Sunday, November 18, 2018

Jehovah Sets Precedents? An Idea in Germ Form

A dear friend I knew some years ago, now deceased, used to tell me that she felt Jehovah sets precedents (always?) before he acts. I don't remember reading about this concept in WT literature, but it may be there. And frankly, I don't find the idea objectionable and it even seems scriptural. But I need to do more research, find the scriptural basis for believing that Jehovah sets precedents although the organization has written that Jehovah will set a precedent for all time to come, when he destroys Satan, his demons, and other rebels after the test mentioned in Revelation 20:7-10. Maybe Jehovah also set a precedent when he gave his Son to eradicate sin and death. See also Jude 1-7.

Edward P. Arbez and John P. Weisengoff: Notes on Genesis 1:1-2 (Screenshots)


Monday, November 12, 2018

Is It Possible That the Third Heaven Is Identical with Paradise in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4?

We find recurrent antecedents in Jewish writings that indicate paradise and the third heaven might be identical. See Andrew Lincoln, Paradise, page 6.

Compare Apocalypse of Moses 37.5; Life of Adam and Eve 25.3.

2 Baruch 51:11: For there shall be spread before them the extents of Paradise, and there shall be shown to them the beauty of the majesty of the living creatures which are beneath the throne and all the armies of the angels who are now held fast by my word, lest they should appear, and are held fast by a command, that they may stand in their places till their advent comes. http://www.cepher.net/2-baruch-51.aspx

Comments from the International Critical Commentary on 2 Corinthians:

εἰς τὸν παράδεισον. See on Luke 23:43 and Sewte on Revelation 2:7, the only other passages in N.T. in which παράδεισος occurs; also Hastings, DB. ii. pp. 668 f., DCG. ii. p. 318; Salmond, Christ. Doct. of Immortality, pp. 346 f. The word tells us little about the nature of the unseen world. In the O.T. it is used either of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9, Genesis 2:2:10, Genesis 2:15, etc.) or of a park or pleasure-ground (Song of Solomon 4:13; Ecclesiastes 2:5; Joel 2:3; etc.); but it represents three or four different Hebrew words. We must leave open the question as to whether St Paul regards paradise and the third heaven as identical, or as quite different, or as one containing the other, for there is no clue to the answer. See Int. Journal of Apocrypha, July 1914, pp. 74 f.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Robert Thomas' Exegetical Treatment of Revelation 4:11

The combination ēsan kai ektisthēsan has occasioned various explanations. One takes the former verb to express the existence of creation in the will of God before its actual existence and the latter verb to refer to the actual creation (Swete; Charles). In other words, ēsan looks back to the eternal past and ektisthēsan pictures the genesis of nature (Swete). This view furnishes a possible explanation of the imperfect tense of ēsan, but it introduces into the context a completely foreign element, the thought of the potential existence of cre- ation (Beckwith). The imperfect tense could just as well view the state of creation immediately after the initial creative act. Another approach to this combination of verbs has been to understand the second as explanatory of the first.¹⁰⁷ Existence, first thought of as an accomplished fact, is made more specific by the latter verb (Beckwith). This proposal is modeled after the creation account in Genesis where the general description of man's creation in Genesis 1 is followed by a more detailed account in Genesis 2 (Charles; Beckwith; Ladd). The debilitating deficiency of this view is the difference between the two verbs. They convey two significantly distinct thoughts, and construing the latter as elaboration of the former is impossible. A third explanation for the two-verb combination is the figure of hysteron proteron, because of the non-chronological arrangement of the two: certainly the τίσις (ktisis, “creation”) must exist before one can say ēsan. The latter verb is proposed to be the act of creation, and the former one the process of creation (Moffatt). Though hysteron proteron is a common literary device of this author (cf. Rev. 3:9, 17) (Beckwith), it is unnecessary to resort to it because of the reverse chronological sequence of the two verbs. The writer may be thinking logically rather than chronologically. The simplest and most satisfactory explanation is that the two verbs speak of the simple fact of the creation's existence (ēsan) and then of the fact of the beginning of its existence (ektisthēsan) (Alford; Ladd). All created things (ta panta) existed in contrast to their prior nonexistence, and God gave them that existence by a specific act of His own power.

Thomas quotes Henry Alford. Here's what he writes about Revelation 4:11:

The elders, though themselves belonging to creation, in this ascription of praise look on creation from without, and that thanksgiving, which creation renders for its being, becomes in their view a tribute to Him who called them into being, and thus a testimony to His creative power. And thus the reason follows): because Thou didst create all things (τὰ πάντα, “this universal whole,” the universe), and on account of Thy will (i. e. because Thou didst will it: “propter voluntatem tuam,” as Vulg.: not durch Deinen Willen, as Luther, which represents διὰ with a gen. “For thy pleasure,” of the E. V., introduces an element entirely strange to the context, and however true in fact, most inappropriate here, where the ὅτι renders a reason for the ἀξιότης of ἡ δόξα, ἡ τιμή, and ἡ δύναμις) they were (ἦσαν, not = ἐγενήθησαν, came into being, as De W., al.: for this it cannot signify: nor again, though thus the requirement of ἦσαν would be satisfied, as Lyra, “in dispositione tua ab æterno, antequam crearentur:” nor, as Grot., “erant jam homines quia tu volueras, et conditi sunt, id est, iterum conditi, per Christum:” nor again as Bengel, “all things were, from the creation down to the time of this ascription of praise and henceforward.” The best explanation is that of Düsterd., they existed, as in contrast to their previous non-existence: whereby not their coming into being, but the simple fact of their being, is asserted.

The remarkable reading οὐκ ἦσαν is worth notice: “by reason of Thy will they were not, and were created:” i. e. “they were created out of nothing.” But besides the preponderance of authority the other way, there is the double chance, that οὐκ may have arisen from the preceding ου, and that it may have been an escape from the difficulty of ἦσαν) and were created (they both had their being,— ἦσαν; and received it from Thee by a definite act of Thine,— ἐκτίσθησαν).

Sources:

Henry Alford, "Commentary on Revelation 4:4." Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/revelation-4.html. 1863-1878.

Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7: An Exegetical Commentary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1992.

________________. Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1995.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Scholarly Suggestions Pertaining to Revelation 4:11

Greek (NA28): ἄξιος εἶ, ὁ κύριος καὶ ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν, λαβεῖν τὴν δόξαν καὶ τὴν τιμὴν καὶ τὴν δύναμιν, ὅτι σὺ ἔκτισας τὰ πάντα καὶ διὰ τὸ θέλημά σου ἦσαν καὶ ἐκτίσθησαν.

Grant Osborne (Baker Exegetical Commentary):
Many have noted the strange order in the two final verbs; one would expect them to be reversed, with the act of creation preceding the existence of creation. Some (R. Charles, Swete, Mounce) interpret ἦσαν as teaching the preexistence of creation in the mind of God, the potential of existence before it was created. This is ingenious but unnecessary. It is far simpler to note the ABA pattern and see ἐκτίσθησαν (ektisthēsan, were created) as restating the “created all things” of the first element. We do not have chronology here but rather a logical order (so Ladd 1972:78; Thomas 1992:368). God is creator and sustainer of the whole of creation. As Beale (1999:335) says, the purpose “is to emphasize preservation because the pastoral intention throughout the book is to encourage God's people to recognize that everything that happens to them throughout history is part of God’s creation purposes.”

R. Dean Davis, "The Heavenly Court Scene of Revelation 4-5,"(pages 229-230): Several scholars have made reference to a problem in the words of praise of the second hymn: "for thou didst create all things, and by thy will they existed and were created" (4:11). They believe these words suggest that all things existed before they were created. Some manuscripts try to solve the problem by substituting εἰσίν ("are") for ἦσαν ("were") or placing οὐκ ("not") before ἦσαν ("were"). The real solution, however, appears to be one of the following: (1) Hebrew parallelism is present here; (2 ) the καί ("and") is epexegetical; or (3) the two clauses are a hysteron proteron in which there is Inversion of the logical sequence. Beckwith has demonstrated that this inversion is a common feature of Revelation.

Sources:

Davis, R. Dean, "The Heavenly Court Scene of Revelation 4-5" (1986). Dissertations. Paper 31.

Osborne, Grant. Revelation. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Talk Regarding the Pattern That Jesus Left for Us (John 13:15; 1 Peter 2:21)

A good instructor knows that students learn best from patterns or examples: instructors may provide examples regarding how to solve math problems, then the students are asked to try solving the problems by following the teacher's example. Similarly, our Leader and Teacher Jesus Christ left a pattern for his disciples to follow (1 Peter 2:21). But how in particular did he leave this pattern for us?

Notice the lesson that he stated in John 13:5: the most frequently used footwear in ancient Israel was the sandal. Since sandals were just made of straps attached to one's soles and ankles, this meant that a traveler's feet would usually get dusty or dirty with ease as he walked in the ancient eastern world. Because sandals usually got so dirty, and rather quickly at that, it was common for a guest to take them off when entering a home. A host might then wash the feet of his guest or have someone else to perform the task. Hence, the Bible famously mentions this practice at a number of places (Genesis 18:4, 5; 24:32; 1 Samuel 25:41).

Why did Jesus wash the feet of his followers? Why would a Master wash the feet of his disciples? It was an object lesson that illustrated humility. Reading John 13 bears out this point.

(Read John 13:12-14)

By saying, "you also should wash the feet of one another," Jesus stressed the obligation that his followers have to deal humbly with one another. The Greek verb translated "should" at times refers to a financial debt, but in John 13:14, Jesus stresses the moral debt that his disciples owe each other; it is a debt to exercise humility and modesty in the service of our God (Micah 6:8).

Yet the verse that pinpoints how Jesus left a pattern for his disciples to follow is John 13:15: "For I set the pattern for you, that just as I did to you, you should also do"

What a powerful lesson in humility shown by Jesus as he washed his disciples' feet. His example demonstrates the importance of not striving to earn positions, prestige or futile honor. Instead, Christians serve each other just like Jesus ministered to his followers (Matthew 20:28). He set the pattern: his followers then imitate what the Instructor does. Jesus' actions likewise remind Christians to perform the humblest services for one another.

Yet how can disciples of Christ apply the principles that he taught regarding humility?

The Apostle Peter taught that humility is key to being an approved worshiper of Jehovah. See 1 Peter 5:1-7, where the inspired writer urges ancient Christians to be humble in imitation of Christ.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Dating John's Gospel and the Ancient Witnesses

The Gospel of John probably was not completed until the late 1st century. So how early would one expect quotes from the book to appear? If Ignatius of Antioch references John, that would be quite early (ca. 110 CE); Irenaeus of Lyons probably uses John's Gospel and he wrote around 180 CE. What we also have to consider is that it's not enough for a Gospel to exist, but it also had to be considered authoritative by the early church and apostolically rooted. So if early fathers already impute that kind of weight to the Fourth Gospel, then it should speak volumes, not to mention Origen's thorough discussion of the Johannine Prologue and later, Augustine of Hippo and John Chrysostom's discussions. And let's not forget that the 2nd-century Muratorian Canon likewise recognizes John's Gospel?

From what we know of the Gospels, the Prologue could not have been written that late. One other thing: the pre-Nicenes wrote for a reason. So not all of them needed to quote the Johannine Prologue in order to accomplish their purpose for writing.

Stanley Porter, after a rigorous analysis of the papyrological evidence, offers the following proposal:

If the timeline I have just articulated is correct, and if a reasonable time for transmission of a document was thirty years (this seems to be a rule of thumb used by a number of scholars),⁸⁰ then it is worth reconsidering the date of composition for John's Gospel. I cannot go into detail here, but the sequence would fit both ends of the trajectory noted above. Beginning with the latest date, if P.Rylands Greek 457 was copied around 120, then a reasonable date of the composition of John’s Gospel would be around 90. So far, this conclusion matches the standard and usual dates for the composition of the two documents, as indicated above. If P.Rylands Greek 457 was copied around 100, however, then the date of composition of John's Gospel might have been as early as 70. This scenario also would fit within the parameters of some of the suggested dates for John's Gospel mentioned above. If we were to be highly speculative and posit a date for copying of P.Rylands Greek 457 that was earlier than 100, then that would quite possibly, even if not necessarily, push the date of composition of John's Gospel even earlier, possibly even earlier than the fall of Jerusalem. Even though the usual arguments for such an early date are not convincing, as noted above, an argument from the surrounding manuscript data may just make such a hypothesis at least worth considering and not dismissing too easily. I will note that there is no early papyrological or transmissional evidence that stands in the way of an early dating. In fact, the timeline above might well encourage such a recalculation.

See Porter, John, His Gospel, and Jesus: In Pursuit of the Johannine Voice

Monday, October 29, 2018

Is Matter Eternal Like Jehovah

Almost everyone knows Einstein's equaation E = mc^2--(kinetic) energy equals (relativistic) mass times the speed of light squared. Dynamic energy seems to be a property of Jehovah, but we should not conflate Einstein's famous equation with God's dynamic energy that transcends and is prior to the material universe (Isaiah 40:25-26). Universe normally means all that exists. See https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/universe

"The universe is the whole of space and all the stars, planets, and other forms of matter and energy in it" (Collins English Dictionary).

However, does that include the Creator of the universe? What about the angels? For now, I am restricting my use of the term "universe" to all material/physical entities--what empirical science is capable of investigating. As far as we know, based on empirical science, matter is a dynamic configuration of energy. Yet relativity theory does not address what energy might imply in the case of God. Again, by universe, I am talking about the material world. Regardless of what we 21st century denizens might think, I see no reason to believe that Moses, Isaiah or Jeremiah denied the inception of the material or the spiritual universe, in the sense that matter and angels were created.

Revelation 4:11 seems to clearly acclaim God as the creator of all things, and heavenly creatures recognize God's sovereignty based on that truth. To also clarify why I'm invoking Revelation 4:11, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that God is the Creator of the material universe and we profess that the act of creating all things establishes the ground for Jehovah's divine sovereignty. So my point is that if we throw out Jehovah being the Creator of the universe, what then obligates us to render him all glory, honor and power as the 24 elders exclaim? His status as Sovereign hinges on his role as Creator.