Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tertullian on the Joy That Results from Watching People Suffer Eternal Punishment (Spectacles 30)

What a panorama of spectacle on that day! Which sight shall excite my wonder? Which, my laughter? Where shall I rejoice, where exult--as I see so many and so mighty kings, whose ascent to heaven used to be made known by public announcement, now along with Jupiter himself, along with the very witnesses of their ascent, groaning in the depths of darkness? Governors of provinces, too, who persecuted the name of the Lord, melting in flames fiercer than those they themselves kindled in their rage against the Christians braving them with contempt?

Whom else shall I behold? Those wise philosophers blushing before their followers as they burn together, the followers whom they taught that the world is no concern of God's whom they assured that either they had no souls at all or that what souls they had would never return to their former bodies? The poets also, trembling, not before the judgment seat of Rhadamanthus or of Minos, but of Christ whom they did not expect to meet.

Then will the tragic actors be worth hearing, more vocal in their own catastrophe; then the comic actors will be worth watching, more lither of limb in the fire; then the charioteer will be worth seeing, red all over on his fiery wheel; then the athletes will be worth observing, not in their gymnasiums, but thrown about by fire--unless I might not wish to look at them even then but would prefer to turn an insatiable gaze on those who vented their rage on the Lord.

"This is He," I will say, "the son of the carpenter and the harlot, the sabbath-breaker, the Samaritan who had a devil. This is He whom you purchased from Judas, this is He who was struck with reed and fist, defiled with spittle, given gall and vinegar to drink. This is He whom the disciples secretly stole away to spread the story of His resurrection, or whom the gardener removed lest his lettuces be trampled by the throng of curious idlers."

What praetor or consul or quaestor or priest with all his munificence will ever bestow on you the favor of beholding and exulting in such sights? Yet, such scenes as these are in a measure already ours by faith in the vision of the spirit. But what are those things which "eye has not seen nor ear heard and which have not entered into the heart of man"? Things of greater delight, I believe, than circus, both kinds of theater, and any stadium.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Comments on 1 John 5:20 (Omar)


You asked about the prepositions used in 1 John 5:20, and why NWT renders the verse the way it does. The verse reads in WH: οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ἥκει, καὶ δέδωκεν ἡμῖν διάνοιαν ἵνα γινώσκομεν τὸν ἀληθινόν· καί ἐσμεν ἐν τῷ ἀληθινῷ, ἐν τῷ υἱῷ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ. οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἀληθινὸς θεὸς καὶ ζωὴ αἰώνιος.

Others may havbe some points to add, and I might have more to say as well. But here are some initial comments that might help:

Benson Commentary: and we are in him that is true — In his favour, and in a state of union and fellowship with him; even — This particle is not in the Greek; in — Or rather; through; his Son Jesus Christ — Through whose mediation alone we can have access to, or intercourse with, the Father.

Barnes' Notes on the Bible: And we are in him that is true - That is, we are united to him; we belong to him; we are his friends. This idea is often expressed in the Scriptures by being "in him." It denotes a most intimate union, as if we were one with him - or were a part of him - as the branch is in the vine, John 15:4, John 15:6. The Greek construction is the same as that applied to "the wicked one," 1 John 5:19, (ἐν τῷ ἀληθινᾧ en tō alēthinō.)

Tyndale's NT (1 John 5:20-21):

We know that the son of God is come, and hath given us a mind to know him which is true: and we are in him that is true, through his son Iesu Christ. This same is very God, and eternal life. Babes keep yourselves from images. Amen.

Williams-New Testament in the Language of the People:

"And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us insight to recognize the True One; and we are in union with the True One through His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life."

See http://defendingthenwt.blogspot.com/2010/11/translating-in.html

See Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon here: http://biblehub.com/greek/1722.htm

Notice what entry 6b says.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Tripartite Anthropology and Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

Charles Ryrie (whom I understand to be a dispensationalist) apparently does not interpret 1 Thess. 5:23 in a tripartite manner. He seems to openly rejects a tripartite interpretation of humanity for 1 Thess. 5:23. And he is not alone. David J. Williams writes: "One would be hard pressed to draw a distinction between spirit and soul; and, while it may be easier to distinguish between spirit and body, the biblical notion of the wholeness of our being must be kept in view" (1 and 2 Thessalonians, p. 103).

Simply put, Williams rejects the tripartite interpretation of this verse as does Ryrie. Gen. 2:7 also seems to militate against any tripartite understanding of humanity. So those who believe in soul and body can make some kind of distinction between body, soul, and spirit or they can equate the soul with the human spirit. I've also seen theologians of Christendom define "spirit" as the vital force for humans and animals. But they try to argue that the human spirit differs from the spirit of animals.

Henry Alford on 1 Thessalonians 5:23:

τὸ πν. κ. ἡ ψυχ. κ. τὸ σῶμα] τὸ πνεῦμα is the spirit, the highest and distinctive part of man, the immortal and responsible soul, in our common parlance: ἡ ψυχή is the lower or animal soul, containing the passions and desires (αιτία κινήσεως ζωικῆς ζώων, Plato, Deff. p. 411), which we have in common with the brutes, but which in us is ennobled and drawn up by the πνεῦμα. That St. Paul had these distinctions in mind, is plain (against Jowett) from such places as 1 Corinthians 2:14. The spirit, that part whereby we are receptive of the Holy Spirit of God, is, in the unspiritual man, crushed down and subordinated to the animal soul (ψυχή): he therefore is called ψυχικὸς πνεῦμα μὴ ἔχων, Jude 1:19: see also note on 1 Cor. as above.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Upcoming Material About Caragounis and Porter

Now that summer is here, my work schedule has changed, and I am able to do other things besides work in the classroom and grade papers. I want to take the next few weeks to closely analyze Chrys Caragounis' critique of Stanley Porter's work regarding aspect. That will be the primary focus of my blog activity for the next 3-4 weeks. So while I'll be blogging about other issues, I just wanted to let readers know what my chief focus will be.

Stanley Porter Reviews Daniel B. Wallace's Book on Sharp's Rule

Porter is harsh on Wallace in certain parts of the review. See http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/56/56-1/JETS_56-1_93-100_Porter.pdf

Some good points are made about Sharp's Rule.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Addressing Other Questions Pertaining to Ruach and Christian Materialism

Regarding RUACH: What makes us justified in believing that the import of RUACH in Psalm 146:4; Ecclesiastes 12:7 is different from the import of RUACH in Psalm 104:29-30; Ecclesiastes 3:19-22, especially when Qoheleth writes that man and beast have "one spirit" and the same eventuality? My question is a linguistic rather than a theological one. I believe that we must be as objective as possible about defining words and exegeting texts. Ecclesiastes 3:19-22 is very compelling evidence that man and beast have the same RUACH or vital force. Of course, RUACH has different meanings in other contexts.

The meaning of RUACH is going to depend on the setting of the passage we're examining. Its basic denotations are "spirit, wind or breath." In Ecclesiastes 3:19-22; 12:7 and Psalm 104:29; 146:4, I believe that it denotes "life force." My understanding of "life force" is harmonious with the view presented in Insight on the Scriptures II:1025: the word "life force" refers to that energy or vitality which is active in our body's cells.

Concerning Christian materialism: Not all Christian materialists hold the same beliefs about human uniqueness. From the perspective of science, the way our brains have developed (especially the neocortex) makes us unique in terms of rationality, language, and spirituality. At the present time, I have no good reasons for attributing my spiritual appetite or my rational and sociable nature to anything but neurobiological processes. If there is something else that explains human uniqueness, it seems to go beyond the purview of empirical and naturalistic science. But you will find divergent views of materialism/physicalism among those who consider themselves Christian. And while Witnesses don't technically label themselves as "Christian materialists," I've just found that it's a convenient way to describe what I/we believe.

Finally, it's interesting to think about the role that the human body has qua identity. The Apostle Paul painstakingly outlines a position that says the body raised is not the same corpus as the body that was sown in death (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). While his inspired comments apply to those raised to immortal life in the heavens, based on what we seem to know about the resurrection of Christ and others, those resurrected in the new earth will probably have bodies that look similar to those bodies that were sown. In other words, God will not bring the same (exact) body to life that one had in this world.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Isaiah, Daniel, and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Patrick Zuckeran)

These quotes originate with Zuckeran:

The Dead Sea Scrolls provided further proof that the Old Testament canon existed prior to the third century B.C. Thousands of manuscript fragments from all the Old Testament books except Esther were found predating Christ's birth, and some date as early as the third century B.C. For example, portions from the book of Samuel date that early, and fragments from Daniel date to the second century B.C. Portions from the twelve Minor Prophets date from 150 B.C. to 25 B.C. Since the documents were found to be identical with our Masoretic Text, we can be reasonably sure that our Old Testament is the same one that the Essenes were studying and working from.

One of the most important Dead Sea documents is the Isaiah Scroll. This twenty-four foot long scroll is well preserved and contains the complete book of Isaiah. The scroll is dated 100 B.C. and contains one of the clearest and most detailed prophecies of the Messiah in chapter fifty-three, called the "Suffering Servant." Although some Jewish scholars teach that this refers to Israel, a careful reading shows that this prophecy can only refer to Christ.


Before the discovery of the scrolls, critical scholars argued that the Aramaic language used in Daniel was from a time no earlier than 167 B.C. during the Maccabean period. Other scholars, such as well-respected archaeologist Kenneth Kitchen, studied Daniel and found that ninety percent of Daniel's Aramaic vocabulary was used in documents from the fifth century B.C. or earlier. The Dead Sea Scrolls revealed that Kitchen's conclusion was well founded. The Aramaic language used in the Dead Sea Scrolls proved to be very different from that found in the book of Daniel. Old Testament scholars have concluded that the Aramaic in Daniel is closer to the form used in the fourth and fifth century B.C. than to the second century B.C.

To read the entire article, see https://bible.org/article/dead-sea-scrolls

Compare http://biblicalstudies.org.uk/blog/prof-kenneth-kitchen-on-the-aramaic-of-daniel/#.V2XOfaLVvQo

A Dialogue on the Condition of the Dead

My interlocutor's statements will appear in quotation marks, and they are in block quotation form. I'll indicate where my responses are.

Edgar: Gen 2:7 does not say that Adam 'became a living spirit.' The Hebrew word, as you know, is NEPHESH. It refers to a human person, an animal, or the life which an animal or human experiences.

"No, the word is 'Neshamah'. Animals have a nefesh, but they do not have a neshamah."

RESPONSE: May I suggest that you look at the verse again. Gen 2:7 does not say that Adam *became* a "Neshamah" but that he came to be a NEPHESH ("Adam chay nephesh"). Furthermore, animals are said to *be* creatures or souls. An animal, in other words, does not simply possess a NEPHESH but *is* one (Num 31:26-28). Additionally, Gen 7:22 certainly indicates that animals have NESHAMAH: "All in whose nostrils [was] the breath [NESHAMAH] of life, of all that [was] in the dry [land], died.

"The Neshamah, according to Jewish tradition, is that part of the spiritual man that transcends the nefesh (or soul - which even animals have) and the ruach (spirit - which animals don't have) and gets even closer to the essence of who a man is than even the ruach/spirit. Animals have neither a neshamah nor a ruach/spirit, but they do have a nefesh/soul."

RESPONSE: According to Scripture, animals have a NESHAMAH (Gen 7:22; Ps 150:6); RUACH (Eccl 3:19-21) and they are souls (Gen 1:21-24; Rev 16:3).

"2 Cor 5:1 says 'If the earthly tent we live in is destroyed....' 'We' here lives in a 'tent', thus, the 'tent' is not part of 'we'. It also says ...

RESPONSE: The verse does not actually say that "we" are not part of our respective tents. Nor does Gen 2:7 make such a claim. What the first book of the Pentateuch does say, however (in perfect harmony with 2 Cor 5:1), is that the body + the breath of life (NESHAMAH) together constitute the human person (i.e., "we"). The person = the soul, that is, the union of body and NESHAMAH make up the human NEPHESH. Without either element, "we" would not exist as persons.

"'when we are clothed, we will not be found naked' (2 Cor 5:3) [and] 'You clothe me in skin and flesh' (Job 10:11)"

RESPONSE: The body is [metaphorical] clothing, to be sure. That does not mean that the body is merely a temporary house for the spirit of man. Without my "clothing," I cease to be a "living soul" (NEPHESH) and become an unconscious carcass or corpse (i.e., a dead soul). Eccl 9:5 relates that the dead know nothing. Jesus affirms this teaching in Jn 11:11-14. The dead sleep the sleep of AQANATOS (Ps 13:3) until God calls them forth from Sheol. Interestingly, Paul does not say that he will become incorporeal after death. He envisions being given, though he states it in a conditional way, a new building out of heaven from God, an eternal house in the very heavens of God's presence (2 Cor 5:1-2). Similar to the teaching of Tertullian, Paul believes that the resurrected dead who see God and become like Him will possess spiritual bodies suited to their new heavenly environment (1 Jn 3:1-3).

"So our flesh is something we wear - like clothing - but our clothes are not us. Revelation also uses this language. We also find the idea that man is a spiritual being living in a fleshly body promoted in numerous ancient Jewish writings (e.g. Zohar I (on Bereshit), 20b )."

RESPONSE: Neither the flesh nor the NESHAMAH is "us." It is the unity of BASAR and NESHAMAH that constitutes the human person. Without a brain, there is no human consciousness, mind or spirit. As the psalmist writes, when man's RUACH goes out, he returns to the dust and his thoughts cease (Ps 146:3-4).

Is the Lamb of Revelation Vulnerable or Militaristic (Dr. Loren Johns)

Dr. Loren Johns once wrote a piece entitled "The Lamb in the Rhetorical Program of the Apocalypse of John." In this work, building on previous research, he argued that Christ is portrayed as a Lamb in Revelation to depict his vulnerability or unconventional way of conquering his enemies. Johns reads the Apocalypse through Mennonite lenses which supplies a unique interpretation of the Bible's last book, but his reading of the Johannine text is highly implausible to me. Granted, God is said to hate those who love violence (Psalm 11:5) and the Son of God exhorted his followers to avoid living by the sword lest they perish by it (Matthew 26:52). But Revelation descriptively narrates God and the Lamb waging war (call it violently if you wish) against the enemies of YHWH (17:16-17; 19:11-21; 20:1-10). However, I still find Dr. Johns' use of classical rhetoric to be instructive.

See http://www.ambs.edu/ljohns/LambRPAJ.htm

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Questions Regarding Hylomorphic/Thomist Souls

Does the hylomorphic soul (as conceived by Aquinas and the Church) contemplate God while subsisting in the intermediate state between death and the resurrection? Would not the activity of contemplation also raise some questions about the post-mortem soul's condition? Finally, I would question whether the soul alone would be enough to preserve a person's numerical identity since the body and soul are believed to be separated at death. Moreover, it still remains a mystery how the body that's reunited with the soul in the resurrection turns out to be numerically identical with the body that existed prior to death. I am aware of Aquinas' explanation for the preservation of numerical identity despite the body's decay (its return to the dust), but his account has been criticized by Kevin Corcoran and other philosophers who interpret gaps in existence as possible grounds for the recreation or reconstitution of something new.

Let's imagine S accidentally makes a whole burnt-offering of his prestigious 2nd-century papyrus fragment from ancient Egypt. Assuming that the fragment is utterly consumed, would we still identify a reconstituted fragment (the same atom for atom) as the numerically identical object which underwent an accidental burning? My point is that dualists and physicalists must take pains to supply a coherent narrative about the resurrected body, whether it's spirit or flesh. Dualists cannot rightly assert that Christian physicalists lack the adequate resources for explaining a bodily resurrection: the former have not supplied a thorough and satisfactory account of the resurrection either.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Brief Thought on Satan and Free Will

We've discussed the possible referent of 2 Cor. 4:4. I still believe it's Satan, whereas some argue that Jehovah (YHWH) is the god of this age (world). Let's assume that Paul is referring to Satan. The verse states that the god of this world blinds the minds of the unbelievers. I used to wonder how Jehovah could allow Satan to blind someone's mind from the good news about the Christ. How can God punish someone who does not accept the truth, if he allowed Satan to blind their minds?

I've since learned that Satan can only blind the minds of those, who do not love divine truth. Paul writes:

"And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 ASV).

Jehovah allows the desires of their hearts to be fulfilled, in accordance with their free choice.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Catholic NABRE Footnote on Luke 17:21

[17:21] Among you: the Greek preposition translated as among can also be translated as “within.” In the light of other statements in Luke's gospel about the presence of the kingdom (see Lk 10:9, 11; 11:20) “among” is to be preferred.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Reading List for the Subject of Free Will (From Spring Semester 2014)

PHI 318 (Spring Semester 2014)-List of Readings for the Semester

January 23-28: “Free Will, Praise and Blame” (J. J. C. Smart); “Towards a Reasonable Libertarianism” (David Wiggins) in Watson.

“Compatibilism” (John Martin Fischer) and “Hard Compatibilism” (Derk Pereboom) in Four Views

January 30-February 4: “Are We Free to Break the Laws” (David Lewis); “Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility” (Harry G. Frankfurt), and “Libertarianism and Frankfurt's Attack on the Principle of Alternative Possibilities” (David Widerker) in Watson.

February 6-11: “Revisionism” (Manuel Vargas); “Response to Fischer, Pereboom, and Vargas” (Robert Kane) in Four Views.

February 13-18: “The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility” (Galen Strawson); “Toward a Credible Agent-Causal Account of Free Will” (Randolph Clarke) in Watson.

February 20-27: “Response to Kane, Pereboom, and Vargas” (John Martin Fischer); “Response to Kane, Fischer, and Vargas” (Derk Pereboom); “Response to Kane, Fischer, and Pereboom” (Manuel Vargas) in Four Views.

March 1-6: “Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person” (Harry G. Frankfurt); “Free Agency” (Gary Watson); “The Significance of Choice” (T. M. Scanlon) in Watson.

March 7-13: “Sanity and the Metaphysics of Responsibility” (Susan Wolf); “Freedom of Will and Freedom of Action” (Rogers Albritton); “Addiction as Defect of the Will: Some Philosophical Reflections” (R. Jay Wallace) in Watson.

March 14-20: “On the Free Choice of the Will” (Augustine), pages 3-30; Aristotle in Pereboom, 1-4.

March 21-27: “On the Free Choice of the Will” (Augustine), pages 30-72; Stoics in Pereboom, 5-16.

March 28-April 3: “On the Free Choice of the Will” (Augustine), 72-126; Lucretius in Pereboom, 17-18 and Aquinas, pages 34-42 (ibid.).

April 4-10: “On Grace and Free Choice” (Augustine), pages 141-184; Aquinas in Pereboom, pages 43-56.

April 11-17: “On the Gift of Perseverance,” 225-245; Spinoza in Pereboom, pages 57-75.

April 18-24: Hume, pages 76-104; Kant in Pereboom, 105-129.

April 25-May 1: Thomas Reid, 130-138; Ayer in Pereboom, 139-147.

Explaining Consciousness By Using (Christian) Physicalism

A number of philosophers argue that consciousness cannot in principle be explained by materialist/physicalist methods. They believe that subjectivity is not amenable to a physicalist explanation.

I self-identify as a Christian materialist, which means that while I believe spirits exist (God, angels, and resurrected spirit beings), I do not believe in immortal souls nor do I think the human sphere contains a "mental" or spiritual component. In other words, I reject the existence of an immortal soul or a res cogitans as Rene Descartes famously expressed matters. It seems that humans are purely physical: we do not have non-material souls or spirits.

Scientific work is just beginning (in earnest) on questions pertaining to consciousness and subjectivity. The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has written books that possibly attempt to integrate free will and a physicalist account of the self. He and Hanna Damasio (along with many others) have extensively studied the case of Phineas Gage, and what it might tell us about mentality. See Descartes' Error by Antonio Damasio. There's also a book that I'll start reading soon entitled The Neuroscience of Freedom and Creativity: Our Predictive Brain written by Joaquin M. Fuster (Cambridge Press). Joel B. Green has also published works that partly analyze the role of brain activity in our mental life. Admittedly though, much work needs to be done in this area. But I would not agree that science lacks the resources in principle to explain memory (for instance) or pain in physicalist terms, since joint pain could be explained by the overabundance of uric acid or the wearing away of cartilage.

Long-term memory can be explained by the hippocampus or the fight/flight response could be explained by the amygdala. As for free will, Nancey Murphy addresses that question. She demonstrates the possibility that free will could exist even though we might be purely material beings. Physicalists have worked on qualia too, with no definitive result. It's still an open question just what qualia are. Almost every writer that I've read in the philosophy of mind accepts the existence of qualia. However, there's no unanimous consensus respecting how we experience "raw feels" or subjective sensations. Does dualism fully address this question? Not to my knowledge. Dualism offers suggestions for how mentality works, just like Christian physicalism does. Neither approach definitively explains consciousness.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Aquinas Responds to the Question: Did the Godhead of Jesus Die? (FYI)

The grace of God is so great and His love for us is such that we cannot understand what He has done for us. Now, we must believe that, although Christ suffered death, yet His Godhead did not die; it was the human nature in Christ that died. For He did not die as God, but as man.[2]

This will be clear from two examples, one of which is taken from himself. Now, when a man dies, in the separation of the soul from the body the soul does not die but the body or flesh does die. So also in the death of Christ, His Divinity did not die, but His man nature suffered death. But if the Jews did not slay the Divinity of Christ, it would seem that their sin was not any greater than if they killed any ordinary man. In answering this we say that it is as if a king were clothed only in one garment, and if someone befouled this garment, such a one has committed as grave a crime as if he had defiled the king himself. Likewise, although the Jews could not slay God, yet in putting to death the human nature which Christ assumed, they were as severely punished as if they had put the Godhead itself to death. Another example is had from what we said before, viz., that the Son of God is the Word of God, and the Word of God made flesh is like the word of a king written on paper.[3] So if one should tear this royal paper in pieces, it would be considered that he had rent apart the word of the king. Thus, the sin of the Jews was as grievous as if they had slain the Word of God.

See http://jimmyakin.com/the-catechism-of-st-thomas-aquinas-the-fourth-article

Partial Letter to a Friend Concerning God's Organization

I'm only quoting part of my email in order to keep certain things confidential:

Granted, Jehovah's Witnesses believe they (we) are God's organization and sole channel for [biblical] truth on the earth. However, the brothers recognize that the Catholic Church (for example) is responsible for preserving quite a bit of scripture that has come down to us. What about all of the biblical scholarship that takes place in Christendom? Do we not use and benefit from those things? The churches sometimes also have good observations on how to understand a text or [scriptural] matter. Even Brother Russell acknowledged that Lutherans, Baptists (etc.) know some truth: they are not completely devoid of truth. Please also see the 6/15/1992 WT about the figurative dragnet.

[The Proclaimers book also discusses how C.T. Russell took fragments of the truth from respective groups, then later modified or adjusted those verities.]

Solomon Landers' Discussion of Ruth 1:8-9

All credit goes to Brother Landers for these observations. I once asked for his thoughts on Ruth 1:8-9, and this is how he replied:

Well, since everybody else goes lazily with the stale "May [YHWH] grant..." perhaps the brothers wanted to make a more inclusive, vibrant, or "amplified" translation, embracing the various facets of meaning behind the verb *n-t-n*, i,b

The NWT has been accused of many things, but never can it be accused of being "stale." :-)

The verb and its derived forms sustain "a great variety of meanings" according to the Hebrew lexicons, with three broad areas of meaning: 1) give, 2) put or set and 3) make or constitute. TDOT gives the elemental meaning "extend the hand" in order to place an object at a specific place or to give it over to another person. One Jewish etymological source says the basic idea is simply to "give over (something)."

"May Jehovah make a gift to you" of a resting place with a husband is the thought. It's more expressive and contextual (since it would be a gift, indeed) than just "grant," and is a legitimate translation.

[It's interesting that the 2013 revision of the NWT now says: "'May Jehovah grant* that each of you finds security* in the home of your husband.' Then she kissed them, and they wept loudly." The wording "make a gift" now appears in the footnote.-EGF]

Irenaeus and Novatian on John 17:5

"In the beginning, therefore, did God form Adam, not as if He stood in need of man, but that He might have [some one] upon whom to confer His benefits. For not alone antecedently to Adam, but also before all creation, the Word glorified His Father, remaining in Him; and was Himself glorified by the Father, as He did Himself declare, 'Father, glorify Thou Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was'" (Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 4.14.1).

"If, before the world was, He had glory with God, and maintained His glory with the Father, He existed before the world, for He would not have had the glory unless He Himself had existed before, so as to be able to keep the glory. For no one could possess anything, unless he himself should first be in existence to keep anything. But now Christ has the glory before the foundation of the world; therefore He Himself was before the foundation of the world. For unless He were before the foundation of the world, He could not have glory before the foundation of the world, since He Himself was not in existence. But indeed man could not have glory before the foundation of the world, seeing that he was after the world; but Christ had—therefore He was before the world. Therefore He was not man only, seeing that He was before the world. He is therefore God, because He was before the world, and held His glory before the world. Neither let this be explained by predestination, since this is not so expressed, or let them add this who think so, but woe is denounced to them who add to, even as to those who take away from, that which is written. Therefore that may not be said, which may not be added. And thus, predestination being set aside, seeing it is not so laid down, Christ was in substance before the foundation of the world" (Novatian, De Trinitate 16).

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sons of the Prophets and the Sons of Disobedience (A Continuing Dialogue)

Barnabas: "in 2 Kings 20:35 [really 1 Kings 20:35], 'a certain man of the sons of the prophet' means that the man is a prophet, as the rest of the verse verifies…everything that makes a prophet a prophet is what this man was."

Edgar: Actually, according to BDB, the Hebrew word BEN here (used in the plural) refers to one who is a member in
a guild or certain order. It does not mean that the man possesses every quality that a prophet has or should have. In fact, the NAB translates this verse, "One of the guild prophets was prompted by the LORD to say to his companion . . ."

Barnabas: "Interestingly, one definition entry in my BDB for ben has 'sons (as characterisation, i.e. sons of
injustice [for un-righteous men]…'"

Edgar: This definition does not help your argument at all, considering how you define the term "nature" in relation to Jesus, the Son of God.

Barnabas: "on Ephesians 2:2, I agree that 'the sons of disobedience' means nothing more than 'disobedience
ones' or 'those that are disobedient,' the characteristic of these ones is of a disobedient nature, but you would be stretching the idiom to mean 'disobedient sons,' for the term, as the context shows, is not referring to offspring."

Edgar: The terminology "sons" is most certainly being employed metaphorically in Eph 2:2, just as we find in 1 Thess. 5:5 or Lk 16:8. And since we evidently have an instance of the descriptive genitive in Eph 2:2, why can we not render the construction "disobedient sons"?

Addendum: "in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—" (Ephesians 2:2 ESV)

"The disobedient: literally, 'the sons of disobedience,' a Semitism as at Is 30:9" (Footnote for Ephesians 2:2 in NABRE).

Jesus and Blasphemy (Luke 22:65)

AUTON. The NWT renders Lk. 22:65 "And they went on
saying many other things in blasphemy against him."
The NAB states: "they reviled him in saying many
other things against him."

Does this text indicate that Christ is Almighty God?
What about when Stephen the martyr was accused of
"speaking blasphemous sayings against Moses and God" (Acts 6:11?)
Why was Stephen charged with uttering blasphemous speech?
Were these charges merited? Lastly, notice that he spoke not only against
God, but also against Moses. Admittedly, as the
context shows, Moses equals Torah in this case. Yet there
was a sense in which ancient Judaism thought it was
possible to blaspheme representatives of God.

In Isa. 51:7 and Zeph. 2:8, we read of Israel having
blasphemy directed toward her by ungodly men. Are we to
conclude that such actions suggest the nation of
Israel was somehow equal to God? I don't think
any reader of this blog would draw that conclusion.
From this discussion, we learn that it is possible
to blaspheme an entity who is not ontologically
equal to Jehovah, the SUMMUS DEUS.

Theology, History, and Scholarly Objectivity (Philip Walker Butin)

Taken from Revelation, Redemption and Response: Calvin's Trinitarian Understanding of the Divine-Human Relationship, which is authored by P.W. Butin:

"I have no quarrel with the ideal of 'objectivity,'
properly conceived. If Yahweh alone is God, then at
least this fundamental truth obtains in all times and
places, whether or not it is acknowledged by human
beings" (p. 4).

While conceding the importance of objectivity,
"properly conceived," however, Butin adds:

"Within this conviction, however, it is for equally
theological reasons that I personally have no wish to
deny or critically overcome the contextual limitations
of my own historical and cultural standpoint. In my
view, the incarnation of Jesus Christ implies a
corresponding divine affirmation of the historical
particularity and contextuality of the church that is
his body and the individuals who comprise it. Happily,
this theological position comports well with certain
trends in recent general historiography. It is
increasingly acknowledged that historical figures
become significant precisely because of the
investments specific communities or individuals in the
present have in the living legacy they have left to
humankind" (ibid).

See https://books.google.com/books?id=6-fUGSk9pdAC&printsec=frontcover&dq=butin+calvin+trinitarianism&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjS1YaJoqDNAhXDpx4KHbYKAQIQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=butin%20calvin%20trinitarianism&f=false

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Greek Article Across Time (Link)

See http://ins.web.auth.gr/images/MEG_PLIRI/MEG_33_76_91.pdf

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Mystery and the Trinity

Taken from Kallistos Ware's The Orthodox Way, page 15:

"In the proper religious sense of the term, 'mystery' signifies not only hiddenness but disclosure. The Greek word MUSTHRION is linked with the verb MUEIN, meaning 'to close the eyes or mouth.' The candidate for initiation into certain of the pagan mystery religions was first blindfolded and led through a maze of passages; then suddenly his eyes were uncovered and he saw, displayed all round him, the secret emblems of the cult. So, in the Christian context, we do not mean by a 'mystery' merely that which is baffling and mysterious, an enigma or insoluble problem. A mystery is, on the contrary, something that is revealed for our understanding, but which we never understand exhaustively because it leads into the depth or the darkness of God. The eyes are closed--but they are also opened."

Biblical Use of "Sons" (Plural)

Some Trinitarians try to make a distinction between the plural "sons" that allegedly denotes an "office" or function, and the singular "Son" which allegedly signifies Jesus' "nature." However, the person who offered this suggestion insisted that the "nature" of the sons mentioned in Ephesians 2:2 was being delineated. He then reversed his position and claimed that the plural use only describes an office or function (i.e., it is not ontological).

However, the distinction does not seem to hold water when we actually take the time to look at actual examples of the construction "sons of" in the relevant texts or literature. hUIOI (plural) most certainly does not refer to an office in Matthew 5:9; Luke 20:36; 2 Thessalonians 2:3.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Nancey Murphy on the Transition from Hylomorphism to Atomism

Nancey Murphy explains the shift from hylomorphism to atomism in these words:

"In a world composed of atoms, sensation must result from the impinging of atoms on the sensory membranes, and then from coded information conveyed to the brain and thence to the mind. Ideas in the mind are no longer identical with forms inherent in things, but mere representations produced by a complicated process of transmission, encoding, and decoding. Thus arises modern skepticism with regard to sense perception" (Bodies and Souls, Or Spirited Bodies?, 47).

My comment: On the modern scientific view of the world, which rejects hylomorphism, treeness could be interpreted as a purely natural category: there is no need to invoke Platonic or Aristotelian Forms/forms. Chemically speaking, water is H2O and salt is NaCl. But "saltness" in the Platonic or Aristotelian sense does not exist; neither does waterness. So a natural kind like cathood can be interpreted as a biological class without being understood in terms of ontological structures, abstractions or formal quiddities. Nevertheless, Platonism and Aristotelian hylomorphism continue to subsist, despite the fact that both theories posit the existence of transcendent and absolute Forms/forms.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Is Jesus Christ Physically In the Bread and Wine?

John Walvoord writes:

"Calvin held that the Lord's spiritual presence was in the elements but not his physical presence. Zwingli suggested that they were merely symbols and represented the body of Christ. The controversy cannot be settled, but many have concluded that Zwingli was probably right and that the bread and the cup become the body and blood of Christ no more than Jesus became a vine because of His words, 'I am the true vine.' These are figures of speech, although wonderfully eloquent in their meaning" (Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come, 215).

Schlatter adds this pertinent explanation:

"What we have to do with his flesh and blood is not chew and swallow, but recognize in his crucified body and poured out blood the ground of our life, that we hang our faith and hope on that body and blood, and draw from there our thinking and willing" (Das Evangelium nach Johannes. 4th Ed. Erlauterungen zum Neuen Testament, vol. 3, Stuttgart: Calwer, 1928, 116).

Thursday, June 02, 2016

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (Omar)

See footnote 20 for the first image.