Sunday, August 20, 2017

Possible Significance of Theos/QEOS and Kurios

Something old from my files on Lord and other terms:

KURIOS and QEOS are not synonyms. Therefore, its possible for God to be Lord and yet it is also possible for a lord not to be God (or a god). For example, Abraham was called "lord" by Sarah (1 Pet. 3:6). Does this mean that he was also her god? Tertullian wrote in Adv. Hermogenes that God became Lord and Father when he brought forth his Son (Part 3). Thus while I would not deny that a QEOS can also be a KURIOS--even Jesus is likely called both in John 20:28--I believe that Paul intentionally made a distinction in 1 Cor. 8:5, 6 between QEOS and KURIOS. One source I will quote is the Interpreter's
Bible. Commenting on 1 Cor. 8:5, 6, Clarence T. Craig penned the following:

"Paul chose his prepositions [ex and dia] carefully in order to distinguish
between God the Father, who is the ultimate source of creation, and Christ,
the Lord, through whom [dia] this activity takes place . . . it is perfectly
clear what Paul wants to affirm. Neither Caesar nor Isis is Lord, but only
Jesus Christ. When Paul ascribed Lordship to Christ, in contrast to later
church dogma, he did not mean that Christ was God. Christ was definitely
subordinated to God" (Craig 93-94).

For proof of Craig's assertion, see 1 Cor. 3:23; 11:3; 15:24-28. The corresponding word for "Lord" in Latin is dominus, whereas pater stands for "father" as it does in Greek.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Further Comments by Michael V. Fox on Proverbs 8:22 (Image)

More Support for Understanding Prov 8:22 in terms of "creation." From the Anchor Bible Commentary by Fox.

Speaking of the Midbar (Wilderness)--Lev. 16 and Azazel

This summer, I addressed some claims made by Mr. Jeff Benner about the biblical use of "wilderness" (midbar). Mr. Benner (relying on Hebrew etymology) claims that the ancient Israelites viewed the desert as a place of order. However, my contention is that while midbar might have that meaning in some places, that is not generally true of the word. I now present more evidence from a paper on Azazel (Leviticus 16) written by Aron Pinker. I will quote snippets of Pinker's study:

"Tawil's position has been adopted by Zatelli. She says, 'Perhaps the spelling עזזאל‎ in Qumran texts is acceptable for עזאזל‎; it has been changed into the more neutral עזאזל‎ in the textus receptus. Probably it was originally a kind of Canaanite demon—which developed in the Hebrew tradition—connected with the chthonian power expressed by goats. The wilderness is a symbol of the underworld.'"

"Milgrom felt that 'in pre-Israelite practice he [עזאזל‎] surely was a true demon, perhaps a satyr (cf. Ibn Ezra on Lev 16:8), who ruled in the wilderness—in the Priestly ritual he is no longer a personality but just a name, designating the place to which impurities and sins are banished.'"

"the scapegoat was sent out into the wilderness, which was considered to be one of the abodes of supernatural entities (Hab 3:3, Isa 13:21, 34:11–15)."

"Rudman shifts the focus from לעזאזל‎ to מדבר‎, claiming that the ritual as described by P, cleanses Israel (understood as a microcosm of creation) of sin (understood as chaos), and removes it outside creation itself into the chaotic area of wilderness."

Published Version of Pinker's Research:

Revisiting Philippians 2:6-7 with Robert B. Strimple

It does not seem exegetically or philologically sound to understand MORFH as "substance" or "nature" in Philippians 2:6-7. Jesus had the "form of a servant" insofar as he outwardly appeared to be a servant. Indeed he was a servant, but he was also much more since the disciples addressed him as Teacher and Rabbi. His outward appearance (form) did not tell the whole story: EN MORFH QEOU and MORFH DOULOU both refer to outward appearances.

Robert B. Strimple (in the Westminster Theological Journal) openly relates that for years he tried to maintain J.B. Lightfoot's strict distinction between MORFH and SXHMA until he had to admit: "there is really little evidence to support the conclusion that Paul uses MORFH in such a philosophical sense here [in Phil. 2:6ff]" (Strimple 259). Strimple also cites the four instances where MORFH occurs in the LXX (Septuagint). He writes: "in each instance . . . MORFH refers to the visible form or appearance" (Strimple 260).

It is also worthy of note that Aquila employs MORFH in Isa. 52:14 to describe the "outer appearance" of the Messiah. Since, as Strimple concurs, the theme of Jehovah's Suffering Servant undoubtedly played some part in the Philippians account--it seems reasonable to assume that MORFH as used in Isa. 52:14 bears the same meaning in Phil. 2:6ff. Strimple concludes: "meager though the biblical evidence is, it is sufficient to make a prima facie case for the reference being to a visible manifestation" (Strimple 260).

ὃς ἐν μορφῇ Θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα Θεῷ (Philippians 2:6, Nestle 1904)

A Link for Strimple's WTJ Paper:

Two New Books (Recommendations)


I want to let you know about two new publications that you might find interesting.

One is by Edward Feser. Here is the Amazon link for his work, which deals with proving the existence of God:

Another book is by Rolf Furuli, a fellow Witness and friend:

I notice that both books are out of stock on Amazon, but they can also be ordered directly from their respective publishers.

Feser's publisher is Ignatius Press:

Furuli's is published by Awatu:

Sunday, August 13, 2017

How Not To Render Greek (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Greek: Ἔχομεν δὲ τὸν θησαυρὸν τοῦτον ἐν ὀστρακίνοις σκεύεσιν, ἵνα ἡ ὑπερβολὴ τῆς δυνάμεως ᾖ τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ μὴ ἐξ ἡμῶν· (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Overly literal translation:

"But we have this thesaurus in baked clay vessels, in order that the hyperbolicity of the force might be of the God and not from us."

Do not render Greek this way!

Articles/Sources About "Aramaic Daniel" (Links)

(A scholarly writing from 1965 by K.A. Kitchen)

(Article by Gerhard Hasel from 1981)


(Article by G.R. Driver from 1926)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

ᾍδης (hADHS) and SHEOL (Psalms and Ecclesiastes)

There appear to be solid reasons for semantically equating SHEOL and hADHS--one of the strongest reasons is because the LXX utilizes hADHS in texts about the condition of the dead.



Additionally, Ps. 15:10 (16:10) prophetically speaks of the Messiah not being forsaken in SHEOL. On the day of Pentecost, Peter quoted those words, and when recording this speech Luke employs the Greek hADHS to describe what the Hebrew Scriptures call SHEOL (Acts 2:27-36). This passage indicates that the words are synonymous (they semantically overlap).

Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon also equates hADHS and Sheol, as does Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon which says: "In the Sept. the Hebr. SHEOL is almost always rendered by" hADHS.

While disagreeing with my theological views, Spiros Zodhiates yet writes: "hADHS . . . Most probable derivation is from hADW, all-receding. It corresponds to SHEOL in the OT" (Complete NT Word Study).

Obviously, one can believe that SHEOL and hADHS are semantically identical without believing they both represent a place of inactivity, but I happen to think that both places are domains of inactivity.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Memory and Persistence (Work in Progress)

In these kinds of discussions, it is common to let X stand for "anything whatsoever" and to let S represent "a person" or rational subject.

Is memory the only thing (X) that persists through time? X is a variable that here stands for any impersonal entity whatsoever (e.g., a banana, a table or a couch), whereas S used below represents any personal entity (i.e., a person or rational subject). Identity is normally framed in two ways: for impersonal and for personal things (respectively, X and S).

Kevin Corcoran (Rethinking Human Nature) illustrates persistence conditions for X by using the example of a banana. X (in this case) may be green at one time, yellow at another, and brown or black at yet another time. However, X presumably is still the same banana or the same X in each case. What permits me to make such an assertion?

Rene Descartes gives an example of wax in his work Meditations. Even if one melts wax (X), something remains that lets us know it's the same parcel of matter, even if melted wax does not have the same properties as non-melted wax. Therefore, what are the persistence conditions for bananas and for wax?

However we answer that question, Corcoran reasons that persistence conditions for persons (S) apparently exist too. Some suggestions for what makes a person (S) the same entity at T1, T2 . . . Tn are the soul theory, memory theory (primarily associated with John Locke), the body theory, and the illusion theory (e.g., Buddhism or David Hume). All of these proposals are framed within the context of Gottfried Leibniz's absolute identity theory, but there is no unanimous answer concerning the persistence conditions for X or S.

When I refer to the memory theory of John Locke, I am only pointing out how Locke maintains that memory secures the identity of a person (S). So if I eat an apple at T1, then Locke seems to reason that if I authentically recall that phenomenal event at T2, then it would appear that I must be the same S at T2--that is, the S who ate the apple at T1. However, there might be another person (S2), who also eats an apple at T1 and remembers the event later at T2. Yet one probably should not infer that S1 and S2 are identical persons based on this information. To the contrary, Locke insists that both persons would evidently maintain their respective identities over times T1 and T2 although his theory has been judged circular and irrevocably problematic by John Searle and Anthony Appiah.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Shift in the Frequency of Posting for Now

Well, summer is ending for educators, who do not teach in June, July or August. I will be returning to teaching duties next week; therefore, posting here will be less frequent unless breaks come along or some extra time. As always, I appreciate everyone taking the time to read this blog, and your contributions/insights are invaluable to me. It is all part of my ongoing education. So much fascinating material, but so little time.

All the best!

Monday, August 07, 2017

Robert W. Jenson and the "Pneumatological Problem"

Robert W. Jenson from his book Systematic Theology: The Triune God, Volume I (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997). His observations about "The Pneumatological Problem" can be found on pp. 146-161. I now present a brief summary of his statements.

Jenson, referencing Augustine, maintains that the Holy Spirit is
the "Gift of God." Manifestly, for Augustine, the Holy Spirit is God's Gift in that it is the bond of love eternally obtaining between the Father and the Son. Put more technically, the Spirit is the personal communion of the Father and the Son. In this case, Jenson contends, the genitive 'of' in "Gift of God" is "both subjective and objective: The Holy Spirit is God given by God" (page 147). But this description raises other questions. If the Spirit is God's Gift, then how is the Spirit "hypostatically" eternal? In other words, is the Spirit only a manifestation of divine identity in relation to Israel and the Church, or is the Spirit an immutable, necessary, and eternal personal distinction in the threefold Godhead? Furthermore, what hypostatic relation does the Spirit bear toward the Father and the Son?

Jenson's answers to these questions are quite interesting, even if
they are lacking in sufficiency. Read his book and you will see how
certain Trinitarian theologians try to resolve the seeming antinomies that result from the genitival "Spirit of God" etc. Foremost among such attempts to ameliorate the problemata resulting from the genitive use for the divine Spirit or "Gift of God" is the filioque approach contained in Western Trinitarian thought. But the Eastern Church rejects the filioque clause since it thinks the Spirit eternally proceeds solely from the Father (the one ARXH in the Godhead) and not the Son. I will thus conclude with this statement from Jenson:

"Perhaps the following is something like the truth. The
transcendental focus of the Spirit's intention of others is identical with the Father, for the Spirit's derivation of his being from the Father is never surpassed: the Spirit remains and is the spirit of someone; he is the RUACH of the God of Israel. And therefore as the Father finds his 'I' in the Son, so the Spirit finds his 'I' in the Son. He finds himself in the Son, however, differently than does the Father" (page 160).