Sunday, March 26, 2017

Tree Imagery in Isaiah

Isa. 6:13; 7:2; 10:19; 14:8; 17:6; 24:13; 34:4, 16; 37:24; 40:20; 41:19; 44:14, 19, 23; 55:12-13; 56:3; 57:5; 60:13; 61:3 and 65:22; 66:17.

I sometimes wonder why Isaiah uses so much tree imagery. How do other prophetic books compare with his?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Pauline Idiom, "Work with your hands"

"whoso is stealing let him no more steal, but rather let him labour, working the thing that is good with the hands, that he may have to impart to him having need." (Ephesians 4:28 YLT)

Cambridge Greek Testament: ἐργαζόμενος ταῖς χερσὶν τὸ ἀγαθόν,, 1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:11. ἐργ. τὸ ἀγαθόν is not to be confused with the phrase in Romans 2:10; Galatians 6:10. The best parallel is Titus 3:8; Titus 3:14 καλῶν ἔργων προΐστασθαι. There were disreputable methods of making a living, the evil of which would not be purged by a charitable subscription, so the addition of τὸ ἀγαθὸν is not superfluous.

John Eadie writes: "Manual employment was the most common in these times. Acts 20:34; 1 Thessalonians 4:11. τὸ ἀγαθόν is something useful and profitable. His hands had done what was evil, and now these same were to be employed in what was good."

"And we toil as we labor with our hands. They dishonor us and we bless; they persecute us and we endure." (1 Corinthians 4:12 Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

"and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you," (1 Thessalonians 4:11 ESV)

Compare Acts 18:3; 20:17-38; 1 Thess. 4:12; 2 Thess. 3:8-11.

Distinguishing the Spiritual from the Mental (The Pairing Problem)

My understanding of Kim's pairing problem (PP) is that it's specifically a joust against substance dualism. Moreover, there is more than one aspect to his PP. The issue that Kim examines is causal interaction between the mental and the physical; he wonders what allows the substance dualist to suggest that a mind can interact causally with a body (an extended thing). Since minds don't exist in space, according to the Cartesian dualist, then what's the specific relation that makes causal interaction between minds and bodies possible? How is it possible for immaterial minds to be part of the universe's causal continuum, and how is it possible to distinguish the action of one non-spatial mind from another? Regardless of how we answer these questions, I don't see divine causation and mental causation in the exact same light. Therefore, while there are questions that persist regarding divine causation, it does not seem that divine causation is susceptible to the same criticisms that Cartesian mental causation is. Firstly, no disrespect intended, but I believe that substance dualism of any variety--particularly Cartesian thought--is false and extremely problematic, whereas theism is not patently false, even if divine causation may be hard to understand. One must first substantiate the actual or likely existence of the res cogitans (as Descartes conceived it) before the res cogitans can be equated with God. Even if I believe in the mental (somehow), I do not accept the existence of a res cogitans. Maybe something that might also explain why I don't see Kim's PP as particularly applicable to theism per se, is because I believe spirit encompasses more than the mental does. I.e., the mental is only one aspect of the spiritual. So the terms "mental" and "spirit/spiritual" are not coextensive to me.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Thomas More and Bible Translations Prior to Wycliffe

I'm about 98% sure that Thomas More made inaccurate statements about the status of English Bible translations in his time. The book John Wycliffe and Reform by John Stacey directly addresses this issue (See pp. 73ff). In particular, Stacey provides this information:

"Sir Thomas More, whose interest lay in the permission or refusal of the Church to read translations as much as in the translations themselves, made this not unbiased statement: "For ye shal understande that the great arch heretike Wickliffe, whereas the hole byble was long before his dayes by vertuous and wel lerned men translated into the English tong, and by good and godly people with deucion and sobrenes wel and reverently red, toke upon hym of a malacious purpose to translate it of new."

But More's comments likely are not accurate and "it must be assumed from what he said that English translations were common and popular before Wyclif's time" (Stacey 73).

Stacey also observes that More's comments were challenged in 1719 by John Lewis and they apparently have no basis in fact. He concludes:

"As Margaret Deanesly points out, if orthodox translations had existed on any scale, particularly in the period immediately before Wyclif, the opposition to the translations associated with him would be inexplicable. The evidence all points to the fact that there was no widespread reading of the Scriptures in the vernacular and that when Wyclif deliberately took the step of instigating a translation he was breaking with the general tradition" (Stacey 74).

Of course, this post and the quotes above deal with English renderings of the Bible prior to Wyclif (Wycliffe).

Saturday, March 18, 2017

God, for Thomas Aquinas, Is Pure Bliss or Pure Actuality

From Fergus Kerr's book After Aquinas:

"God, for Thomas, is not even an agent with capacities to know and love. God is nothing other than ceaseless and total actualizations of being, knowing, and loving - utter bliss."

Thomists will recognize the language used by Kerr since Thomas Aquinas famously insists that God is actus purus or actus essendi et perfectus. Kerr includes another quote for reflection: Deus est beatitudo per essentiam suam.

Source Material: Fergus Kerr, After Aquinas: Versions of Thomism. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Also see

Sunday, March 12, 2017

1 John 3:1 (Some Notes)

Greek: Ἴδετε ποταπὴν ἀγάπην δέδωκεν ἡμῖν ὁ πατήρ, ἵνα τέκνα θεοῦ κληθῶμεν, καὶ ἐσμέν. διὰ τοῦτο ὁ κόσμος οὐ γινώσκει ἡμᾶς, ὅτι οὐκ ἔγνω αὐτόν. (NA28)

English Translations: (See what sort of love the Father has given to us: that we should be called God's children--and indeed we are! For this reason the world does not know us: because it did not know him. (NET Bible)

See what marvellous love the Father has bestowed upon us--that we should be called God's children: and that is what we are. For this reason the world does not recognize us--because it has not known Him. (Weymouth)

See what sort of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are. That is why the world does not know us, because it has not come to know him. (NWT 2013)

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God's, and are such! This is why the world does not know us because it did not know him. (Byington)

Comments: καὶ ἐσμέν.

From the NET Bible: "tc The phrase καὶ ἐσμεν (kai esmen, 'and we are') is omitted in 049 69 Ï. There seems to be no theological reason to omit the words. This has all the earmarks of a classic case of homoioteleuton, for the preceding word (κληθῶμεν, klhqwmen, 'we should be called') ends in -μεν (-men)."

Regarding the words, ὁ κόσμος οὐ γινώσκει ἡμᾶς, ὅτι οὐκ ἔγνω αὐτόν, we read:

"sn The pronoun him is a clear reference to Jesus Christ (compare John 1:10)." This statement is also found in NET.

However, the pronominal "him" is not all that clear, like many such references in the First Johannine Epistle. W. Harris Hall III explains:

"The referent of αὐτόν (auton, 'him') in 3:1. Again the referent of the third person pronoun is a problem. It could refer either to God the Father or to Jesus Christ, but since the Father is clearly mentioned in 3:1a and God is mentioned in 3:2a, it seems preferable to understand αὐτόν in 3:1b as a reference to God the Father. However, it is important to remember that Johannine christology associates Jesus with God, and there may have been little difference here as far as the author was concerned."


While I don't accept his Trinitarian presuppositions, there is likely a measure of truth to this observation.

Henry Alford avers: "because it did not know Him (viz. God: the Father."

He additionally states:
But Whom did the world not know, and when? αὐτόν here, by the very requirements of the logic of the passage, must be the Father, who not being recognized, neither are His children: τὸν υἱοθετήσαντα, as Œc.; Aug(38), Benson, al., understand Christ: “ambulabat et ipse Dominus Jesus Christus, in carne erat Deus, latebat in infirmitate.” But this can only be, if we understand that the world rejected that revelation of the Father which was made by Christ His Son. And if we introduce this element, we disturb the strictness of the argument. It is the world’s ignorance of God, considered (and this is the force, if it is to be pressed, of the aor. ἔγνω) as one great act of non-recognition, disobedience, rebellion, hate (for all these are involved in St. John’s οὐ γνῶναι, as their opposites in his γινώσκειν), which makes them incapable of recognizing, loving, sympathizing with, those who are veritably children of God: cf. ch. 1 John 5:1).

Monday, March 06, 2017

Ephesians 5:19 (Notes)

Notes on Ephesians 5:19: λαλοῦντες ἑαυτοῖς ψαλμοῖς καὶ ὕμνοις καὶ ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς, ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν τῷ κυρίῳ, (WH 1881)

λαλοῦντες ἑαυτοῖς [ἐν] ψαλμοῖς καὶ ὕμνοις καὶ ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς, ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν τῷ κυρίῳ, (NA28)

λαλοῦντες-present active participial form of λαλέω, "to speak." Rogers and Rogers also state that the "following four parts. [participles] indicate the outworking or practice of being filled w. the Spirit" (page 444). Compare Daniel B. Wallace, GGBB, pp. 639, 650-51.

Bengel's Gnomon: "ᾠδαῖς) songs, which are or may be sung on any sacred subject.—πνευματικαῖς, spiritual) not worldly, as those of the drunkards are."

See Richard A. Young, Intermediate New Testament Greek, p. 157 for Ephesians 5:19.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

MESITHS (Christ as "Mediator")

This word potentially denotes: "one who mediates [between] two parties to remove a disagreement or reach a common goal, mediator, arbitrator," and it functions as a technical term (terminus technicus) in Hellenistic legal discourse (BDAG Greek-English Lexicon, 634). Louw and Nida suggest that Μεσίτης when used in the Pastoral Epistle, 1 Timothy (2:5) probably signifies: "a person who acts as a mediator in bringing about reconciliation," in other words, the term could mean: "mediator, one who reconciles" (40.6).