Monday, May 22, 2017

Theophilus of Antioch on Inspired Prophets

"But men of God carrying in them a holy spirit and becoming prophets, being inspired and made wise by God, became God-taught, and holy, and righteous. Wherefore they were also deemed worthy of receiving this reward, that they should become instruments of God, and contain the wisdom that is from Him, through which wisdom they uttered both what regarded the creation of the world and all other things. For they predicted also pestilences, and famines, and wars. And there was not one or two, but many, at various times and seasons among the Hebrews; and also among the Greeks there was the Sibyl; and they all have spoken things consistent and harmonious with each other, both what happened before them and what happened in their own time, and what things are now being fulfilled in our own day: wherefore we are persuaded also concerning the future things that they will fall out, as also the first have been accomplished" (Theophilus to Autolycus II.9).

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Additional Links for Theopneustos

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Translating Psalm 33:3

Psalm 33:3-"Sing to him a new song; Play skillfully on the strings, along with shouts of joy" (NWT 2013).

"Sing to him a new song; Do YOUR best at playing on the strings along with joyful shouting" (NWT 1984).

"Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise" (KJV).

Albert Barnes:

Play skillfully with a loud noise - literally, "Do well to play;" or, "do well in playing." That is, do the work well, or with all the skill of music. The word rendered "loud noise," means properly "a shout of joy" or "rejoicing:" Job 8:21; 1 Samuel 4:5. It is especially applied to the sound or clangor of trumpets: Leviticus 25:9; Leviticus 23:24; Numbers 29:1. There is rather the idea of "rejoicing" than of "noise" in the word. The meaning is that the music should be such as would be expressive of the highest joy.

JFB mentions 1 Samuel 16:17.

John Trapp's Commentary:
Play skilfully (or lustily) with a loud noise] Make good music, set all your skill and might at work to magnify the Lord. It is not an easy matter to praise God aright; it must be done Corde, ore, opere, with the very best of the best. Benefacite canendo, cum iubilatione.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible:
"Play skillfully with a loud noise" (Psalms 33:3). Some modern translators love to inject instrumental music into as many passages of the Old Testament as possible; and, in keeping with that intention, the RSV renders this place, "Play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts." "The words on the strings are not in the Hebrew text."[8] The words were simply added to the sacred text by the translators!

NET Bible: Sing to him a new song! 2 Play skillfully as you shout out your praises to him! 3

Notes from NET:

2 sn A new song is appropriate because the Lord is constantly intervening in the lives of his people in fresh and exciting ways.

3 tn Heb “play skillfully with a loud shout.”

Friday, May 12, 2017

Logical Possibility and the Existence of God

Vincent Brümmer distinguishes four types of modalities:

1) Conceptual impossibility-impossible by virtue of definition.
2) Logical impossibility-if an assertion that something has been done results in a contradiction, regardless of how one defines the terms used in the assertion.
3) Factual impossibility-things are impossible according to the known structure of reality.
4) Normative possibility-a form of possibility that involves rights and duties (i.e., employees and employers each have prescriptive responsibilities toward one another by means of some formalized agreement).

Some things clearly appear to be factually, conceptually or logically impossible like square circles or events that have happened, then unhappened (Nicomachean Ethics 6.2). Nothing is also red and green all over: that too is factually impossible. Nor is Lebron James both taller than 6 feet and not taller than 6 feet at the same time and in the same respect (law of non-contradiction).

Furthermore, God does not do things that by their very nature are impossible; if one maintains otherwise, he/she land himself/herself in numerous contradictions.

I define logical possibility as "terminological congruity" or internal coherence. The wording is mine, but the idea has been expressed by other writers (Anselm of Canterbury)--something is logically possible when it does not result in a contradictory state of affairs. For instance, there is no logical impossibility contained within the proposition: "All unmarried men are bachelors." The statement is analytically true by virtue of the terms involved. Conversely, to say that "A circle is round and a circle is square" lands one in a terminologically discordant situation: a round and square circle is not logically possible. Yet logical possibility should not be confused with truth or untruth; nor should it be confounded with causal or physical possibility. See Paul Herrick, Introduction to Logic, 61.

Atheists will sometimes insist that the existence of God is logically impossible; however, if this claim were true, then it would mean that predicating God's existence is self-contradictory. Wherein does the supposed contradiction lie? What is terminologically incongruent about asserting, "There is a being such that no being is greater than that being"? The onus probandi falls upon the atheist to explain and demonstrate how the foregoing proposition is logically impossible. But the fact that Anselm's ontological argument is not prima facie incoherent, suggests that atheists who want to deem God's existence logically impossible are guilty of overreaching their target.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Notes on Parens from Oxford Latin Dictionary, 2:1295-6

Historical Background for Augustine of Hippo and His Ethical Take

A. Historical Background on Augustine

Augustine (354-430 CE) was reared in Tagaste, North Africa (modern-day Algeria). He was baptized in 387 CE and eventually became a prominent bishop of the western church. Augustine later died in Hippo Regius (Algeria, North of Tagaste) during a Vandal attack. Aside from Jesus and the Apostle Paul, he evidently had the most profound influence on western ecclesiastical thought. Training in rhetoric could be added to Augustine's résumé. But most germane for our purposes, it is good to observe that the bishop is a divine command theorist, who emphasizes obedience to God: he believes that morality is wholly dependent on the Judeo-Christian God's statutes.

B. Basic Concepts in Augustine's Ethical System

The summum bonum in Augustine is God or eternal life; the divine sphere is humanity's ultimate end. This ethicist/bishop consequently believes that genuine happiness cannot be found in this world--especially not by secular means. He therefore contends that any attempt to master virtue (whether moral or intellectual) is futile: no system of thought divorced from theism can result in genuine happiness or virtuous character. Yet Augustine's ethical system is manifestly informed by Neoplatonism, a philosophy that he develops within the context of an orthodox ecclesiastical framework. The bishop was a Neoplatonist before he converted to Christianity although the extent of his conceptual departure from Neoplatonism has been the subject of scholarly debate at times. Did Augustine convert to Christianity or was Christianity converted to Neoplatonic philosophy by the rhetorical ecclesiastic?

Plotinus (205-270 CE) is usually credited with being the founder of Neoplatonism. He was born in Upper Egypt (Lycopolis) but studied in Alexandria under Ammonius Saccas. Plotinus developed an influential monistic system that posited three "hypostases": the One, Intellect, and Soul. He maintained that all things emanate from and (in due course) return to the One (Ultimate Reality). You can think of this divine movement that originates from the three hypostases as an example of egressus and regressus, a legendary motif that commonly appears in world literature. Hinduism likewise explains the phenomenal world's origin by means of a narrative that accounts for the source of everything plural and diverse through the One (Brahman). Plurality and diversity eventually return to this one unitary ground of being.

Augustine (the converted Neoplatonist) juxtaposes the city of God with the city of man. The city language is metaphorical imagery rooted in New Testament passages from the Revelation of John (e.g., Babylon the Great versus New Jerusalem). Each city represents two classes of humanity. Augustine's metaphorical language also points to the ongoing struggle between fleshly and spiritual people, between unregenerate and regenerate humanity (City of God 14). Those who belong to the city of God cherish divine values as the summum bonum. Conversely, those who align themselves with the city of man love pleasure or desire bodily goods more than goods of the soul. Augustine summarizes the utmost good of humanity in Confessions 1.1: "Our hearts are restless until they repose in thee" (quia fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te). While one may look for God in external things, the idea posited in Augustinian writings is that God (in some sense) actually dwells within us; we just need to acknowledge the supreme presence that abides internally. He avers that our hearts will be troubled until we repose in God, so our eternal peace and very life purpose consequently become associated with the divine will.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Links for Diachrony and Biblical Hebrew

Just a tip of the iceberg for the work being done on diachrony and Biblical Hebrew:

Some Thoughts on Romans 14 and Foods (Keener)

Luke 1:34-35 (Brief Notes)

Luke 1:34-35:

εἶπεν δὲ Μαριὰμ πρὸς τὸν ἄγγελον· πῶς ἔσται τοῦτο, ἐπεὶ ἄνδρα οὐ γινώσκω; καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν αὐτῇ· πνεῦμα ἅγιον ἐπελεύσεται ἐπὶ σὲ καὶ δύναμις ὑψίστου ἐπισκιάσει σοι· διὸ καὶ τὸ γεννώμενον ἅγιον κληθήσεται υἱὸς θεοῦ.

Translation (NET Bible): Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man?” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God.

Brief Notes: εἶπεν is aorist indicative active, third-person singular: "he/she/it said."

The words are spoken to the angel by Μαριὰμ, which is indeclinable.

ἔσται is future middle indicative, third-person singular of εἰμί.

ἐπεὶ ἄνδρα οὐ γινώσκω: David E. Garland points to Matthew 1:25 for help with understanding this idiom. There is obviously precedent for the language in Gen. 4:1 and elsewhere.

ἐπελεύσεται is future indicative middle, third-person singular. This verb, meaning "to come upon," is used seven times in Luke-Acts..

Garland also invokes Isa. 32:15 as a parallel use of the verb; he points to Exod. 40:35 in order to elucidate the "overshadow" language.


Thursday, May 04, 2017

My Amazon Review of "Linguistics and New Testament Interpretation" (book edited by D.A. Black)

This book contains selected papers from a 1991 conference sponsored by Wycliffe Bible Translators. Its editors are David A. Black, Katharine Barnwell and Stephen Levinsohn and there is also a foreword by Eugene Nida. Some of the essays include: "Reading a Text as Discourse" (J. P. Louw); "Constituent Order in Copula Clauses: A Partial Study" (John Callow) and "A Tale of Two Debtors: On the Interaction of Text, Cotext, and Context in a New Testament Dramatic Narrative (Luke 7:36-50)" by Ernst R. Wendland. There is also an essay by the accomplished scholar Randall Buth that is titled "OUN, DE, KAI, and Asyndeton in John's Gospel."

Two essays that I found particularly helpful where exegesis is concerned are "The Function of KAI in the Greek New Testament and an Application to 2 Peter" (Kermit Titrud) and "Towards an Exegesis of 1 John Based on the Discourse Analysis of the Greek Text" (Robert Longacre). The first essay helps scholars to avoid simplistic analyses of the Greek conjunction KAI. Moreover, Titrud discusses how a better understanding of the function of KAI in the Greek New Testament contributes to a possibly improved understanding of Granville Sharp's famed rule. He somewhat reformulates the rule, but still favors reading 2 Peter 1:1 in the standard Trinitarian fashion.

The second essay, by Longacre, demonstrates the importance of not just counting verbs or words, but also weighing them in light of the overall discourse. Through a fairly sophisticated analysis of John's discourse in the first epistle of his corpus, Longacre discerns the hortatory nature of John's epistle and its overall theme or purpose in relation to first century readers. Overall, I found this book to be educational and useful for those wishing to understand or rightly exegete Holy Scripture. Of course, there are points at which one might disagree with some explanation of a particular verse or even take issue with the methodology employed by those who contributed essays to this book. Nevertheless, I think that this work deserves to be read and pondered. Especially is this the case with the opening essay of the book written by Louw.