Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Use of "Father" for God in Ancient Judaism

Taken from my dissertation "Metaphor and Divine Paternity" which will be published (hopefully) within the next year or two:

[Walter] Kasper states that ancient Israel believed God has “the attitude of a father.” Marsh similarly affirms that the use of “Father” as a divine appellation in the Tanakh “is clearly a metaphor, an image employed to express some aspect or aspects of God’s relationship with God’s people.” Moreover, Jeremiah the prophet indicates that God’s paternity with respect to Israel is symbolic or metaphorical when he speaks of YHWH “becoming” a Father to Israel (Jeremiah 31:9 NRSV). Therefore, it seems that the paternal title for deity is a well-established metaphor in ancient Judaism: the expression appears to form part of a metasememe that communicates the notion of God electing and providentially guiding Israel, the historical seed of Abraham (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8). Hence, although the communal address “our Father” is “relatively late,” (according to Vermes) the metaphor of God as Father (ab) to the Israelite nation appears to have been a prominent motif in the sacred documents of early Judaism (Prayer for Intercession 3:5-8).

Friday, September 19, 2014

Is There An Actual Difference in God Between Essence and Person (Aquinas' Answer)

"I answer that, The truth of this question is quite clear if we consider the divine simplicity. For it was shown above (Question 3, Article 3) that the divine simplicity requires that in God essence is the same as 'suppositum,' which in intellectual substances is nothing else than person. But a difficulty seems to arise from the fact that while the divine persons are multiplied, the essence nevertheless retains its unity. And because, as Boethius says (De Trin. i), 'relation multiplies the Trinity of persons,' some have thought that in God essence and person differ, forasmuch as they held the relations to be 'adjacent'; considering only in the relations the idea of 'reference to another,' and not the relations as realities. But as it was shown above (Question 28, Article 2) in creatures relations are accidental, whereas in God they are the divine essence itself. Thence it follows that in God essence is not really distinct from person; and yet that the persons are really distinguished from each other. For person, as above stated (29, 4), signifies relation as subsisting in the divine nature. But relation as referred to the essence does not differ therefrom really, but only in our way of thinking; while as referred to an opposite relation, it has a real distinction by virtue of that opposition. Thus there are one essence and three persons."

Summa Theologica (Prima Pars, Quaestio 39, Article 1)

The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas

Second and Revised Edition, 1920

Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province

Online Edition Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Knight

Monday, September 15, 2014

Secular/Sacred Music and the Early Church Fathers

This bit of information is taken from a book entitled Theology and the Arts: Encountering God through Music, Art and Rhetoric(New York/Mahmah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 2000) by Richard Viladesau. The quote is found on page 16 of the aforementioned work:

"It was of course recognized that the Old Testament not only spoke approvingly of the use of music (including instruments) in worship, but even commanded it. However, in the Hellenistic church, derived principally from Gentile roots, the music prescribed by the Torah for Jewish ritual was thought to be an accommodation by God to the weaknesses of the covenanted people--much like the permission of divorce in the Law of Moses. The fathers supported their position by quoting out of context such passages as Amos 5:23--'Away from me with the noise of your songs; the playing of your harps I do not wish to hear'--and Isaiah 5:12--'they have lyre and harp, timbrel and flute and wine at their feasts; but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord.' As far as Christian worship is concerned, they interpreted the instruments allegorically as representing powers of the soul and mind. Thus, for example, Pseudo-Origen writes that when the psalm says, 'Praise him in the sound of the trumpet,' the 'trumpet' is to be understood as the contemplative mind."

My point in citing this passage is to show that the early church Fathers perhaps took some biblical passages out of context and also let their everyday assumptions (preapprehensions) or philosophical views govern their interpretation of both the Old and New Testament.

Generally, from what I've read, the pre-Nicenes totally disapproved of secular love music; but maybe they qualify these sentiments somewhere. In any event, here are some examples of their overall attitude toward love/secular and instrumental music:

"In W. Riedel we read among the Commandments of the Fathers, Superiors and Masters that:

Christians are not allowed to teach their daughters singing, the playing of instruments or similar things because, according to their religion, it is neither good nor becoming.

All these passages, it is true, are concerned with worldly song and worldly music, to the practice of which pagan women attached excessive importance . . . In contrast to this the singing of psalms was recommended again and again to Christian virgins precisely as a substitute for prohibited secular music. Tertullian writes:

Let the two [spouses] sing psalms and hymns and incite each other to see who can sing better to his God" (information taken from J. Quasten's Music and Worship in Pagan and Christian Antiquity, pages 83-84).


"The reasons for which Christians passed their sharp judgment were other than those of the pagans. It is true that Christians also held music in contempt because it promoted moral decay. Thus Clement of Alexandria condemned flute music because it was 'a chain in a bridge of sensual love and idle impulses,' and he rejected the noise of cymbal and tambourine because it made one forget propriety and morality. But the most important reason for Clement's condemnation of profane music in private life, which all other Christian writers shared with him, was the close relationship between music and the pagan cult of the idols. Therefore all the music of that time, as far as Christians were concerned, constituted one great worship of idols" (ibid. 126).

"God also gave man a voice. Yet, love songs and indecent things are not to be sung merely on that account" (Cyprian, ANF 5.433).

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Geza Vermes' Statement on DSS and the Hebrew Bible

I'm addressing issues of Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) reliability.


Saturday, September 06, 2014

Keeping Comments Relevant

I love to interact with comments on my blog entries, but they need to relate to the original posts. There have been recent comments which I've had to reject because they strayed from the original posts or tried to link to some anti-Witness website. Sorry, but I will not promote such links or take off-topic remarks.



Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Archer Demonstrates That the Old Testament Is Reliable

Taken from Gleason L. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994 ed), p. 32.

"Even though the two copies of Isaiah discovered in Qumran Cave 1 near the Dead Sea in 1947 were a thousand years earlier than the oldest dated manuscript previously known (A.D. 980), they proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text, but in 1QIsb, (ca. 75 B.C.) the preserved text is almost letter for letter identical with the Leningrad Manuscript. The five percent of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling. Even those Dead Sea fragments of Deuteronomy and Samuel which point to a different manuscript family from that which underlies our received Hebrew text do not indicate any differences in doctrine or teaching. They do not affect the message of revelation in the slightest."

You can find much more evidence in this work.

How Should We Understand 2 Corinthians 5:1-5?

A gentleman once wrote concerning 2 Cor 5:1-5:

"This seems to me to be indicating that Paul's mortal body would not be abandoned, but rather improved. That he [sic] "house" is referring to enhancement to his mortal condition which *descends* from God."


Notice that Paul actually indicates that his earthly tent WILL be dissolved. The NASB rightly translates this verse as follows:

"For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands,
eternal in the heavens."

Compare this thought with 2 Cor 5:4-5 (NASB)

4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.

5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

So we are not simply talking about "improving" a mortal body here. The apostle suggests that his earthly tent will undergo dissolution
and it will be replaced by a sturdy house, "eternal in the heavens." Additionally the verse says nothing about a body "descending" from God, but it simply shows that God is the source of the new body:

"Thus, the heavenly dwelling of 2 Cor 5:1, no less than the heavenly commonwealth of Phil 3:19, would be an image for that new age. Not
even death, the final proof of mortality, need cause the apostles to shrink back (4:16a), for they, like all believers, know that their
true home is in heaven" (Furnish, VP. II Corinthians; translated with introduction, notes and commentary. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday,

Monday, September 01, 2014

2 Corinthians 5:8 and the Resurrection

Here are some points I have read about 2 Cor. 5:1-8:

"But what does Paul mean in his desire not to be found naked? While most commentators interpret 'naked' either as 'disembodied' or as 'moral nakedness' or 'shame,' there is another possibility if the allusion is to Ecclesiastes 5:14-15 LXX: 'As he [sc. the rich man] came forth naked from his mother's womb, he shall return back as he came, and he shall receive nothing for his labor, in order that it might go with him in his hand.' Seen in the light of this passage, Paul does not want to be found 'naked' in the sense of being physically buried without receiving a reward for his apostolic suffering and labor . . . If this interpretation is correct, then 2 Corinthians 5:3 is not as tautological as it may at first seem. Paul is saying that he wants to receive his resurrection body so that he will not be found naked in the grave, having lived and died in vain, without recompense"(James M. Scott, 2 Corinthians, 113).

See Marvin C. Pate's Adam Christology as the Exegetical and Theological Structure of 2 Corinthians 4:7-5:21. He contends that the word "naked" in 2 Cor. 5:3 should be interpreted in the light of the Genesis account and 3 Bar. 4:16; 2 En 22:8; 30:12. He basically thinks that Paul is referring to shamefulness and a "loss of glory" in 2 Cor. 5:3.

I would also suggest David Aune's discussion on GUMNOS in Revelation commentary (Word series). Note how "nakedness" is associated with shamefulness in Rev. 16:15. There are a number of parallels for this usage in non-canonical literature and the OT (Gen. 3:10; 9:24; Isa 20:4; 47:3; Hosea 2:10; 1 Cor. 12:23; Apoc. Moses 20). See also Jub. 3:30.