Sunday, January 31, 2016

Another Post Regarding the Trinity, Reason/Revelation and Aquinas (Summa Theologica)


Acts 1:6-7: Knowing the Season

The Scriptures warn against predicting a day or an hour that Jesus is coming to execute judgment (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32; Acts 1:6-7). However, nothing in the Bible prohibits the Christian from trying to discern the time or season that Christ might return (Romans 13:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3). Even the apostle Peter wrote that the prophets who foretold the undeserved favor that was to be manifested in the first century CE kept inquiring about "the time and circumstances" that the "Spirit of Christ" in them was signifying.

Although it was revealed to them that certain truths about the Messiah were sealed for later times, they are commended for endeavoring to discern God's times and seasons. Why, even angels strive to peer into these things (1 Pet. 1:10-12 NIV). And it seems that God also expects us to know the season in which we are living.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Tertullian (De Carne Christi 6)

The whole section is worth reading, but here's a portion of it:

"But the Lord Himself at that very time appeared to Abraham among those angels without being born, and yet in the flesh without doubt, in virtue of the before-mentioned diversity of cause. You, however, cannot admit this, since you do not receive that Christ, who was even then rehearsing how to converse with, and liberate, and judge the human race, in the habit of a flesh which as yet was not born, because it did not yet mean to die until both its nativity and mortality were previously (by prophecy) announced. Let them, then, prove to us that those angels derived their flesh from the stars. If they do not prove it because it is not written, neither will the flesh of Christ get its origin therefrom, for which they borrowed the precedent of the angels" (Tertullian, De Carne Christi 6).

The Concept "Power" in Revelation

Here's a project I've been working on for months. I've tried to catalog all the uses of the word or concept "power" in Revelation, then I want to offer commentary on each verse from the aspect of how it contributes to the motif "power." I don't know if I'll ever finish this project, but it's been fun so far. Lots of editing remains.

A Commentary on the Concept of Power in Revelation (Apocalypse) of John

Rev 2:26--And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power (ἐξουσίαν) over the nations:

Rev 4:11--Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power (δύναμιν): for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Rev 5:12--Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power (τὴν δύναμιν), and riches, and wisdom, and strength (ἰσχὺν), and honour, and glory, and blessing.

Rev 5:13--And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power (τὸ κράτος), [be] unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

Rev 6:4--And there went out another horse [that was] red: and [power] was given to him (ἐδόθη αὐτῷ) that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

Rev 6:8--And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them (καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτοῖς ἐξουσία) over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

Rev 7:12--Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might (ἡ δύναμις καὶ ἡ ἰσχὺς), [be] unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

Rev 9:3--And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power (καὶ ἐδόθη αὐταῖς ἐξουσία ὡς ἔχουσιν ἐξουσίαν οἱ σκορπίοι τῆς γῆς).

Rev 9:10--And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power [was] to hurt men five months (καὶ ἐν ταῖς οὐραῖς αὐτῶν ἡ ἐξουσία αὐτῶν ἀδικῆσαι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους μῆνας πέντε).

Rev 9:19--For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails (ἡ γὰρ ἐξουσία τῶν ἵππων ἐν τῷ στόματι αὐτῶν ἐστὶν καὶ ἐν ταῖς οὐραῖς αὐτῶν): for their tails [were] like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.

Rev 11:3--And I will give [power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. [The word "power" should be omitted in this verse]

Rev 11:6--These have power (ἔχουσιν τὴν ἐξουσίαν) to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters (καὶ ἐξουσίαν ἔχουσιν ἐπὶ τῶν ὑδάτων) to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.

Rev 11:17--Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned (ὅτι εἴληφας τὴν δύναμίν σου τὴν μεγάλην καὶ ἐβασίλευσας).

Rev 12:10--And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ (ἡ σωτηρία καὶ ἡ δύναμις καὶ ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ ἐξουσία τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ): for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Rev 13:2--And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as [the feet] of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

Rev 13:4--And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who [is] like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?

Rev 13:5--And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty [and] two months.

Rev 13:7--And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

Rev 13:12--And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

Rev 13:14--And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by [the means of] those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

Rev 13:15--And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

Rev 14:18--And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.

Rev 15:8--And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.

Rev 16:8--And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.

Rev 16:9--And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.

Rev 17:12--And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.

Rev 17:13--These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.

Rev. 18:1--And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

Rev. 19:1--And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:

See Rev. 19:6-7

Rev. 20:6--Blessed and holy [is] he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Friday, January 29, 2016

J. A. T. Robinson and John 1:1c

In the words of J.A.T Robinson:

"The New Testament says that Jesus was the Word of God, it says that God was in Christ, it says that Jesus is the Son of God, but it does not say that Jesus was God, simply like that" (Honest to God, page 70).

Paul Tillich has also observed that the traditional doctrine of the Incarnation can be regarded as "inadequate" since:

"'nature' in the Greek sense implies a static essence. Two such essences cannot be joined together to create one whole person" (See Daniel Day Williams' What Present-Day Theologians Are Thinking, page 133).

An Argument That Sheds Light on Identity and the Trinity

1) X and Y are the same object, if X has every property that Y has, and Y has every property that X has.
2) Christ has a metaphysical property that his Father does not have (his humanity).
3) Christ's Father has a metaphysical property that his Son does not have (the Father is innascible).
4) Therefore, Christ is not the same object (i.e., person) as his Father.

The argument is presented from the perspective of a Trinitarian. The doctrine of the Trinity claims that Christ and his Father are the same God, but they are not hypostatically identical, that is, Christ and his Father are not the same in a personal sense.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

John 20:28 (Johannine Exegesis of God)

I've read part of this book, but not all of it. This post does not constitute an endorsement of the author's views, but I just find his approach to the issues somewhat different from other works I've read.

Robert Knopp, Christology, and Logical Consistency

How are we supposed to explain (rationally and Scripturally) three Persons who are self-existent in se? Do we not have three gods in this situation? Is it not contradictory to speak of tres personae una in substantia sui generis? Trinitarian scholar Robert Knopp demonstrates the problems with viewing the Godhead as three self-existent centers of consciousness. As we read the Biblical testimony, we must acknowledge that Jesus is said to be self-existent. Yet what is the ground of his self-existence? Is Jesus in his very being capable of functioning as his own Autopator? Does he need (logically or ontologically) a distinct Autopator to account for his aseity?

Knopp endeavors to handle these difficulties when exegeting John 5:26, where we are told that the Father has given the Son "self-existence" (Amplified Bible). He offers these remarks: "It is obviously contradictory to say that the Father gives the Son life in himself . . . How then can the Son have life in himself if he has been given it by the Father? John is trying to make human language do what it cannot do--express the infinite--and of course his human language breaks down in the attempt, as must all theological language that tries to express divine mystery" (Knopp 274).

It is obvious at this point that Knopp is trapped in a cognitive labyrinth from which he tries to extricate himself via linguistic acrobatics. Knopp is hard pressed to explain how Jesus can be God and be self-existent while looking to his Father to supply aseity. He appeals to the failure of language to adequately express John's thoughts. Such invocations--although possibly well-intentioned--are factually erroneous. Knopp therefore concludes: "[John] is saying that by generation the Son derives his life from the Father and that, nevertheless, this divinely generated life is
the very life of God, the very being of God, absolute equality with the Father" (Knopp 274). While seemingly, the writer has successfully delivered himself from the pit of contradiction, he has done nothing more than stay the inevitable. Furthermore, some trinitarians would take exception to Knopp's idea of divine generation.

For example, Spiros Zodhiates writes that there is no evidence in the Bible for such a phenomenon as divine begettal (Cf. Zodhiates' comments on Col. 1:15 in his word study). Leonard Hodgson also notes that such theological positing could be the result of pagan philosophy that has not "fully assimilated the Christian revelation." As noted by these scholars, the concept of derived divinity raises many seemingly insoluble problems. The problems associated with the divine generation concept have caused some theologians to contend that each individual Personage in the Godhead does not enjoy a se esse independently. Rather, the Godhead as a whole is self-existent. Therefore, the Father cannot exist without the Son (or the Holy Spirit) and the Son cannot exist without the Father (or the Holy Spirit), and the Holy Spirit cannot exist without the Father or the Son (because a se esse is a collective experience).

By resorting to this explanation, however, even more difficult questions are raised. How is it possible for a persona in the Godhead to enjoy deity in the fullest sense, yet not exemplify personal aseity? Where in the Bible is it ever intimated that the Father needs the Son or Holy Spirit to exist? Where are we ever told that the Holy Spirit is dependent upon the Son for existence? Truly, examining the issue of aseity in relation to the Trinity raises many dilemmas for those who propagate this confusing doctrine. In Eastern Orthodoxy, the idea of the Father being dependent upon the Son or the Holy Spirit has normally been viewed with repugnance. Orthodox theologians generally have viewed the Father as the pele [source], the arche [principle], and the aitia [cause] of the Godhead.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Jonah Notes (1:3, 5, 9-10, 15-17)

1. Most commentators I've read say that Jonah's flight might be explained by his words at Jonah 4:2. For instance:

"But Jonah rose up to flee.—The motive of the prophet's flight is given by himself (Jonah 4:2). He foresaw the repentance of the city, and the mercy which would be displayed towards it, and was either jealous of his prophetic reputation, or had a patriotic dislike of becoming a messenger of good to a heathen foe so formidable to his own country" (Ellicott's Commentary).

"He refused God's service, because, as he himself tells God afterward Jonah 4:2, he knew what it would end in, and he misliked it" (Barnes' Notes on the Bible).

NET Bible Notes for Jonah 1:3: "The narrator's description is also highly ironic, as the rest of the book shows. Jonah tries to sail to Tarshish, in the opposite direction from Nineveh, as if by doing that he could escape from the Lord, when the Lord is the one who knows all about Nineveh's wickedness and is involved in all that happens to Jonah throughout the book. Compare Jonah's explanation when talking with the Lord (see 4:2)."

2. In Constable's Notes for Jonah 1:10: "Before, the mariners had feared the storm, but now they feared the Lord,
recognizing the Creator above the creation."

3. Constable's Notes on 1:15-16: "The immediate cessation of the storm proved to the sailors that Yahweh really did control the sea (cf. Matt. 8:26). Therefore they 'feared' (respected) Him, 'offered a sacrifice' to Him (when they reached shore?), and 'made vows' (perhaps to venerate Him, cf. Ps. 116:17-18)."

4. "1: 5 afraid. The first of three references to the sailors' fear (see vv. 10, 16). While their fear of the storm intensifies in v. 10, by v. 16 their fear focuses on the one who initiated the storm. his own god. The sailors, possibly of different nationalities, apparently worshiped several different pagan gods. They later cry out to the Lord (v. 14). below deck. Descending yet again (see note on v. 3), Jonah is oblivious to the danger of the storm."

Zondervan (2015-08-25). NIV, Zondervan Study Bible, eBook: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message (Kindle Locations 210958-210962). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Zondervan (2015-08-25). NIV, Zondervan Study Bible, eBook: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message (Kindle Locations 210956-210958). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

5. "1: 9 Hebrew. In foreign contexts often designates an Israelite (e.g., Gen 40: 15; Exod 1: 19). worship. Closely links to the Hebrew verb that reports the sailors' fear in vv. 5, 10, 16. Whereas their fear results in frantic action, Jonah's confession that he fears/ worships God rings hollow in the light of his disobedience. the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land. By emphasizing the Lord's authority over the whole creation, Jonah makes it very clear that his God is responsible for the storm."

Zondervan (2015-08-25). NIV, Zondervan Study Bible, eBook: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message (Kindle Locations 210969-210974). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

John Gill's Exposition of 1 Timothy 3:16 ("God was manifest in the flesh")

God was manifest in the flesh; not God essentially considered, or Deity in the abstract, but personally; and not the first nor the third Person; for of neither of them can this or the following things be said; but the second Person, the Word, or Son of God; see 1 John 3:8 who existed as a divine Person, and as a distinct one from the Father and Spirit, before his incarnation; and which is a proof of his true and proper deity: the Son of God in his divine nature is equally invisible as the Father, but became manifest by the assumption of human nature in a corporeal way, so as to be seen, heard, and felt: and by "flesh" is meant, not that part of the body only, which bears that name, nor the whole body only, but the whole human nature, consisting of a true body and a reasonable soul; so called, partly to denote the frailty of it, and to show that it was not a person, but a nature, Christ assumed; and the clause is added, not so much to distinguish this manifestation of Christ from a spiritual manifestation of him to his people, as in distinction from all other manifestations of him in the Old Testament, in an human form for a time, and in the cloud, both in the tabernacle and temple. This clause is a very apt and full interpretation of the word "Moriah", the name of the mount in which Jehovah would manifest himself, and be seen, Genesis 22:2.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Charles Gieschen, Ontology, and Angelomorphism

Gieschen believes that ontological concerns (questions concerning the being of Christ) have "inhibited" Angelomorphic studies undertaken in the past. He proposes that we should now ask another question in place of the ontological ones, namely, "Where and how did early Christians use the variegated angelomorphic traditions from the OT and other sources to express their Christology?" Consult Angelomorphic Christology, 349.

His new formulation of the Angelomorphic question is designed to show that Angelomorphic traditions significantly influenced early Christology qua high Christology. Gieschen further maintains that traditions portraying Christ as the visible manifestation of God's Son (the malak YHWH) paved the way for later Christological affirmations such as "Jesus is Lord" (1 Cor. 12:3) or YHWH. See ibid. 350.

While he tries to downplay questions concerning the being of Christ in his study, it is evident that Gieschen espouses a high Christology, linking the Son in his role as an angel with a/the visible manifestation of YHWH.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Some Commentaries on Daniel 12:1 (Michael the Archangel)

I'm only going to quote parts of the commentaries that deal with the relationship between Michael and Jesus Christ. These works are available online and can be easily consulted:

From the Benson Commentary: "The word Michael signifies, Who is like God? which name, with the title here given him, The great prince which standeth for the children of thy people, manifestly points out the Messiah, and cannot properly be understood of a created angel."

Gill's Exposition of the Bible: "And at that time shall Michael stand up,.... The Archangel, who has all the angels of heaven under him, and at his command, the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ; who is as God, as the name signifies, truly and really God, and equal in nature, power, and glory, to his divine Father: 'he shall stand up'; which is not to be understood of his incarnation, or manifestation in the flesh, for this refers to times long after that; yet neither of his personal appearance in the clouds of heaven, and standing upon the earth in the latter day; but of his spiritual presence among his people, and protection of them, and continuance with them: this respects the spiritual reigns of Christ, the Lamb's standing upon Mount Zion, and the 144,000 with him, Revelation 14:1, and this will be at that time, when the eastern antichrist, the Turk, will be destroyed;"

John Trapp's Commentary: "Shall Michael stand up,] i.e., The Lord Christ (that Prince of angels, and protector of his people), not a created angel, much less Michael Servetus, that blasphemous heretic, burned at Geneva, who was not afraid to say, as Calvin reporteth it, se esse Michaelem illum, Ecclesae custodem, that he was that Michael, the Church's guardian. David George, also another black-mouthed heretic, said that he was the one David foretold by the prophets, [Jeremiah 30:9 Ezekiel 34:23 Hosea 3:5] and that he was confident that the whole world would in time submit to him."

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary: "Here is a most lovely account of Jesus, and of his office-character, as Mediator. I do not hesitate to believe, that the Michael here spoken of is Christ. In confirmation, turn to those scriptures. Revelation 12:7-11. How Christ then stood up for all eternity: how in time, and how forever; all his offices typify. Proverbs 8:22-23; Psalms 40:6-8; Hebrews 7:24-25; 2 Thessalonians 1:10. In every point of view, it must be a time of trouble. When Christ comes to make up his jewels, he comes also to take vengeance of them that know not God, nor obey the gospel of Jesus. Malachi 4:1; 2 Peter 3:10-11. But what a sweet close is this verse, of the safety of Jesus own! Isaiah 4:3; Luke 10:20; Revelation 20:12-15."

Geneva Notes: The angel here notes two things: first that the Church will be in great affliction and trouble at Christ's coming, and next that God will send his angel to deliver it, whom he here calls Michael, meaning Christ, who is proclaimed by the preaching of the Gospel."

Saturday, January 23, 2016

1 John 1:7 and Spiritual Cleansing

τὸ αἷμα Ἰησοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ καθαρίζει ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἁμαρτίας. (1 John 1:7 WH)

S.M. Baugh asks whether this construction means "cleanses us from all sin" or "from every sin."

"'the death of Jesus his Son makes us clean from every sin' (or 'from all our guilt') 1 Jn 1:7" (Louw-Nida 88.310).

The OT formula is καθαρίσαι ὑμᾶς ἀπὸ πασῶν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν ἔναντι Κυρίου, καὶ καθαρισθήσεσθε. (See Lev 16:30; compare Ps 18:14; 50:4).

BDAG indicates that the expression ἁμαρτίαν . . . ἔχομεν (1 Jn 1:8) refers to "a state of being sinful, sinfulness."

Conversely, in 1 John 1:9, τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν evidently pertains to "unrighteousness" (i.e., deviating from righteous human or divine standards).

Friday, January 22, 2016

How To Interpret Scripture Aright in the Eyes of Kevin Giles (Sean Killackey)

Sean, this post is from a larger informal review of the work by Giles that I undertook years ago. A discussion of The Trinity and Subordinationism: The Doctrine of God and the Contemporary Gender Debate (Downer's Grove: IVP, 2002):

Giles notes that Arius marshaled a significant number
of Bible texts to prove that the Son is a creature.
However, Athanasius thought Arius had egregiously
misrepresented the role of Christ in Holy Writ. He thus
accused Arius of selectively choosing and interpreting
scriptural texts to uphold beliefs Arius already
held dear, a phenomenon that psychologists commonly
label "confirmation bias." As Giles writes:

"Arius' methodology simply showed that given enough
time, a clever theologian could find texts and
interpretations to prove almost anything" (p. 3).
Athanasius, on the other hand, thought the proper
way to do theology was to first acquire a "profound
grasp" of the pattern of Scripture. That is, one must
comprehend the overall drift of the Bible or come to
understand its "theological center" (its focus or scope) before
proceeding with earnest biblical exegesis (Ibid.).

One who grasped the pattern, avers Athanasius,
would know the Son is eternally one in both
being and action with the Father. However, the Son
temporally subordinated himself to the Father when he
became a man for salvific reasons, that is, PRO NOBIS.
Nevertheless, Athanasius contended that the Son is by
no means subordinate to the Father vis-a-vis His eternal
relations to the Father and Holy Spirit: he is equal in all
respects to the Father and the Holy Spirit. At least, this
is what Athanasius gleaned from Scripture, as he understood it.

While Athanasius contended that those with eyes of
faith could discern the clear focus of Scripture and
what it teaches about the Son, he added that
biblical doctrine is "made plain" by what he
called "the teaching of the apostles and tradition of
the fathers" (p. 4). Tradition in this context simply
denotes teaching that was handed down from the
apostles through the fathers of the church. Tradition
(Athanasius maintained) proclaims that the Son of God is
eternally equal with regard to the "immanent Trinity"
but it teaches that the Son became subordinate, for a time,
per God's oikonomia. It was this theological premise that
informed Athanasius' reading of Scripture since he
believed that Scripture ought to be read through the
lens of church tradition. Without the aid of
traditio, one could not truly understand, interpret
or do theology aright.

The Concept of "Fear" in Jonah 1:3ff

The salience of the concept "fear" in Jonah 1 recently stood out to me:

The prophet Jonah possibly sought refuge in Tarshish because he morbidly feared the inhabitants of Nineveh (Jonah 1:3).

But then Jonah 1:5 (ESV) states: "Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god."

Afterwards, there is Jonah 1:9-10 (ESV): "And he said to them, 'I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.' Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, 'What is this that you have done!' For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them."

"And they lift up Jonah, and cast him into the sea, and the sea ceaseth from its raging; and the men fear Jehovah — a great fear, and sacrifice a sacrifice to Jehovah, and vow vows" (Jonah 1:15-16 YLT).

A) Jonah presumably refused to accept his prophetic commission from Jehovah because he feared the Ninevites.
B) The mariners fear the tempest caused by Jehovah, but invoke their deities for deliverance.
C) Jonah discloses his reverential fear of Jehovah.
D) The mariners become "exceedingly afraid" (in a somewhat morbid sense) after Jonah reveals that he is a Hebrew, a worshiper of YHWH.
E) After the storm calms, the mariners now reverentially fear Jehovah, "a great fear," and offer sacrifices to Him--and they make solemn vows to the God of heaven.

Notes to follow later.

Brief Comment on Divine Intraproduction

Reading an article on divine production recently moved me to think that God's production of the cosmos--a world peopled by finite creatures other than God--seems perfectly intelligible. We produce things that are non-human (and other than ourselves) all the time, although these productions share in our finitude. But the following propositions are harder to accept fully:

1) God the Father is innascible (unproduced or unborn and not capable of being produced or born).
2) God the Father is the timeless origin and ground of divinity for God the Son (i.e., God eternally produces the Son).
3) God the Son has all of the properties that God the Father "has" with the exception that God the Father is innascible and Father whereas God the Son is produced (eternally generated) and filial/begotten.
4) In Latin Church thinking, God the Father and God the Son produce God the Holy Spirit (i.e., the filioque).
5) The Spirit of God--"who" is also God--is neither innascible nor generated, but spirated by the Father and the Son.
6) Hence, three relations obtain in the triune Godhead: paternity, filiation, and spiration.
7) Thomas Aquinas explains that the Persons are the Relations.

It's still dificult for me to understand how one Person of the triune Godhead produces another. Aquinas and the article I just finished reading say divine production is a mystery that baffles the intellect: it can only be known via divine revelation since it transcends reason (they say).

Even some Trinitarian theologians have questioned divine production on both scriptural and logical grounds.

Delineation of Terms in Angelomorphic Discussions

Taken from my book on Tertullian and Angelomorphic Christology:

(1) Angel or angelic Christology is the theological concept that Martin Werner infamously maintained the early Christian congregation espoused. In Werner's estimation, the doctrine that teaches the Son is a creaturely spiritual essence who was produced in the same or similar fashion as other holy created spirit beings was a primordial Christian teaching:

"What has provided historians of doctrine for more than a century with an occasion for discussion has been the fact that Justin could conceive in one category the Logos-Son together with the 'host of the other good angels, of like being to him,' and that he set this angel-host, together with the Logos-Christ, before the (prophetic) Spirit."

Historians of dogma have not embraced Werner's reconstruction of the primitive or pre-Nicene doctrine of Christ's person and work. In fact, they have adamantly resisted his suggestion that angel Christology was the most ancient ecclesiastical formulation of the Son's person and work. Chapter one accordingly will discuss Werner's contribution to the study of Christ as an angel qua angel (whether in form or essence). It will then review modern-day assessments of his work.

(2) Angelomorphic Christology refers to the doctrine or complex of doctrines that contend Christ now and again assumes the form or external appearance of an angel during OT and NT angelophanies but he is not necessarily an angel according to His nature (i.e., substance). [Loren] Stuckenbruck notes that Christ is sometimes "made to appear among a series of angels." At other times, He evidently manifests Himself "as one who incorporates features frequently attributed to angels." The theological doctrine, "Angelomorphic Christology" aptly describes such manifestations, argues Stuckenbruck. This particular type of Christology is clearly phenomenologically-oriented. It attempts to provide a descriptive account of the Son's appearances in angelic settings (Rev 14:6-20) without pronouncing judgment on His seeming divinity ontos.

(3) Stuckenbruck prefers to employ the referring expression "angelophanic Christology" or Angelomorphic Christology over against using the terminology "angelic Christology." Both Christopher Rowland and Stuckenbruck advocate this terminological usage since they maintain that Christ is only an angel ostensibly in certain OT or NT angelophanies. He is not, they seem to aver, really a created supernatural spirit being, but the fully divine Son of God. Stuckenbruck limits the term "Angelomorphic Christology" to occasions when Christ either reveals Himself among a series of angels or provisionally incorporates the attributes of created heavenly beings without becoming an angel ontologically. He further avails himself of the expression "angel Christology" in order to speak of moments when the Scriptures identify Christ as an angel (ex officio) or possibly highlight His provisional angelic "nature." Moreover, Stuckenbruck appears to use “Angelomorphic” or “Angelophanic” somewhat synonymously (while preserving the respective shades of meaning for each adjective) as we will do throughout the course of this study. The difference between the two adnominals is that the former descriptive term emphasizes the form assumed or manifested by Christ while the latter adjectival expression underscores the act of manifestation (the appearance) simply and solely.

(4) A broader category that aptly describes what is often found in the documents of ancient and Second Temple Judaism as well as early Christian works is angelomorphism simpliciter. Angelomorphism refers to the phenomenon wherein exalted divine figures assume angelic or semi-divine forms. Such manifestations are not limited to the angelophanies of God's Son. Judaism speaks of such exalted figures as Adam, Abel, Enoch, Gabriel, Michael and Metatron.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ellingworth Comments About Hebrews 2:2 (Page 137-8)

As I said earlier, posts like these are not just designed to support my position, but also function as references for the deeper study of an issue.

Peter Carrell's PH.D. Thesis "Jesus and the Angels" (Link)




Saturday, January 16, 2016

Michael Fox and Proverbs 2:6 (Fear of God)

From Michael V. Fox, "The Pedagogy of Proverbs 2," Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 113, No. 2 (Summer, 1994): pp. 233-243.

"(2:6) 'For the Lord grants wisdom,/ at his behest come knowledge and good sense.' Verse 6 alludes to a stage prior to v. 5: the finding of wisdom, which produces the understanding promised in v.5. Wisdom engenders mature piety because God is the source of wisdom, and in seeking it you are in effect seeking him. Modern commentators agree that v. 6 does not imply verbal revelation, for God is never quoted in instructional wisdom literature.'2 The verse refers either to the granting of wisdom to the world as a divine gift or (more likely) to the bestowal of the faculty of wisdom on an individual. Wisdom both starts with fear of God (1:7;9:10)and leads to it. If the child does his part- the other parties will obviously do theirs- his fear of God will move to a higher stage, as described in this chapter. The simple fear of divine anger that prompted the first juvenile steps toward wisdom matures into a reasoned, cognitive conscience. Hence fear of God at this stage is the object of understanding (2:5a) and is defined by the parallel as a form of knowledge (2:5b).'3 With wisdom, fear of God becomes conscience, an inner sense of right and wrong and a desire to do what is right. (The history of the word 'conscience'-it derives from Latin conscientia, 'deep knowledge,' and originally meant consciousness or inner, unverbalized, thought-nicely points to the cognitive basis of conscience and suggests how the fear and the knowledge of God can be parallel, as in 2:5.) The fear of God, in Dermot Cox's words, is 'a form of conscience that calls for an intellectual adhesion to a principle, the divine order, the concept of goodness of life, and this is a guarantee of 'success'. . .. [I]t is a state of mind, not an action; it is almost synonymous with knowledge (especially in Prov 1-9)'14 Cox's definition is valid for the advanced stage of development."

Short Note on Michael the Archangel

The ancient texts of Judaism generally depict Michael as one of the holy angels of God, in fact, an/the chief angel. And Darrell L. Bock's book Blasphemy and Exaltation in Judaism provides sufficient evidence to buttress this idea on pp. 165-169. He supplies evidence that Michael was generally thought to be an angel (i.e., spirit being).

Interestingly, Michael is called ARXISTRATHGOS in 3 Bar. 11-16. See also TAbr 1:4A; TMos 10:2.

Isaiah 53 and the Suffering Servant of YHWH

In Matt. 8:14-17, Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law, then he expelled demons and "cured all who fared badly." After reporting these events, Matthew applied Isa. 53:4 to Jesus: "He himself took our sicknesses and carried our diseases" (Matt. 8:17 NWT).

"Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows" (Isa. 53:4 KJV).

"But his form was ignoble, and inferior to that of the children of men; [he was] a man in suffering, and acquainted with the bearing of sickness, for his face is turned from [us]: he was dishonoured, and not esteemed. He bears our sins, and is pained for us: yet we accounted him to be in trouble, and in suffering, and in affliction" (Isa. 53:3-4 LXX).

"by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear
their iniquities" (Isa. 53:11 KJV).

According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus bore the sicknesses and sorrows of humanity when he cured infirm persons. His bearing their sicknesses did not mean that he literally took their pains upon him; he simply relieved them of their spiritual and physical burdens. I think the same principle can apply to 1 Pet. 2:24.

"The theme of one suffering on behalf of the sins of others is repeated in
Isa. 53:4, 5, 11, 12. Matthew interprets Isa. 53:4 LXX ('He bears our sins
and is pained for us') as referring both to spiritual and physical sickness
(Matt. 8:17), and Peter is adopting a similar line [in 1 Pet. 2:24]. In the
Talmud, Isa. 53:4 is taken to mean that Messiah is "the Leprous One" and the 'Sick One' (b. Sanh. 98b) . . . In the OT, to 'bear iniquity' (Lev. 5:17; Num. 14:34 RSV) means to suffer the penalty of its consequences" (Scott, James. 1 and 2 Peter, Jude, 90).

I might need to correct the reference to James Scott. Someone else might have penned the commentary I quote.

Yes, John 17:3 Does Define "Everlasting Life" (W. Hall Harris)

After researching the matter, and consulting a number of sources, I would say that it seems that John 17:3 defines everlasting life. Here is one commentary on the passage:

"to introduce an explanation is typical Johannine style; it was used before in 1:19, 3:19, and 15:12. The Evangelist here defines 'eternal life' for the readers. It is not just unending life in the sense of prolonged duration. Rather it is a quality of life, with its qualitativeness derived from a relationship with God. Having eternal life is here defined as being in relationship with the Father, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom the Father sent. Cristov is not characteristically attached to Jesus' name in the Fourth Gospel; it occurs elsewhere primarily as a title and is used with Jesus' name only in 1:17. But that is connected to its use here: the statement here in 17:3 enables us to correlate the statement made in 1:18 of the Prologue, that Jesus has fully revealed what God is like, with Jesus' statement in 10:10 that he has come that people might have life, and have it abundantly. These two purposes are really one, according to 17:3, because (abundant) eternal life is defined as knowing (being in relationship with) the Father and the Son. The only way to gain this eternal life, that is, to obtain this knowledge of the Father, is through the Son (cf. 14:6). Although some have pointed to the use of ginwvskw here as evidence of Gnostic influence in the Gospel, there is a crucial difference: for John this knowledge is not intellectual, but relational. It involves being in relationship."

While I'm not endorsing his comments as a whole here, a number of commentators and Johannine scholars would agree that Jesus (through John's writing) is defining everlasting/eternal life in this verse. On the other hand, Witnesses also say that John 17:3 stipulates how one might obtain life eternal, namely, by knowing Jehovah and his Son.


Friday, January 15, 2016

Matthew, Luke and Birds/Ravens

"Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6:26 ESV)

"Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!" (Luke 12:24 ESV)

Interesting how Luke specifically mentions "ravens" in his account of Jesus' exhortation. A word study of the term "raven" (as used in the Bible) is also enlightening. Furthermore, Matthew here calls God "heavenly Father," but Luke just uses "God."


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Cry of Dereliction

In his commentary on Acts, Professor Richard Longenecker makes this comment about Acts 2:25:

"It should be remembered that only Luke among the synoptists omitted the cry of dereliction from the cross: 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' (Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34); and only Luke has included the more filial, final word: 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit' (Luke 23:46). Both the omission and the inclusion are in line with the quotation of Ps 16:8 here [in Acts 2:25]: 'I saw the Lord always [DIA PANTOS] before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken'" (Longenecker 77-78).

It is possible that Jesus' cry of dereliction could be understood in the light of Ps. 22:1ff; John 8:29; 16:32. Based on the Johannine passages, it seems highly unlikely that the Father was ever spiritually separated from His beloved Son as some claim. For example, "In these words Christ, when hanging on the cross, complained, that he was deprived, for a time, of the loving presence and comforting influence of his heavenly Father" (Benson Commentary)

Moreover, one should not infer that Jesus was mistaken in his cry--the key to what Jesus meant is echoed in Ps. 22:1:

"My God, my God . . . why are you far from saving me?" (NWT)

According to this fateful OT writing, God Jehovah forsook the Son in that he allowed his enemies to kill the Messiah. God did not intervene when His Son was being put to death though it undoubtedly pained the Father greatly to see His Son executed as a common criminal (Isa. 63:9). Prophetically the Son said, "O my God, I keep calling by day, and you do not answer" (Ps. 22:2 NWT). Additionally he prayed:

"I am a worm, and not a man, A reproach to men and despicable to the people" (Ps. 22:6).

Psalm 22 indicates that the Son was "abandoned" in the sense that Jehovah did not deliver Christ from his [the Son's] adversaries; He lovingly allowed the Son to die so that Christ might taste death for every man and woman (Heb. 2:9). Yet while God allowed the Messiah to suffer, He was still with the Son by empowering and supporting him through an extremely ignominious and painful trial (John 16:32).

When commenting upon the "cry of dereliction," William Barclay posits three possible meanings:

(1) Jesus repeated the words of the Psalm as a "song of trust and confidence" (a view held by Dibelius and others). In support of this view, read Ps. 22:3-5, 20-31.

(2) The weight of the world's sins came upon Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21). I would be glad to elaborate upon 2 Cor. 5:21 later to show why I tend to disagree with this possibility.

(3) Jesus was showing his communion with humans. Just as we may sometimes feel that God has forsaken us, even when He clearly has not, so Jesus descended to the proverbial "depths of despair" and felt that God had abandoned him. Cf. Heb. 5:7, 8, however.

While all of these views are quite possible, I find the previous explanation to be most compelling. In light of Ps. 22 and the Gospel of John, the Father only forsook Jesus by allowing him to be put to death. That's my "humble opinion."

Monday, January 11, 2016

More Johannine Comma Quotes

In the original Interpreter's Bible, which can be found in about any county library, the following is stated concerning 1 John 5:7ff:

"This verse in the KJV is to be rejected (with RSV). It appears in no
ancient Greek MS nor is it cited by any Greek fathers; of all the
versions only the Latin contained it, and even this in none of its most
ancient sources. The earliest MSS of the Vulg. do not have it. As [CH]
Dodd (Johannine Epistles, p. 127n) reminds us, "It is first quoted as a
part of 1 John by Priscillian, the Spanish heretic, who died in 385,
and it gradually made its way into MSS of the Latin Vulgate until it
was accepted as part of the authorized Latin text." The mention in the
true text (vs. 8) of the three witnesses which agree naturally led to
an interpretation along trinitarian lines, and this occasioned the
present gloss which appears in various forms in MSS and quotations from
the fifth century onward" (293-294).

One of the translators of the NIV also writes the following about 1
John 5:7:

"Anyone who uses a recent scholarly version of the NT will see that
these words on the Trinity are not in verse 7. This is because they
have no basis in the Greek text. Under Roman Catholic pressure, Erasmus
inserted them from the Latin Vulgate. They are not a part of the
inspired Bible" (Ralph Earle, Word Meanings in the NT, p. 452).

Another authority states:

"We need not hesitate to declare our conviction that the disputed words
were not written by St. John: that they were originally brought into
Latin copies in Africa from the margin, where they had been placed as a
pious and orthodox gloss on ver. 8: that from the Latin they crept into
two or three late Greek codices, and thence into the printed Greek
text, a place to which they had no rightful claim" (A Plain
Introduction to the Criticism of the NT
. Cambridge: 1883, 3rd Ed. P.
654. Comments made by FHA Scrivener).

Robert M. Grant makes this comment about 1 John 5:6-8:

"To this mysterious but not theologically useful passage a Spanish
Pricillianist in the late fourth century added explicitly trinitarian
language so that it would mention three witnesses 'on earth' and end
thus: 'And there are three witnesses in heaven, the Father, the Word,
and the Spirit, and these three are one.' The addition is suitable in a
Johannine context, for it refers to the Logos as John does and is
ultimately based on 'I and the Father are one' (John 10:30).
Unfortunately it is not genuine, since it appears in no old manuscript
or versions or in any early [church] fathers" (Gods and the One God, p. 151).

I would also advise you to read William Barclay's commentary on 1 John and Raymond Brown's extensive treatment of the subject in his Anchor Bible Commentary.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

BDAG on Genea

I'm just comparing what different lexicons say about genea.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Augustine's City of God XIII.1 (Duncan)

Duncan writes:

In City of God, Book XIII, Ch. 1, Augustine wrote,

Having disposed of the very difficult questions concerning the origin of our world and the beginning of the human race, the natural order requires that we now discuss the fall of the first man (we may say of the first men), and of the origin and propagation of human death. For God had not made man like the angels, in such a condition that, even though they had sinned, they could none the more die. He had so made them, that if they discharged the obligations of obedience, an angelic immortality and a blessed eternity might ensue, without the intervention of death; but if they disobeyed, death should be visited on them with just sentence—which, too, has been spoken to in the preceding book.

Any scriptural basis for these types of conclusions?

Reply: I disagree with Augustine on many levels (Trinity, predestination, ecclesiology, etc.) and don't try to defend his theology. However, I wonder which part of this quote raises questions in your mind. That the world originated by means of divine creation and that the human race had a start is not controversial to me, and Genesis 3 details the Fall while Paul confirms this position in the NT (Romans 5:12ff; 1 Cor. 15).

Angels are possibly differentiated from men in Ps 8:4-5ff, but the Bible never predicates immortality of the angels, to my knowledge, unless someone interprets Lk 20:34-6 that way. As for human eternality upon obedience, that could be an implication from Gen 2:16-17 and the last portion of Gen. 3.

Older Short Book Reviews on David Hill and Francis A. Sullivan--Biblical Semantics and Ecclesiology

Two more book recommendations include:

(1) Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings: Studies in the
Semantics of Soteriological Terms
. Cambridge
University Press, 1967. (Author) David Hill.

(2) From Apostles to Bishops: The Development of the
Episcopacy in the Early Church
. New York/Mahwah, N.J.:
Newman Press, 2001. (Author) Francis A. Sullivan.

Hill's main thesis is that biblical Greek (both LXX
and NT) changed the meaning of certain ancient Greek
terms or at least added a new meaning to these words.
Hill attempts to demonstrate this general thesis in
his well-documented work and does a fairly decent job,
it seems. One point that I find of interest in Hill's
study is his willingness to make words the proper
objects of semantic inquiry, "since the word is a
semantic marker, a pointer to a concept or field of
meaning which must be clarified and understood" (Hill,
p. 18). Nevertheless, he also stresses the
importance of taking both the "immediate context" and
the "historical context" of any given word or text
into consideration when performing exegesis or word
studies. In order to understand the terminology of the
GNT, one must also "deal with the meaning of their
[i.e., Greek words] Old Testament Hebrew equivalents"
(ibid, 19).

Francis A. Sullivan's study should interest those who
wonder about apostolic succession or the development
of bishops in the ancient church. Was the transition
from apostles to bishops a deviant move or one
that was faithful to the original intentions of Christ
and his designated apostles? Sullivan, who is Roman
Catholic, looks at the issue quite fairly and makes
concessions that are surprising at times.
Whether one agrees with his conclusion or not, it
seems that Sullivan is a careful, erudite and fair

At one point in his study, Sullivan writes:

"As we have seen, the 'great commission' in Matthew
28:19-20 included the command to 'make disciples of
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.' Scholars
generally agree that the trinitarian formula reflects
a later development of baptismal liturgy. On the other
hand, it would be difficult to explain the importance
the New Testament attributes to baptism and its role
as a distinctive sign of Christian initiation if it
were not based on a command given by the risen Christ"
(Apostles to Bishops, p. 35).

In the context of his discussion, Sullivan is
examining the alleged primordiality of the Church's
so-called "sacramental ministry." But the point that I
want to draw attention to now, is what Sullivan says
about the "trinitarian formula" found in Mt 28:19-20.
Of course, I do not agree with this description of the
language found in the Matthean text, but what really
strikes me, however, is Sullivan's view that the
words found in Matthew 28:19-20 are based on
subsequent baptismal practices. I've noticed that
Protestant scholars also tend to believe that 28:19-20, as
it now appears in modern Bibles, is not an authentic
representation of words, which the "historical Jesus" might
have uttered. The words are sometimes not considered ipsissima
verba Christi

I've never been able to find solid textual evidence that discounts
the originality of the "Great Commission" contained at Matthew 28:19-20.
Yet there have been many who have doubted its genuineness or originality.
I have no problem with the text, as it now stands; maybe some reader has
researched this issue before.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Proverbs 2:5-6ff (Brief Observations from Commentaries)

"then you will understand how to fear the Lord, and you will discover knowledge about God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding" (Proverbs 2:5-6 NET Bible).

From Lange's Commentary:

Proverbs 2:5. Then wilt thou understand the fear of Jehovah.— “Understand” is here equivalent to taking something to one’s self as a spiritual possession, like the “finding” in the second clause, or like δέχεσθαι [“receiveth”] in 1 Cor. 2:14. The “fear of Jehovah” (comp. 1:7) is here clearly presented as the highest good and most valuable possession of man (comp. Is. 33:6), evidently because of its imperishable nature (Ps. 19:9), and its power to deliver in trouble (Prov. 14:26; Ps. 115:11; Ecclesiast. 1:11 sq.; 2:7 sq.).—And find knowledge of God.—Knowledge of God is here put not merely as a parallel idea to the “fear of Jehovah” (as in Proverbs 9:10; Is. 11:2), but it expresses a fruit and result of the fear of Jehovah, as the substance of the following causal proposition in Proverbs 2:6–8 indicates. Comp. the dogmatical and ethical comments. [Is the substitution of Elohim for Jehovah (in clause 6) a mere rhetorical or poetical variation? WORDSWORTH calls attention to the fact that this is one of five instances in the Book of Proverbs in which God is designated as Elohim, the appellation Jehovah occurring nearly ninety times. The almost singular exception seems then to be intentional, and the meaning will be, the knowledge of “Elohim—as distinguished from the knowledge of man which is of little worth.” In explaining the all but universal use of Jehovah as the name of God in our book, while in Eccles. it never occurs, WORDSWORTH says, “when Solomon wrote the Book of Proverbs he was in a state of favor and grace with Jehovah, the Lord God of Israel; he was obedient to the law of Jehovah; and the special design of the Book of Proverbs is to enforce obedience to that law,” etc. (see Introd. to Eccles., p. 78)—A.].

Here is the Cambridge Bible comment on Proverbs 2:6

6. For] Maurer rightly insists that this and two following verses are not a parenthesis, but an integral part of the main argument; q.d. I said that by diligent search after wisdom thou shouldest attain to the fear of Jehovah and the knowledge of God; and I said so because that knowledge involves the true conception of God, as the Fountain of all wisdom, and the right attitude towards Him of reverent expectation, which like the prophet’s “golden pipes” (Zechariah 4:2) brings your earnest desire to receive into contact with His readiness to give. Comp. James 1:5.

Now here is Peter Pett's observation on Proverbs 2:6-11:

The passage can be presented chiastically:

A For YHWH gives wisdom, out of his mouth comes knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6).

B He lays up sound wisdom for the upright, He is a shield to those who walk in integrity (Proverbs 2:7).

C That he may guard the paths of justice, and preserve the way of his saints (holy ones) (Proverbs 2:8).

B Then will you understand righteousness and justice, and equity, yes, every good path (Proverbs 2:9).

A For wisdom will enter into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul, discretion will watch over you, understanding will keep you (Proverbs 2:10-11).

Note in A the emphasis on wisdom, knowledge and understanding repeated in the parallel. In B He lays up sound wisdom for the upright, and in the parallel that sound wisdom is described. Centrally in C YHWH guards His people’s way.


Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Thanks for Reading This Blog

Just want to take a moment to thank all who read this blog, and those who provide comments or send links/sources behind the scene. I hope to post more about text-critical issues (primarily Greek) and deal with arguments that substantiate God's existence. My hat is off to those who give me energy to continue doing research and writing.



Romans 6:9 (YLT)

"knowing that Christ, having been raised up out of the dead, doth no more die, death over him hath no more lordship" (Romans 6:9 YLT)

Another scripture that would indicate some important change occurred when Christ was raised from the dead. His everlasting Father bequeathed immortality to him.

Divine Foreknowledge and Disparate Kinds of Necessity

If God foreknows that a man named Saul will persecute Jesus' followers, but later he will repent, turn around, and then become a zealous Christian himself--does God's knowledge of Saul's future actions mean that Saul necessarily carries out such activities?

While it's conceptually possible that we could say Saul will necessarily persecute Christians, but subsequently become a Christian himself--Boethius shows that we cannot rightly conclude God will cause Saul to persecute Christians, etc. For if I behold a man walking or sitting, it does not mean that the man's walking or sitting is necessary in a simple sense (i.e., it does not mean that the man's sitting or walking is caused by my visual activities or that the man's ambulatory movements cannot not happen).

If I watch an oval-track race on a hot Sunday afternoon, I do not cause the cars to travel incessantly around the track by watching the race. Similarly, even though God beholds certain future events, it seems that we cannot justly infer that His foreknowledge causes Pharaoh to act recalcitrantly or influences Peter to deny Jesus. Some might say that both Peter and Pharaoh still have the power to bring about different outcomes although God knows that they will not: He does not cause such events.

Boethius' explanation works beautifully in some ways; however, I disagree with his delineation of God's atemporality. But the distinction between conditional and simple necessity is helpful.

On the other hand, it's also difficult to understand how Boethius' explanation preserves libertarian free will. I have a similar criticism of Calvin's account.

See Boethius' work The Consolation of Philosophy 5.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Thayer's Entry for "Genea"

Various Translations of Proverbs 2:4

"and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure" (NIV)

"If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures" (NASB)

"if you seek it like silver, and search for it like hidden treasure" (NET Bible)

"If you keep seeking for it as for silver, And you keep searching for it as for hidden treasures" (NWT 2013 Rev.)

Does the Trinity Doctrine Transcend Human Reasoning? (Aquinas)

"There is a twofold mode of truth in what we profess about God. Some truths about God exceed all the ability of the human reason. Such is the truth that God is triune. But there are some truths which the natural reason also is able to reach. Such are that God exists, that He is one, and the like. In fact, such truths about God have been proved demonstratively by the philosophers, guided by the light of the natural reason" (Summa Contra Gentiles 1.3).

"Est autem in his quae de Deo confitemur duplex veritatis modus. Quaedam namque vera sunt de Deo quae omnem facultatem humanae rationis excedunt, ut Deum esse trinum et unum. Quaedam vero sunt ad quae etiam ratio naturalis pertingere potest, sicut est Deum esse, Deum esse unum, et alia huiusmodi; quae etiam philosophi demonstrative de Deo probaverunt, ducti naturalis lumine rationis."

Translation by Anton C. Pegis.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Proverbs 2:3-5 (NET Bible Notes)

2:3 indeed, if 10 you call out for 11 discernment 12 – raise your voice 13 for understanding –

2:4 if 14 you seek 15 it like silver,16 and search for it 17 like hidden treasure,

2:5 then you will understand 18 how to fear the Lord,19 and you will discover 20 knowledge 21 about God. 22


Notes 18-22

18 tn The verb בִּין (bin, “to perceive; to understand; to discern”) refers to ability to grasp, discern or be sensitive to what it means to fear the Lord.

19 tn Heb “the fear of the Lord.” The noun is an objective genitive; the Lord is to be the object of fear and reverence.

20 tn Heb “find” (so KJV, NAB, NIV, NRSV).

21 tn The term דַּעַת (da’at, “knowledge”) goes beyond cognition; it is often used metonymically (cause) for obedience (effect); see, e.g., Prov 3:6, “in all your ways acknowledge him,” and BDB 395 s.v. This means that the disciple will follow God’s moral code; for to know God is to react ethically and spiritually to his will (e.g., J. H. Greenstone, Proverbs, 18).

22 tn Heb “knowledge of God.” The noun is an objective genitive.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Proverbs 2:1 (NET Bible)

"My child, if you receive my words, and store up my commands within you," (NET)

There has been some debate about the protasis and apodosis in Proverbs 2. The NET Bible note here states:

sn Verses 1-11 form one long conditional sentence in the Hebrew text: (1) the protasis (“if…”) encompasses vv. 1-4 and (2) the apodosis (“then…”) consists of two parallel panels in vv. 5-8 and vv. 9-11 both of which are introduced by the particle אָז (’az, “then”).

On the other hand, Lange's Commentary explains:

[Proverbs 2:1 sq. DE WETTE and NOYES conceive of the first two verses as not conditional, but as containing the expression of a direct and independent wish: Oh that thou wouldest receive, etc. The LXX, Vulg., LUTHER, etc., make the first verse conditional, but find the apodosis in Proverbs 2:2. MUENSCHER finds in Proverbs 2:2 an independent condition, and not a mere sequence to the preceding; so HOLDEN, with a slightly different combination of the parts of Proverbs 2:2: If by inclining thine ear…thou wilt incline thine heart, etc. M., H., STUART and others find the apodosis of the series of conditional clauses in Proverbs 2:5, agreeing in this with the E. V. These diverse views do not essentially modify the general import of the passage. ZÖCKLER it will be observed finds the apodosis in Proverbs 2:5 and 9, Proverbs 2:6–8 being parenthetical.—A.].

Heb 11:1--A Response Once Given to a Questioner (Edited for Clarity and Content)

There are some who make a sharp distinction between faith and reason, but I question that approach. Heb. 11:1 reads: Ἔστιν δὲ πίστις ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις, πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων· (WH 1881)

Based on the Greek of this text, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that faith is somewhat synonymous with the evidence that buttresses unseen realities. Faith is therefore the same as conviction (ἔλεγχος) and it's based on strong and certain evidence. So I would provisionally define faith (and this does not encompass the whole of πίστις) as a rational acceptance of and continual trust and belief in God, His Son, and God's self-revelation. I.e., Christian faith involves human thinking that harmonizes with divine reason and godly purposes. James E. White sums up the view of Carl Henry in this matter quite well, when he pens the following words: "Truths must not contradict each other, and derived theorems must be self-consistent. Rational consistency as a test for truth is necessary for presuppositionalism to avoid lapsing into fideism" (White 103).

Authentic divine revelation must not have contradictory elements, and fideism should not be mistaken for genuine faith. If Jehovah's self-disclosure is true--in an absolute sense--then His self-disclosure should not/must not violate the law of non-contradiction.

Since writing this reply, I now understand the statement about "derived theorems" much better than I once did; the derivation of theorems from axioms is an interesting study in se. I believe Euclid derived thirteen volumes of theorems known as the Elements from just five axioms. One desideratum of logic and faith, it appears, is to derive only self-consistent theorems.