Saturday, October 08, 2016

LALEI (Hebrews 11:4)

λαλεῖ in Heb. 11:4 is a present indicative active 3rd singular verb form. But are we to assume that Abel still literally spoke in the first century CE because the writer of Hebrews uses the present form in that verse? Of course, those who believe in some type of intermediate state will possibly contend that Abel yet speaks in that way. However, one could understand 11:4 to mean that Abel speaks through his faithful example in association with the sacrifices that he presented to YHWH long ago:

"And by it, he being dead, yet speaketh; good men die, and some of them die a violent death, as did Abel, yet he speaks in the Scriptures, which have a voice in them, (Luke 16:29) or by his blood, which calls for vengeance; or rather by, or because of his faith, though he is dead, 'he is yet spoken of', as the word may be rendered" (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible).

On the other hand, Henry Alford insists that Abel speaks by means of his shed blood (Hebrews 12:24; Compare Gen. 4:10). Just because Hebrews employs present verb forms does not have to mean that the writer is referring to those contemporaneous with him.


Duncan said...

Luke 11:50-51 - a prophet, but we have no account of how he spoke.

Edgar Foster said...

Admittedly, there are such ironies/"mysteries" in the Bible. For example, Abel never spoke a word in the scriptural account of Genesis while he was alive, yet he speaks (prophetically) through his death (martyrdom). Noah is also called a "preacher of righteousness," but we have no idea what the content of his message was. And does Noah ever speak?

Does Abraham (the first person identified as a prophet in the Bible) ever truly prophesy, in the sense of foretelling the future? I'm aware that a prophet chiefly speaks God's will; in that sense, Abraham undoubtedly prophesies.

Edgar Foster said...

I was going from memory earlier, but I later recalled that Noah definitely speaks, but we don't know the content of his message.

Duncan said...

"prophesy, in the sense of foretelling the future" - this is something that I have not looked into in detail yet but what I remember from how prophets are described in Judges & Kings it did not seem that future prediction was it primary purpose. Could it be that patterns of behavior always lead to similar, predictable conclusions? Luke 17:26.

Is it that history (of human affairs) usually does repeat itself?

One thing that I find interesting is Heb 12:24. 11:4 does not mention the sprinkling of blood - this is something associated with the Levitical method.

So is 12:24 referring to the sacrifice of Abel or Abel's death?

Edgar Foster said...

My comment was based on the Insight book entry for prophecy. It makes a similar observation like you state above. But Luke 17:26 doesn't mean the days of the parousia of the Son of man would be exactly like Noah's days, but the statement is meant to be a comparative one.

If universal determinism is false, then patterns of behavior can't always have predictable conclusions. If we have free choice or anything akin to counterfactual freedom, then actions likewise cannot always be 100% predictable.

On the other hand, I have no problem with saying history repeats itself in a sense. Yet I do not infer deterministic implications from events being repeated (as it were) through time.

In 12:24, the sprinkled blood refers to Christ's sacrifice. It too utters speech, but in a better way than Abel's blood (referring to Abel being slain by Cain), which likely cries for vengeance.

Duncan said...

This is how environment affects group decisions. I do draw a line before referring to individual decision to some extent. I am wary of "Environmental determinism" as traditionally understood.

Civilisations and agriculture do seem to go hand in hand along with the detrimental environmental effects. Personal decisions do seem to be in a very restricted framework but I agree universal determinism has to be rejected.

Edgar Foster said...

We've discussed free will/determinism before, and I guess my position hasn't changed on the subject since then. Somehow, I believe, we make free choices or have free volition although no one is sure how it works. We also have to factor in genetics, environment, brain states, divine direction, moods, biochemistry and our physical diet; moreover, we're sinners.

Why did I choose to marry the person I did or choose to live at my current residence? Natural factors might account for these decisions, but I believe my choices were also free. More importantly, if the moral decision I make are not free in the relevant sense, then it's hard to understand how I can be held responsible for my actions. In the words of scripture, 'I put life and death before you . . . choose'

Duncan said...

It is very complex but a number of factors seem to be connected.

genetics (diet is the largest controller of gene expression including epigenetics from parents)
environment (usually degraded by civilization and it disconnect from the land)
brain states (highly susceptible to nutrition & environment & social structure)
moods (highly susceptible to nutrition nutrition & environment & social structure)
biochemistry (highly susceptible to nutrition end environment & social structure)

Sins visited on the Third and Fourth Generation do seem to correlate with epigenetics.

'I put life and death before you . . . choose' is true but Jehovah provided a tool & an environment with which to choose. It seems that it is becoming the same today but diet and environment are important parts of this mix which the Torah did cater for in a traveling nation through a wilderness. The driving factors for these decision are scientifically driven and evidence based research does make the guide seem more and more practical in its approach.

Being drawn by Jehovah does seem to be the element that cuts through the physics but if the tools and environment are not utilized then that draw can ultimately fail. Those who fall away due to mental illness (which is actually misleading as it is still part of the body & fully integrated) are at the mercy of the elements as yet unaddressed, not excluding other factors.

Duncan said...

"Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, messenger of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died." - could have a wholly medical interpretation - especially if he was eating swine.

Edgar Foster said...

We're getting away from the subject of Abel, but I want to make a couple of quick remarks now and I'll say more later.

1) What peer-reviewed medical journal backs claim 1, namely, that diet is the largest controller of gene expression, etc.?

2) Biochemistry also affects brain states as does one's physical health (pain, arthritis, broken bones)

3) The NT gives wide latitude to eat what we please. It's not exactly like Torah, but in some ways, a break from Torah.

4) I still contend that we must possess counterfactual freedom that's not governed by deterministic or possibly, environmental influences. We must have genuine choice to be held accountable for our choices, whether good or bad. See Rom. 14:12.

Edgar Foster said...

In harmony with the context/setting, a wholly medical interpretation of Acts 12:23 doesn't seem likely. I believe we're almost certainly to understand the event as a supernaturally-induced one. Compare 2 Macc 9:1-9. Also Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 17.6.

Duncan said...

This is just scratching the surface but I do not expect an article in a peer reviewed medical journal any time soon (as I keep saying - follow the money). Where is the profit in showing that diet can treat illness? What motivates the peers, altruism and the pursuit of truth ?

The most interesting studies are the ones using identical twins with a genetic predisposition. How diet turns on or off the expression.

As for your item 2 the "gut brain" relationship and most physical health comes back to diet whether that be our own or our parents or even our great grand parents.

Arthritis see

The research that is currently in progress and the subsequent meta analysis on all the major ailments are converging on one conclusion - it's the food.

I recommend reading this book:-

Where exactly does the NT specifically give the latitude to which you are referring?

This is the point I find most interesting turning this question on it self and asking what effect does food production have on climate change and the environment in general?

Duncan said...

Duncan said...

1 Corinthians 8 states the things sacrificed to idols - not animals sacrificed to idols.

John E. Stambaugh writes that meat "was scarce except at sacrifices and the dinner parties of the rich.". Is it any wonder that the letter to the "Romans" even brings up the subject - but the question still remains, what type of meat?

Lev 3 & 4 - the fat.

Duncan said...

Duncan said...

Duncan said...

2 Macc 9:1-9. Also Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 17.6. - Are the inspired accounts or observational interpretation of actual events?

Duncan said...

YLT Lev 26:16 I also do this to you, and I have appointed over you trouble, the consumption, and the burning fever, consuming eyes, and causing pain of soul; and your seed in vain ye have sowed, and your enemies have eaten it;

Duncan said...

Edgar Foster said...


My point is that the NT does not have dietary laws or forbid the eating of meat. In 1 Cor. 8, the "things" offered to idols undoubtedly are/include meat that was sacrificed. Compare 1 Cor. 10:25:

Πᾶν τὸ ἐν μακέλλῳ πωλούμενον ἐσθίετε μηδὲν ἀνακρίνοντες διὰ τὴν συνείδησιν·

We also have Romans 14:21: καλὸν τὸ μὴ φαγεῖν κρέα μηδὲ πιεῖν οἶνον μηδὲ ἐν ᾧ ὁ ἀδελφός σου προσκόπτει.

Leviticus is beautiful, but Christians are not obligated to follow the dictates of Lev. 3 & 4. Christ is the telos of Torah.

Of course I don't believe Maccabees or Josephus are inspired, but I present them for purposes of comparison, to show that worms coming from someone's body who had been slain by the deity or his angel would naturally be taken as somehow connected to divine retribution.

Duncan said...

For telos compare Romans 6:22, 1 Timothy 1:5, 1 Peter 1:9.

Duncan said...

I never claimed that the NT forbid the eating of meat but where does it sanction the eating of anything other than the accepted meat.

Most meat eaten in Israel would have been the byproduct of sacrifice or Passover but we still need to bear in mind Isaiah 1:11, How 6:6, Hos 8:13 lxx is of particular note.

Duncan said...

Edgar Foster said...

As I'm sure you'll agree, like other words, telos has different senses that rely on the context of utterance/writing. It can mean "goal, end, purpose, function, termination" and so forth. We have to read the term in context. As I encounter telos and what the NT states about Christ, I see good evidence for the law's termination, including its dietary laws and sacrifices.

All of the OT texts you cite were composed while the law was still in effect. With all due respect, where is the NT evidence for limiting what meats we consume as Christians, with the exception of foods sacrificed to idols, meat that has not been properly bled or animal products that just clearly are not healthy? 1 Tim. 4:1-5 seems to clearly demonstrate that we're not limited by the meats that Israel consumed in ancient times.

Edgar Foster said...

The article referenced at the last link you sent, appears to run roughshod over plenty of biblical evidence that includes Acts 10 (nowhere mentioned) and 1 Tim 4:1-5 (also not mentioned in the article). Furthermore, to insist that we're still obligated to keep levitical dietary laws seems beyond the pale. I'm sorry, but it's difficult for me to accept suggestions that Christians remain bound to dietary laws.

Edgar Foster said...


Use search term "foodstuff" to see what the author writes about 1 Cor. 10:25-26.

Duncan said...

I think you are missing the main thrust of the arguments - Where is the evidence of pagan meat markets that bled ANY meat properly. How much of it would be called "bush meat" today. How much strangled or speared and then cut up. No Labels to tell you what is good and what is not. The only way the account can work in a diaspora Jewish community & it proselytes is that we are talking about a Jewish market. How else could he make a blanket statement like that?

Your comments were clearly to preempt this reply but I do not see how it can possibly work. The remainder of your comments are arguing by omission which does not preclude something so embedded in the culture being assumed.

If we are talking about Torah then we are not talking about Law (Jesus demonstrates this repeatedly - and later references could well be alluding to the oral Torah as supported by the pharisees - like the washing of hands method), there is a significant difference.

If someones life depended on eating bad meat how would Jehovah judge them?

I sure he would not but they would still be harmed by the action.

Bad meats vary from country to country but the outcomes of eating them in this day and age are still the same, no matter how clever we think we have become.

If you have no choice but to eat it, then eat it but true Torah (path as oppose to leaving the path or missing the mark) tells us that it is there to benefit and guide. My main point is that the dietary guidelines are sound within a modern scientific framework (If you have to eat meat then do not eat the fat being just one point that is clear).

The massive environmental harm of livestock manufacture is another issue related to those ruining the earth (it is proven the largest single greenhouse contributor - methane being 50 times more potent than CO2). This is not Guilt by Association when one becomes aware of the facts and we are now aware of the facts.

As already referenced the idea of sacrifice as part of Torah was already being pushed out & most of that mechanism functioned as a limiter on how much meat and what types the nation could consume (a protection of which the principles still very much apply).

The principles of Torah cannot be overturned without consequences. As you say it is not "Law" but it never was and conscience is a factor.

Duncan said...

Does Paul's vision have anything to do with literal foodstuff's?

How later Christians interpret this is not at issue since many things get muddled but the outcomes remain the same.

Clement's parents seem to have been wealthy pagans of some social standing. So how do you think he is going to interpret if given the latitude - it's human nature. As the experts in the nutrition field state - a diet book is always going to sell well if it say its ok to eat bacon.

"it not as bad as actually smoking" - I suppose that makes it ok then :)

Duncan said...

Of course there is nothing here to exclude the issue of new animals in the diet and which ones were deemed clean or unclean in the Corinthian region which could have been a controversy but understanding the principles of Torah and observation should have solved this quite easily.

Edgar Foster said...

Corinth (as you know) was a 1st century Greek city. So why limit his counsel to Jews/proselytes? Where is the evidence for widespread Jewish markets in the Greek city of Corinth? Additionally, the apostle's concern in 1 Cor. 10:25 appears to be whether the meat has been sacrificed to idols, not whether the meat has been bled properly or at all. Of course, he obviously knew about the Acts 15:29 injunction, but I don't believe his counsel is primarily or exclusively being given to Jews/Jewish proselytes.

Torah is law or includes the law. The term is ambiguous, but it certainly encompasses law. Where we may differ is that I believe the law/Torah is holy, good, and righteous. We also can benefit from the principles of law/Torah. However, Christians are not bound by the law/Torah. It may not be the wisest decision to eat the fat of animals, and we might have to take local custom for handling meat into consideration, but if my brother/sister wants to consume fat--more power to them from a divine legal standpoint. We should not be arguing over diets or judging others based on diets they choose.

Torah includes law, and the oral Torah was never inspired anyway. The Jews were obligated to keep Torah; Christians have no such obligation.

Edgar Foster said...

Paul's vision? Which one? As for Clement, it's one comment among others that the article makes. Yet I believe we cannot simply ignore what the pre/post Nicenes wrote. They got many things wrong, but not everything. Besides, it's not only Clement who sheds light on 1 Cor. 10:25. Read Chrysostom too (his homilies on Corinthians).

I hate to say it, but a healthy does of skepticism doesn't hurt sometimes. :)

Personally, I love bacon, but hardly ever consume it because of the sodium levels in bacon. On the other hand, I wouldn't compare having a piece or two of bacon to smoking. And it's hard for me to see why Jehovah is going to adversely judge someone for eating some bacon every once in a while.

"Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ" (Colossians 2:16-17 NIV).

Edgar Foster said...

For more on the meat market, of which archaeological evidence has been found, see

Duncan said...

Where is the evidence for widespread Jewish markets in the Greek city of Corinth? - we do not need any and we only need one market - it is the sellers that are of importance.

Edgar Foster said...

Evidence has been found for many markets. But the markets I know about were Greek ones or thrived in a Hellenistic setting..

Duncan said...

Duncan said...

Sow where did the Jews at the synagog get their meat from?

Duncan said...

Duncan said...

One also has to look at Jesus example of healing ailments stating "your sins are forgiven".

Duncan said...

Duncan said...

Edgar Foster said...

I'm not denying that Jews lived in Corinthi or had communities there. Nevertheless, the question is Paul's audience for 1 Corinthians. I don't think his message was chiefly or exclusively directed to Jews in Corinth. Numerous remarks that he makes confirms that point.

I'm not sure what Jesus' utterance has to do with our discussion.

One could either buy kosher meat or decide to eat vegetables. Again, I never claimed that kosher meat was unavailable in Corinth.

One recent commentary on 2 Corinthians states:

According to Strabo, Caesar colonized the city with persons belonging predominately to the “freedman class” and with some soldiers.5 As a result the city had a mixed ethnic population that included descendants from the original Greek population, as well as former slaves from everywhere in the world— Egypt, Syria, Judea, and elsewhere.

Garland, David. 2 Corinthians: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary Book 29) (Kindle Location 378). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Additionally, Corinth was evidently more Roman than Jewish although it must be understood within its Hellenistic context. The commentary adds:

Because it was a Roman colony, Corinth was posh. Stansbury observes, "The city's position in relation to the sea made it comparable to an advantageously located island. Its attachment to the mainland made it viable as an administrative center."7

Garland, David. 2 Corinthians: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary Book 29) (Kindle Locations 383-385). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Garland, David. 2 Corinthians: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary Book 29) (Kindle Locations 375-378). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Duncan said...