Sunday, May 27, 2018

Mark 12:41 Notes

Greek: Καὶ καθίσας κατέναντι τοῦ γαζοφυλακίου ἐθεώρει πῶς ὁ ὄχλος βάλλει χαλκὸν εἰς τὸ γαζοφυλάκιον· καὶ πολλοὶ πλούσιοι ἔβαλλον πολλά·

Zerwick's Grammatical Analysis: καθίσας is an aorist participle ("he sat down . . . and"); κατέναντι ("opposite"), used with the genitive phrase τοῦ γαζοφυλακίου.

γαζοφυλακίου ("treasury, where boxes were put out to receive the coins of offerers")

βάλλει is present indicative active 3rd-person singular ("tense of [direct] speech")

EGF: I suggest that βάλλει might be rendered "throw, cast, drop"; ESV translates the verb "put"; NWT uses "dropping."

Rogers and Rogers: γαζοφυλακίου-"Probably a reference to the thirteen trumpet-like chests placed at intervals around the walls of the court of the women in the Herodian temple"

χαλκὸν-"copper, brass, bronze money."

πλούσιοι-"rich, very rich."

ἔβαλλον (imperfect indicative active)-"they were repeatedly casting."

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Notes on Matthew 10:29

Text: OUXI DUO STROUQIA ASSARIOU PWLEITAI KAI hEN EX AUTWN OU PESEITAI EPI THN GHN ANEU TOU PATROS hUMWN.

OUXI, in a manner analogous to the Latin NONNE, introduces a question with the expectation that the answer will be "yes." See Zerwick and Grosvenor, page 31.

ASSARIOU-diminutive form of Latin AS (= 1/16th denarius or less than a half hour's wage).

ASSARIOU is a genitive of price (Zerwick-Grosvenor).

Genitive of price-"The genitive substantive specifies the price paid for or value assessed for the word to which it is related. This is relatively rare in the NT" (Daniel B. Wallace, GGBB, page 122).

Brooks and Winbery use the terminology "adverbial genitive of measure" which includes the genitive of price or genitive of measure.

ANEU TOU PATROS hUMWN is an example of the substantive
with an adverbial preposition (see Brooks and Winbery,
22).

KAI-"And yet."

NET Bible translates the latter portion of this verse:
"Yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from
your Father's will."

The NET Bible footnote, however, states: "Or 'to the
ground without the knowledge and consent of your
Father.'"

"nonne duo passeres asse veneunt et unus ex illis non cadet super terram sine Patre vestro" (Matthew 10:29 Biblia Sacra Vulgata).

Vincent's Word Studies:

Sparrows (στρουθία)

"The word is a diminutive, little sparrows, and carries with it a touch of tenderness. At the present day, in the markets of Jerusalem and Jaffa, long strings of little birds, sparrows and larks, are offered for sale, trussed on long wooden skewers. Edersheim thinks that Jesus may have had reference to the two sparrows which, according to the Rabbins, were used in the ceremonial of purification from leprosy (Leviticus 14:49-54)."

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

1 Timothy 5:23: Brief Notes

I like William Mounce's Pastoral Letters commentary in the Word series, but have quibbles with him over some issues. 1 Timothy 5:23 reads:

"Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities" (KJV).

Greek (SBLGNT): μηκέτι ὑδροπότει, ἀλλὰ οἴνῳ ὀλίγῳ χρῶ διὰ τὸν στόμαχον καὶ τὰς πυκνάς σου ἀσθενείας.

Mounce reasons that Paul's words to Timothy deal with drinking wine for medicinal purposes only--something like an "elixir" (a panacea) that cures colds and about everything else. But do we have reason to believe the use of wine in this verse is that circumscribed?

It has been observed that Paul was probably quoting a notable proverb from antiquity. After all, the ancients seem to have extolled the virtues of wine in moderation: they recognized its healing properties when used moderately. However, is 1 Timothy 5:23 limiting temperate drinking (particularly, the imbibing of wine) to health purposes alone? Here are some thoughts culled from biblegateway although I hope to build on these sources later:

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: "use a little wine. Most people drank wine with their meals. It was watered down (often about two parts water to one part wine), and not distilled to a higher than natural degree of fermentation. Some have suggested that Timothy was abstaining from wine to avoid the criticism of the false teachers (4:3). your stomach. Wine was often used to settle stomachs and was thought to prevent dysentery; it could be used to disinfect water. Some restorative diets recommended water, others wine; wine was also used in some remedies (i.e., medicinally)."

Expositor's Bible Commentary (Abridged Edition): New Testament: Apparently for medicinal purposes, Timothy is told not to restrict himself to drinking water but to "use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses." The word for wine is sometimes used in LXX for unfermented grape juice. Furthermore, it is generally agreed that the wine of Jesus' day was usually rather weak and, especially among the Jews, often diluted with water. Moreover, safe drinking water was not always readily available in those eastern countries.

Asbury Bible Commentary: "A little wine indicates moderation and probably is a comment on the local water. Perhaps Timothy may be interpreting purity more physically/ascetically than Paul intended."

Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary:

For the most part in the NT, oinos is used literally, but occasionally it has symbolic meanings. In 1 Tim. 5:23, Paul exhorts Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach's sake, and wine is a means of healing in Lk 10:34. John the Baptist abstains from drinking wine, perhaps following a Nazirite vow (Lk 1:15). However, Jesus, like most people, likely drank wine, as can be seen by the exaggerated accusation that he was a “glutton and a drunkard” (Mt 11:18–19), used by his opponents to mean that he did not fast nor abstain from wine (9:14–17; Mk 2:18–22; Lk 5:33–38). Additionally, Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine (Jn 2:1–11).

Symbolically, oinos is used negatively in Revelation, referring to the wine and cup of God’s wrath (14:10; 16:19; 19:15) and to the debauched ways of Babylon (14:8). Positively, oinos serves as a token of hope for the coming celebration for all believers at Jesus’ return. A picture of this coming new age is given in the creation of wine at the wedding in Cana (Jn 2:1–11) and in Jesus’ promise that he will not drink wine again until the great feast when the kingdom of God comes in all its fullness (Mt 26:29; Mk 14:25). See NIDNTT-A, 41–42.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Notes Pertaining to the Book of Proverbs

1. What Is a Proverb?

While the English word "proverbs" conveys the idea of short maxims and pithy observations on life, the Hebrew misle (pl. of mashal) "refers to an apothegm that has currency among those who fear the LORD" (Bruce Waltke, page 56). Others suggest that "proverb" in the biblical sense refers to a brief comparison or representation (ibid.). See Prov. 10:26.

2. Proverbs juxtaposes destructive and healthy patterns of behavior. Proverbs 5:22-23; 14:12; 16:25; 29:3.

3. Authorship:

Proverbs claims Solomon as its writer and I accept what the text states. On the other hand, critical scholars usually want to question Solomonic authorship, and R.N. Whybray maintains that we cannot be sure whether all parts of the book can be traced back to David's son. Nevertheless, Whybray reckons that 1 Kings 4:32 must have some historical foundation; it seems unreasonble to suppose that it does not. He estimates that Proverbs may have been written or produced between the 10th-6th century BCE. See The Book of Proverbs, 4-5.

Robert B. Laurin believes Proverbs was probably edited around the 5th-4th century BCE as it eventually assumed its current shape.

4. The purpose of proverbs seems to be articulated in Prov. 1:7: "The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge; But the foolish despise wisdom and instruction" (ASV).

The fear of God is reverential awe--it is the fear of displeasing God and is expressed by observing his commandments. Compare Leviticus 19:3; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Malachi 3:5.

6. Specific proverbs and the wisdom they contain:

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it" (Prov. 4:23 NIV).

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another" (Prov. 27:17 NIV).

7. An exegesis of one proverb:

Commenting on Prov. 2:6, Fox explains: "Wisdom engenders mature piety because God is the source of wisdom, and in seeking it you are in effect seeking him."

See Michael V. Fox, "The Pedagogy of Proverbs 2," Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 113, No. 2 (Summer, 1994): pp. 233-243.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Ontological Argument in Anselm and Descartes

Philosophy of Religion (Loosely based on David Stewart's text)

Arguments for God's Existence

1. Anselm of Canterbury made the ontological argument for God's existence famous: subsequent versions were posited by Rene Descartes, Kurt Gödel and by Alvin Plantinga. The starting point for Anselm's ontological argument is God's being or perfect being theology. This form of argumentation is a priori because it starts from the concept of God (a perfect being in the absolute sense). We might also consider the ontological argument to begin with premises that are deductive and that logically proceed from a possible divine being to an actual divine being (i.e., God).

2. Existence is a great-making property or perfection for Anselm and Descartes: they reason that existent beings take precedence over merely possible entities. The Anselmian and Cartesian form of argumention is a priori as well since it begins with a particular idea concerning God's essence, namely, that God necessarily exists.

3. Why the focus on divine being when formulating the ontological argument? God is called Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν (I am the being) in Exodus 3:14 (LXX). The Latin Vulgate has "ego sum qui sum" and also refers to God as "qui est." Both ways of treating the Exodus text seem to place emphasis on God's being: maybe 3:14 even identifies God as being itself (ipsum esse subsistens).

4. The medieval thinkers also tended to view essence and existence as distinct in relation to creatures but they argued that essence and existence in God's case are identical (the same thing), an idea known as absolute divine simplicity. So God exists necessarily because God is his own existence.

5. Descartes maintains that the very idea of God is "clear and distinct." Clear and distinct ideas are transparent, not obscure, self-evident, and easily distinguished from other ideas. The Euclidean postulate, "all right angles are equal to one another" is a clear and distinct idea. Another example is "all triangles are three-sided polygons." That proposition is clear and distinct like 2 + 2 = 4 is. What about the idea of God. Should it likewise be categorized as a clear and distinct idea?

To learn more about ontological arguments in general, see https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ontological-arguments/

See David Stewart, Exploring the Philosophy of Religion, Seventh Edition (London and Toronto: Prentice Hall, 2010), ISBN: 978-0-205-64519-0.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Milgram Experiment and Human Nature: Nothing New Under the Sun

Stanley Milgram wrote these words about his famous "shock" experiment:

"This is, perhaps, the most fundamental lesson of our study: ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work became patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority."

Milgram conducted his experiment back in the 1960s. He found that at least 60% of those participating as subjects of the experiment were willing to shock people (administering up to 450 volts), if they could be persuaded that the experimenter (the one conducting the experiment) would take full responsibility for what happened to those who were purportedly being shocked.

Milgram's work was undertaken some 40 years ago. I wonder how most people would respond if they participated in similar experiments today. Would 60-85% of people living in our time be willing to shock their fellow humans if an authority figure commanded them to carry out the action? Certain secular studies have asserted that the human race is getting better in terms of social values, moral practices and aggressive tendencies (e.g., Stephen Pinker). I wonder if a new Milgram study would refute or support these claims. My guess based on the Bible, scientific studies, and personal experience is that "nothing don't change much." Or as Qoheleth said in Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).