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.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Scholarly Observations Regarding Galatians 5:22-23

"PRAUTHS: Meekness is the outcome of true humility,
the bearing towards others which results from a lowly
estimate of ourselves.--EGKRATEIA: Self-control
comprehends every form of temperance, and includes the
mastery of all appetites, tempers and passions" (The
Expositor's Greek Testament
, 3:188).

"The fact that self-control appears last in Paul's
list may indicate its importance as a summation of the
preceding virtues. It would also have particular
relevance for the Galatian setting: Antinomians
veering out of control desperately needing the
discipline of self-control reinforced by a new respect
for God's moral law" (Timothy George, Galatians, page

"Trench seems to have caught the true meaning of this
term [PRAUTHS]. He notes that it is not 'mere natural
disposition. Rather is it an inwrought grace of the
soul; and the exercises of it are first chiefly
towards God.' He continues: 'It is that temper of
spirit in which we accept his dealings with us as
good, and therefore without disputing or resisting;
and it is closely linked with the TAPEINOFROSUNH, and
it follows directly upon it (Ephes. iv.2; Col.
iii.12), because it is only the humble heart which is
also meek' (p. 152). Put in simplest terms, meekness
is submissiveness to the will of God" (Ralph Earle,
Word Meanings in the NT, pp. 310-311).

things there is no law.' Without doubt an
understatement of the apostle's thought for rhetorical
effect. The mild assertion that there is no law
against such things has the effect of an emphatic
assertion that these things fully meet the
requirements of the law (cf. v.14). The statement as
it stands is true of law in every sense of the word,
and NOMOS is therefore to be taken in its general
sense; yet probably Paul is thinking only of divine,
not of divine and human law" (Ernest De Witt Burton,
Galatians, 318).

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Biblical "Examples"

1 Peter 2:21-ἰς τοῦτο γὰρ ἐκλήθητε, ὅτι καὶ Χριστὸς ἔπαθεν ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ὑμῖν ὑπολιμπάνων ὑπογραμμόν, ἵνα ἐπακολουθήσητε τοῖς ἴχνεσιν αὐτοῦ,

2 Peter 2:4-Εἰ γὰρ ὁ θεὸς ἀγγέλων ἁμαρτησάντων οὐκ ἐφείσατο ἀλλὰ σειραῖς ζόφου ταρταρώσας παρέδωκεν εἰς κρίσιν τηρουμένους

Jude 7-ὡς Σόδομα καὶ Γόμορρα καὶ αἱ περὶ αὐτὰς πόλεις τὸν ὅμοιον τρόπον τούτοις ἐκπορνεύσασαι καὶ ἀπελθοῦσαι ὀπίσω σαρκὸς ἑτέρας, πρόκεινται δεῖγμα πυρὸς αἰωνίου δίκην ὑπέχουσαι.

1 Corinthians 10:6, 11-Ταῦτα δὲ τύποι ἡμῶν ἐγενήθησαν, εἰς τὸ μὴ εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἐπιθυμητὰς κακῶν, καθὼς κἀκεῖνοι ἐπεθύμησαν.

ταῦτα δὲ τυπικῶς συνέβαινεν ἐκείνοις, ἐγράφη δὲ πρὸς νουθεσίαν ἡμῶν, εἰς οὓς τὰ τέλη τῶν αἰώνων κατήντηκεν.

Numbers 26:10-καὶ ἀνοίξασα ἡ γῆ τὸ στόμα αὐτῆς κατέπιεν αὐτοὺς καὶ Κορε ἐν τῷ θανάτῳ τῆς συναγωγῆς αὐτοῦ, ὅτε κατέφαγεν τὸ πῦρ τοὺς πεντήκοντα καὶ διακοσίους, καὶ ἐγενήθησαν ἐν σημείῳ,

All GNT citations derive from the online version of NA28.

Galatians 5:20 ("Spiritism")

Here is Abbott-Smith's Manual Greek Lexicon of the NT (p. 466) on φαρμακία (FARMAKIA):

administer drugs), poet. and late prose form of
FARMAKEIA, [in LXX: Ex 7:11, 22 8:7, 18 (3, 14) . . .
1. generally, the use of medicine, drugs or spells
(Xen.). 2. (a) poisoning (Plut., Polyb.); (b) sorcery,
witchcraft: Ga 5:20 (v. Lft., in 1.) Re 9:21 (WH,
txt., FARMAKWN) 18:23 (cf. LXX, 11. c)."

Timothy George gives these supplemental comments:

"As J.T. Noonan has written, 'Paul's usage here [Galatians 5:20] cannot be restricted to abortion, but the term he chose is comprehensive enough to include the use of abortifacient drugs.' In the early church both infanticide, often effected through the exposure of newborn babies to the harsh elements, and abortion, commonly brought about by the use of drugs, were regarded as murderous acts. Both are flagrant violations of Jesus' command to 'love your neighbor as yourself'" (Galatians, 394).

See also

Friday, January 06, 2017

Rhetoric and the New Testament/Christian-Greek Scriptures

Classical rhetoric acquired a bad name largely because of the Sophists, who also gave argumentation a bad reputation too. However, it seems hard to deny that the Bible, particularly the GNT, contains rhetorical devices. Granted, later church writers were trained rhetoricians and even they had some conflict with the profession (e.g., Tertullian, Tatian, Arnobius, Lactantius, Augustine). Nevertheless, one gainsays the presence of rhetorical devices in scripture at his/her own peril.

Craig R. Koester points to one literary device at Heb. 9:5. Remarking upon the Greek construction, PERI hWN OUK ESTIN NUN LEGEIN KATA MEROS, he writes:

"The author concludes his description of the furnishings [of the Tabernacle] by commenting that he cannot deal with these things in detail (cf. 11:32). Rhetorically, passing by something without detailed comment was called PARALEIPSIS (Rhet. ad Her. 4.27 Sec. 37' Lausberg, Handbook SS 882-886)." By identifying some aspects of a large topic while refusing to make detailed comment, the speaker alludes to his familiarity with the subject matter, while relativizing its importance. Here, Hebrews makes clear that what is most important is not the sanctuary, but the ministry that takes place within it" (Hebrews: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Anchor Bible Commentary. New York: Doubleday, 2001), p. 404.

George Guthrie likewise supplies these details:

"Most importantly, he [Leon Vaganay] advanced discussion on the structure of Hebrews with his identification of mot-crochets, 'hook words,' in the book. Hook words were a rhetorical device used in the ancient world to tie two sections of material together. A word was positioned at the end of one section and at the beginning of the next to effect a transition between the two" (The Structure of Hebrews, page 12).

One example of a writer employing hook words is Heb. 1:4-5 (which evidently represents the start of a new section), where we find the author using TWN AGGELWN in both verses. TWN AGGELWN thus joins together Heb. 1:1-4 with the following section of Hebrews which begins with Heb 1:5.

According to Richard Lanham, an expert in literary devices, the word "hyperbole" denotes: "Exaggerated or extravagant terms used for emphasis and not intended to be understood literally; self-conscious exaggeration."

Heinrich Lausberg writes: "Hyperbole is an extreme, literally implausible onomastic surpassing of the verbum proprium." Furthermore, "hyperbole is a metaphor with vertical gradations" that stimulates the imagination (Handbook of Literary Rhetoric, section 579).

The September 1, 2002 WT notes that hyperbole is an intentional exaggeration that someone utters for the purpose of emphasis or to make a point. We see vivid examples of hyperbole in the Gospels and Pauline Epistles.