Tuesday, April 28, 2015

EXQRA in James 4:4

Comments follow from Louw and Nida's Greek Lexicon:

"ἔχθρα, ας [feminine]: a state of enmity with someone-'enmity, being an enemy of.' οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἡ φιλία τοῦ κόσμου ἔχθρα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστίν: 'do you not know that being friendly with the world means being at enmity with God?' Jas 4:4."

From Liddell-Scott:

ἔχθρ-α , Ion. ἔχθρη , ἡ,
A. hatred, enmity, Hdt.5.81, Pi.P.4.145, etc.: in philos. sense, = νεῖκος 1.5, Plot.3.2.2; ἔ. τινός hatred for, enmity to one, Antipho 2.4.1, Th.3.10; “κατ᾽ ἔχθραν τινός” Ar.Pax 133; “ἔ. ἔς τινα” Hdt.1.5, Th.2.68; “εἴς θεόν” Ep.Rom.8.7; “πρός τινα” A.Pr.491 (pl.), Th.2.68; δι᾽ ἔχθρας μολεῖν, ἀφῖχθαί τινι, to be at feud with one, E.Ph. 479, Hipp.1164; “δι᾽ ἔχθρας οὐδετέρῳ γενήσομαι” Ar.Ra.1412; “εἰς ἔ. βάλλειν τινά” A.Pr.390; “εἰς ἔ. ἐλθεῖν” D.21.62; “καταστῆσαί τινας εἰς ἔχθραν τῷ δήμῳ” X.HG3.5.9; “πολλὴν εἰς ἔχθραν ἀλλήλοις καὶ πολλῶν πέρι καθίστανται” Pl.Plt.307d, cf. Isoc.9.67; πρὸς ἔχθραν from personal enmity, D.18.141; ἔ. συμβάλλειν, συνάπτειν τινί, to engage in hostility with . . , E.Med.45, Heracl.459; “ἔ. τισὶν ἄρασθαι” D.21.132; “καταλλάσσεσθαι τὰς ἔ.” Hdt.7.145; “λύσασαν ἔ. τὴν πάρος” E.Tr.50; “τὰς μεγάλας ἔ. διαλύεσθαι” Th.4.19; “πρὸς ἀλλήλους ἔ. ἀνείλοντο” Is.1.9; “διαλλαχθῆναι τῆς ἔ.” And.2.26: prov., Ἐμπεδοκλέους ἔ., of undying hatred, Lys. Fr.261 S.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

On the Unchangeableness of God 12 (by Philo)

XII. But God, inasmuch as he is uncreated, and the Being who has brought all other things to creation, stood in need of none of those things which are usually added to creatures. (57) For what are we to say? Shall we say, if he is possessed of the different organic parts, that he has feet for the sake of walking? But where is he to walk who fills all places at once with his presence? And to whom is he to go, when there is no one of equal honour with himself? And why is he to walk? It cannot be out of any regard for his health as we do. Again, are we to say that he has hands for the purpose of giving and taking? he never receivers [SIC] anything from any one. For in addition to the fact of his wanting nothing he actually has everything; and when he gives, he employs reason as the minister of his gifts, by whose agency also he created the world. (58) Once more, he had no need of eyes, the organs without which there can be no comprehension of the light perceptible by the outward senses; but the light perceptible by the outward senses is a created light; and even before the creation God saw, using himself as light. (59) And why need we mention the organs of luxury? For if he has these organs, then he is fed, and when he has satisfied himself he leaves off eating, and after he has left eating he wants food again; and I need not enumerate other particulars which are the necessary consequences of this; for these are the fabulous inventions of impious men, who represent God, in word indeed only as endued with human form, but in fact as influenced by human passions.

Questions Pertaining to Aquinas and Hylomorphism (the Soul and Its Intellect)

How do we know that physical organs are only capable of apprehending concrete particulars? What incontrovertible proof do we have that intellects (of the Thomistic caliber) even obtain? I admit that an intellect qua a power of the soul is logically possible (i.e., such an idea is not self-contradictory). However, I am not convinced that such a faculty is causally possible. So I guess my first line of attack--besides consulting scripture--would be to question the existence of the intellect, in the relevant sense being discussed. Secondly, I would argue that what has been called "intellect" is possibly nothing more than a higher-order process of the brain: intellection is a biological phenomenon. The brain consequently makes it possible for us to have the facility to grasp what appear to be abstract universals. Similar proposals have been made by John Searle and Nancey Murphy.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Wright, Scott, and Levels of Heaven

On pp. 147-148 of his study entitled The Early History of Heaven--J. Edward Wright associates the Test. of Levi and 2 Cor. 12:1-4:

"The Greek text [of Levi] did not evolve from a three-heaven to a seven-heaven schema as Charles, Bitenhard, and Kee assume. The shorter versions are a corruption of an earlier seven-heaven schema. It is very posible that a later Christian hand revised the original seven-heaven schema to a three-heaven schema in light of the Apostle Paul's ascent to the 'third heaven.'"

James M. Scott (2 Corinthians in the New International Biblical Commentary series) states:

"Although Jewish and Christian apocalypses often presuppose a cosmology of seven heavens (cf. A.Y. Collins), some texts do speak of three heavens, the third of which is the highest, the dwelling place of God himself (cf. 1 En. 14:8-25; T. Levi 3:4)" (p. 224).

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Trinity Doctrine and Personhood (My Lecture Notes)

From My Lecture on Human Nature and the New Testament

What is a person?

A. Boethius (circa 475-525 CE): "an individual substance of a rational nature" (rationalis naturae individua substantia).

B. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) contends that the term "person" when applied to God does refer to "an individual substance of a rational nature" (rationalis naturae individua substantia) as long as one carefully nuances or qualifies what is meant by "individual" (i.e., incommunicable) "rational" (non-discursive, but intellectual) and "substance" (‘self-grounded existing’). Thomas views God as ipsum esse or subsistent being.

C. Richard of St. Victor (died 1173) defines "person" (in relation to God) as "an incommunicable existence of the divine nature" (divinae naturae incommunicabilis existentia). Persons have a certain property that distinguishes them from other persons (Fortman, The Triune God, 191-192).

D. Some believe that the Trinity doctrine possibly helps us to understand what personhood entails. Maybe a "person" is an individual substance of a rational nature, one who either actually reasons or who has the potential to deploy reason (i.e., faculty of inference or intelligence). The term “persons” may also have reference to entities that intelligently relate to one another as Father, Son and Holy Spirit putatively relate to one another in the Godhead. Other qualifying properties of persons could include the potential for intentionality (object-aboutness).

E. One difficulty with the Trinity concerns the problem of identity (from Cartwright):

(1) The Father is God.
(2) The Son is God.
(3) The Holy Spirit is God.
(4) The Father is not the Son.

Example of Venus:

(a) Venus is the morning star.
(b) Venus is the evening star.
(c) The morning star is not the evening star.

To solve this apparent difficulty, Trinitarians appeal to the concept of relative (rather than absolute) identity. Absolute identity (definition = “X = Y → Y = X”). Relative identity (definition = “X and Y are the same F but not the same G,” where F and G stand for predicates). Hence, the Father or Son are not absolutely identical to “God,” but only relatively identical to the divine substance.

F. Another seeming difficulty with using the Trinity doctrine to determine what it means to be a person might also be the fact that God’s putative triunity transcends our phenomenal experiences. Whether God is triune or not appears to be noumenal concern, not a phenomenal one. God’s triune nature just might be thinkable but not knowable (a Kantian approach).

Colossians 1:20-The Referent of "All Things"?

καὶ δι’ αὐτοῦ ἀποκαταλλάξαι τὰ πάντα εἰς αὐτόν, εἰρηνοποιήσας διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ σταυροῦ αὐτοῦ,[δι’ αὐτοῦ] εἴτε τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς εἴτε τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. (Colossians 1:20 NA28)

A question that arises when reading this verse concerns the referent of τὰ πάντα . . . τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς εἴτε τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. Do these words refer to:

A) persons who have the hope of living forever on a paradise earth, and also persons who will live immortally and incorruptibly in the heavens of God's presence?

B) redeemed humans in general and also the holy angels?

C) all creation as a whole instead of understanding "all things" in a distributive sense (Alford)?

Meyer's NT Commentary:
The considerations which regulate the correct understanding of the passage are: (1) that τὰ πάντα may not in any way be restricted (this has been appropriately urged by Usteri, and especially by Huther); that it consequently cannot be referred either merely to intelligent beings generally (the usual view), or to men (Cornelius a Lapide, Heinrichs, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others), especially the Gentiles (Olshausen), or to the “universam ecclesiam” (Beza), but is, according to the context (see Colossians 1:16 ff.), simply to be taken as quite general: the whole of that which exists (has been created); (2) that the reconciling subject is here not Christ (Hofmann, in accordance with his incorrect reference of εὐδόκησε in Colossians 1:19), but God, who through Christ (διʼ αὐτοῦ) reconciled all things; (3) that consequently ἀποκαταλλάξαι cannot be meant of the transforming of the misrelation between the world and Christ into a good relation (Hofmann), and just as little of the reconciliation of all things with one another, of the removal of mutual hostility among the constituent elements composing τὰ πάντα, but only of the universal reconciliation with the God who is hostile to sin,[50] as is clearly evident from the application to the readers in Colossians 1:21. The only correct sense therefore is, that the entire universe has been reconciled with God through Christ.

Friday, April 17, 2015

B.F. Westcott's Remarks on the Johannine Comma

See https://archive.org/stream/epistlesofstjohn00westuoft#page/202/mode/2up

Starts on page 202.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pages 776-777 of R.E. Brown's Commentary on the Johannine Epistles (Comma-Weedhacker)

Too bad these pages are damaged by water. It's a copy from the university library.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Colossians 1:19-Various Commentaries and Translations

Greek Text (NA28): ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ εὐδόκησεν πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα κατοικῆσαι

"For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son" (Colossians 1:19 NET Bible)

"because God was pleased to have all fullness to dwell in him" (NWT Rev. 2013)

"For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell" (ESV)

"For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell" (KJV)

From Meyer's NT Commentary:
He was pleased, placuit ei, that, etc. As to this use of εὐδοκεῖν in the later Greek (1 Corinthians 1:21; Galatians 1:15, et al.), for which, in the classical language, δοκεῖν merely was employed, see Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 370. On the accusative with infinitive, comp. 2Ma 14:35; Polyb. i. 8. 4. The subject, whose pleasure it is, is not expressed; but that it is God, is obvious from the context, which in ἵνα γένηται κ.τ.λ. has just stated the divine purpose. Among Greek authors also ὁ Θεός is not unfrequently omitted, where it is self-evident as the subject. See Kühner, II. 1, p. 30 c.

From the Cambridge Bible:
Grammatically, the Greek admits three possible explanations: (a) "For in Him all the Plenitude was pleased to take up Its abode;" (b) "For He (the Son) was pleased that all the Plenitude should take up Its abode in Him;" (c) "For He (God, the Father) was pleased that all the Plenitude should take up Its abode in Him (the Son)." What decision does the context, or other side-evidence, indicate? The explanation (b) is discredited as assigning to the Son a determining choice which the whole context leads us to assign to the Father. The explanation (a), adopted and ably defended by Ellicott, is that of the Old Latin Version. It is grammatically simple, and it is capable of doctrinal defence; "the Plenitude" of the Divine Nature being taken to include the actings of the Divine Will as the expression of the Nature, and so to signify the Divine Personality (here, of course, that of the Father). But it is in itself a surprising and extremely anomalous expression; and it becomes still more so when we read on, and see what are the actions attributed to the same Subject, and that the Subject appears in the masculine gender in the word rendered "having made peace" (see note below), while the word Plerôma (Plenitude) is neuter. On the whole we believe (c) to be the true explanation, with Alford, and Lightfoot, who compares James 1:12; James 4:6 (the better supported reading in each case); "the crown which He (unnamed) promised;" "the Spirit which He (unnamed) caused to dwell in us." He points out also that the noun (eudokia) kindred to the verb here is often, and almost as a habit, used of God's "good pleasure" where God is not named.

Bengel's Gnomen:
Εὐδόκησε, He was well-pleased) viz. God [Engl. Vers. the Father]. This must be supplied, in accordance with the mind of Paul, who, while he mentions the benefit conferred by Christ, never fails to remember the Father. As to the Father’s being well-pleased in the Son, comp. Matthew 3:17 : For εὐδοκῶ with the accusative and infinitive following, see 2Ma 14:35. Moreover, on ΕὐΔΌΚΗΣΕ, He has been well-pleased, depend to reconcile, and having made peace.—πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα, all the fulness) ch. Colossians 2:9-10; Colossians 2:2, Colossians 4:12; Colossians 4:17, Colossians 1:9; Colossians 1:25; Ephesians 1:23, note. Who can fathom the depth of this subject?

John Eadie's Commentary on Colossians:
῞οτι ἐν αὐτῷ εὐδόκησεν. A different spelling of the word is exhibited in some of the MSS. such as A, D, E,- ηὐδόκησεν, but without authority. Schmid supposes that πλήρωμα is the nominative; and he understands it thus-the entire Godhead was pleased to dwell in Christ. We believe, with the majority of expositors, that ὁ θεός is to be supplied as the nominative, and not τῷ θεῷ, in the dative. Matthew 3:17; Luke 3:22. The full syntax is found in 1 Corinthians 1:21; Galatians 1:15. But we cannot hold, with some, that the pronoun αὐτῷ refers to God, for we take it as still pointing to Him who has been the prime subject of discourse. To make ὁ χριστός the nominative, as Conybeare does, implies the sense that Christ is not only the means, but the end in this reconciliation, for the reading would plainly be in the next verse—“and by Himself to reconcile all things unto Himself,” a mode of speech not in accordance with Pauline usage. Christ reconciles, not to Himself, but to God. We incline also to connect the clause immediately with the preceding one, and not generally with the previous paragraph. "That in all things He might have the pre-eminence;" for, in order to this, “it pleased God-it was His good purpose-that in Him should all fulness dwell.” The pre-eminence, therefore, could not but be His. The verb does not mean that it was God's desire that all fulness should dwell in Christ, but that it was His resolve, as being His pleasure.

NET Bible Notes:
The noun "God" does not appear in the Greek text, but since God is the one who reconciles the world to himself (cf. 2 Cor 5:19), he is clearly the subject of εὐδόκησεν (eudokhsen).

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Request for Posts About Ignatius

A reader asked me to post something on Ignatius, in order to answer a number of questions about his writings and views. I do have some things already worked up on Ignatius, although my focus in grad school was on the Latin Fathers. I'll try to address these questions in future blog entries.



For Fun: Some Old Questions from Tests I Used to Give

Other thoughts from past tests I gave:

1. Explain the ritual procedures for Atonement Day (Yom Kippur) and discuss why it was observed.

2. The longest and shortest psalms respectively are Psalm _________ and Psalm ______________.

3. Explain the biblical meaning of the Hebrew word mashal.

4. List the significant event/s associated with each date below (worth 2 points each):
961 BCE
922 BCE-
721 BCE-
612 BCE-
539 BCE-
520 BCE-
515 BCE-
444 BCE-
331 BCE
167-164 BCE-

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Philo's "De Specialibus Legibus" (XXXVIII.210)-God the Creator

"When you wish to give thanks to God with your mind, and to assert your gratitude for the creation of the world, give him thanks for the creation of it as a whole, and of all its separate parts in their integrity, as if for the limbs of a most perfect animal; and by the parts I mean, for instance, the heaven, and the sun, and the moon, and the fixed stars; and secondly the earth, and the animals, and plants which spring from it; and next the seas and rivers, whether naturally springing from the ground or swollen by rain as winter torrents, and all the things in them: and lastly, the air and all the changes that take place in it; for winter, and summer, and spring, and autumn, being the seasons of the year, and being all of great service to mankind, are what we may call affections of the air for the preservation of all these things that are beneath the moon" (Philo, De Specialibus Legibus XXXVIII.210).

Hosea 12:4: Jacob Strove with an Angel

"Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed;
He wept and sought His favor.
He found Him at Bethel
And there He spoke with us" (Hosea 12:4 NASB)

From the Cambridge Bible: "he wept, &c.] (The subject is Jacob, not the angel.) This feature is not given in Genesis 32; it is however well adapted to the hortatory object of Hosea. The Septuagint has, 'they wept', &c."

From Rashi's Tanach:

הוַיָּשַׂר אֶל מַלְאָךְ וַיֻּכָל בָּכָה וַיִּתְחַנֶּן לוֹ בֵּית
אֵל יִמְצָאֶנּוּ וְשָׁם יְדַבֵּר עִמָּנוּ:

He strove with an angel and prevailed; he wept and beseeched him; In Bethel he shall find Him, and there He shall speak with us.
Notes in Rashi for Hosea 12:4:

"he wept: i.e., the angel wept. [from Chullin 92a] and beseeched him: When he said to him, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me' (Gen. 32: 26), and the angel was begging him, 'Let me go now. Eventually, the Holy One, blessed be He, will reveal Himself to you in Bethel, and there you will find Him, and there He will speak with us, and He and I will agree with you concerning the blessings that Isaac blessed you.' Now that angel was Esau's genius, and he was contesting the blessings."

NET Bible: "He struggled with an angel and prevailed; he wept and begged for his favor. He found God at Bethel, and there he spoke with him!"

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

John 6:56-57, The Eucharist, and the Son's Present Existence

In the fateful and controversial passage, John 6:56-57, Jesus Christ exclaims that "he" who feeds on the flesh and blood (ὁ τρώγων μου τὴν σάρκα καὶ πίνων μου τὸ αἷμα) of the Lord remains "in union with" him (NWT).

This account has caused no little dissension among scholars and Bible students as some have taken the verse as an allusion to the Eucharist while others view it as a call to discipleship in general. Vs. 57 seems to help us out here when it goes on to say: "Just as the living Father sent me forth and I live because of the Father, he also that feeds on me, even that one will live because of me" (καθὼς ἀπέστειλέν με ὁ ζῶν πατὴρ κἀγὼ ζῶ διὰ τὸν πατέρα, καὶ ὁ τρώγων με κἀκεῖνος ζήσει δι’ ἐμέ).

So Jesus posits a "just as" (καθὼς) relationship between the believer who feeds on the Son, and the Son who exists because of the "living Father" (ὁ ζῶν πατὴρ). John 6:57 indicates that 6:56 does not have reference to the Eucharist, but instead speaks of the faith that followers of Jesus personally exercise in his ransom sacrifice. Nothing about the context indicates that the Eucharist is the focus:

"These words are at the heart of the discourse on the Bread of Life, and have created great misunderstanding among interpreters. Anyone who is inclined in the least toward a sacramental viewpoint will almost certainly want to take these words as a reference to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, because of the reference to eating and drinking. The participle in verse 54, τρώγων, is almost shockingly graphic: it means to eat noisily, often used of animals ('gnaw,' 'nibble,' 'munch'). When used with reference to people, it often has the idea of enjoyment (Matt 24:38) and close comradeship. Some have thought it refers to a literal feeding, and thus to the Eucharist. But this does not follow: by anyone's definition there must be a symbolic element to the eating which Jesus speaks of in the discourse, and once this is admitted, it is better to understand it here, as in the previous references in the passage, to a personal receiving of (or appropriation of) Christ and his work" (W. Hall Harris). See https://bible.org/seriespage/9-exegetical-commentary-john-6

Moreover, scholar J.R. Michaels suggests that 6:57 still applies to the Son: He continues to live (even now) by virtue of the Father. This understanding would be in harmony with John 5:26; 14:19. At any rate, John 6:56-57 is not about the Eucharist; its contents pertain to the faith that Christians have in the Messiah (John 6:40).