Thursday, November 27, 2014

Andrew Wilson Addresses John Piper's "Extreme" Version of Calvinism

I don't concur with everything written by Wilson, but he does seem to recognize problematic areas of John Piper's thought while he also critiques Roger Olson who finds more good in open theism than he does in strong Calvinism.

See http://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/does-god-ordain-all-sinful-human-choices

William Kinkade Articulates the Logical Consequences of Calvinism in a Few Words

"If God has, by the acts of his will, fore-ordained all things whatsoever comes to pass, then it will follow that every thing comes to pass just as he wills it; and of course no being can, ever could, or ever will do any thing contrary to his will. I cannot see any difference between this doctrine and Deism" (Kinkade, The Bible Doctrine Of God, Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit, Atonement, Faith, And Election, New York: H. R. Piercy, 1829. page 301).

He references Jer. 7:31 on page 302 to show an instance of some human actions which God has not foreordained. I've never heard that scripture explained well within the context of predestination, but let us see what Calvin has to say about the verse in Jeremiah.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

ἔρως in the LXX/OG

ἔρως occurs two places in the Septuagint Version of the Bible (the LXX):

ἐλθὲ καὶ ἀπολαύσωμεν φιλίας ἕως ὄρθρου δεῦρο καὶ ἐγκυλισθῶμεν ἔρωτι (Proverbs 7:18)

α(ι)δης και ερως γυναικος και ταρταρος και γη ουκ εμπιπλαμενη υδατος και υδωρ και πυρ ου μη ειπωσιν αρκει (Proverbs 30:16)

Interesting that it appears in the same book too.

Although the Greek word is only used twice by the translators, it seems that the concept is a familiar one in the Hebrew Bible.

The "Seed" of Genesis 3:15 Could Be An Individual, Not A Collective

In terms of my belief, like many others, I hold that the "seed" of Gen 3:15 is one person. See also Galatians 3:16 where Paul understands Abraham's seed to be one person specifically although others may jointly constitute the seed according to Galatians 3:26-29. Compare Romans 16:20. But an individual is probably in view on the primary level, even if we allow for a secondary part of the woman's seed in 3:15. Note what Jack Collins writes below:

The data documented above are widely distributed, consistent, and sufficiently attested to allow meaningful generalisations. The clearest syntactic parallel to our verse is 2 Samuel 7:13, which is a promise to David of an offspring (zera‘, v. 12): hû’ yibenh-bayit lišěmî (‘he will build a house for my name’). From these data it becomes clear that, on the syntactical level, the singular pronoun hû’ in Genesis 3:15 is quite consistent with the pattern where a single individual is in view. In fact, since the subject pronouns are not normally necessary for the meaning, we might wonder if the singular hû’ in Genesis 3:15 is used precisely in order to make it plain that an individual is being promised, who will win a victory over the snake at cost to himself. The evidence of the Greek translators makes it beyond question that the translator of Genesis 3:15 meant to convey that an individual was promised; this study indicates that his interpretation is consistent with Hebrew syntax elsewhere in the Bible.

It should be admitted, however, that at this point we have used the data at the syntactical level, which is a fairly low level of integration. The move up to the exegetical level, to answer the question whether this is what one finds in Genesis 3:15, will depend on one’s view of other factors, such as how one’s overall perception of the context should interact with the particulars; whether the interpretation should be based on the final form of the text or on reconstructed sources; what range of ideological messages one is willing to ascribe to the work; and so on. To treat adequately any of these questions is outside the scope of this modest syntactical note.

If, however, one grants for the sake of discussion that it is a valid approach to make a 'bottom-up' reading of the final form of this text, which has a relationship to the larger picture of Genesis, then it would be fair to read this as God's threat to the snake, of an individual who will engage the snake in combat and win.

Please see Jack Collins, "A SYNTACTICAL NOTE (GENESIS 3:15): IS THE WOMAN’S SEED SINGULAR OR PLURAL?," Tyndale Bulletin 48.1 (1997) 139-148.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Genesis 3:15-Hebrew and Greek

וְאֵיבָ֣ה ׀ אָשִׁ֗ית בֵּֽינְךָ֙ וּבֵ֣ין הָֽאִשָּׁ֔ה וּבֵ֥ין זַרְעֲךָ֖ וּבֵ֣ין זַרְעָ֑הּ ה֚וּא יְשׁוּפְךָ֣ רֹ֔אשׁ וְאַתָּ֖ה תְּשׁוּפֶ֥נּוּ עָקֵֽב׃ ס
(Westminster Leningrad Codex)

καὶ ἔχθραν θήσω ἀνὰ μέσον σου καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον τῆς γυναικὸς καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ σπέρματός σου καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ σπέρματος αὐτῆς· αὐτός σου τηρήσει κεφαλήν, καὶ σὺ τηρήσεις αὐτοῦ πτέρναν (LXX).

From the Pulpit Commentary:

"shall bruise.

1. Shall crush, trample down - rendering שׁוּפ by torero or conterere (Vulgate, Syriac, Samaritan, Tuch, Baumgarten, Keil, Kalisch).

2. Shall pierce, wound, bite - taking the verb as - שָׁפַפ, to bite (Furst, Calvin).

3. Shall watch, lie in wait = שָׁאַפ (LXX., τηρήσει - Wordsworth suggests as the correct reading τερήσει, from τερέω, perforo, vulnero - Gesenius, Knobel). The word occurs only in two other places in Scripture - Job 9:17; Psalm 139:11 - and in the latter of these the reading is doubtful (cf. Perowne on Psalm in loco). Hence the difficulty of deciding with absolute certainty between these rival interpretations. Psalm 91:13 and Romans 16:20 appear to sanction the first; the second is favored by the application of the same word to the hostile action of the serpent, which is not treading, but biting; the feebleness of the third is its chief objection. Thy head. I.e. the superior part of thee (Calvin), meaning that the serpent would be completely destroyed, the head of the reptile being that part of its body in which a wound was most dangerous, and which the creature itself instinctively protects; or the import of the expression may be, He shall attack thee in a bold and manly way (T. Lewis). And thou shalt bruise his heel. I.e. the inferior part (Calvin), implying that in the conflict he would be wounded, but not destroyed; or 'the biting of the heel may denote the mean, insidious character of the devil's warfare'" (T. Lewis).

"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between the seed of thy son, and the seed of her sons; and it shall be when the sons of the woman keep the commandments of the law, they will be prepared to smite thee upon thy head; but when they forsake the commandments of the law, thou wilt be ready to wound them in their heel. Nevertheless for them there shall be a medicine, but for thee there will be no medicine; and they shall make a remedy for the heel in the days of the King Meshiha" (PsJon Gen 3:15).

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Genesis 9:4, Blood, and Life

Gen. 9:4 is a generic statement and should not be understood as "a particular individual's life." This is not to say that a specific individual's life fails to be in his/her blood, so to speak, but the injunction at Gen. 9:4 concerns how Noah--and by extension, all of his descendants--was supposed to treat animals in general. Therefore, the text is evidently saying that blood constitutes the life (NEPHESH/YUXH) of the creature in a generic sense(in this case, we are talking about animals). Id est, every creature's YUXH (what plays an integral part in the creature's concrete life) is its blood.

The RSV reflects this understanding:

"Only you shall not eat flesh with its life [NEPHESH], that is, its blood."

So 9:4 does not appear to be suggesting that a particular individual's life is in blood; to the contrary, blood is the life of all creatures (animal or human).

In this regard, I note that the Amplified Bible also declares: "you shall not eat flesh with the life of it, which is its blood."

Commentator G. J. Wenham also writes that Gen. 9:4 points out that man "is forbidden to eat 'flesh with its life, i.e., its blood'" (Wenham "Genesis 1-15" 193). He goes on to observe: "It is easy to see why blood is identified with life . . . a beating heart and a strong pulse are the clearest evidence of life" (193).

Keil-Delitzsch offer these remarks: "'Every moving thing that liveth shall be food for you; even as the green of the herb have I given you all (את־כּל equals חכּל).' These words do not affirm that man then first began to eat animal food, but only that God then for the first time authorized, or allowed him to do, what probably he had previously done in opposition to His will. 'Only flesh in its soul, its blood (דמו in apposition to בּנפשׁו), shall ye not eat;' i.e., flesh in which there is still blood, because the soul of the animal is in the blood. The prohibition applies to the eating of flesh with blood in it, whether of living animals, as is the barbarous custom in Abyssinia, or of slaughtered animals from which the blood has not been properly drained at death."

For a nice discussion of the broad range of YUXH, see Louw-Nida's Greek-English Lexicon, especially semantic domain 23.88ff.

John Meier and the Brothers/Sisters of Jesus

Rudolph Pesch has championed the position that Jesus really had fleshly siblings. John Meier reports:

"Although his claims raised a fire storm of controversy among German Catholics, he has never been officially censured or condemned by Rome for his views" (Meier, A Marginal Jew, page 319). But here are the arguments posited by Meier:

(1) Meier argues that the Greek word ADELFOI ("brothers" or "brothers and sisters") combined with the "until" statement of Matthew 1:25 "creates the natural impression that Matthew understood 1:25a to mean that Joseph and Mary did have children after the birth of Jesus" (A Marginal Jew, page 322).

(2) In Matthew 13:55, Matthew appears to place Jesus’ brothers: "with his biological mother, not his legal father" (323).

(3) ADELFOS, the Hebrew word 'AH (ACH) and the Aramaic 'AHA are naturally translated as "brother." 'AH or ADELFOS could be used to mean "cousin," but only if the immediate literary context clarifies the relationship of the ADELFOI under consideration. Yet, Meier writes, "No such clarification is given in the NT texts concerning the brothers of Jesus. Rather, the regularity with which they are yoked with Jesus' mother gives the exact opposite impression" (325).

As an aside, BDAG Greek and English Lexicon observes that the Old Testament usage of 'AH does not establish the meaning, "cousin," for the Greek ADELFOS. This lexicon notes that "in rendering the Hebr. 'AH [ADELFOS] is used loosely in isolated cases" to designate male relatives "of various degrees" (BDAG 18). See ADELFOS, sense 1 in BDAG.

(4) The way that ADELFOS is employed by New Testament writers suggests that it refers to "brothers" rather than cousins. The word in fact describes "full brothers" in Mark 1:29-30 and throughout the New Testament. Meier thus wonders: “Why an exegete, operating purely on philological and historical grounds, should judge differently in Mark 6:3, where we hear that Jesus is the son of Mary and the brother (ADELFOS) of James, Joses, Jude, and Simon, is not clear” (Meier 327). He thus concludes: "In short, the 'cousin' approach of Jerome, like the 'stepbrother' approach of Epiphanius, simply lacks sufficient philological basis in the usage of the NT" (329).

(5) There appears to have been a tradition among the Church fathers of interpreting the brothers of Jesus as "real brothers" (331).

Conclusion:

"Hence, from a purely philological and historical point of view, the most probable opinion is that the brothers and sisters of Jesus were his siblings. This interpretation of the NT texts was kept alive by at least some Church writers up until the late 4th century" (332).

Meier presents much more detail, but I have simply tried to summarize his view. The point I want to make is that Meier says history and philology suggests Jesus had real siblings. Faith may direct certain believers to hold onto the tradition espoused by Jerome in the 4th century, however. Can the two approaches be combined?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

John S. Piper, Predestination and Las Vegas

The material below comes from http://www.christianpost.com/news/john-piper-on-mans-sin-and-gods-sovereignty-80617/

I do not agree with Piper, but thought it would be interesting to see his articulation of predestination. I did not write the following:

_____________________________________________________________________________________

The 66-year-old preacher underlined that God has total control over everything, quoting verses from the Bible.

Ephesians 1: 11 says, "...Having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will." Daniel 4:35 states, "No one can hold back his hand or say to him: 'What have you done?'" Amos 3:6-7 says, "If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble? If a calamity occurs in a city has not the Lord done it?"

He went on to quote Proverbs 16:9: "The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." Proverbs 19:21: "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 16:33: "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD."

"So every spin of the roulette wheel ... you know Las Vegas ... every roll of the dice in your family board game, every reaching of the hand for the scramble of the letter, is determined by God," Piper said.

He quoted Joseph as saying to his brothers after they had sold him into slavery, as recorded in Genesis 50:20: "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive."

Piper said he had often heard this text misquoted. Some Christians think Joseph's brothers meant evil as they sold him into slavery to get rid of him, which was evil, a sin, but God used that incident for good. "That's not what it says, and there's a big difference," he said.

"God didn't watch it happen, and say, 'What am I going to do with this. Oh, I will make him vice president of Egypt; we'll turn it all around.' God never watches anything merely; He is always sustaining, acting. So He meant it," Piper said, quoting from Psalms 105, which says that God sent Joseph to Egypt to keep alive a people. "God had a plan to keep alive a people, and that is the way sin works."

Piper added that Acts 4:27-28 is perhaps the most crucial crux-like statement of God's sovereignty in the Bible "because what is being spoken about is the death of Christ." The two verses state: "Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen."

Herod's mockery, Pilate's expediency, the Gentiles driving the nails, and the people of Israel shouting, "Crucify Him, crucify Him," is all sin, Piper said, adding it was all "predestined, designed by God, scripted in the Old Testament, including Judas [Iscariot]."

Piper also talked about the Fall in the Garden of Eden. He said God meant that to happen. Redemption, he explained, was planned by the death of the lamb before there was any sin to redeem from. "All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain." (Revelation 13:8)

This is the kind of paradox that we must come to terms with to make sense of the Bible, he said. God's sovereignty ordains things to pass that from the human standpoint are willed as evil, and from God's standpoint willed as absolutely good for His final purposes, he added.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

M.A. Thesis on the Septuagint by Cara L. Murphy

It's entitled EXAMINING THE SEPTUAGINT: AN EXPLORATION OF THE GREEK OLD TESTAMENT'S
UNIQUE HERITAGE AND LASTING IMPACT ON THE NEW TESTAMENT

See http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/masters/15/

Regards,

Edgar

Roger E. Olson Critiques John Piper's Calvinist Views

All of the comments below are from Olson's blog:

John Piper has been at it again. But there's nothing new in the sermon reported on there. He has been saying this and writing it for decades. According to him, God foreordains sin. He "ordains and governs" it. He stops short of saying Godcauses is [SIC]. But the effect is the same: sin is God's will, even if it grieves him. And he's talking about about every specific sin, not just "sin in general."

Most Calvinists blush at such statements. And there's the line for me between "acceptable" and "unacceptable" Calvinism. I cannot accept, even with chagrin, Calvinism that says God foreordains and renders certain specific sins. That inexorably, ineluctably, inescapably makes God the author of sin and evil. That sullies God’s character OR makes sin not really sin. You have to choose. There’s no way around it.

Arminius was absolutely right when he addressed this Calvinist idea (which he associated especially with supralapsarianism but which is not held only by supras). He said that in that view, then, sin is not sin, or God sins and is really the only sinner.

Please see http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2012/08/john-piper-gods-sovereignty-and-sin/#disqus_thread

Scripture and Chance

Someone with whom I once dialogued suggested that chance might just be our perception of things, and only our perception of reality. Initially, I feel compelled to question the suggestion that "chance" is our perception as opposed to being an objective feature of the world. In Eccl. 9:11, Qoheleth writes: "time and chance happeneth to them all" (ASV). This passage indicates that at least some events in our lives happen by "chance." This view also seems to be corroborated by Luke 10:31. That verse says in part: κατὰ συγκυρίαν δὲ ἱερεύς τις κατέβαινεν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτὸν ἀντιπαρῆλθεν. Again, "by chance," the priest happened to be traveling along the road. According to Vincent's Word Studies: "By chance (κατὰ συγκυρίαν) Only here in New Testament. The word means, literally, a coincidence. By coincidence of circumstances."

There is no indication in this Gospel account that God foreordained the priest's actions. In fact, I actually wonder what purpose would be served by God foreknowing or foreordaining everything. For example, let's say that one day I'm driving down the road imbibing a fifth of liquor (MH GENOITO!), then I lose control of my vehicle before hitting a bridge. Did God foreordain/will my actions? Were my actions known long before there was ever a human race? What would have happened if I had not been drinking and driving? Would I have been involved in a terrible accident? Maybe, but it would not have been as a result of driving while intoxicated. In either case, I would put the blame on my personal actions, which I had the power to perform or to refrain from committing.

Maybe God chose not to know whether I would do such a foolhardy thing. It's also possible that before I found myself in that situation, there was the objective possibility that I would imbibe alcohol, and the equal possibility that I would not drink while driving. Call this position libertarian free will if you like: Peter van Inwagen prefers to drop the "libertarian" tag.

My position about chance is not simply based on logical considerations. I've also referenced Luke which mentions "chance." On the other hand, there's an interesting passage in Ruth 2:3: "And she went, and came and gleaned in the fields after the reapers: and her hap was to light on the portion of the field belonging unto Boaz" (ASV).

The writer of this particular OT account states that Ruth happened to "light on the portion of the field belonging unto Boaz." We are thus told that Ruth fortuitously began working in his field; but the rest of the narrative assures us that God's holy spirit is at work in the life of Ruth. Now it is quite possible that God could have
used Ruth if she would have lit upon a field belonging to someone else. The fact is, however, that she landed on the plot of land belonging to Boaz. Was this mere chance? Was it pure coincidence that Ruth began to work for Boaz? How should we understand this passage?

Benson's Commentary offers this view on Ruth 2:3: "Her hap was, &c. — It was a chance in appearance, and in reference to second causes, but ordered by God's providence. God wisely orders small events, even those that seem altogether contingent. Many a great affair is brought about by a little turn, fortuitous as to men, but designed by God."

Another theologian writes:

" . . . the author's real meaning in 2:3b is actually the opposite of what he says. The labelling [sic] of Ruth's meeting with Boaz as 'chance' is nothing more than the author's way of saying that no human intent was involved. For Ruth and Boaz it was an accident, but not for God. The tenor of the whole story makes it clear that the narrator sees God's hand throughout. In fact the very secularism of his expression here is his way of stressing that conviction. It is a kind of underplaying for effect. By calling this meeting an accident, the writer enables himself subtly to point out that even the'accidental' is directed by God" (Hals, Ronald. The Theology of the Book of Ruth. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1969).


It seems that some commentators also try to handle Luke 10:31 by attributing chance to the mind of God like the Cambridge Bible does:

"by chance] Rather, by coincidence, i.e. at the same time. The word 'chance' (τύχη) does not occur in Scripture. The nearest approach to it is the participle τυχὸν in 1 Corinthians 15:37 (if τυγχάνοντα be omitted in Luke 10:30). Chance, to the sacred writers, as to the most thoughtful of the Greeks, is 'the daughter of Forethought;' is 'God’s unseen Providence, by men nicknamed Chance' (Fuller). 'Many good opportunities work under things which seem fortuitous.'"

Finally, at Rabbi Derek Leman's blog, we read:

"No, it is accepted that life's seemingly random events are actually, all or some of the time, influenced by the Divine purpose. So, Ruth's 'chance' doesn't randomly 'chance upon' the field of Boaz. Her unwitting steps were guided by an unseen hand, with invisible Providence bringing about a specific event. No argument about predestination vs. freewill is needed (freewill is simply assumed throughout the Bible). The mystery of unseen purpose is always with us."

However this account is to be understood, I don't believe that God foreordained this event before there was ever a Ruth or a Boaz. Similarly, I find it quite implausible that God foreordains every event that happens throughout the KOSMOS: reasons for this belief have been given in previous blog entries. A final thought pertains to free will. If our wills are truly capable of causing events, if they can bring it about that some action (A) occurs, then it's hard to correlate a strong determinsitic view of the world with an agent causation (or libertarian) view of free will.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

An Old Reply to Rob Bowman Concerning the Meaning of "Life"

ROB: The eternal state of the wicked is not properly called "life." To have life means to participate in a realm where relationships with others is possible. For example, to be physically alive means to participate in the physical realm where relationships with other physical beings, especially other human beings, is possible. The wicked will not have life; they will be cut off from everything and everyone.

EDGAR's REPLY: Come now, Rob. I cannot believe that you are concocting an arbitrary definition of life to explain how the wicked can exist forever and yet be devoid of life. Rudolf Bultmann writes that ζωὴ "denotes in Greek the physical vitality of organic beings, animals, men, and also plants. Life is understood, not as a thing, but as vitality, as the nature or manner which characterizes all living creatures as such" (TDNT 2:832).

BAGD says that βίος can have the sense of "life in its appearance and manifestations" (141). The Greek word is used to describe "earthly life in its functions and its duration"; "of manner of life"; "means of subsistence" (BAGD 141-142).

See Luke 8:14; 2 Tim. 2:4; 1 John 3:18; 5:20.

Based on the lexical and conceptual evidence we have at our disposal, I cannot accept your arbitrary definition of life, Rob. Even if a person is incapable of having relationships with anyone, it still doesn't mean that he or she is not alive. The same thing can be said for a solitary animal or tree in a wilderness, so your definition of life does not work. If the wicked are consciously separated from God for all eternity, then they would be alive for all eternity. Life is not limited to relationships or the capability thereof.