Friday, December 30, 2016

Thanks for Reading & 2017

Hi to everyone reading this blog. I want to express my sincere thanks for the fact that you have taken time from your day to peruse the contents herein. Years ago, when this blog started, I could not have imagined that it would still be going and expanding in readers.

For 2017, I will continue trying to produce content that will constitute worthwhile reading. The primary focus will continue to be theology/religion, but I will sometimes offer remarks on other issues that pertain to the aforesaid fields.

Lastly--my main computer (the desktop) is now down, so I am using tablets, and the dilapidated laptop of my wife. So my activity might be hampered for the next few weeks until I retrieve data from my hard drive and get up and running with a new machine soon.

Best to you all. Of course you know I do not celebrate holidays, but thanks again.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

One Objection to Celebrating Christmas

John 4:24-those worshiping God must worship in spirit and in truth.

Psalm 31:5-"Into Thy hand I commit my spirit, Thou hast redeemed me, Jehovah God of truth" (YLT).

To put it simply, Christmas is based on false premises like Jesus was born on December 25, the three wise men, the star of Bethlehem, elves, Santa, flying reindeer, etc.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

"Stumbling Blocks" (SKANDALON)

According to BDAG, σκάνδαλον may denote:

(1) A device for catching someth[ing] alive, trap (Rom
11:9; Ps 68:23; 1 Jn 2:10).

(2) An action or circumstance that leads one to act
contrary to a proper course of action or set of
beliefs, temptation to sin, enticement to apostasy,
false belief, etc. (Mt 16:23; 18:7; Lk 17:1; Rom 14:13;
Rev 2:14).

Mt 16:23 is probably best understood as "you are
tempting me to sin." BDAG also has an interesting note
on Jesus being a stumbling block to those who do not
put faith in him:

"To those who cannot come to a decision to believe on
him, Jesus is a σκάνδαλον (SKANDALIZW 1b)."

(3) σκάνδαλον can also refer to "that which causes
offense or revulsion and results in opposition,
disapproval, or hostility, fault, stain, etc" (Mt
13:41; 1 Cor 1:23; Gal 5:11).

Louw and Nida Greek-English Lexicon classifies
σκάνδαλον as follows:

(1) A trap, probably of the type which has a stick
which when touched by an animal causes the trap to
shut (Rom 11:9).

(2) That which or one who causes someone to sin. There
is also a helpful note in Louw and Nida. They also
observe that σκάνδαλον used in what I have categorized
as sense (2) here is actually "a figurative extension"
of the meaning "trap" in (1) above.

(3) That which causes offense and thus arouses
opposition (1 Cor 1:23; Gal 5:11).

Moulton and Milligan (Vocabulary of the Greek
) has further enlightening data
concerning SKANDALIZW from the Greek papyri. In a
nutshell, Moulton-Milligan evidently favor the meaning "I set a
trap for" rather than "I put a stumbling block in the
way of" for this Biblical word. Yet this same work
indicates that the "underlying thought of enticement
or temptation can hardly be dissociated from the
word." Moulton-Milligan then refers to the Sanskrit
SKAND and the Latin SCANDO, concluding once again that
σκάνδαλον has reference to a "trap." Personally, with
BDAG, I tend to favor the "stumbling block"
denotation, although as L-N affirm, causing someone
to sin or "trip up" is actually a figurative extension
of the literal trap denotation.

In conclusion, I don't believe that Jesus stumbles
unbelievers in a negative sense. Rather, they stumble
over the figurative stone placed in Zion by refusing
to put faith in him. The good news of God's Kingdom
and the STAUROS of Christ may also cause some offense or rouse
opposition. But this again is not the fault of our
Lord and Savior.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Notes from Corcoran on Identity

Notes Based on Kevin Corcoran's "Constitution View" Chapter (Rethinking Human Nature)

1. Saul Kripke sets forth an argument similar to the one presented in Corcoran's "Constitution View" (CV) chapter: "If X is possibly distinct from Y, then X is necessarily distinct from Y." One could also reason, "Necessarily, if X is possibly distinct from Y, then X and Y are not identical."

Example: "Necessarily, if the body is possibly distinct from the mind, then the body and the mind are not identical."

Example 2: "Necessarily, if brain events are possibly distinct from mental events, then brain events and mental events are not identical."

2. "Identical"-what does it mean for a thing X to be "identical" with a thing Y?

We are talking about objects being numerically identical (e.g., Y is not a replica of X). For instance, one and the same book or car could be quantitatively identical through time. However, what features of the objects themselves allow us to make claims about numerical/quantitative identity? What about the issue of personal identity? What criteria exist to determine whether a person remains the same through time?

3. Regarding the metaphysics of constitution and constitution relations, see pages 66-67.

4. Conditions for human personhood include: a) the capacity for intentionality; b) [capacity for] a first-person perspective; c) being essentially constituted by our bodies.

5. What CV is and is not. See note 6 on page 69.

6. Corcoran seems to argue that my body came into existence before "I" did and it is "conceivable" that my body will continue to exist after I die. Therefore, he apparently reasons, I am not identical with my body.

7. Spatio-temporal continuity and personhood (pp. 70ff). Different objects have their own persistence conditions (PC), but causal considerations are germane in each case. In other words, bananas and persons have different persistence conditions.

My observation: Questions pertaining to identity arise when discussion about the resurrection from the dead ensues. Do we have souls? Are we totally physical beings? These questions impinge upon personal identity.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

G. J. Wenham's Commentary on Genesis 9:13-16 (Word Commentary)

GUNH (Matthew 5:28)

GUNH could simply mean "woman" in Mt. 5:28. I guess my judgment is based, in part, on F. Danker's understanding of the term in the Matthean verse, but it makes sense to me that Jesus could be referring to a married woman in view of the OT decalogue command prohibiting covetousness respecting another man's wife. On the other hand, Job exclaimed that he concluded a covenant with his eyes so that he might not be inappropriately attentive toward a young maiden or virgin (Job 31:1ff). Then again, Jesus' mention of adultery in this verse may point to GUNH signifying "wife" here. The Expositor's Greek Testament suggests that GUNH could refer to a married or unmarried woman in Mt. 5:28, as does M. Zerwick's Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament. In any event, if we're going to base our understanding on context in other passages that contain GUNH, could not the same methodology work for 5:28? Compare 1 Tim. 3:11? See also 1 Cor. 5:1.

Expositor's Greek Testament: Matthew 5:28.—ὁ βλέπων: the looker is supposed to be a husband who by his look wrongs his own wife.—γυναῖκα: married or unmarried.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Answering Questions About the Greek "Xristos," and the Genitive Case (Edited for Readability)

Greetings my friend, [Roy]!

My original intuition when reading your email was that the suggestion you mentioned could not be correct in view of how XRISTOS functions in the NT. BDAG confirmed what I already thought, but I'd like to nuance what is found there.

(1) By definition, a verbal adjective is a participle. Hence, suggesting that XRISTOS is a participle in the NT just did not seem right to me. In fact, BDAG points out that while this word was used adjectivally in Gk. tragedy and the LXX (et al.) it is only used as a noun in our literature (i.e., early Christian literature).

(2) BDAG also maintains that XRISTOS (in the NT) is a "personal name ascribed to Jesus, Christ" and was understood thus by certain first-century denizens who were in some way familiar with the figure possibly known to them as XRHSTOS (XRISTOS might have sounded like XRHSTOS to Gentiles). So it's possible that XRISTOS is a personal name.

(3) I would nuance the comments in BDAG by insisting that XRISTOS is actually a quasi-personal name. It functions to delimit referentiality like a personal name does, and perhaps even more forcefully. In the NT, based upon the term's frequency of usage, XRISTOS is almost certainly a title or quasi-personal name for Jesus, God's anointed one. Interestingly, Granville Sharp considered IHSOUS to be a proper name, but thought of XRISTOS as a "noun of personal description, denoting office, rank, title, or the like" (Richard A. Young, 63).

(4) Genitive does not primarily or always mean possession, but I think that the genitive case delimits TWi ONOMATI in Acts 2:38. The genitive is actually the descriptive case. D.A. Black points out that genitives are adjectival per their function; however, these nouns are more emphatic than Greek adjectives. Compare the rendering "sinful body" with "body of sin" (genitive).

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Translating Hebrews 8:6

I've always found the NWT rendering of Heb. 8:6 quite interesting from a theological perspective. It reads (1984):

"But now [Jesus] has obtained a more excellent public service, so that he is also the mediator of a correspondingly better covenant, which has been legally established [NENOMOQETHTAI] upon better promises."

Under the entry NOMOQETEW, BDAG has: "to enact on the basis of a legal sanction, ordain, found by law . . . a covenant which has been (legally) enacted on the basis of better promises Hb 8:6 . . ."

Here is how some other translations handle NOMOQETEW in Heb 8:6:

"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises" (NKJV).

"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises" (NASB).

"But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry which is
as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he
mediates is better, since it is enacted on better
promises" (RSV).

"But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry,
by how much also he is the mediator of a better
covenant, which was established upon better promises"

"But now hath he obtained a ministry the more
excellent, by so much as he is also the mediator of a
better covenant, which hath been enacted upon better
promises" (ASV).

"But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to
theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is
superior to the old one, and it is founded on better
promises" (NIV).

"But now he has got a more excellent ministry, by so
much as he is mediator of a better covenant, which is
established on the footing of better promises"

"as it is, he has been given a ministry as far
superior as is the covenant of which he is the
mediator, which is founded on better promises" (NJB).

"But now Jesus has obtained a more excellent ministry because he
is also the mediator of a correspondingly better covenant,
which has been legally established on better promises" (NWT 2013).

PASA GRAFH--Possible Meaning in 2 Timothy 3:16 (BAGD and Gordon Fee)

PASA GRAFH in 2 Timothy 3:16 has more than one possible meaning and way to understand the syntax, but A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (BAGD), provides this information about GRAFH. The word is used:

"of a little book . . . the individual Scripture passage . . . Scripture as a whole" (166).

Of these possible senses, BAGD list 2 Tim. 3:16 as an example of sense number two. This observation could very well be true and there are numerous examples that can be marshalled to buttress BAGD's conclusion. Despite the potential accuracy of the comments, however, I am inclined to concur with Gordon Fee:

"does PASA GRAFH mean all Scripture (i.e., Scripture as a whole collectively understood) or "every Scripture" (i.e., distributively understood to mean each individual passage). This one is almost impossible to decide on grammatical grounds, and in either case the meaning comes out at the same place" (Fee 281).

Update: The newer BDAG says that GRAFH could be used for "a brief piece of writing, writing," "sacred scripture" which might include individual scriptural passages, "scripture in its entirety" or "Scripture as a whole." See page 206.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Scientific Revolution, Hypotheses, Assumptions and the Case of Fred Hoyle

First principles (archai) characterize modern science and other fields of knowledge. Contemporary scientia forms hypotheses, makes assumptions, then begins to advance from those archai by means of testing and observation. However, it was really the advent of modernity that made science begin to focus more on quantities and measurements instead of syllogisms and philosophical inquiry. For instance, Copernicus worked out his sun-centered universe by deploying math, and it was by utilizing the data of Tycho Brahe that Johannes Kepler worked out his laws of motion, which included the formulation of elliptical orbits. Copernicus and Galileo replaced the geocentric model of the universe with heliocentrism--this feat was accomplished through mathematical precision and empirical observation instead of relying on metaphysics. Newton and Galileo also focused more on a quantitative view of the universe; the former especially saw no need (per se) to create a nexus between physical objects and metaphysical explanations.

As everyone knows, despite its generally dismissive attitude toward philosophical inquiry and religion, modern science has been known to change its paradigms from time to time: examples of paradigm shifts include the wholesale rejection of Aristotle's Physics and Ptolemy's Almagest. In their place came Newton's Principia Mathematica, and later, Einsteinian physics. The emphasis then shifted towards physical laws, mathematical theory, application of theories, and technical instrumentation. Science also works within certain paradigms and feels the need to stay within those given set of parameters. So if one departs from the current paradigm, he/she will be considered eccentric or "unscientific."

Fred Hoyle illustrates how this characterization might work. While Hoyle is a brilliant scientist, there are times when he evidently holds "dissident" views that are not congruent with the professional community of scientists as a whole. Some of Hoyle's famous opinions have been with regard to the Big Bang and his metaphysical views, which he tried to couple with scientific theory ( i.e., mysticism). How have scientists usually responded to Hoyle's efforts?

[To be continued]

Sunday, December 18, 2016

OINOS Anyone? (John 2:6-10)

The observations of Baptist exegete Gerald Borchert on John 2:6-10 are interesting. You can read his comments in the New American Commentary about the Gospel of John. See pp. 156-157, but I now quote him ad verbum:

"Jesus' making wine in this case has caused some readers another
major problem. One of my sons once returned home from a class and
informed me that Jesus made nonalcoholic wine in this story. His
teacher also had informed him that the Greek word for the drink here
meant nonalcoholic grape juice. It serves no purpose for evangelicals
to twist the Greek language for the sake of their ethical opinions
because such an argument cannot be sustained from Greek."

In the footnote to this paragraph, Borchert further writes:

"For the meaning of OINOS see BAGD [now BDAG], 562. Christian styles of morality should not be based on false premises. If one abstains from alcohol, as I do, it should not be based on twisting biblical texts. Other texts (such as Matt 11:18-19; Luke 7:33-34) may come back to haunt a person."

Compare Psalm 104:15 in the LXX.


Friday, December 16, 2016

Alan Padgett Discusses Science & Religion

There are many evidences to support the claim that science has progressively advanced our understanding of the universe, nature or reality. In a work published by Eerdmans (dated 2003), Alan G. Padgett argues that there is no inherent conflict between science and religion, once "science" is properly defined. Padgett contends that science is not a worldview (a Weltanschauung); furthermore, aptly-understood scientia is capable of existing collegially with religion.

Padgett discusses ways in which science may collegially work with religion. He directs our attention to Galileo, portraying him as "a brilliant scientist whose work has influenced human culture and fundamentally shaped our understanding of the world. He made significant advances in many areas of natural science and is justly famous for his work in physics and astronomy" (A. Padgett, Science and the Study of God: A Mutuality Model for Theology and Science, page 5).

Pope Benedict XVI confirmed what Padgett states above. When addressing the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, he professed:

"The history of science in the twentieth century is one of undoubted achievement and major advances. Unfortunately, the popular image of twentieth-century science is sometimes characterized otherwise, in two extreme ways. On the one hand, science is posited by some as a panacea, proven by its notable achievements in the last century. Its innumerable advances were in fact so encompassing and so rapid that they seemed to confirm the point of view that science might answer all the questions of man's existence, and even of his highest aspirations. On the other hand, there are those who fear science and who distance themselves from it, because of sobering developments such as the construction and terrifying use of nuclear weapons. Science, of course, is not defined by either of these extremes."

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christians, "Flesh" and Blood (Council of Gangra in 343 CE)

"If anyone shall condemn him who eats flesh which is without blood and has not been offered to idols nor strangled, and is faithful and devout, as though the man were without hope of salvation because of his eating, let him be anathema" (Canon II, Council of Gangra in 343 CE).

Quoted in The Evolution of the Late Antique World by Peter Garnsey and Caroline Humfress (page 193).

So even in the 4th century CE, we find members of the church invoking principles based on Acts 15:20, 29; Revelation 2:14-16.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

"A Day with the Lord Is Like a Thousand Years . . ." (2 Peter 3:8)

[Written some years ago. Not all details may be applicable now. Edited on 12/11/16]

2 Peter 3:8 reads (in part):


Before I discuss the Witness view of 2 Peter 3:8, I want to point out a number of interesting features associated with this passage.

(1) The hOTI clause evidently signals or introduces an indirect assertion (Cf. John 11:27; Luke 24:21). Peter is contending "that" one day with YHWH (or possibly Jesus) is comparable to a thousand years and a thousand years are comparable to one day.

(2) It is also interesting how Peter begins and ends the indirect discourse in 3:8. He chiastically starts with MIA hHMERA and terminates the clause with hHMERA MIA. The parallelism XILIA ETH (AB) . . . XILIA ETH (AB) also seems to be "nested" by hWS (the two occurrences of hWS serve as "bookends"), though the position of the second hWS is rhetorically "flipped" so that we have, hWS XILIA ETH KAI XILIA ETH hWS, which seems to be an example of antimetabole or literary crisscrossing (My Classics professor used to say that "antimetabole" is "going out the same way that one comes in," rhetorically speaking). The chiasm and rhetorical devices in this verse are fascinating and indicate the writer was somewhat knowledgeable about producing a rhetorical and theological document.

(3) The presence of hWS also shows us that we are dealing with a simile. One thousand years is as a day with God; Peter ostensibly does not mean to assert that a thousand years literally equals a day with God, although I am not denying that this principle has limited applicability in other cases. But in this Scripture, Peter simply appears to be echoing the words of Moses found in Psalm 90:4:

"For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night."

Notice that Psalm 90:4 is an example of simile and it declares that a thousand years is both akin to a day ("yesterday") and "a watch in the night." The writer is clearly not inviting us to make direct comparisons between a divine "day" and the creative "days" of Genesis. Most of us can probably agree up to this point. However, let us now move on to what Jehovah's Witnesses have said about 2 Peter 3:8.

"So what is to man a thousand years or a period of more than 365,000 days is, comparatively speaking, like just one 24-hour day to the eternal God" (Choosing the Best Way to Life, page 174).

"What is such a long time to men is really a short time to God. Hence, he can allow to men a seemingly long period of time in their interest. What is a 'thousand years' to Him, when it is like a mere twenty-four hour day in comparison with his eternity of existence?" (Man's Salvation Out of World Distress At Hand, page 298).

The book Life--How did it get here? By evolution or by creation? does suggest that the creative days in Genesis could have been longer than 24 hours, and it is no secret that past JW publications have said that the "days" in Genesis could have been 7000 years in length. But I do not remember reading that the days were 1000 years each. But even the Life book makes the following statements:

"A thousand years are likened to a day. (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8, 10) 'Judgment Day' covers many years . . . It would seem reasonable that the 'days' of Genesis could likewise have embraced long periods of time--millenniums" (page 27).

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Thomas Aquinas: Scripture, Philosophy, and Science

In some of his theological writings, Thomas Aquinas taught that philosophy (human reason) and theology (divine revelation) must be compatible. In other words he felt that some concepts (e.g., the existence of God) could be demonstrated through reason, but on the other hand, he believed that the Trinity doctrine or the Incarnation of Christ were mysteries that could only be understood by faith based on divine revelation. Aquinas sought to reconcile and use both reason (philosophical inquiry) and sacra doctrina to undergird the veracity of Scripture. Needless to say, that while some of Aquinas's works were monumental, the Church did not always take such a view. After his death, some teachings that Aquinas had formulated were banned, although the ban was later lifted, and in the 16th century, Thomist thought became the official Church philosophy.

In Aquinas's theology system, Aristotle and the Bible were so completely harmonized that any attack on astronomy or physics not only seemed to reject Aristotelian philosophy, but Biblical revelation as well. This synthesis between philosophy and the Bible had set the stage for a confrontation that would continue until our day. One can't help but wonder how Christendom was benefited by synthesizing Greek thought with "Christianity." It seems that the Bible contains counsel about mixing human philosophies with the teachings of Christ. We are also told about the potentially fatal result of synthesizing human wisdom with Christian doctrine (Col. 2:8 1 Tim. 6:20, 21)

One thinker described as being "too smart to be a philosopher" (i.e., Blaise Pascal) made a distinction between the Abrahamic God and the god of the philosophers. As we trace the history of science and philosophy, we began to get an idea of the breach that developed, and how that science eventually displaced religion for many people; science became the new priesthood in a sense. Next, I want to look further at the progress and limits of science more fully.

Benjamin G. Wold on Kurios in the Light of 4Q416

First Two Pages of His Journal Article: "Reconsidering an Aspect of the Title Kurios in Light of Sapiential Fragment 4Q416 2 iii." In ZNW 95(3/4): 149-160.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Lactantius and the Son/Sons of God "Breathed" Into Existence (Divine Epitome 42)

"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).

Latin: Denique ex omnibus angelis, quos idem Deus de suis spiritibus figurauit, solus in consortium summae potestatis adscitus est, solus Deus nuncupatus. “Omnia” enim “per ipsum et sine ipso nihil.”

Bibliographic Information: L. Caeli Firmiani Lactantius Epitome Divinarum Institutionum. Ed. Eberhard Heck and Antonie Wlosok. Stutgardiae et Lipsiae: Teubner, 1994, Pages 51-52.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Metzger, Longenecker and Acts 15:17-18


Bruce Metzger notes:


Since the quotation from Am 9:12 ends with TAUTA, the concluding words are James's comments. The reading GNWSTA AP’ AIWNOS, however, is so elliptical an expression that copyists made various attempts to recast the phrase, rounding it out as an independent sentence" (Metzger commenting on Acts 15:17-18).

Richard Longenecker comments: "The interpretation of v. 18 is notoriously difficult. Aleph, B, and C, together with the Coptic and Armenian versions, read 'that have been known for ages' (GNWSTA AP’ AIWNOS). . . But A and D, together with Bodmer P74 and the major Latin and Syriac versions, read 'known to the Lord from eternity is his work' (GNWSTON AP’ AIWNOS ESTIN TW KURIOW TO ERGON QUTOU); and E and P, together with the Byzantine text, read 'known from eternity to God are all his works'(GNWSTA AP’ AIWNOS ESTI TW QEW PANTA TA ERGA AUTOU)." See Expositor's Bible Commentary, Acts, page 243.

None of the readings that Longenecker mentions in his work seem to have a direct bearing how one understands the prepositional phrase APO (PRO) KATABOLHS KOSMOU. Therefore, I don't think this verse is an effective prooftext for divine foreordination, since James could simply mean that God enacts things that he knows from antiquity (not from eternity). The NWT renders the difficult Greek in this way:

"says Jehovah, who is doing these things, known from of old" (1984)

The same reading appears in NWT 2013.

KJV reads: "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world."

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Science and Religion: Continuing the Discussion

After the fall of Rome (476 CE), the writings of Aristotle and many other philosophers were largely lost to the Western world, although Plato's speculative thought progressively made its way into Christian theology. As ecclesiastical history indicates, the illustrious bishop Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) possibly mixed Neoplatonism with biblical teachings to form a synthesis of knowledge that endured until Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE). Aristotelian philosophy then gradually became part of the curriculum in medieval universities: the Philosopher appeared to captivate some medieval denizens perhaps to a greater extent than Scripture. But what resulted from this admixture of Greek philosophy and scriptural tenets?

By the early thirteenth century, Aquinas proceeded to synthesize Aristotelian philosophy with Christian theology. He became known as the Church version of Aristotle. The so-called “Angelic Doctor” believed that by effecting this synthesis, he would provide sacra doctrina with more ammunition for defending the Church. So part of his reason for commingling philosophy and theology was to develop an apologetic bulwark against intellectual opponents of the Church. However, was this synthesis an augmentation of Christianity or did it somehow work against the Christian religion?

Monday, December 05, 2016

Nancey Murphy's View of Science and Religion (Christian Materialism)

"Thus, I maintain that science studies the whole of human life--there is no metaphysically distinct part of us that is immune from scientific investigation. However, science gives us an incomplete account of human life, an account that can only be put into perspective by a religious point of view" (Nancey Murphy, Bodies and Souls, Or Spirited Bodies, page 120).

Hence, Murphy believes that the scientific perspective must be corrected or adjusted by religion. She is a non-reductive physicalist, who is convinced that not only do bottom-up processes account for higher-level conscious states but top-down processes also exert causal force on microbiological processes: "It is not the body qua material object that constitutes our identities, but rather the higher capacities that it enables: consciousness and memory, moral character, interpersonal relations, and, especially, relationship with God" (Bodies and Souls, Or Spirited Bodies, page 132).

Murphy also invokes the study by David Wiggins entitled Identity and Spatio-Temporal Continuity which helps one to appreciate the importance of "covering concepts" within the context of discussions on numerical identity.

On the other hand, substance dualism begs the question about a "soul" or res cogitans. Neuroscience, modern philosophy of mind, and the Kantian assault on the soul have shown us that we have no need of the immortal soul hypothesis; furthermore, substance dualism (notably exemplified by Descartes) is highly problematic in light of the mind-body problem. Conversely, reductive materialism is possibly not all that satisfying either. That is particularly the case when it comes to the view that one's body is identical with his/her persona.

The one particularly controversial aspect of Murphy's thought is what she writes about non-reductive physicalism or top-down causation. She argues that we need to consider the potential effect that environmental conditions possibly have on lower-level entities; for example, the role that the environment seems to have on the formation of "neural nets" or cell assemblies. One could evidently say that it is not only the random growth of dendrites and synaptic connections that lead to the formation of neural nets, but a "co-presentation of stimuli" to neurons that might also explain these assemblies. What top-down causation further suggests is that self-direction or freedom may result from an initially deterministic system. Another example that Murphy gives is the gradual emergence of self-direction in prokaryotes. Her account of what makes us human ultimately can be articulated in natural terms; however, she does not exclude the work of God or the holy spirit nor does she deny the incarnation or the resurrection of the body.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

The Apostle Paul: Weighty Letters, but Contemptible Speech?

Ironically, despite the apostle's putative tendency for "contemptible speech," his discourse given in Athens (Acts 17) has been used to illustrate how rhetorical speeches should be given. See Lane Cooper, The Rhetoric of Aristotle (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1932), pages xxvii-xxix and see Cooper's discussion of Pauline enthymemes.

Paul is quite persuasive (though not necessarily oratorical in the strictest sense) and there does not seem to be anything contemptible about his speech in Acts 17. Examining 2 Cor. 10:10, we find that even those who opposed Paul in Corinth had to admit that his letters were weighty and forceful (ὅτι Αἱ ἐπιστολαὶ μέν, φησίν, βαρεῖαι καὶ ἰσχυραί) even if his speech was of no account (ὁ λόγος ἐξουθενημένος).

My research discloses it is possible that Paul was not a good looking fellow. His body might have been frail, his nose was possibly unsightly and his voice apparently was not pleasant to hear, some commentators say. Furthermore, according to Paul's own account, he evidently was not a trained rhetor (1 Cor. 1:17; 2:1-5).

His lack of training in rhetoric probably turned the stomachs of certain shallow individuals in Corinth. They were relying on human persuasion and liked to hear flowery speech (i.e., oratory) instead of putting their trust in God's power and listening to divine wisdom (1 Cor. 2:1-5). Therefore, it seems that Paul may have been an adequate speaker, after all, but he possibly was not formally trained in the art of rhetoric, although some historians believe that he did have a background in rhetoric and, from the sound of his letters and speech on Mars Hill, I am inclined to believe that the apostle knew something about rhetoric as well.

Nevertheless, like Augustine and other men who were rhetoricians before they started to profess belief in Christ, Paul may have decided to tone it down (so to speak) in order to avoid drawing attention to himself when he spoke publicly. This idea, I admit, is speculative. Yet I can hardly think of another way to account for Paul's expertise in employing literary or rhetorical devices in his writings: he certainly seems to have known something about rhetoric.

As a closing note, there is an interesting point that I found in James M. Scott's commentary on 2 Corinthians:

"There are striking parallels between this critique of
Paul and the critique of Moses. Moses was chosen and
made sufficient for his ministry in spite of his
'insufficiency,' which Exodus 4:10 links to his speech
defect (cf. S. Hafemann). In the same way, Paul can
assert his sufficiency in spite of his own personal
weakness, which, according to 2 Corinthians 10:10;
11:6, consist in part in his unimpressive speech.
Interestingly enough, Num. Rab. 18:9 attests to Moses'
wisdom and rhetorical ability. Josephus records that
Korah too was a capable speaker and very effective in
addressing a crowd (Ant. 4.14)" (2 Corinthians, pages

Saturday, December 03, 2016


One gentleman, with whom I once discussed the meaning of PAROUSIA, made these remarks:

prior to Darby, the common translation of parousia in the Bibles was coming. After Darby, a few men, here and there, began to translate parousia as presence, among them, Benjamin Wilson in the Emphatic Diaglott or whatever was his translation back in the 1800s. This was still a strongly "minority" translation. However, there were some 2nd Adventists, who, having failed again in predicting the return of Jesus, gravitated to the newer translation of parousia as presence, as in, "invisible presence," so as to explain their latest failed prediction of the return of Jesus in 1874.


BDAG is the new lexicon that was formerly BAGD. Admittedly, BDAG does say that EPIFANEIA is used as a technical term that refers to "a visible manifestation of a hidden divinity, either in the form of a personal appearance, or by some deed of power by which its presence is made known." But if you consult entry 1b (or its equivalent in the older BAGD), you will find out that the Bauer, Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich's Lexicon associates EPIFANEIA vis-à-vis the "manifestation" of Christ with a time of "appearing in judgment." One also finds information about 2 Thess. 2:8 under this lexical entry.

While this same reference work does say that PAROUSIA can denote Christ's Messianic Advent in glory when he comes to judge the world at the end of the age, it also possibly indicates that there is some type of distinction between PAROUSIA and EPIFANEIA as revealed in 2 Thess. 2:8. The EPIFANEIA seems to take place during the PAROUSIA and is actually connected with the divine meting out of judgment; PAROUSIA, however, does not seem confined to this period of divine judgment. It could be an extended period of time in which Christ rewards his servants and prepares for the day of judgment against his enemies (Matthew 24:37-39; Revelation 11:15-19).

The last sentence represents my perspective on the issue.

1 Enoch 14, Ezekiel 1:1-28, and Daniel 7:9-10ff

1 Enoch 14:

13 Violently agitated and trembling, I fell upon my face. In the vision I looked.

14 And behold there was another habitation more spacious than the former, every entrance to which was open before me, erected in the midst of a vibrating flame.

15 So greatly did it excel in all points, in glory, in magnificence, and in magnitude, that it is impossible to describe to you either the splendour or the extent of it.

16 Its floor was on fire; above were lightnings and agitated stars, while its roof exhibited a blazing fire.

17 Attentively I surveyed it, and saw that it contained an exalted throne;

18 The appearance of which was like that of frost; while its circumference resembled the orb of the brilliant sun; and there was the voice of the cherubim.

19 From underneath this mighty throne rivers of flaming fire issued.

20 To look upon it was impossible.

21 One great in glory sat upon it:

22 Whose robe was brighter than the sun, and whiter than snow.

23 No angel was capable of penetrating to view the face of Him, the Glorious and the Effulgent; nor could any mortal behold Him. A fire was flaming around Him.

24 A fire also of great extent continued to rise up before Him; so that not one of those who surrounded Him was capable of approaching Him, among the myriads of myriads (22) who were before Him. To Him holy consultation was needless. Yet did not the sanctified, who were near Him, depart far from Him either by night or by day; nor were they removed from Him. I also was so far advanced, with a veil on my face, and trembling. Then the Lord with his own mouth called me, saying, Approach hither, Enoch, at my holy word.

Revelation 4:1-11 is like Ezekiel 1:1-28 (Davis); 1 Enoch 14 also resembles Ezekiel 1:28 and Dan. 7:9-10.

Source for the comparisons: Christopher A. Davis, Revelation, Joplin, Missouri: College Press, 2000, page 163.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

More About the Condition of the Dead from the Tanakh and NT (A Dialogue)

Something I once wrote to a Catholic gentleman:

How do you know that Jesus was employing "phenomenological language" in Jn 11:11-14? The metaphor of "sleep" for death was a common one that the ancient Greeks also utilized. We even find David using this metaphor in Ps 13:3: "Consider and answer me, O Jehovah my God: Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death" (ASV). Dan 12:2 also enunciates the Hebrew understanding of death that is clearly consonant with Ps 146:3-4. This passage [Dan 12:2] foretells that "many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." This passage does not indicate that the writer is speaking phenomenologically.

In the NT, Jesus himself "awakened" Jairus' daughter in the presence of a crowd composed of cynical observers who 'knew she was dead,' though Jesus said she slept. The context of Luke 8:49-56 shows that the girl did not simply "appear" to be sleeping; she was sleeping "the sleep of death." Her spirit had gone out of her [as it were] and she was dead. In other words, she was conscious of nothing at all (Job 3:11-19). But the young girl and Lazarus were also resurrected or brought back to life by the Messiah of God. They did not simply appear to be sleeping in death; they were sleeping the "sleep of death."

"For Sheol cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: They that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth" (Isa 38:18).

"O LORD, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like a man without strength. I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care. You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you. Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do those who are dead rise up and praise you? Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction? Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?" (Ps 88:1-12)

"And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep" (Acts 7:59 ASV).

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Revelation 13:6

Rev. 13:6-καὶ ἤνοιξε τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ εἰς βλασφημίας πρὸς τὸν θεόν, βλασφημῆσαι τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν σκηνὴν αὐτοῦ, τοὺς ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ σκηνοῦντας. (WH)

Brief Remarks: The "name" of God is blasphemed by the beast. What significance/meaning does "name" have in this verse? We also get a feel for how the verb σκηνόω can function and what the noun σκηνή may denote. See Daniel 7:25; 8:9-12; 11:36-39.

Compare Revelation 12:12 for John's utilization of σκηνόω.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Law (NOMOS)-Old Dialogue

Written years ago, but I wanted to post here for the archives and possible discussion.

Your question occasions an interesting word study of the term normally
translated "law." The Greek word I have in mind is nomos. This
significant lingual symbol comes from nenoma (the perfect middle voice
of nemo). The Greek scholar, Zodhiates, has a fine discussion on the
semantics of the substantive nomos. I would briefly like to review
and critique some of his comments.

For starters, Zodhiates writes that nomos can refer to "a law in
general." To substantiate this view, he cites Rom. 4:15; 5:13. Both of
these Scriptures are of interest in their own way. Rom. 4:15 speaks of
ho nomos orghn katergazetai, and it is clear from the context that the
apostle has in mind "the law," not just any law. Following this
statement, he does speak of "law" in a generic sense
(anarthrous nomos), then he adds that where there is no "law"
(generically)--there is "oude parabasis." As a disclaimer, let me also
point out the fact that anarthrousness alone does not tell us whether
Paul has "the law" in mind or "a law." This will become evident below.

Based on the foregoing, one might conclude that Paul is saying there
is no "sin" where there is no _nomos_. But is this really the case?
Please note that Paul employs parabasis--not hamartia--in Rom. 4:15.
What is the distinction between the two terms? Zodhiates writes that
parabasis is a "transgression, an act which is excessive. The
parabasis as the transgression of a commandment is more serious than
hamartia." Parabasis denotes an "overstepping of God's commandments.
In the NT, it refers to "stepping on" a clearly enunciated statute of
the Divine One. Thus, Rom. 4:15 is saying: 'where there is no
explicitly stated law, there can be no overstepping of the said
statute'. Therefore, my conclusion is that Paul does not mean, without
the Mosaic Law there is no sin (hamartia). Rom. 5:13 seems to militate
against such a notion: "For until the Law sin (hamartia) was in the
world, but sin (hamartia) is not charged against anyone when there is
no law. Nevertheless, death ruled as king from Adam down to Moses,
even over those who had not sinned after the likeness of the
parabasews by Adam." In line with these thoughts, I would also like
to address 1 John 3:4 in a future post.

To sum matters up, Christians are not under the law of Moses, but this
doesn't mean there is no such thing as sin in the Christian view. In
Rom. 3:27, Paul speaks of the "law of faith." Rom. 8:2 refers to "ho
nomos tou pneumatos." James also writes about the "law of a free
people" (James 1:25; 2:8, 12). Also, we must not forget Gal. 6:2,
which tells us that we are subject to the law of Christ. I therefore
conclude that Christians are under a different law, and not without
law _in toto_. This means that we are accountable to God for all of
our actions, and it seems to cast doubt on the idea of 'once saved,
always saved'. How beautiful the refrain: "ti oun hamrthswmen hoti ouk
esmen hupo nomon alla hupo xarin mh genoito" (Rom. 6:15).

Friday, November 25, 2016

C. John Collins Discusses "in him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:17): See Link

From my perspective, it's possible that "in him" could have the same meaning at Col. 1:16 and v. 17.

Onoma May Sometimes Mean Authority

ONOMA spoken about in Mt. 28:19 evidently does not refer to a rigid designator such as YHWH. Rather, ONOMA in this instance evidently signifies "authority":

"The name of Jesus is the essential part of it [the
Matthean formula] as is shown in the Acts. Trine
immersion is not taught as the Greek Church holds and
practices, baptism in the name of the Father, then of
the Son, then of the Holy Spirit. The use of name
(ONOMA) here is a common one in the Septuagint and the
papyri for power or authority" (Robertson's Word

Moulton-Milligan supplements Robertson's comments:

"The [papyrological] usage [of EIS ONOMA] is of
interest in connexion with Mt 28:19, where the meaning
would seem to be 'baptized into the possession of the
Father, etc'" (page 451).

M-M acknowledge the meaning "office" or authority for ONOMA too.

See Mt. 6:9

Thursday, November 24, 2016

New Names in Scripture (Edit of Material That Originally Appeared in My Dissertation)

In the Tanakh, names are directly associated with an individual's personality or quiddity (Borchert, John 1-11, 117). Isaiah 62:2 speaks about Israel acquiring a new name. The apocalyptic NT book of Revelation also contains references to Christians being given a new name by God or Christ (Revelation 2:17; 3:12; 14:1). Ben Witherington (Revelation, 104) suggests that the "new name" which the exalted Christ mentions in Revelation 2:17 "implies a new identity and being someone special in the kingdom." Significantly, the Platonic One purportedly transcends "all being, names and knowledge" (McLelland, God the Anonymous, 10). In the renowned Athenian's grand political dialogue, we read: "The good therefore may be said to be the source not only of the intelligibility of the objects of knowledge, but also of their being and reality; yet it is not itself that reality, but is beyond it, and superior to it in dignity and power" (Republic 509b). Nevertheless, compare Symposium 211a-b.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Ephesians 4:11-16: Proleptic Application?

Some professed followers of Jesus think that Christian unity is proleptic; that is, they claim that doctrinal unity is not part of the "now," but ultimately belongs to the future "not yet." So it's believed that while Christians are not unified today, some are convinced they will be in the ESXATON. One Lutheran minister even told me that blacks and whites probably ought to have separate churches right now because racial unity in the church is proleptic, and besides, African Americans and Caucasians worship differently. Nevertheless, should we construe Eph. 4:11-16 in such a proleptic or anticipatory manner?

Possibly citing a Targumic-style rendition of Ps. 68:19, Paul applies the OT war song to the resurrected Christ while declaring that the Lord ascended on high and took some as captives, subsequently supplying gifts in men (Eph. 4:8). Who are these "gifts in men" and when would they appear?

The Apostle continues, telling us that these "gifts" (DOMATA) have already been imparted to the EKKLHSIA in the form of apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. Other scriptural verses attest that God has given such men to the body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 12:28). But why did God bequeath these gifts to early Christian congregation? Why are these "gifts" now serving the Christian body? So that Christians may "all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the full stature of the Christ" (Eph. 4:13) When can we expect to see this unity among Christians to happen? Is it yet future? Or does God expect Christians to be unified right now?

The context suggests that God expects Christians to be united in the present (here and now). Paul exhorted the Ephesians in order that they might "use diligence to preserve the unity of the spirit by the uniting bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3). And the oneness that currently should exist is equally stressed in Eph. 4:4-6. Col. 3:15 also teaches that Christians have been called in one body--James D.G. Dunn thinks that the "body" there is primarily the local congregation in Colossae; however, he makes this additional observation when offering commentary for 3:15: "But the same applies to the church now seen as the universal body of Christ (1:18a, 24; 2:19), a oneness which is itself an effect of the peace of Christ and which can only be sustained by that peace" (page 235): Dunn likewise invokes Eph. 4:3 to this effect.

For these and other reasons, I conclude that Eph. 4:11-16 is not proleptic. The unity mentioned in the passages is taking place now.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Wrestling: Possible Influence?

ὑπελείφθη δὲ ᾿Ιακὼβ μόνος, καὶ ἐπάλαιεν ἄνθρωπος μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ ἕως πρωΐ. (Genesis 32:24/25)

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 6:11-12)

I have not read this potential comparison in any scholarly works, but someone likely has perceived a connection between these two verses. I could be off-base, but the choice of "wrestling" (ἡ πάλη) seems intentional.

Friday, November 18, 2016

John 18:39--Is the Account Historical?

"But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?" (John 18:39 ESV)

The New International Biblical Commentary on John by J. Ramsey Michaels provides this information:

"This policy of amnesty is mentioned also in Mark 15:6 and Matt. 27:15 (by
the respective Gospel writers rather than by Pilate), but it is not mentioned
outside the New Testament. The reason for the silence of the Jewish sources
may be that the custom prevailed for a relatively short period of time--only
during Pilate's term of office, perhaps, or (at the most) over those decades
in which insurrections were more frequent and there were more political
prisoners than before. It was probably not a Jewish custom as such, but a
Roman concession to raise public morale" (page 323).

N.T. Wright, in Jesus and the Victory of God (page 546, note 30) writes:

"This account [in Matt 27:15, etc.] has been queried as part of the
evangelists' attempt to shift blame from Pilate to the Jews, but there is at
least the strong likelihood that it is historical: see, with full details
Brown 1994, 787-820."

"Brown" above is Raymond E. Brown. His work dated 1994 is The Death of the Messiah: From Gethsemane to the Grave. A Commentary on the Passion Narratives in the Four Gospels. New York: Doubleday.

One of the best study aids that I've personally found to illuminate John 18:39 is G.R-Beasley Murray's Word Commentary about John. His observations appear on page 334 of the commentary, and Murray directs readers toward the Talmud, Pesah.91a while he briefly discusses the significance of John 18:39.

Murray also mentions the JBL article by Charles B. Chavel, "The Releasing of a Prisoner on the Eve of Passover in Ancient Jerusalem." (JBL 60 [1941] 273-78) as well as the discussions by J. Blinzler, C. K. Barrett, R. Schnackenburg, and F. F. Bruce. Check out Murray's commentary; I think you'll find it worthwhile.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

What Is a Scribe? (Hurtado Link)


Dunn, Colossians 1:15-20, and Hymnic Structures

James D.G. Dunn examines features that identify hymnic or poetic form in his NIGT Commentary on Colossians and Philemon. Like other commentators, Dunn proposes that the "hymn" in Colossians 1:15-20 manifestly includes poetic elements and uses exalted language about the Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover, he points to hymnic clues like the relative clause beginning with hOS, a sequence of clauses and phrases falling easily into matching "rhythmic units," and a "clear structure of two strophes (1:15-18a, 18b-20)," inter alia. See Dunn 83-85.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Bob Utley's Comments Pertaining to Hebrews 13:9-10 (Quotation)

“not by foods through which those who were so occupied were not benefitted”

This is an obvious reference to Lev. 11. The food laws had passed away in Christ (cf. Matt. 15:11; Mark 7:18-23; Acts 10; Col. 2:16-23). They were no longer binding on believers for salvation, but in a church setting, believers were still to be conscious of “weaker brothers” (cf. Rom. 14:1-15:6; I Cor. 8: 10:23-33) and to try not to offend their weak consciences.

13:10 “We have an altar”

The analogy seems to be a spiritual (heavenly) tabernacle, not a physical altar and, therefore, it refers to Jesus’ sacrificial work on behalf of believers. It is a powerful metaphor of our access to God through Christ.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Study of Koine Greek and Hidden Gems

When I first began to study Greek, it was with the
hope of discovering hidden gems that were supposedly located
beneath the surface of the English text. After
examining the Greek Scriptures for some time, one
discovers that "knowing" Greek helps in certain areas
of study; however, it is important to keep in mind that
a knowledge of Greek can be dangerous unless a student
continues growing in his or her knowledge of the language and
matures with respect to Koine or Attic Greek. Additionally,
a little knowledge of semantics and rhetoric will not

I might add that the new student of NT Greek must
avoid being deceived by plausible grammatical claims
that are actually the result of exegetical razzle-dazzle.
Let's consider examples of such Hellenic noise.


Based on the preposition DIA governing IHSOU XRISTOU
and QEOU PATROS, Timothy George (Galatians, New
American Commentary, page 81) concludes that the
Apostle Paul wanted to make two points in 1:1:

"He was claiming that there is no distinction between
the calling of Jesus Christ and the calling of God,
and, further, he was asserting the essential and
eternal unity between the Father and the Son."

George is here following John Chrysostom's exegesis of Gal.
1:1: this post-Nicene Father avers that Paul's use
of DIA in our relevant verse demonstrates that the Son is
homoousian to patri. But can one really base this
grand ontological claim on the mere occurrence of a
preposition governing two nouns? Is this possibly a
case of reading too much into the Greek text? Maybe it

Interestingly, the Expositor's Bible (Vol. 3) states
that the Greek construction crafted by Paul in
Gal. 1:1 declares: "on the one hand, the instrumentality
of the Son in the appointment of His apostle, and, on
the other, [traces] back the authority with which he
was invested to God the Father as its original source"
(page 150).

Compare Eph. 1:1

I will move on to another example.

For years, exegetes, pastors and Biblical translators
"abused" the aorist tense (morphological form) by emphasizing the
once-for-all-time understanding of the Greek tense.
D.A. Carson discusses some of these abuses and
briefly reviews the scholarship that resulted in a
demythologization of the aorist. We now know that the
AORISTOS generally delineates action as a whole and
does not necessarily portray one act for all time
over against the continuous action of the present
tense, although the present tense (imperfective
aspect) may at times depict continuous action (note
how the aorist is also used in John 3:16 where the writer
stresses the Father's love manifested in sending His
only-begotten Son for the sake of humanity). Other
factors such as context and lexis will also help us to
discern the aspect or Aktionsart of a particular verb
instead of loading a certain "tense" with a meaning
such as the one mentioned above.

Lastly, let me just encourage you to learn all that
you can about Greek morphology, syntax, aspect and
Aktionsart. Read large amounts of the Greek text and
this practice will serve to increase your familiarity with the
GNT's teachings. It is also imperative to consider textual settings:
one should read the surrounding verses in order to eludicate what
the Greek of the Bible is possibly saying.

Pneumatikos (Written to a Friend)

I remember hearing a conference paper read this year
that dealt with the modern ambiguous nature of the
term "spirituality." The study/lecture also helpfully traced
out the history of the word "spirituality" from
ancient to modern times. At any rate, everyone seems
to have a different understanding of what spirituality
is or entails.

As you know, Jehovah's Witnesses define a "spiritual
life" as a life that is God-oriented. That is, one who
is spiritual has his or her thinking and heart's
desires aligned with God's thoughts and desires (Mt
16:21-24). A spiritual person, we believe, looks at
matters from God's vantage-point (Prov 3:5-6; James
1:27). He or she detests what God abhors and loves
that which God deems righteous and worthy of

Finally, I will just note that the Apostle Paul made a
significant contrast between one who is spiritual and
one who is carnal or fleshly. He wrote in 1 Cor

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the
Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him:
neither can he know [them], because they are
spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual
judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no
man" (KJV).

The Greek word translated "spiritual" (PNEUMATIKOS)
can refer to one who is filled with and governed by
the holy spirit of God, say some lexicons. I think
this description aptly sums up the orientation of one
who is truly "spiritual."

How does one come to have a healthy spiritual life? In
addition to what you said about Christian gatherings,
I would say that both study of God's written word and
prayer (1 Thess 5:17) promote a sound life of
authentic spirituality. [Add the field ministry too]

As Paul told young Timothy, "You have been taught the
holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given
you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by
trusting in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim 3:15 NLT).

Ave atque vale,

Monday, November 14, 2016

1 Corinthians 10:16-18 (Revising a Past Dialogue with an Acquaintance)

βλέπετε τὸν Ἰσραὴλ κατὰ σάρκα· οὐχ οἱ ἐσθίοντες τὰς θυσίας κοινωνοὶ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου εἰσίν (1 Corinthians 10:18 Nestle 1904)

It seems that κοινωνοὶ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου is a genitive of association (Compare Rom. 8:17). Furthermore, the substantival phrase οἱ ἐσθίοντες is the subject here (not θυσιαστήριον). Additionally the context suggests that the eater consumes the meat, not the altar per se (1 Cor. 10:16-17). For a similar use of such altar terminology, see Heb. 13:10.

"Paul's line of reasoning was proceeding as follows. Christians who eat the bread at the Lord's Supper thereby express their solidarity with one another and with Christ. Likewise Jews who ate the meat of animals offered in the sacrifices of Judaism expressed their solidarity with one another and with God. Therefore Christians who eat the meat offered to pagan gods as part of pagan worship express their solidarity with pagans and with the pagan deities" (Dr. Thomas Constable's Expository Notes).

It seems clear that Paul's words apply to the Christian congregation; furthermore, they should be understood symbolically. In other words, those partaking of the wine in the cup and consuming the unleavened bread at the Lord's Evening Meal do not literally share a meal with God, as the doctrine of transubstantiation holds. To the contrary, those partaking on Nisan 14 profess the communion that they enjoy with God, Christ and other partakers. This meal points to the extramental Christian KOINWNIA that exists among those serving YHWH.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Translating "Lord's Day" (KURIAKHN)

"Lord's day" is a fine translation for KURIAKHN. While it is true that KURIAKOS evidently has the meaning, "that which pertains or belongs to the Lord" in 1 Cor. 11:20, it most surely is used for the "Lord's day" when John writes:


Of course, John makes it explicit that he is referring
to the Lord's day, whereas Ignatius of Antioch simply employs
KURIAKHN, though the context and conventional usage of
KURIAKOS may point to the Greek term in this case having
reference to the Lord's day; but this does not
necessarily mean that we should construe the "Lord's
day" in Revelation as Sunday.

On the other hand, Louw-Nida states that KURIAKOS
denotes: "pertaining to the Lord" or "belonging to the
Lord, Lord's" (See semantic domain 12.10).

BDAG (under KURIAKOS) also has an interesting note
about Magnesians 9.1:

"KATA KURIAKHN ZHN observe the Lord's day (opp.
SABBATIZEIN) IMg 9:1 (on the omission of hHMERA cp.
Jer. 52:12 DEKATHi TOU MHNOS and s. AGORAIOS 2)."

I believe the note in BDAG may be helpful on this
point. M. Holmes also translates the rest of Magnesians 9:1:
"on which our life also arose through him and his
death (which some deny) . . ."

In closing, I equally found an informative note about
KURIAKOS in David Aune's commentary on Revelation 1-5
(pp. 83-84) including the papyrological employment of
the word. Aune argues that Ignatius has Sunday in mind
at Magnesians 9:1. That may be correct, even though I
don't believe John refers to Sunday in Rev. 1:10.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Jude 4 (Hans Conzelmann and KURIOS)

You may already be familiar with what Hans Conzelmann reports in An Outline of the Theology of the New Testament (Grundriss der Theologie des Nuen Testaments), but I will cite a portion of that work that discusses Jude 4:

"Thus the Christian use of KURIOS cannot be derived from the LXX. The reverse is in fact the case. Once the title began to be used, it was found again in the Bible. KURIOS is, of course, a designation for God, not among the Greeks, but in Syria, Egypt and Asia Minor."

He adds:

"On the one hand, Jesus exercises the functions of God as Lord: he rules over the world. On the other, however, he is clearly distinguished from God. The view is that God has delegated the rule of the world to Jesus for a particular time, from the exaltation to the parousia, and for a specific end, for the completion of the saving work, the subjection of the powers. Above all, 'Lord' designates Jesus as the permanent mediator of the relationship with God. So men call upon him" (page 87).

While noting that men and women call upon Jesus, Conzelmann makes it clear that the Bible does not refer to prayer when it speaks of humans calling upon Jesus:

"Calling on Jesus is to be distinguished from prayer. Only God is to be worshipped."

Friday, November 11, 2016

One More Perspective on Ezekiel 1:28 (Rainbow Imagery)

Hebrews 13:9 and "Foods"

Not that I have time over the next few days to hash out this issue, but Hebrews 13:9 might have some bearing on our recent discussion concerning foods and the Mosaic Law (Torah).

"Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them" (ESV).

Compare Heb. 13:10.

2 Corinthians 12:1-5 and the Third Heaven: Who's That Man?

While reading 2 Corinthians 12:1-5, one could possibly conclude that Paul is making a conceptual distinction between himself and the anonymous man, who beheld visions, whether in or out of the body. For he writes:

ὑπὲρ τοῦ τοιούτου καυχήσομαι, ὑπὲρ δὲ ἐμαυτοῦ οὐ καυχήσομαι εἰ μὴ ἐν ταῖς ἀσθενείαις (2 Cor. 12:5).

If the man who saw the visions is to be strictly identified with Paul in a conceptual sense, then how could he boast regarding the man without boasting about himself? If Paul is identical with the man who experienced the visions, then to speak about Paul and to speak about the man are one and the same thing.

The apostle indicates that he truly is the man (in an ontological sense) mentioned at 2 Cor. 12:2-4 by what he states in v. 7. Furthermore, it would make sense that it is Paul in view of his reason for telling this experience, to wit, the "superfine apostles" were challenging his apostolic office. Being ushered to the third heaven stamped Paul as a genuine apostle of Jesus Christ. It was therefore no surprise that he produced the signs of an apostle among the Corinthians "by all endurance, and by signs and portents and powerful works" (2 Cor. 12:12).

By using the terminology "third heaven," Paul seems to be effectively saying, "You can't top that, superfine apostles!" since the third heaven is also the locus dei et gloriae: one cannot be exalted any higher than the third heaven.

Finally, it's possible that Paul was being humble as well as employing a literary device when he prima facie created a disjunct between himself and a certain man in union with Christ. Then again, the excess of revelations did not technically happen to Paul, but to a man whom God allowed to be blessed with visionary insight; in other words, Paul the apostle was evidently placed in a trance so that the anonymous "man" of whom he spoke could behold things of which it is not lawful to utter. One could thus say the apostle was potentially "ecstatic," from the Greek εκστατικόςἔκστασις.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Isaac Asimov, Leviticus 11:19, and Bats Qua Birds

A friend of mine recently talked with a biologist in the minstry, and one thing that grieves this person is that the Bible (KJV) classifies bats as birds. My friend and I both did research on the issue; we found some helpful information. However, I never expected to find a defense of the Bible on this score from Asimov, even though I once read part of his Bible commentary in my younger days.

The Natural Limits of Science (Work in progress)

The Natural Limits of Science

Pivotal scientific discoveries have taken place in the last four hundred years. For example, Copernicus' heliocentrism (the sun being the center of the universe), Johannes Kepler's three laws of motion, Newton's constant of universal gravitation (G) and his three laws of motion, Albert Einstein's theory of relativity (special and general), and twentieth-century quantum mechanics are just some of the scientific developments that characterize what has been called a "revolution." Science has contributed a great deal to human knowledge and technological progress: it also has been able to challenge many long-standing religious ideas that were strongly entrenched for millennia (e.g., the existence of an immortal soul, miracles, creatio ex nihilo, and free will). Of course, there are persons who adamantly refuse to accept these empirical innovations or they show an unwillingness to embrace these concepts wholesale; some continue to propagate their own faith-stance without addressing or paying much attention to the innovative and probative evidence from science.

For example, there are certain "believing souls" now professing that the earth was created six thousand years ago. But science indicates that this belief in all likelihood is not true. Yet the notion continues to persist along with the belief that the earth is flat. The interesting thing about these convictions is that the Bible never says when God created the earth; nor does it teach that our planet is flat (Isaiah 40:22). In view of such conflicting ideas, theology and science remain on opposite sides of the ideological fence and in many cases (e.g., evolution), theologians have relinquished the battle and proclaimed science the clear victor. However, it seems important to examine how the breach between science and religion possibly developed and what it means for us today.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Partitive Genitives and Colossians 1:15 (Omar)

While ἐκ + the genitive might be employed by a writer to "more sharply define" the partitive nuance of the head noun, this construction is by no means required for a particular construction to be partitive (or "wholative"). Daniel B. Wallace in fact shows that the partitive genitive "is a phenomenological use of the genitive that requires the head noun to have a lexical nuance indicating portion" (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, page 84).


καὶ τὸ δέκατον τῆς πόλεως ἔπεσεν (Revelation 11:13).

There are a number of other factors involved when one is trying to identify which constructions are instances of the partitive genitive. See Wallace, pp. 84-86.

We also find an excellent discussion of the partitive genitive in David Aune's commentary on Revelation (pp. Volume 1: clxxi-clxxiii).

He demonstrates that John uses the partitive genitive as object of the verb in three distinct ways:

(1) With the simple genitive.

(2) With the preposition ἐκ + the genitive.

(3) Coupled with the preposition ἀπό + the genitive.

I also encourage you to consult C. F. D. Moule's discussion concerning the partitive genitive in An Idiom of New Testament Greek (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990). Vide pp. 42-43.

One example Moule provides in his short treatment of the partitive genitive is Romans 15:26: κοινωνίαν τινὰ ποιήσασθαι εἰς τοὺς πτωχοὺς τῶν ἁγίων τῶν ἐν Ἱερουσαλήμ.

My contention is that there's no doubt πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως could be an instance of the partitive genitive. Whether one chooses to understand Colossians 1:15 as such is another matter, but the use or non-use of ἐκ + the genitive does not wholly determine whether the construction is partitive or not. The context as well as lexical semantics must decide the question.

ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου, πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως (Colossians 1:15 W-H)

καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλὴ τοῦ σώματος, τῆς ἐκκλησίας· ὅς ἐστιν ἡ ἀρχή, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, ἵνα γένηται ἐν πᾶσιν αὐτὸς πρωτεύων (Colossians 1:18 W-H)

Some want to make much of the fact that the Greek preposition ἐκ appears in 1:18, but not in 1:15.

ἐκ in 1:18 could be used to emphasize Jesus' resurrection from the dead, as one friend of mine has suggested; but there is another explanation that may also account for ἐκ without resorting to a Trinitarian alternative.

Petr Pokorny (Colossians. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1991, page 84) writes in ftn. 153 concerning 1:18:

"MSS P46, Aleph (first hand), and others omit ἐκ = from. The sentence reads the same way in Rev 1:5. The meaning is not altered thereby."

Revelation 1:5 has ὁ πρωτότοκος τῶν νεκρῶν. It evidently means the same thing that Colossians' πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν does, as the MSS evidence indicates. It just seems that ἐκ is normally used when the resurrection of Jesus Christ is under consideration. See John 21:14; Rom 4:24; 6:4; 10:7; Col 2:12; Gal 1:1; 1 Pet 1:3, 21.

Meyer's NT Commentary on Colossians 1:18: "comp. Revelation 1:5, where the partitive genitive τῶν νεκρ. (not ἐκ. τ. ν.) yields a form of conceiving the matter not materially different."

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Pre-Nicenes and Modest Dress for Women


A few years ago, I received this question from one of my dear Christian sisters:

"Dear Prof. Foster,
According to 1 Pt 3:3-4 and 1 Tm 2:9, someone think the first century
christian women had a austere lifestyle (no jewels, ect..).
Is it true? What have Church Fathers to tell us about that?"

Here is the answer I gave at that time:

Whether the Primitive (i.e., first century) Christians had an austere
lifestyle seems to be primarily a matter of exegesis and not history
per se. Granted, there is a field of studies known as NT History.
However, much of what I read in that field is more exegetical in
nature than literary or textual. Having said the foregoing, I must
nevertheless point out that Norman Hillyer writes concerning 1 Pet
3:3-4: "The apostle is not forbidding Christian women from having
hairdos or from wearing ornaments." Hillyer then points out that
Peter's language is rhetorical or figurative and alludes to the
extravagant hairstyles that women were known to wear in the first
century. Peter is thus stressing modesty, not advocating an austere
lifestyle. See Norman Hillyer. 1 and 2 Peter, Jude (New International
Biblical Commentary), page 93. Of course, there are many other sources
available, but time does not permit me to say anymore about the
Primitive ecclesia.

Regarding the post-apostolic ecclesia, it is good to remember that one
reads about an ideal situation in the Fathers, but the reality was no
doubt quite different. Second-fourth century (professed) Christians no doubt
dressed modestly compared to many of their non-Christian
contemporaries. Nevertheless, the Fathers had to counsel those women
who did not dress modestly. Moreover, some of the Fathers seem to have
been ascetics when it came to dress and grooming. I will quote some
texts to give you a feel for what the pre-Nicenes wrote.

"If there dwelt upon earth a faith as great as is the reward of faith
which is expected in the heavens, no one of you at all, best beloved
sisters, from the time that she had first 'known the Lord,' and
learned (the truth) concerning her own (that is, woman's) condition,
would have desired too gladsome (not to say too ostentatious) a style
of dress; so as not rather to go about in humble garb, and rather to
affect meanness of appearance, walking about as Eve mourning and
repentant, in order that by every garb of penitence she might the more
fully expiate that which she derives from Eve,--the ignominy, I mean,
of the first sin, and the odium (attaching to her as the cause) of
human perdition" (Tertullian, On the Apparel of Women 1).

Regarding the angels who sinned in Noah's day, Tertullian also recounts:

"For they, withal, who instituted them are assigned, under
condemnation, to the penalty of death,--those angels, to wit, who
rushed from heaven on the daughters of men; so that this ignominy also
attaches to woman. For when to an age much more ignorant (than ours)
they had disclosed certain well-concealed material substances, and
several not well-revealed scientific arts--if it is true that they had
laid bare the operations of metallurgy, and had divulged the natural
properties of herbs, and had promulgated the powers of enchantments,
and had traced out every curious art, even to the interpretation of
the stars--they conferred properly and as it were peculiarly upon
women that instrumental mean of womanly ostentation, the radiances of
jewels wherewith necklaces are variegated, and the circlets of gold
wherewith the arms are compressed, and the medicaments of orchil with
which wools are coloured, and that black powder itself wherewith the
eyelids and eyelashes are made prominent" (On the Apparel of Women 2).

Vide On the Veiling of Virgins by Tertullian as well

Elsewhere, Cyprian of Carthage suggests that if God took pleasure in
humans wearing dyed mantles, he would have made sheep scarlet or
purple. Since God did not make sheep look scarlet or purple, Cyprian
thinks that dyed clothing should be avoided by Christians. Clement of
Alexandria also thinks that white garments are what befit those who
follow Christ Jesus closely.

Tatian the Assyrian further reports:

"This Sappho is a lewd, love-sick female, and sings her own
wantonness; but all our [Christian] women are chaste, and the maidens
at their distaffs sing of divine things more nobly than that damsel of
yours" (Oration to the Greeks 33).

"'So both the virgin and the unmarried woman consider those things
which are the Lord's, that they may be holy both in body and spirit.'
A virgin ought not only to be so, but also to be perceived and
believed to be so: no one on seeing a virgin should be in any doubt as
to whether she is one. Perfectness should show itself equal in all
things; nor should the dress of the body discredit the good of the
mind. Why should she walk out adorned? Why with dressed hair, as if
she either had or sought for a husband? Rather let her dread to please
if she is a virgin; and let her not invite her own risk, if she is
keeping herself for better and divine things. They who have not a
husband whom they profess that they please, should persevere, sound
and pure not only in body, but also in spirit. For it is not right
that a virgin should have her hair braided for the appearance of her
beauty, or boast of her flesh and of its beauty, when she has no
struggle greater than that against her flesh, and no contest more
obstinate than that of conquering and subduing the body" (Cyprian, On
the Dress of Virgins

There are many other texts that one might consult, but I hope you now
have a feel for what the early Church Fathers believed concerning
dress and grooming. They argued that women should dress modestly;
however, some went further by actually promoting an austere lifestyle.
On the other hand, the Primitive ecclesia probably did not espouse
severe asceticism. Hope this helps.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Question from Omar Regarding Colossians 1:15 (Partitive Genitive)


These comments are extensive, and I don't know if time will permit me to address the entire post. However, I hope others will give input to your question about Colossians 1:15. I'll post all that you sent me.

trinitarian objection

I find it interesting your comment when you say that in the case of Colossians 1:15 "clear" is a genitive of PARTITION since "meets the characteristics of this type of genitive" ... I ask is that clear to whom or according to whom? Do gramatólogos? ¿Biblical exegetes? ..... Or according to you? Especially since according to Greek grammar there are various types of genitive ... Why would that be a partitive genitive and not one of subordination or source / cause? You say that the expression in Colossians 1:15 "meets the characteristics of a partitive genitive features" .... ask what characteristics? ¿Grammatical? ... It is one thing to "say" and another is DEMONSTRATE. Well, I'll show that the genitive in Colossians 1:15 is anything but partitivo. And for that I will present an analysis of grammatical structure and morphology of comparative examples where there is no biblical doubt that a partitive genitive is used. Then we will check with the grammatical and morphological structure of Colossians 1:15 to see if it meets the characteristics of the other examples.

2) Analysis of morpho-grammatical construction of sentences where the partitive genitive is used:

*** 1 Corinthians 15: 9 ***

"The least of the apostles"

ο ελάχιστος των αποστόλων
(Adj-nom + Art-gen + Sust-gen)

Prayer indicates that Paul was the smallest of the "group" of the apostles.

Colossians 1:18 *** ***

"The firstborn from the dead"

πρωτότοκος εκ των νεκρών

(Adj-nom + Prep + Art-gen + Adj-gen)

This text indicates that Jesus is the Principal "the group" of those who have died.

*** Revelation 1: 5 ***

"The firstborn from the dead"

ο πρωτοτόκος των νεκρών

(Adj-nom + Art-gen + Adj-gen)

This text indicates that Jesus is the Principal "the group" of those who have died.

*** Romans 10: 7 ***

"Christ from the dead"

χριστόν εκ νεκρών

(Sust-acu + Prep + Adj-gen)

Prayer indicates that Christ was "part of the group" of the dead.

*** *** Mark 4:31 Beza, Byz2005, TR

"The smallest of all seeds"

μικρότερος πάντων των σπερμάτων

(Adj-nom + Adj-gen + Art-gen + Sust-gen)

Prayer means that the mustard seed is the smallest "the group" of seeds.

*** *** Mark 4:32 NA27

"The greatest of all vegetables"

μειζον παντων των λαχανων

(Adj-nom + Adj-gen + Art-gen + Sust-gen)

Prayer means that the mustard seed when it grows is the largest "the group" vegetables.

*** Acts 2: 5 ***

devout men from every nation

άνδρες ευλαβείς από παντός έθνους

(Sust-nom + Adj-nom + Prep + Adj-gen + Sust-gen)

The sentence clearly indicates that these devout men belonged to the nations.

*** Revelation 7: 4 ***

"Sealed from all the tribes of the children"

εσφραγισμένοι εκ πάσης φυλής υιών

(Verb-Nom + Prep + Adj-gen + Sust-gen + Sust-gen)

The text indicates that the 144,000 sealed "are part of the group" of the tribes.

Romans 8:29 *** ***

"The firstborn among many brethren"

πρωτότοκον εν πολλοίς αδελφοίς

(Adj-acu + Prep + Adj-dat + Sust-dat)

This text indicates that Jesus is the Principal or Preeminent among believers.

3)by Wallace use of prepositions and / is definite article, which confirms the analysis presented. Also the scholar John Pappas Greek grammar in his book "An intermediate grammar for New Testament Greek" says about partitive genitive: *** partitive genitive. The partitive genitive modifies the head noun to denote that part is identified. Instead of the word "of", you can substitute the words, "which are part of". For example, Mark 2: 6, "some of the scribes," they are part of the group of scribes (cf. Mark 6:23 Luke 19: 8., Rom 11:13; 11:17) [An intermediate grammar the Greek New Testament (John Pappas)] *** Also professor of Greek Flaminio Poggi in his "advanced course in New Testament Greek" explains the features of the partitive genitive saying: *** The partitive genitive expresses the complete set of governing the term indicates the part. For this reason often introduced with pronouns (τις, τίς, έκαυτος) or nouns or adjectives substantivized indicating quantity (όχλος, πλήθος, πολλοί and clearly the είς numerals, δύο, etc. *** Then the teacher added: *** "In addition to simple genitive, partitive complement can be expressed with the genitive preceded by the άπό and έκ prepositions" [...] the partitivo, simple or preceded by άπό and έκ genitive, can be used as a subject (cf. Acts. 19 33) or as a direct object (cf. Luke 21:16). It is braquiológicas buildings, ie synthetic, which is easy to understand an indefinite pronoun: τινας in Lk 21.36 and 19.33 τινες in Acts. **** Then, according to the morphological comparative grammatical analysis presented on the use of the partitive genitive we see that the grammatical structure of Colossians 1:15 does not meet the characteristics of the partitive genitive (contrary to the assertion of the Jehovah's Witnesses)

Question from Omar Regarding Colossians 1:15 (Partitive Genitive)-Continued

Now, the big question is, if it is not a partitive genitive genitive what kind is it? Daniel B. Wallace cited work in the same ranks (although as a disputed example) the genitive of Colossians 1:15 as a genitive of SUBORDINATION [above] which defines as follows: *** to. Definition The genitive noun that which is subordinate to or under the control of a main noun. b. Identification key Instead of "of" glossing over or provides sometimes seems to suggest domain or priority c. Amplify / Semantics This type of genitive is a lexical-semantic category. That is, it relates to certain types of nouns substantive principales- (or participles) that lexically involve some form of government or authority. Words like βασιλεύς and αρχών often belong here. For most this is a subset of genitive objective genitive but not always. *** Then in the work are cited as examples: Matthew 9:34 (the prince of demons), Mark 15:32 (King of Israel), and 2 Corinthians 4: 4 (the god of this world) And finally the scholar Wallace explains about the case of Colossians 1:15: *** Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation While some consider this genitive be partitivo (thus, the firstborn is part of creation), both due to the lexical field of "firstborn" including "preeminent" (and not just a literal chronological birth) and the following clause casual ( " because [ὅτι] in him all things were created) - which makes little sense if it is in sight an order chronological number is much more likely to express suborninación addition although most examples of subornidación involving a major verbal noun. , not all do (Note 2 Cor. 4: 4 and Acts 13:17). the resulting meaning seems to be a primitive confession of the lordship of Christ and therefore implícitamentete, his deity (Greek Grammar beyond what basic, Daniel B. Wallace) *** Then, it is highly likely that the genitive expressed "of" all creation in Colossians 1:15 of the firstborn is therefore subordinate indicate that Jesus Christ is above all creation ... Or more simple, is the Lord of all creation. Now, I propose that the genitive of Colossians 1:15 may also be of origin or cause (source) that definition is that one of the words affected by the genitive indicates the origin, source and origin of the other. The preposition "of", in this case, would mean "from," "caused by."

5) Clear examples of this type of genitive I quote below:

*** *** 1 Peter 5:10

θεός πάσης χάριτος

"God of all grace"

(Sust-nom + Adj-gen + Sust-gen)

This expression indicates that God is the source of all grace.

*** 2 Corinthians 1: 3 ***

"God of all comfort"

θεός πάσης παρακλήσεως

(Sust-nom + Adj-gen + Sust-gen)

This expression indicates that God is the source of all comfort.

Now, if we compare the morphological-grammatical structure of these two examples of Colossians 1:15 we see that it is identical:

Colossians 1:15 *** ***

"Firstborn of all creation"

πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

(Adj-nom + Adj-gen + Sust-gen)

We see that the structure that follows the noun or adjective that replaces the name (nominative) is the genitive adjective + noun genitive (no definite article)

thus applying the genitive of origin or cause to Colossians 1:15 indicate that the Firstborn (nominative adjective that replaces the name) is the source of all creation !!

The Condition of the Dead: A Discussion About Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth)

In context, Qoheleth does say that all men, no matter what their station is
in life, in time die (Eccl. 9:3). He then proceeds to inform us that "to him
that is joined with all the living there is hope; for a living dog is better
than a dead lion" (Eccl. 9:4).

Is Qoheleth saying that "hope" only exists for the living from the standpoint
of men living "under the sun"? When he wrote that "a living dog is better
than a dead lion," did he mean that a live dog is superior to a dead lion in
the eyes of men only? Or is such a statement objectively true?
The context implies that interpreting Qoheleth's words non-objectively
could result in the utter misconstrual of Eccl. 9:5ff since the writer
makes a stark contrast between the living and the dead in Eccl. 9:5.
He even adds these solemn words in Eccl. 9:10: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth
to do, do it with thy might: for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge,
nor wisdom, in Sheol, wither thou goest" (ASV).

So Qoheleth apparently thought the dead are objectively conscious of nothing, not just from the standpoint of earthly observers. Furthermore, the Tanakh consistently teaches that the dead know nothing at all:

"For in death there is no remembrance of thee [Jehovah]: In Sheol who shall give thee thanks?" (Ps. 6:5).

"For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one
dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no
advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place.
All came from the dust and all return to the dust" (Eccl. 3:19-20).

Cf Job 3:11-19.

An argument could be formalized as follows:

1. Either the dead praise YHWH in Sheol or the dead remain silent.
2. The dead do not praise YHWH in Sheol.
3. Therefore, the dead remain silent.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Hippolytus of Rome on Revelation 12:1



60. Now, concerning the tribulation of the persecution which is to fall upon the Church from the adversary, John also speaks thus: "And I saw a great and wondrous sign in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And she, being with child, cries, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man-child, who is to rule all the nations: and the child was caught up unto God and to His throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath the place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. And then when the dragon saw it, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man-child. And to the woman were given two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast (out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast) out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the saints of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus."

61. By the woman then clothed with the sun," he meant most manifestly the Church, endued wth the Father's word, whose brightness is above the sun. And by the "moon under her feet" he referred to her being adorned, like the moon, with heavenly glory. And the words, "upon her head a crown of twelve stars," refer to the twelve apostles by whom the Church was founded. And those, "she, being with child, cries, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered," mean that the Church will not cease to bear from her heart the Word that is persecuted by the unbelieving in the world. "And she brought forth," he says, "a man-child, who is to rule all the nations;" by which is meant that the Church, always bringing forth Christ, the perfect man-child of God, who is declared to be God and man, becomes the instructor of all the nations. And the words, "her child was caught up unto God and to His throne," signify that he who is always born of her is a heavenly king, and not an earthly; even as David also declared of old when he said, "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at my right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool." "And the dragon," he says, "saw and persecuted the woman which brought forth the man-child. And to the woman were given two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent." That refers to the one thousand two hundred and threescore days (the half of the week) during which the tyrant is to reign and persecute the Church, which flees from city to city, and seeks conceal-meat [sic] in the wilderness among the mountains, possessed of no other defence [sic] than the two wings of the great eagle, that is to say, the faith of Jesus Christ, who, in stretching forth His holy hands on the holy tree, unfolded two wings, the right and the left, and called to Him all who believed upon Him, and covered them as a hen her chickens. For by the mouth of Malachi also He speaks thus: "And unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings."

The Epistle to Diognetus 4.1-5 and De-Judaization

Here are more comments from the Epistle to Diognetus. I will intersperse some remarks between the quotes from the work.

"But as to their [i.e., the Jews'] scrupulosity
concerning meats, and their superstition as respects
the Sabbaths, and their boasting about circumcision,
and their fancies about fasting and the new moons,
which are utterly ridiculous and unworthy of notice, I
do not think that you require to learn anything from

It is not surprising to find the nameless writer
of the Epistle to Diognetus negatively contrasting
Christianity with Judaism. After all, the
apostle Paul also critiqued Jewish scrupulosity
regarding meats, Sabbaths, and other special days as
well as reliance on circumcision for divine
justification (Gal. 4:8-11; 5:1-6). Of course, the epistle's
writer could not have been speaking ill of the Sabbath day
simpliciter since God mandated the Sabbath
observance for Israel. The Epistle to Diognetus 4.3 certainly
seems to indicate that the writer is particularly
condemning abuses of the Sabbath day. At any rate,
what does strike me as an attempt to expunge
Jewishness from the Christian religion is the
author's condescending and unnecessarily harsh
words toward the end of the paragraph above.

"And to glory in the circumcision of the flesh as a
proof of election, and as if, on account of it, they
were specially beloved by God, how is it not a subject
of ridicule?"

Do blog readers here believe that the writer has a
scripturally valid argument? Is it biblical to say
that circumcision was never a "proof of election"
or that it never functioned as a sign of
God's dealings with Abraham? Then again, maybe the
writer is only focusing on the Judaism of his day
without denying the important role that Judaism had in
what some theologians have called "salvation history"
(Heilsgeschichte). The writer concludes Epistle to
4 in this way:

"And as to their observing months and days, as if
waiting upon the stars and the moon, and their
distributing, according to their own tendencies, the
appointments of God, and the vicissitudes of the
seasons, some for festivities, and others for
mourning, who would deem this a part of divine
worship, and not much rather a manifestation of folly?
I suppose, then, you are sufficiently convinced that
the Christians properly abstain from the vanity and
error common [to both Jews and Gentiles], and from the
busy-body spirit and vain boasting of the Jews; but
you must not hope to learn the mystery of their
peculiar mode of worshipping God from any mortal."