Friday, May 26, 2017

John 1:3 and Christ as Creator - From Louw-Nida

Something I discovered in 2001.

While reading Louw-Nida's Greek-English Lexicon tonight, I came across
something I had never read in this tool before.

On page 793 (volume I) under semantic domain 89.120, this source makes this
observation about XWRIS in John 1:3:

"It would be wrong to restructure Jn 1:3 to read 'he made everything in all
creation,' for in the Scriptures God is spoken of as the Creator, but the
creation was done 'through the Word.' If one must restructure Jn 1:3, it may
be possible to say 'he was involved in everything that was created' or 'he
took part in creating everything.'

I thought this comment was interesting. It buttresses what others have already pointed about the use of the passive voice in Col 1:15-17 vis-à-vis the Firstborn of all creation.

A Little More Concerning Exegetical Fallacies (Once Written to a Friend)

Let me first qualify what we have been discussing
about etymology. I think D.A. Carson (Exegetical
) provides a balanced presentation on this
subject. After giving a caveat about word
meanings, he then notes that "the meaning of a word
may reflect the meanings of its component parts" (page
32). The denotation of EKBALLW (a compound of EK +
BALLW = "I cast out," "I throw out" or "I put out")
illustrates the validity of Carson's observation.

Carson even supplements the foregoing points by
writing: "Finally, I am far from suggesting that
etymological study is useless. It is important, for
instance, in the diachronic study of words (the study
of words as they occur across long periods of time),
in the attempt to specify the earliest attested
meaning, in the study of cognate languages, and
especially in attempts to understand the meanings of
hapax legomena (words that appear only once)" (page

Like Carson, I do not reject etymological studies in
. My point, however, is that synchronic data takes
precedence over diachronic data. Therefore, before we
assume that hUPARXWN or any other term possesses the
same meaning at each point in Greek history, we must
first ascertain how a word is used by speakers and
writers at a particular time period. I thus find
no major problem with what you note above, although I
think there are instances that militate against
espousing diachronic priority as I will try to show in
this email.

I do not think linguists generally say that most or
all words completely change their meanings over time.
But semantic change is usually inevitable and it
appears that one is wise to look at how a word is used
at a particular time rather than depending on how it was
used 800 years earlier.

So I would say that one can grasp how a term is
employed in the NT, if he or she relies on the LXX or
Greek papyri and related sources rather than depending
too heavily on Plato, Aristotle or Homer.

I agree that compounds can and do often retain their
original meanings in English. But we must not
automatically conclude that such is always the case. It
would behoove us to note how a word is used in context
or at a particular time. Consider the terms "gossip"
(from Godsibb), overjoy, and overhear. Just looking at
the etymology of each word will not be helpful in
understanding what the terms now mean. Moreover,
please note that The Concise Oxford Dictionary of
English Etymology
says that "over" (after the Middle
English period) underwent various modifications and
developments vis-a-vis its meanings. Ergo, even the
word "over" acquired new significances as time went

I think careful scholars will not
dogmatically assert that PRWTOTOKOS means "pre-eminent
one." BAGD simply questions whether the "force of the
element -TOKOS is still felt at all" in the NT period
(page 726). Compare the notes in Louw-Nida on this
word and Col. 1:15. One cannot anachronistically graft a
fourth-century meaning onto a first-century setting.

As for MONOGENHS, it could mean either "only-begotten"
or "only." It is used both ways in Classical and Koine
Greek, and the Early Church Fathers also utilize the term
both ways (see Lampe's Patristic Lexicon).

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Exegetical Fallacies

I recently watched a video done by Dr. Michael S. Heiser that reviewed so-called "exegetical fallacies." Of course, the scholar, who put such terminology on the map was D.A. Carson--the author of a book with that title.

Exegesis (especially used in the biblical sense) means to explain, interpret or unfold a text (see John 1:18); the act of exegesis involves drawing meaning from (out of) a text, not reading sense/meaning into it. Exegetes base their explanations on close readings of textual sources in their respective biblical language, whether that language is Hebrew-Aramaic, Greek, Latin or other. Nevertheless, like any task, there are right ways to undertake exegesis: bad exegesis usually entails committing exegetical fallacies or one sort or another. In logic, "fallacy" is normally defined as "a mistake in reasoning." E.g., argumentum ad hominem.

Other definitions for fallacy include:

a) a mistaken belief, especially one based on unsound argument.

b) a failure in reasoning that renders an argument invalid.

c) faulty reasoning; misleading or unsound argument.

Two kinds of exegetical fallacies are grammatical and presuppositional/historical fallacies. For example, to understand the Greek aorist as the "action that happens once in the past" tense is fallacious, since many uses of the aorist do not fit this definition. Furthermore, aspect research now suggests that aorists are default Greek verbal forms; and they likely portray action as a whole. See Matthew 4:9; Philippians 2:12; 1 John 2:1-2.

Historical fallacies might occur when exegetes try to reconstruct historical circumstances for Gospels or NT Epistles. We do not have access to precise historical conditions for the ecclesiae at Corinth, Philadelphia or Pergamum, apart from NT records. So while reconstructions of history might be interesting, they can lead to fallacies when imposed on the text from outside. But many other traps await interpreters of Scripture.


My Book Review of Robert M. Grant's "Gods and the One God"

The book Gods and the One God is written by Robert M. Grant. It is part of a series entitled the Library of Early Christianity edited by Wayne Meeks. This publication attempts to situate early Christian theology within its appropriate Greco-Roman context. But contrary to one of the blurbs that appears on my copy of this work, Grant does not simply document "the similarities and differences between beliefs of the emerging Christian movement" and beliefs held by the "larger world" in the first century or early second century CE. Rather, he seems to argue that there is a sense in which certain Christian beliefs depended on pagan beliefs or concepts about God (i.e., they were possibly shaped or influenced by pagan thought). An example of this phenomenon is when one analyzes what Grant has to say about the gradual development of Christology (the systematic doctrine of Christ's person and work) and its concomitant teaching, the Trinity. Grant argues that the early church fathers were almost universally subordinationist in thought (concerning the relationship between Christ and his divine Father) prior to the Council of Nicaea (page 160). As Grant writes in his description of Theophilus of Antioch and other early Christian authors like him, "we find the materials for such a doctrine [of the Trinity] but not a doctrine as such" (page 156). He also points out that "The doctrine of the trinity in unity is not a product of the earliest Christian period, and we do not find it carefully expressed before the end of the second century" (page 156).

Regarding the structure of this work:

There are three parts to this book and 13 chapters. Grant begins his study with an account of how the Christian God is portrayed in Acts of the Apostles and then discusses how philosophy, Judaism and Christianity depicted God in antiquity. He concludes his study by focusing on divergent Christologies and the Trinity doctrine. I highly recommend Grant's text--it is illuminating, intellectually honest and mainly objective.

Grant, Robert M. Gods and the One God. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1986.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Yet More Evidence Against the Johannine Comma

The weight against 1 John 5:7 is monumental, according to our present knowledge. Both Trinitarians and non-Trinitarians normally discount the famed Comma. In the work The Johannine Literature (by Barnabas Lindars, R. Alan Culpepper, Ruth B. Edwards, and John M. Court), we read that the Comma does not appear "in any Greek manuscript before 1400 CE" (page 16). The work says the reading is a "gloss" evidently motivated by Trinitarian debates.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Book Review of "Arnobius of Sicca: Religious Conflict and Competition in the Age of Diocletian"

The groundbreaking study written by Michael B. Simmons has advanced our knowledge of Arnobius and his theology. Despite some problematic elements such as the claims made about religious conflict and competition, Simmons' investigation clarifies Arnobian thought by attempting to establish a socio-historical context for Adversus nationes. Simmons indicates that "Saturnian theology" possibly informs the Arnobian concept of God. The terminology that he uses refers to the doctrine of God that prevailed in Roman North Africa during the age of Emperor Diocletian (284-305 CE). Saturn was the chief god of North Africans and his cultus revolved around agrarian matters like crops, farming implements and weather control.

Certain factors that lead Simmons to adjudge that "Saturnian theology" informs Arnobius' theology are portions of Adversus nationes that disputably attribute Saturnian epithets to the omnipotent deity of Christianity. One readily encounters the terms genitor, pater, dominus and frugifer in Arnobius. Of course, this linguistic phenomenon does not necessarily confirm that the cultus of Saturn functions as a backdrop for Arnobius' thinking about God. Nonetheless, Simmons considers it a strong possibility.

While pagan concepts may shape the Arnobian understanding of divine fatherhood, it seems more feasible that polemical strategy or ignorance respecting certain doctrines as well as situational context influences his doctrine of God and Christ. Simmons' work is documented thoroughly and well-written--it has proved to be indispensable for my studies of the Latin Patristics.

Theophilus of Antioch on Inspired Prophets

"But men of God carrying in them a holy spirit and becoming prophets, being inspired and made wise by God, became God-taught, and holy, and righteous. Wherefore they were also deemed worthy of receiving this reward, that they should become instruments of God, and contain the wisdom that is from Him, through which wisdom they uttered both what regarded the creation of the world and all other things. For they predicted also pestilences, and famines, and wars. And there was not one or two, but many, at various times and seasons among the Hebrews; and also among the Greeks there was the Sibyl; and they all have spoken things consistent and harmonious with each other, both what happened before them and what happened in their own time, and what things are now being fulfilled in our own day: wherefore we are persuaded also concerning the future things that they will fall out, as also the first have been accomplished" (Theophilus to Autolycus II.9).

Greek: Οἱ δὲ τοῦ θεοῦ ἄνθρωποι, πνευματοφόροι πνεύματος ἁγίου καὶ προφῆται γενόμενοι, ὑπ' αὐτοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐμπνευσθέντες καὶ σοφισθέντες, ἐγένοντο θεοδίδακτοι καὶ ὅσιοι καὶ δίκαιοι. διὸ καὶ κατηξιώθησαν τὴν ἀντιμισθίαν ταύτην λαβεῖν, ὄργανα θεοῦ γενόμενοι καὶ χωρήσαντες σοφίαν τὴν παρ' αὐτοῦ, δι' ἧς σοφίας εἶπον καὶ τὰ περὶ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ κόσμου, καὶ τῶν λοιπῶν ἁπάντων. καὶ γὰρ περὶ λοιμῶν καὶ λιμῶν καὶ πολέμων προεῖπον. καὶ οὐχ εἷς ἢ δύο ἀλλὰ πλείονες κατὰ χρόνους καὶ καιροὺς ἐγενήθησαν παρὰ Ἑβραίοις, ἀλλὰ καὶ παρὰ Ἕλλησιν Σίβυλλα καὶ πάντες φίλα ἀλλήλοις καὶ σύμφωνα εἰρήκασιν, τά τε πρὸ αὐτῶν γεγενημένα καὶ τὰ κατ' αὐτοὺς γεγονότα καὶ τὰ καθ' ἡμᾶς νυνὶ τελειούμενα· διὸ καὶ πεπείσμεθα καὶ περὶ τῶν μελλόντων οὕτως ἔσεσθαι, καθὼς καὶ τὰ πρῶτα ἀπήρτισται.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Additional Links for Theopneustos

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Translating Psalm 33:3

Psalm 33:3-"Sing to him a new song; Play skillfully on the strings, along with shouts of joy" (NWT 2013).

"Sing to him a new song; Do YOUR best at playing on the strings along with joyful shouting" (NWT 1984).

"Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise" (KJV).

Albert Barnes:

Play skillfully with a loud noise - literally, "Do well to play;" or, "do well in playing." That is, do the work well, or with all the skill of music. The word rendered "loud noise," means properly "a shout of joy" or "rejoicing:" Job 8:21; 1 Samuel 4:5. It is especially applied to the sound or clangor of trumpets: Leviticus 25:9; Leviticus 23:24; Numbers 29:1. There is rather the idea of "rejoicing" than of "noise" in the word. The meaning is that the music should be such as would be expressive of the highest joy.

JFB mentions 1 Samuel 16:17.

John Trapp's Commentary:
Play skilfully (or lustily) with a loud noise] Make good music, set all your skill and might at work to magnify the Lord. It is not an easy matter to praise God aright; it must be done Corde, ore, opere, with the very best of the best. Benefacite canendo, cum iubilatione.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible:
"Play skillfully with a loud noise" (Psalms 33:3). Some modern translators love to inject instrumental music into as many passages of the Old Testament as possible; and, in keeping with that intention, the RSV renders this place, "Play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts." "The words on the strings are not in the Hebrew text."[8] The words were simply added to the sacred text by the translators!

NET Bible: Sing to him a new song! 2 Play skillfully as you shout out your praises to him! 3

Notes from NET:

2 sn A new song is appropriate because the Lord is constantly intervening in the lives of his people in fresh and exciting ways.

3 tn Heb “play skillfully with a loud shout.”

Friday, May 12, 2017

Logical Possibility and the Existence of God

Vincent Brümmer distinguishes four types of modalities:

1) Conceptual impossibility-impossible by virtue of definition.
2) Logical impossibility-if an assertion that something has been done results in a contradiction, regardless of how one defines the terms used in the assertion.
3) Factual impossibility-things are impossible according to the known structure of reality.
4) Normative possibility-a form of possibility that involves rights and duties (i.e., employees and employers each have prescriptive responsibilities toward one another by means of some formalized agreement).

Some things clearly appear to be factually, conceptually or logically impossible like square circles or events that have happened, then unhappened (Nicomachean Ethics 6.2). Nothing is also red and green all over: that too is factually impossible. Nor is Lebron James both taller than 6 feet and not taller than 6 feet at the same time and in the same respect (law of non-contradiction).

Furthermore, God does not do things that by their very nature are impossible; if one maintains otherwise, he/she land himself/herself in numerous contradictions.

I define logical possibility as "terminological congruity" or internal coherence. The wording is mine, but the idea has been expressed by other writers (Anselm of Canterbury)--something is logically possible when it does not result in a contradictory state of affairs. For instance, there is no logical impossibility contained within the proposition: "All unmarried men are bachelors." The statement is analytically true by virtue of the terms involved. Conversely, to say that "A circle is round and a circle is square" lands one in a terminologically discordant situation: a round and square circle is not logically possible. Yet logical possibility should not be confused with truth or untruth; nor should it be confounded with causal or physical possibility. See Paul Herrick, Introduction to Logic, 61.

Atheists will sometimes insist that the existence of God is logically impossible; however, if this claim were true, then it would mean that predicating God's existence is self-contradictory. Wherein does the supposed contradiction lie? What is terminologically incongruent about asserting, "There is a being such that no being is greater than that being"? The onus probandi falls upon the atheist to explain and demonstrate how the foregoing proposition is logically impossible. But the fact that Anselm's ontological argument is not prima facie incoherent, suggests that atheists who want to deem God's existence logically impossible are guilty of overreaching their target.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Notes on Parens from Oxford Latin Dictionary, 2:1295-6

Historical Background for Augustine of Hippo and His Ethical Take

A. Historical Background on Augustine

Augustine (354-430 CE) was reared in Tagaste, North Africa (modern-day Algeria). He was baptized in 387 CE and eventually became a prominent bishop of the western church. Augustine later died in Hippo Regius (Algeria, North of Tagaste) during a Vandal attack. Aside from Jesus and the Apostle Paul, he evidently had the most profound influence on western ecclesiastical thought. Training in rhetoric could be added to Augustine's résumé. But most germane for our purposes, it is good to observe that the bishop is a divine command theorist, who emphasizes obedience to God: he believes that morality is wholly dependent on the Judeo-Christian God's statutes.

B. Basic Concepts in Augustine's Ethical System

The summum bonum in Augustine is God or eternal life; the divine sphere is humanity's ultimate end. This ethicist/bishop consequently believes that genuine happiness cannot be found in this world--especially not by secular means. He therefore contends that any attempt to master virtue (whether moral or intellectual) is futile: no system of thought divorced from theism can result in genuine happiness or virtuous character. Yet Augustine's ethical system is manifestly informed by Neoplatonism, a philosophy that he develops within the context of an orthodox ecclesiastical framework. The bishop was a Neoplatonist before he converted to Christianity although the extent of his conceptual departure from Neoplatonism has been the subject of scholarly debate at times. Did Augustine convert to Christianity or was Christianity converted to Neoplatonic philosophy by the rhetorical ecclesiastic?

Plotinus (205-270 CE) is usually credited with being the founder of Neoplatonism. He was born in Upper Egypt (Lycopolis) but studied in Alexandria under Ammonius Saccas. Plotinus developed an influential monistic system that posited three "hypostases": the One, Intellect, and Soul. He maintained that all things emanate from and (in due course) return to the One (Ultimate Reality). You can think of this divine movement that originates from the three hypostases as an example of egressus and regressus, a legendary motif that commonly appears in world literature. Hinduism likewise explains the phenomenal world's origin by means of a narrative that accounts for the source of everything plural and diverse through the One (Brahman). Plurality and diversity eventually return to this one unitary ground of being.

Augustine (the converted Neoplatonist) juxtaposes the city of God with the city of man. The city language is metaphorical imagery rooted in New Testament passages from the Revelation of John (e.g., Babylon the Great versus New Jerusalem). Each city represents two classes of humanity. Augustine's metaphorical language also points to the ongoing struggle between fleshly and spiritual people, between unregenerate and regenerate humanity (City of God 14). Those who belong to the city of God cherish divine values as the summum bonum. Conversely, those who align themselves with the city of man love pleasure or desire bodily goods more than goods of the soul. Augustine summarizes the utmost good of humanity in Confessions 1.1: "Our hearts are restless until they repose in thee" (quia fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te). While one may look for God in external things, the idea posited in Augustinian writings is that God (in some sense) actually dwells within us; we just need to acknowledge the supreme presence that abides internally. He avers that our hearts will be troubled until we repose in God, so our eternal peace and very life purpose consequently become associated with the divine will.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Links for Diachrony and Biblical Hebrew

Just a tip of the iceberg for the work being done on diachrony and Biblical Hebrew:

Some Thoughts on Romans 14 and Foods (Keener)

Luke 1:34-35 (Brief Notes)

Luke 1:34-35:

εἶπεν δὲ Μαριὰμ πρὸς τὸν ἄγγελον· πῶς ἔσται τοῦτο, ἐπεὶ ἄνδρα οὐ γινώσκω; καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν αὐτῇ· πνεῦμα ἅγιον ἐπελεύσεται ἐπὶ σὲ καὶ δύναμις ὑψίστου ἐπισκιάσει σοι· διὸ καὶ τὸ γεννώμενον ἅγιον κληθήσεται υἱὸς θεοῦ.

Translation (NET Bible): Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man?” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God.

Brief Notes: εἶπεν is aorist indicative active, third-person singular: "he/she/it said."

The words are spoken to the angel by Μαριὰμ, which is indeclinable.

ἔσται is future middle indicative, third-person singular of εἰμί.

ἐπεὶ ἄνδρα οὐ γινώσκω: David E. Garland points to Matthew 1:25 for help with understanding this idiom. There is obviously precedent for the language in Gen. 4:1 and elsewhere.

ἐπελεύσεται is future indicative middle, third-person singular. This verb, meaning "to come upon," is used seven times in Luke-Acts..

Garland also invokes Isa. 32:15 as a parallel use of the verb; he points to Exod. 40:35 in order to elucidate the "overshadow" language.


Thursday, May 04, 2017

My Amazon Review of "Linguistics and New Testament Interpretation" (book edited by D.A. Black)

This book contains selected papers from a 1991 conference sponsored by Wycliffe Bible Translators. Its editors are David A. Black, Katharine Barnwell and Stephen Levinsohn and there is also a foreword by Eugene Nida. Some of the essays include: "Reading a Text as Discourse" (J. P. Louw); "Constituent Order in Copula Clauses: A Partial Study" (John Callow) and "A Tale of Two Debtors: On the Interaction of Text, Cotext, and Context in a New Testament Dramatic Narrative (Luke 7:36-50)" by Ernst R. Wendland. There is also an essay by the accomplished scholar Randall Buth that is titled "OUN, DE, KAI, and Asyndeton in John's Gospel."

Two essays that I found particularly helpful where exegesis is concerned are "The Function of KAI in the Greek New Testament and an Application to 2 Peter" (Kermit Titrud) and "Towards an Exegesis of 1 John Based on the Discourse Analysis of the Greek Text" (Robert Longacre). The first essay helps scholars to avoid simplistic analyses of the Greek conjunction KAI. Moreover, Titrud discusses how a better understanding of the function of KAI in the Greek New Testament contributes to a possibly improved understanding of Granville Sharp's famed rule. He somewhat reformulates the rule, but still favors reading 2 Peter 1:1 in the standard Trinitarian fashion.

The second essay, by Longacre, demonstrates the importance of not just counting verbs or words, but also weighing them in light of the overall discourse. Through a fairly sophisticated analysis of John's discourse in the first epistle of his corpus, Longacre discerns the hortatory nature of John's epistle and its overall theme or purpose in relation to first century readers. Overall, I found this book to be educational and useful for those wishing to understand or rightly exegete Holy Scripture. Of course, there are points at which one might disagree with some explanation of a particular verse or even take issue with the methodology employed by those who contributed essays to this book. Nevertheless, I think that this work deserves to be read and pondered. Especially is this the case with the opening essay of the book written by Louw.


Wednesday, May 03, 2017

3 John 13

Πολλὰ εἶχον γράψαι σοι, ἀλλ’ οὐ θέλω διὰ μέλανος καὶ καλάμου σοι γράφειν·

(3 John 13, Nestle GNT 1904)

The older version of the Interpreter's Bible points out that 3 John 12 closely mirrors 3 John 13, but it has "just enough difference to reassure us that no copyist or imitator is at work" (page 12).

3 John 12 reads: Δημητρίῳ μεμαρτύρηται ὑπὸ πάντων καὶ ὑπὸ αὐτῆς τῆς ἀληθείας· καὶ ἡμεῖς δὲ μαρτυροῦμεν, καὶ οἶδας ὅτι ἡ μαρτυρία ἡμῶν ἀληθής ἐστιν. (Nestle)

3 John 14 also needs to be mentioned within the context of this discussion: ἐλπίζω δὲ εὐθέως σε ἰδεῖν, καὶ στόμα πρὸς στόμα λαλήσομεν. Εἰρήνη σοι. ἀσπάζονταί σε οἱ φίλοι. ἀσπάζου τοὺς φίλους κατ’ ὄνομα. (Nestle)

The IB says that for καλάμου, we should understand "reed." Of course, μέλανος refers to ink. Then in 3 John 14, the expression στόμα πρὸς στόμα λαλήσομεν occurs.

IB suggests the rendering "face to face" or "literally, 'mouth to mouth.'"

Compare Genesis 32:30; Exodus 33:11; Number 12:8; Deuteronomy 34:10; 1 Corinthians 13:12; 2 John 12. Meyer's cites Xenophon, Mem. ii. 6. 32.

Monday, May 01, 2017

William Mounce on μνημονεύω


Context plays a large role in determining what μνημονεύω means within a given text. For instance, the word clearly appears to signify the act of remembering in John 16:4, 21, whereas Heb. 11:22 possibly references the act of speaking or mentioning undertaken by Joseph.

See A.T. Robertson's note for Heb. 13:7:

Comments on Revelation 14:3-4 (Quotes)

Were not defiled with women (μετα γυναικων ουκ εμολυντησαν — meta gunaikōn ouk emolunthēsan). First aorist passive indicative of μολυνω — molunō old verb, to stain, already in Revelation 3:4, which see. The use of this word rules out marriage, which was not considered sinful. For they are virgins (παρτενοι γαρ εισιν — parthenoi gar eisin). Παρτενος — Parthenos can be applied to men as well as women. Swete takes this language "metaphorically, as the symbolical character of the Book suggests." Charles considers it an interpolation in the interest of celibacy for both men and women. If taken literally, the words can refer only to adultery or fornication (Beckwith). Jesus recognised abstinence only for those able to receive it (Matthew 19:12), as did Paul (1 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Corinthians 7:8, 1 Corinthians 7:32, 1 Corinthians 7:36). Marriage is approved by Paul in 1 Timothy 4:3 and by Hebrews 13:4. The New Testament exalts marriage and this passage should not be construed as degrading it (Robertson WP on Revelation 14:4).


From Vincent's Word Studies:
Were not defiled ( οὐκ ἐμολύνθησαν )

The verb means properly to besmear or besmirch, and is never used in a good sense, as μιαίνειν (John 18:28; Judges 1:8), which in classical Greek is sometimes applied to staining with color. See on 1 Peter 1:4.

Virgins ( παρθένοι )

Either celibate or living in chastity whether in married or single life. See 1 Corinthians 7:1-7, 1 Corinthians 7:29; 2 Corinthians 11:2.

From Henry Alford's GNT:

these (are) they that follow the Lamb wheresoever (for this use of ὅπου, see reff.) he goeth ( ἄν seems to have lost its peculiar force, and to have been joined to the ὅπου preceding, so that an indicative after it did not offend the ear.

The description has very commonly been taken as applying to the entire obedience of the elect, following their Lord to prison and to death, and wherever He may call them: so Cocceius, Grot., Vitringa, Wolf (who cites the oath of soldiers, ἀκολουθεῖν τοῖς στρατηγοῖς ὅπου ποτʼ ἄν ἄγωσιν), Bengel, De Wette, Hengstb., Ebrard: but this exposition is surely out of place here, where not their life of conflict, but their state of glory is described.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Deductive/Inductive Argumentation and Calvinism (unfertige Skizze)

The fundamental difference between deductive and inductive argumentation is that deductive arguments yield certain conclusions, given their premises, but the premise/premises of an inductive argument only yields probability. In other words, if the premises of a deductive argument are true, then the conclusion is true. However, note that irksome word, if. So the conclusion of a deductive argument is only irrefragable when the premises are (necessarily) true. Given p, q follows; I have p, therefore I have q.

Another way that some explain inductive argumentation is by making a contrast between reasoning from general premises to specific conclusions (as in the case of deductive arguments) versus reasoning from concrete particulars to general conclusions (i.e., inductive arguments). I will not deal with the inadequacies of characterizing matters this way, but I merely want my readers to know the difference between deductive and inductive arguments for the purpose of grasping a problem that I have with Calvinism in toto.

Calvinism--at least, some Calvinists--reasons inductively from concrete particulars to general conclusions. For instance, let us assume that event1 (E1) represents an occurrence of evil that has a good outcome (i.e., God brings something good from the evil occurrence). Calvinist seem to reason that if God brings good from E1, E2, E3--then he also brings good out of En. However, I'm not sure that the reasoning holds up; after all, inductive arguments result in probable conclusions. Maybe Calvinists object that their reasons for believing that God brings good--or is able to bring good--from evil depends on more than rational arguments that are inductive. It is possible that the Calvinist is bypassing logic/reason and basis his/her argument on Scripture.

The foregoing reasoning notwithstanding, my comments are directed at the Calvinist, who uses actual events like the Holocaust or slavery to reason that if God brought good from evil in some instances, then one can infer that God brings good from all evil occurrences. My contention is that the logical entailment likely does not follow since one can't derive certainty from arguments that only yield probability.

David Duncombe spells out a corresponding line of reasoning here:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

1 John 3:1-2 and AUTOS (Latest Rendition)

I once studied the Apostle John's use of AUTOS in his first Epistle to see if one could discern how AUTOS is employed in 1 John 3:1-3 and other places throughout the first Johannine letter. One conclusion we can definitely reach is that AUTOS doesn't always refer to the nearest literary or contextual antecedent: the troublesome unit in 1 John 2:22-29 possibly demonstrates the seemingly obscure and varied Johannine use of pronominals. But with these facts in mind, I would like to take another look at 1 John 3:1-3.

Personally, along with R.E. Brown, I believe that these verses have reference to the Father. In 3:1, John recalls the love that the Father has shown Christians by bringing them forth as "children of God" (TEKNA QEOU). Therefore, God (the Father) is clearly the subject of verse 1 and John appears to continue developing this theme in 3:2 when he again reveals the status of spirit-begotten believers and their being recognized as "children of God."

What may of course seem problematic is John's use of FANERWQHi in 1 John 3:2 and his utilization of the verb in 2:28. 1 John 2:28 is evidently a reference to Jesus Christ and his royal PAROUSIA though I have often wondered whether it is really speaking of the Father (cf. 1 John 2:27). Leaving that problem aside for a minute, it appears safe to assert that even if FANERWQHi describes the manifestation of Christ in 2:28--God the Father is assuredly the subject in 3:1, 2.

D.E. Hiebert discusses the view of Westcott, that Christ is the subject of 1 John 3:1-2, before he poses some objections to this stance. Firstly, it's quite possible that 2:29 begins a new division of the missive. Regardless, one raises more exegetical problems by suggesting that Christ begets (spiritually) the TEKNA QEOU of 3:1-2. The verses in question (3:1-2) specifically mention the Father, and refer to those children of God. 1 John 3:9 makes a similar point and Hiebert even cites the Gospel of John 3:8 in order to demonstrate that Christians are children of God, "born of the spirit," but they are not born of Christ. See D.E. Hiebert, "An Exposition of 1 John 2:29-3:12," Bibliotheca Sacra 146(1989): 198-216. Compare 1 Peter 1:3, 23.

It may also appear problematic to speak of Christians one day being like and seeing God: "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is" (ESV). But Jesus made a similar promise in Matthew 5:8 and John also writes that the anointed conquerors who will rule as kings and priests in the city of New Jerusalem will see God's face (Revelation 22:1-5). Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 15:49 promises that those who are privileged to live immortally and incorruptibly in the heavens of God's presence will bear the image of Jesus Christ (who bears and is the image--the express reproduction--of God's very being). So there is no difficulty in saying Christians will be like God, for there will be a number of ways in which they will always be unlike Him.

Monday, April 24, 2017

"In "Him" or Other Such Expressions (LXX and NT)

1) Colossians 1:16-19:

vs. 16: ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς

vs. 17: καὶ τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν

vs. 19: ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ εὐδόκησεν πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα κατοικῆσαι

Colossians 1:16 has ἐν αὐτῷ or ἐν + the dative case. We must not only consider the preposition, but how the writer uses ἐν with the dative.

From Murray J. Harris:

The prep. phrase ἐν αὐτῷ may be instr. (“by him,” NASB, HCSB, ESV), comparable in sense with δἰ αὐτοῦ (“ through him,” v. 16d; so BDF § 219[ 1]; Zerwick, Analysis 448) or even causal (“because of”) (T 253; but cf. later Turner, Insights 124), but a locat. or local sense is to be preferred. “All things in heaven and on earth” were created in God's beloved Son (v. 13), not in the sense that he was the preexistent or ideal archetype of creation but in the sense that creation occurred “in association with” Christ (BDAG 327d) or, better, “within the person of” Christ. In his person resided the creative energy that produced all of creation (Vincent 897; cf. R 587– 88); in the work of creation God did not act apart from Christ. But Barth-Blanke 198 regards the ἐν as explained by the following διά and εἰς (v. 16d).

Harris, Murray J. Colossians and Philemon (Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament) (Kindle Locations 1664-1667). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Harris, Murray J. Colossians and Philemon (Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament) (Kindle Locations 1659-1664). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

2) Acts 17:24:

ὁ θεὸς ὁ ποιήσας τὸν κόσμον καὶ πάντα τὰ ἐν αὐτῷ, οὗτος οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς ὑπάρχων κύριος οὐκ ἐν χειροποιήτοις ναοῖς κατοικεῖ

Notice the contrast that Paul makes: the Creator of the universe made all things "in" the cosmos but as κύριος of heaven and earth, he fittingly does not inhabit (dwell in) handmade temples.

Compare Acts 17:25

3) Revelation 10:5-6:

καὶ ὤμοσεν ἐν τῷ ζῶντι εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, ὃς ἔκτισεν τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῷ καὶ τὴν γῆν καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ καὶ τὴν θάλασσαν καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ, ὅτι χρόνος οὐκέτι ἔσται,

ὁ ἄγγελος gives an ascription of praise to the Creator, who made heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things therein.

4) Psalm 24:1/23:1 (LXX/OG):

Ψαλμὸς τῷ Δαυΐδ· τῆς μιᾶς Σαββάτων. - ΤΟΥ Κυρίου ἡ γῆ καὶ τὸ πλήρωμα αὐτῆς, ἡ οἰκουμένη καὶ πάντες οἱ κατοικοῦντες ἐν αὐτῇ.

NETS renders the last part, "the world and all those who live in it"

Charles Spurgeon offers these remarks on Ps. 24:1:

The term "world" indicates the habitable regions, wherein Jehovah is especially to be acknowledged as Sovereign. He who rules the fish of the sea and the fowl of the air should not be disobeyed by man, his noblest creature. Jehovah is the Universal King, all nations are beneath his sway: true Autocrat of all the nations, emperors and czars are but his slaves. Men are not their own, nor may they call their lips, their hearts, or their substance their own; they are Jehovah's rightful servants. This claim especially applies to us who are born from heaven. We do not belong to the world or to Satan, but by creation and redemption we are the peculiar portion of the Lord.


5) Genesis 1:15 (LXX/OG):

καὶ ἔστωσαν εἰς φαῦσιν ἐν τῷ στερεώματι τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, ὥστε φαίνειν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. καὶ ἐγένετο οὕτως.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hebrews 10:12

A friend once asked me this question about Hebrews 10:12.

Some say "he" and some say "Christ." What is the correct Greek word or phrase here?

As you can see from my transliteration of the text, what some translations render "priest" or "this man" is literally "this one." That is, hOUTOS is the so-called near demonstrative in Greek and thus points to something or someone who is either near spatially, grammatically or that is near in the mind of the writer. Note the use of hOUTOS in 1 John 5:20: hOUTOS ESTIN hO ALHQINOS QEOS KAI ZWH AIWNIOS. The American Standard Version renders this passage: "This is the true God and eternal life." The writer's use of hOUTOS in Heb. 10:12 is similar.

Personally, I do not see anything particularly offensive about the rendition "this priest." It seems that certain Bibles have elected to translate Heb. 10:12 this way because of the context of the aforesaid passage. Literally, however, one might say "this one" or as the ASV puts matters: "but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever . . ."

Lastly, I might just add that English classes I've taken in the past have encouraged me to associate substantives with demonstrative pronouns. So instead of saying, "This really makes me nervous," it is more preferable to write, "This side of town really makes me nervous." In that way, your deictic symbol (i.e., finger-pointing word) is "pointing" to a person, place, or time. At any rate, there seems to be nothing wrong with translating Heb. 10:12 as "this man" or "this priest."

NWT 2013 handles the verse thus: "But this man offered one sacrifice for sins for all time and sat down at the right hand of God,"

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Review of Sam Harris' "Letter to a Christian Nation" (Ongoing Revised Edition)

Sam Harris has written a brief but fairly clear book which makes some telling indictments of traditional Christianity and Islam. He also questions certain elements of the Bible which any honest theist has to struggle with; nevertheless, there are aspects of this book that seem deficient and lacking in nuance. It is those aspects that I will concentrate on in this review.

Harris contends that the Bible counsels parents to beat their children with a rod whenever children misbehave (page 8). However, Harris fails to consider the fact that the "rod" spoken of in Proverbs 13:24 is probably metaphorical (see 2 Samuel 7:14; Isaiah 10:5). Even if ancient Jewish fathers were encouraged to strike their children literally, however, this counsel only poses a difficulty for the contemporary permissive mindset. While the view is not popular in our day, there are still some psychologists or officers of the court who advocate spanking children in the proper way. Similarly, the Bible's counsel does not advocate abusing children, but rather encourages parents to train their children out of love. Harris' thoughts regarding the Bible sanctioning the killing of one's children is also a misconstrual of the biblical text and shows ignorance of the ancient judicial process found in ancient Israel. It took more than mere "talking back" to one's parents to suffer execution. See the relevant accounts in Leviticus 20:9; Deuteronomy 21:18-21.

Mr Harris claims that all of our "primate cousins" are "generally intolerant of murder and theft" (page 21). This statement seems difficult to square with reality in view of the fact that animals probably cannot "murder" anyone or anything since they lack the ability to engage in the premeditation that is involved with murdering someone or something. Primates cannot form criminal intent (mens rea), therefore, they cannot commit murder. Two things required in English law for the commission of a crime are a guilty act (actus reus) and a guilty mind (mens rea). Moreover, it appears that one would also have to use the word "theft" very loosely with respect to the actions of primates. It must be emphasized that they lack the ability to form criminal intent.

Finally, I must say that Harris' comments on blastocysts and stem cell research are chilling (pages 29-32). One does not need to believe in an immaterial soul or even be a Christian to oppose the destruction of blastocysts for the purpose of stem cell research. Immanuel Kant argues that human life has dignity in se. A blastocyst is a potential human person--that is, there is a sense in which the blastocyst has entered the human community even if one wants to fuss about human personhood. If this is the case, then the dignity of the blastocyst should be respected or treated with esteem and care. Harris' argument about any cell in our bodies being a potential human being is just less than intelligent. The potential of the blastocyst becoming a fully grown human person and the potential of cells from my nose becoming a human person are not analogous situations. We know that the blastocyst has the potential to become a fully formed human person; we cannot say the same about a cell from my nose.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Notes on Letter to the Colossians

Notes on Colossians

I. Possibly originated from Rome circa 60-61 CE (Efird).

II. Did the Apostle Paul write Colossians?

Reasons that some do not consider the letter to be Pauline: a) the vocabulary supposedly differs from "genuine" Pauline epistles; b) letter potentially alludes to the Gnostic heresy; c) the letter seems to contain an advanced Christology. The second and third points are alleged to suggest that Paul likely did not write the letter. Raymond E. Brown claims that 60 percent of "critical scholarship" thinks Colossians is not genuinely Pauline. See

Counterpoints: While the style and vocabulary differences might be noticeable, one primarily encounters such differences in the part of Colossians that revolves around a discussion and refutation of potential heresy in Colossae (e.g., Col. 2:1-8). The so-called "cosmic Christ" is also introduced to confront the Colossian opponents. Efird personally thinks the vocabulary differences are "rather slight" contra Pokorny (Efird, 136).

Compare Petr Pokorny, Colossians, page 3. He thinks Colossians is probably a deutero-Pauline Epistle. Some factors that lead Pokorny to question Paul's writing of Colossians include: "conspicuously frequent relative clauses" and "clustered" epexegetical genitive noun forms. See Col. 1:5ff.

For a brief review of issues surrounding authorship of Colossians, see

III. The identity of the heretics is uncertain. Efird lists some possibilities on page 136 of New Testament. Cf. Colossians 2:8, 16-17; 2:23.

If Gnosticism was the heresy that Paul confronted, it's good to recall that the Gnostics usually took two divergent paths: some were libertines, whereas others tended to be ascetics. All reportedly believed that spirit is good, but flesh (matter) is bad. This view clashed with Jewish and Christian writings.

IV. The word pleroma has an important function in Colossians. Notice how Col. 1:19; 2:9 uses the term.

V. Main Points from Selected Chapters of Colossians

Col. 1:15-17: Christ is God's agent in creation, his firstborn, and the image of the invisible God.

Col. 1:19: God saw good for all fullness to dwell in his Son. However, the word "God" is not in the Greek: neither is "Father."

While it's hard to be dogmatic about pleroma in this context, there is possibly an allusion to some kind of Gnosticism present at Colossae. Pleroma in Gnostic thought referred to the thirty (or more) aeons which progressively emanated from a primal divine father. The last of these aeons explain why there is evil in the world. But Paul could have been arguing that Christ summed up all that the thirty aeons purported to be. So the fullness could be more qualitative than quantitative (referring to the degree of attributes as opposed to the number).

On the other hand, I do not know if the word "fullness" gives us enough information to decide whether the fullness of divinity belongs to Christ by nature or whether it is something given to the Son. Nevertheless, 1:19 indicates that Christ has the fullness by means of God's will. Yet the word pleroma alone may not permit us to determine why Christ possesses the fullness of divinity.

Possible hymn in Col. 1:15-20. See

On the other hand, Efird maintains that the imposition of a hymn in Col. 1:15-20 is ostensibly a "bit strained" in view of the fact that 1:15-20 apparently deals with the problems uniquely happening in Colossae at that time. See Efird, 137-138.

Col. 2:3, 9-10: all that the Colossians need is found in Christ, not in some incipient Gnostic heresy.

Col. 3:1-10 is a description of the Christian life (how it should be lived) and the primacy of Christ.

Col. 3:18ff discusses the famed Haustafeln (household tablets or tables, i.e., household codes).

Col. 4:1-6, 16, Paul makes his concluding remarks.

Sources: Pokorny, Eadie

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tonight's Lord's Evening Meal (The Memorial): Sprinkling with Blood

I thought the verses that dealt with "sprinkling" were some of the Lord's evening meal's most thought-provoking texts. Great work by our local speaker tonight.

A biblical account that discusses sprinkling with blood is Exodus 24:1-8. Compare Leviticus 8:30; 16:11-19; Hebrews 9:18-22; 12:22, 24; 1 Peter 1:1-2.

Ecclesiastical Latin: Future Indicative Active, First Conjugation

Ecclesiastical Latin:

Future indicative active first conjugation

Formed by the present stem + the tense-making suffix -bi + active personal endings.

Example of the first conjugation:

laudo, laudare, laudavi, laudatus (meaning "praise")
present stem: lauda
future base: lauda + -bi = laudabi


1) laudabo
2) laudabis
3) laudabit


1) laudabimus
2) laudatis
3) laudabunt

Sunday, April 09, 2017

TRIAS, TRINITAS, and Gottschalk

During the medieval period, a monk named Gottschalk begin using the terminology "trine deity" (TRINA DEITAS). What Gottschalk apparently meant is that God is "trine in person and one in nature" (See Jaroslav Pelikan, Christian Tradition, 3:60). This monk from Orbais (north-eastern France) was accused of violating sacred tradition, however, and he reportedly taught that which was at odds with Scripture. In the long run, Gottschalk lost and his adversaries won; the formula "trine deity" was condemned by the Synod of Soissons in 853 (Pelikan 3:61). Nevertheless, this account just goes to show how those who affirm the Trinity sometimes wrangle with one another about what the triune God should be called.

Interestingly, systematic theologian Robert Jenson, who has written much regarding the Trinity has something interesting to say about the doctrine. Quoting from my work Christology and the Trinity:

"Robert Jenson similarly remarks that the Trinity
doctrine is 'less a homogeneous body of propositions
than it is a task.' The ontological dogma of the
Trinity is actually, 'the church's continuing effort
to recognize and adhere to the biblical God's
hypostatic [i.e., personal] being.' See Systematic
(New York and Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1997), 1:90. Jenson's comments suggest that the
formulation of the Trinity doctrine is a perpetual,
ongoing ecclesiastical task."

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Colossians 2:9-"dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead"

Colossians 2:9

"for in him [Christ] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." (ASV)

Does Col. 2:9 teach that a metaphysical, consubstantial relationship exists between the Son of God and his Father? What does Col. 2:9 signify when it professes that in Christ "dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily"?

For starters, it is beneficial to understand what is meant by "dwelleth." The Greek word rendered "dwelleth" is KATOIKEI (Form of KATAOIKEO). This term finds its etymological roots in two Greek words, namely, KATA (down) and OIKEO (to dwell). Thus KATAOIKEO refers to a "certain fixed" or "durable dwelling" (Cf. Matt. 2:23; 4:13; Luke 13:4; Acts 1:19) per its etymology. At Matt. 23:21, Jesus relates how God metaphorically "dwelt" (Emphatic Diaglott) in the first-century temple of Jerusalem. And in Col. 1:19, Paul writes that Christ was vested with "all fullness [PLHRWMA]" by the will of Almighty God (Jehovah). This PLHRWMA dwelled in Christ, owing to the "good pleasure" of God.

While reviewing these points, it is also beneficial to pose some appropriate questions. What does the word "dwelleth" imply? Exactly when did the PLHRWMA of the Godhead [THEOTHTOS] "dwelleth" in Christ? Was Paul referring to the pre-existent Christ, or did he have in mind the relatively brief period of Christ's "enfleshment"? Conversely, could Col. 2:9 be referring to the time during which Colossians was written (i.e., when Paul discussed the PLHRWMA TES THEOTHTOS SOMATIKOS)? In other words, was Paul referencing Christ's present condition in the first-century when he professed that all fullness "dwelleth" in Christ "bodily"? Are there other possible answers to this question?

To potentially supply further enlightenment on this subject, let us analyze Col. 2:9 more closely. As mentioned, the Greek word rendered "dwelleth" is KATOIKEI. This Greek signifier can be used to denote a future event; this point is evident from 2 Peter 3:13. Peter therein prophesies, under the influence of holy spirit, that "righteousness" will "dwelleth" in the new heavens and new earth. KATOIKEI there appears in the present indicative active form. The present indicative active generally asserts that something is occurring at the moment wherein the speaker is making a statement. An example of this phenomenon is Matt. 7:17: PAN DENDRON AGATHON KARPOUS KALOUS POIEI--"Every good tree bears good fruit." But how can 2 Pet. 3:13 speak of future events while employing KATOIKEI in the present indicative active? One must not automatically infer that an event is past, present, or future, based solely on a verb's morphology. Moreover, KATOIKEO is sometimes used transitively, intransitively or metaphorically. Context and other factors must be taken into consideration before determining the actual significance of the imperfective aspect here, manifested by virtue of the present form.

2 Pet. 3:13 conscripts the present indicative active to describe conditions that will prevail in Jehovah's new heavens and new earth. Woodenly rendered, KATOIKEI in 2 Pet. 3:13 could be translated as "is dwelling" (KIT). Read from this perspective, Peter would be making a claim about the righteousness, which will come to fruition in God's new order--a system of things where justice will predominate. The point being made is that the present indicative active is employed at 2 Pet. 3:13 to denote an activity that is yet future. My treatment of 2 Pet. 3:13 is strictly grammatical in this case: it is not theological or doctrinal per se. This brings us back to the question of what "dwelleth" potentially denotes in Col. 2:9? Was Paul saying that Christ presently enjoyed the fullness of deity bodily or physically, while in heaven?

In order to unravel this mystery, it requires that we peer deeper into the Greek word KATAOIKEO (KATOIKEI). To help us in this regard, let us notice what scholars have observed concerning Col. 2:9, where we read that God saw good for all fullness to dwell in Christ.

Most scholars likely consider KATOIKEI (Col. 2:9) as proof that Christ was still human at the time Paul was writing, and many believe the Son maintains his human nature today. Matthew Poole's Commentary asserts that the Godhead now dwelleth in Christ by means of the hypostatic union (two natures in one person). Meyer's NT Commentary states: κατοικεῖ] The present, for it is the exalted Christ, in the state of His heavenly δόξα, that is in view.

However, see the Expositor's Greek Testament for the possible significance of the present tense.

Vincent argues that the "bodily" language of Col. 2:9 applies to the incarnate Christ, not to the Lord in his preexistence. As for how the Godhead supposedly dwells in him, "The indwelling of the divine fullness in Him is characteristic of Him as Christ, from all ages and to all ages?" That is to say, the fullness of deity purportedly dwelleth in him from eternity past to eternity future, as it were.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Tree Imagery in Isaiah

Isa. 6:13; 7:2; 10:19; 14:8; 17:6; 24:13; 34:4; 37:24; 40:20; 41:19; 44:14, 23; 55:12-13; 56:3; 57:5; 60:13; 61:3 and 65:22; 66:17.

I sometimes wonder why Isaiah uses so much tree imagery. How do other prophetic books compare with his?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Pauline Idiom, "Work with your hands"

"whoso is stealing let him no more steal, but rather let him labour, working the thing that is good with the hands, that he may have to impart to him having need." (Ephesians 4:28 YLT)

Cambridge Greek Testament: ἐργαζόμενος ταῖς χερσὶν τὸ ἀγαθόν,, 1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:11. ἐργ. τὸ ἀγαθόν is not to be confused with the phrase in Romans 2:10; Galatians 6:10. The best parallel is Titus 3:8; Titus 3:14 καλῶν ἔργων προΐστασθαι. There were disreputable methods of making a living, the evil of which would not be purged by a charitable subscription, so the addition of τὸ ἀγαθὸν is not superfluous.

John Eadie writes: "Manual employment was the most common in these times. Acts 20:34; 1 Thessalonians 4:11. τὸ ἀγαθόν is something useful and profitable. His hands had done what was evil, and now these same were to be employed in what was good."

"And we toil as we labor with our hands. They dishonor us and we bless; they persecute us and we endure." (1 Corinthians 4:12 Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

"and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you," (1 Thessalonians 4:11 ESV)

Compare Acts 18:3; 20:17-38; 1 Thess. 4:12; 2 Thess. 3:8-11.

Distinguishing the Spiritual from the Mental (The Pairing Problem)

My understanding of Jaegwon Kim's pairing problem (PP) is that it's specifically a joust against substance dualism; moreover, there is not just one aspect to his PP. The issue that Kim examines is causal interaction between the mental and the physical; he wonders what allows the substance dualist to suggest that a mind can interact causally with a body (an extended thing). Since minds don't exist in space, according to the Cartesian dualist, then what's the specific relation that makes causal interaction between minds and bodies possible? How is it possible for immaterial minds to be part of the universe's causal continuum, and how is it possible to distinguish the action of one non-spatial mind from another? Regardless of how we answer these questions, I don't see divine causation and mental causation in the exact same light. Therefore, while there are questions that persist regarding divine causation, it does not seem that divine causation is susceptible to the same criticisms that Cartesian mental causation is. Firstly, no disrespect intended, but I believe that substance dualism of any variety--particularly Cartesian thought--is false and extremely problematic, whereas theism is not patently false, even if divine causation may be hard to understand. One must first substantiate the actual or likely existence of the res cogitans (as Descartes conceived it) before the res cogitans can be equated with God. Even if I believe in the mental (somehow), I do not accept the existence of a res cogitans. Maybe something that might also explain why I don't see Kim's PP as particularly applicable to theism per se, is because I believe spirit encompasses more than the mental does. I.e., the mental is only one aspect of the spiritual. So the terms "mental" and "spirit/spiritual" are not coextensive to me.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Thomas More and Bible Translations Prior to Wycliffe

I'm about 98% sure that Thomas More made inaccurate statements about the status of English Bible translations in his time. The book John Wycliffe and Reform by John Stacey directly addresses this issue (See pp. 73ff). In particular, Stacey provides this information:

"Sir Thomas More, whose interest lay in the permission or refusal of the Church to read translations as much as in the translations themselves, made this not unbiased statement: "For ye shal understande that the great arch heretike Wickliffe, whereas the hole byble was long before his dayes by vertuous and wel lerned men translated into the English tong, and by good and godly people with deucion and sobrenes wel and reverently red, toke upon hym of a malacious purpose to translate it of new."

But More's comments likely are not accurate and "it must be assumed from what he said that English translations were common and popular before Wyclif's time" (Stacey 73).

Stacey also observes that More's comments were challenged in 1719 by John Lewis and they apparently have no basis in fact. He concludes:

"As Margaret Deanesly points out, if orthodox translations had existed on any scale, particularly in the period immediately before Wyclif, the opposition to the translations associated with him would be inexplicable. The evidence all points to the fact that there was no widespread reading of the Scriptures in the vernacular and that when Wyclif deliberately took the step of instigating a translation he was breaking with the general tradition" (Stacey 74).

Of course, this post and the quotes above deal with English renderings of the Bible prior to Wyclif (Wycliffe).

Saturday, March 18, 2017

God, for Thomas Aquinas, Is Pure Bliss or Pure Actuality

From Fergus Kerr's book After Aquinas:

"God, for Thomas, is not even an agent with capacities to know and love. God is nothing other than ceaseless and total actualizations of being, knowing, and loving - utter bliss."

Thomists will recognize the language used by Kerr since Thomas Aquinas famously insists that God is actus purus or actus essendi et perfectus. Kerr includes another quote for reflection: Deus est beatitudo per essentiam suam.

Source Material: Fergus Kerr, After Aquinas: Versions of Thomism. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Also see

Sunday, March 12, 2017

1 John 3:1 (Some Notes)

Greek: Ἴδετε ποταπὴν ἀγάπην δέδωκεν ἡμῖν ὁ πατήρ, ἵνα τέκνα θεοῦ κληθῶμεν, καὶ ἐσμέν. διὰ τοῦτο ὁ κόσμος οὐ γινώσκει ἡμᾶς, ὅτι οὐκ ἔγνω αὐτόν. (NA28)

English Translations: (See what sort of love the Father has given to us: that we should be called God's children--and indeed we are! For this reason the world does not know us: because it did not know him. (NET Bible)

See what marvellous love the Father has bestowed upon us--that we should be called God's children: and that is what we are. For this reason the world does not recognize us--because it has not known Him. (Weymouth)

See what sort of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are. That is why the world does not know us, because it has not come to know him. (NWT 2013)

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God's, and are such! This is why the world does not know us because it did not know him. (Byington)

Comments: καὶ ἐσμέν.

From the NET Bible: "tc The phrase καὶ ἐσμεν (kai esmen, 'and we are') is omitted in 049 69 Ï. There seems to be no theological reason to omit the words. This has all the earmarks of a classic case of homoioteleuton, for the preceding word (κληθῶμεν, klhqwmen, 'we should be called') ends in -μεν (-men)."

Regarding the words, ὁ κόσμος οὐ γινώσκει ἡμᾶς, ὅτι οὐκ ἔγνω αὐτόν, we read:

"sn The pronoun him is a clear reference to Jesus Christ (compare John 1:10)." This statement is also found in NET.

However, the pronominal "him" is not all that clear, like many such references in the First Johannine Epistle. W. Harris Hall III explains:

"The referent of αὐτόν (auton, 'him') in 3:1. Again the referent of the third person pronoun is a problem. It could refer either to God the Father or to Jesus Christ, but since the Father is clearly mentioned in 3:1a and God is mentioned in 3:2a, it seems preferable to understand αὐτόν in 3:1b as a reference to God the Father. However, it is important to remember that Johannine christology associates Jesus with God, and there may have been little difference here as far as the author was concerned."


While I don't accept his Trinitarian presuppositions, there is likely a measure of truth to this observation.

Henry Alford avers: "because it did not know Him (viz. God: the Father."

He additionally states:
But Whom did the world not know, and when? αὐτόν here, by the very requirements of the logic of the passage, must be the Father, who not being recognized, neither are His children: τὸν υἱοθετήσαντα, as Œc.; Aug(38), Benson, al., understand Christ: “ambulabat et ipse Dominus Jesus Christus, in carne erat Deus, latebat in infirmitate.” But this can only be, if we understand that the world rejected that revelation of the Father which was made by Christ His Son. And if we introduce this element, we disturb the strictness of the argument. It is the world’s ignorance of God, considered (and this is the force, if it is to be pressed, of the aor. ἔγνω) as one great act of non-recognition, disobedience, rebellion, hate (for all these are involved in St. John’s οὐ γνῶναι, as their opposites in his γινώσκειν), which makes them incapable of recognizing, loving, sympathizing with, those who are veritably children of God: cf. ch. 1 John 5:1).

Monday, March 06, 2017

Ephesians 5:19 (Notes)

Notes on Ephesians 5:19: λαλοῦντες ἑαυτοῖς ψαλμοῖς καὶ ὕμνοις καὶ ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς, ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν τῷ κυρίῳ, (WH 1881)

λαλοῦντες ἑαυτοῖς [ἐν] ψαλμοῖς καὶ ὕμνοις καὶ ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς, ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν τῷ κυρίῳ, (NA28)

λαλοῦντες-present active participial form of λαλέω, "to speak." Rogers and Rogers also state that the "following four parts. [participles] indicate the outworking or practice of being filled w. the Spirit" (page 444). Compare Daniel B. Wallace, GGBB, pp. 639, 650-51.

Bengel's Gnomon: "ᾠδαῖς) songs, which are or may be sung on any sacred subject.—πνευματικαῖς, spiritual) not worldly, as those of the drunkards are."

See Richard A. Young, Intermediate New Testament Greek, p. 157 for Ephesians 5:19.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

MESITHS (Christ as "Mediator")

This word potentially denotes: "one who mediates [between] two parties to remove a disagreement or reach a common goal, mediator, arbitrator," and it functions as a technical term (terminus technicus) in Hellenistic legal discourse (BDAG Greek-English Lexicon, 634). Louw and Nida suggest that Μεσίτης when used in the Pastoral Epistle, 1 Timothy (2:5) probably signifies: "a person who acts as a mediator in bringing about reconciliation," in other words, the term could mean: "mediator, one who reconciles" (40.6).

Saturday, March 04, 2017

"Beloved" (Matthew 3:17)

Matthew 3:17: "And see a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (KJV).

Greek: καὶ ἰδοὺ φωνὴ ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν λέγουσα Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα (WH).

καὶ ἰδοὺ φωνὴ ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν λέγουσα· οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα (NA28).

Possible texts that have influenced/been influenced by Matthew 3:17 or that are related to the Matthean text include:

1) Luke 3:22; 9:35

2) 2 Peter 1:16-17

3) Mark 1:11; 9:7

4) Matthew 17:5

Compare Psalm 2:7; Isaiah 42:1 (LXX)

Meyer's NT references Epiphanius (Haer. 30.13) and Justin Martyr (Trypho 88)-Vide Contra Celsum 1.43-48.

Question: Does Matthew 3:17 allude to David's name when the voice from heaven calls Jesus, ὁ ἀγαπητός? In other words, is Jesus implicitly being identified as David's primary offspring here? The Messiah? Compare Matthew 12:18; Mark 12:6.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Revelation 3:14 and BDAG (Edited for Readability)

Big thanks to a good friend.

ἀρχή, ῆς, ἡ (Hom.+) 1. the commencement of someth. as an action, process, or state of being, beginning, i.e. a point of time at the beginning of a duration. a. gener. (opp. τέλος; cp. Diod. S. 16, 1, 1 ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς μέχρι τοῦ τέλους; Ael. Aristid. 30, 24 K.=10 p. 123 D.: ἐξ ἀ. εἰς τέλος; Appian, Bell. Civ. 5, 9, §36; Wsd 7:18) B 1:6; IEph 14:1; IMg 13:1; IRo 1:2, cp. vs. 1. W. gen. foll. (OGI 458, 10 life) ἡμέρας ὀγδόης B 15:8; ἡμερῶν (2 Km 14:26) Hb 7:3; τῶν σημείων first of the signs J 2:11 (ἀ. τοῦ ἡμετέρου δόγματος Orig., C. Cels. 2, 4, 20; cp. Isocr., Paneg. 10:38 Blass ἀλλ᾿ ἀρχὴν μὲν ταύτην ἐποιήσατο τ. εὐεργεσιῶν, τροφὴν τοῖς δεομένοις εὑρεῖν=but [Athens] made this the starting point of her benefactions: to provide basic needs for livelihood; Pr 8:22; Jos., Ant. 8, 229 ἀ. κακῶν); ὠδίνων Mt 24:8; Mk 13:8; κακῶν ISm 7:2. As the beginning, i.e. initial account, in a book (Ion of Chios [V BC] 392 fgm. 24 Jac. [=Leurini no. 114] ἀρχὴ τοῦ λόγου; Polystrat. p. 28; Diod. S. 17, 1, 1 ἡ βύβλος τὴν ἀ. ἔσχε ἀπὸ . . .; Ael. Aristid. 23, 2 K.=42 p. 768 D.: ἐπ᾿ ἀρχῇ τοῦ συγγράμματος; Diog. L. 3, 37 ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς Πολιτείας; cp. Sb 7696, 53; 58 [250 AD]) ἀ. τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰ. Χ. Beginning of the gospel of J. C. Mk 1:1 (cp. Hos 1:2 ἀ. λόγου κυρίου πρὸς Ὡσηέ; s. RHarris, Exp. 8th ser., 1919, 113–19; 1920, 142–50; 334–50; FDaubanton, NThSt 2, 1919, 168–70; AvanVeldhuizen, ibid., 171–75; EEidem, Ingressen til Mkevangeliet: FBuhl Festschr. 1925, 35–49; NFreese, StKr 104, ’32, 429–38; AWikgren, JBL 61, ’42, 11–20 [ἀρχή=summary]; LKeck, NTS 12, ’65/66, 352–70). ἀ. τῆς ὑποστάσεως original commitment Hb 3:14. ἀρχὴν ἔχειν w. {p. 138} gen. of the inf. begin to be someth. IEph 3:1. ἀρχὴν λαμβάνειν begin (Polyb.; Aelian, VH 2, 28; 12, 53; Diog. L., Prooem. 3, 4; Sext. Emp., Phys. 1, 366; Philo, Mos. 1, 81) λαλεῖσθαι to be proclaimed at first Hb 2:3; cp. IEph 19:3.—W. prep. ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς from the beginning (Paus. 3, 18, 2; SIG 741, 20; UPZ 160, 15 [119 BC]; BGU 1141, 44; JosAs 23:4; Jos., Ant. 8, 350; 9, 30) J 6:64 v.l.; 15:27; 1J 2:7, 24; 3:11; 2J 5f; Ac 26:4; MPol 17:1; Hs 9, 11, 9; Dg 12:3. οἱ ἀπ᾿ ἀ. αὐτόπται those who fr. the beginning were eyewitnesses Lk 1:2. Also ἐξ ἀρχῆς (Diod. Sic. 18, 41, 7; Appian, Bell. Civ. 5, 45 [189]; SIG 547 9; 634, 4; UPZ 185 II 5; PGen 7, 8; BGU 1118, 21; Jos., Bell. 7, 358) J 6:64; 16:4; 1 Cl 19:2; Pol 7:2; Dg 2:1. πάλιν ἐξ ἀ. (Ael. Aristid. 21, 10 K.=22 p. 443 D.; SIG 972, 174) again fr. the beginning (=afresh, anew; a common expr., Renehan ’75, 42) B 16:8. ἐν ἀρχῇ (Diod. S. 19, 110, 5; Palaeph. p. 2, 3; OGI 56, 57; PPetr II, 37, 2b verso, 4; PTebt 762, 9; POxy 1151, 15; BGU 954, 26; ViHab 14 [p. 87, 4 Sch.]) at the beginning, at first Ac 11:15; AcPlCor 2:4. ἐν ἀ. τοῦ εὐαγγελίου when the gospel was first preached Phil 4:15; sim., word for word, w. ref. to beg. of 1 Cor: 1 Cl 47:2.—τὴν ἀ. J 8:25, as nearly all the Gk. fathers understood it, is emphatically used adverbially=ὅλως at all (Plut., Mor. 115b; Dio Chrys. 10 [11], 12; 14 [31], 5; 133; Lucian, Eunuch. 6 al.; Ps.-Lucian, Salt. 3; POxy 472, 17 [c. 130 AD]; Philo, Spec. Leg. 3, 121; Jos., Ant. 1, 100; 15, 235 al.; as a rule in neg. clauses, but the negation can inhere in the sense: 48th letter of Apollonius of Tyana [Philostrat. I 356, 17]; Philo, Abrah. 116, Decal. 89; Ps.-Clem., Hom. 6, 11; without art. ApcSed 10:3; cp. Hs 2:5 cj. by W., endorsed by Joly; s. Field, Notes, 93f) τὴν ἀ. ὅτι καὶ λαλῶ ὑμῖν (how is it) that I even speak to you at all? But s. B-D-F §300, 2. More prob. the mng. is somewhat as follows: What I said to you from the first (so NT in Basic English; sim. REB et al.; cp. τὴν ἀρχήν ‘at the beginning’ Thu 2, 74, 2; s. also RFunk, HTR 51, ’58, 95–100; B-D-F §300, 2, but appeal to P is specious, s. EMiller, TZ 36, ’80, 261). b. beginning, origin in the abs. sense (ἀ. τῆς τῶν πάντων ὑποστάσεως Orig. C. Cels. 6, 65, 4) ἀ. πάντων χαλεπῶν Pol 4:1; ἀ. κακῶν ISm 7:2 (cp. 1 Ti 6:10, which has ῥίζα for ἀ., and s. e.g. Ps 110:10; Sir 10:13); ἀ. κόσμου B 15:8; ἀ. πάντων PtK 2, p. 13, 21. ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς fr. the very beginning (Is 43:13; Wsd 9:8; 12:11; Sir 24:9 al.; PsSol 8:31; GrBar 17:2) Mt 19:4, 8; J 8:44; 1J 1:1 (of the hist. beg. of Christianity: HWendt, D. Johannesbriefe u. d. joh. Christent. 1925, 31f; HWindisch, Hdb. ad loc.; difft. HConzelmann, RBultmann Festschr., ’54, 194–201); 3:8; 2 Th 2:13; ὁ ἀπ᾿ ἀ. 1J 2:13f; Dg 11:4; οἱ ἀπ᾿ ἀ. those at the very beginning, the first people 12:3; τὰ ἀπ᾿ ἀ. γενόμενα 1 C1 31:1; ἀπ᾿ ἀ. κτίσεως Mk 10:6; 13:19; 2 Pt 3:4 (on ἀ. κτίσεως cp. En 15:9); ἀπ᾿ ἀ. κόσμου Mt 24:21. Also ἐξ ἀ. (X., Mem. 1, 4, 5; Ael. Aristid. 43, 9 K.=1 p. 3 D. [of the existence of Zeus]; TestAbr A 15 p. 96, 11 [Stone p. 40]; B 4 p. 109, 7 [St. p. 66]; Ath., R. 16, p. 67, 18; Philo, Aet. M. 42, Spec. Leg. 1 300; Did., Gen. 50, 1) Dg 8:11; ἐν ἀ. in the beginning (Simplicius in Epict. p. 104, 2; Did., Gen. 29, 25 al.) J 1:1f; ἐν ἀ. τῆς κτίσεως B 15:3. κατ᾿ ἀρχάς in the beg. Hb 1:10 (Ps 101:26; cp. Hdt. 3, 153 et al.; Diod. S.; Plut.; Philo, Leg. All. 3, 92, Det. Pot. Insid. 118; Ps 118:152; Just., D. 2, 3).

2. one with whom a process begins, beginning fig., of pers. (Gen 49:3 Ῥουβὴν σὺ ἀρχὴ τέκνων μου; Dt 21:17): of Christ Col 1:18. W. τέλος of God or Christ Rv 1:8 v.l.; 21:6; 22:13 (Hymn to Selene 35 ἀ. καὶ τέλος εἶ: Orphica p. 294, likew. PGM 4, 2836; 13, 362; 687; Philo, Plant Jos., Ant. 8, 280; others in Rtzst., Poim. 270ff and cp. SIG 1125, 7–11 Αἰών, . . . ἀρχὴν μεσότητα τέλος οὐκ ἔχων, expressed from the perspective of historical beginning).

3. the first cause, the beginning (philos. t.t. ODittrich, D. Systeme d. Moral I 1923, 360a, 369a;—Ael. Aristid. 43, 9 K.=1 p. 3 D.: ἀρχὴ ἁπάντων Ζεύς τε καὶ ἐκ Διὸς πάντα; Jos., C. Ap. 2, 190 God as ἀρχὴ κ. μέσα κ. τέλος τῶν πάντων [contrast SIG 1125, 10f]) of Christ ἡ ἀ. τῆς κτίσεως Rv 3:14; but the mng. beginning=‘first created’ is linguistically probable (s. above 1b and Job 40:19; also CBurney, Christ as the Ἀρχή of Creation: JTS 27, 1926, 160–77). [ὁ γὰ]ρ πρ (=πατὴρ) [ἀρ]|χή ἐ[σ]τ̣[ιν τῶν μ]ελλόν|των for the Father is the source of all who are to come into being in contrast to the προπάτωρ, who is without a beginning Ox 1081, 38f (SJCh 91, 1 ἀρχή; on the context, s. WTill, TU 60/5, ’55 p. 57).

4. a point at which two surfaces or lines meet, corner (from the perspective of an observer the object appears to begin at that point), pl. corners of a sheet Ac 10:11; 11:5 (cp. Hdt. 4, 60; Diod. S. 1, 35, 10).

5. a basis for further understanding, beginning τὰ στοιχεῖα τῆς ἀ. elementary principles Hb 5:12 (perh. w. an element of gentle satire: ‘the discrete items or ABC’s that compose the very beginning [of divine instructions]’; cp. MKiley, SBLSP 25, ’86, 236–45, esp. 239f). ὁ τῆς ἀ. τοῦ Χ. λόγος elementary Christian teaching 6:1.

6. an authority figure who initiates activity or process, ruler, authority (Aeschyl., Thu. et al.; ins; pap, e.g. PHal 1, 226 μαρτυρείτω ἐπὶ τῇ ἀρχῇ καὶ ἐπὶ τῷ δικαστηρίῳ; Gen 40:13, 21; 41:13; 2 Macc 4:10, 50 al., s. Magie 26; so as a loanw. in rabb. ἀ. = νόμιμος ἐπιστασία Did., Gen. 60, 9) w. ἐξουσία Lk 20:20; pl Oenomaus in Eus., PE 6, 7, 26 ἀρχαὶ κ. ἐξουσίαι; 4 Macc 8:7; Jos., Ant. 4, 220) Lk 12:11; Tit 3:1; MPol 10:2 (αἱ ἀρχαί can also be the officials as persons, as those who took part in the funeral procession of Sulla: Appian, Bell. Civ. 1, 106 §497.—The same mng. 2, 106 §442; 2, 118 §498 al. Likewise Diod. S. 34+35 fgm. 2, 31).—Also of angelic or transcendent powers, since they were thought of as having a political organization (Damascius, Princ. 96 R.) Ro 8:38; 1 Cor 15:24; Eph 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Col 1:16; 2:10, 15; AcPl Ha 1, 7. Cp. TestJob 49, 2; Just., D. 120, 6 end.

7. the sphere of one’s official activity, rule, office (Diod. S. 3, 53, 1; Appian, Bell. Civ. 1, 13 §57; Jos., C. Ap. 2, 177, Ant. 19, 273), or better domain, sphere of influence (Diod. S. 17, 24, 2; Appian, Syr. 23 §111; Arrian, Anab. 6, 29, 1; Polyaen. 8:55; Procop. Soph., Ep. 139) of angels Jd 6. Papias (4 v.l. for ἄρχω).—S. the lit. on ἄγγελος and HSchlier, Mächte u. Gewalten im NT: ThBl 9, 1930, 289–97.—DDD 144–50 (‘Archai’). EDNT. DELG s.v. ἄρχω D. M-M. TW. Sv.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Einsteinian Evidence for the Expanding Cosmos, Et Alia

I think what I've written below is accurate:

Einstein proposed his theory of special relativity in 1915. The equations for general relativity, however, were published in 1917. Almost immediately, a Dutch astronomer named Willem De Sitter found that Einstein’s relativistic equations “predicted an exploding universe, in which the galaxies of the heavens moved rapidly away from one another” (Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers [New York: W. W. Norton, 1978]), 13. Another line of evidence supporting this conclusion had already been provided by Vesto Melvin Slipher in 1913. He observed that one dozen galaxies were in the Milky Way’s vicinity, “moving away from the earth at high speeds, ranging up to two million miles per hour. Slipher's hint was the first hint that the universe was expanding” (ibid). In the 1920s the expanding-universe concept gained momentum by means of further cosmological discoveries. Using a one-hundred inch telescope, Edwin Hubble and Milton Humason undertook monumental observations. See Brian Greene, The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality (New York: Vintage Books, 2005), 229-233.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Christian Parousia: "Presence" or "Coming"?

My studies have suggested that παρουσία primarily does not have the import "coming" or "advent" when applied to Christ: it appears that παρουσία possibly could mean "arrival" in some contexts. In that connection, the word evidently refers to the visit of important personages in the Greek papyri. However, does παρουσία mean "arrival" in Matthew 24:3?

BDAG Greek-English Lexicon points out that παρουσία has these potential denotations: (1) "the state of being present at a place, presence" or (2) "arrival as the first stage in presence, coming, advent."

Sense (1) is clearly found at Phil 2:12 where Paul contrasts his own παρουσία with his ἀπουσία. 1 Cor 16:17; 2 Cor 10:10 also seem to be examples of παρουσία being used to mean "presence" although some believe that it may signify "arrival" in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. See Rogers and Rogers, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, p. 391. But compare Marion L. Soards, 1 Corinthians (New International Biblical Commentary), p. 364.

BDAG suggests that παρουσία in 2 Cor 7:6 and Phil 1:26 refers to the "coming" of Titus or Paul. However, one could just as well understand παρουσία in these verses as "presence" or "the state of being present at a place." See Moises Silva's work Philippians (The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary), pp. 86-87. To witness examples of παρουσία employed as a terminus technicus (technical term) in the case of Christians and non-Christians, consult Moulton-Milligan, p. 497.

Regarding the use of παρουσία as terminus technicus for the "presence" of Jesus Christ, I find N.T. Wright's comments enlightening:

"But why should we think--except for reasons of ecclesiastical and scholarly tradition--that PAROUSIA means 'the second coming,' and/or the downward travel on a cloud of Jesus and/or the 'son of man'? PAROUSIA means 'presence' as opposed to APOUSIA, 'absence'; hence it denotes the 'arrival' of someone not at the moment present; and it is especially used in relation to the visit 'of a royal or official personage.' Until evidence for a different meaning is produced, this should be our starting-point" (Jesus and the Victory of God, page 341).

What does Wright mean by the "arrival" of Christ, however? In that same publication, he makes it clear that he is apparently referring to the "enthronement" of Christ and not to his so-called Second Advent:

"For the ordinary sense of 'arrival', cf. 1 Cor. 16:17; 2 Cor. 7:6, 7; 10:10; Phil. 1:26; 2:12. From this, the most natural meaning for the word as applied to Jesus would be something like 'arrival on the scene,' in the sense of enthronement" (ibid).

TDNT makes the point even clearer in its treatment of παρουσία. Finally, Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon shows that ἔρχομαι possibly denotes: "to move from one place to another, either coming or going."

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Arius of Alexandria (Maurice Wiles' Book)

I like to suggest book titles when I run across them while doing research. One study that you may wish to consult is Maurice Wiles' Archetypal Heresy: Arianism through the Centuries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996). Despite the title, Wiles provides a very sympathetic treatment of the "arch-heresy" that earned the vilification of churchmen like Athanasius and those of his ilk. Wiles' work is especially important since he has spent most of his academic career studying the history Arianism and how it developed through the centuries.

On page 12 of this publication, Wiles observes that
Arius (in his letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia) called
the pre-existent Son, PLHRHS QEOS MONOGENHS ('full god
only-begotten'). He evidently derived this title from
the Prologue of John's Gospel wherein the writer
employs MONOGENHS and PLHRHS (Jn 1:14) as well as QEOS
coupled with MONOGENHS in Jn 1:18. Wiles also notes
the textual variants for 1:18 (MONOGENHS QEOS or
MONOGENHS hUIOS) but points out Arius' ostensible
preference for the reading MONOGENHS QEOS. The
patristic scholar then writes:

"The text of St John's gospel left Arius in no doubt
that the Word or Son was a divine entity; he was QEOS.
But the same passage equally clearly implied that
there was a differentiation between the application of
that term to the Father and to the Word; the latter
was MONOGENHS QEOS" (Wiles 12).

Arius further appealed to Jn 17:3, which makes a
marked distinction between 'the only true God' and
'Jesus Christ'. Arius thus concluded that while Christ
is QEOS--the Father is ALHQINOS QEOS (a point earlier
observed by Novatian in De Trinitate 31). Moreover,
Arius wisely observed that Jn 17:3 did not simply
apply to the humanity of Christ since one would
apparently be "wrenching" the saying "from its context
in the gospel" by exegeting the passage that way
(13). Arius therefore concluded that the Son is a
creature: he is the divine Wisdom spoken about in Prov
8:22-31, who was created (KTIZW) and formed (QEMELIW)
as well as born (GENNAW).

Arius' reasoning is interesting here since he
believes, as did Eusebius of Nicomedia, that in this
case, begetting and creating refer to the same
phenomenon. Eusebius of Nicomedia pointed to such
texts as Deut 32:18 where we read that God brought
forth (begot) Israel and He is even said to have
begotten the "drops of dew" in a poetic sense (Job
38:28). Ergo, the language of procreation can be
employed to delineate a created being, one brought
forth NON EX DEO, SED NIHILO. Consequently it is not
hard to see how Arius reasoned that the Son is a
creature although the Son was "begotten timelessly
before God created the worlds."

Ironically, though affirming the creaturely status of
the LOGOS, Arius still believed that the Son should be
worshiped as God. As Wiles recounts the theological
reasoning of Athanasius, Arius' arch-rival, we read:
"If the Son is not essentially God, then the only
alternative is that he is a creature. And that both
precludes him from fulfilling any saving role
[according to Athanasius], and also means that the
worship which Arians offer to him is a form of
blasphemous idolatry" (7-8).

Athanaius seems to be partly correct at this point, if
by 'worship', Arians were rendering LATREIA or
PROSKUNEW in a manner that belonged to only Almighty
God. Supposedly the Arians vigorously sang songs of
praise (hymns) to the Lamb of God and worshiped Him as
if he were God, since he 'participated' in God. If
this depiction of the ancient believers of Jesus
Christ is accurate, then we can confidently contend
that the Arians markedly differentiated themselves
from Jehovah's modern-day Witnesses who only render
LATREIA to the one identified as Jehovah (YHWH) in
Holy Writ. But I hope this information will give you an
idea of the gems that are contained in Wiles' study.
Now tolle, lege! :-)

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Zerwick on Matthew 28:19

Maximilian Zerwick insists that εἰς τὸ ὄνομα in Mt 28:19 is being used sensu stricto "to suggest the end and effect of baptism" in the name of the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit: he explicitly connects baptizing with εἰς τὸ ὄνομα. I think Zerwick is also stressing the difference between εἰς and ἐν. See his work Biblical Greek, section 106.

While Zerwick perceives a noticeable lexical distinction between εἰς and ἐν without putting too much emphasis on there being one name for the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit. However, Zerwick does mention the Trinity while articulating the reason for Matthew using εις in 28:19 although I stress that he doesn't argue that all three have the same name.

By "end," I assume that he's referring to the telos of baptism (i.e., goal, purpose, function) and "effect" might be understood as its result (what baptism brings about). One is baptized (Zerwick possibly is arguing) "into" the name of Father, Son and Spirit rather than "in" the name of Father, KTL.

There may not be a major distinction between the two in this case, and for my purposes, it's not all that important.

Monday, February 06, 2017

John 8:56 and Rhetorical Devices

Ἀβραὰμ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ἠγαλλιάσατο ἵνα ἴδῃ τὴν ἡμέραν τὴν ἐμήν, καὶ εἶδεν καὶ ἐχάρη. (John 8:56 WH)

Jesus utters a relatively simple utterance, but the syntax is noticeably rhetorical (with all probability). More than likely, the Lord intentionally spoke this way or that's how John recorded the account by means of divine inspiration.

What I mean by rhetorical is when Jesus states that Abraham rejoiced to see "my day," but he both saw and rejoiced. If we track the verse rhetorically, we seem to find the structure "rejoiced" (A), "to see" (B), "he saw" (B), and "rejoiced" (A). So the passage contains a literary crisscross.

Friday, February 03, 2017

"Divine Delegation of Authority"

I've long thought of something that I call the "Divine Delegation of Authority Principle." It seems that after Jehovah God brought forth his only-begotten Son, he has always delegated authority to others and thereby acted mediately through agents. In other words, it seems that Jehovah never does hardly anything directly: he effects the divine will through various agents in order to accomplish his purpose. Examples include:

1) Angels and the Egyptian plagues (Ps. 78:49)

2) God transmitting the Jewish law by means of angels (Gal. 3:19; Heb. 2:2)

3) Creating the world through his Son (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:2)

4) Transmitting other covenants through angels

5) Resurrecting people through prophets, the apostles or Jesus Christ

The birth of Christ took place through/by means of the holy spirit, a force which has an interesting role in all divine acts.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Scriptures That Deal with Poverty and Helping the Poor

Poverty and Assistance Scriptures

1 Samuel 2:1-6

Psalm 70:5; 72:12-14

Proverbs 14:21

Proverbs 19:1,15-17

Proverbs 30:6-8

Ecclesiastes 7:12

Amos 8:4-6

Malachi 3:10

Matthew 6:25-34 (Luke 12:22-33)

Mark 10:21

Luke 6:20-22

Luke 19:1-8 (sell what you have and give to the poor)

Luke 14:12-14

Luke 16:14

2 Corinthians 6:4-10

Galatians 2:10

James 5:1-8

1 Timothy 3:3; 6:9-10; 2 Timothy 3:2

Revelation 3:16-21

Saturday, January 28, 2017

John 5:24, Present Participles, and Gnomic Perfects

The present participles ἀκούων and πιστεύων in Jn. 5:24 are instances of verbal adjectives that signal a durative or progressive Aktionsart. An interlocutor once took exception to this claim, it seems, on the basis of mostly theological rather than grammatical factors--although his grammatical objections were not wholly lacking. For instance, Jn. 5:24 also contains the perfect verbal form μεταβέβηκεν.

I submit that the perfect here in no way disproves my suggestion that the two participles in 5:24 are durative per their Aktionsart. Richard A. Young writes:

"The perfect is normally interpreted as expressing a completed act with continuing results. There are problems with this definition if time is not a function of form, for completed acts are always past. Contextually the perfect may refer to something past (Matt. 19:8), present (Matt. 27:43), possibly future (Matt. 20:23; John 5:24; Jas. 5:2-3), omnitemporal (Rom. 7:2), or timeless (John 3:18). It seems better to view the perfect and pluperfect as members of the stative aspect in which the speaker conceives the verbal idea as a condition or state of affairs" (Intermediate NT Greek, p. 126).

Wallace also classifies the perfect in Jn 5:24 as a "gnomic perfect." He explains: "The perfect tense may be used with a gnomic force, to speak of a generic or proverbial occurrence" (GGBB, p. 580-581). One could also speak of the gnomic perfect as a timeless perfect. See James 1:24.

In any event, it could be possible that John is saying, the one hearing and believing ὁ τὸν λόγον μου (the Son's word) is the one who has eternal life timelessly speaking. As Alford exclaims:

"But here the faith is set before us as an enduring faith, and its effects described in their completion (see Ephesians 1:19, Ephesians 1:20)."

Monday, January 23, 2017

Style in the Book of Jude

I have not read Jude much with attention to his style:
my concern with Jude has been more exegetical,
doctrinal or theological. Therefore, I'll post what
A. T. Robertson has to say about this Bible book's style.

(1) Jude has "a rugged rotundity of style that is
impressive and vigorous, if a bit harsh" (A Grammar of
the GNT
, p. 124).

(2) Jude shows a willingness to employ both metaphors
and triplets. His work is more Hebraistically flavored
than James' epistle.

(3) While some have asserted that James does not have a
"command" of Greek grammar, Robertson states there is
actually "little that is peculiar in [Jude's] grammar, for
he shows the normal use of the Greek idiom" (125).

(4) The optative mood occurs twice in Jude.

(5) "Cases, pronouns, tenses, free use of the
participles, indicate a real mastery of current Greek"

(6) "Deissmann (Light, p. 235) considers Jude a
literary epistle in popular style and 'cosmopolite' in
tone (p. 242), with a certain degree of artistic
expression" (Robertson, 125).

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Tradition and the Roman Catholic Church

Owen Thomas professes: "Tradition can also mean what the Roman
Catholic Church calls the secret tradition, namely, that part of the
apostolic tradition which was not committed to writing, but was handed down orally by the apostolic bishops." He adds: "There is no historical foundation for the existence of such a tradition."

The declaration at the Council of Trent in 1564 concerning "the unwritten traditions" possibly confirms Thomas' interpretation of the Latin view concerning what has been handed down (i.e., tradition). Did not Trent also decide that the Bible does not contain all things necessary for salvation? Or maybe I should say, all things formally necessary for salvation. From one Catholic source, we read:

"The Roman Church, however, does not depend solely on literary and
historical evidence; it depends on its own consciousness of its belief,
and it must be admitted that the analysis of this consciousness can be
subtle" (John McKenzie, The Roman Catholic Church, p. 212)

The same book also states: "The Council of Trent admitted frankly that
the Roman tradition contains propositions which cannot be found in the Bible.
It countered the Protestant charge by asserting itself, so to speak; it denied that either in the Bible or in its own traditions is there any affirmation
that the Bible is the sole source of revealed truth . . . An unresolved
question in contemporary theology is whether the Council of Trent meant
that Scripture and tradition are two sources of revealed truth.
Certainly the Council did not mean that they are two unrelated sources.
The weight of opinion in Roman theology since the Council of Trent has
been that the Council did mean two sources. The Bible is superior in
dignity, but tradition is superior in completeness" (McKenzie, 212-213).

Of course, Catholics have told me that Owen Thomas' depiction of Catholic tradition is not correct: they say Catholic tradition is not secret or hidden. Below, I include the statement from Trent (Session IV):

This [Gospel], of old promised through the Prophets in the Holy Scriptures,[1] our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, promulgated first with His own mouth, and then commanded it to be preached by His Apostles to every creature[2] as the source at once of all saving truth and rules of conduct.

It also clearly perceives that these truths and rules are contained in the written books and in the unwritten traditions, which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ Himself, or from the Apostles themselves,[3] the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down to us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand.

Following, then, the examples of the orthodox Fathers, it receives and venerates with a feeling of piety and reverence all the books both of the Old and New Testaments, since one God is the author of both; also the traditions, whether they relate to faith or to morals, as having been dictated either orally by Christ or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church in unbroken succession.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Poverty and Jesus (Luke 2:22-24)

I have compared Luke 2:22-24 with the Hebrew text that prescribes the sacrifice mentioned by Luke in his first-century Gospel--a sacrifice that was to be given by a person of humble means, if he/she could not afford to offer a lamb to Jehovah:

"When the mother has completed her time of cleansing, she must come to the front of the sacred tent and bring to the priest a year-old lamb as a sacrifice to please me and a dove or a pigeon as a sacrifice for sin. After the priest offers the sacrifices to me, the mother will become completely clean from her loss of blood, whether her child is a boy or a girl. If she cannot afford a lamb, she can offer two doves or two pigeons, one as a sacrifice to please me and the other as a sacrifice for sin" (Lev. 12:6-8 CEV).

Furthermore, I still wonder about the Greek TEKTWN and what the "typical" socio-economic status of a carpenter, builder or craftsman was in the first century CE, especially in Palestine. These questions are probably not easy to answer.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Colossians 2:2: Which Mystery?

Originally written 7/30/2003 and edited 1/9/2017; 1/11/17; 1/12/17.

While reading Col. 2:2 this week, I happened upon something that escaped my attention hitherto.

ἵνα παρακληθῶσιν αἱ καρδίαι αὐτῶν συμβιβασθέντες ἐν ἀγάπῃ καὶ εἰς πᾶν πλοῦτος τῆς πληροφορίας τῆς συνέσεως, εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν τοῦ μυστηρίου τοῦ θεοῦ, Χριστοῦ, (NA28)

The KJV and NKJV render the text similarly--to wit:

"that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,"

The mystery of God (τοῦ μυστηρίου τοῦ Θεοῦ) is identified with both the Father and Christ. The Hebrew Names Version and Vulgate also read:

"that their hearts may be comforted, they being knit together in love, and gaining all riches of the full assurance of understanding, that they may know the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Messiah," (HNV)

"ut consolentur corda ipsorum instructi in caritate et in omnes divitias plenitudinis intellectus in agnitionem mysterii Dei Patris Christi Iesu" (Vg).

But the NASB translates:

"that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself"

Metzger gives the reading τοῦ θεοῦ, Χριστοῦ, a [B] grade indicating that this lectio is highly certain. Explaining his position, Metzger writes:

"Among what at first sight seems to be a bewildering variety of variant readings, the one adopted for the text is plainly to be preferred (1) because of strong external testimony (P46 B Hilary Pelagius Ps-Jerome and (b) because it alone provides an adequate explanation of the other readings as various scribal attempts to ameliorate the syntactical ambiguity of τοῦ θεοῦ, Χριστοῦ."

[I need to check the Mextzger quote in order to make sure I'm quoting accurately.]

the Catholic NABRE translates Col. 2:2 as follows:

"that their hearts may be encouraged as they are brought together in love, to have all the richness of fully assured understanding, for the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ,"

The New Jerusalem Bible also renders Col. 2:2-3:

"It is all to bind them together in love and to encourage their resolution until they are rich in the assurance of their complete understanding and have
knowledge of the mystery of God in which all the the jewels of wisdom and knowledge are hidden."

Finally, I quote NWT 2013: "This is so that their hearts may be comforted and that they may be harmoniously joined together in love and may have all the riches that result from the full assurance of their understanding, in order to gain an accurate knowledge of the sacred secret of God, namely, Christ."

From a textual perspective, as Metzger points out, the reading found in NA27 and UBS4 is contained in P46, B, VGms and Hilary. See also NA27 for MSS in which the reading of the KJV is found. But NA27 has now been updated to NA28.