Thursday, July 27, 2017

KANWN and Disputed Bible Books

To my knowledge, disputes about genuine Bible books began to occur in the second century: the first-century assembly evidently did not have these dissensions. Nor did the Primitive EKKLHSIA need a "list" (KANWN) of authoritative works: such a move was necessitated by the Christian APOSTASIA foretold in Acts 20:28-31 (see Frend, The Rise of Christianity, 250ff; C.C. Ryrie, Basic Theology, 105-107). It is anachronistic to use the term KANWN in the sense of a "list" to describe first-century Christian Scripture. The term "canon" as a list qua list of divine Christian books possibly was not employed that way until 367 CE by Athanasius--prior to that time, a KANWN was simply a rule or measuring standard, not a list per se. The word's denotations progressively unfolded. So one problem stems from the fact that some Bible readers attempt to superimpose a fourth-century usage on a first-century anthologia. But that is synchronically unsound and highly problematic.

See for a discussion of the relevant issues surrounding the term "canon."

What books constituted Scripture for the first-century EKKLHSIA? Were the so-called Deuterocanonicals part of the inspired texts?

It is a little misleading to assert that the Deuterocanonicals belonged to the early Septuagint Version. The evidence for this claim is scant: "While the New Testament writers all used the Septuagint, to a greater or lesser degree, none of them tells us precisely what the limits of its contents were. The 'scriptures' to which they appealed covered substantially the same range as the Hebrew Bible [which did not contain the apocrypha]" (F.F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, pp. 50ff).


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Quotes from Genesis Rabba--Part 4 (Sexism/Misogyny?)

Donald Bloesch (Is the Bible Sexist?, pages 94-95) thinks that "later Judaism" manifested an increasingly coarse attitude toward women as indicated by daily prayers like "I thank thee, O Lord, that thou hast not created me a woman." However, this disposition apparently was not limited to ancient Jews since Augustine of Hippo seemed to believe that man, not woman, is the image and glory of God. Ambrosiaster likewise considers women inferior to men and even Thomas Aquinas evidently thinks that women are (in one sense) defective males in whom reason evidently does not predominate.

Here is one passage from Genesis Rabba that possibly supports Bloesch's claim:

Woman was not formed from Adam's head, so that she might not be haughty; nor from his eye, so that she might not be too eager to look at everything; nor from his ear, so that she might not hear too keenly and be an eavesdropper; nor from his mouth, so that she might not be a chatterer; nor from his heart, lest she should become jealous; nor yet not from his hand, so that she might not be afflicted with kleptomania; nor from his foot, lest she should have a tendency to run about. She was made from Adam's rib, a hidden, modest part of his body, so that she too might be modest, not fond of show, but rather of seclusion. But woman baffles God's design and purpose. She is haughty and walks with outstretched neck (Isa. 3. 16), and wanton eyes (Isa. 3. 6). She is given to eavesdropping (Gen. 18. 10). She chatters slander (Numb. 12. 11), and is of a jealous disposition (Gen. 30- 1), She is afflicted with kleptomania (Gen. 31. 19), and is fond of running about (Gen. 34. 1). In addition to these vices women are gluttonous (Gen. 3. 6), lazy (Gen. 18. 6) and bad tempered (Gen. 16. 5).--Gen. Rabba 18.

2 Corinthians 12:1-4--ἁρπαγέντα τὸν τοιοῦτον ἕως τρίτου οὐρανοῦ

Greek Text from NA28 (2 Corinthians 12:1-4):

1 Καυχᾶσθαι δεῖ, οὐ συμφέρον μέν, ἐλεύσομαι δὲ εἰς ὀπτασίας καὶ ἀποκαλύψεις κυρίου.
2 οἶδα ἄνθρωπον ἐν Χριστῷ πρὸ ἐτῶν δεκατεσσάρων, εἴτε ἐν σώματι οὐκ οἶδα, εἴτε ἐκτὸς τοῦ σώματος οὐκ οἶδα, ὁ θεὸς οἶδεν, ἁρπαγέντα τὸν τοιοῦτον ἕως τρίτου οὐρανοῦ.
3 καὶ οἶδα τὸν τοιοῦτον ἄνθρωπον, εἴτε ἐν σώματι εἴτε χωρὶς τοῦ σώματος οὐκ οἶδα, ὁ θεὸς οἶδεν,
4 ὅτι ἡρπάγη εἰς τὸν παράδεισον καὶ ἤκουσεν ἄρρητα ῥήματα ἃ οὐκ ἐξὸν ἀνθρώπῳ λαλῆσαι.

One question I am starting to research again is whether we should read ἁρπαγέντα τὸν τοιοῦτον ἕως τρίτου οὐρανοῦ and ἡρπάγη εἰς τὸν παράδεισον as parallel expressions, which would suggest that the "third heaven" and "paradise" are to be closely identified.

Third heaven and paradise appear to be used as parallel terms to me, but I could be wrong. However, it's good to research how the "third heaven" was understood in ancient times. Furthermore, Jehovah's Witnesses understand "paradise" as a reference to heaven in Revelation 2:7. While I accept that explanation, there are questions I have about the potential connection between 2 Cor. 12:4 and Rev. 2:7. The other instance of "paradise" is Lk. 23:43.

Yet if Paul is saying that he was caught away to the third heaven and paradise, but these places are not the same, then possibly we have two separate ascents (in a visionary sense) mentioned in the account. While that is not impossible, I just wonder if it can't be read as one event (i.e., he was caught away to the third heaven, which is also known as paradise).

I've been told that the question is almost impossible to answer with any certainty.

Monday, July 24, 2017

"Use of Jehovah" (JBL Article By Francis B. Denio)


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Who Was Erastus? (Romans 16:23)

In view of 2 Tim. 4:20, it is quite likely that Erastus was a Christian. Although Rom. 16:23 does not provide detailed information about Erastus, in context, it seems that Paul includes him as a member of the early congregation. However, the foregoing being said, we must not overlook what the Greek text and history possibly tells us about this man.

Erastus was possibly the city-treasurer in Rome; the words used to describe this man are ὁ οἰκονόμος τῆς πόλεως. There is a world of difference between being a treasurer and being a soldier, which is how some want to characterize Erastus. While the distinctions JUS AD BELLUM and JUS IN BELLO became popular with Augustine of Hippo and his formulation of just war theory, we have evidence that the early Christians had no such philosophy--they applied the words of Isa. 2:2-4 to themselves and put down their weapons of war.

For what its worth, William Mounce does quote an inscription in his commentary indicating that Erastus could have been an aedile. But could is the operative word in this case, for we are not sure if the inscription cited is talking about the same individual.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Wisdom of Solomon 1:14--God "Created" Ta Panta?

ἔκτισεν γὰρ εἰς τὸ εἶναι τὰ πάντα καὶ σωτήριοι αἱ γενέσεις τοῦ κόσμου καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν αὐταῖς φάρμακον ὀλέθρου οὔτε ᾅδου βασίλειον ἐπὶ γῆς (Wisdom of Solomon 1:14)

"For he created all things, that they might have their being: and the generations of the world were healthful; and there is no poison of destruction in them, nor the kingdom of death upon the earth:" (Brenton LXX)

"For he created all things that they might exist" (NETS)

"creavit enim ut essent omnia et sanabiles nationes orbis terrarum et non est in illis medicamentum exterminii nec inferorum regnum in terra"" (Vulgate)

Wisdom of Solomon was probably written by 200 BCE.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Danielou and Tertullian's Christology

Jean Danielou tellingly writes these words about Tertullian's doctrine of God and Christ:

"The Son and the Spirit are distinguished, therefore, from the Father in that they have their own subsistent being, which is not, however, based on their eternal specific individuality, but rather on their function in relation to God's creation. Tertullian does not manage to get beyond the combination of a modalism with regard to the distinctness of the individual persons and a subordinationism with regard to their existential plurality" (Danielou, The Origins of Latin Christianity, 364).

Tertullian's Understanding of Psalm 8:5

Tertullian's understanding of Psalm 8:5 is "lower than the angels"--he views the psalm as a reference to spirit creatures and applies the verse to Christ.

"Modicum quid citra angelos" (Adv Prax 9)

"propter hoc minoratus a patre modicum citra angelos"" (Adv Prax 16.11)

"minoravit filium modico citra angelos" (Adv Prax 23.19)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Part 3 of Genesis Rabba Comments

"When the Jews returned from Babylon, their wives had become brown, and almost black, during the years of captivity, and a large number of men divorced their wives. The divorced women probably married black men, which would, to some extent, account for the existence of black Jews."--Gen. Rabba 18.

[One finds all kinds of stories in midrashic homilies, many of which are quite incredible. More importantly, I was taken aback by the "racist" content of this work. EGF]

"If a man has entertained you only with lentils, do you entertain him with flesh. If one shows you small favours, bestow on him great ones when an opportunity occurs."--Gen. Rabba 38.

"There is not an evil which fails to bring benefit to some one."--Gen. Rabba A

[Based on Scripture, I believe that God is able to bring good from evil, and he often does. Does that mean all evil acts somehow confer benefit to someone? EGF]

"The pure of heart are God's friends."--Gen. Rabba 41.

[Reminds me of Ps. 73:1; Matthew 5:8. EGF]

John Calvin--An Advocate of Eternal Subordination for the Opera Trinitatis Ad Intra?

Did John Calvin believe that the Son and the Holy Spirit are eternally subordinate to the Father per their "divine" roles or functions in the Godhead?

Calvin evidently thinks of the three persons (tres personae) as three subsistences, divine persons who are distinguished from one another "by an incommunicable quality" (Giles, 53) which he identifies as "subsistence." An incommunicable quality is an attribute that cannot be transferred or passed on to someone/something else. E.g., parents communicate certain traits to their offspring; unfortunately, some diseases are communicable too. However, Calvin reckons that each divine person within the triune Godhead possesses some quality that cannot be communicated by the bearer of said property. These incommunicable properties only belong to divine personae.

Subsistence in Calvin's theology assuredly does not mean "essence" (essentia). He asserts that there is a "characteristic mark" that sets the LOGOS apart from God the Father so that the Word can "be" God and simultaneously "be with God" (Jn 1:1b-c). That defining "characteristic mark," Calvin argues, is not the Son's essence but his subsistence.

It is unfortunate that Calvin does not appear to explain, at least in a thorough or analytic sense, what he means by "subsistence." In any event, Kevin Giles believes Calvin does not imply that the Son or the Holy Spirit are subordinate to the Father qua being or qua function. Giles then provides various lines of evidence for this claim on page 54 of The Trinity and Subordinationism. One such line of evidence is that Calvin reasons that both prayers and worship should be directed not only "through" the Son but "to the Son." Admittedly, Calvin does accept an "order" (taxis) in the Trinity insofar as he believes that the Deus Trinitas is structured and functions in an orderly manner. However, Calvin does not think of the Trinity in hierarchical terms and rejects any talk of one person being before or after the other person "within the Godhead" (ibid, 55). Maybe he accepts logical priority, but eschews temporality priority.

At any rate, Calvin's non-subordinationist stance appears to be demonstrated when we note his exegetical comments regarding Jn 14:28 and 1 Cor 11:3. For Calvin, 14:28 is contrasting Christ's earthly state with his "present state" and "his heavenly glory to which he was shortly to be received" (Giles, 56). Furthermore, 1 Cor 11:3 (says Calvin) appertains to Christ in the flesh since "apart from that, being of one essence with the Father, he is equal with him" (ibid). Calvin's exegesis of 1 Cor 15:24ff is also worth reading.

In short, Calvin possibly applies Paul's words in 1 Cor 15:24ff to the soteriological-mediatorial office of Christ. If this conclusion is accurate, then Calvin does not apply the Pauline account to what he would identify as Christ's eternally timeless divinity.