Sunday, December 31, 2006
For instance, Brooks and Winbery define terms such as "substantive," "number," "gender" (as it pertains to grammar) and "case" before they explain Greek cases such as nominative or the accusative case. The genitive case is classified into such categories as "Genitive of description" (that is, the genitive attributes a quality or relationship to the substantive), "Genitive of relationship" (this category is actually an extension of the genitive of possession), and "adverbial genitive."
Examples that illustrate these types of genitives (along with helpful translations) are given. E.G. the words LOGOIS THS XARITOS (Luke 4:22) illustrate the "genitive of description." The authors render these words thus: "words of grace." And there are five other scriptural examples provided for the genitive of description.
The foregoing is only part of the helpful material contained in this work. I would highly recommend this book, although there are certain ideas presented that I would not accept uncritically. But this book serves a very useful purpose. It will remain a classic for students of Greek syntax.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Alfs provides definitions of nomenclature such as "Essence," "substance," "nature," "relation" and "subsistence" from authoritative sources. He systematically unfolds the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Trinitarian concepts. We are treated to an illuminating discussion of eternal generation as it pertains to the Son over against eternal spiration of the Holy Spirit. Alfs argues that Trinitarian dogma does not allow for subordination among the TREIS hUPOSTASEIS or TRES PERSONAE. He cites a few Catholic theologians to buttress his point.
In the second part of the study, Alfs unfolds non-Trinitarian groups. He discusses Jehovah's Witnesses, the Church of God, the Unitarians, Christadelphians and other groups. His book is well-written and very objective. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Alfs' work and it has been used as a reference by this reviewer more times than I care to count. This book has references to scholarly works in the back matter and also contains an index. It is a requisite tool for exploring Trinitarian and non-Trinitarian concepts.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
One major claim of Divinae institutiones is that if discourse agents spurn the omnipotent fatherly deity above, then pacific conditions among human communities cannot obtain. The treatise subsequently will posit that the key to unifying humanity or eradicating chaos is deferential awe for the true Father and God of all. In view of Jupiter’s apparently impious actions, however, neither the title “Best and Greatest” nor the designation “Father” befit him since the Roman god not only commits “virtual parricide” against his father, but he also is a disingenuous philanderer intent on having coitus with both males and females (including human wives)—some of whom Jupiter impregnates. Lactantius thereby attempts to unmask the professed divinity of Jupiter. He conatively divests Rome’s fatherly patron of the honorific appellation “Best and Greatest” by enumerating in detail his sordid affairs and notable but finite theogonic development. Lactantius finally appeals to the theory of euhemerism in order that Jupiter’s non-divine status might be exposed thoroughly. He argues that Jupiter was once a man, whom some Romans mistakenly deified. In any event, the apologist is convinced that Jupiter does not merit the soubriquet Father. That designation belongs exclusively to the holy God-Creator of the cosmos.
 DI 1.10.11-14.
 Ibid. 1.11.1-17. Appealing to the consensus omnium, indicating Stoic influence, Arnobius of Sicca reasons similarly: “For by the unanimous judgment of all, and by the common consent of the human race, the omnipotent God is regarded as having never been born, as having never been brought forth to new light, and as not having begun to exist at any time or century. For He Himself is the source of all things, the Father of ages and of seasons. For they do not exist of themselves, but from His everlasting perpetuity, they move on in unbroken and ever endless flow. Yet Jupiter indeed, as you allege, has both father and mother, grandfathers, grandmothers, and brothers: now lately conceived in the womb of his mother, being completely formed and perfected in ten months, he burst with vital sensations into light unknown to him before. If, then, this is so, how can Jupiter be God supreme, when it is evident that He is everlasting, and the former is represented by you as having had a natal day, and as having uttered a mournful cry, through terror at the strange scene?” (Adversus Nationes 1.34)
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Hall indicates that Origen possibly balances his alleged subordinationism by means of the eternal generation doctrine, which would mean that his subordinationism is not ontological in nature. On the other hand, William J. Hill observes: “Still, eternal generation [in Origen] does not of itself give divine status because Origen views all spiritual beings, both what he calls theoi and human souls, as eternal.” Similarly, Brown laments Origen’s problematic approach to Christology and the Trinity since “he also taught the preexistence of individual human souls and spoke of those who are in Christ as eternally begotten.” However, this speculation, argues Brown, does not diminish Origen’s contribution to the church regarding how one may speak about the tres personae. Nevertheless, the historian acknowledges that while Origen’s eternal generation doctrine, “countered the assertion that the Son must be later than the Father,” it “did not entirely throw off the assumptions of earlier Christian thinkers that the Son is subordinate to the Father” and possibly not fully divine. Studer likewise concludes that Origen “does not succeed in ruling out subordinationism.” He points to the Alexandrian’s belief that there are hierarchical grades in deity with the Son being one of the Seraphim or angels in Isaiah’s vision of YHWH’s glory (Peri Archon 1.3.4). If Origen’s doctrine of God or Christ is characterized by subordinationism, however, one wonders to what extent he subordinates the Son to the Father.
Certain scholars attempt to resolve the difficulties in Origen’s schema by positing the Son’s subordination to the Father in an economic sense. However, Origen’s extant writings suggest that he himself may have inconsistently formulated his Christology during his lifetime. It is possible that Origen viewed the Son as ontologically subordinate to the Father. Moreover, another factor adding to the aporetic tendencies of this Christology is Origen’s use of the term “creature” (ktisma) for the Son. This usage has generated many discussions in Origen studies, discussions that have not led to wholly satisfactory conclusions.
The first systematic theologian evidently derives ktisma from Proverbs 8:22-25 (LXX). Neoplatonism may also influence what seems to be an idiosyncratic utilization of ktisma. Crouzel in fact believes that “creation” (ktisiv) for Origen applies to “everything that comes from God.” Along with Prestige and Wiles, he notes the fluid synonymity that existed between the Greek words for generate (gennaw) and create (ginomai) prior to Nicea. Hence, there appears to be no genuine conflict between Origen’s supposed affirmation of the eternal generation doctrine and his employment of “creature.” Yet, although the Father putatively generates the Son timelessly in the thought of Origen, this pre-Nicene clearly adheres to the notion that there are grades of being in the divine. In the estimation of Bulgakov, Origen does not master ontological subordinationism “with reference to the mutual relations of the hypostases, with reference to their equal dignity and divinity.” Even if Origen did posit a timeless or eternal generation for the Son, he also argued that other “created” rational spirits (logoi) are eternal. Ultimately, if Father is a metaphor for Christianity’s first systematic theologian, it is a rather curious trope.
 Hall, Doctrine and Practice, 105.
 See Crouzel, Origen, 186; Widdicombe, Fatherhood of God, 68. Peri Archon 1.2.9 and 4.4.1; Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans 1.5 (PG 14); Homily on Jeremiah 9.4. However, Crouzel observes that Origen’s use of aion or aiwniov are not clear (187).
 Hall, Doctrine and Practice, 105. Cf. Homily in Jeremiah 9.4; Peri Archon 1.2.2 and 4.4.28.
 Studer, Trinity and Incarnation, 85.
 Hall, Doctrine and Practice, 106.
 Ibid. Compare Contra Celsum 8.15, however.
 W. J. Hill, Three-Personed God, 39. Granted, Origen attributes divinity to the Son. However, he makes a curious statement in Commentary on John 2.2 regarding the Son’s maintenance of his divinity through uninterrupted contemplation of the Father.
 Brown, Heresies, 90. Cf. Daniélou, Origen, 256; Ehrman, Lost Christianities, 155.
 Heresies, 91.
 Trinity and Incarnation, 85.
 Ibid. Cf. Fortman, Triune God, 57.
 Brown, Heresies, 91. Compare Peri Archon 1.3.7 with Commentary on John 13.25; 25.152.
 Ehrman, Lost Christianities, 155.
 Widdicombe (Fatherhood of God, 89) insists that Origen “almost certainly called the Son a ktisma in the original text of De Principiis [Peri Archon].” Nevertheless, he states that the sense of ktisma in Origen when applied to the Son is not clear (Ibid). See Peri Archon 4.4.1. Cf. Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, 1:; Prestige, God in Patristic Thought,.
 Hill, Three-Personed God, 39.
 Frend, Rise of Christianity, 377. Cf. A.H. Armstrong, “The Plotinian Doctrine of nouv in Patristic Theology,” Vigiliae Christianae vol 8.4 (1954): 234-238.
 Origen, 186. Cf. Peri Archon 1.2.10.
 Maurice Wiles, “Eternal Generation,” JTS 12 (1961): 284-291; G. L. Prestige, God in Patristic Thought, 37-54.
 The Comforter, 20. Wiles similarly concludes: “The idea of eternal generation as it stands in Origen’s scheme of thought as a whole does not really have any effective anti-subordinationist significance at all” (“Eternal Generation,” 288).
 R. A. Norris Jr., God and World in Early Christian Theology, 150-152.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Initially, the Greek term rhetor denotes a “public speaker.” Classical writers apply the morpheme to judges, politicians, legal advocates (in the papyri) and the terminology later describes professors who teach others the art of elocutionary speech.
Cole describes rhetoric (in part) as “the influencing and swaying of the mind through words”. It constitutes a techne or art of public discourse. In classical terms, rhetoric is the science of persuasive speaking or writing. Aristotle himself defines this particular techne in terms of the employment of available means for the sake of persuasion as well as discerning “persuasive facts” in each case. Therefore, it seems probable that from a diachronic perspective, one can speak legitimately of rhetoric as “the written word attempting to do the work of the spoken word.” Unfortunately, those who practiced the art of rhetoric in its primal manifestations lent an air of suspicion to the trade. Hence, rhetoric continued to be a pejorative signifier until modernity.
In spite of the morpheme’s negative connotations, grammar and rhetoric became distinctive or stable elements of Greco-Roman education. Ancient professors of rhetoric usually delivered or read model speeches to their pupils. Moreover, prospective rhetores were taught speech structure as well as how to vary the style or subject matter of formal discourse. Additionally, those studying rhetoric learned the five venerable canons of well-formed speech, namely, invention, disposition, elocution, action, and memoria (expand). Pupils thus were obligated to construct periods (periodoi) in accordance with strict rules, then only quote or cite what could be demonstrated from constructed texts. The outcome of this extensive training (idealistically) was the ability to speak ex tempore.
 Acharnians 38, 680. The extant documents of ancient Greece leads one to believe that rhetoric “bears every indication of being a Platonic invention.” The term does not appear before the Gorgias (Cole 2; Kennedy in Rhetoric Handbook, 3). See Plato, Gorgias 453a, where the philosopher refers to rhetoric as “the artificer of persuasion” (Cole 2).
 LSJ: 1570.
 See Phaedrus 261a7-8.
 Kennedy, 3.
 Cf. Aristotle’s Rhetorica 1.2 1355b and 1.2.1356-57.
 Cole 1.
 Ibid. 159.
 Hatch, Influence of Greek Ideas on Christianity, 30.
 Hatch, ibid.
 Hatch, Influence of Greek Ideas, 30.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Lactantius asserts that there is a sense in which Christ is motherless and fatherless. The Son, so that he might resemble the Father in all respects, was generated “motherless” in his preexistence since God generated him without the assistance of a feminine consort. Furthermore, Lactantius holds that God produced the Son by means of his spirit. He accordingly believes that Christ is fatherless in that the Virgin Mary bore him sans a male parent: “He had a spiritual father in God, and just as God was father of his spirit without a mother, so a virgin was mother of his body without a father.”
In view of Christ’s unique generative circumstances, Lactantius confesses that the Son is simultaneously God and man (simul deus et homo). He supports his belief in the Son’s divinity by appealing to such texts as Psalms 45:6-7, which Lactantius interprets to mean that Christ is God, in some sense of the word. In a manner comparable to Tertullian (Adversus Praxean 13.3) and other pre-Nicenes,Lactantius evidently construes the Greek/Latin syntax of this biblical psalm as vocatival, believing that it exemplifies the nominative of address case. Regardless of how one construes the grammar of Psalms 45:6-7, it seems certain that Lactantius does not regard the construction in Psalms as a subject nominative, although the LXX allows for either reading. Nevertheless, in what sense is Christ God, according to Lactantius? Does the apologist profess the Son is fully God—that he exemplifies all divine-constituting properties?
Once Lactantius sets forth his explanation of the Son’s mission and nature, it becomes apparent that his use of the proper noun “God” as a title designating Christ probably should be understood in a mitigated sense. For the rhetorician asserts that Christ is “God in the spirit,” drawing a conceptual parallel between the Son and Apollo. By fulfilling his God-given mission, the Son demonstrated faith and trust in Almighty God: “he taught that there is one God and that he alone is to be worshipped, and he never said that he was God himself: he would not have kept faith if after being sent to get rid of gods and to assert a single God he had introduced another one besides.” The Son did not come proclaiming his own Godhood. In fact, Lactantius reasons that if the Son had arrived declaring or publicly making known his own divinity, then Christ would have breached strict monotheism. Moreover, Lactantius believes that Christ would not have demonstrated faith in the one true God of Scripture, if he had focused on his own divine nature. Nevertheless, because the Son proved himself “so faithful and because he took nothing at all for himself, in order to fulfill the instructions of the one who sent him, so he received the dignity of eternal priesthood, the honour of supreme kingship, the power to judge and the name of God.” Hence, it seems that the Son progressively becomes God in the writings of Lactantius.
First, the apologist teaches that the Logos does not acquire the epithet “Son” until he shows himself trustworthy in the face of extreme duress. Then Lactantius states that God rewards the Son’s faithfulness vis-à-vis his earthly mission by granting him the eternal priesthood, supreme kingship, the power of judgment and the name of God. It therefore appears that the Son does not truly become Deus for Lactantius until he assumes flesh, instructs others about the one God, suffers, dies and experiences a resurrection at the Father’s hands. The term “God” (Deus) only applies to Christ in a fuller sense, Lactantius believes, after he fulfills his divine commission. Yet, the Son evidently is subordinate to the Father per essentiam before and subsequent to his ascension. At least, this is how Lactantius ostensibly interprets the Scriptural witness concerning the Son’s person and work.
 Ibid. 4.13.5.
 Ibid. 4.25.4. Lactantius employs the rhetorical device of chiasm here. Moreover, he answers the question, Cur Deus homo, though it is debatable what he means by “God” (Deus).
 DI 4.13.6; 4.25.5-6.
 DI 4.13.9.
 See Biblica Patristica.
 Brooke F. Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews (London: 1889), 25-26. Metzger, George Buchanan and Lane.
 DI 4.13.11-13.
 DI 4.14.18-20.
 DI 4.14.20.
 Ibid. See Alvin Lamson, The Church of the First Three Centuries, 237. Lamson points to DI 4.25.4, wherein Lactantius professes that the Son is “mediam inter deum et hominem substantiam gerens.” He concludes that in Lactantian thought, the Father is supreme in relation to the Son, who is ontologically subordinate to the Father (cf. DI 4.25.1).
 See Martin Werner, The Formation of Christian Dogma.
 DI 2.8.7.
Friday, May 19, 2006
I came across this quote in a book by
William Lane Craig and Paul Copan.
Sir Fred Hoyle is discussing the
steady state theory when he writes:
"To many people this thought process [i.e. that the
universe did not have a beginning] seems highly
satisfactory because a 'something' outside physics can
then be introduced at T = O. By a semantic manuever,
the word 'something' is then replaced by 'god," except
that the first letter becomes a capital, God, in order
to warn us that we must not carry the inquiry any
But Hoyle has carried the inquiry further. Note,
however, that certain physicists have chosen to accept
the steady state model rather than allow "God" as a
possible cause of the universe. They reasoned that
"something" outside physics cannot be part of proper
scientific discourse; even if one has to posit a
universe with no temporal beginning.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Regarding John 1:1c, both Jehovah's Witnesses
say that the Logos is deity in a qualitative sense (i.e. he is
The difference, however, is that Witnesses employ the adnominal
"divine" in its weaker sense, whereas Trinitarians utilize
"divine" per its stronger sense or meaning, so that it only applies
to Almighty God. Professor Dale Tuggy helpfully has distinguished these senses
of "divine" in his work on the Trinity doctrine.
Another difference is that while Trinitarians such as Richard A. Young or
are inclined to view QEOS in John 1:1c as a "monadic" or
one-of-a-kind noun, Witnesses evidently believe it is a count noun since the
plural QEOI is found in both the LXX and NT with no indication that the writers
are using the nominal QEOS pejoratively.
One nagging logical difficulty that I think attends the Trinitarian proposition,
"Jesus is God," is that Trinitarians are forced to view the Father,
Son and Holy Spirit as "relatively identical" with the Godhead (i.e.
God) and not absolutely identical with DEITAS.
Yet, those who study identity in a non-theological context have pointed out
that there is no such thing as "relative identity." A logician named
Peter Geach worked up a very sophisticated argument for relative identity that
Bill Cartwright and other logicians (IMO) rightly took to task. An elementary
datum of logic is that A is A:
(1) Cicero is Tully.
(2) Water is H20.
(3) Heat is the motion of molecules.
(4) Hesperus is Phosphorus.
(5) 2 + 2 = 4.
Leibniz' law also comes into play here and says that if X and Y commonly
exemplify all properties, then X and Y are identical in an absolute sense. That
is why Cicero (X) is said to be identical with Y (Tully), KAI TO LOIPON. 2 + 2
and 4 also are numerically identical.
But Trinitarians are saying none of the above when they assert, "Jesus is
God." Rather, the proposition "Jesus is God" only claims that
the Son of God is relatively identical with the Godhead. The Trinitarian proposition
is thus akin to the assertions, "God is love" or "Socrates is
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
known as speech-act theory approximately fifty years
ago. The publication in which he introduced
nomenclature such as illocution and perlocution was
How to Do Things with Words. For Austin, locutions
either are written or spoken, and are illocutionary or
perlocutionary. Austin further contends that when an
agent speaks, he or she enacts x or y. Austin thereby
proposes five classes of illocutionary performatives:
(1) Verdictives (the act of giving a finding or
verdict); (2) Exercitives (the act of exercising a
power or right); (3) Commissives (the act of
committing oneself to an action verbally); (4)
Behabitives (the act of expressing attitudes about
social behavior); (5) Expositives (the verbal act of
fitting locutions into discourse). These five
taxonomies supposedly account for the manner in which
humans do things with words. Speech-act theory has
morphed, however, since its inception. Hence, this
study will now turn its attention toward one of
Austin's students, who expanded on his work. That
student of philosophy and language is John Searle,
whose thought on brute and institutional facts we
analyzed in section F of this chapter. Searle not only
differentiates an illocution from a perlocution, he
also distinguishes direct from indirect speech-acts,
with metaphors belonging to the latter category.
Searle categorizes illocutionary utterances somewhat
differently than Austin does, but his work
nevertheless remains an extension of his mentor's
John Searle defines an indirect speech-act (the type
to which metaphor belongs) as a lingual performance
whereby a certain phatic agent means "S is R" when he
or she states: "S is P." According to Searle, an
adequate metaphorology should thus explain how a
communicant arrives at "S is R" from "S is P" since
that is putatively an agent's pragmatic intention.
However, some have questioned whether Searle himself
actually demonstrates the means by which a
communicative agent by means of an indirect verbal
performative successfully shifts from "S is R" to "S
is P." For instance, Swinburne contends that a
metaphorical utterance likely does not set forth one
proposition ("S is P") while intending or implying
that something else ("S is R") is the case. Rather, he
suggests that a speaker "uses a sentence which
independent of context would mean one thing" but in a
determinate or specified situation means "something
else." If Swinburne is correct, then the
truth-conditions of a complex metaphor or simile are
identical and neither rhetorical trope says, "S is P"
but means "S is R." One simply needs a context in
order to decipher a communicative agent's intent "S is
P." Hence, it is more than likely the case, as
Swinburne argues, that the Shakespearean indirect
speech-act, "Life is a tale told by an idiot; full of
sound and fury, signifying nothing" has the same
truth-condition as "Life is like a tale told by an
idiot; full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
For it is clearly problematic to assert that the
truth-condition alluded to above differs from metaphor
to corresponding simile. In the final analysis,
therefore, Swinburne's account of indirect speech-acts
may be preferable to Searle's theory of indirect
sentential locutions. It may better account for the
phenomenon of metaphoric significance and more
adequately explain the illocutionary force of the
indirect speech-act "S is P." However, it is not
necessary for this study to determine which theory
(Searle's or Swinburne's) is more adequate. The
salient point here is how John Searle formulates
indirect speech-acts, which include metaphors and
Building on the theoretical research of Austin and
Searle, Vanhoozer similarly proposes that human
utterances are intrinsically performative;
communicative agents enact intentions when they
articulate speech, whether it entails promising,
greeting, commanding, exhorting, prognosticating,
interrogating, informing or requesting. Such
performative acts are illocutionary: they constitute
ways of doing things with words (i.e. acting out
intention X or Y verbally). Language thus becomes "a
means by which one human person acts in relation to
other people." Saying "I do" is consequently an
illocutionary speech-act as is "Can you pass the
Monday, April 17, 2006
I submit that metasememic constructs are as-if structures. Metasememes evidently do not predicate metaphysical or literal properties of a subject, but only affirm tropically that “S is P.” Consequently, even though the appellation “Father” may be reality-depicting, it does not necessarily delineate the mind-independent properties of God the Father. Paternal metaphors for God may speak to the deity’s relationship with his people or the manner in which the divine one functions vis-à-vis the Son of God and creation as a whole. However, imagery couched in masculine terminology does not necessarily disclose anything substantive about God quoad se (Poetica 25). Tropes depicting a paternal deity are as-if structures that affirm unfamiliar identity syntheses (i.e. father/God); conversely, they are not metaphysical pronouncements. When Scripture refers to God as a Shepherd, King, Warrior, Lord or Father, it is employing metaphorical speech to predicate X or Y of God in a figurative manner. It does not seem that one can rely on metaphorical locutions in Scripture to discern whether masculinity or femininity are immanent divine categories of being.
 Von Bernhard Debatin, Die Rationalität der Metapher.
 As an illustration of metaphorical speech applied to divinities, Aristotle writes: “Hence Ganymede is said ‘to pour the wine to Zeus,’ though the gods do not drink wine” (Poetica 25). A similar claim is being made in this study with respect to “Father” as a divine appellation. When ascribing paternity to God, it seems that Scripture and a number of pre-Nicenes do not mean to say that God is inherently masculine. Rather, the Bible refers to God as “Father,” even though the infinite God evidently transcends gender categories (Bloesch, Is the Bible Sexist, 80) in order to depict his relationship with the Son or creation as a whole.
 Clement 1.19.
 See Caird’s work on Biblical Imagery.
 Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way, 33-34 argues “there is in God no such thing as sexuality.” An infinite God by definition cannot be male or female, masculine or feminine since a limitless God transcends these categories of being. Yet, Ware maintains that “Father” is a divinely given symbol. However, why should Christians continue employing masculine symbols if they do not tell us what God is immanently? Ware’s answer is that God has revealed and vouchsafed the symbol “Father” to Christians; moreover, it is rooted in being itself.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
Guthrie begins his discussion on the text of Hebrews
by reviewing past scholarly attempts to discern the
structure of the Christian epistle. He convincingly
demonstrates that scholars have found it rather
difficult to ascertain the precise textual structure
of Hebrews. It is no wonder that he humbly approaches
Since Patristic times, attempts have been made to
discern the structure and the recurring theme (i.e.
the leitmotiv) of the letter to the Hebrews.
Currently, text-linguists are also endeavoring to apply
their knowledge of discourse principles to this Bible
book. Guthrie's work shows that these efforts can
produce valuable fruitage.
After examining the numerous theories posited
vis-a'-vis the form or structure of Hebrews, Guthrie
proceeds to explain his own approach to structuring
it. Highlighting the author's use of INCLUSIO and
"hook-words," Guthrie provides an enlightening study
on the rhetorical devices employed in Hebrews and the
main point the writer is attempting to make. He concludes
the book on a very somber and humble note, observing that
"the problems caused by the complex stucture of
Hebrews are not easily answered; they may never be
answered with a consensus of New Testament
scholarship" (146). He reasons, nevertheless: "I enjoy
the music of Mozart. I do not read a note of music and
certainly do not understand how the great composer
brings all the various themes together in such
powerful performances; but I do not have to in order
to recognize them as powerful. I can be moved even in
my ignorance" (147).
Comparing the writer of Hebrews to a highly skilled
virtuoso, Guthrie elevatingly states that while he
does not understand or comprehensively fathom all of the
rhetorical devices the writer of Hebrews utilizes in
his discourse to the first century Christians living
in Jerusalem and Judea, that fact notwithstanding, Guthrie
argues that he can still appreciate the hortatory or
expository messages loftily conveyed in the book
written by a "Mozart" of oratory (147). What
In closing, I would say that Guthrie is a pleasure to
read: I thoroughly enjoyed his book. After one peruses
_The Structure of Hebrews_, he or she not only comes
away with an increased knowledge of this beautifully
written Bible book--one also comes away with an
increased literary education. Guthrie's thorough
knowledge of discourse analysis, rhetoric, and
rabbinic practices are truly astounding. Furthermore,
his approach to the whole problem of the arrangement
of Hebrews is both balanced and reasonable.
He employs charts to help the novice understand
difficult concepts and his explanation of cohesion
shifts and hook-words are simultaneously lucid and
instructive. Guthrie remains focused on the task at
hand and very seldom diverges to make theological
points. His goal is grasping the structure of Hebrews:
from that goal he will not be deterred.
The only drawback to this book is that it is primarily
written for specialists who have a working knowledge
of Greek and rhetoric, as well as some knowledge of
Hebrew and the rabbinic writings. The neophyte could
quickly find himself or herself lost in the sea of
technical terminology employed by Guthrie. If you like
struggling with difficult subjects, however, then the
book will be worth the read.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Nevertheless, in order to apprehend Justin’s doctrine of innominability, it is necessary to make a distinction between names (onomata) and forms of address (prosresis). Expressions such as patjr or kuriov, according to Justin Martyr, are not onomata but prosreseis. They do not designate what God is, but simply permit finite rational existents to invoke God with reverential awe. Justin indicates that God is a person to whom one may speak “but of whom one may not speak.” God is known as “thou” but never as “he.” For the Martyr, consequently, not even the lexeme “God” is a name since it has neither a known nor an unknown meaning. Osborn also maintains that Justin’s use of the word prosreseis is “much more perceptive” than Clement of Alexandria’s theory which suggests that the human mind utilizes divine titles as a form of support. In the final analysis, the Martyr’s God is strictly innominable since he thinks that not even theos is his name.
Elsewhere, Justin writes: “And we have been taught, and are convinced, and do believe, that He accepts those only who imitate the excellences which reside in Him, temperance, and justice, and philanthropy, and as many virtues as are peculiar to a God who is called by no proper name.” Affirmations such as these move Eric Osborn to observe: “The similarity of these statements with those of contemporary Platonism is clear. Albinus speaks in similar terms of the inapplicability of names to the One. God is ineffable and to be grasped by mind alone because he is neither genus, species nor differentia.” It thus appears evident that Middle Platonism shaped Justin’s doctrine of innominability. He too conceived of God in a particular cultural milieu and a specific Christian matrix informed by contemporary Platonic thought. God has no name, according to Justin: he is anonymous. It is not difficult to perceive a conceptual nexus between Justinian innominability and Lactantian apophaticism. Both writers forged their individual theistic notions in the same milieu.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Paul writes to the Ephesians: ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἡμῖν ἡ πάλη πρὸς αἷμα καὶ σάρκα, ἀλλὰ πρὸς τὰς ἀρχάς, πρὸς τὰς ἐξουσίας, πρὸς τοὺς κοσμοκράτορας τοῦ σκότους τούτου, πρὸς τὰ πνευματικὰ τῆς πονηρίας ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις. (Ephesians 6:12 UBS5).
H.I. Marrou (A History of Education in Antiquity) reports that physical training was the "most characteristic part" of Greek education "at least at the beginning of the Hellenistic period" (p. 116). One activity that was used to educate young Greeks in times of antiquity was "wrestling" (ἡ πάλη) or hand to hand grappling. Marrou points out that ancient Greek wrestling was more popular than running. For the Greeks, wrestling in the strictest sense was "standing wrestling" (ORQIA PALH or STADIAIA PALH) in which a wrestler would try throwing his opponent to the ground "without falling himself" (p. 122). If one of the grapplers did fall, the throw would not be counted.
Other points about πάλη are "πάλη (#4097) struggle, wrestling. The word refers particularly to a hand-to-hand fight (Barth). Wrestling was a fight characterized by trickery, cunning, and strategy (Rogers, Cleon L., Jr. and Cleon L. Rogers III. The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998, page 446).
"PALH, PALHS, hH (PALAIW 'wrestle'; Hom. et. al.; ins; Sb 678, 6) engagement in a challenging contest (orig. 'wrestling' Il. 23, 635 al., then of fights or battles Aeschyl., Ch. 866; Eur., Heracl. 159) struggle against . . . of Christians' fight against powers of darkness Eph 6:12 (the opponent is introduced by PROS w. the acc. as in Philo above [Sobr. 65], but the context suggests military imagery" (BDAG).
"Our wrestling is not (οὐκ ἔστιν ἡμῖν ἡ πάλη). 'To us the wrestling is not.' πάλη is an old word from PALLW, to throw, to swing (from Homer to the papyri, though here only in N.T.), a contest between two till one hurls the other down and holds him down (KATECW). Note PROS again (five times) in sense of 'against,' face to face conflict to the finish" (Robertson's WP).
Sunday, March 12, 2006
In Dialogus cum Tryphone, Justin Martyr declares that angels and humans possess free will. However, what does free will entail? What does Justin mean by the expression?
First, it is important to define free will, which is by no means an easy task. William Ockham defined free will as "That power whereby I can do diverse things indifferently and contingently, such that I cause, or not cause, the same effect, when all conditions other than this power are the same." William Hasker calls this definition both exact and exacting. He prefers to define (libertarian) free will as "the power to perform A (i.e. a particular act under given circumstances) or to refrain from performing A" (See _God, Time, and Knowledge_, p. 66).
On the other hand, others think of free will as the ability to act in accord with one's nature. As mentioned earlier, saying exactly what free will is, is not a facile task. Critical for the present discussion is what Justin Martyr thinks of free will. Some passages from the Dialogus provide insight respecting this issue:
"For God, wishing both angels and men, who were endowed with freewill, and at their own disposal, to do whatever He had strengthened each to do, made them so, that if they chose the things acceptable to Himself, He would keep them free from death and from punishment; but that if they did evil, He would punish each as He sees fit" (Dial. 88).
"He created both angels and men free to do that which is righteous, and He appointed periods of time during which He knew it would be good for them to have the exercise of free-will; and because He likewise knew it would be good, He made general and particular judgments; each one's freedom of will, however, being guarded" (Dial. 102).
"But that you may not have a pretext for saying that Christ must have been crucified, and that those who transgressed must have been among your nation, and that the matter could not have been otherwise, I said briefly by anticipation, that God, wishing men and angels to follow His will, resolved to create them free to do righteousness; possessing reason, that they may know by whom they are created, and through whom they, not existing formerly, do now exist; and with a law that they should be judged by Him, if they do anything contrary to right reason: and of ourselves we, men and angels, shall be convicted of having acted sinfully, unless we repent beforehand. But if the word of God foretells that some angels and men shall be certainly punished, it did so because it foreknew that they would be unchangeably [wicked], but not because God had created them so" (Dial. 141).
In 1 Apology 43, Justin argues that a lack of free volition negates human blame, merit or responsibility. While some persons claiming to be Christian may not have a problem with vitiating human merit, arguing that man is not free but determined also seems to eviscerate human responsibility or blame. There can be no legal concept of MENS REA nor any divine concept of wickedness unless humans are free to choose good or evil. This is, at least, how Justin reasons. Justin contends that God gave humans and angels free will in order to choose the good. However, being free also means that one could freely elect to do that which is unpleasing to the Father and God of all. Since, God created angels and humans with free will, however, those who unrepentantly turn aside from the righteous commandment of Jehovah God will be justly punished. Justin thus appears to define free will in the following terms: "For neither would any of them [i.e. humans or angels] be praiseworthy unless there were power to turn to both (virtue and vice)."
Thursday, February 23, 2006
The following paragraphs will outline and distinguish five assorted levels of context. For the sake of discussion, one may think of context in terms of that which frames a text or discourse. The term “context” essentially is tantamount to situational relevance; it ultimately denotes “the total environment in which a text [or discourse] unfolds.” The signifier etymologically derives from the Latin contextus, which may refer to a “joining together” or the human act of interweaving. Barry Sandywell analyzes “context” in terms of five levels: (1) internal contexts; (2) problematic contexts; (3) cotextuality; (4) intertextuality; (5) cultural contexts. Of course, these respective taxonomies do not exhaust the manifold aspects of situational relevance. Nevertheless, as this study progresses, familiarity with these distinct levels of context will prove to be indispensable. Therefore, it is necessary to discriminate between the five aforementioned contextual categories.
(1) Sandywell associates internal contexts with grammatical, semantic and stylistic textual structures, which necessarily encompass analogical or metaphorical speech-acts in theoretical or non-theoretical settings. Internal contexts pertain to the mechanics of language or discourse. They make it possible for communicative discourse to obtain.
(2) The terminology “problematic contexts” describes the act of relating a text to questions that the text either replies to or ignores. For example, queries that were relevant during the Pre-Socratic period and that are reflected in texts or fragments from that era later became irrelevant or less pressing in the fourth century BCE discourse universe of Athens. Distinct problematics obtain in particular milieus; social circumstances, cultural exigencies or Zeitgeister thus evidently determine the material content of noetic problemata. That is the reason why Lactantius concerned himself with specific problems of a theological nature. His social and ecclesiastical Sitz-im-Leben informed the questions one finds treated in the Lactantian corpus.
(3) Cotextuality signifies the literary surroundings (e.g. sentences, paragraphs, chapters and sections) of a given text or discourse; the cotext putatively allows a reader to reconstruct (as opposed to deconstruct) a text. (4) Conversely, intertextuality entails the consideration of disparate texts that bear on discourse units being analyzed. One may classify intertextual influences in terms of “internal” and “external” types, which means that texts relating to a given unit of discourse may consist of those written by the same author (internal) or texts arranged by heterogeneous communicative agents (external).
(5) Finally, cultural contexts encompass the socio-religious and political conditions of a text. They include “the wider, extra-discursive social, institutional, and communicative settings of speech and writing.” As mentioned heretofore, these five diverse levels of context will play a significant role in the present study.
 See Alessandro Duranti and Charles Goodwin (ed.), Rethinking Context: Language as an Interactive Phenomenon (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 3.
 M. L. K. Halliday and Ruqaiya Hassan, Language, Context and Text: Aspects of Language in a Social-Semiotic Perspective (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 5.
 Duranti and Goodwin, 3.
 See Presocratic Reflexivity: The Construction of Philosophical Discourse c. 600-450 BC (London and New York: Routledge, 1996), 30.
 Ibid. 30; Swinburne, Revelation, 64-65.
 Sandywell, Presocratic Reflexivity, 30.
 DA Black, Linguistics and NT Interpretation, 116; Yule, Study of Language.
 See DA Black.
 See DA Black, Linguistics and NT Interpretation, 116.
 Sandywell, Presocratic Reflexivity, 30.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Once Lactantius sets forth an explanation of the Son’s mission and nature, it becomes apparent that his use of the proper noun “God” as a title designating Christ probably should be understood in a mitigated sense. For the rhetorician asserts that Christ is “God in the spirit,” drawing a parallel between the Son and Apollo. By fulfilling his God-given mission, the Son demonstrated faith and trust in Almighty God: “he taught that there is one God and that he alone is to be worshipped, and he never said that he was God himself: he would not have kept faith if after being sent to get rid of gods and to assert a single God he had introduced another one besides.” The Son did not come proclaiming his own Godhood. In fact, Lactantius reasons that if the Son had arrived declaring or publicly making known his own divine nature, then Christ would have breached strict monotheism. Moreover, Lactantius believes that he would not have demonstrated faith in the one true God of Scripture. However, because the Son proved himself “so faithful and because he took nothing at all for himself, in order to fulfill the instructions of the one who sent him, so he received the dignity of eternal priesthood, the honour of supreme kingship, the power to judge and the name of God.” Hence, it seems that the Son progressively becomes God in the writings of Lactantius. First, the apologist teaches that the Logos does acquire the epithet “Son” until he shows himself trustworthy in the face of extreme duress. Then Lactantius states that God rewards the Son’s faithfulness vis-à-vis his earthly mission by granting him the eternal priesthood, supreme kingship, the power of judgment and the name of God. It therefore appears that the Son does not truly become Deus for Lactantius until he assumes flesh, instructs others about the one God, suffers, dies and experiences a resurrection at the Father’s hands. The term “God” (Deus) only applies to Christ in the fullest sense, Lactantius believes, after he fulfills his divine commission. Yet, the Son evidently is subordinate to the Father per essentiam before and subsequent to his resurrection and ascension. At least, this is how Lactantius ostensibly interprets the Scriptural witness concerning the Son’s person and work.
Lactantius also explains why God the Father permits his Son to suffer and die in behalf of rational creatures. Both Scripture and the Christian tradition bear out the Father’s immense and peerless love for the Son (John 3:35; 5:20; 10:17; 15:9-10; 16:32; 17:24-26). However, if God wholly pours himself out ecstatically to the Son in a supreme act of love that is temporally or logically prior to the Son’s enfleshment, then how could the Father permit the Son to undergo the reproach associated with crux Christi? The Lactantian response is that Christ qua the preeminent teacher of virtue endured “the torture, the wounds and the thorns” for a higher good. He subjected himself to the excruciating and ignominious death befitting a criminal, in order that humans might conquer death (QANATOS) by means of his expitiatory sacrifice. Lactantius avers that Christ (as King qua King) will further overcome death, placing it in symbolic eternal chains, thereby making it inoperative or powerless. Why, though, does the “supreme father” not only allow, but also prescribe this type of death for Christ? For what reason did the indulgent or loving father of Christ will that his Son undergo this specific form of execution?
 DI 4.13.11-13.
 DI 4.14.18-20.
 DI 4.14.20.
 Ibid. See Alvin Lamson, The Church of the First Three Centuries, 237. Lamson points to DI 4.18, wherein Lactantius professes that the Son is “mediam inter deum et hominem substantiam gerens.” He concludes that in Lactantian thought, the Father is supreme in relation to the Son, who is ontologically subordinate to the Father.
 See Martin Werner, The Formation of Christian Dogma.
 DI 2.8.7.
 DI 4.26.27.
 DI 4.26.28.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Lactantius contends that before God produced the world and other angels, he “created a holy and incorruptible spirit whom he called his son,” since this spirit was firstborn and distinguished by “a name of divine significance” in that God granted the Son possession of God the Father’s authority and supremacy. Lactantius thus believes, strictly speaking, that God calls Christ “Son,” but only after the Logos passes some type of arduous trial. Hence, the Son does not inherently possess divine titles: God names the Logos, “Son” or allows him to bear the divine name because of Christ’s faithfulness to the Father.
Bowen and Garnsey believe that Lactantian thinking here “smacks of Arianism.” Conversely, others such as Mary McDonald exhibit sympathy toward the Lactantian writings, presuming that they reflect the cultural situation in which he composed them. This study proposes there were some angels postulated in ancient Judaism who seemingly possessed the holy name of God ex officio (Exodus 23:20-22). Lactantius may perceive a correlation between the status of angels in Judaism and the position of the Logos in Christian circles when he argues that God the Father vouchsafed the divine name to the Son. In fact, the North African seems to believe that the Son is an angel whom God promotes to the status of Son and God: “In fine, of all the angels, whom the same God formed from his own breath, he alone was admitted into a participation of his supreme power, he alone was called God. For all things were through him, and nothing was without him” (Epitome 42). Lactantian concepts regarding the Son’s nomina, as in other instances, evidently find their provenance in both Hermes and the ancient Hebrew prophets.
 DI 4.6.1-4.
 Schneweis, Angels and Demons, 21. Contrast McGuckin’s remarks in “The Christology of Lactantius,” 816.
 DI 4.6.1-4.
 Divine Institutes, 232. Cf. McGuckin, “Christology of Lactantius,” 816.
 McDonald; Paul McGuckin, “The Christology of Lactantius,” 815.
 See Bock, Blasphemy and Exaltation; S. Olyan, A Thousand Thousands Served Him: Exegesis and the Naming of Angels in Ancient Judaism. Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1993.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
A cursory reading of Divinae institutiones may lead one to believe that Lactantius is a strict egalitarian. However, a deliberate perusal of his magnum opus reveals that the Lactantian understanding of equality (aequalitas) or fairness (aequitas) lends itself to certain nuances that may be at odds with strict egalitarianism. The belief that all humans are socially unequal was prevalent in antiquity. While the Stoics espoused the conviction that all humans are fragments of God or fellow cosmopolites, it appears that no ancient secular writer reprimands legal or social inegalitarianism, as does Lactantius in Divinae institutiones. The Christian Cicero sorts out justice in terms of piety (pietas) and equity (aequitas). His construal of equity (aequitas) as equality (aequabilitas) indicates, “Lactantius is sailing in uncharted waters.” Advocating a form of equality in which humans are arithmetically on the same footing seems progressive, even avant-garde. However, other passages found in the Lactantian corpus possibly demonstrate signs of inconsistency regarding his view of aequitas.
First, Lactantius censures Plato’s theory of an ideal utopian republic since it eschews private property in the name of facilitating economic parity among philosopher-rulers. The political views of Lactantius resemble those of Aristotle, who considers collective ownership unfeasible and detrimental to the polis (Politics 1261b34). Nevertheless, one might ask whether it is genuinely possible for equality to obtain in a society that allows ownership of private property. Non-collective ownership certainly allows personal freedom and responsibility to flourish. But Garnsey and Humfress maintain that the ownership of private property does not seem conducive to socio-economic equality.
 Garnsey and Humfress, Evolution of the Late Antique World, 204.
 DI 5.15; Epitome 60; Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture, 213; Allen Verhey, Remembering Jesus: Christian Community, Scripture, and the Moral Life (Cambridge, UK and Grand Rapids: 2002), 465.
 Garnsey and Humfress, Evolution of the Late Antique World, 204.
 Ibid. 205.
 DI 3.22: “Non rerum fragilium sed mentium debet esse communitas.”
 See Dewey's remarks on democracy.
 Evolution of the Antique World, 204.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Hannah Arendt insists that speculative thought only reveals itself by means of metaphoric implementation. Metaphors bridge the gulf that allegedly demarcates cognitive processes from the realm of sensibilia. Without metasememes that rhetorically alternate or maneuver conceptual similarities, “there would have been no bridge whereby to cross from the minor truth of the seen to the major truth of the unseen” or vice versa. Arendt therefore contends that metaphors revert the contemplative human NOUS back towards the sensible realm so that the contemplative or speculative NOUS can disclose its hitherto wholly noetic activities to rational datives of manifestation dwelling in the phenomenal realm of appearances. Based on her reading of Aristotle and Kant, Arendt prefers to associate “metaphor” with “the transition from one existential state, that of thinking, to another, that of being an appearance among appearances.” She postulates that abstract relata forming metasememic constructs allow thought concealed to become thought revealed. For Arendt, percipient subjects make the existential transition from the notional to the empirical level of being by positing metaphors in analogical relation to one another. Her reading of Aristotle’s substitution theory of metaphor through a Kantian-Heideggerian template undoubtedly explains the uniqueness of her construal. Arendt’s approach to substitution theory further implies that metaphor is the sine qua non of theolinguistics. Without rational agents positing metaphors in analogical relationship to one another, it might be impossible to bridge the ostensive linguistic or relational chasm that subsists between the seen (= creatures) and the unseen (= God).
 Cristina Cacciari, “Why Do We Speak Metaphorically: Reflections on the Functions of Metaphor in Discourse and Reasoning” in Katz’s Figurative Language and Thought, 121-122.