Sunday, December 31, 2017

Seasoning Speech with Salt (Colossians 4:6)

From Ralph Earle's Word Meanings in the New Testament:

"In the Greek comic writers the verb ARTUW, 'season,' referred to the seasoning with the salt of wit. But too often this degenerated into off-color jokes. Paul says that the Christian's speech should be 'with grace' or 'gracious'" (p. 362).

"Let your conversation be always gracious, and never insipid; study how best to talk with each person you meet" (Col. 4:6 NEB).

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Origen of Alexandria and hUPODEESTEROS (Contra Celsum 8.15)

The best place to check for a synchronic definition of
this term is Lampe's patristic Greek lexicon. For now,
I offer diachronic information from
Liddell-Scott-Jones. This lexicon points out that
hUPODEESTEROS (ὑποδεέστερος) is the comparative form
of hUPODEHS (ὑποδεής). The adnominal hUPODEHS itself can
mean "somewhat deficient, inferior" and may be used
of persons with the sense "lower in degree" or "younger."
Based on the context in which Origen is contrasting
the Father's might with the Son's lesser might or greatness,
it seems that the meaning "inferior" or lower in degree is
preferable to the denotation "younger."

Under the entry hUPODEHS, BDAG also notes that the
Greek morpheme can denote "pertaining to being in a
lower position, inferior." It references Diognetus 10.5
regarding "those who are inferior" (hOI
hUPODEESTEROI). The word also pertains "to being
responsive to authority, subservient." Used
substantively, hUPODEHS potentially means "someone's
subordination" (TO hUPODEES TINOS). See 1 Clement

In Origen, however, I don't believe that the
Alexandrian is simply arguing the Son is positionally
lower in relation to his Father. The context itself
suggests another understanding of hUPODEESTEROS.
Henri Crouzel (Origen: The Life and Thought of
the First Great Theologian
, page 203) argues that
Origen believes the Father is greater than the Son and
Holy Spirit vis-a-vis DOXA and not DUNAMIS. But
Origen's focus in Contra Celsum 8.15 is different. He
seems to be concerned with the power or might of the
Father over against the relative inferiority of the Son.

Matthew 17:9: Were the Apostles Hallucinating?

BDAG reports that hORAMA is used for "extraordinary
visions," regardless of whether the person having
visions is awake or asleep. Moreover, this source
notes that hORAMA is to be contrasted with FANTASMA
since the former refers to that which is actually seen
in contrast to a figment of one's imagination (the
sense possibly conveyed by the latter Greek term).

So, I am not saying that Peter, James and John were
hallucinating in Matthew 17:1-9. No, the vision or
mental picture they were given was divinely provided and real: they
actually saw Moses and Elijah on the holy mount,
although this does not mean the two ancient prophets
were literally present with them in loco.

hORAMA is employed in Acts 7:31 to describe the burning
bush that Moses beheld. In Acts 10:17, 19, we are told
that the unclean things Peter beheld were part of TO
hORAMA which he was given. See also Acts 11:5; 16:9.
Lastly, despite what BDAG observes about the
distinction between FANTASMA and hORAMA, I find Acts
12:9 of interest:


Nevertheless, it is not my contention that what Peter,
James and John witnessed was an illusion.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Book Review of "The Christian Tradition" by Jaroslav Pelikan: Volume I

The late Jaroslav Pelikan demonstrates why he is the master ecclesiastical historian of our era in his five-volume series The Christian Tradition. While Adolf Harnack made tremendous strides respecting Dogmengeschichte, there is no history of early church doctrine more readable and scholarly than Pelikan's work. Jean Danielou's series is excellent, but still not on par with The Christian Tradition by Pelikan.

In volume 1, we are treated to a non-linear discussion of doctrinal history from 100-600 CE. Pelikan touches on the notions of impassibility (apatheia), predestination, Christology, the Trinity and much more. He carefully defines key nomenclature in this treatise and he packs the book with marginal notes for ease of reference. In the final analysis, Pelikan teaches us what the church supposedly has universally professed, taught and believed; moreover, he tries to be fair in his analyses while simultaneously offering some trenchant criticisms in volume 1.

My favorite portion of this work is the discussion regarding Christology and the Trinity doctrine. In chapter four, which reviews the Arian Controversy, Pelikan argues that the Arians and "orthodox" pro-Nicenes had more in common than previously had been supposed. He reviews the factors that precipitated the famed controversy and supplies references demonstrating the common elements that obtained between Arius and those who robustly opposed him.

Pelikan is never deterred from his primary goal of elucidating doctrinal history; nor does he allow political or social developments to distract him from this goal. Hence, if you enjoy reading about Dogmengeschichte, buy this work. You will have a chance to learn from the master historian: I own all five volumes and find them to be indispensable for serious historical research that involves the church.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Apologia Pro Studio Linguarum Scripturarum

What's written below is an edited version of a post I once submitted to another electronic forum.

I want to defend the aims of this electronic forum in a few short paragraphs.

First, let me say that I think this forum has
continually grown and progressed. When GT was a babe,
it walked, thought and conducted itself as a little
Greek "babe." Now that it has matured (we hope!), this
forum is determined to put away the traits of a babe
and manifest the characteristics of a grown person,
figuratively speaking (1 Cor. 13:11-13).

It is true that we have concentrated on the word
(lingual sign or signifier) to the (near) exclusion of
upper-levels of discourse in the past. However, my
goal, as a progressing Greek student, has been to
slowly but gradually move from the word-level to
sentence and paragraph-level analysis of Greek
structures and probe their theological implications. I
believe that we have made such progress here and
continue to do so. Furthermore, participants in this
forum also examine the culture and context of biblical
texts and do not seem to be guilty of what Jacques
Derrida might call "logocentrism." That is, we focus
not only on the word (logos) but we also give due
attention to sentences, paragraphs, and cultural
contexts of first-century denizens. One must also
consider the theological context of the Bible
as well. Nevertheless I primarily speak for myself and
for those who have manifested such tendencies as they
participate in this electronic conference: not all
members may agree with my sentiments.

Luther adamantly and boldly proclaims: "Languages are
the sheath which hides the Sword of the Spirit . . .
so although the faith of the gospel may be proclaimed
by a preacher without the knowledge of the languages,
the preaching will be feeble and ineffective."

On the other hand, "where the [biblical] languages are
studied, the proclamation will be fresh and powerful,
the Scriptures will be searched, and a faith will be
constantly rediscovered through ever new words and

Luther declares that the original languages of the
Bible in effect conceal "the Sword of the Spirit."
Consequently, a man may preach without knowing Greek
or Hebrew-Aramaic but his message will not have the
dynamic force of a messenger who knows biblical
languages. To be sure, I believe that Luther is
generalizing here and speaking from his own
experience. But there is a certain measure of truth, I
believe, in what he is saying.

While a knowledge of Greek (whether much or little)
can be abused, I would much rather possess it than be
without it. Those who do not study the languages of
Scripture at all are helplessly beholden to clergymen,
exegetes, expositors, translators and commentators.
How can they really adjudicate the grammatical claims or
the truth claims of scholars who have
devoted themselves to the study of Scripture and
biblical languages on the academic level? How would
they know the range of possible meanings for ARXH in
Rev. 3:14? How could they possibly determine what type
of instrument on which Jesus might have died in 33 CE? Was
it a cross or an upright pole? A study of Biblical
languages will probably shed light on this question.

Luther claims that where the biblical languages are
studied, the Gospel message will be fresh and
puissant. Christians will be motivated to search
the Bible and their faith will be fortified or
strengthened so as to accomplish God's Will in word
and deed. Luther is partly right but he is obviously
being somewhat idealistic here. Let it be known that I
nonetheless share his enthusiasm for the study of
Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek and Latin!

To conclude, while I think that Christians are not
obligated to study
will be greatly benefited by doing so. In short, we
are not wasting our time on GT. Studying biblical
Greek or Hebrew can enhance one's ministry and love
for God and Christ. It can also assist each one of us
to present a fine defense for the Christian faith when
we are asked to give a reason for the godly conviction
within our hearts (1 Pet. 3:15). But I realize that not
everyone will or has the circumstances to study biblical languages.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Brief Thoughts About Foreordination and Divine Morality

It seems that a loving God would not foreordain sacrifices to a false god (Jer. 7:31; 32:35). He would not foreordain all of the moral and natural evil that has plagued humans since the Edenic Fall (1 Jn. 4:8). Jesus reminded us that a loving sinful father would not give his children a stone or snake if they asked for bread and fish (Mt 7:7-11). Are advocates of divine pancausality telling us that God gives His children stones and serpents when they ask for bread?

I find it interesting that Jehovah God, who supposedly predestined the Edomites to show hostility to the Israelites and even foreordained that the Babylonians would slay Israelite babies and pregnant women, turned around and utterly wiped the Edomites out of existence (Read the entire book of Obadiah). Joel 3:1-3 also illustrates how God views those who mistreat young children. I find it hard to believe that the same God foreordains the sexual violation and murder of three-year-old children.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Dative of Direct Object

Once written to an interlocutor:

On further research and reflection, I remember that there is what
grammarians call the dative of direct object that applies to certain
nouns. Still, I am not aware of an accusative of indirect object. But
there may be one! :-)

David A. Black discusses the dative of direct object on page 53 of
his It's Still Greek to Me. Two examples that Black cites are Mk 1:27
and Rom 7:25 (DOULEUW NOMWi QEOU).

Wallace has a section on the dative of direct object in GGBB, pp. 171-

Richard Young shows which verbs take the dative case, although Wallace
suggests that we consult BDAG for a more accurate treatment of this
subject. At any rate, the verbs that take dative direct objects are
as follows, according to Young:

Verbs of worship
Verbs of service
Verbs of thanksgiving
Verbs of obedience and disobedience
Verbs of belief and unbelief
Verbs of rebuking
Verbs of helping
Verbs of pleasing
Verbs of following or meeting

More light on the subject, I think.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Genesis 22:12--Did God Come to Know Something?

The dominant view in academic scholarship (from a theological/religious view) is that God cannot come to know something because God is omniscient. Open theism challenges the traditional account and Jehovah's Witnesses believe that God exercises selective foreknowledge, that is to say, Jehovah chooses not to know some things. One verse that is invoked to support this belief is Genesis 22:12.

Here are some thoughts on the passage given from an open perspective:

"It might be suggested, I suppose, that God really did know, but that it was
necessary, for reasons unknown, for God to put the matter this way. But,
aside from this being a strained reading, with no justification in the text
itself, one then buys an absolute form of omniscience at the price of placing
the integrity and coherence of all God's words in jeopardy: does God really
mean what is said or not?" (Terence Fretheim, The Suffering of God, page 47).

"The flow of the narrative accomplishes something in the awareness of God. He
did not know. Now he knows" (Walter Brueggemann, Genesis, page 187).

"If one presupposes that God already 'knew' the results of the test
beforehand, then the text is at least worded poorly and at most simply false"
(John Sanders, The God Who Risks, page 71).

The writer of Gen. 22:12 evidently reports that God learned something new about Abraham. That is apparently how one should read the text.

However, one can read an attempted rebuttal of open theism in What Does God Know and When Does He Know It?: The Current Controversy over Divine Foreknowledge, written by Millard J. Erickson.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Ephesians 7:2 (Ignatius of Antioch)

"There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first passible and then impassible—even Jesus Christ our Lord." (εἷς ἰατρός ἐστιν, σαρκικὸς καὶ πνευματικός, γεννητὸς καὶ ἀγέννητος, ἐν ἀνθρώπῳ θεός, ἐν θανάτῳ ζωὴ ἀληθινή, καὶ ἐκ Μαρίας καὶ ἐκ θεοῦ, πρῶτον παθητὸς καὶ τότε ἀπαθής, Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς ὁ κύριος ἡμῶν)

I would actually maintain that this text is at cross-purposes with the Nicene Creed, which speaks of the Son being "begotten, not created." Lightfoot translates: "There is one only physician, of flesh and of spirit, generate and ingenerate, God in man, true Life in death, Son of Mary and Son of God, first passible and then impassible, Jesus Christ our Lord."

However, see

Yet Ignatius writes that Christ was unbegotten or not generated per his divine ousia. I believe Trinitarians have serious theological problems if they side with Ignatius here. It is hard to see how the bishop avoids ditheism in this passage. For if the Son, as God qua God, is unbegotten--then he only became God's Son by virtue of his earthly birth through the virgin Mary. Furthermore, there cannot be any authentically opposed subsistent relations in the Trinitarian Godhead, if the Son is ingenerate as the Father is ingenerate. Most importantly, however, the Bible indicates that the Son was brought forth (begotten or created) prior to the inception of the material universe. When describing the preexistent Son, Scripture employs terms that suggest begettal (Jn. 1:18; Col. 1:15).

Source for the first translation. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. .

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Does Having a Physical Body Place Limitations on Christ?

It's been a long time since I read some of the early fathers regarding this question, but I'm inclined to think some post-Nicenes might argue that Christ qua his humanity has limitations, but not qua his divinity. Indeed, it's hard to see how Trinitarians avoid the implication that the risen Lord, if he still has a body, must also have limitations associated with that body.

1. All human bodies have limitations.
2. Jesus has a human body.
3. Therefore, Jesus' body has limitations.

If Jesus Christ possesses a human body, then he has limitations by virtue of his corporeality just as I have limitations by virtue of mine. For instance, I can only inhabit one region of space-time moment by moment, not more than one region.

Now someone might insist that Christ has a glorified material body which is suitable for the heavenly sphere. This glorified body likewise is supposed to be free of the limitations that those of us with mundane (non-glorified) bodies now experience. However, granting that assumption/belief, it's still hard to understand how a human body becomes divested of all limitations since body by its very nature (analytically) implies limitation because a body by definition is what occupies space-time. Hence, why would a glorified body be immune to this general feature of all human/animal bodies?

I have not even dealt with the question of how the Incarnation assumes many things without proving them. Nor have I broached the question of how we know that the body Christ allegedly now has is the same body he sacrificed for our sins. Those questions will be saved for another day.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Brian Shanley Discusses Angelic Being and Activity

Brian J. Shanley maintains that while angels qua spirits don't move from place to place, because of their immateriality or incorporeality: "there is some mutability in their being." Thomas Aquinas apparently discusses the nature of angels in Questions 52-53 and 58-59 (inter alia) of the Summa Theologiae. The upshot of Shanley's remarks is "natural angelic activity is measured by time because there is a succession of before and after. So angels occupy a midpoint between temporal before and after and eternal tota simul. Angelic being is altogether at once and measured by the aevum, while angelic natural activity (with the exception of self-knowledge) is measured by time" (The Treatise on the Divine Nature: Summa Theologiae 1a.1-13, page 283).

Brian Shanley is President of Providence College.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

John 13:34--hINA + the Subjunctive

John 13:34 contains the Greek conjunction ἵνα + a verb in the subjunctive mood (ἀγαπᾶτε).

This construction evidently means that a particular result is being expressed by the ἵνα clause or ἵνα + subjunctive. It is conveying an idea regarding the new commandment's content (see Rogers and Rogers Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek NT, page 216).

For the use of ἵνα as a result conjunction, see Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 677. Compare John 9:2.

Think of the ἵνα + subjunctive clause as being translated "with the result that . . ."

NET Bible Footnote: tn The ἵνα (hina) clause gives the content of the commandment. This is indicated by a dash in the translation.

"I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also love one another" (John 13:34 Revised NWT).

"I give you a new commandment, that you are to love each other: that as I loved you, you too are to love each other" (Byington).

Some understand the construction to be a purpose clause instead of communicating the result. From Vincent's Word Studies
That (ἵνα)

With its usual telic force; indicating the scope and not merely the form or nature of the commandment.

See also

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Is the Trinity Doctrine Scriptural? See B.B. Warfield's Answer (Quote and Link)

From Warfield:

The term “Trinity” is not a Biblical term, and we are not using Biblical language when we define what is expressed by it as the doctrine that there is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence. A doctrine so defined can be spoken of as a Biblical doctrine only on the principle that the sense of Scripture is Scripture. And the definition of a Biblical doctrine in such un-Biblical language can be justified only on the principle that it is better to preserve the truth of Scripture than the words of Scripture. The doctrine of the Trinity lies in Scripture in solution; when it is crystallized from its solvent it does not cease to be Scriptural, but only comes into clearer view. Or, to speak without figure, the doctrine of the Trinity is given to us in Scripture, not in formulated definition, but in fragmentary allusions; when we assemble the disjecta membra into their organic unity, we are not passing from Scripture, but entering more thoroughly into the meaning of Scripture. We may state the doctrine in technical terms, supplied by philosophical reflection; but the doctrine stated is a genuinely Scriptural doctrine.


How Should Luke 3:38 Be Translated?

I once had someone criticize the way NWT translates Luke 3:38. Here was my reply to him:

Our English translations, with good reason, translate
Luke's TOU ADAM TOU QEOU (3:38) as "[son] of God"
(NWT). That Luke does not employ hUIOS here is not
relevant or germane at all. One can communicate
concepts without using specific terms such as "Son" or
"daughter." TOU QEOU in this context clearly means
"Son of God." The burden of proof is on the one who
denies this clear, manifest fact. As the NET Bible

"The reference to the son of God here [in Lk 3:38] is
not to a divine being, but to one directly formed by
the hand of God. He is made in God’s image, so this
phrase could be read as appositional ('Adam, that is,
the son of God'). See Acts 17:28-29."

NET renders the verse in question, "the son of Enosh,
the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God."

Addendum: John Trapp offers this explanation--

Ver. 38. Which was the Son of God] Not by generation, but creation. Therefore the Syriac translator hath it Demen Elaha, A Deo, of God, not Bar Elaha, the Son of God.

Also from Joseph Benson's Commentary:

Luke 3:38. Adam, which was the son of God — Adam, being descended from no human parents, but formed by the power of a divine creating hand, might with peculiar propriety be called the son of God, having, in his original state, received immediately from God, whatever the sons of Adam receive from their parents, sin and misery excepted.

Joel 2:31 and The Moon Will Be Turned Into Blood

Joel 2:31 reads: "The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes" (NASB).

I see nothing in the Hebrew which would suggest another radically different translation like introducing "as" into the verse. Moreover, the LXX also reads:


Peter invokes Joel 2:31 in his discourse on Pentecost (see Acts 2:20). He also quotes the verse to the effect that the moon will be turned into blood. However, John seemingly alludes to Joel 2:31 in Revelation 6:12, yet he employs hWS ("as") rather than saying that the moon will become blood or turn into blood. Is he interpreting Joel 2:31 (under inspiration) or is there some other explanation for his use of hWS?

NET Bible: tn Grk “like blood,” understanding αἷμα (aima) as a blood-red color rather than actual blood (L&N 8.64).

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

God Creating Ex Nihilo (Creel and Ryrie)

From Richard Creel's book about divine impassibility:

"God does create ex nihilo in the sense that what he creates he does not create from antecedent individuals or matter" (page 72).

On the same page, Creel insists all that creation requires is an act of divine volition. Jehovah is unlike Plato's Demiurge (see Timaeus) that brings the cosmos into being by impressing form on recalcitrant matter.

In Basic Theology, Charles C. Ryrie supplements Creel's account by pointing out that God creates ex nihilo by dint of his "omnipotent resources." That is all God needs to create the universe--his almighty power and only his almightiness.


Ledoux and Animal Consciousness

Joseph LeDoux offers this account of animal consciousness: "Other animals may be consciously aware, in some sense, of events going on in their world. They may have domain-specific consciousness, or in the case of nonhuman primates, domain-independent nonverbal consciousness, but lacking language and its cognitive manifestations, they are unlikely to be able to represent complex, abstract concepts (like 'me' or 'mine' or 'ours'), to relate external events to these abstractions, and to use these representations to guide decision-making and control behavior" (Synaptic Self, 197).

So Ledoux possibly recognizes the existence of "complex, abstract concepts" and the symbolic manipulation of such abstractions, but he associates them with the human capacity for language which is viewed as a natural (biological) phenomenon rooted in the human brain and its neural activities. In other words, we are equipped with a huge neocortex that makes us lingually capacious: that's why humans can think abstractly. To quote the late Sir Francis Crick: "You're nothing but a pack of neurons."

While I don't agree with LeDoux calling us "animals," I like other aspects of his "synaptic self" approach.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Parcels of Matter Forming Concepts

It is a challenge to reconcile Thomas Aquinas' approach to "nothing exists in the mind before it exists in the senses" and the physicalist account of concept-formation. Sadly, neuroscience has not yet developed a robust account of how we form concepts: Joseph Ledoux (The Emotional Brain) has a great picture whereby he shows how sensory stimuli become "conscious content." Alas! He describes the whole process as a "black box" that involves stimuli being processed and stored along with more processing and storage before stimuli become the contents of consciousness.

The complex feature about this whole process is that memory has a role in sensible phenomena becoming conscious contents. For instance, I've seen many apples in my relatively brief lifespan. So when I perceive my 1000th apple, things are not so simple as the apple/stimulus being converted into information, which eventually becomes a representational concept (on the physicalist explanation of things) or sensible matter (according to the Thomist account). Yet my brain does not engage in this process every time that I perceive an apple. Are we not thankful for the hippocampal region, the amygdala, synapses, and other parts of our neurobiology?

See also by Owen Flanagan.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Craig Evans on Luke 17:21 and ENTOS

The inexpensive set of commentaries from the series New International Biblical Commentary (NIBC) has a volume about Luke's Gospel wherein Craig A. Evans remarks concerning Luke 17:21:

"The phrase translated 'within you' should probably be translated 'among you,' for the kingdom is not within people in some sort of mystical or spiritual sense (as Marshall [p. 655] supposes), but it is among people in the sense of Jesus' presence (so Fitzmyer, p. 1161; Tiede, p. 300)."

Friday, December 01, 2017

Avoiding Extreme Doubt in a Scientific World

Nancey Murphy explains why Aristotelian hylomorphism successfully accounts for the perception of sensory objects, but it has more difficulty justifying perceptual errors (e.g., bent oar blades and hallucinations). On the other hand, the usual critique of atomism and nominalism is that both theories appear to imply skepticism about the world external to the mind. Rene Descartes' internalist epistemology has faced the same challenge.

While work on sensory perception is ongoing, some neuroscientists have tried to harmonize the representational view of concepts with a less skeptical view of the cosmos. One possible approach to perception is by trying to understand neural representation potentially emanating from sensory experience as a proximately identical map of the world. A second approach might entail admitting that our concepts are fuzzy, inexact "hedges" of reality. Prototype theory advocated by Eleanor Rosch seems to favor this approach.

These questions intersect with theology insofar as they impinge on theistic belief. Descartes was likely aware that his internalist philosophy entailed or implied skepticism about the external world. However, he appealed to the existence of God in order to undermine the notion that we're living a perpetual delusion of the senses.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Soteriology in the Letter of James

(1) James no doubt has eternal or eschatological
salvation in mind when he uses σῶσαι in 2:14. Note
how this disciple of Christ refers to salvation
elsewhere in his letter:

"Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of
naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted
word, which is able to save [σῶσαι] your souls" (James
1:21 KJV).

"There is one lawgiver, who is able to save [σῶσαι]
and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?"
(James 4:12 KJV).

"Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner
from the error of his way shall save [σώσει] a soul
from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins" (James
5:20 KJV).

(2) In 2:14, James is not contending that faith is
unable to save humans. To the contrary, he is arguing
that a certain type of faith (ἡ πίστις), viz., faith
divorced from godly works, cannot save the man or
woman professing to have such "faith."

(3) James does not teach that Christians are still
subject to the Law of Moses. In context, he is making
the point that those who were under the Law could
easily become offenders against the entire Law, if
they transgressed in one point. James shows in
2:12 that Christians are not subject to the ancient
Law of Moses, but are going to be judged "by the law
of a free people" (NWT). He probably appeals to
the Law, however, because those reading or hearing the
epistle read were familiar with Jewish precepts and
statutes. Furthermore, James wanted his audience to know that
there is judgment under "the law of a free people."
Yet "Mercy exults triumphantly over judgement."

Sunday, November 26, 2017


"ADIAKRITOS, ON: pertaining to not being prejudiced -
'impartial, free from prejudice.' hH DE ANWQEN SOFIA
'but the wisdom from above is first of all pure . . .
free from prejudice and hypocrisy' Jas 3:17"
(Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon 88.242).

"ANUPOKRITOS . . . pert. to being without pretense,
genuine, sincere, lit. 'without play-acting' AGAPH
(ApcSed 1:4) Ro 12:9; 2 Cor 6:6. FILADELFIA 1 Pt 1:22
PISTIS 1 Ti 1:5; 2 Ti 1:5, SOFIA Js 3:17. DELG s.v.
KRINW. M-M. TW. Spicq" (BDAG Greek-English Lexicon, page 91).

Friday, November 24, 2017

Did Any Human Enter Heaven Prior to Jesus

Reading Hebrews makes me seriously doubt that any
human ascended to heaven before the Risen Christ did.
When writing to first-century Christians living in
Jerusalem and Judea, the author of Hebrews speaks of
"the hope set before us" (Heb. 6:18). This hope is
apparently the hope of eternal, immortal, and
incorruptible life that anointed Christians will enjoy
in the heavens of God's presence for all eternity (2
Cor. 1:21-22; 5:1-2; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

This hope (says the author) serves as "an anchor for
the soul, both sure and firm" since it has entered
within the curtain where a PRODROMOS has advanced in
behalf of his people, whence he serves as "a high
priest according to the manner of Melchizedek" (Heb.

The literary context of Heb. 6:19-20 shows that the
writer is contrasting the tabernacle in the wilderness
with God's "true tent" (THS SKHNHS THS ALHQINHS)
constructed by Godself, not humans (Heb. 8:1-2). The true
tent is evidently God's antitypical tabernacle that
contains, among other things, a greater Most Holy,
which is heaven itself (Heb. 9:24). Jesus entered into
this holy place to appear before the Person of God for
us. (The "us" in Heb. 9:24 refers to anointed
Christians, although others likewise benefit from the
high-priestly services of Jesus Christ.) He passed
beyond the curtain (his flesh) by virtue of being raised a
life-giving spirit and subsequently ascending to his
Father, the One who is greater than the Son (Jn. 14:28;
Heb. 4:14; 10:19-20).

As forerunner, Jesus was not simply the first human to
ascend into the heavens of the heavens: he opened the
way for others to see God and be like Him (1 Jn.
3:1-3). Heb. 6:19-20 therefore appears to serve as one
text that indicates humans did not ascend to the
heavens of God's presence prior to Christ's death.

Furthermore, Heb. 9:8 relates: "Thus the holy
spirit makes it plain that the way into the
[antitypical] holy place [i.e., heaven] had not yet
been made manifest while the first tent was standing."

The way into the antitypical Most Holy (sanctum sanctorum)
was not made manifest until Christ became
flesh, suffered, died, was resurrected and
subsequently passed through the heavens.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Michael Coogan's View of Yahweh's (Jehovah's) Tent

Coogan (134) believes ancient Israelites thought that YHWH lived in a tent (tabernacle or sanctuary) even in heaven--this idea supposedly is presumed in the Tanakh:

"That Yahweh's heavenly home was a tent is therefore presumed and is consistent with the relationship of Yahweh to the Canaanite high god El (see pages 88-90), who lived in a tent; the same word for 'dwelling' is used for the heavenly homes of the gods in Ugaritic, which are also called tents. At the same time, P appropriately incorporates a tent-shrine into its description of the fully developed worship of Yahweh that began at Sinai, during the journey from Egypt to Canaan: a movable shrine for a people on the move."

See Exodus 29:42-43; Numbers 7:89.

Granted, Ps. 15:1 rhetorically queries, "Jehovah, who doth sojourn in Thy tent? Who doth dwell in Thy holy hill?" (YLT)

But should this language be taken literally or pressed too far such that God is portrayed as matter-of-factly dwelling in a heavenly shrine with finite boundaries? Or does Coogan mean that we should imagine a heavenly dwelling that does not have earthly limitations?

In either case, I believe what we have in the dwelling texts is metaphorical speech, for the most part. There was a sense in which YHWH dwelled in the tabernacle and later, the temple. But I don't think one can infer that Jehovah lives in a heavenly sanctuary (literally) based on the biblical data. TDNT, volume VII argues that most (if not all) references about God's heavenly dwelling/skhnh are figurative or poetic.

Source: Coogan, Michael David. The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Revisiting Genesis 1:2 with a Touch of Von Rad, Et Al.

וְהָאָ֗רֶץ הָיְתָ֥ה תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ וְחֹ֖שֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י תְהֹ֑ום וְר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים מְרַחֶ֖פֶת עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הַמָּֽיִם׃ (LC)

"The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters" (ESV).

"And the Spirit of God" could be rendered "the spirit of God" or "a divine wind."

Von Rad believes ruach elohim here is best rendered "storm of God," with the construction being understood as a reference to a "terrible storm" (i.e., to be construed as a superlative).

In terms of translational possibilities, Kenneth A. Matthews says that ruach elohim could mean "the wind of God" in Gen. 1:2 although he is doubtful of this understanding.

NRSV: "the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters."

Footnote from NRSV: "Or while the spirit of God or while a mighty wind"

Rotherham's Emphasized Bible states: "but, the Spirit of God, was brooding on the face of the waters"

Byington's Bible in Living English: "the earth was a blank chaos, and there was darkness over the surface of the deep; and God's Spirit was hovering over the surface of the waters."

Rashi: "and the spirit of God was hovering: The Throne of Glory was suspended in the air and hovered over the face of the water with the breath of the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be He and with His word, like a dove, which hovers over the nest, acoveter in Old French, to cover, hover over."

Targum of Jonathan: "And the earth was vacancy and desolation, solitary of the sons of men, and void of every animal; and darkness was upon the face of the abyss, and the Spirit of mercies from before the Lord breathed upon the face of the waters."


Catholic NABRE: "and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters"

Part of the Ftn for 1:2 in the NABRE: "A mighty wind: literally, 'spirit or breath [ruah] of God'; cf. Gn 8:1."

Compare Gen. 3:8; Ps. 104:30; Acts 2:1-4; Heb. 1:7; Ezek. 2:2; 3:12, 14, 24; 8:3; 11:1, 24; 43:5; John 3:8.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Revelation 21:16-17 and Ezekiel's Prophecy

"The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal" (Revelation 21:16, ESV).

καὶ ἡ πόλις τετράγωνος κεῖται, καὶ τὸ μῆκος αὐτῆς ὅσον τὸ πλάτος. καὶ ἐμέτρησεν τὴν πόλιν τῷ καλάμῳ ἐπὶ σταδίων δώδεκα χιλιάδων· τὸ μῆκος καὶ τὸ πλάτος καὶ τὸ ὕψος αὐτῆς ἴσα ἐστίν (WH 1881).

καὶ ἐμέτρησεν τὸ τεῖχος αὐτῆς ἑκατὸν τεσσεράκοντα τεσσάρων πηχῶν, μέτρον ἀνθρώπου, ὅ ἐστιν ἀγγέλου (Revelation 21:17, WH 1881).

"He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel's measurement" (ESV).

Comparison Verses:

"He measured it on the four sides. It had a wall around it, 500 cubits long and 500 cubits broad, to make a separation between the holy and the common" (Ezekiel 42:20, ESV)

"and these shall be its measurements: the north side 4,500 cubits, the south side 4,500, the east side 4,500, and the west side 4,500" (Ezekiel 48:16, ESV).

"And the city shall have open land: on the north 250 cubits, on the south 250, on the east 250, and on the west 250" (Ezekiel 48:17, ESV)

1 Kings 6:20

Sunday, November 12, 2017

How Are Questions Signaled by Greek Writers?

Queries in Greek are indicated by the occurrence of
interrogative pronouns and adverbs. Aristotle's τί ἐστιν
("What is it?") is a famous metaphysical
question. One can also ask τίς ἐστιν ("Who is it?) in
Greek as well (1 John 2:22). Other interrogatives are ποῖος ("What
sort?"), πόσος ("How much?"), ποῦ ("Where?") and πόθεν
("From where?"). There are more interrogatives, but I
think you get the idea.

For other NT examples, see Mt 6:31; Lk 3:10. However, it is
important to keep in mind that not all interrogative
sentences contain interrogative pronouns or adverbs
like τί, τίς or ποῦ (compare Jn 19:15). A book that
might help in this area is Brooks and Winbery's
Syntax of NT Greek. See pp. 115, 119, 125ff, 158ff.

"When no other indicator is present, whether the
sentence is a question or not must be determined by
the context" (Brooks and Winbery, p. 158).

Saturday, November 11, 2017

God's Name Within the Context of Exodus 3:14 (Comments by George Caird)

"Of all these many excursions into etymology by far the most
important is the derivation of the divine name YHWH from the
verb 'to be'; 'I AM; that is who I am. Tell them that I AM has sent
you to them' (Exod. 3:14). It is possible that the original narrator
meant the verbs to be taken as futures, and that 'I will be as I
will be' was a promise of the presence of God as and when he chose
to be present; for the same verb occurs two verses earlier in the
form 'I will be with you'. This line of thought leads us directly to
the child whose name is Immanuel (Isa. 7:14), to the application of
that name to Jesus (Matt 1:23), and to the promise with which
Matthew's Gospel ends, 'I am with you always, to the end of time'
(28:20). But that is not the way in which the translators of the
Septuagint understood the revelation of the divine name. They
translated it by hO WN, 'he who exists', and so made it possible for
later writers, beginning with the author of the Wisdom of Solomon
(13:1), to make a synthesis between the theology of the Old
Testament and the philosophy of the Greeks" (George Caird, The Language and Imagery of the Bible, pp. 45-46).

Friday, November 10, 2017

Some Thoughts on the Holy Spirit

Systematic theology may generally teach the Trinity doctrine, but does that mean the holy spirit (Holy Spirit) is called God in Scripture?

Edmund Fortman:

"The spirit of Yahweh was often described in personal
terms. The spirit was grieved, guided men, instructed
them, caused them to rest (Ps 143:10; Neh 9:20; Is
63:10, 14). But it seems quite clear that the Jews
never regarded the spirit as a person; nor is there
any solid evidence that any Old Testament writer held
this view. A few scholars today maintain, however,
that even though the spirit is usually presented as an
impersonal divine force, there is an underlying
assumption that the spirit was a conscious agent,
which 'provided a climate in which plurality with the
Godhead was conceivable'" (The Triune God, p. 6).

Acts 5:3-4 is not exactly what I would call an
"explicit" identification of the holy Spirit with God.
Granted, Peter does seemingly parallel the holy spirit
and God in these passages. But, again, we must read
texts in their historical context to avoid
skewing their semantic or pragmatic sense. John B.
Polhill, as he is wont to do, provides a nice

"Ultimately, he [Ananias] had lied to God. Not that he
had not betrayed the community. Not that he had not
lied to the Spirit. Rather, to betray the community is
to lie to the Spirit that fills the community, and to
falsify the Spirit of God is an affront to God
himself" (Acts, p. 158).

Notice that Polhill does not say the holy spirit is
being called "God" in Acts 5:3-4.

David Hill adds:

"We may have here [in Acts 5] an illustration of
Luke's understanding of the 'sin against the Spirit'
(Luke 12:10) as speech or action against the
constitutive factor of the Church's life" (Greek Words
and Hebrew Meanings
, p. 258).

Recall that Matthew also calls the spirit, God's
finger. This too would clearly explain why the spirit of
God is so closely identified with God in Acts 5:3-4,
although it is not called QEOS in this account. Karl
Rahner states:

"QEOS [in the NT] is still never used of the Spirit"
(Theological Investigations, 1:138, 143).

Trinitarian scholar Thomas F. Torrance
supplies this account of the Trinity:

"This does not imply that the New Testament presents
us with explicit teaching about the Holy Trinity, far
less with a ready-made formal doctrine of the Trinity,
but rather that it exhibits a coherent witness to
God's trinitarian self-revelation imprinted upon its
theological content in an implicit conceptual form
evident in a whole complex of implicit references and
indications in the gospels and epistles" (Christian
, p. 49).

John 20:28 In Brief

While talking with a Trinitarian this morning, who raised John 20:28 for the nth time as proof of Christ's deity, I thought of a disjunctive syllogism just for fun.

1) Either John 20:28 is a nominative for a vocative or it is a nominative of exclamation.
2) John 20:28 is not a nominative for a vocative.
3) Therefore, John 20:28 is a nominative of exclamation.

The argument is formally valid since disjunctive syllogisms assume the form: either p or q; not p or not q (deny one of the disjuncts); therefore, p or q (affirm one of the disjuncts).

Now the Trinitarian view is not disproved so easily, but I know more than one Witness who has vigrously argued that 20:28 is not a nominative for a vocative. The reasons have been discussed ad nauseam et ad infinitum, but maybe we need to discuss the reasons again.

God, Negative Emotions Or the Lack Thereof (Divine impassibility)

(1) According to Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon by F.E. Peters, the abstract nominal APAQEIA when used by ancient Greek philosophers usually means "unaffected, without pathe." This same source (under the entry PAQOS) also points out that PAQOS "is beclouded by a multiplicity of connotations." The term possibly denotes: event, suffering, emotion, experience, or attribute. While context must function as a determinative factor in this matter, I believe that the ancient church Fathers often used PAQOS or equivalent terms to reference emotions simpliciter. I do not think they were simply claiming that God does not have emotions in a negative manner or that He does not exemplify merely so-called negative emotions.

Augustine of Hippo and Gregory of Nyssa as well as Clement of Alexandria indicate that (metaphysically speaking) God does possess or have emotions at all. But it is the medievals such as Thomas Aquinas and Anselm of Canterbury who formulate this teaching in the strongest possible terms . In the Summa Contra Gentiles, Thomas is quite emphatic in saying that God has no emotions whatsoever from a metaphysical standpoint. For, says Thomas, if God is immutable and simple, then there can be no movement in God. He is strictly and solely impassible. Furthermore, if God is simple, then He does not have attributes but is His attributes or objective properties. Thomas thus reasons that a simple (uncompounded) or immutable deity cannot have emotions.

(2) Is it important to ascertain whether God has emotions or not? I think so. For one reason, the Bible often speaks of God as a being who has emotions. How are we to understand these passages? As metaphors, analogies or can we interpret or understand some of them as univocal utterances, so that there is a one-to-one correspondence (qualitatively speaking) between our AGAPH and God's AGAPH, even if there is a difference with respect to the degree of love that God has or is. Additionally, is it not much easier to draw close to a God who has emotions over against developing a relationship with a God who does not? See James 4:8. Finally, only a God with authentic emotions can suffer. I submit that a suffering deity is the only type of God that can help us to make sense of all the cosmic suffering and evil that has and now obtains.

(3) If God transcends emotion, then I don't understand how He can still have negative emotions. He may have something better, but that "something better" would certainly not be what we call "passion" or emotion.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

2 Peter 2:4--Tartarus

2 Peter 2:4 (WH): εἰ γὰρ ὁ θεὸς ἀγγέλων ἁμαρτησάντων οὐκ ἐφείσατο, ἀλλὰ σειροῖς ζόφου ταρταρώσας παρέδωκεν εἰς κρίσιν τηρουμένους

I believe that we have to be careful about inferring that the Bible writers directly took language or concepts from non-Jewish literature. For example, does ταρταρόω in 2 Pet 2:4 derive from a non-Jewish source? Should we immediately draw parallel lines between Greek mythology and 2 Peter? That would be a fundamental mistake in my opinion. For example, would it be correct to infer that πλήρωμα in Col 1:19 was directly borrowed from the Gnostics? That would be highly unlikely. I reckon that a similar case could be made for 2 Pet 2:4. Petrine scholars have noted that Tartarus language occurs in Jewish literature (1 Enoch and other works of the Second Temple period): so it's possible that 2 Peter uses language well understood by Jews and Greeks in the 1st century CE. See

Compare the remarks of Richard Bauckham here:

Even if 2 Peter 2:4 uses the verb ταρταρώσας, in no way does the usage imply that all the mythic associations of Tartarus should be read into the passage. Tartarus apparently occurs in the LXX too.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

James 3:17: "Reasonableness"

"EPIEIKHS: the word is meant as a contrast to unfair, unreasonable argument, cf. Pss. of Sol. 5:14.-EUPEIQHS: this word, again, implies a contrast to the unbending attitude of self-centered controversialists; it does not occur elsewhere in the N.T" (The Expositor's Greek Testament, 4:456).

"EU-PEIQHS obedient, here [in Js 3:17] obedient to reason, reasonable" (A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament, M. Zerwick, page 698).

"In total contrast to the demonic 'wisdom' is the wisdom that comes from heaven . . . considerate [EPIEIKHS] (Phil. 4:5; 1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 3:2), which points to a noncombative spirit; and submissive [EUPEIQHS], which indicates a tractable or teachable spirit, a person who will gladly be corrected or learn a new truth" (Peter H. Davids, James [New International Biblical Commentary], page 90).

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Seeing God "Face to Face" and Biblical Metaphors

It is hard to deny the overt metaphorical cast of Scripture: ignoring metaphorical tropes leads to textual misunderstandings. Besides apprehending biblical tropes, however, one also needs to be attentive to the idioms found in Scripture. Idiom in this context means that the whole of an utterance is greater than its individual parts.

For example, the words "face to face" (Numbers 12:8) hardly denote that Moses saw God in a sensuous manner. Maimonides and others think the verse refers to an intellectual encounter with God. I would also suggest that we're dealing with possible metaphor when encountering the face to face language and it is certainly idiomatic. But the Bible becomes clearer if we go with the flow of metaphors by coming to understand the conceptual structures contained therein.

There are some who claim that the Israelites saw God with their physical eyes (sensuously) as reported in Exodus 24:9-11. Others assert that Moses not only conversed with God face to face, but he supposedly beheld God too. However, what Numbers 12:8 really states is that YHWH spoke to Moses like one person speaks to another (= "face to face" or mouth to mouth). The language is idiomatic and probably figurative.

Thomas Aquinas writes concerning this account:

"As Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xii, 27), it is stated in Exodus that 'the Lord spoke to Moses face to face'; and shortly afterwards we read, 'Show me Thy glory. Therefore He perceived what he saw and he desired what he saw not.' Hence he did not see the very Essence of God; and consequently he was not taught by Him immediately. Accordingly when Scripture states that 'He spoke to him face to face,' this is to be understood as expressing the opinion of the people, who thought that Moses was speaking with God mouth to mouth, when God spoke and appeared to him, by means of a subordinate creature, i.e. an angel and a cloud. Again we may say that this vision 'face to face' means some kind of sublime and familiar contemplation, inferior to the vision of the Divine Essence" (ST I-II. Quest. 98. Art. 3, Reply to Obj. 2).

Maimonides makes this profession about the face to face idiom: "All this refers to intellectual apprehension and in no way to the eye's seeing" (Guide of the Perplexed 1.4).

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Herman Bavinck Discusses How the Triune God Is Progressively Revealed to Humankind

"The Trinity in the revelation of God points back to the Trinity in His existence.

This revelation did not happen in a single moment. It was not presented and perfected in a single point of time. Rather, this revelation has a long history, spread out over the centuries. It began at the creation, continued after the fall in the promises and deeds of grace which accrued to Israel, and reached its apex in the person and work of Christ, in the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, and the establishment of the church. It maintains itself now throughout the centuries, and over against all opposition, in the ineradicable witness of Scripture and in the rock-firm confession of the church. Because the revelation has had this long history, there is progress and development also in the confession of God's triune existence. God undergoes no change, remaining always the same. But in the progress of revelation, He makes Himself always clearer and more glorious to people and to angels. As His revelation continues, our knowledge grows."


Spiritual Death Understood as Metaphor

The language employed at Ephesians 2:1,
5 and elsewhere appears to be metaphorical and what
determines the metaphoricity of a particular term,
phrase or sentence is complex. A metaphor may be
judged as such based on semantic or pragmatic factors
(two distinct linguistic features). The figure of
spiritual death is a common one in Scripture and
classical literature. Both TDNT and BDAG have
informative entries on the significance of the Greek
word NEKROS and its meaning in the text under
consideration. For instance, BDAG associates the
term (on one hand) with moral or spiritual
deficiency that renders one (in effect) dead. See Lk
15:24, 32; Rev 3:1. However, another use of this
metaphor may be more related to spiritual obtuseness.
Cf. Mt 8:22; Lk 9:60. TDNT likewise contains references to
the Fathers. See TDNT 4:892-894.

I guess my point is that the signification of
"spiritual death" could reside in the particular Greek
term if a linguistic community had decided that NEKROS
would have the lexical value "spiritual death" in a
given context, C. That is what I mean by semantics.
Conversely, an individual speaker might intend to
communicate the notion "spiritual death" when uttering the adjective NEKROS, etc. That would be a pragmatic usage which
could be understood by appealing to the context of
utterance. Either way, it does not seem that the
meaning for spiritual death is strictly tied to verbal tense;
nor is the metaphor necessarily restricted to meaning "as good as dead because of being in line for destruction," although I
think that is a possible way one might read the text.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Philippians 4:6-7 Discussion and Notes

μηδὲν μεριμνᾶτε, ἀλλ’ ἐν παντὶ τῇ προσευχῇ καὶ τῇ δεήσει μετὰ εὐχαριστίας τὰ αἰτήματα ὑμῶν γνωριζέσθω πρὸς τὸν θεόν. καὶ ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ θεοῦ ἡ ὑπερέχουσα πάντα νοῦν φρουρήσει τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν καὶ τὰ νοήματα ὑμῶν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. (NA28)

The verse begins with a strong contrast: about nothing worry, but in everything by prayer and supplication . . .

Meyer identifies μηδὲν as the accusatival object of μεριμνᾶτε and it seems evident that Paul emphatically prefixes μηδὲν, thus drawing attention to "nothing." ἐν παντὶ is also meant to be a contrast with the opening words (Meyer). Furthermore, maybe we should understand ἐν παντὶ to signify "in every case or affair" (Meyer). ESV also renders ἐν παντὶ τῇ προσευχῇ "in everything by prayer," NET has "in every situation, through prayer" and HCSB renders the words, "in everything, through prayer . . ."

With the phrase, ἐν παντὶ, παντὶ is a substantival adjective and the prepositional object of ἐν.


Should we make a sharp distinction between τῇ προσευχῇ καὶ τῇ δεήσει?

According to John Eadie:

The form which the presentation of such requests was to assume was τῇ προσευχῇ καὶ τῇ δεήσει—“by prayer and supplication.” The datives express the manner or means, for the one involves the other, by which the action enjoined in γνωριζέσθω was to be performed. Bernhardy, p. 100. The two nouns are not synonymous, and mean something more than Storr's sociis precibus. See under Ephesians 6:18 for the peculiar distinction. The repetition of the article gives each of the nouns a special independence. Winer, § 19, 5, (a). By the use of the first noun they are bidden tell their wants to God in religious feeling and form; and by the second they are counselled to make them known in earnest and direct petition, in every case as the circumstances might require.

Along with supplications (earnest beseeching), add μετὰ εὐχαριστίας.

Gerald F. Hawthorne construes τὰ αἰτήματα ὑμῶν γνωριζέσθω πρὸς τὸν θεόν to signify that prayer is a uniquely intimate way of approaching God: "Let God know what is troubling you" (Word Commentary on Philippians, page 183. Volume 43, 1983 edition).

From the Expositor's Greek Testament:

αἴτημα is found three times in N.T. It emphasises the object asked for (see an important discussion by Ezra Abbot in N. Amer. Review, 1872, p. 171 ff.). “Prayer is a wish referred to God, and the possibility of such reference, save in matters of mere indifference, is the test of the purity of the wish” (Green, Two Sermons, p. 44).—πρὸς τ. Θεόν. “In the presence of God.” A delicate and suggestive way of hinting that God’s presence is always there, that it is the atmosphere surrounding them. Anxious foreboding is out of place in a Father’s presence. Requests are always in place with Him. With this phrase Cf. Romans 16:26.

καὶ ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ θεοῦ: The ICC Commentary says καὶ here is "consecutive." Hence, translate "and so."

There is scholarly debate concerning the nature of divine peace. Is it internal or external? Furthermore, Paul probably has the Hebrew shalom in mind when he uses the noun phrase ἡ εἰρήνη. τοῦ θεοῦ is possibly a subjective genitive.

ἡ ὑπερέχουσα πάντα νοῦν (vs. 7)

Eadie offers this explanation: "The participle here [ἡ ὑπερέχουσα] governs the accusative, and not, as is common with verbs of its class, the genitive, Kühner, § 539; or Jelf, § 504, Obser. 2."

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Gerhard von Rad and Genesis 1:2

Genesis 1:2 (NASB): "The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters."

The Hebrew term that is rendered "the deep" is תְּהוֹם (tehom), which is also translated "the great deep" in Gen. 7:11 (KJV) since it's coupled with the adjective רָב. Theologians/Bible scholars often interpret Gen 1:1-2 as a polemical answer to the Babylonian myth of Tiamat and Marduk. Gerhard von Rad apparently buys into this idea too. However, the Babylonian narrative is set within a polytheistic context unlike Genesis. But even more devastating to the Tiamat theory is the linguistic evidence against it.

For instance, scholar Victor Hamilton interacts with the claims regarding tehom and Tiamat, and I believe he shows it's uncertain that these words are cognate. In fact, there are reasons to believe otherwise. From what I've read, Mitchell Dahood (a late and esteemed philologist) seriously questioned the supposed linguistic connection between tehom and Tiamat.

For Dahood's exact quote, see

It is page 96, footnote 34. Dahood spoke of the "unsustainable connection" between these words. So the objections I've found to associating tehom with Tiamat seem devastating.

Dahood writes that the linguistic correspondence between tehom and thm (Ugaritic) is "much more likely" than a connection between tehom/Tiamat. Yet the Akkadian term related to tehom is also evidently cognate. According to biblehub, there are 36 occurrences of tehom in the Hebrew Bible, I think.

For now, I reject the Tiamat connection (linguistic association) with tehom; there is too much evidence against it. The myth that Tiamat is cognate with tehom began spreading after Hermann Gunkel (a German OT scholar) began to perpetuate the idea. Linguistically, it is nigh impossible to prove: weigh the evidence and arguments carefully, then you decide.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Gerhard von Rad and Genesis 1:1

As a side note, von Rad's first name is the German equivalent (version) of my middle name (my nomen). I go by Edgar in professional circles, but old friends, my family, and my wife call me "Gerard."

On page 46 of his Genesis commentary, von Rad concedes that Gen. 1:1 could be understood--from a grammatico-syntactic perspective--as an introductory clause to 1:2 or 1:3. However, he insists that 1:1 must be understood as an independent sentence from a theological perspective. So it ought to be rendered: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Hence, we learn God freely and in accord with his omnipotent volition determined that the cosmos would have "a beginning of its subsequent existence" (46).

Additionally, von Rad contends that bara signifies "the divine creative activity," which has no analogy in creation (47). He believes the word is intentionally used to denote creatio ex nihilo or divine effortlessness--creation without the use of any preexistent material unlike Plato's Demiurge in his famous work, Timaeus. That deity creates sensible objects by means of recalcitrant matter, but YHWH creates ex nihilo. There is apparently no creative struggle delineated in the opening verses of Genesis. Yet does von Rad go too far when claiming that bara unequivocally denotes creatio ex nihilo? Maybe he does in the light of 2 Maccabees 7:28 and Heb. 11:3. On the other hand, he is likely correct that bara rules out the divine employment of already existent material.

Kenneth A. Matthews provides a more nuanced view in his New American Commentary on Genesis. See pages 136-142.

Collection of Scriptures That Discuss Seeing God "Face to Face"

Genesis 32:30-Jacob wrestles with an angel, who is also identified as Elohim by the prophet Hosea (12:3).

Exodus 33:19, 20-Moses is told that no one can see the face of YHWH (Jehovah) and live.

Numbers 12:8-"Mouth unto mouth I speak with him, and by an appearance, and not in riddles; and the form of Jehovah he beholdeth attentively; and wherefore have ye not been afraid to speak against My servant -- against Moses?'" (YLT)

"With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” (ESV)

NIV says, "With him I speak face to face . . ."

Deuteronomy 5:4-"Jehovah spake with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire" (ASV)

Deuteronomy 34:10-"And there hath not arisen a prophet any more in Israel like Moses, whom Jehovah hath known face unto face" (YLT)

1 Corinthians 13:12-"For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known" (NET).

Compare 3 John 14.

See 2 Cor. 3:18. Also with 2 Cor. 4:6, "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God" (ESV) is manifested ἐν προσώπῳ Χριστοῦ.

Revelation 22:3-4-"And there will no longer be any curse, and the throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city. His servants will worship him, and they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads" (NET Bible).

Sunday, October 08, 2017

The "Sea" in Revelation

The Greek noun phrase ἡ θάλασσα can be rendered "the sea." Commentator J. Ramsey Michaels (going from memory here) reports that John uses "sea" language some 26 times with varying nuances. The first occurrence is apparently Revelation 4:6:

καὶ ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου ὡς θάλασσα ὑαλίνη ὁμοία κρυστάλλῳ· καὶ ἐν μέσῳ τοῦ θρόνου καὶ κύκλῳ τοῦ θρόνου τέσσερα ζῷα γέμοντα ὀφθαλμῶν ἔμπροσθεν καὶ ὄπισθεν. (Nestle 1904)

Here, John perceives what appears to be a glass sea likened to crystal. It is clear that sea does not refer to the wicked sea of humankind in this context; that particular understanding of the word "sea" in Rev. 4:6 leads to interpretational absurdities. Granted, there are a number of scholars who desire to construe the "sea" (even in the throne-vision scene) in harmony with combat motifs. Christopher A. Davis believes that the "sea" of Rev. 4:6 tries to oppose God, but he exercises sovereignty over this figurative body of water. Yet I am more convinced that Revelation uses temple imagery in 4:6. See Buchanan, George Wesley. The Book of Revelation: Its Introduction and Prophecy. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2005, Page 155. Compare Revelation 15:2.

Another set of verses indicating that the "sea" does not always depict evil, wicked humanity or forces opposed to God is Revelation 10:2-8.

Revelation 10:2: καὶ ἔχων ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ βιβλαρίδιον ἠνεῳγμένον. καὶ ἔθηκεν τὸν πόδα αὐτοῦ τὸν δεξιὸν ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης, τὸν δὲ εὐώνυμον ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς,

A strong angel places his right and left feet upon sea and earth respectively. What does the sea represent in this context? Anthony Charles Garland believes that the sea and land together depict the entire globe, not necessarily alienated humanity. See

Revelation 10:5 refers back to the angel, who stood astride sea and land: Καὶ ὁ ἄγγελος, ὃν εἶδον ἑστῶτα ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ἦρεν τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ τὴν δεξιὰν εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν

In a similar vein, the resurrected Christ proclaimed that all authority had been given him in heaven and on earth. Matthew Poole understands the angel in Rev. 10:2ff to be Christ.

The Pulpit Commentary offers these remarks on Rev. 10:2:

And he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth. Thus it is indicated that the revelation which is to follow affects the whole world, and is not partial in its operation, as were the judgments set forth under the earlier trumpets. Wordsworth (following Hengstenberg) sees in the earth an emblem of worldly power, and in the sea a symbol of the agitation and turbulence of nations.

While the sea, understood as turbulent or wicked humankind cannot be ruled out, I don't believe Hengstenberg's is the most probable explanation.

From The Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable:

The angel stood astride the earth and the sea symbolizing his authority over the whole world ( Revelation 10:5; Revelation 10:8; Revelation 7:2; cf. Exodus 20:4; Exodus 20:11; Deuteronomy 11:24; Psalm 68:22; Psalm 69:34). The implication is that his message involves the whole world. Other less likely views, I think, are that his stance symbolizes the universality of the message, [Note: Morris, p137.] or that he was defying the sea"s instability. [Note: Swete, p127.]

13:1-2 discusses a great sea beast that arises from the "sea" having seven heads and ten horns. The sea (ἡ θάλασσα) undoubtedly represents that mass of humanity alienated from God--the mass that stands in opposition to him (i.e., the turbulent wicked). See Isa. 57:20-21.

The beast in John's vision has features resembling a leopard, bear, and lion. We find similarities in Daniel 7:3-8 where four beasts arise from the "sea," each one being divergent from the other: the prophet saw one beast comparable to a lion with the wings of an eagle. That same beast stood up like a human and was given the heart of a human. Another beast reminded Daniel of a bear while yet another beast was akin to a leopard with four wings. Finally, the fourth beast of Daniel's vision was "terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong" (ESV). The dragon likely gave power and authority to these beasts too.


Revelation 20:13 speaks of death, Hades, and the sea giving up the dead in them. What is the "sea" in 20:13? Does it refer to the natural sea (a literal body of water) or is the sea symbolic in this case? In view of how sea is used elsewhere by John, I cannot help but wonder if the "sea" of 20:13 is identical with the sea of Revelation 21:1. Understanding "sea" to mean the same thing in both cases would help us to make sense of the expression at 21:1, "and the sea was no more."

I think the Revelation Climax book does not explain the sea of Revelation 20:13 to be identical with the "sea" in 21:1. Hence, I reserve judgment until such a change is made.

The Insight book (1:1015-16) gives this explanation:

The sea (which at times serves as a watery grave for some) is mentioned in addition to Hades (the common earthen grave), for the purpose of stressing the inclusiveness of all such dead ones when Revelation 20:13, 14 says that the sea, death, and Hades are to give up or be emptied of the dead in them. Thereafter, death and Hades (but not the sea) are cast into “the lake of fire,” “the second death.” They thereby figuratively ‘die out’ of existence, and this signifies the end of Hades (Sheol), the common grave of mankind, as well as of death inherited through Adam.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Monarchia: The Etymology and Signification of a Term

I believe one reason why it is difficult to ascertain the etymology of μοναρχία stems from trying to understand this concept in 2-3 languages (Greek, Latin, and English) and we also have to contend with the dual meaning of ἀρχὴ.

Lewis-Short Latin Dictionary defines monarchia as "I.absolute rule, monarchy (post-class. for unius dominatio, imperium singulare, regnum, regalis potestas), Capitol. Max. and Balb. 14; Tert. adv. Prax. 14; Lact. 1, 5, 23."

The Latin form is equivalent to the Greek μοναρχία. Furthermore, we know that the Greek word has the same basic definition according to LSJ Greek-English Lexicon: monarchy or government by one ruler. The word can also reference the "supreme command" of a military official.

It appears that some fathers in the early church began using μοναρχία in the sense that Jurgen Moltmann discusses: the word came to mean divine unity. It referenced God as the supreme origin and principle of ta panta.


Monday, October 02, 2017

Las Vegas Shooting and World Peace

Another shooting occurred in America: the worst mass shooting in US history. I am saddened to see another senseless act of violence, and my heart goes out to the families, who lost loved ones. Conditions will likely continue to worsen until Jehovah's Day of Vengeance (Isa. 34:8). For now, Jesus' followers have an obligation to empathize with those who mourn and cry as we proclaim better news to honest hearts (Isa. 61:1-2).

Sunday, October 01, 2017

KTISIS in Mark 16:15 (C.S. Mann)

I understand that Mark 16:15 probably does not belong in the GNT, but we can still learn something from the Greek in that verse. Interested parties are encouraged to consult C.S. Mann, Mark (Anchor Bible Commentary). New York:
Doubleday, 1986. See pp. 672-75.

Mann translates Mk 16:15:

"And he said to them, 'Go into the whole world; make the Proclamation to the whole creation.'"

But what does Mann mean by "creation" in this passage?

On page 675, he provides this data:

"We have translated KTISIS as creation, which is the proper sense in 10:6 and 13:19, but it probably is here better understood as 'humanity' (cf. Col 1:23)."

It is my contention that Col. 1:23 could be understood in the same way: as a reference to humanity or to the human sphere.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Undeveloped and Scattered Ideas About Divine Atemporality/Temporality

I used to read many books about God and time. These scattered thoughts were developed from those studies:

Notes on Divine Temporality

Advocates for Divine temporality (Stephen T. Davis, Richard Swinburne, John Sanders, Nick Wolterstorff, Terence Fretheim, William Hasker, William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, F. Pike, Greg Boyd, and Clark Pinnock).

Other side: Brian Leftow, Richard Creel, Brian Davies, Paul Helm.

1) Possible atemporal causation definition: S possibly brings it about that X happens @ t1-contiguity with space-time

2) Divine episteme: Can a timeless being know temporal particulars directly/immediately qua temporal particulars? Thomas Aquinas and Augustine seem to answer no.

3) In my estimation, it is logically possible (maybe metaphysically possible) that timeless events are impossible.

However, what about the event of God generating/creating the only-begotten Son?

Friday, September 29, 2017

ADHON, KURIOS (Psalm 110:1) and ELOHIM

Ps. 110:1 contains a Messianic use of the word "Lord" (ADHON) and
this passage clearly distinguishes between THE LORD (YHWH) and the Lord of David (the Messiah). Furthermore, ADHON is used with reference to the Pharaoh of Egypt (Gen. 40:1) and also wielded for Joseph who was sent to Egypt by God in order to preserve his family (Gen. 42:10, 30). Cf. Ruth 2:13; 1 Sam. 1:15. So Thomas' use of KURIOS in Jn. 20:28 need not indicate that he was identifying Jesus with YHWH.

As for the term ELOHIM, it too is a term that can be applied to men, angels, and God/gods. Isa. 9:6 probably calls the Messiah, EL GIBBOR. The Catholic NAB, when commenting on this passage, makes the following observation:

"Upon his shoulder dominion rests: authority. Wonder-Counselor: remarkable for his wisdom and prudence. God-hero: a warrior and a defender of his people, like God himself."

Please note the prophecy in Zech. 12:8 as well and its use of ELOHIM.

Bob Utley makes these remarks on 12:8:

"the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord before them" This is a striking metaphor used in the sense of God's empowering of His people. The term for God is the term Elohim, which is used in the sense of supernatural beings (cf. Exod. 4:16; 7:1; I Sam. 28:13; Ps. 8:5; 82:1,6).

The angel of the LORD is often seen as God's representative among the people (cf. Exod. 13:21; 14:19; 23:20-21; 32:34; 33:2,14-15,22). In two passages David is likened to the angel of the Lord (cf. I Sam. 29:9; II Sam. 14:17,20; 19:27). Remember there are three phrases (no VERBS) here which build on each other for literary, not theological, effect.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Revelation 21:21: Random Notes

καὶ οἱ δώδεκα πυλῶνες δώδεκα μαργαρῖται· ἀνὰ εἷς ἕκαστος τῶν πυλώνων ἦν ἐξ ἑνὸς μαργαρίτου. καὶ ἡ πλατεῖα τῆς πόλεως χρυσίον καθαρὸν ὡς ὕαλος διαυγής. (Rev. 21:21-Nestle GNT)

"And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass." (ESV Rendering)

Compare Rev. 21:18.

John uses ὅμοιον ὑάλῳ καθαρῷ in Rev. 21:18; ὡς ὕαλος διαυγής occurs in Rev. 21:21.

E.W. Bullinger on Rev. 21:21: "as it were. Not that it is glass, but gold of a kind unknown to us."

Robertson's WP: "Transparent (διαυγής — diaugēs). Old word (from δια — dia through, αυγη — augē ray, shining through), here alone in N.T."

Peter Pett's Commentary:

"'And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each one of the several gates was one pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.'

In Matthew 7:6 pearls represented what was holy and precious, compare the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:46). Gold again is symbolic of the holy sanctuary, where all is made of gold. The transparency may well denote total openness and honesty. The city contains all that is most splendid. We can compare many of these splendours with those which poured into Babylon at its finest (Revelation 17:4; Revelation 18:12), but here it is heavenly gold, heavenly jewels and heavenly pearls of a size unknown to earth.

But in the new creation such things as gold and precious stones in their literal senses will be meaningless. They are used as descriptions here only because of fallen man’s peculiar propensities. They denote what is better far than gold. Note that only one street is mentioned and yet there are twelve entrances. As there are no buildings the whole inside may be intended to be seen as the street. The point is that all is of gold. (Not liveable in but splendid in conception)."

When explaining Rev. 21:18-21, Dr. Thomas Constable invokes 1 Kings 6:30.

Cf. 1 Cor. 3:12.

Contrast John's description of the New Jerusalem with how he saw Babylon the Great in Rev. 17:4.

Rev. 18:12 mentions gold, precious stone, and pearl, among other things.

Rev. 18:16 likewise refers to gold, precious stone, and pearls.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Jude 14-15 and the Bride of Christ

Jude 14-15 does not have reference to the "saints" (Jesus' bride): it is a text that refers to the holy angels who accompany God when He destroys every last vestige of this ungodly age during his fateful day of vengeance (Isa. 34:1-8). hAGIAIS MURIASIN AUTOU does not refer to the Christian EKKLHSIA as such. From a literary-historical perspective, Enoch, who spoke this prophecy, knew nothing concerning any bride of Christ. At most, resurrected anointed Christians may be peripherally included in the formula recorded by Jude, but it is more likely that Jude 14-15 is talking about the holy angels of YHWH. Other usages of this linguistic formula seem to bear out this point. See Deut. 33:1-2; Habakkuk 3:3-4; Zech. 14:1-5.

Henry Alford applies Jude 14-15 to angels, and includes Heb. 12:23 as a reference.

Meyer's NT Commentary:

ἐν ἁγίαις μυριάσιν] comp. Zechariah 14:5; Deuteronomy 33:2; Hebrews 12:22; (μυριάσιν ἀγγέλων) Revelation 5:11.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Soteriological Narrative

Please take this post with a heaping grain of salt (cum grano salis).

In order for anyone to "accept Jesus as [his or her] Savior", God must first act. According to the GNT, God has first loved so that we might in turn love Him (1 John 4:19). His supreme philanthropic (FILANQRWPIA) act was the sending of His Son to die PRO NOBIS, so that we might have everlasting life KAI PERISSON EXWSIN. Of course, this is a basic teaching of Christianity, but the salvation process goes much deeper than this basic act. Since Christ died for the KOSMOS of humankind, Almighty God has initiated a proclamation of the everlasting Gospel throughout the entire earth (Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20; Acts 10:34-36; Eph. 2:14-18; Rev. 14:6, 7). Therefore, when a person is approached with the "good news" of Christ and his kingdom, God is acting in that person's life. If the individual approached is in a state of unbelief, he or she is spiritually blind (2 Cor. 4:3, 4). How can the prevailing KALUMNA be removed from the heart of the unbelieving soul? 2 Cor. 3:16 says that when one turns to the Lord, PERIAIREITAI TO KALUMNA. Notice please, the sequence of this process:

God acts (He sends His Son).

God acts again (He has the good news proclaimed).

An unbeliever acts (He or she responds to the good news).

God acts again (He removes the veil from the unbelieving heart).

The believer subsequently acts (He or she repents, turns around, dedicating himself or herself to God and demonstrating this dedication by water baptism--See footnote*).

As one can see, what I am proposing is a spiritual action-reaction
type of relationship between God and man. God acts, then we act with
an equal and opposite reaction per se. This schema seems to be in
harmony with Acts 26:20 where Paul speaks of works befitting
repentance in connection with the preaching of the Christian KERYGMA.
In short, belief is a work, but it is a work in response to God's
work. This means that a human can neither earn nor merit salvation.
Nevertheless, he or she must show appreciation for the undeserved gift
God has given. How can this be done? Via faith backed by works. As
Vine's Expository Dictionary says, 'justification is primarily and
gratuitously by faith, evidentially and subsequently by works' (See
James 2:15ff).

* I am aware of the fact that the steps outlined will differ from one
religious tradition to the other. When I outline the above steps, I
speak from my own particular religious and Christian viewpoint. I know
about the many debates on baptism and repentance and would be glad to
discuss them with anyone on the list. Until then, vale.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Potential Meaning of EIS and General Principles of Greek Translation

There are some contexts in which εἰς can be rendered "for," but how we translate this Greek preposition may depend on the aspect/Aktionsart of the verbs used in context and the context of a passage itself. Translating Virgil's Latin work Georgics and Homer's Iliad and Odyssey has taught me the importance of examining how a word (preposition or otherwise) is used in context (a term's usus loquendi). Lexicons are helpful in this regard.

What might be helpful is to look at similar texts/contexts and try to determine what εἰς is most likely to mean in a given setting. Certain examples given in BDAG for "εἰς" (2. beta) seem pertinent for understanding 1 Thessalonians 4:15. Compare Matthew 6:34; 1 Timothy 6:19.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Trinity Doctrine: Catholic Encyclopedia

The evidence from the Gospels culminates in the baptismal commission of Matthew 28:20. It is manifest from the narratives of the Evangelists that Christ only made the great truth known to the Twelve step by step.

First He taught them to recognize in Himself the Eternal Son of God. When His ministry was drawing to a close, He promised that the Father would send another Divine Person, the Holy Spirit, in His place. Finally after His resurrection, He revealed the doctrine in explicit terms, bidding them "go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:18). The force of this passage is decisive. That "the Father" and "the Son" are distinct Persons follows from the terms themselves, which are mutually exclusive. The mention of the Holy Spirit in the same series, the names being connected one with the other by the conjunctions "and . . . and" is evidence that we have here a Third Person co-ordinate with the Father and the Son, and excludes altogether the supposition that the Apostles understood the Holy Spirit not as a distinct Person, but as God viewed in His action on creatures.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Henry Alford's Notes on 2 Peter 1:1 and Titus 2:13

Alford's Comments for 2 Pet 1:1:

Next, as to the words τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ. Undoubtedly, as in Titus 2:13, in strict grammatical propriety, both θεοῦ and σωτῆρος would be predicates of Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ. But here, as there, considerations interpose, which seem to remove the strict grammatical rendering out of the range of probable meaning. I have fully discussed the question in the note on that passage, to which I would refer the reader as my justification for interpreting here, as there, τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν of the Father, and σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ of the Son. Here, there is the additional consideration in favour of this view, that the Two are distinguished most plainly in the next verse):

Comments pertaining to Tit 2:13:

And we now come to consider the meaning of these words. Two views have been taken of them: (1) that τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος̣ ἡμῶν are to be taken together as the description of Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ,—‘of Jesus Christ, the great God and our Saviour:’ (2) that as given above, τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ describes the Father, and σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ the Son. It is obvious that in dealing with (1), we shall be deciding with regard to (2) also. (1) has been the view of the Greek orthodox Fathers, as against the Arians (see a complete collection of their testimonies in Dr. Wordsworth’s “Six Letters to Granville Sharp on the use of the definite article in the Greek text of the N. T.” Lond. 1802), and of most ancient and modern Commentators. That the former so interpreted the words, is obviously not (as it has been considered) decisive of the question, if they can be shewn to bear legitimately another meaning, and that meaning to be the one most likely to have been in the mind of the writer. The case of ἵνα in the preceding verse (see note there), was wholly different. There it was contended that ἵνα with a subjunctive, has, and can have, but one meaning: and this was upheld against those who would introduce another, inter alia, by the fact that the Greek Fathers dreamt of no other. The argument rested not on this latter fact, but on the logical force of the particle itself. And similarly here, the passage must be argued primarily on its own ground, not primarily on the consensus of the Greek Fathers. No one disputes that it may mean that which they have interpreted it: and there were obvious reasons why they, having licence to do so, should choose this interpretation. But it is our object, not being swayed in this or any other interpretation, by doctrinal considerations one way or the other, to enquire, not what the words may mean, but what they do mean, as far as we may be able to ascertain it. The main, and indeed the only reliance of those who take (1), is the omission of the article before σωτῆρος. Had the sentence stood τοῦ μεγ. θεοῦ καὶ τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰ. χ., their verdict for (2) would have been unanimous. That the insertion of the article would have been decisive for (2), is plain: but is it equally plain, that its omission is decisive for (1)? This must depend entirely on the nature and position of the word thus left anarthrous. If it is a word which had by usage become altogether or occasionally anarthrous,—if it is so connected, that the presence of the article expressed, is not requisite to its presence in the sense, then the state of the case, as regards the omission, is considerably altered. Now there is no doubt that σωτήρ was one of those words which gradually dropped the article and became a quasi proper name: cf. 1Timothy 1:1 (I am quite aware of Bp. Middleton’s way of accounting for this, but do not regard it as satisfactory); 4:10; which latter place is very instructive as to the way in which the designation from its official nature became anarthrous. This being so, it must hardly be judged as to the expression of the art. by the same rules as other nouns. Then as to its structural and contextual connexion. It is joined with ἡμῶν, which is an additional reason why it may spare the article: see Luke 1:78: Romans 1:7: 1Corinthians 1:3 (1Corinthians 2:7; 1Corinthians 10:11): 2Corinthians 1:2, &c. Again, as Winer has observed (edn. 6, § 19, 5 b, remark 1), the prefixing of an appositional designation to the proper name frequently causes the omission of the article. So in 2 Thessalonians 1:12: 2Peter 1:1: Jude 1:4: see also 2Corinthians 1:2; 2Corinthians 6:18: Galatians 1:3: Ephesians 1:2; Ephesians 6:23: Philippians 1:2; Philippians 2:11; Philippians 3:20 &c. If then σωτὴρ ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦς χριστός may signify ‘Jesus Christ our Saviour,’—on comparing the two members of the clause, we observe, that θεοῦ has already had its predicate expressed in τοῦ μεγαλου; and that it is therefore natural to expect that the latter member of the clause, likewise consisting of a proper name and its predicate, should correspond logically to the former: in other words, that τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰη. χρ. would much more naturally suit (1) than τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμ. Ἰη. χρ. In clauses where the two appellative members belong to one expressed subject, we expect to find the former of them without any predicative completion. If it be replied to this, as I conceive on the hypothesis of (1) it must be, that τοῦ μεγάλου is an epithet alike of θεοῦ and σωτῆρος, ‘our great (God and Saviour),’ I may safely leave it to the feeling of any scholar, whether such an expression would be likely to occur. Let us now consider, whether the Apostle would in this place have been likely to designate our Lord as ὁ μέγας θεὸς καὶ σωτὴρ ἡμῶν. This must be chiefly decided by examining the usages of the expression θεὸς ὁ σωτὴρ ἡμῶν, which occurs six times in these Epistles, once in Luke (1:47), and once in the Epistle of Jude. If the writer here identifies this expression, ‘the great God and our Saviour,’ with the Lord Jesus Christ, calling Him ‘God and our Saviour,’ it will be at least probable that in other places where he speaks of “God our Saviour,” he also designates our Lord Jesus Christ. Now is that so? On the contrary, in 1Timothy 1:1, we have κατʼ ἐπιταγὴν θεοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν, καὶ χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τῆς ἐλπίδος ἡμῶν: where I suppose none will deny that the Father and the Son are most plainly distinguished from one another. The same is the case in 1Timothy 2:3-5, a passage bearing much (see below) on the interpretation of this one: and consequently in 1Timothy 4:10, where ἐστιν σωτὴρ πάντων ἀνθρώπων corresponds to θέλει πάντας σωθῆναι in the other. So also in Titus 1:3, where the σωτὴρ ἡμῶν θεός, by whose ἐπιταγή the promise of eternal life was manifested, with the proclamation of which St. Paul was entrusted, is the same αἰώνιος θεός, by whose ἐπιταγή the hidden mystery was manifested in Romans 16:26, where the same distinction is made. The only place where there could be any doubt is in our ver. 10, which possible doubt however is removed by ver. 11, where the same assertion is made, of the revelation of the hidden grace of God (the Father). Then we have our own ch. 3:4-6, where we find τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ in ver. 4, clearly defined as the Father, and διὰ Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν in ver. 6. In that passage too we have the expression ἡ χρηστότης καὶ ἡ φιλανθρωπία ἐπεφάνη τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμ. θεοῦ, which is quite decisive in answer to those who object here to the expression ἐπιφάνειαν τῆς δόξης as applied to the Father. In the one passage of St. Jude, the distinction is equally clear: for there we have μόνῳ θεῷ σωτῆρι ἡμῶν διὰ Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν. It is plain then, that the usage of the words ‘God our Saviour’ does not make it probable that the whole expression here is to be applied to the Lord Jesus Christ. And in estimating this probability, let us again recur to 1Timothy 2:3, 1Timothy 2:5, a passage which runs very parallel with the present one. We read there, εἷς γὰρ θεός, " εἷς καὶ μεσίτης θεοῦ καὶ ἀνθρώπων, ἄνθρωπος χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς, ὁ δοὺς ἑαυτὸν ἀντίλυτρον κ.τ.λ. Compare this with τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ " καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, ὃς ἔδωκεν ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἵνα λυτρώσηται κ.τ.λ. Can there be a reasonable doubt, that the Apostle writing two sentences so closely corresponding, on a point of such high importance, would have in his view the same distinction in the second of them, which he so strongly lays down in the first? Without then considering the question as closed, I would submit that (2) satisfies all the grammatical requirements of the sentence: that it is both structurally and contextually more probable, and more agreeable to the Apostle’s way of writing: and I have therefore preferred it. The principal advocates for it have been, the pseudo-Ambrose (i.e. Hilary the deacon, the author of the Commentary which goes by the name of that Father: whose words are these, “hanc esse dicit beatam spem credentium, qui exspectant adventum gloriæ magni Dei quod revelari habet judice Christo, in quo Dei Patris videbitur potestas et gloria, ut fidei suæ præmium consequantur. Ad hoc enim redemit nos Christus, ut” &c.), Erasm. (annot. and paraphr.), Grot., Wetst., Heinr., Winer (ubi supra, end), De W., Huther (the other view,—not this as stated in my earlier editions, by inadvertence,—is taken by Ellicott). Whichever way taken, the passage is just as important a testimony to the divinity of our Saviour: according to (1), by asserting His possession of Deity and right to the appellation of the Highest: according to (2), even more strikingly, asserting His equality in glory with the Father, in a way which would be blasphemy if predicated of any of the sons of men), who (our Saviour Jesus Christ), gave Himself (“the forcible ἑαυτόν, ‘Himself, His whole self, the greatest gift ever given,’ must not be overlooked: cf. Beveridge, Serm. 93, vol. iv. p. 285.” Ellicott) for us (‘on our behalf,’ not ‘in our stead:’ reff.), that He might (by this assertion of the Redeemer’s purpose, we return to the moral aim of verses 11, 12, more plainly indicated as in close connexion with Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice) redeem (λυτροῦσθαι, ‘to buy off with a price,’ the middle including personal agency and interest, cf. καθαρίσῃ ἑαυτῷ below.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Hurricane Irma

Thinking about friends and family in Florida and other southeastern states. Be safe: my love and prayers are with you.

The Latin Verb, Offerebantur

Here is an email I once wrote to a friend:

Offerebantur is a form of offero ("I offer" or "I present," "bring before," etc). It's 3rd-person plural imperfect indicative passive. You can normally tell that a verb is third-person plural in Latin by the "nt." The "ur" ending lets you know that the verb is passive or deponent, and the "ba" tells you the verb is imperfect. It's all about endings like Greek. :)

Obtulit is 3rd-person singular perfect indicative active of offero. So, he/she/it "brought forth, presented, offered" etc. Obtulit looks like an irregular verb form although I could be mistaken about that, but the 3rd-person singular conjugation is clear from the "t" ending instead of "nt."

Latin is tough, but fun. I don't read it as often as I used to do.

MORFH Understood as "Status" (Philippians 2:6)

I have written some on MORFH in Phil. 2:6ff. There is a reference from Tobit 1:13 which supports the denotation "status" or "condition" for the word MORFH although I prefer to define it (in this context) as external form/shape or outward appearance.

For MORFH, BDAG Greek-English Lexicon has "form, outward appearance, shape" and "gener. of bodily form 1 Cl 39:3; ApcPt 4:13 (Job 4:16; ApcEsdr 4:14 p. 28, 16 Tdf.; SJCh 78, 13)."

Additionally, MORFH is also used of the shape or form of statues (Jos., Vi.65; Iren. I, 8, 1 and Dg 2:3). The term also describes appearances in visions and Mk. 16:12 (in the longer reading of Mark's Gospel) relates that Jesus appeared in a hETERA MORFH or "different form." BDAG also states: "on MORFH QEOU cp. Orig. C. Cels. 7, 66, 21; Pla., Rep. 2, 380D; 381 bc . . ."

Louw-Nida has two definitions for MORFH ("nature" and "visual form of something"). It classifies Phil. 2:6-7 as an example of MORFH being employed to denote "the nature or character of something, with emphasis upon both the internal and external form" whereas it categorizes Mk. 16:12 as an instance of MORFH being utilized to mean "visual form, appearance."

Gerald F. Hawthorne (Word Biblical Commentary on Philippians) also points out that some scholars (such as P.M. Casey and Carolyn Osiek) have concluded MORFH can signify "status" or "condition." It would therefore be way off the mark to translate it as "nature" (if this claim is true) since the Greek term would then have reference to Christ's place/standing before God and before men. Hawthorne criticizes the last view because the extant literature does not appear to support it. However, Tobit 1:13 possibly uses MORPH to mean "status" or "condition":

"the Most High granted me favor and status with Shalmaneser, so that I became purchasing agent for all his needs."

Greek for Tobit 1:13: καὶ ἔδωκεν ὁ ὕψιστος χάριν καὶ μορφὴν ἐνώπιον ενεμεσσαρου καὶ ἤμην αὐτοῦ ἀγοραστής

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

More Thoughts on Article-Noun-Kai and Noun Constructions (Zerwick)

Zerwick writes: "The repetition of the article
distinguishes two coordinated notions, while on the
contrary the use of but one article before a number of
nouns indicates that they are conceived as forming a
certain unity, if not as identical" (Biblical Greek
Illustrated by Examples
. Roma: Editrice Pontificio
Istituto Biblico, 2001. Pp. 59-60.

However, while there are clear examples such as 1
Thess 2:12 that seem to support this grammatical
principle, 2 Cor 8:4, 19, 24; 9:13; 1 Pet 4:14 seem to
militate against it. Zerwick adds:

"On the other hand, we are perhaps warned not to
insist too far by such examples" as those cited above.
See Zerwick, ibid., p. 60.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

2 Peter 1:4--Future Sharers in the Divine Nature?


There are a number of informative points in this verse that lead me to believe the "partaking" is future. For one, Peter anaphorically refers back to the contents of the previous verse when he uses the relative pronoun hWN ("these things") to tell us something about God's beneficent activity in connection with his spiritual children.

The "things" that Peter evidently references in 2 Pet. 1:4 are God's "glory and virtue" (DOXHS KAI ARETHS) through which he called "us" (TOU KALESANTOS hHMAS). Primarily, by means of His Son, God has called anointed Christians and given them freely "precious and very grand promises" (NWT). This phrase tells me that Peter's focus is on the future when he speaks of Christians being sharers in divine nature, for it is through these promises (DI' hWN TA TIMIA KAI MEGISTA hHMIN EPAGGELMATA DEDWRHTAI) that anointed Christians become "sharers in divine nature." While a number of promises have been fulfilled, others are yet future and will be fully realized in the eschaton. So I favor a futurist interpretation of 2 Pet. 1:4, although I am aware of other ways to construe this passage.

But concerning GENESQE and its tense (or aspect), I am not so sure it tells us anything definite about the specific time-frame of 2 Pet. 1:4. GENESQE is 2nd pers. pl. aorist middle subjunctive. An aorist normally just defines simple action (action as a whole) and the subjunctive mood indicates potentiality--not necessarily future reference. So it seems that we must base our exegesis of this verse on its immediate literary context as well as look at other passages related to this one.