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 not certain 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) questioned the connection between tehom and Tiamat when he was living.

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?