Monday, March 30, 2015

Arnobius of Sicca Rejects the Graeco-Roman Myths

I have plenty of quotes from Arnobius and Lactantius that demonstrate how they viewed mythic accounts of the "nationes/gentes."

Appealing to the consensus omnium, a move which was indicative of Stoic influence, Arnobius of Sicca reasons: "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)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

John D. Barrow's "Take" on Entropy ("The Book of Nothing")


"John David Barrow FRS (born 29 November 1952) is an English cosmologist, theoretical physicist, and mathematician. He is currently Research Professor of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge. Barrow is also a writer of popular science and an amateur playwright" (Wikipedia).

The Book of Nothing: http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Book_Of_Nothing.html?id=ZYL6bO0MpTUC

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Brief Notes on Colossians 1:18

καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλὴ τοῦ σώματος τῆς ἐκκλησίας·
ὅς ἐστιν ἀρχή,
πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν,
ἵνα γένηται ἐν πᾶσιν αὐτὸς πρωτεύων

The reading above is from NA28.

ἡ κεφαλὴ-some want to understand this noun phrase as meaning "the source," but an article by Vern Poythress knocks down the argument. The phrase quite probably refers to one who has authority over another: Christ is the head of his ecclesia (ἡ κεφαλὴ τοῦ σώματος τῆς ἐκκλησίας). See 1 Corinthians 11:3.

Although ἀρχή is anarthrous, it is likely definite ("the beginning").

NET Bible: "He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning . . . "

πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν is a partitive genitive.

ἵνα γένηται ἐν πᾶσιν αὐτὸς πρωτεύων: "that in everything he might be preeminent" (ESV).

But compare YLT: "And himself is the head of the body -- the assembly -- who is a beginning, a first-born out of the dead, that he might become in all things -- himself -- first"

Young places the stress on Christ 'becoming' preeminent in all things and renders ἀρχή, "a beginning." But many commentators would agree with Richard R. Melick (Philippians, Colossians, Philemon), who insists that the verse should be translated: "He is the beginning, that is, the firstborn out of the dead."

While I part ways with John Eadie theologically, I still continue to admire his grammatical/exegetical skill:

Two distinct meanings have been assigned to ἐν πᾶσιν. 1. It may be taken as masculine, “among all persons,” as is the opinion of Anselm, Beza, Cocceius, Heinrichs, Piscator, and Usteri. If the clause referred simply to the νεκροί, of which Jesus is the first-born, then we should have expected the article- ἐν τοῖς πᾶσιν. That ἐν following πρωτεύω may refer to persons, Kypke has shown in his note on this verse, though παρά is the preposition as frequently employed, and more usually the simple genitive. 2. The phrase ἐν πᾶσιν is more naturally taken by the majority in a neuter sense, “in every thing,” or “in all respects.” This is the ordinary meaning of the phrase in the New Testament. 2 Corinthians 11:6; Ephesians 1:23; 1 Timothy 3:11; 2 Timothy 2:7; Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 4:11. The usus loquendi is therefore in favour of this interpretation, “first in all points;” or as Theophylact says, in all things- τοῖς περὶ αὐτὸν θεωρουμένοις—“in all things which have reference to Himself;” as Chrysostom has it, πανταχοῦ πρῶτος. The verb γένηται is not to be confounded with the verb of simple existence. The meaning is not that He might be, but that “He might become.”

Finally, NWT (2013) handles Colossians 1:18 thus: "and he is the head of the body, the congregation. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might become the one who is first in all things"







Cartesian Dualism and the Resurrection

Descartes, Resurrection and the Afterlife

Rene Descartes insists that a substance either has mental or physical properties (e.g., being in pain OR having a certain mass/weight), but not both.

What kind of dualism is Descartes espousing? The technical name for this philosophy is substance dualism: he argues for two categories--res extensa (extended substance) and res cogitans (thinking substance). The French thinker says that he is the latter rather than the former; that is to say, he's not absolutely identical with his body, but he is identical with his soul (mind).

So Descartes allows for the possibility of disembodied existence as a thinking thing. Yet there are questions that can be asked concerning resurrection when it's understood within a dualist framework. For example, does substance dualism satisfactorily account for a resurrection of the body? Physicalist acounts of the resurrection are often heavily critiqued or discounted, but I wonder if dualism (especially of a Cartesian kind) fares any better.

How can the resurrection body be numerically identical with the body that preceded it, since at death, all bodies--with the exception of Christ's body--undergo corruption? That question is difficult to answer using Cartesianism, although hylomorphic/hylemorphic dualism thinks it can provide a plausible answer to the question. But I've seen hylemorphic/hylomorphic accounts that appeal to divine miracles in order to account for an absolute identity between the pre and post-resurrection body. Are such approaches satisfactory explanations of the resurrection?

Scripture does not deal with, nor does it answer these kinds of questions. We're just assured that the resurrection will happen (John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15; Revelation 20:4-6).

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Two Links That Offer Explanations of Genesis 1:1ff (More on BARA and Beresit)

http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1029&context=jiri_moskala&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fscholar.google.com%2Fscholar%3Fstart%3D40%26q%3Dexegesis%2Bisaiah%2B40%3A26%26hl%3Den%26as_sdt%3D0%2C34#search=%22exegesis%20isaiah%2040%3A26%22

https://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/jhs/article/view/11258/8602

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Augustine and Creatio Ex Nihilo (The Dynamic Energy of God)

Augustine of Hippo writes these words in reference to
the creation of the heavens and the earth: "non de
ipsa substantia dei sed ex nihilo" (Confessiones XII).

That is, God has not created the material world out of
his own substance, but rather from nothing. While I believe
that such talk of creation EX NIHILO needs to be
qualified, there is a fundamental insight contained in
Augustine's observation: God does not create the
universe from his own substance or being; the
Judeo-Christian account of creation rules out
pantheism. It thereby seems that the energy mentioned in
Einstein's famous equation is not the same "dynamic
energy" of Isa 40:26.

The energy that pervades our universe and which is
interchangeable with mass can be quantified, measured or tested.
Do we want to say that Jehovah's energy can be measured in a quantitative
manner or that it is the flip side of mass?

The equation e=mc² means that energy is equal to mass
times the speed of light squared. Of course, we know
that the speed of light (c) is 300,000 km/sec.

Brain Greene writes: "From e=mc², we know that mass
and energy are interchangeable; like dollars and
euros, they are convertible currencies (but unlike
monetary currencies, they have a fixed exchange rate,
given by the speed of light times itself, c²" (_The
Fabric of the Cosmos_, page 354).

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Numbers 16:30--Other Perspectives

George Bush Commentary (not the former U.S. President): http://archive.org/stream/notescriticalan06bushgoog#page/n245/mode/1up

Adam Clarke: "If the Lord make a new thing - יהוה יברא בריאה ואם veim beriah yibra Yehovah, and if Jehovah should create a creation, i. e., do such a thing as was never done before."

See http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/view.cgi?book=nu&chapter=016

NET Bible: "But if the Lord does something entirely new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up along with all that they have, and they go down alive to the grave, then you will know that these men have despised the Lord!"

Footnote from NET Bible: "tn The verb בָּרָא (bara’) is normally translated 'create' in the Bible. More specifically it means to fashion or make or do something new and fresh. Here the verb is joined with its cognate accusative to underscore that this will be so different everyone will know it is of God."

"But if a death which hath not been created since the days of the world be now created for them, and if a mouth for the earth, which hath not been made from the beginning, be created now, and the earth open her mouth and swallow them and all they have, and they go down alive into Sheul, you will understand that these men have provoked the Lord to anger" (Targum on Numbers: Pseudo-Jonathan).

[From The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel On the Pentateuch With The Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum From the Chaldee by J. W. Etheridge, M.A. First Published 1862.]

Rashi's Notes on Numbers 16:30:

"But if . . . a creation: A new one."

"the Lord creates: to kill them through a death by which no man has died until now. And what is this creation? 'And the earth will open its mouth and swallow them up.' Then you will know that they have provoked the Holy One, blessed is He, and I [Moses] have spoken by Divine word. Our Rabbis interpret it: If there was a mouth already created to the earth from the time of the six days of Creation, well and good, but if not, let God create [one now]. - [Mid. Tanchuma Korach, Sanh. 110a]"

Revelation 4:11 (Commentaries)-More on TA PANTA

Barnes' Notes on the Bible: "For thou hast created all things - Thus, laying the foundation for praise. No one can contemplate this vast and wonderful universe without seeing that He who has made it is worthy to 'receive glory, and honor, and power.' Compare the notes on Job 38:7."

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary: "all things—Greek, 'the all things': the universe."

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible: "for thou hast created all things; the whole universe, the heavens, the earth, and sea, and all that in them are"

Vincent's Word Studies: "All things (τὰ πάντα)

With the article signifying the universe."

Henry Alford's Greek Testament: "because Thou didst create all things (τὰ πάντα, 'this universal whole,' the universe), and on account of Thy will (i. e. because Thou didst will it: 'propter voluntatem tuam,' as Vulg.: not durch Deinen Willen, as Luther, which represents διὰ with a gen."

Here's A.T. Robertson on Colossians 1:16: "All things (ta panta). The universe as in Romans 11:35 [36], a well-known philosophical phrase. It is repeated at the end of the verse."

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Georg Benedikt Winer on τὰ πάντα in Colossians 1:16

Here's what Winer observes in Sec. 18.8 of his grammar:

"In Col. i. 1 6, ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα , the meaning of τὰ πάντα is the (existing) all, the totality of creation, the universe: πάντα would mean all things, whatever exists. The article but slightly affects the sense, yet the two expressions are differently conceived : comp. Col. iii. 8, where the two are combined."

Colossians 3:8: νυνὶ δὲ ἀπόθεσθε καὶ ὑμεῖς τὰ πάντα, ὀργήν, θυμόν, κακίαν, βλασφημίαν, αἰσχρολογίαν ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ὑμῶν· (WH)

Compare Revelation 4:11 and the use of τὰ πάντα there: Ἄξιος εἶ, ὁ κύριος καὶ ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν, λαβεῖν τὴν δόξαν καὶ τὴν τιμὴν καὶ τὴν δύναμιν, ὅτι σὺ ἔκτισας τὰ πάντα, καὶ διὰ τὸ θέλημά σου ἦσαν καὶ ἐκτίσθησαν.

Matthew 24:45 and John 21:15-17 (Spiritual Feeding)

Τίς ἄρα ἐστὶν ὁ πιστὸς δοῦλος καὶ φρόνιμος ὃν κατέστησεν ὁ κύριος ἐπὶ τῆς οἰκετείας αὐτοῦ τοῦ δοῦναι αὐτοῖς τὴν τροφὴν ἐν καιρῷ (Matthew 24:45 NA28)

Ὅτε οὖν ἠρίστησαν λέγει τῷ Σίμωνι Πέτρῳ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Σίμων Ἰωάννου, ἀγαπᾷς με πλέον τούτων; λέγει αὐτῷ· ναὶ κύριε, σὺ οἶδας ὅτι φιλῶ σε. λέγει αὐτῷ· βόσκε τὰ ἀρνία μου. λέγει αὐτῷ πάλιν δεύτερον· Σίμων Ἰωάννου, ἀγαπᾷς με; λέγει αὐτῷ· ναὶ κύριε, σὺ οἶδας ὅτι φιλῶ σε. λέγει αὐτῷ· ποίμαινε τὰ πρόβατά μου. λέγει αὐτῷ τὸ τρίτον· Σίμων Ἰωάννου, φιλεῖς με; ἐλυπήθη ὁ Πέτρος ὅτι εἶπεν αὐτῷ τὸ τρίτον· φιλεῖς με; καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· κύριε, πάντα σὺ οἶδας, σὺ γινώσκεις ὅτι φιλῶ σε. λέγει αὐτῷ [ὁ Ἰησοῦς]· βόσκε τὰ πρόβατά μου (John 21:15-17 NA28). 

Maybe not significant, but different ways of describing spiritual nourishing/feeding occur in these accounts. Matthew writes: τοῦ δοῦναι αὐτοῖς τὴν τροφὴν ἐν καιρῷ ("to give to them their food [the food] in the appointed time/in season").

"Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom the master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their food at the proper time?" (NET Bible)

On the other hand, Jesus uses imperatival language in John, and admittedly, the setting is different: βόσκε τὰ ἀρνία μου ("feed my sheep"). But also, why that verb βόσκω? Evidently because it's related to feeding sheep and places the emphasis on the act of feeding.

Luke 12:42 has τοῦ διδόναι ἐν καιρῷ τὸ σιτομέτριον.

"The Lord said, 'Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the right times?'" (WEB)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Scholar John Skinner Commenting on the Opening Verses of Genesis

Skinner's Genesis commentary can be found in the ICC series. These are his remarks concerning Gen 1:1-11:

The central doctrine is that the world is
created,--that it originates in the will of God, a
personal Being transcending the universe and existing
independently of it. The pagan notion of a Theogony--a
generation of the gods from the elementary
world-matter--is entirely banished. It is, indeed,
doubtful if the representation goes so far as a
CREATIO EX NIHILO, or whether a preexistent chaotic
material is postulated (see on v. 1); it is certain at
least that the KOSMOS, the ordered world with which
alone man has to do, is wholly the product of divine
intelligence and volition (p. 7).
He continues:
It is obvious (from this chapter and many passages)
that the sense ['God created'] stops short of CREATIO
EX NIHILO,--an idea first explicitly occurring in 2
Mac. 7:28 (p. 15).

KOSMOS in BDAG and 1 Corinthians 7:31

καὶ οἱ χρώμενοι τὸν κόσμον ὡς μὴ καταχρώμενοι· παράγει γὰρ τὸ σχῆμα τοῦ κόσμου τούτου(1 Cor 7:31).

BDAG states that κόσμος in various texts possibly signifies:

(1) That which beautifies by means of external
adornment

(2) The universe

(3) All beings that exist above the level of animals

(4) Humanity in general

(5) "The system of human existence in its many aspects" (1 Cor 7:31a)

(6) The "world" that is hostile to God and His purposes (1 Jn 5:19)

(7) The collective aspect of an entity, i.e., totality or sum total.

The context of 1 Cor 7:31 suggests that the κόσμος under discussion is the framework of human existence "in its many aspects." This "system" is related to the ungodly world ruled by Satan but is not totally synonymous with it. The κόσμος mentioned in 7:31 potentially represents the sphere in which the "normal" everyday affairs of humanity occur: it takes in the educational, familial, social, economic and existential frameworks which we all now experience. This world, Paul writes, is ever "changing" (1 Cor 7:31).

Based on the context of 1 Cor 7:31, I would agree with the TEV rendering of this verse:

"those who deal in material goods, as though they were not fully occupied with them. For this world, as it is now, will not last much longer."

Compare 1 Cor 7:29.

Testament of Job 7:36: "The whole world shall perish, and its glory shall vanish, and all those who hold fast to it, will remain beneath, but my throne is in the upper world and its glory and splendor will be to the right of the Savior in the heavens."

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Borde Guth Vilenkin Theorem (Origins of the Universe)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOyQFkB1AGM

It's possible that an expanding universe must have a beginning (Vilenkin).

Philo, Parents, and Creation

Philo is not consistent when it comes to how God created all things. Nevertheless, he does seem to understand BARA as "create" (in the context of Genesis) rather than "to make fat," etc.

De Specialibus Legibus 2.225 states:

For parents themselves are something between divine and human nature, partaking of both; of human nature, inasmuch as it is plain that they have been born and that they will die; and of divine nature, because they have engendered other beings, and have brought what did not exist into existence: for, in my opinion, what God is to the world, that parents are to their children; since, just as God gave existence to that which had no existence, they also, in imitation of his power, as far at least as they were able, make the rest of mankind everlasting.

Scripture's Use of Light Imagery

What does φῶς reference in Acts 26:23? Cf. Ephesians 5:9. BDAG Greek-English Lexicon (page 1073) states:

"To be filled [with] Christian truth means ἐν τῷ φωτὶ περιπατεῖν 1 J[ohn] 1:7a, εἶναι 2:9, μένειν vs. 10."

In certain contexts, the word "light" may be substituted with "truth" salva veritate. Although, we can make a conceptual distinction between "light" and "truth," that does not necessarily mean that writers can't properly use "light" as a trope for ἀλήθεια or other godly qualities in some contexts. Interestingly, in the Greek papyri of Egypt, a wife is said to be τό φῶς τῆς οἰκίας (Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecorum 888).

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Maimonides' Understanding of BARA

It is also necessary to understand and consider the words, "And Adam gave names" (ii. 20); here it is indicated that languages are conventional, and that they are not natural, as has been assumed by some. We must also consider the four different terms employed in expressing the relations of the heavens to God, bore (Creator), ‘oseh (Maker), koneh (Possessor), and el (God). Comp. “God created the heaven and the earth” (i. 1); “In the day that God made the earth and the heavens” (ii. 4); “Possessor of heaven and earth” (xiv. 19); “God of the Universe” (xxi. 31); “The God of heaven and the God of the earth” (xxiv. 3). As to the verbs, konen, “he established,” tafah, “he spanned,” and natah, “he stretched out,” occurring in the following passages, “Which thou hast established” (Ps. viii. 4), “My right hand hath spanned the heavens” (Isa. xviii. 13), “Who stretchest out the heavens” (Ps. civ. 2), they are included in the term ‘asah (“he made”); the verb yaẓar, “he formed,” does not occur in reference to the heavens. According to my opinion the verb yazar denotes to make a form, a shape, or any other accident (for form and shape are likewise accidents). It is therefore said, yoẓar or, “Who formeth the light” (Isa. xiv. 7), light being an accident; yoẓer harim, “That formeth the mountains” (Amos iv. 13), i.e., that gave them their shape. In the same sense the verb is used in the passage, “And the Lord God formed (va-yiẓer) all the beasts,” etc. (Gen. ii. 7). But in reference to the Universe, viz., the heavens and the earth, which comprises the totality of the Creation, Scripture employs the verb bara, which we explain as denoting he produced something from nothing; also ‘asah (“he made”) on account of the general forms or natural properties of the things which were given to them; kanah, “he possessed,” because God rules over them like a master over his servants. For this reason He is also called, “The Lord of the whole earth” (Jos. iii. 11-13); ha-adon,” the Lord” (Exod. xx., iii. 17). But although none can be a master unless there exists something that is in his possession, this attribute cannot be considered to imply the belief in the eternal existence of a materia prima, since the verbs bara, “he created,” and ‘asah, “he made,” are also employed in reference to the heavens. The Creator is called the God of the heavens and the God of the Universe, on account of the relations between Him and the heavens; He governs, and they are governed; the word elohim does not signify “master” in the sense of “owner”; it expresses the relation between His position in the totality of existing beings, and the position of the heavens or the Universe; He is God, not they, i.e., not the heavens. Note this.

From Guide for the Perplexed 2.XXX

Alan Guth on the Early Universe (MIT Lectures)

You will find an educational set of lectures and other free materials here: http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-286-the-early-universe-fall-2013/

The instructor is Alan Guth, the subject is the early universe, but warning--the lectures are highly mathematical. I'm not a math person, but Guth has a way of explaning difficult material. He makes the expanding universe and particle physics fairly understandable.

TA PANTA Understood as the Universe

There are times when TA PANTA could be used to reference the universe. Like all things in scholarship, the point is debatable, but support for the idea can be found in scholarly works. For example, from John Eadie, we read:

῞οτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα, τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. The conjunction ὅτι assigns the reason of the preceding statement. He is first-born of the whole creation, for by Him “all things” were created-and He is the image of God, for as Creator He shines out in the “brightness of His Father's glory,” so that we apprehend it to be a narrow and confined view to restrict the reference of ὅτι to the last clause of the previous verse. The phrase τὰ πάντα means “the all”-the universe, the whole that exists. Winer, § 18, 8. The aorist characterizes creation as a past and perfect work. Creation is here in the fullest and most unqualified sense ascribed to Christ, and the doctrine is in perfect harmony with the theology of the beloved disciple, John 1:3.

See his Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians.

Vincent's Word Studies also offers commentary on TA PANTA:

All things (τὰ πάντα)

The article gives a collective sense - the all, the whole universe of things. Without the article it would be all things severally.

Were created (ἐκτίσθη)

See on John 1:3. The aorist tense, denoting a definite historical event.

I no longer have the Colossians commentary by Petr Pokorny, but he supplies some informative material on Col 1:15-17 also.

Side Note: I do not believe that the Son created TA PANTA. Eadie is only quoted to establish what TA PANTA could sometimes mean.

God the Creator of TA PANTA

We've been discussing universal origins in the light of scripture, science, and reason. That word "universe" can be ambiguous. Scientists talk about "the universe" presumably referring to all that exists, whereas the Greeks called it KOSMOS or wrote about TA PANTA.

According to what we read in scripture, the universe had a beginning. God creates "all things" in heaven and on earth, the things visible and the things invisible (Colossians 1:15-17; Rev 4:10-11). See Acts 17:24ff.

God is transcendent which is to say, he is prior to and above, or other than, the universe which he made. God is spirit or the spirit (John 4:24). Many writers have professed that Almighty God is incorporeal. While that's not the position taken by Jehovah's Witnesses, we do believe that Jehovah existed before he made the universe. Witnesses also speak of the "material universe" (not that we're alone in this respect) to distinguish the world of space-time and matter from God's transcendent dwelling in the heavens.

How could the creator of heaven and earth, and all therein, himself be part of the universe?

God is infinite, which can mean that the deity is not limited by space or time: he is boundless in that sense. Scotus also views infinity as qualitative when applied to God (i.e., intensive), whereas Aquinas places emphasis on its "negative" feature.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

References for the Hebrew Construct State

Since this issue has arisen from time to time:

See http://pluto.huji.ac.il/~edit/edit/Construct%20State%20EHLL.pdf

and https://www.academia.edu/4521213/Hebrew_Construct_Nominals

Heaven (John 14:1-3)

The Bible apparently uses the word "heaven" to signify (a) the region of celestial bodies, (b) another region wherein birds fly, and (c) the place where God lives. Here are what some Bible dictionaries state about how scripture employs this word:

"In the Bible, [heaven] means primarily the region of the air and clouds, and of the planets and stars, but chiefly the world of holy bliss above the visible heavens. It is called 'the third heaven,' 'the highest heaven,' and 'the heaven of heavens,' expressions nearly synonymous. There holy beings are to dwell, seeing all of God that it is possible for creatures to see. Thither Christ ascended, to intercede for his people and prepare for them a place where all shall at length be gathered, to go no more out forever, Ephesians 4:10 Hebrews 8:1 9:24-28 (American Tract Society Bible Dictionary).

"KJV designation [heaven of heavens] rendered 'highest heaven' by most modern translations (1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6; 2 Chronicles 6:18). According to an ancient understanding of the universe, above the canopy of the sky was a further canopy above which God dwelt. TEV understands 'heavens of heavens' as 'all (the vastness) of heaven'" (Holman Bible Dictionary).

See http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/view.cgi?n=2660

There are interesting thoughts in the online Catholic Encyclopedia too:

Where is heaven, the dwelling of God and the blessed?

Some are of opinion that heaven is everywhere, as God is everywhere. According to this view the blessed can move about freely in every part of the universe, and still remain with God and see everywhere. Everywhere, too, they remain with Christ (in His sacred Humanity) and with the saints and the angels. For, according to the advocates of this opinion, the spatial distances of this world must no longer impede the mutual intercourse of blessed.

In general, however, theologians deem more appropriate that there should be a special and glorious abode, in which the blessed have their peculiar home and where they usually abide, even though they be free to go about in this world. For the surroundings in the midst of which the blessed have their dwelling must be in accordance with their happy state; and the internal union of charity which joins them in affection must find its outward expression in community of habitation. At the end of the world, the earth together with the celestial bodies will be gloriously transformed into a part of the dwelling-place of the blessed (Revelation 21). Hence there seems to be no sufficient reason for attributing a metaphorical sense to those numerous utterances of the Bible which suggest a definite dwelling-place of the blessed. Theologians, therefore, generally hold that the heaven of the blessed is a special place with definite limits. Naturally, this place is held to exist, not within the earth, but, in accordance with the expressions of Scripture, without and beyond its limits. All further details regarding its locality are quite uncertain. The Church has decided nothing on this subject.

My Comment: Jesus spoke of his Father's "house" in which there are many abodes/mansions (KJV). Someone asked me, and I also used to wonder, if God lives in a house (a dwelling place), is it created or uncreated? If the "house" is created, then where did God live before the dwelling place was made? On the other hand, how can there be an uncreated house for Jehovah that exists everlastingly/eternally with him? Is God confined by some kind of dimensional space? I believe such questions arise because we fail to understand (grasp) things outside of our material universe. As the Apostle John wrote to first-century anointed Christians, what we'll be has not been made known to us (1 John 3:1-3).

The Inveterate Provisionality of Philosophy/Theory (Van inwagen and Kripke)

Peter van Inwagen insists that theologians who have studied philosophy should know "how provisional and shaky all philosophical ideas and conclusions are" (God, Knowledge & Mystery, p. 2). No philosophical or metaphysical theory (strictly speaking) is ever conclusive as such.

This suggestion, whether right-headed or wrong-headed, certainly reflects van Inwagen's proclivity for metaphysical/epistemological pessimism (skepticism). For instance, in The Problem of Evil: The Gifford Lectures Delivered in the University of St Andrews in 2003 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006), we read:

Philosophical arguments are not best thought of as
free-floating bits of text--as mathematical proofs can
perhaps be thought of. A proper mathematical proof,
whatever else it may be, is an argument that should
convince anyone who can follow it of the truth of its
conclusion. We cannot think of philosophical arguments
as being like that (p. 37).

We may conclude from van Inwagen's analysis that "it seems reasonable to believe that no non-theological philosophical argument for a substantive conclusion is a [philosophical] success" (ibid, p. 54).

Of course, this claim must be understood within its proper context. van Inwagen wants to persuade us that the argument (or set of arguments) for the logical problem of evil is a philosophical failure like all other non-theological contentions since "the problem" evidently does not have the power to bring it about that philosophers of all stripes agree with its substantive conclusions regarding ultimate reality. In order to fully appreciate the context for his statements, one must read the chapter in The Problem of Evil titled "Philosophical Failure." It is difficult to summarize the chapter's contents and general thesis in a short blog post.

Finally, Saul Kripke also makes this claim in Naming and Necessity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980 [1972]), p. 64:

Let me state then what the cluster concept theory of
names is. (It really is a nice theory. The only defect
I think it has is probably common to all philosophical
theories. It's wrong. You may suspect me of proposing
another theory in its place; but I hope not, because
I'm sure it's wrong too if it is a theory).

Monday, March 16, 2015

Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6 (The Spirit Cries, "Abba, Father")

It's always profitable and enlightening to compare Romans 8:15 with Galatians 4:6:

οὐ γὰρ ἐλάβετε πνεῦμα δουλείας πάλιν εἰς φόβον ἀλλ’ ἐλάβετε πνεῦμα υἱοθεσίας ἐν ᾧ κράζομεν· αββα ὁ πατήρ (Romans 8:15, NA28).

Ὅτι δέ ἐστε υἱοί, ἐξαπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ εἰς τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν κρᾶζον· αββα ὁ πατήρ (Galatians 4:6, NA28)

My comment: In one passage, the person(s) anointed with spirit cries out "αββα ὁ πατήρ," whereas in Galatians, the crying out is performed by τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ εἰς τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν.

Remarks from John Eadie's commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians:

But why the double appellation, first in Aramaic and then in Greek, as in Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15? The childlike lisp in the word Abba, and its easy labial pronunciation, may account for its origin, but not for its use here (Olshausen); nor can Dr. Gill be listened to in his dream that "the word being the same pronounced backwards or forwards, shows that God is the Father of His people in adversity as well as in prosperity." It is a superficial explanation of the formula to allege, with Beza, Schott, Usteri, and Conybeare, that ὁ πατήρ is merely, like the Abaddon-Apollyon of Revelation 9:11, explanatory of the Aramaic Abba. For why should such a translation be made by Jesus in the garden, where no human ear heard Him, and by Paul when writing to the Romans of the Spirit of adoption? Nor is it more likely that the double appellation is meant to convey what the elder interpreters find in it-to wit, that it was uttered to point out the spiritual brotherhood of all men in all languages. This opinion, so naturally suggested, cannot certainly apply to the individual address of the Saviour in Mark 14:36. But one may say, in the first place, that endeared repetition characterizes a true child, as it clings to the idea of fatherhood, and loves to dwell upon it. In the second place, the use of the Aramaic term must have arisen in the Jewish portion of the church, with whom it seems to have been a common form of tender address. And then, as believing Jews used another tongue in foreign countries, they appear to have felt the ὁ πατήρ to be cold and distant, so that, as to the Lord in His agony, the vernacular term impressed on the ear and heart of childhood instinctively recurred. ῾ο πατήρ is what the apostle wishes to say; but in a mood of extreme tenderness, speaking of God's children and of their yearning filial prayerfulness and confidence in approaching and naming Him, he prefixes the old familiar term ᾿αββᾶ. It was no absolute term at first, like some other names, but ever a relative one. So Jesus, realizing His Sonship with unspeakable intenseness, in that awful prayer names His Father ᾿αββᾶ ὁ πατήρ. The double appellation could only arise among a bilingual people, where certain native words were hallowed, and in moments of strong emotion were used along with their foreign equivalent. And soon the phrase became a species of proper name, so that in heathen countries ᾿αββᾶ ὁ πατήρ passed into an authorized formula.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Did the Universe Have a Beginning?

From John H. Sailhamer's Expositor's Bible Commentary on Genesis (page 20):

"The statement in [Genesis] 1:1 not only identifies the Creator, it also explains the origin of the world. According to the sense of 1:1 (see Notes), the narrative states that God created all that exists in the universe. As it stands, the statement is an affirmation that God alone is eternal and that all else owes its origin and existence to him. The influence of this verse is reflected throughout the work of later biblical writers (e.g., Ps 33:6; John 1:3; Heb 11:3)."

Also: "In opening the account of Creation with the phrase 'in the beginning' (BERESIT), the author has marked Creation as the starting point of a period of time."

Here's what Keil-Delitzsch say:

"'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.'" - Heaven and earth have not existed from all eternity, but had a beginning; nor did they arise by emanation from an absolute substance, but were created by God. This sentence, which stands at the head of the records of revelation, is not a mere heading, nor a summary of the history of the creation, but a declaration of the primeval act of God, by which the universe was called into being. That this verse is not a heading merely, is evident from the fact that the following account of the course of the creation commences with w (and), which connects the different acts of creation with the fact expressed in Genesis 1:1, as the primary foundation upon which they rest. בּרשׁיח (in the beginning) is used absolutely, like ἐν ἀρχῇ in John 1:1, and מראשׁיח in Isaiah 46:10. The following clause cannot be treated as subordinate, either by rendering it, 'in the beginning when God created ..., the earth was,' etc., or 'in the beginning when God created...(but the earth was then a chaos, etc.), God said, Let there be light' (Ewald and Bunsen)."

David S. Oderberg argues for a cosmic beginning as he refutes Adolf Grünbaum in the article "Adolf Grünbaum and the Beginning of the Universe," Philosophia Naturalis Band 36 (1999):187-94.

See http://www.davidsoderberg.co.uk/home/articles



Robert Jastrow (agnostic astronomer) famously wrote:

Recent developments in astronomy have implications that may go beyond their contribution to science itself. In a nutshell, astronomers, studying the Universe through their telescopes, have been forced to the conclusion that the world began suddenly, in a moment of creation, as the product of unknown forces.

The first scientific indication of an abrupt beginning for the world appeared about fifty years ago. At that time American astronomers, studying the great clusters of stars called galaxies, stumbled on evidence that the entire Universe is blowing up before our eyes. According to their observations, all the galaxies in the Universe are moving away from us and from one another at very high speeds, and the most distant are receding at the extraordinary speed of hundreds of millions of miles an hour.

This discovery led directly to the picture of a sudden beginning for the Universe; for if we retrace the movements of the moving galaxies backward in time, we find that at an earlier time they must have been closer together than they are today; at a still earlier time, they must have been still closer together; and if we go back far enough in time, we find that at a certain critical moment in the past all the galaxies in the Universe were packed together into one dense mass at an enormous density, pressure and temperature. Reacting to this pressure, the dense, hot matter must have exploded with incredible violence. The instant of the explosion marked the birth of the Universe.

Other Parts of the Westminster Confession (III.3-5, 7)-Predestination

III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.

IV. These angels and men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.

V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto; and all to the praise of His glorious grace.

VII. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extends or withholds mercy, as He pleases, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.

John Piper expresses this thought on Unconditional Election: "We are not saying that final salvation is unconditional. It is not. We must meet the condition of faith in Christ in order to inherit eternal life. But faith is not a condition for election. Just the reverse. Election is a condition for faith. It is because God chose us before the foundation of the world that he purchases our redemption at the cross and quickens us with irresistible grace and brings us to faith."

See http://www.reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_proofs/index.html?body=/documents/wcf_with_proofs/ch_III.html

Also: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-we-believe-about-the-five-points-of-calvinism#Election

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Big Bang Question (Duncan)

Duncan,

I'm not ideologically committed to one theory of the cosmos like the Big Bang, but it seems that a Christian must be committed to some view of the universe that accepts a beginning and creation of the world (Gen 1:1). The Big Bang theory could turn out to be wrong; however, that would not mean that the universe is eternal or uncreated or did not have a beginning. Nevertheless, the Big Bang still lives in scientific circles--it is healthy and thriving in this way:

"Let us focus first on mainstream science. To what evidence does it appeal? The evidence comes primarily from geology and astronomy. The mainstream claims that the geologic formations contain rocks that were formed millions of years ago. And astronomers claim that by extrapolating backward from the present motions of distant galaxies, we arrive at a time about 14 billion years ago, when the matter and energy of the present visible universe were concentrated in a very small region of space, from which they moved outward explosively in a 'Big Bang.' The universe then gradually expanded outward to its present size" (Vern Poythress, Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006, page 101).

This quote from Poythress' work abides by copyright law for the United States of America. It qualifies as fair use.

Let's also not forget Alan Guth's "inflationary universe" idea which was supposed to be confirmed last year by the observation of "strong gravity waves." That development possibly was one of the big letdowns of 2014.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Possibility and God (Beginnings of Some Thoughts)

Vincent Brümmer distinguishes four types of modalities:

1) Conceptual impossibility-impossible by 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 based on 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 noncontradiction).

God does not do things that by their very nature are impossible; otherwise, we land ourselves in many contradictions.

Is it possible for God to sin or act unjustly? Is it possible for God to be tempted or tempt anyone with evil things? See Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18; James 1:13-15

Can God create a universe that has always existed? Or is a universe that has always existed by its very definition uncreatable?

http://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/19-26.htm

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Vermes, and Divine Paternity in "The Religion of Jesus the Jew"

Geza Vermes (The Religion of Jesus the Jew) provides examples of men calling God "my Father" or "Father," thus indicating that the statements made by Jesus like we encounter at John 5:17 are not that out of the ordinary, as some would have us believe.


Vermes writes (on pp. 177-178):

The formula "my Father who is in heaven" occurs also in Midrashic
texts almost automatically in first person speech. Thus at the end of
his famous exposition of Exodus 20:6, "of them that love me and keep
my commandments" as referring to Jewish martyrs of the Hadrianic
persecution, after quoting Zechariah 13.6 the early second-century R.
Nathan concludes:

"These words caused me to be loved by my Father who is in heaven"
(Mekh on Ex. 20:6, Lauterbach II, 247). Another striking example
figures in Sifra on Leviticus (ed. Weiss 93b):

R. Eleazar ben Azariah said: Let no-one declare, 'I do not desire . .
. swine flesh or forbidden sex, but one must say, although I desire
them, what shall I do since my Father who is in heaven has given me
such commandment.

For texts where individuals are portrayed as addressing God as "my
Father," in Second Temple Judaism, see Marianne M. Thompson's The
Promise of the Father
(pp. 48-53).

See Vermes' work at http://www.amazon.com/The-Religion-Jesus-Geza-Vermes/dp/0800627970

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Revelation 22:2 (XULON)

ἐν μέσῳ τῆς πλατείας αὐτῆς· καὶ τοῦ ποταμοῦ ἐντεῦθεν καὶ ἐκεῖθεν ξύλον ζωῆς ποιοῦν καρποὺς δώδεκα, κατὰ μῆνα ἕκαστον ἀποδιδοῦν τὸν καρπὸν αὐτοῦ, καὶ τὰ φύλλα τοῦ ξύλου εἰς θεραπείαν τῶν ἐθνῶν (Revelation 22:2, WH).

BDAG seems to indicate that XULON in Rev. 22:2b refers to trees by the water. Conversely, Tyndale renders the passage:

"and on either side of the river was there wood of life . . . and the leaves of the wood served to heal the people withal."

On the other hand, commentator David Aune suggests:

"On each side of the river there were trees of life" and he makes these comments:

"The term XULON, 'tree,' is a collective referring to numerous trees found along banks of the river" (Revelation, 52C:1177).

Examples of XULON being used collectively are found in Gen. 1:11-12; 3:8; Lev. 26:20; 1 Chron. 16:32; 2 Chron. 7:13; Eccl. 2:5; Jer. 17:2.

Monday, March 09, 2015

A.T. Robertson Discusses Luke 2:27 and Translation Issues

"The English translation of a Greek aorist may have to be in the past perfect or the present perfect to suit the English usage, but that proves nothing as to how a Greek regarded the aorist tense. We must assume in a language that a good writer knew how to use his own tongue and said what he meant to say. Good Greek may be very poor English, as when Luke uses ἐν τῷ εἰσαγαγεῖν τοὺς γονεῖς τὸ παιδίον Ἰησοῦν (Lu. 2:27). A literal translation of this neat Greek idiom makes barbarous English. The Greeks simply did not look at this clause as we do" (GRAMMAR OF THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT IN THE LIGHT OF HISTORICAL RESEARCH, page 129).

Origen Defines "the beginning" in His Commentary on John

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/101501.htm

The Apostle John's Use of HN ("was") in the Gospel's Prologue

Pretend that I make the following utterance: "I WAS at the store last night, when shots rang out of nowhere" (CAPS for emphasis). I guess that one could interpret the statement as "Edgar started and continued to be at the store last night," but that's probably not what I meant nor would hardly any English speaker interpret my utterance in that fashion.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the LOGOS is the beginning of creation (Rev. 3:14); however, I'm not so sure one can conclude the Apostle John is delineating the LOGOS' creaturely inception in Jn 1:1a when he refers to the "beginning." John may be saying that the LOGOS was the beginning, etc., but HN could simply just tell us the LOGOS "was" EN ARXHi without meaning that he came into existence then, or conversely, that he already existed when all things began and he now continued to exist. Whichever perspective is true, my concern is the role that HN plays in shaping theology and translation.

The LXX version of Gn 1:1 indicates that John may have the "beginning" mentioned by Moses in mind as opposed to referencing the creation of the LOGOS. In other words, I'm just not confident that HN can adjudicate whether Christ is God and uncreated or God's created Son, who started to exist at some point.

See John 1:9-13 for how the writer uses HN in the Prologue.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Brief Notes About Hebrews 1:8

ὁ Θεὸς in Heb 1:8 can either be construed as a subject nominative, nominative of address or a predicate nominative.

Interestingly, William Tyndale evidently understood ὁ Θεὸς as a subject nominative.

"But unto the son he saith: God thy seat shall be for ever and ever" (Tyndale's NT).

C.F.D. Moule writes: "Luke XVIII.11 ὁ Θεὸς (Heb. 1:8, which looks similar, may conceivably be a true Nominative, construed so as to mean Thy throne is God; but see commentators IN LOC.) . . ." (An Idiom Book of NT Greek, p. 32).

As is known by those familiar with issues related to the Trinity doctrine and Christology, B.F. Westcott also favored the translation "God is your throne."

In his commentary on Hebrews, he writes: "The phrase'God is Thy throne' is not indeed found elsewhere, but it is in no way more strange than Ps LXXI.3 [Lord] be Thou to me a rock of habitation . . . Thou art my rock and my fortress" (p. 26).

It is also obvious that the term "throne" applied to God in Heb 1:8 is not to be taken literally; God is understood as the one who upholds, guarantees or supports the Messiah's kingly rule.

Furthermore, in this case, God is not said to be a throne for His people. He is, according to Westcott and Tyndale, the Son's Throne. While M.J. Harris does not favor this interpretation of Heb 1:8, he nevertheless says that the expression "God is your throne" must mean "your throne is founded on (or protected by) God" since it is a metonomy not belonging to the category of the divine (see Jesus As God, p. 213).

What is so hard to understand about God being Jesus' throne in that He upholds or supports his kingship? After all, the ancient Davidic kings of Judah also had God as their throne since they sat upon the figurative throne of YHWH (1 Chron 28:5; 29:23). To me, a similar idea is being communicated in Heb 1:8.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Romans 16:20 and Genesis 3:15

Gen 3:15 (OG/LXX): καὶ ἔχθραν θήσω ἀνὰ μέσον σου καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον τῆς γυναικὸς καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ σπέρματός σου καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ σπέρματος αὐτῆς αὐτός σου τηρήσει κεφαλήν καὶ σὺ τηρήσεις αὐτοῦ πτέρναν

Romans 16:20 is likely influenced/shaped by Genesis 3:15 and hearkens back to that passage:

From Henry Alford's GNT:

συντρ. τ. σατ. is a similitude from Genesis 3:15.

συντρίψει, not as Stuart, ‘for optative,’ nor does it express any wish, but a prophetic assurance and encouragement in bearing up against all adversaries, that it would not be long before the great Adversary himself would be bruised under their feet.


From Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers:

"Bruise.—With reference to Genesis 3:15."


From the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges:

"shall bruise Satan, &c.] The very first promise of Redemption (Genesis 3:15,) is doubtless here referred to.—The 'Enemy who soweth tares' had been already 'bruised' by the Redeemer, in His triumphant work; and that victory would be, in due time, realized in the personal ('under your feet,') triumph over sin and death, and final deliverance from all trial, of each of His followers."


From John Gill's Exposition of the Bible:


"so here is a manifest allusion to what was said by way of threatening to him, 'it', the woman's seed, 'shall bruise thy head', ( Genesis 3:15 ); and which has had its accomplishment in Christ, who has not only destroyed the works of the devil, but him himself, and spoiled his principalities and powers, and bruised him and them under his feet, when he led captivity captive"


Barnes also writes:

"Will bruise - The 'language' here refers to the prediction in Genesis 3:15. It here means to 'subdue, to gain the victory over.' It denotes Paul's confidence that they 'would' gain the victory, and would be able to overcome all the arts of those who were endeavoring to sow discord and contention among them."

More recent commentators have also pointed to the "clear" Genesis allusion in Romans 16:20. See Tremper Longman III and Daniel G. Reid, "God Is A Warrior."


Part of a Paper in the Works on God, Time, Boethius and Aquinas (Only a Draft)

The foregoing does not include footnotes which do appear in the actual paper. The quotes taken from Boethius come from his work De Consolatione.

Boethius writes that God is eternal insofar as God has a “complete, simultaneous and perfect possession of everlasting life” (Aeternitas igitur est, interminabilis vitae tota simul et perfecta possessio). He contrasts temporal and divine existence by arguing: "whatever lives in time exists in the present and progresses from the past to the future, and there is nothing set in time which can embrace simultaneously the whole extent of its life; it is in the position of not yet possessing tomorrow when it has already lost yesterday" (Nam quicquid vivet in tempore, id praesens a praeteritis in futura procedit: nihilque est in tempore constitutum quod totum vitae suae spatium pariter posit amplecti. Sed crastinum quidem nondum apprehendit: hesternum vero jam perdidit).

This medieval thinker maintains that eternity refers to the unique quality of divine timelessness (the property of experiencing the past, present and future in one simultaneous moment). Divine eternity is supposedly atemporality or timelessness: it is viewed as the eternal present. Hence, Boethius insists that God is entirely outside of time, but still has some type of duration. And the divine one evidently beholds what occurs in the past, present and future (all of which are kinds of tenses from a human standpoint) as though it happens in one lasting present. William Lane Craig accordingly explains the Boethian view in these words: “God's 'now' is a unity (unum) embracing past, present, and future, which never comes to be or passes away, in contrast to the fleeting ‘now’ of the temporal process.” Campenhausen also writes concerning the notion of divine atemporality found in Boethius:

We must be clear that God's Being exists in eternity, i.e. not in the dimension of the transient, earthly time in which our activity takes place. That which unfolds to us as past, present, and future, lies before his view as if it were eternally present. For that reason the decisions of his "providence" are not really prior to our free actions, but can correspond to them precisely at any given moment.

When Boethius contrasts God’s eternity with the kind of eternality delineated in the writings of Plato, he reckons that embracing the whole of "everlasting life in one simultaneous present" (aliud interminabilis vitae totam pariter complexam esse praesentiam) is “clearly a property of the mind of God” (quod divinae mentis proprium esse manifestum est). This Boethian view presumably resolves (possibly eases) the dialectical tension between divine foreknowledge and human free will, for if God beholds future contingents as if they are presently taking place, then He does not thereby cause these contingent statements to occur. God merely knows future contingents as presently instantiated events since He subsists in an eternal now:

Since, therefore, all judgment comprehends those things that are subject to it according to its own nature, and since the state of God is ever that of eternal presence, His knowledge, too, transcends all temporal change and abides in the immediacy of His presence. It embraces all the infinite recesses of past and future and views them in the immediacy of its knowing as though they were happening in the present (Quoniam igitur omne iudicium secundum sui naturam quae sibi subiecta sunt comprehendit, est autem deo semper aeternus ac praesentarius status, scientia quoque eius omnem temporis supergressa motionem in suae manet simplicitate praesentiae infinitaque praeteriti ac futuri spatia complectens omnia quasi jam gerantur in sua simplici cognitione considerat. Itaque si praeuidentiam pensare uelis qua cuncta dinoscit, non esse praescientiam quasi futuri sed scientiam numquam deficientis instantiae rectius aestimabis).

Boethius poses an objection to the use of such terms as "foreknowledge" or "prevision" wherein God's knowledge of future contingents is concerned. If God is completely outside of time, then His knowledge of the future is not (technically speaking) “a kind of foreknowledge of the future, but as the knowledge of a never ending presence.” God is above the temporal fray, beholding all events in one simultaneous moment. Craig explains that in the case of Boethius: "Hence, rightly considered God’s knowledge is not strictly knowledge of a thing to come, but of a never-failing instant. He overlooks, as it were, all things from the highest peak."

With God's atemporal knowledge of all things in mind—Lady Philosophy asks Boethius and by extension all modern philosophers who have trouble reconciling God's foreknowledge and the free will of finite (rational) agents: "Why, then, do you insist that all that is scanned by the sight of God becomes necessary? Men see things but this certainly doesn’t make them necessary. And your seeing them doesn’t impose any necessity on the things you see present, does it?"

Boethius views God's knowledge of the future as being comparable to a human spectator (S) observing a horse race (R). Necessarily (in this case), if R is occurring at T1, then the race is occurring in the presence of S at T1. However, S does not cause R to happen or bring it about that R necessarily occurs simply by watching R. The proposition, "Necessarily, if the race is occurring, then it is occurring" (hypothetical necessity) must not be confused with the proposition "Necessarily, the race is occurring" (simple necessity). Confusion between the two propositions results from a modal fallacy. Similarly, Boethius contends that God’s knowledge of future contingents does not bring about their actualization either; nor does God’s foreknowledge make future contingents necessary. Beholding events and causing them are two distinct actions even for an omnipotent deity.

The definition of eternity found in De Consolatione seems to be a precise concept in the writings of Boethius. He utilizes this definiens to illuminate how one might reconcile human freedom and divine foreknowledge. By invoking the Augustinian concept of divine atemporality (timelessness), Boethius attempts to offer a plausible and convincing response to this perennial question of philosophy; whether his efforts are truly successful, however, remains to be seen. But having reviewed the Boethian approach to God and time, I will now discuss Thomas Aquinas' view of God and time while noting how the "Angelic Doctor" clarifies Boethius' definition or concept of divine eternity.

Kenneth Wuest's Rendering of John 1:14--Does He Overtranslate?


Taken from Kenneth S. Wuest, The New Testament: An Expanded Translation

Friday, March 06, 2015

Peter Head on Kurios in the OG/LXX

Those who have spent a lot of time studying the history of the tetragrammaton might enjoy looking into this issue, if you have not already done so.

Peter Head (Christology and the Synoptic Problem. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. pp. 160-162) notes:

It now seems unlikely that KURIOS translated YHWH in
pre-Christian versions of the Greek OT. The oldest
[MSS] of the Greek OT, and every [MS] of known [sic]
Jewish milieu, use YHWH in Hebrew letters, sometimes
in Aramaic, sometimes in palaeo-Hebrew.

He then lists P.Fouad 266 (2nd cent. BCE); 8HevXIIgr (1st cent. BCE); 4QLevb which employs the form IAW; the Cairo Geniza fragments of Aquila, Symmachus and P.Oxy.1007 (Head, p. 161).

After listing evidence for this conclusion from the ANF, Head then cites Jellicoe's "The Septuagint and Modern Study." This work evidently states that KURIOS as a replacement for YHWH "was a Christian innovation." However, Head thinks that the observation by Jellicoe and similar comments made by George Howard must be "nuanced somewhat" since Philo and Josephus apparently employed KURIOS and QEOS to render YHWH. See Philo, De mutatione nominum 18-24 and Josephus, Antiquities XIII.68; XX.90. But the latter author begins writing and comes after Christianity began.

Head thus concludes that Greek-speaking Jews were in the habit of pronouncing KURIOS and allegedly substituting this Greek term for YHWH in theological discussions and in their sacred texts. Head further appeals to the literature from Qumran (1QapGen) to prove that some Jews substituted "other forms" for YHWH, though I do not think this specific point makes his argument more robust, since the Qumran example that Head provides is apparently not a case of YHWH being replaced by KURIOS; nor does a similar quote from Origen (Psalms II.2) help because Origen just says that the Greeks pronounce ADONAI as KURIOS.

The rest of his discussion merits attention too.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

John Sanders and Time (Short Reflection)

The minor quibble that I have with John Sanders (besides the relations between divine persons idea) is that "duration of consciousness" (i.e., awareness) may be a necessary but it's probably not a sufficient condition for defining what time possibly means in relation to God. It's possible that a subjective view of time doesn't do justice to time itself, much less God's relationship to time.

Thinking (intentional cogitating) is one form of awareness, but there are also forms of consciousness that do not involve thinking per se. The quibble is a small one since I agree with Sanders that time is uncreated. From what I understand, at least, he doesn't believe that time is a created thing.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

DIA--How to Translate It (Revision of Post)

Rom 11:36 has διά + the genitive which can be translated "through" or "by." Either translation is able to communicate the notion of intermediate agency.

Col 1:16 is also διά + genitive and Heb 2:10 has this construction too (δι’ οὗ). Compare Heb 1:2.

What will determine how one renders the construction should be context or translator preference. But, as I see it, nothing is wrong with communicating agency with "through" or "by." BDAG shows that διά may be used as a "marker of instrumentality or circumstance whereby someth. is accomplished or effected, by, via, through" (224); διά can also be a "marker of pers. agency, through, by" (225).


In John 1:3, 10; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16, διά is applied to "Christ as intermediary in the creation of the world" (225).