Wednesday, August 30, 2017

John Milton's Paraphrase of Psalm CXIV (Psalm 114)

"That saw the troubled sea, and shivering fled,

And sought to hide his froth-becurlèd head

Low in the earth; Jordan's clear streams recoil,

As a faint host that hath received the foil.

The high huge-bellied mountains skip like rams

Amongst their ewes, the little hills like lambs.

Why fled the ocean? and why skipped the mountains?

Why turnèd Jordan toward his crystal fountains?

Shake, Earth, and at the presence be aghast

Of Him that ever was and aye shall last,

That glassy floods from rugged rocks can crush,

And make soft rills from fiery flint-stones gush."


Monday, August 28, 2017

John 17:25- Nominative for a Vocative?

In Jn. 20:28, Thomas possibly calls Jesus Lord
and God while not equating him with YHWH (Ps. 8:5-6;
82:1-6). Jesus had already been identified as "a god"
(NWT) in Jn. 1:1 and as "the only-begotten god" (See
N.T. Wright's tentative translation of this passage in
his NTPG) in Jn. 1:18. But John equally made it clear
that men could be called "gods" without transgressing
the boundaries of Jewish monotheism (Jn. 10:34-36).
The Lord also spoke of "the only true God" in Jn. 17:3.
And Jesus did not identify himself with "the only
true God" (See Raymond Brown in his Anchor Bible
commentary on John).

I thus believe that whether one decides biblical verses
such as Jn. 20:28 are subject nominatives or
nominatives of address, he or she can still hold that
Jesus is not Almighty God. I make these preliminary
statements in view of what might be an example of the
nominative for a vocative, namely, Jn. 17:25:

Πατὴρ δίκαιε, καὶ ὁ κόσμος σε οὐκ ἔγνω, ἐγὼ δέ σε ἔγνων, καὶ οὗτοι ἔγνωσαν ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλας

Sunday, August 27, 2017

1 Thessalonians 4:17--More Redundancy??

I believe the Governing Body has suggested "together with them" in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 means that the living are raised during the same period of time as the dead in union with Christ, that is, during the Messiah's presence (parousia). The NWT seems to treat hAMA as a redundant term. Compare William Douglas Chamberlain's An Exegetical Grammar of the Greek New Testament, page 130. Chamberlain states that hAMA is redundant at 1 Thess. 4:17: he reckons that hAMA "shows the beginning of the retreat of SUN before hAMA."

BDAG indicates that hAMA may be used as a preposition with the dative to mean "together with . . ." It can also be employed pleonastically (i.e., redundantly) with SUN: "to denote what belongs together in time and place (about like Lat. UNA CUM) . . ."

The Latin UNA CUM also means "together with."


Friday, August 25, 2017

Hippolytus (Contra Noetum 8, 10-11)

Henry Barclay Swete provides an extensive quote from church father Hippolytus' Contra Noetum 8. He then writes:

"It must be confessed that this, perhaps the earliest
apologia for the Church doctrine of the Trinity, halts
here and there; neither of the terms 'economy' and
'person,' which Hippolytus uses perhaps for the first
time, suggests the existence of *eternal relations in
the life of God*, and the Divine Unity appears to be
secured by a *subordinationism* which it is difficult
to reconcile with the essential equality of the
persons" (The Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church: A
Study of Christian Teaching in the Age of the
. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1966), page 103.

Hippolytus also believed that God once existed alone, having nothing contemporaneous with himself (Contra Noetum 10.1-2); however, he declares that "alone though he was," God was "manifold" (autos de monos wn polus hn) in the sense that "he was not Word-less (oute alogos) nor Wisdom-less (oute asofos) nor Power-less (oute adunatos) nor Mind-less (oute abouleutos). But everything was in him, and he was himself the All."

So his words indicate that the Logos residing in God from all eternity was not a distinct persona. Furthermore, according to Hippolytus, God voluntarily wills the Logos into existence (Contra Noet 10.3). That also suggests the Logos was not an eternal person, and one historian (W.H.C. Frend) even says that Hippolytus thought of the Son as a "creature."

Granted, Hippolytus does consider Christ to be "God." The question, however, is what he means by this term. As Robert Wilkens observed some years ago, the pre-Nicenes believed that Christ was in some sense "God," but they did not think that he was "fully God."

So in Contra Noetum 11, we read:

"And thus there appeared another beside Himself. But when I say another, I do not mean that there are two Gods, but that it is only as light of light, or as water from a fountain, or as a ray from the sun. For there is but one power, which is from the All; and the Father is the All, from whom comes this Power, the Word. And this is the mind which came forth into the world, and was manifested as the Son of God."

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Possible Significance of Theos/QEOS and Kurios

Something old from my files on Lord and other terms:

KURIOS and QEOS are not synonyms. Therefore, its possible for God to be Lord and yet it is also possible for a lord not to be God (or a god). For example, Abraham was called "lord" by Sarah (1 Pet. 3:6). Does this mean that he was also her god? Tertullian wrote in Adv. Hermogenes that God became Lord and Father when he brought forth his Son (Part 3). Thus while I would not deny that a QEOS can also be a KURIOS--even Jesus is likely called both in John 20:28--I believe that Paul intentionally made a distinction in 1 Cor. 8:5, 6 between QEOS and KURIOS. One source I will quote is the Interpreter's
Bible. Commenting on 1 Cor. 8:5, 6, Clarence T. Craig penned the following:

"Paul chose his prepositions [ex and dia] carefully in order to distinguish
between God the Father, who is the ultimate source of creation, and Christ,
the Lord, through whom [dia] this activity takes place . . . it is perfectly
clear what Paul wants to affirm. Neither Caesar nor Isis is Lord, but only
Jesus Christ. When Paul ascribed Lordship to Christ, in contrast to later
church dogma, he did not mean that Christ was God. Christ was definitely
subordinated to God" (Craig 93-94).

For proof of Craig's assertion, see 1 Cor. 3:23; 11:3; 15:24-28. The corresponding word for "Lord" in Latin is dominus, whereas pater stands for "father" as it does in Greek.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Further Comments by Michael V. Fox on Proverbs 8:22 (Image)

More Support for Understanding Prov 8:22 in terms of "creation." From the Anchor Bible Commentary by Fox.

Speaking of the Midbar (Wilderness)--Lev. 16 and Azazel

This summer, I addressed some claims made by Mr. Jeff Benner about the biblical use of "wilderness" (midbar). Mr. Benner (relying on Hebrew etymology) claims that the ancient Israelites viewed the desert as a place of order. However, my contention is that while midbar might have that meaning in some places, that is not generally true of the word. I now present more evidence from a paper on Azazel (Leviticus 16) written by Aron Pinker. I will quote snippets of Pinker's study:

"Tawil's position has been adopted by Zatelli. She says, 'Perhaps the spelling עזזאל‎ in Qumran texts is acceptable for עזאזל‎; it has been changed into the more neutral עזאזל‎ in the textus receptus. Probably it was originally a kind of Canaanite demon—which developed in the Hebrew tradition—connected with the chthonian power expressed by goats. The wilderness is a symbol of the underworld.'"

"Milgrom felt that 'in pre-Israelite practice he [עזאזל‎] surely was a true demon, perhaps a satyr (cf. Ibn Ezra on Lev 16:8), who ruled in the wilderness—in the Priestly ritual he is no longer a personality but just a name, designating the place to which impurities and sins are banished.'"

"the scapegoat was sent out into the wilderness, which was considered to be one of the abodes of supernatural entities (Hab 3:3, Isa 13:21, 34:11–15)."

"Rudman shifts the focus from לעזאזל‎ to מדבר‎, claiming that the ritual as described by P, cleanses Israel (understood as a microcosm of creation) of sin (understood as chaos), and removes it outside creation itself into the chaotic area of wilderness."

Published Version of Pinker's Research:

Revisiting Philippians 2:6-7 with Robert B. Strimple

It does not seem exegetically or philologically sound to understand MORFH as "substance" or "nature" in Philippians 2:6-7. Jesus had the "form of a servant" insofar as he outwardly appeared to be a servant. Indeed he was a servant, but he was also much more since the disciples addressed him as Teacher and Rabbi. His outward appearance (form) did not tell the whole story: EN MORFH QEOU and MORFH DOULOU both refer to outward appearances.

Robert B. Strimple (in the Westminster Theological Journal) openly relates that for years he tried to maintain J.B. Lightfoot's strict distinction between MORFH and SXHMA until he had to admit: "there is really little evidence to support the conclusion that Paul uses MORFH in such a philosophical sense here [in Phil. 2:6ff]" (Strimple 259). Strimple also cites the four instances where MORFH occurs in the LXX (Septuagint). He writes: "in each instance . . . MORFH refers to the visible form or appearance" (Strimple 260).

It is also worthy of note that Aquila employs MORFH in Isa. 52:14 to describe the "outer appearance" of the Messiah. Since, as Strimple concurs, the theme of Jehovah's Suffering Servant undoubtedly played some part in the Philippians account--it seems reasonable to assume that MORFH as used in Isa. 52:14 bears the same meaning in Phil. 2:6ff. Strimple concludes: "meager though the biblical evidence is, it is sufficient to make a prima facie case for the reference being to a visible manifestation" (Strimple 260).

ὃς ἐν μορφῇ Θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα Θεῷ (Philippians 2:6, Nestle 1904)

A Link for Strimple's WTJ Paper:

Two New Books (Recommendations)


I want to let you know about two new publications that you might find interesting.

One is by Edward Feser. Here is the Amazon link for his work, which deals with proving the existence of God:

Another book is by Rolf Furuli, a fellow Witness and friend:

I notice that both books are out of stock on Amazon, but they can also be ordered directly from their respective publishers.

Feser's publisher is Ignatius Press:

Furuli's is published by Awatu:

Sunday, August 13, 2017

How Not To Render Greek (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Greek: Ἔχομεν δὲ τὸν θησαυρὸν τοῦτον ἐν ὀστρακίνοις σκεύεσιν, ἵνα ἡ ὑπερβολὴ τῆς δυνάμεως ᾖ τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ μὴ ἐξ ἡμῶν· (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Overly literal translation:

"But we have this thesaurus in baked clay vessels, in order that the hyperbolicity of the force might be of the God and not from us."

Do not render Greek this way!

Articles/Sources About "Aramaic Daniel" (Links)

(A scholarly writing from 1965 by K.A. Kitchen)

(Article by Gerhard Hasel from 1981)


(Article by G.R. Driver from 1926)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

ᾍδης (hADHS) and SHEOL (Psalms and Ecclesiastes)

There appear to be solid reasons for semantically equating SHEOL and hADHS--one of the strongest reasons is because the LXX utilizes hADHS in texts about the condition of the dead.



Additionally, Ps. 15:10 (16:10) prophetically speaks of the Messiah not being forsaken in SHEOL. On the day of Pentecost, Peter quoted those words, and when recording this speech Luke employs the Greek hADHS to describe what the Hebrew Scriptures call SHEOL (Acts 2:27-36). This passage indicates that the words are synonymous (they semantically overlap).

Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon also equates hADHS and Sheol, as does Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon which says: "In the Sept. the Hebr. SHEOL is almost always rendered by" hADHS.

While disagreeing with my theological views, Spiros Zodhiates yet writes: "hADHS . . . Most probable derivation is from hADW, all-receding. It corresponds to SHEOL in the OT" (Complete NT Word Study).

Obviously, one can believe that SHEOL and hADHS are semantically identical without believing they both represent a place of inactivity, but I happen to think that both places are domains of inactivity.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Memory and Persistence (Work in Progress)

In these kinds of discussions, it is common to let X stand for "anything whatsoever" and to let S represent "a person" or rational subject.

Is memory the only thing (X) that persists through time? X is a variable that here stands for any impersonal entity whatsoever (e.g., a banana, a table or a couch), whereas S used below represents any personal entity (i.e., a person or rational subject). Identity is normally framed in two ways: for impersonal and for personal things (respectively, X and S).

Kevin Corcoran (Rethinking Human Nature) illustrates persistence conditions for X by using the example of a banana. X (in this case) may be green at one time, yellow at another, and brown or black at yet another time. However, X presumably is still the same banana or the same X in each case. What permits me to make such an assertion?

Rene Descartes gives an example of wax in his work Meditations. Even if one melts wax (X), something remains that lets us know it's the same parcel of matter, even if melted wax does not have the same properties as non-melted wax. Therefore, what are the persistence conditions for bananas and for wax?

However we answer that question, Corcoran reasons that persistence conditions for persons (S) apparently exist too. Some suggestions for what makes a person (S) the same entity at T1, T2 . . . Tn are the soul theory, memory theory (primarily associated with John Locke), the body theory, and the illusion theory (e.g., Buddhism or David Hume). All of these proposals are framed within the context of Gottfried Leibniz's absolute identity theory, but there is no unanimous answer concerning the persistence conditions for X or S.

When I refer to the memory theory of John Locke, I am only pointing out how Locke maintains that memory secures the identity of a person (S). So if I eat an apple at T1, then Locke seems to reason that if I authentically recall that phenomenal event at T2, then it would appear that I must be the same S at T2--that is, the S who ate the apple at T1. However, there might be another person (S2), who also eats an apple at T1 and remembers the event later at T2. Yet one probably should not infer that S1 and S2 are identical persons based on this information. To the contrary, Locke insists that both persons would evidently maintain their respective identities over times T1 and T2 although his theory has been judged circular and irrevocably problematic by John Searle and Anthony Appiah.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Shift in the Frequency of Posting for Now

Well, summer is ending for educators, who do not teach in June, July or August. I will be returning to teaching duties next week; therefore, posting here will be less frequent unless breaks come along or some extra time. As always, I appreciate everyone taking the time to read this blog, and your contributions/insights are invaluable to me. It is all part of my ongoing education. So much fascinating material, but so little time.

All the best!

Monday, August 07, 2017

Robert W. Jenson and the "Pneumatological Problem"

Robert W. Jenson from his book Systematic Theology: The Triune God, Volume I (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997). His observations about "The Pneumatological Problem" can be found on pp. 146-161. I now present a brief summary of his statements.

Jenson, referencing Augustine, maintains that the Holy Spirit is
the "Gift of God." Manifestly, for Augustine, the Holy Spirit is God's Gift in that it is the bond of love eternally obtaining between the Father and the Son. Put more technically, the Spirit is the personal communion of the Father and the Son. In this case, Jenson contends, the genitive 'of' in "Gift of God" is "both subjective and objective: The Holy Spirit is God given by God" (page 147). But this description raises other questions. If the Spirit is God's Gift, then how is the Spirit "hypostatically" eternal? In other words, is the Spirit only a manifestation of divine identity in relation to Israel and the Church, or is the Spirit an immutable, necessary, and eternal personal distinction in the threefold Godhead? Furthermore, what hypostatic relation does the Spirit bear toward the Father and the Son?

Jenson's answers to these questions are quite interesting, even if
they are lacking in sufficiency. Read his book and you will see how
certain Trinitarian theologians try to resolve the seeming antinomies that result from the genitival "Spirit of God" etc. Foremost among such attempts to ameliorate the problemata resulting from the genitive use for the divine Spirit or "Gift of God" is the filioque approach contained in Western Trinitarian thought. But the Eastern Church rejects the filioque clause since it thinks the Spirit eternally proceeds solely from the Father (the one ARXH in the Godhead) and not the Son. I will thus conclude with this statement from Jenson:

"Perhaps the following is something like the truth. The
transcendental focus of the Spirit's intention of others is identical with the Father, for the Spirit's derivation of his being from the Father is never surpassed: the Spirit remains and is the spirit of someone; he is the RUACH of the God of Israel. And therefore as the Father finds his 'I' in the Son, so the Spirit finds his 'I' in the Son. He finds himself in the Son, however, differently than does the Father" (page 160).

Saturday, August 05, 2017

John 10:30--In What Sense the Father and Son Are One

Regarding John 10:30, ESMEN is the first-person plural indicative active form of EIMI. It means "we are." Therefore, "the Father and I are (ESMEN) one."

Some theologians and exegetes take the position that the Father and Son are one in substance or being. For instance, Charles Ryrie believes John 10:30 puts forth the view that the Father and the Son are one in substance. Rudolf Schnackenburg additionally writes that 10:30 gives us a glimpse of "the metaphysical depths contained in the relationship between Jesus and the Father." Conversely, Baptist exegete Gerald Borchert, while wanting to avoid an "Arian" interpretation of the verse explains: "the word 'one' here is neuter (hEN) and not masculine (hEIS), so the text is not arguing for a oneness of personalities or personae . . . but rather something akin to a oneness of purpose and will" (Borchert 341).

After reviewing the evidence, I opt for Borchert's view (although I draw differing implications from this verse than Borchert does). One Johannine verse that governs my thinking is John 17:20-22. In prayer with his disciples, Jesus prays that his followers may be one AS he and the Father are one. The unity discussed in John 17:20-22 is not an ontological unity, but a unity of action and purpose. I take it that Jesus was discussing the same type of unity in John 10:30 (Cf. 1 Cor. 3:8). The early church father, Novatian, also interpreted John 10:30 in this manner:

"But since they frequently urge upon us the passage where it is said, 'I and the Father are one,' in this also we shall overcome them with equal facility. For if, as the heretics think, Christ were the Father, He ought to have said, 'I and the Father are one.' But when He says I, and afterwards introduces the Father by saying, 'I and the Father,' He severs and distinguishes the peculiarity of His, that is, the Son's person, from the paternal authority, not only in respect of the sound of the name, but moreover in respect of the order of the distribution of power, since He might have said, 'I the Father,' if He had had it in mind that He Himself was the Father. And since He said 'one' thing, let the heretics understand that He did not say 'one' person. For one placed in the neuter, intimates the social concord, not the personal unity. He is said to be one neuter, not one masculine, because the expression is not referred to the number, but it is declared with reference to the association of another. Finally, He adds, and says, "We are," not "I am," so as to show, by the fact of His saying" I and the Father are," that they are two persons. Moreover, that He says one, has reference to the agreement, and to the identity of judgment, and to the loving association itself, as reasonably the Father and Son are one in agreement, in love, and in affection . . . In receiving, then, sanctification from the Father, He is inferior to the Father. Now, consequently, He who is inferior to the Father, is not the Father, but the Son; for had He been the Father, He would have given, and not received, sanctification" (De Trinitate XXVII.16ff)

Friday, August 04, 2017

1 Chronicles 29:20--Obeisance to Whom?

Normally, I believe one would render 1 Chronicles 29:20 (LXX) as the NET Bible does:

"David told the entire assembly: 'Praise the Lord your God!' So the entire assembly praised the Lord God of their ancestors; they bowed down and stretched out flat on the ground before the Lord and the king."

KURIWi and TWi BASILEI (grammatically) should both receive the action delineated by the verb PROSEKUNHSAN. While I could not find another example that described two entities receiving worship as direct objects by the use of a datival construction, I believe that Rev. 14:9-11, with its mention of the beast and its image, well illustrates how 1 Chron. 29:20 should be understood. Notice that PROSKUNEI + the accusative is used in Revelation 14:9, 11. But both objects receive the action of the verb. This also seems to be the case in 1 Chronicles 29:20 and translators usually recognize this point. Theology seems to have influenced Brenton's LXX translation. He renders the verse: "And David said to the whole congregation, Bless ye the Lord our God. And all the congregation blessed the Lord God of their fathers, and they bowed the knee and worshipped the Lord, and did obeisance to the king."

Thomson's LXX states:

"Then David said to all the congregation, Bless ye the Lord our God. And all the congregation blessed the Lord the God of their fathers, and with bended knees made a reverence to the Lord and to the king."

I find it interesting that the Vulgate also explicitly shows that both God and the King receive the same action. It says:

benedixit omnis ecclesia Domino Deo patrum suorum et
inclinaverunt se et adoraverunt Deum et deinde regem.

"they worshiped [or adored] God and then the King."

The NETS LXX similarly renders the latter part of 1 Chron. 29:20,
"and did obeisance to the Lord and the king"

1 Peter 2:13: JND Kelly and KTISIS

In a nutshell (in nuce), when it comes to 1 Peter 2:13, J.N.D. Kelly rejects the traditional renderings of KTISIS such as those found in the KJV, RSV and the NEB. He thinks that PASHi ANQRWPINHi KTISEI should not be translated "institution" or "ordinance." He insists that KTISIS always signifies "creation" or "creature" (ad concretum sensum) in the GNT, and Kelly further argues that the notion of God qua Creator stands as a backdrop to the GNT usage, although this point might be disputed by others.

The main point that I want to draw attention to here, however, is what Kelly offers in place of the traditional interpretation for 1 Peter 2:13. He reckons that Peter is exhorting his readers to
subject themselves voluntarily to human creatures (pages 108-9).

He continues:

"This exegesis also brings out the point of for the Lord's sake. Many commentators refer this to Christ, but it is God who created the world and men; it is therefore out of regard for Him as Creator that we ought to behave humbly towards our *fellow-creatures*' (page 109, stars added for emphasis).

Lastly, Kelly informs us that Peter passes from "the general to the particular" as he infers: "this principle of voluntary subordination should colour first of all the Christian's attitude to state authorities; whether to the emperor as sovereign, or to governors as sent under his commission" (page 109).

Kelly seems to be saying that KTISIS has reference to certain fellow humans (i.e., those exercising governmental authority). That is, it does not apply to the governments themselves, but to authorities who compose those human governments. Whatever you may personally think of Kelly's exegesis, his treatment of 1 Peter 2:13 shows that KTISIS might be applied to human rulers or authorities, who exercise power by heaven's allowance.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Genesis 1:1: Chaoskampf Story?

While many like to assert a connection between Genesis 1 and Enuma Elish, the story may be more complex than normally assumed. Here is one view of the issue.

The article is by Robin Routledge, published in the Tyndale Bulletin 61.1 (2010) issue.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Job 38:7 (Angels?)--Evidence from LXX and Targum of Job

Job 38:7 (LXX): ὅτε ἐγενήθησαν ἄστρα ᾔνεσάν με φωνῇ μεγάλῃ πάντες ἄγγελοί μου

The sons of God are explicitly identified as angels/messengers in this verse.

Also see!.html

"Where were you when I created the earth? Answer, if you can 3 who created , measurements? Or who used a tape measure? Or what are its bases set to or who set the cornerstone. 7 When the stars shown [sic] in the morning and all the angels of God song? Can you lock the entrace [sic] to the sea when it tries to leave the deep murky bottom. When did you where [?] clouds as cloths and fog as baby's cloths" (Targum of Job, Col. XXX).


See doctoral thesis here: