe one reason why it is difficult to ascertain the etymology of μοναρχία stems from trying to understand this concept in 2-3 languages (Greek, Latin, and English) and we also have to contend with the dual meaning of ἀρχὴ.

Lewis-Short Latin Dictionary defines monarchia as "I.absolute rule, monarchy (post-class. for unius dominatio, imperium singulare, regnum, regalis potestas), Capitol. Max. and Balb. 14; Tert. adv. Prax. 14; Lact. 1, 5, 23."

The Latin form is equivalent to the Greek μοναρχία. Furthermore, we know that the Greek word has the same basic definition according to LSJ Greek-English Lexicon: monarchy or government by one ruler. The word can also reference the "supreme command" of a military official.

It appears that some fathers in the early church began using μοναρχία in the sense that Jurgen Moltmann discusses: the word came to mean divine unity. It referenced God as the supreme origin and principle of ta panta.


Monday, October 02, 2017

Las Vegas Shooting and World Peace

Another shooting occurred in America: the worst mass shooting in US history. I am saddened to see another senseless act of violence, and my heart goes out to the families, who lost loved ones. Conditions will likely continue to worsen until Jehovah's Day of Vengeance (Isa. 34:8). For now, Jesus' followers have an obligation to empathize with those who mourn and cry as we proclaim better news to honest hearts (Isa. 61:1-2).

Sunday, October 01, 2017

KTISIS in Mark 16:15 (C.S. Mann)

I understand that Mark 16:15 probably does not belong in the GNT, but we can still learn something from the Greek in that verse. Interested parties are encouraged to consult C.S. Mann, Mark (Anchor Bible Commentary). New York:
Doubleday, 1986. See pp. 672-75.

Mann translates Mk 16:15:

"And he said to them, 'Go into the whole world; make the Proclamation to the whole creation.'"

But what does Mann mean by "creation" in this passage?

On page 675, he provides this data:

"We have translated KTISIS as creation, which is the proper sense in 10:6 and 13:19, but it probably is here better understood as 'humanity' (cf. Col 1:23)."

It is my contention that Col. 1:23 could be understood in the same way: as a reference to humanity or to the human sphere.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Undeveloped and Scattered Ideas About Divine Atemporality/Temporality

I used to read many books about God and time. These scattered thoughts were developed from those studies:

Notes on Divine Temporality

Advocates for Divine temporality (Stephen T. Davis, Richard Swinburne, John Sanders, Nick Wolterstorff, Terence Fretheim, William Hasker, William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, F. Pike, Greg Boyd, and Clark Pinnock).

Other side: Brian Leftow, Richard Creel, Brian Davies, Paul Helm.

1) Possible atemporal causation definition: S possibly brings it about that X happens @ t1-contiguity with space-time

2) Divine episteme: Can a timeless being know temporal particulars directly/immediately qua temporal particulars? Thomas Aquinas and Augustine seem to answer no.

3) In my estimation, it is logically possible (maybe metaphysically possible) that timeless events are impossible.

However, what about the event of God generating/creating the only-begotten Son?

Friday, September 29, 2017

ADHON, KURIOS (Psalm 110:1) and ELOHIM

Ps. 110:1 contains a Messianic use of the word "Lord" (ADHON) and
this passage clearly distinguishes between THE LORD (YHWH) and the Lord of David (the Messiah). Furthermore, ADHON is used with reference to the Pharaoh of Egypt (Gen. 40:1) and also wielded for Joseph who was sent to Egypt by God in order to preserve his family (Gen. 42:10, 30). Cf. Ruth 2:13; 1 Sam. 1:15. So Thomas' use of KURIOS in Jn. 20:28 need not indicate that he was identifying Jesus with YHWH.

As for the term ELOHIM, it too is a term that can be applied to men, angels, and God/gods. Isa. 9:6 probably calls the Messiah, EL GIBBOR. The Catholic NAB, when commenting on this passage, makes the following observation:

"Upon his shoulder dominion rests: authority. Wonder-Counselor: remarkable for his wisdom and prudence. God-hero: a warrior and a defender of his people, like God himself."

Please note the prophecy in Zech. 12:8 as well and its use of ELOHIM.

Bob Utley makes these remarks on 12:8:

"the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord before them" This is a striking metaphor used in the sense of God's empowering of His people. The term for God is the term Elohim, which is used in the sense of supernatural beings (cf. Exod. 4:16; 7:1; I Sam. 28:13; Ps. 8:5; 82:1,6).

The angel of the LORD is often seen as God's representative among the people (cf. Exod. 13:21; 14:19; 23:20-21; 32:34; 33:2,14-15,22). In two passages David is likened to the angel of the Lord (cf. I Sam. 29:9; II Sam. 14:17,20; 19:27). Remember there are three phrases (no VERBS) here which build on each other for literary, not theological, effect.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Revelation 21:21: Random Notes

καὶ οἱ δώδεκα πυλῶνες δώδεκα μαργαρῖται· ἀνὰ εἷς ἕκαστος τῶν πυλώνων ἦν ἐξ ἑνὸς μαργαρίτου. καὶ ἡ πλατεῖα τῆς πόλεως χρυσίον καθαρὸν ὡς ὕαλος διαυγής. (Rev. 21:21-Nestle GNT)

"And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass." (ESV Rendering)

Compare Rev. 21:18.

John uses ὅμοιον ὑάλῳ καθαρῷ in Rev. 21:18; ὡς ὕαλος διαυγής occurs in Rev. 21:21.

E.W. Bullinger on Rev. 21:21: "as it were. Not that it is glass, but gold of a kind unknown to us."

Robertson's WP: "Transparent (διαυγής — diaugēs). Old word (from δια — dia through, αυγη — augē ray, shining through), here alone in N.T."

Peter Pett's Commentary:

"'And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each one of the several gates was one pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.'

In Matthew 7:6 pearls represented what was holy and precious, compare the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:46). Gold again is symbolic of the holy sanctuary, where all is made of gold. The transparency may well denote total openness and honesty. The city contains all that is most splendid. We can compare many of these splendours with those which poured into Babylon at its finest (Revelation 17:4; Revelation 18:12), but here it is heavenly gold, heavenly jewels and heavenly pearls of a size unknown to earth.

But in the new creation such things as gold and precious stones in their literal senses will be meaningless. They are used as descriptions here only because of fallen man’s peculiar propensities. They denote what is better far than gold. Note that only one street is mentioned and yet there are twelve entrances. As there are no buildings the whole inside may be intended to be seen as the street. The point is that all is of gold. (Not liveable in but splendid in conception)."

When explaining Rev. 21:18-21, Dr. Thomas Constable invokes 1 Kings 6:30.

Cf. 1 Cor. 3:12.

Contrast John's description of the New Jerusalem with how he saw Babylon the Great in Rev. 17:4.

Rev. 18:12 mentions gold, precious stone, and pearl, among other things.

Rev. 18:16 likewise refers to gold, precious stone, and pearls.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Jude 14-15 and the Bride of Christ

Jude 14-15 does not have reference to the "saints" (Jesus' bride): it is a text that refers to the holy angels who accompany God when He destroys every last vestige of this ungodly age during his fateful day of vengeance (Isa. 34:1-8). hAGIAIS MURIASIN AUTOU does not refer to the Christian EKKLHSIA as such. From a literary-historical perspective, Enoch, who spoke this prophecy, knew nothing concerning any bride of Christ. At most, resurrected anointed Christians may be peripherally included in the formula recorded by Jude, but it is more likely that Jude 14-15 is talking about the holy angels of YHWH. Other usages of this linguistic formula seem to bear out this point. See Deut. 33:1-2; Habakkuk 3:3-4; Zech. 14:1-5.

Henry Alford applies Jude 14-15 to angels, and includes Heb. 12:23 as a reference.

Meyer's NT Commentary:

ἐν ἁγίαις μυριάσιν] comp. Zechariah 14:5; Deuteronomy 33:2; Hebrews 12:22; (μυριάσιν ἀγγέλων) Revelation 5:11.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Soteriological Narrative

Please take this post with a heaping grain of salt (cum grano salis).

In order for anyone to "accept Jesus as [his or her] Savior", God must first act. According to the GNT, God has first loved so that we might in turn love Him (1 John 4:19). His supreme philanthropic (FILANQRWPIA) act was the sending of His Son to die PRO NOBIS, so that we might have everlasting life KAI PERISSON EXWSIN. Of course, this is a basic teaching of Christianity, but the salvation process goes much deeper than this basic act. Since Christ died for the KOSMOS of humankind, Almighty God has initiated a proclamation of the everlasting Gospel throughout the entire earth (Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20; Acts 10:34-36; Eph. 2:14-18; Rev. 14:6, 7). Therefore, when a person is approached with the "good news" of Christ and his kingdom, God is acting in that person's life. If the individual approached is in a state of unbelief, he or she is spiritually blind (2 Cor. 4:3, 4). How can the prevailing KALUMNA be removed from the heart of the unbelieving soul? 2 Cor. 3:16 says that when one turns to the Lord, PERIAIREITAI TO KALUMNA. Notice please, the sequence of this process:

God acts (He sends His Son).

God acts again (He has the good news proclaimed).

An unbeliever acts (He or she responds to the good news).

God acts again (He removes the veil from the unbelieving heart).

The believer subsequently acts (He or she repents, turns around, dedicating himself or herself to God and demonstrating this dedication by water baptism--See footnote*).

As one can see, what I am proposing is a spiritual action-reaction
type of relationship between God and man. God acts, then we act with
an equal and opposite reaction per se. This schema seems to be in
harmony with Acts 26:20 where Paul speaks of works befitting
repentance in connection with the preaching of the Christian KERYGMA.
In short, belief is a work, but it is a work in response to God's
work. This means that a human can neither earn nor merit salvation.
Nevertheless, he or she must show appreciation for the undeserved gift
God has given. How can this be done? Via faith backed by works. As
Vine's Expository Dictionary says, 'justification is primarily and
gratuitously by faith, evidentially and subsequently by works' (See
James 2:15ff).

* I am aware of the fact that the steps outlined will differ from one
religious tradition to the other. When I outline the above steps, I
speak from my own particular religious and Christian viewpoint. I know
about the many debates on baptism and repentance and would be glad to
discuss them with anyone on the list. Until then, vale.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Potential Meaning of EIS and General Principles of Greek Translation

There are some contexts in which εἰς can be rendered "for," but how we translate this Greek preposition may depend on the aspect/Aktionsart of the verbs used in context and the context of a passage itself. Translating Virgil's Latin work Georgics and Homer's Iliad and Odyssey has taught me the importance of examining how a word (preposition or otherwise) is used in context (a term's usus loquendi). Lexicons are helpful in this regard.

What might be helpful is to look at similar texts/contexts and try to determine what εἰς is most likely to mean in a given setting. Certain examples given in BDAG for "εἰς" (2. beta) seem pertinent for understanding 1 Thessalonians 4:15. Compare Matthew 6:34; 1 Timothy 6:19.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Trinity Doctrine: Catholic Encyclopedia

The evidence from the Gospels culminates in the baptismal commission of Matthew 28:20. It is manifest from the narratives of the Evangelists that Christ only made the great truth known to the Twelve step by step.

First He taught them to recognize in Himself the Eternal Son of God. When His ministry was drawing to a close, He promised that the Father would send another Divine Person, the Holy Spirit, in His place. Finally after His resurrection, He revealed the doctrine in explicit terms, bidding them "go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:18). The force of this passage is decisive. That "the Father" and "the Son" are distinct Persons follows from the terms themselves, which are mutually exclusive. The mention of the Holy Spirit in the same series, the names being connected one with the other by the conjunctions "and . . . and" is evidence that we have here a Third Person co-ordinate with the Father and the Son, and excludes altogether the supposition that the Apostles understood the Holy Spirit not as a distinct Person, but as God viewed in His action on creatures.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Henry Alford's Notes on 2 Peter 1:1 and Titus 2:13

Alford's Comments for 2 Pet 1:1:

Next, as to the words τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ. Undoubtedly, as in Titus 2:13, in strict grammatical propriety, both θεοῦ and σωτῆρος would be predicates of Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ. But here, as there, considerations interpose, which seem to remove the strict grammatical rendering out of the range of probable meaning. I have fully discussed the question in the note on that passage, to which I would refer the reader as my justification for interpreting here, as there, τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν of the Father, and σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ of the Son. Here, there is the additional consideration in favour of this view, that the Two are distinguished most plainly in the next verse):

Comments pertaining to Tit 2:13:

And we now come to consider the meaning of these words. Two views have been taken of them: (1) that τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος̣ ἡμῶν are to be taken together as the description of Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ,—‘of Jesus Christ, the great God and our Saviour:’ (2) that as given above, τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ describes the Father, and σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ the Son. It is obvious that in dealing with (1), we shall be deciding with regard to (2) also. (1) has been the view of the Greek orthodox Fathers, as against the Arians (see a complete collection of their testimonies in Dr. Wordsworth’s “Six Letters to Granville Sharp on the use of the definite article in the Greek text of the N. T.” Lond. 1802), and of most ancient and modern Commentators. That the former so interpreted the words, is obviously not (as it has been considered) decisive of the question, if they can be shewn to bear legitimately another meaning, and that meaning to be the one most likely to have been in the mind of the writer. The case of ἵνα in the preceding verse (see note there), was wholly different. There it was contended that ἵνα with a subjunctive, has, and can have, but one meaning: and this was upheld against those who would introduce another, inter alia, by the fact that the Greek Fathers dreamt of no other. The argument rested not on this latter fact, but on the logical force of the particle itself. And similarly here, the passage must be argued primarily on its own ground, not primarily on the consensus of the Greek Fathers. No one disputes that it may mean that which they have interpreted it: and there were obvious reasons why they, having licence to do so, should choose this interpretation. But it is our object, not being swayed in this or any other interpretation, by doctrinal considerations one way or the other, to enquire, not what the words may mean, but what they do mean, as far as we may be able to ascertain it. The main, and indeed the only reliance of those who take (1), is the omission of the article before σωτῆρος. Had the sentence stood τοῦ μεγ. θεοῦ καὶ τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰ. χ., their verdict for (2) would have been unanimous. That the insertion of the article would have been decisive for (2), is plain: but is it equally plain, that its omission is decisive for (1)? This must depend entirely on the nature and position of the word thus left anarthrous. If it is a word which had by usage become altogether or occasionally anarthrous,—if it is so connected, that the presence of the article expressed, is not requisite to its presence in the sense, then the state of the case, as regards the omission, is considerably altered. Now there is no doubt that σωτήρ was one of those words which gradually dropped the article and became a quasi proper name: cf. 1Timothy 1:1 (I am quite aware of Bp. Middleton’s way of accounting for this, but do not regard it as satisfactory); 4:10; which latter place is very instructive as to the way in which the designation from its official nature became anarthrous. This being so, it must hardly be judged as to the expression of the art. by the same rules as other nouns. Then as to its structural and contextual connexion. It is joined with ἡμῶν, which is an additional reason why it may spare the article: see Luke 1:78: Romans 1:7: 1Corinthians 1:3 (1Corinthians 2:7; 1Corinthians 10:11): 2Corinthians 1:2, &c. Again, as Winer has observed (edn. 6, § 19, 5 b, remark 1), the prefixing of an appositional designation to the proper name frequently causes the omission of the article. So in 2 Thessalonians 1:12: 2Peter 1:1: Jude 1:4: see also 2Corinthians 1:2; 2Corinthians 6:18: Galatians 1:3: Ephesians 1:2; Ephesians 6:23: Philippians 1:2; Philippians 2:11; Philippians 3:20 &c. If then σωτὴρ ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦς χριστός may signify ‘Jesus Christ our Saviour,’—on comparing the two members of the clause, we observe, that θεοῦ has already had its predicate expressed in τοῦ μεγαλου; and that it is therefore natural to expect that the latter member of the clause, likewise consisting of a proper name and its predicate, should correspond logically to the former: in other words, that τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰη. χρ. would much more naturally suit (1) than τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμ. Ἰη. χρ. In clauses where the two appellative members belong to one expressed subject, we expect to find the former of them without any predicative completion. If it be replied to this, as I conceive on the hypothesis of (1) it must be, that τοῦ μεγάλου is an epithet alike of θεοῦ and σωτῆρος, ‘our great (God and Saviour),’ I may safely leave it to the feeling of any scholar, whether such an expression would be likely to occur. Let us now consider, whether the Apostle would in this place have been likely to designate our Lord as ὁ μέγας θεὸς καὶ σωτὴρ ἡμῶν. This must be chiefly decided by examining the usages of the expression θεὸς ὁ σωτὴρ ἡμῶν, which occurs six times in these Epistles, once in Luke (1:47), and once in the Epistle of Jude. If the writer here identifies this expression, ‘the great God and our Saviour,’ with the Lord Jesus Christ, calling Him ‘God and our Saviour,’ it will be at least probable that in other places where he speaks of “God our Saviour,” he also designates our Lord Jesus Christ. Now is that so? On the contrary, in 1Timothy 1:1, we have κατʼ ἐπιταγὴν θεοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν, καὶ χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τῆς ἐλπίδος ἡμῶν: where I suppose none will deny that the Father and the Son are most plainly distinguished from one another. The same is the case in 1Timothy 2:3-5, a passage bearing much (see below) on the interpretation of this one: and consequently in 1Timothy 4:10, where ἐστιν σωτὴρ πάντων ἀνθρώπων corresponds to θέλει πάντας σωθῆναι in the other. So also in Titus 1:3, where the σωτὴρ ἡμῶν θεός, by whose ἐπιταγή the promise of eternal life was manifested, with the proclamation of which St. Paul was entrusted, is the same αἰώνιος θεός, by whose ἐπιταγή the hidden mystery was manifested in Romans 16:26, where the same distinction is made. The only place where there could be any doubt is in our ver. 10, which possible doubt however is removed by ver. 11, where the same assertion is made, of the revelation of the hidden grace of God (the Father). Then we have our own ch. 3:4-6, where we find τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ in ver. 4, clearly defined as the Father, and διὰ Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν in ver. 6. In that passage too we have the expression ἡ χρηστότης καὶ ἡ φιλανθρωπία ἐπεφάνη τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμ. θεοῦ, which is quite decisive in answer to those who object here to the expression ἐπιφάνειαν τῆς δόξης as applied to the Father. In the one passage of St. Jude, the distinction is equally clear: for there we have μόνῳ θεῷ σωτῆρι ἡμῶν διὰ Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν. It is plain then, that the usage of the words ‘God our Saviour’ does not make it probable that the whole expression here is to be applied to the Lord Jesus Christ. And in estimating this probability, let us again recur to 1Timothy 2:3, 1Timothy 2:5, a passage which runs very parallel with the present one. We read there, εἷς γὰρ θεός, " εἷς καὶ μεσίτης θεοῦ καὶ ἀνθρώπων, ἄνθρωπος χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς, ὁ δοὺς ἑαυτὸν ἀντίλυτρον κ.τ.λ. Compare this with τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ " καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, ὃς ἔδωκεν ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἵνα λυτρώσηται κ.τ.λ. Can there be a reasonable doubt, that the Apostle writing two sentences so closely corresponding, on a point of such high importance, would have in his view the same distinction in the second of them, which he so strongly lays down in the first? Without then considering the question as closed, I would submit that (2) satisfies all the grammatical requirements of the sentence: that it is both structurally and contextually more probable, and more agreeable to the Apostle’s way of writing: and I have therefore preferred it. The principal advocates for it have been, the pseudo-Ambrose (i.e. Hilary the deacon, the author of the Commentary which goes by the name of that Father: whose words are these, “hanc esse dicit beatam spem credentium, qui exspectant adventum gloriæ magni Dei quod revelari habet judice Christo, in quo Dei Patris videbitur potestas et gloria, ut fidei suæ præmium consequantur. Ad hoc enim redemit nos Christus, ut” &c.), Erasm. (annot. and paraphr.), Grot., Wetst., Heinr., Winer (ubi supra, end), De W., Huther (the other view,—not this as stated in my earlier editions, by inadvertence,—is taken by Ellicott). Whichever way taken, the passage is just as important a testimony to the divinity of our Saviour: according to (1), by asserting His possession of Deity and right to the appellation of the Highest: according to (2), even more strikingly, asserting His equality in glory with the Father, in a way which would be blasphemy if predicated of any of the sons of men), who (our Saviour Jesus Christ), gave Himself (“the forcible ἑαυτόν, ‘Himself, His whole self, the greatest gift ever given,’ must not be overlooked: cf. Beveridge, Serm. 93, vol. iv. p. 285.” Ellicott) for us (‘on our behalf,’ not ‘in our stead:’ reff.), that He might (by this assertion of the Redeemer’s purpose, we return to the moral aim of verses 11, 12, more plainly indicated as in close connexion with Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice) redeem (λυτροῦσθαι, ‘to buy off with a price,’ the middle including personal agency and interest, cf. καθαρίσῃ ἑαυτῷ below.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Hurricane Irma

Thinking about friends and family in Florida and other southeastern states. Be safe: my love and prayers are with you.

The Latin Verb, Offerebantur

Here is an email I once wrote to a friend:

Offerebantur is a form of offero ("I offer" or "I present," "bring before," etc). It's 3rd-person plural imperfect indicative passive. You can normally tell that a verb is third-person plural in Latin by the "nt." The "ur" ending lets you know that the verb is passive or deponent, and the "ba" tells you the verb is imperfect. It's all about endings like Greek. :)

Obtulit is 3rd-person singular perfect indicative active of offero. So, he/she/it "brought forth, presented, offered" etc. Obtulit looks like an irregular verb form although I could be mistaken about that, but the 3rd-person singular conjugation is clear from the "t" ending instead of "nt."

Latin is tough, but fun. I don't read it as often as I used to do.

MORFH Understood as "Status" (Philippians 2:6)

I have written some on MORFH in Phil. 2:6ff. There is a reference from Tobit 1:13 which supports the denotation "status" or "condition" for the word MORFH although I prefer to define it (in this context) as external form/shape or outward appearance.

For MORFH, BDAG Greek-English Lexicon has "form, outward appearance, shape" and "gener. of bodily form 1 Cl 39:3; ApcPt 4:13 (Job 4:16; ApcEsdr 4:14 p. 28, 16 Tdf.; SJCh 78, 13)."

Additionally, MORFH is also used of the shape or form of statues (Jos., Vi.65; Iren. I, 8, 1 and Dg 2:3). The term also describes appearances in visions and Mk. 16:12 (in the longer reading of Mark's Gospel) relates that Jesus appeared in a hETERA MORFH or "different form." BDAG also states: "on MORFH QEOU cp. Orig. C. Cels. 7, 66, 21; Pla., Rep. 2, 380D; 381 bc . . ."

Louw-Nida has two definitions for MORFH ("nature" and "visual form of something"). It classifies Phil. 2:6-7 as an example of MORFH being employed to denote "the nature or character of something, with emphasis upon both the internal and external form" whereas it categorizes Mk. 16:12 as an instance of MORFH being utilized to mean "visual form, appearance."

Gerald F. Hawthorne (Word Biblical Commentary on Philippians) also points out that some scholars (such as P.M. Casey and Carolyn Osiek) have concluded MORFH can signify "status" or "condition." It would therefore be way off the mark to translate it as "nature" (if this claim is true) since the Greek term would then have reference to Christ's place/standing before God and before men. Hawthorne criticizes the last view because the extant literature does not appear to support it. However, Tobit 1:13 possibly uses MORPH to mean "status" or "condition":

"the Most High granted me favor and status with Shalmaneser, so that I became purchasing agent for all his needs."

Greek for Tobit 1:13: καὶ ἔδωκεν ὁ ὕψιστος χάριν καὶ μορφὴν ἐνώπιον ενεμεσσαρου καὶ ἤμην αὐτοῦ ἀγοραστής

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

More Thoughts on Article-Noun-Kai and Noun Constructions (Zerwick)

Zerwick writes: "The repetition of the article
distinguishes two coordinated notions, while on the
contrary the use of but one article before a number of
nouns indicates that they are conceived as forming a
certain unity, if not as identical" (Biblical Greek
Illustrated by Examples
. Roma: Editrice Pontificio
Istituto Biblico, 2001. Pp. 59-60.

However, while there are clear examples such as 1
Thess 2:12 that seem to support this grammatical
principle, 2 Cor 8:4, 19, 24; 9:13; 1 Pet 4:14 seem to
militate against it. Zerwick adds:

"On the other hand, we are perhaps warned not to
insist too far by such examples" as those cited above.
See Zerwick, ibid., p. 60.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

2 Peter 1:4--Sharers in the Divine Nature


There are a number of informative points in this verse that lead me to believe the "partaking" is future. For one, Peter anaphorically refers back to the contents of the previous verse when he uses the relative pronoun hWN("these things") to tell us something about God's beneficent activity in connection with his spiritual children.

The "things" that Peter evidently references in 2 Pet. 1:4 are God's "glory and virtue" (DOXHS KAI ARETHS) through which he called "us" (TOU KALESANTOS hHMAS). Primarily, by means of His Son, God has called anointed Christians and given them freely "precious and very grand promises" (NWT). This phrase tells me that Peter's focus is on the future when he speaks of Christians being sharers in divine nature, for it is through these promises (DI' hWN TA TIMIA KAI MEGISTA hHMIN EPAGGELMATA DEDWRHTAI) that anointed Christians become "sharers in divine nature." While a number of promises have been fulfilled, others are yet future and will be fully realized in the eschaton. So I favor a futurist interpretation of 2 Pet. 1:4, although I am aware of other ways to construe this passage.

But concerning GENESQE and its tense (or aspect), I am not so sure it tells us anything definite about the specific time-frame of 2 Pet. 1:4. GENESQE is 2nd pers. pl. aorist middle subjunctive. An aorist normally just defines simple action (action as a whole) and the subjunctive mood indicates potentiality--not necessarily future reference. So it seems that we must base our exegesis of this verse on its immediate literary context as well as look at other passages related to this one.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Imperial Rome and Early Christianity (J. Daryl Charles)--Work in Progress

A Discussion of "Imperial Pretensions and the Throne-Vision of the Lamb: Observations on the Function of Revelation 5"

J. Daryl Charles initiates his analysis of early Christians and Rome (imperium Romanum) by emphasizing the tension that existed between the two parties. The first-century Christians refused to worship any other deity but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (YHWH). So they consequently would not render Greco-Roman deities any allegiance, and this included emperors who had pretensions of being divine. Instead of giving allegiance to Caesar, the early followers of Jesus Christ worshiped God and rendered homage to the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 12:3). This tension between the Christian ecclesia and imperial Rome is played out in John's Apocalypse, "which represents a challenge to the Roman principate" (86).

Charles rightly depicts Rome as the "aggressor" in its numerous military activities and he believes this historical datum was not lost on the writer of Revelation. Hence, maybe for this reason and based on other factors, Revelation is replete with war imagery (Rev. 2:16-17; 12:7-12, 17; 19:11-21; 20:7-10). Yet despite the battle waged against the Christian ecclesia, the Lamb will conquer those opposing his followers (Rev. 17:14). Nevertheless, what about those Christian overcomers, who figuratively tread upon the serpent's head? Charles claims they will "reign on the earth" (page 86). To substantiate this point, he invokes Rev. 5:10; 20:6; 22:5.

Charles primarily mentions Christians reigning on earth to demonstrate the contrast between the Roman imperium and Messiah's rule. He explains how God's rule through Christ is exercised differently from current political systems, but Charles also explores important questions dealing with Roman rule including its religious and political aspects (86-7). To address these dual roles, Charles asserts that Rev. 5 supplies a "throne-vision of the Lamb" which contains both royal and sacerdotal elements in order "to reassure John's audience" (87). The article claims that John applies the language of "adoration and worship" normally rendered to "a deified emperor" to the Lamb (87). It is not possible to serve two masters, avers Charles: one must "worship" the conquering Lamb in place of the emperor. John calls upon the first-century assembly to make a decisive choice (88):

"Inasmuch as the Christians called Jesus Kyrios/Dominus, the same title could not legitimately be ascribed to the emperor--a dilemma interpreted plainly enough by Pliny. Ultimately, for the first-century Christian the matter comes down to a fundamental antithesis: Divus Imperator('Emperor Divine') or Christus Dominus ('Christ the Lord')."

Charles reminds us that Caesar only started to be recognized as Dominus from Emperor Domitian onwards, who reigned from 81-96 CE, even though Kyrios (the corresponding Greek term) was applied to Caesar in the East "almost from the beginning" (88). Examining the overall context of ancient Rome and its relationship with the primitive ecclesia leads to a consideration of how Rev. 5 possibly functions in this regard.

Many views have been expressed about Revelation 5, but Charles maintains that chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation have liturgical, religious, and political importance: "The central fact that pervades heaven is the absolute authority of God" (88). God sits upon the throne (Rev 4); exousia flows out from his right hand (5:1, 7); divine judgments emanate forthwith and dramatically (89). In climactic fashion, the Lamb steps forward to open the scroll, which none in heaven or upon earth can break open. The "Lion-Lamb" is simultaneously Savior and Conqueror--Charles insists that these images must be understood within the context of Roman imperialism (89).

Acts 2:24 (Anaphora)

ὃν ὁ θεὸς ἀνέστησεν λύσας τὰς ὠδῖνας τοῦ θανάτου, καθότι οὐκ ἦν δυνατὸν κρατεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ὑπ' αὐτοῦ·

I would say that the antecedent of the 3rd-person singular pronoun αὐτοῦ is "death" (the articular genitival τοῦ θανάτου). τὰς ὠδῖνας cannot be the antecedent since that noun phrase is accusative plural whereas τοῦ θανάτου is genitive singular. It seems that αὐτοῦ is used anaphorically here (its "normal" use). Cf. Wallace, GGBB, page 324. A good example of an anaphoric personal pronoun is Acts 27:32.

The NRSV has for Acts 2:24: "But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power" (1989 Version). In the ftn., it has "Gk. pains of death."

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

John Milton's Paraphrase of Psalm CXIV (Psalm 114)

"That saw the troubled sea, and shivering fled,

And sought to hide his froth-becurlèd head

Low in the earth; Jordan's clear streams recoil,

As a faint host that hath received the foil.

The high huge-bellied mountains skip like rams

Amongst their ewes, the little hills like lambs.

Why fled the ocean? and why skipped the mountains?

Why turnèd Jordan toward his crystal fountains?

Shake, Earth, and at the presence be aghast

Of Him that ever was and aye shall last,

That glassy floods from rugged rocks can crush,

And make soft rills from fiery flint-stones gush."


Monday, August 28, 2017

John 17:25- Nominative for a Vocative?

In Jn. 20:28, Thomas possibly calls Jesus Lord
and God while not equating him with YHWH (Ps. 8:5-6;
82:1-6). Jesus had already been identified as "a god"
(NWT) in Jn. 1:1 and as "the only-begotten god" (See
N.T. Wright's tentative translation of this passage in
his NTPG) in Jn. 1:18. But John equally made it clear
that men could be called "gods" without transgressing
the boundaries of Jewish monotheism (Jn. 10:34-36).
The Lord also spoke of "the only true God" in Jn. 17:3.
And Jesus did not identify himself with "the only
true God" (See Raymond Brown in his Anchor Bible
commentary on John).

I thus believe that whether one decides biblical verses
such as Jn. 20:28 are subject nominatives or
nominatives of address, he or she can still hold that
Jesus is not Almighty God. I make these preliminary
statements in view of what might be an example of the
nominative for a vocative, namely, Jn. 17:25:

Πατὴρ δίκαιε, καὶ ὁ κόσμος σε οὐκ ἔγνω, ἐγὼ δέ σε ἔγνων, καὶ οὗτοι ἔγνωσαν ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλας

Sunday, August 27, 2017

1 Thessalonians 4:17--More Redundancy??

I believe the Governing Body has suggested "together with them" in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 means that the living are raised during the same period of time as the dead in union with Christ, that is, during the Messiah's presence (parousia). The NWT seems to treat hAMA as a redundant term. Compare William Douglas Chamberlain's An Exegetical Grammar of the Greek New Testament, page 130. Chamberlain states that hAMA is redundant at 1 Thess. 4:17: he reckons that hAMA "shows the beginning of the retreat of SUN before hAMA."

BDAG indicates that hAMA may be used as a preposition with the dative to mean "together with . . ." It can also be employed pleonastically (i.e., redundantly) with SUN: "to denote what belongs together in time and place (about like Lat. UNA CUM) . . ."

The Latin UNA CUM also means "together with."


Friday, August 25, 2017

Hippolytus (Contra Noetum 8, 10-11)

Henry Barclay Swete provides an extensive quote from church father Hippolytus' Contra Noetum 8. He then writes:

"It must be confessed that this, perhaps the earliest
apologia for the Church doctrine of the Trinity, halts
here and there; neither of the terms 'economy' and
'person,' which Hippolytus uses perhaps for the first
time, suggests the existence of *eternal relations in
the life of God*, and the Divine Unity appears to be
secured by a *subordinationism* which it is difficult
to reconcile with the essential equality of the
persons" (The Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church: A
Study of Christian Teaching in the Age of the
. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1966), page 103.

Hippolytus also believed that God once existed alone, having nothing contemporaneous with himself (Contra Noetum 10.1-2); however, he declares that "alone though he was," God was "manifold" (autos de monos wn polus hn) in the sense that "he was not Word-less (oute alogos) nor Wisdom-less (oute asofos) nor Power-less (oute adunatos) nor Mind-less (oute abouleutos). But everything was in him, and he was himself the All."

So his words indicate that the Logos residing in God from all eternity was not a distinct persona. Furthermore, according to Hippolytus, God voluntarily wills the Logos into existence (Contra Noet 10.3). That also suggests the Logos was not an eternal person, and one historian (W.H.C. Frend) even says that Hippolytus thought of the Son as a "creature."

Granted, Hippolytus does consider Christ to be "God." The question, however, is what he means by this term. As Robert Wilkens observed some years ago, the pre-Nicenes believed that Christ was in some sense "God," but they did not think that he was "fully God."

So in Contra Noetum 11, we read:

"And thus there appeared another beside Himself. But when I say another, I do not mean that there are two Gods, but that it is only as light of light, or as water from a fountain, or as a ray from the sun. For there is but one power, which is from the All; and the Father is the All, from whom comes this Power, the Word. And this is the mind which came forth into the world, and was manifested as the Son of God."

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Possible Significance of Theos/QEOS and Kurios

Something old from my files on Lord and other terms:

KURIOS and QEOS are not synonyms. Therefore, its possible for God to be Lord and yet it is also possible for a lord not to be God (or a god). For example, Abraham was called "lord" by Sarah (1 Pet. 3:6). Does this mean that he was also her god? Tertullian wrote in Adv. Hermogenes that God became Lord and Father when he brought forth his Son (Part 3). Thus while I would not deny that a QEOS can also be a KURIOS--even Jesus is likely called both in John 20:28--I believe that Paul intentionally made a distinction in 1 Cor. 8:5, 6 between QEOS and KURIOS. One source I will quote is the Interpreter's
Bible. Commenting on 1 Cor. 8:5, 6, Clarence T. Craig penned the following:

"Paul chose his prepositions [ex and dia] carefully in order to distinguish
between God the Father, who is the ultimate source of creation, and Christ,
the Lord, through whom [dia] this activity takes place . . . it is perfectly
clear what Paul wants to affirm. Neither Caesar nor Isis is Lord, but only
Jesus Christ. When Paul ascribed Lordship to Christ, in contrast to later
church dogma, he did not mean that Christ was God. Christ was definitely
subordinated to God" (Craig 93-94).

For proof of Craig's assertion, see 1 Cor. 3:23; 11:3; 15:24-28. The corresponding word for "Lord" in Latin is dominus, whereas pater stands for "father" as it does in Greek.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Further Comments by Michael V. Fox on Proverbs 8:22 (Image)

More Support for Understanding Prov 8:22 in terms of "creation." From the Anchor Bible Commentary by Fox.

Speaking of the Midbar (Wilderness)--Lev. 16 and Azazel

This summer, I addressed some claims made by Mr. Jeff Benner about the biblical use of "wilderness" (midbar). Mr. Benner (relying on Hebrew etymology) claims that the ancient Israelites viewed the desert as a place of order. However, my contention is that while midbar might have that meaning in some places, that is not generally true of the word. I now present more evidence from a paper on Azazel (Leviticus 16) written by Aron Pinker. I will quote snippets of Pinker's study:

"Tawil's position has been adopted by Zatelli. She says, 'Perhaps the spelling עזזאל‎ in Qumran texts is acceptable for עזאזל‎; it has been changed into the more neutral עזאזל‎ in the textus receptus. Probably it was originally a kind of Canaanite demon—which developed in the Hebrew tradition—connected with the chthonian power expressed by goats. The wilderness is a symbol of the underworld.'"

"Milgrom felt that 'in pre-Israelite practice he [עזאזל‎] surely was a true demon, perhaps a satyr (cf. Ibn Ezra on Lev 16:8), who ruled in the wilderness—in the Priestly ritual he is no longer a personality but just a name, designating the place to which impurities and sins are banished.'"

"the scapegoat was sent out into the wilderness, which was considered to be one of the abodes of supernatural entities (Hab 3:3, Isa 13:21, 34:11–15)."

"Rudman shifts the focus from לעזאזל‎ to מדבר‎, claiming that the ritual as described by P, cleanses Israel (understood as a microcosm of creation) of sin (understood as chaos), and removes it outside creation itself into the chaotic area of wilderness."

Published Version of Pinker's Research:

Revisiting Philippians 2:6-7 with Robert B. Strimple

It does not seem exegetically or philologically sound to understand MORFH as "substance" or "nature" in Philippians 2:6-7. Jesus had the "form of a servant" insofar as he outwardly appeared to be a servant. Indeed he was a servant, but he was also much more since the disciples addressed him as Teacher and Rabbi. His outward appearance (form) did not tell the whole story: EN MORFH QEOU and MORFH DOULOU both refer to outward appearances.

Robert B. Strimple (in the Westminster Theological Journal) openly relates that for years he tried to maintain J.B. Lightfoot's strict distinction between MORFH and SXHMA until he had to admit: "there is really little evidence to support the conclusion that Paul uses MORFH in such a philosophical sense here [in Phil. 2:6ff]" (Strimple 259). Strimple also cites the four instances where MORFH occurs in the LXX (Septuagint). He writes: "in each instance . . . MORFH refers to the visible form or appearance" (Strimple 260).

It is also worthy of note that Aquila employs MORFH in Isa. 52:14 to describe the "outer appearance" of the Messiah. Since, as Strimple concurs, the theme of Jehovah's Suffering Servant undoubtedly played some part in the Philippians account--it seems reasonable to assume that MORFH as used in Isa. 52:14 bears the same meaning in Phil. 2:6ff. Strimple concludes: "meager though the biblical evidence is, it is sufficient to make a prima facie case for the reference being to a visible manifestation" (Strimple 260).

ὃς ἐν μορφῇ Θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα Θεῷ (Philippians 2:6, Nestle 1904)

A Link for Strimple's WTJ Paper:

Two New Books (Recommendations)


I want to let you know about two new publications that you might find interesting.

One is by Edward Feser. Here is the Amazon link for his work, which deals with proving the existence of God:

Another book is by Rolf Furuli, a fellow Witness and friend:

I notice that both books are out of stock on Amazon, but they can also be ordered directly from their respective publishers.

Feser's publisher is Ignatius Press:

Furuli's is published by Awatu:

Sunday, August 13, 2017

How Not To Render Greek (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Greek: Ἔχομεν δὲ τὸν θησαυρὸν τοῦτον ἐν ὀστρακίνοις σκεύεσιν, ἵνα ἡ ὑπερβολὴ τῆς δυνάμεως ᾖ τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ μὴ ἐξ ἡμῶν· (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Overly literal translation:

"But we have this thesaurus in baked clay vessels, in order that the hyperbolicity of the force might be of the God and not from us."

Do not render Greek this way!

Articles/Sources About "Aramaic Daniel" (Links)

(A scholarly writing from 1965 by K.A. Kitchen)

(Article by Gerhard Hasel from 1981)


(Article by G.R. Driver from 1926)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

ᾍδης (hADHS) and SHEOL (Psalms and Ecclesiastes)

There appear to be solid reasons for semantically equating SHEOL and hADHS--one of the strongest reasons is because the LXX utilizes hADHS in texts about the condition of the dead.



Additionally, Ps. 15:10 (16:10) prophetically speaks of the Messiah not being forsaken in SHEOL. On the day of Pentecost, Peter quoted those words, and when recording this speech Luke employs the Greek hADHS to describe what the Hebrew Scriptures call SHEOL (Acts 2:27-36). This passage indicates that the words are synonymous (they semantically overlap).

Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon also equates hADHS and Sheol, as does Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon which says: "In the Sept. the Hebr. SHEOL is almost always rendered by" hADHS.

While disagreeing with my theological views, Spiros Zodhiates yet writes: "hADHS . . . Most probable derivation is from hADW, all-receding. It corresponds to SHEOL in the OT" (Complete NT Word Study).

Obviously, one can believe that SHEOL and hADHS are semantically identical without believing they both represent a place of inactivity, but I happen to think that both places are domains of inactivity.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Memory and Persistence (Work in Progress)

In these kinds of discussions, it is common to let X stand for "anything whatsoever" and to let S represent "a person" or rational subject.

Is memory the only thing (X) that persists through time? X is a variable that here stands for any impersonal entity whatsoever (e.g., a banana, a table or a couch), whereas S used below represents any personal entity (i.e., a person or rational subject). Identity is normally framed in two ways: for impersonal and for personal things (respectively, X and S).

Kevin Corcoran (Rethinking Human Nature) illustrates persistence conditions for X by using the example of a banana. X (in this case) may be green at one time, yellow at another, and brown or black at yet another time. However, X presumably is still the same banana or the same X in each case. What permits me to make such an assertion?

Rene Descartes gives an example of wax in his work Meditations. Even if one melts wax (X), something remains that lets us know it's the same parcel of matter, even if melted wax does not have the same properties as non-melted wax. Therefore, what are the persistence conditions for bananas and for wax?

However we answer that question, Corcoran reasons that persistence conditions for persons (S) apparently exist too. Some suggestions for what makes a person (S) the same entity at T1, T2 . . . Tn are the soul theory, memory theory (primarily associated with John Locke), the body theory, and the illusion theory (e.g., Buddhism or David Hume). All of these proposals are framed within the context of Gottfried Leibniz's absolute identity theory, but there is no unanimous answer concerning the persistence conditions for X or S.

When I refer to the memory theory of John Locke, I am only pointing out how Locke maintains that memory secures the identity of a person (S). So if I eat an apple at T1, then Locke seems to reason that if I authentically recall that phenomenal event at T2, then it would appear that I must be the same S at T2--that is, the S who ate the apple at T1. However, there might be another person (S2), who also eats an apple at T1 and remembers the event later at T2. Yet one probably should not infer that S1 and S2 are identical persons based on this information. To the contrary, Locke insists that both persons would evidently maintain their respective identities over times T1 and T2 although his theory has been judged circular and irrevocably problematic by John Searle and Anthony Appiah.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Shift in the Frequency of Posting for Now

Well, summer is ending for educators, who do not teach in June, July or August. I will be returning to teaching duties next week; therefore, posting here will be less frequent unless breaks come along or some extra time. As always, I appreciate everyone taking the time to read this blog, and your contributions/insights are invaluable to me. It is all part of my ongoing education. So much fascinating material, but so little time.

All the best!

Monday, August 07, 2017

Robert W. Jenson and the "Pneumatological Problem"

Robert W. Jenson from his book Systematic Theology: The Triune God, Volume I (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997). His observations about "The Pneumatological Problem" can be found on pp. 146-161. I now present a brief summary of his statements.

Jenson, referencing Augustine, maintains that the Holy Spirit is
the "Gift of God." Manifestly, for Augustine, the Holy Spirit is God's Gift in that it is the bond of love eternally obtaining between the Father and the Son. Put more technically, the Spirit is the personal communion of the Father and the Son. In this case, Jenson contends, the genitive 'of' in "Gift of God" is "both subjective and objective: The Holy Spirit is God given by God" (page 147). But this description raises other questions. If the Spirit is God's Gift, then how is the Spirit "hypostatically" eternal? In other words, is the Spirit only a manifestation of divine identity in relation to Israel and the Church, or is the Spirit an immutable, necessary, and eternal personal distinction in the threefold Godhead? Furthermore, what hypostatic relation does the Spirit bear toward the Father and the Son?

Jenson's answers to these questions are quite interesting, even if
they are lacking in sufficiency. Read his book and you will see how
certain Trinitarian theologians try to resolve the seeming antinomies that result from the genitival "Spirit of God" etc. Foremost among such attempts to ameliorate the problemata resulting from the genitive use for the divine Spirit or "Gift of God" is the filioque approach contained in Western Trinitarian thought. But the Eastern Church rejects the filioque clause since it thinks the Spirit eternally proceeds solely from the Father (the one ARXH in the Godhead) and not the Son. I will thus conclude with this statement from Jenson:

"Perhaps the following is something like the truth. The
transcendental focus of the Spirit's intention of others is identical with the Father, for the Spirit's derivation of his being from the Father is never surpassed: the Spirit remains and is the spirit of someone; he is the RUACH of the God of Israel. And therefore as the Father finds his 'I' in the Son, so the Spirit finds his 'I' in the Son. He finds himself in the Son, however, differently than does the Father" (page 160).

Saturday, August 05, 2017

John 10:30--In What Sense the Father and Son Are One

Regarding John 10:30, ESMEN is the first-person plural indicative active form of EIMI. It means "we are." Therefore, "the Father and I are (ESMEN) one."

Some theologians and exegetes take the position that the Father and Son are one in substance or being. For instance, Charles Ryrie believes John 10:30 puts forth the view that the Father and the Son are one in substance. Rudolf Schnackenburg additionally writes that 10:30 gives us a glimpse of "the metaphysical depths contained in the relationship between Jesus and the Father." Conversely, Baptist exegete Gerald Borchert, while wanting to avoid an "Arian" interpretation of the verse explains: "the word 'one' here is neuter (hEN) and not masculine (hEIS), so the text is not arguing for a oneness of personalities or personae . . . but rather something akin to a oneness of purpose and will" (Borchert 341).

After reviewing the evidence, I opt for Borchert's view (although I draw differing implications from this verse than Borchert does). One Johannine verse that governs my thinking is John 17:20-22. In prayer with his disciples, Jesus prays that his followers may be one AS he and the Father are one. The unity discussed in John 17:20-22 is not an ontological unity, but a unity of action and purpose. I take it that Jesus was discussing the same type of unity in John 10:30 (Cf. 1 Cor. 3:8). The early church father, Novatian, also interpreted John 10:30 in this manner:

"But since they frequently urge upon us the passage where it is said, 'I and the Father are one,' in this also we shall overcome them with equal facility. For if, as the heretics think, Christ were the Father, He ought to have said, 'I and the Father are one.' But when He says I, and afterwards introduces the Father by saying, 'I and the Father,' He severs and distinguishes the peculiarity of His, that is, the Son's person, from the paternal authority, not only in respect of the sound of the name, but moreover in respect of the order of the distribution of power, since He might have said, 'I the Father,' if He had had it in mind that He Himself was the Father. And since He said 'one' thing, let the heretics understand that He did not say 'one' person. For one placed in the neuter, intimates the social concord, not the personal unity. He is said to be one neuter, not one masculine, because the expression is not referred to the number, but it is declared with reference to the association of another. Finally, He adds, and says, "We are," not "I am," so as to show, by the fact of His saying" I and the Father are," that they are two persons. Moreover, that He says one, has reference to the agreement, and to the identity of judgment, and to the loving association itself, as reasonably the Father and Son are one in agreement, in love, and in affection . . . In receiving, then, sanctification from the Father, He is inferior to the Father. Now, consequently, He who is inferior to the Father, is not the Father, but the Son; for had He been the Father, He would have given, and not received, sanctification" (De Trinitate XXVII.16ff)

Friday, August 04, 2017

1 Chronicles 29:20--Obeisance to Whom?

Normally, I believe one would render 1 Chronicles 29:20 (LXX) as the NET Bible does:

"David told the entire assembly: 'Praise the Lord your God!' So the entire assembly praised the Lord God of their ancestors; they bowed down and stretched out flat on the ground before the Lord and the king."

KURIWi and TWi BASILEI (grammatically) should both receive the action delineated by the verb PROSEKUNHSAN. While I could not find another example that described two entities receiving worship as direct objects by the use of a datival construction, I believe that Rev. 14:9-11, with its mention of the beast and its image, well illustrates how 1 Chron. 29:20 should be understood. Notice that PROSKUNEI + the accusative is used in Revelation 14:9, 11. But both objects receive the action of the verb. This also seems to be the case in 1 Chronicles 29:20 and translators usually recognize this point. Theology seems to have influenced Brenton's LXX translation. He renders the verse: "And David said to the whole congregation, Bless ye the Lord our God. And all the congregation blessed the Lord God of their fathers, and they bowed the knee and worshipped the Lord, and did obeisance to the king."

Thomson's LXX states:

"Then David said to all the congregation, Bless ye the Lord our God. And all the congregation blessed the Lord the God of their fathers, and with bended knees made a reverence to the Lord and to the king."

I find it interesting that the Vulgate also explicitly shows that both God and the King receive the same action. It says:

benedixit omnis ecclesia Domino Deo patrum suorum et
inclinaverunt se et adoraverunt Deum et deinde regem.

"they worshiped [or adored] God and then the King."

The NETS LXX similarly renders the latter part of 1 Chron. 29:20,
"and did obeisance to the Lord and the king"

1 Peter 2:13: JND Kelly and KTISIS

In a nutshell (in nuce), when it comes to 1 Peter 2:13, J.N.D. Kelly rejects the traditional renderings of KTISIS such as those found in the KJV, RSV and the NEB. He thinks that PASHi ANQRWPINHi KTISEI should not be translated "institution" or "ordinance." He insists that KTISIS always signifies "creation" or "creature" (ad concretum sensum) in the GNT, and Kelly further argues that the notion of God qua Creator stands as a backdrop to the GNT usage, although this point might be disputed by others.

The main point that I want to draw attention to here, however, is what Kelly offers in place of the traditional interpretation for 1 Peter 2:13. He reckons that Peter is exhorting his readers to
subject themselves voluntarily to human creatures (pages 108-9).

He continues:

"This exegesis also brings out the point of for the Lord's sake. Many commentators refer this to Christ, but it is God who created the world and men; it is therefore out of regard for Him as Creator that we ought to behave humbly towards our *fellow-creatures*' (page 109, stars added for emphasis).

Lastly, Kelly informs us that Peter passes from "the general to the particular" as he infers: "this principle of voluntary subordination should colour first of all the Christian's attitude to state authorities; whether to the emperor as sovereign, or to governors as sent under his commission" (page 109).

Kelly seems to be saying that KTISIS has reference to certain fellow humans (i.e., those exercising governmental authority). That is, it does not apply to the governments themselves, but to authorities who compose those human governments. Whatever you may personally think of Kelly's exegesis, his treatment of 1 Peter 2:13 shows that KTISIS might be applied to human rulers or authorities, who exercise power by heaven's allowance.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Genesis 1:1: Chaoskampf Story?

While many like to assert a connection between Genesis 1 and Enuma Elish, the story may be more complex than normally assumed. Here is one view of the issue.

The article is by Robin Routledge, published in the Tyndale Bulletin 61.1 (2010) issue.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Job 38:7 (Angels?)--Evidence from LXX and Targum of Job

Job 38:7 (LXX): ὅτε ἐγενήθησαν ἄστρα ᾔνεσάν με φωνῇ μεγάλῃ πάντες ἄγγελοί μου

The sons of God are explicitly identified as angels/messengers in this verse.

Also see!.html

"Where were you when I created the earth? Answer, if you can 3 who created , measurements? Or who used a tape measure? Or what are its bases set to or who set the cornerstone. 7 When the stars shown [sic] in the morning and all the angels of God song? Can you lock the entrace [sic] to the sea when it tries to leave the deep murky bottom. When did you where [?] clouds as cloths and fog as baby's cloths" (Targum of Job, Col. XXX).


See doctoral thesis here:

Monday, July 31, 2017

Omnipresence (What Its Advocates Say)

Hello Philip,

I could produce more quotes, but let's start with these two sources for now. The first author is semi-longish, which is one reason I decided to limit the quotations.

From Louis Berkhof:

The infinity of God may also be viewed with reference to space, and is then called His immensity. It may be defined as that perfection of the Divine Being by which He transcends all spatial limitations, and yet is present in every point of space with His whole Being. It has a negative and a positive side, denying all limitations of space to the Divine Being, and asserting that God is above space and fills every part of it with His whole Being. The last words are added, in order to ward off the idea that God is diffused through space, so that one part of His Being is present in one place, and another part in some other place. We distinguish three modes of presence in space. Bodies are in space circumscriptively, because they are bounded by it; finite spirits are in space definitively, since they are not everywhere, but only in a certain definite place; and in distinction from both of these God is in space repletively, because He fills all space. He is not absent from any part of it, nor more present in one part than in another.

In a certain sense the terms “immensity” and “omnipresence,” as applied to God, denote the same thing, and can therefore be regarded as synonymous. Yet there is a point of difference that should be carefully noted. “Immensity” points to the fact that God transcends all space and is not subject to its limitations, while “omnipresence” denotes that He nevertheless fills every part of space with His entire Being. The former emphasizes the transcendence, and the latter, the immanence of God. God is immanent in all His creatures, in His entire creation, but is in no way bounded by it. In connection with God’s relation to the world we must avoid, on the one hand, the error of Pantheism, so characteristic of a great deal of present day thinking, with its denial of the transcendence of God and its assumption that the Being of God is really the substance of all things; and, on the other hand, the Deistic conception that God is indeed present in creation per potentiam (with His power), but not per essentiam et naturam (with His very Being and nature), and acts upon the world from a distance. Though God is distinct from the world and may not be identified with it, He is yet present in every part of His creation, not only per potentiam, but also per essentiam. This does not mean, however, that He is equally present and present in the same sense in all His creatures. The nature of His indwelling is in harmony with that of His creatures. He does not dwell on earth as He does in heaven, in animals as He does in man, in the inorganic as He does in the organic creation, in the wicked as He does in the pious, nor in the Church as He does in Christ. There is an endless variety in the manner in which He is immanent in His creatures, and in the measure in which they reveal God to those who have eyes to see. The omnipresence of God is clearly revealed in Scripture. Heaven and earth cannot contain Him, I Kings 8:27; Isa. 66:1; Acts 7:48,49; and at the same time He fills both and is a God at hand, Ps. 139:7-10; Jer. 23:23,24; Acts 17:27,28.


International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:

Neither the noun "omnipresence" nor adjective "omnipresent" occurs in Scripture, but the idea that God is everywhere present is throughout presupposed and sometimes explicitly formulated. God's omnipresence is closely related to His omnipotence and omniscience:

that He is everywhere enables Him to act everywhere and to know all things, and, conversely, through omnipotent action and omniscient knowledge He has access to all places and all secrets (compare Psalms 139). Thus conceived, the attribute is but the correlate of the monotheistic conception of God as the Infinite Creator, Preserver and Governor of the universe, immanent in His works as well as transcendent above them.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

"Sons of God" in the Old Testament (Quotes from BDB and Gesenius)

Brown-Driver and Briggs:
בְּנֵי האלהים applied to supernatural beings Genesis 6:2,4; Job 1:6; Job 2:1; בְּנֵי אלהים Job 38:7; בְּנֵי אֵלִים Psalm 29:1 (on which compare Che's note) Psalm 89:7

Also From Gesenius:

Friday, July 28, 2017


Some "oldtimers" like me in all likelihood remember articles that we used to have in the Watchtower about the distinction between gnosis and epignosis. I recall one illustration that concerned having basic knowledge of a watch--like most of us do--versus having the ability to disassemble a watch, then put it back together.The latter type of knowledge, the article stressed, is what the Bible means by epignosis. Here are additional sources that explore this distinction:

"The Meaning of Epignosis." See

"Epignosis - 5x in the Septuagint - 1Ki 7:2; Pr 2:5; Hos 4:1, Hos 4:6; Hos 6:6" (Preceptaustin)

Kenneth Wuest: "Knowledge or epignosis is full, perfect, precise knowledge as opposed to gnósis, imperfect, partial knowledge."

Trench's Synonyms of the New Testament:

Of ἐπίγνωσις, as compared with γνῶσις, it will be sufficient to say that ἐπί must be regarded as intensive, giving to the compound word a greater strength than the simple possessed; thus ἐπιποθέω (2 Cor. 5:2), ἐπιμελέομαι: and, by the same rule, if γνῶσις is ‘cognitio,’ ‘kenntniss,’ ἐπίγνωσις is ‘major exactiorque cognitio’ (Grotius), ‘erkenntniss,’ a deeper and more intimate knowledge and acquaintance. This we take to be its meaning, and not ‘recognition,’ in the Platonic sense of reminiscence, as distinguished from cognition, if we might use that word; which Jerome (on Ephes. 4:13), with some moderns, has affirmed. St. Paul, it will be remembered, exchanges the γινώσκω, which expresses his present and fragmentary knowledge, for ἐπ ιγνώσομαι, when he would express his future intuitive and perfect knowledge (1 Cor 13:12). It is difficult to see how this should have been preserved in the English Version; our Translators have made no attempt to preserve it; Bengel does so by aid of ‘nosco’ and ‘pernoscam,’ and Culverwell (Spiritual Optics, p. 180) has the following note: ‘Ἐπίγνωσις and γνῶσις differ. Ἐπίγνωσις is ἡ μετὰ τὴν πρώτην γνῶσιν τοῦ πράγματος παντελὴς κατὰ δύναμιν κατανόησις. It is bringing me better acquainted with a thing I knew before; a more exact viewing of an object that I saw before afar off. That little portion of knowledge which we had here shall be much improved, our eye shall be raised to see the same things more strongly and clearly.’ All the uses of ἐπίγνωσις which St. Paul makes, justify and bear out this distinction (Rom. 1:28; 3:20; 10:2; Ephes. 4:13; Phil. 1:9; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25; cf. Heb. 10:26); this same intensive use of ἐπίγνωσις is borne out by other similar passages in the N. T. (2 Pet. 1:2, 8; 2:20) and in the Septuagint (Prov. 2:5; Hos. 4:1; 6:6); and is recognized by the Greek Fathers; thus Chrysostom on Col. 1:9: ἔγνωτε, ἀλλά δεῖ τι καὶ ἐπιγνῶναι. On the whole subject of this § see Lightfoot on Col. 1:9.

1 Cor. 13:12 is certainly a verse to ponder.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

KANWN and Disputed Bible Books

To my knowledge, disputes about genuine Bible books began to occur in the second century: the first-century assembly evidently did not have these dissensions. Nor did the Primitive EKKLHSIA need a "list" (KANWN) of authoritative works: such a move was necessitated by the Christian APOSTASIA foretold in Acts 20:28-31 (see Frend, The Rise of Christianity, 250ff; C.C. Ryrie, Basic Theology, 105-107). It is anachronistic to use the term KANWN in the sense of a "list" to describe first-century Christian Scripture. The term "canon" as a list qua list of divine Christian books possibly was not employed that way until 367 CE by Athanasius--prior to that time, a KANWN was simply a rule or measuring standard, not a list per se. The word's denotations progressively unfolded. So one problem stems from the fact that some Bible readers attempt to superimpose a fourth-century usage on a first-century anthologia. But that is synchronically unsound and highly problematic.

See for a discussion of the relevant issues surrounding the term "canon."

What books constituted Scripture for the first-century EKKLHSIA? Were the so-called Deuterocanonicals part of the inspired texts?

It is a little misleading to assert that the Deuterocanonicals belonged to the early Septuagint Version. The evidence for this claim is scant: "While the New Testament writers all used the Septuagint, to a greater or lesser degree, none of them tells us precisely what the limits of its contents were. The 'scriptures' to which they appealed covered substantially the same range as the Hebrew Bible [which did not contain the apocrypha]" (F.F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, pp. 50ff).


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Quotes from Genesis Rabba--Part 4 (Sexism/Misogyny?)

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 seemed to believe 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.

Here is one passage from Genesis Rabba that possibly supports Bloesch's claim:

Woman was not formed from Adam's head, so that she might not be haughty; nor from his eye, so that she might not be too eager to look at everything; nor from his ear, so that she might not hear too keenly and be an eavesdropper; nor from his mouth, so that she might not be a chatterer; nor from his heart, lest she should become jealous; nor yet not from his hand, so that she might not be afflicted with kleptomania; nor from his foot, lest she should have a tendency to run about. She was made from Adam's rib, a hidden, modest part of his body, so that she too might be modest, not fond of show, but rather of seclusion. But woman baffles God's design and purpose. She is haughty and walks with outstretched neck (Isa. 3. 16), and wanton eyes (Isa. 3. 6). She is given to eavesdropping (Gen. 18. 10). She chatters slander (Numb. 12. 11), and is of a jealous disposition (Gen. 30- 1), She is afflicted with kleptomania (Gen. 31. 19), and is fond of running about (Gen. 34. 1). In addition to these vices women are gluttonous (Gen. 3. 6), lazy (Gen. 18. 6) and bad tempered (Gen. 16. 5).--Gen. Rabba 18.

2 Corinthians 12:1-4--ἁρπαγέντα τὸν τοιοῦτον ἕως τρίτου οὐρανοῦ

Greek Text from NA28 (2 Corinthians 12:1-4):

1 Καυχᾶσθαι δεῖ, οὐ συμφέρον μέν, ἐλεύσομαι δὲ εἰς ὀπτασίας καὶ ἀποκαλύψεις κυρίου.
2 οἶδα ἄνθρωπον ἐν Χριστῷ πρὸ ἐτῶν δεκατεσσάρων, εἴτε ἐν σώματι οὐκ οἶδα, εἴτε ἐκτὸς τοῦ σώματος οὐκ οἶδα, ὁ θεὸς οἶδεν, ἁρπαγέντα τὸν τοιοῦτον ἕως τρίτου οὐρανοῦ.
3 καὶ οἶδα τὸν τοιοῦτον ἄνθρωπον, εἴτε ἐν σώματι εἴτε χωρὶς τοῦ σώματος οὐκ οἶδα, ὁ θεὸς οἶδεν,
4 ὅτι ἡρπάγη εἰς τὸν παράδεισον καὶ ἤκουσεν ἄρρητα ῥήματα ἃ οὐκ ἐξὸν ἀνθρώπῳ λαλῆσαι.

One question I am starting to research again is whether we should read ἁρπαγέντα τὸν τοιοῦτον ἕως τρίτου οὐρανοῦ and ἡρπάγη εἰς τὸν παράδεισον as parallel expressions, which would suggest that the "third heaven" and "paradise" are to be closely identified.

Third heaven and paradise appear to be used as parallel terms to me, but I could be wrong. However, it's good to research how the "third heaven" was understood in ancient times. Furthermore, Jehovah's Witnesses understand "paradise" as a reference to heaven in Revelation 2:7. While I accept that explanation, there are questions I have about the potential connection between 2 Cor. 12:4 and Rev. 2:7. The other instance of "paradise" is Lk. 23:43.

Yet if Paul is saying that he was caught away to the third heaven and paradise, but these places are not the same, then possibly we have two separate ascents (in a visionary sense) mentioned in the account. While that is not impossible, I just wonder if it can't be read as one event (i.e., he was caught away to the third heaven, which is also known as paradise).

I've been told that the question is almost impossible to answer with any certainty.

Monday, July 24, 2017

"Use of Jehovah" (JBL Article By Francis B. Denio)


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Who Was Erastus? (Romans 16:23)

In view of 2 Tim. 4:20, it is quite likely that Erastus was a Christian. Although Rom. 16:23 does not provide detailed information about Erastus, in context, it seems that Paul includes him as a member of the early congregation. However, the foregoing being said, we must not overlook what the Greek text and history possibly tells us about this man.

Erastus was possibly the city-treasurer in Rome; the words used to describe this man are ὁ οἰκονόμος τῆς πόλεως. There is a world of difference between being a treasurer and being a soldier, which is how some want to characterize Erastus. While the distinctions JUS AD BELLUM and JUS IN BELLO became popular with Augustine of Hippo and his formulation of just war theory, we have evidence that the early Christians had no such philosophy--they applied the words of Isa. 2:2-4 to themselves and put down their weapons of war.

For what its worth, William Mounce does quote an inscription in his commentary indicating that Erastus could have been an aedile. But could is the operative word in this case, for we are not sure if the inscription cited is talking about the same individual.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Wisdom of Solomon 1:14--God "Created" Ta Panta?

ἔκτισεν γὰρ εἰς τὸ εἶναι τὰ πάντα καὶ σωτήριοι αἱ γενέσεις τοῦ κόσμου καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν αὐταῖς φάρμακον ὀλέθρου οὔτε ᾅδου βασίλειον ἐπὶ γῆς (Wisdom of Solomon 1:14)

"For he created all things, that they might have their being: and the generations of the world were healthful; and there is no poison of destruction in them, nor the kingdom of death upon the earth:" (Brenton LXX)

"For he created all things that they might exist" (NETS)

"creavit enim ut essent omnia et sanabiles nationes orbis terrarum et non est in illis medicamentum exterminii nec inferorum regnum in terra"" (Vulgate)

Wisdom of Solomon was probably written by 200 BCE.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Danielou and Tertullian's Christology

Jean Danielou tellingly writes these words about Tertullian's doctrine of God and Christ:

"The Son and the Spirit are distinguished, therefore, from the Father in that they have their own subsistent being, which is not, however, based on their eternal specific individuality, but rather on their function in relation to God's creation. Tertullian does not manage to get beyond the combination of a modalism with regard to the distinctness of the individual persons and a subordinationism with regard to their existential plurality" (Danielou, The Origins of Latin Christianity, 364).

Tertullian's Understanding of Psalm 8:5

Tertullian's understanding of Psalm 8:5 is "lower than the angels"--he views the psalm as a reference to spirit creatures and applies the verse to Christ.

"Modicum quid citra angelos" (Adv Prax 9)

"propter hoc minoratus a patre modicum citra angelos"" (Adv Prax 16.11)

"minoravit filium modico citra angelos" (Adv Prax 23.19)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Part 3 of Genesis Rabba Comments

"When the Jews returned from Babylon, their wives had become brown, and almost black, during the years of captivity, and a large number of men divorced their wives. The divorced women probably married black men, which would, to some extent, account for the existence of black Jews."--Gen. Rabba 18.

[One finds all kinds of stories in midrashic homilies, many of which are quite incredible. More importantly, I was taken aback by the "racist" content of this work. EGF]

"If a man has entertained you only with lentils, do you entertain him with flesh. If one shows you small favours, bestow on him great ones when an opportunity occurs."--Gen. Rabba 38.

"There is not an evil which fails to bring benefit to some one."--Gen. Rabba A

[Based on Scripture, I believe that God is able to bring good from evil, and he often does. Does that mean all evil acts somehow confer benefit to someone? EGF]

"The pure of heart are God's friends."--Gen. Rabba 41.

[Reminds me of Ps. 73:1; Matthew 5:8. EGF]

John Calvin--An Advocate of Eternal Subordination for the Opera Trinitatis Ad Intra?

Did John Calvin believe that the Son and the Holy Spirit are eternally subordinate to the Father per their "divine" roles or functions in the Godhead?

Calvin evidently thinks of the three persons (tres personae) as three subsistences, divine persons who are distinguished from one another "by an incommunicable quality" (Giles, 53) which he identifies as "subsistence." An incommunicable quality is an attribute that cannot be transferred or passed on to someone/something else. E.g., parents communicate certain traits to their offspring; unfortunately, some diseases are communicable too. However, Calvin reckons that each divine person within the triune Godhead possesses some quality that cannot be communicated by the bearer of said property. These incommunicable properties only belong to divine personae.

Subsistence in Calvin's theology assuredly does not mean "essence" (essentia). He asserts that there is a "characteristic mark" that sets the LOGOS apart from God the Father so that the Word can "be" God and simultaneously "be with God" (Jn 1:1b-c). That defining "characteristic mark," Calvin argues, is not the Son's essence but his subsistence.

It is unfortunate that Calvin does not appear to explain, at least in a thorough or analytic sense, what he means by "subsistence." In any event, Kevin Giles believes Calvin does not imply that the Son or the Holy Spirit are subordinate to the Father qua being or qua function. Giles then provides various lines of evidence for this claim on page 54 of The Trinity and Subordinationism. One such line of evidence is that Calvin reasons that both prayers and worship should be directed not only "through" the Son but "to the Son." Admittedly, Calvin does accept an "order" (taxis) in the Trinity insofar as he believes that the Deus Trinitas is structured and functions in an orderly manner. However, Calvin does not think of the Trinity in hierarchical terms and rejects any talk of one person being before or after the other person "within the Godhead" (ibid, 55). Maybe he accepts logical priority, but eschews temporality priority.

At any rate, Calvin's non-subordinationist stance appears to be demonstrated when we note his exegetical comments regarding Jn 14:28 and 1 Cor 11:3. For Calvin, 14:28 is contrasting Christ's earthly state with his "present state" and "his heavenly glory to which he was shortly to be received" (Giles, 56). Furthermore, 1 Cor 11:3 (says Calvin) appertains to Christ in the flesh since "apart from that, being of one essence with the Father, he is equal with him" (ibid). Calvin's exegesis of 1 Cor 15:24ff is also worth reading.

In short, Calvin possibly applies Paul's words in 1 Cor 15:24ff to the soteriological-mediatorial office of Christ. If this conclusion is accurate, then Calvin does not apply the Pauline account to what he would identify as Christ's eternally timeless divinity.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Thomas Aquinas on Demonstrating the Trinity Is A Genuine Object of Faith

As many of you may know, Thomas Aquinas ("the Angelic
Doctor") was a devout Medieval theologian, who
effected an influential Trinitarian synthesis
by combining thoughts from Scripture with ancient Greek thought.
What Thomas has to say about the demonstrability of the
Trinity doctrine is noteworthy. The following quotes can be found in
Edmund J. Fortman's The Triune God: A Historical
Study of the Doctrine of the Trinity
. See pp.

"that God is triune is uniquely an object of belief,
and one cannot prove it in any demonstrative way. Some
reasons can be advanced but they are not
necessitating, and they have probability only for the
believer" (In Boeth de Trin 1.4).

"we can only know what belongs to the unity of the
essence, but not what belongs to the distinction of
the persons" (Summa Theologiae 1a.32.1).

Thomas contends that the Trinity is not irrational, but
transrational: it is a divine mystery that surpasses
all human understanding.

The Doctor has subsequently been criticized for making an
unnecessary distinction between God de Uno
and God de Trino. Observe how Thomas professes that
while the one essence of Deity can be known by means of natural reason, the personal distinctions of the Godhead cannot be known via ratio.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Athanasius, the Quicunque Vult, and Kevin Giles

Some people are convinced that Athanasius of Alexandria wrote the Athanasian Creed (the Quicunque Vult). There's just one problem with this conviction: Athanasius' dates are ca. 296-373 CE. So he did not live in the fifth century CE when the Quicunque Vult was possibly written. But there are other reasons to reject Athanasian authorship of the famed creed.

Edmund Fortman (The Triune God) writes these words pertaining to the Quicunque Vult:

"Its author, date, and source of origin are still matters of controversy. From the 7th century on it was generally ascribed to Athanasius, but in the 17th century it was realized that it was later than Athanasius and of Latin origin" (page 159).

"Many decades later [than Origen] the great Athanasius (c. 293-373) rose to a position of leadership in Alexandria" (Howard Vos, Exploring Church History, page 22).

"The creed [Quicunque Vult] was certainly not composed by its namesake, the famed Athanasius of Alexandria (293[?]-373), but by a later hand (or, hands)--the date of which, as mentioned in the text, has been variously assigned to anywhere from the fifth to the eighth centuries" (Matthew Alfs, Concepts of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 3).

For further information concerning Athanasius' dates and activities, see Richard Rubenstein's When Jesus Became God and W.H.C. Frend's The Rise of Christianity.

J.N.D. Kelly composed a major work dealing with the Quicunque Vult. See

Additionally, Kevin Giles maintains that the Quicunque Vult was probably composed in southern France circa 500 CE as a touchstone of orthodoxy. Despite the fact that the symbol (i.e., creed) was not composed by its namesake, Lutherans, Roman Catholics and Anglicans have traditionally viewed the document as doctrinally binding or normative for faith. Essentially, Giles explains, this is because the famed symbol is evidently rooted in Augustinian and Athanasian theology--it is thought to be the continuation of a venerable ecclesiastical tradition that stretches back to the ancient and formative Christian church.

According to Giles, the Quicunque Vult excludes all forms of subordination(ism) within the Godhead and he quotes Leonard Hodgson and J.N.D. Kelly to buttress this statement. Giles avers that the three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are distinct insofar as they bear "differing relations" to one another because of their "differing origins," namely, innascibility, filiation and spiration (eternal procession). Nevertheless, he asserts that the "differing origins" do not provide the basis for positing dependent eternal functions "within the Godhead."

In view of the language contained in the Quicunque Vult, Giles concludes that the Son is only subordinate to the Father vis-a-vis his humanity; the Son is not subordinate to the Father per his eternal role, function or essence. Giles therefore sternly emphasizes that the Athanasian Creed "condemns" the theological position of those who espouse and advocate eternal subordination(ism) within the triune Godhead. He views subordinationist positions as heretical. And that is an understatement!

See Giles, The Trinity and Subordinationism, page 50ff.

Quotes from Genesis Rabba-Part 2

Man should look upon the birth of a daughter as a blessing from the Lord.--Gen. Rabba 26.

For seven days the Lord mourned (or deplored) the necessity of destroying His creatures by the deluge.--Gen. Rabba 27.

God will wipe away tears from off all faces (Isa. 25. 8). This means from the faces of non-Jews as well as Jews.--Gen. Rabba 26.

The sexes of both man and the lower animals were meant to be separated in the ark during the deluge. This is clear from the way in which they entered the ark: first Noah and his three sons went in, and then their wives separately (Gen. 7. 7). But when they came out of the ark after the flood, God commanded Noah, 'Go out of the ark, thou and thy wife, thy sons and their wives' (Gen. 8. 16), thus putting the sexes together again. Ham among the human beings, and the dog among the lower animals, disregarded this injunction and did not separate from the opposite sex in the ark. The dog received a certain punishment, and Ham became a black man; just as when a man has the audacity to coin the king's currency in the king's own palace his face is blackened as a punishment and his issue is declared counterfeit --Gen. Rabba 37-