Saturday, August 27, 2016

John 1:1b-c and the LOGOS: Again? (Gender and Intimacy)

Brooks' and Winbery's Syntax of NT Greek (Lanham, MD: Univesity Press of America, 1979) points out that ὁ Λόγος in Jn 1:1c is the subject nominative within the construction since that noun phrase has the article while the preverbal anarthrous PN does not (page 78).

Of course there are exceptions to the aforesaid general rule, as Richard A. Young shows in his Intermediate NT Greek: A Linguistic and Exegetical Approach (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 1994) on pages 64-65. Nevertheless, I think it's safe to conclude that ὁ Λόγος is the subject nominative in 1:1c.

There is a question about whether one could rightly conclude that the articular occurrence of Λόγος in 1:1c necessarily signifies a person over against a non-personal entity (especially in view of the fact that the article can be and is used in the NT to describe impersonal objects). But there are possibly other indicators in the context that suggest ὁ Λόγος is a person.

Jn 1:1b declares that ὁ Λόγος was πρὸς τὸν θεόν. A number of grammarians and commentators believe this part of the verse describes the intimate relationship between ὁ Λόγος and τὸν θεόν.

1:9-14 also indicates that John delineated the features of a person. As he writes in 1:14:

"So the Word became flesh and resided among us . . ."

Additionally from Young (page 101): "John writes that the Word was with God (John 1:1 acc.). Harris (1978:1205) suggests that the πρὸς in John 1:1 refers to active communication rather than passive association."

Lastly, ὁ Λόγος is masculine: so is αὐτοῦ and μονογενοῦς, which doesn't necessarily mean the Word is a person, but the gender of nouns and pronouns along with the literary context definitely affects how we translate Bible verses.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Ginomai Verses

Here are some examples of GINOMAI (the aorist middle form EGENETO is employed in John 1:14) and brief comments about how it is utilized in each cited verse:

Matt. 4:3-used by Satan who asks Jesus to make some stones become loaves of bread.

John 1:3-John writes that all things (PANTA) came into being through the LOGOS.

John 1:12-Humans who exercise faith in Jesus and receive him are given the authority "to become" (GENESQAI) God's children (TEKNA QEOU).

John 1:14-The LOGOS became flesh.

Heb. 11:3-TOUS AIWNAS came to be out of things that do not appear.

Cf. Matt. 5:45 and countless other examples.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

G. C. Berkouwer and Holy Scripture as the Word of God

Theopedia supplies this description for G. C. Berkouwer:

Gerrit Cornelis Berkouwer (1903-1996) was a minister of the Reformed Church in the Netherlands (GKN) and a Christian theologian. He was the chair of Systematic Theology at the Free University of Amsterdam, and a prolific author. While critical of the teachings of Karl Barth, Klaas Schilder, and Roman Catholicism, he is also known for leading the ecumenical movement of his day.

Berkouwer allows us to perceive his view of Scripture in one important work:

"We are also reminded in the discussion of Scripture of the function of the phrase 'it is written' as the final and ultimate appeal of the Lord himself in his temptations (Mt. 4:4, 6, 10), and we are reminded of many statements, both warning and admonishing, 'to live according to the scripture' (1 Cor. 4:6). Such statements constituted the background of the discussion and the heeding of the Word in the church and of the conviction that Holy Scripture is the trustworthy Word of God." (Holy Scripture, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1975, page 12.)

While making such lofty professions about Scripture, Berkouwer disappointed many Evangelicals by means of his insistence that a priori formalizations of the Bible should be eschewed. He believed that we should pay close attention to the divine and human elements of Holy Writ.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Physical Kosmos in Relation to the Spiritual Kosmos: God, Cause and Effect

It's logically possible for a Christian physicalist to accept the existence of a non-physical God, who created a wholly physical universe filled with stars, planets, atoms, particles, humans and animals, etc. So I don't see a necessary entailment between a defeater for anthropological dualism and a defeater for the existence of an omnipotent spirit person. By "defeater," I mean an argument that overcomes/refutes another contention. So we can have one without necessarily having the other: God can exist without dualism being true.

1) A non-physical God exists.
2) A physical world exists.
3) Dualism is false.

These three propositions do not inherently conflict with one another. Hence, it's logically possible for a non-physical God to exist alongside a physical kosmos. By "dualism," I mean "anthropological dualism."

Secondly, pace my dualist friends, I wonder why we have to reject David Hume's three causal elements. While I don't accept Hume's take on causation, let it be sufficient to note that causes possibly take place within a nexus of relations (i.e., there are causal linkages).

The astrophysicist Paul Davies refers to "causal linkages" (networks) rather than ascribing causal potencies to objects themselves. For example, I put my foot on the accelerator, and this event increases the velocity of my car. Therefore, I say that the cause of my car picking up speed is the act of pressing the accelerator with my foot. However, if there's no gas in the car or if some other factor prevents the vehicle from moving (no engine, someone stole all of my tires, bad spark plugs), then pressing the gas pedal will have little to no effect. For simplicity's sake, though, there's nothing wrong with insisting that pressing the accelerator (gas pedal) makes cars go, and pressing the brake with enough force causes vehicles to stop. Yet it seems that there is a causal relationship which exists between event A (pressing the gas pedal) and event B (the car picking up speed) to provide the glue that joins them; different causal events likely will not make my car go (i.e., the event of pitching a baseball or the event of opening the door to my house). By the way, Immanuel Kant wrote that cause-effect relations are not analytic a priori, but synthetic a priori whereas Hume suggests they are synthetic a posteriori.

Part of John H. P. Reumann's Commentary on Philippians 1:1-2 (Jesus as Kurios)


Reumann's commentary is part of the Anchor Bible series.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

2 Corinthians 5:8 (The Lexical Semantics of SWMA)

About the Greek word σῶμα.

θαρροῦμεν δὲ καὶ εὐδοκοῦμεν μᾶλλον ἐκδημῆσαι ἐκ τοῦ σώματος καὶ ἐνδημῆσαι πρὸς τὸν κύριον· (2 Cor. 5:8).

The operative words for me are ἐκδημῆσαι ἐκ τοῦ σώματος. Regarding the use of σῶμα in Rom. 8:10, we read:

"It should first be noted that SWMA (body) should be taken literally. That it refers to the physical body [in Rom. 8:10] is almost certain" (Ralph Earle, Word Meanings in the NT, 177).

σῶμα also signifies the physical body in 2 Cor. 5:8. If this observation is true, however, then 2 Cor. 5:8 does not pose a difficulty for my theological beliefs about the condition of the dead. For while the physical body of those Christians who are privileged to "see God and be like him" (1 John 3:1-2) may be "dissolved" at death (2 Cor. 5:1-2), 1 Cor. 15:42ff indicates that these same Christians are given new spiritual bodies when God resurrects them. As Paul so clearly expressed matters: "If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one" (1 Cor. 15:44).

Therefore, when the apostle speaks of Christians being "absent from the body," he is evidently referring to the physical body. Those who put on/assume immortality and incorruption, however, will acquire renewed bodies made like unto the Son's glorious corpus (1 Cor. 15:49; Phil. 3:20, 21). These new bodies will not be souls, but nonetheless they will be spiritual.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

John C. Cooper on Names for the TRES PERSONAE

John C. Cooper (Professor of philosophical theology at Calvin
Theological Seminary) contends that the triune name for God (Father,
Son and Holy Spirit) cannot be replaced salva veritate. Names or titles such as Lover, Beloved, and Love (Augustine of Hippo) or Source, Word and Comforter do not adequately describe God and neither does the language, "God, Christ and Spirit" as Cooper explains:

"God, Christ, and Spirit is also impeccably biblical (cf. 2 Cor.
13:14). Moreover, this formula uses personal names or titles. But it
is not equivalent to the triune name. For taken on its own, it seems
to imply that Christ and the Spirit are not God. That implication
might not be disastrous for Christ as a referent to the human nature
of Jesus. But it still leaves the Holy Spirit out of the Godhead. It
also juxtaposes God with the humanity of Jesus, failing to communicate
that Jesus is God the Son. Though this trio of terms is biblical, it
is not even close to the meaning of the triune name. Like the other
formulas, it depends on the triune name to be understood in a
trinitarian sense" (Our Father in Heaven: Christian Faith and
Inclusive Language for God
. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), page 212.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Old Dialogue Concerning Religion, the Intellect, and Authority

[Interlocutor]
I personally do not find subsuming your intellect, the authority of the scriptures or your reputation to a religious organization. Whatever Paul meant by 1 Cor 1:10, it would be distressing to think that he meant this [speaking in agreement as Witnesses do].

[Edgar]
Who said you have to "subsume your intellect" to a religious organization? A sacrificium intellectus is most abhorrent to yours truly. Jesus taught us to love God with our whole mind. However, I believe that it is perfectly viable and legitimate for a theologian or Christian thinker to work within his or her own religious tradition while simultaneously refusing to turn a blind eye to error. The Bible encourages Christians to submit to those taking the lead among them, to wit, those who govern (Heb 13:7, 17). That may not sound so lovely to our postmodernist society which takes delight in flouting authority, for the most part. But the Bible shows that the first-century Christians submitted themselves to the apostles and older men of Jerusalem and other local overseers of the Primitive Congregation (Acts 2:40-42; Acts 15:1-29). Likewise, Jehovah's Witnesses strive to do the same in their worship to God the Father today.

There is one major difference between us and the Catholic Church. In the Roman Catholic Church, the buck stops at the pope. You can't question the papacy because it supposedly has the "requisite authority" to interpret Scripture and even to declare certain doctrines infallible. You technically have to submit to the pope whether what he says is backed by Scripture or not. Jehovah's Witnesses do not go beyond the things written (1 Cor. 4:6). We believe in "making sure of all things," including what we're taught by the Governing Body (1 Thess. 5:21). Of course, we believe that we are being taught Scriptural truth, therefore we humbly submit to the Governing Body. But if a teaching ever turned out to be unscriptural or downright harmful, we would not just follow along like gullible little puppies. [No Jim Jones people here!]