Saturday, September 30, 2017

Undeveloped and Scattered Ideas About Divine Atemporality/Temporality

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

Notes on Divine Temporality

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 29, 2017

ADHON, KURIOS (Psalm 110:1) and ELOHIM

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

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

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

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

Bob Utley makes these remarks on 12:8:

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

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

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Revelation 21:21: Random Notes

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

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

Compare Rev. 21:18.

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

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

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

Peter Pett's Commentary:

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

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

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

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

Cf. 1 Cor. 3:12.

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

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

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

Jude 14-15 and the Bride of Christ

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

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

Meyer's NT Commentary:

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

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Soteriological Narrative

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

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

God acts (He sends His Son).

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Potential Meaning of EIS and General Principles of Greek Translation

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

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Trinity Doctrine: Catholic Encyclopedia

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

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


Sunday, September 10, 2017

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

Alford's Comments for 2 Pet 1:1:

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

Comments pertaining to Tit 2:13:

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

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Hurricane Irma

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

The Latin Verb, Offerebantur

Here is an email I once wrote to a friend:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

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


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

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

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

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Imperial Rome and Early Christianity (J. Daryl Charles)--Work in Progress

A Discussion of "Imperial Pretensions and the Throne-Vision of the Lamb: Observations on the Function of Revelation 5"

J. Daryl Charles initiates his analysis of early Christians and Rome (imperium Romanum) by emphasizing the tension that existed between the two parties. The first-century Christians refused to worship any other deity but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (YHWH). So they consequently would not render Greco-Roman deities any allegiance, and this included emperors who had pretensions of being divine. Instead of giving allegiance to Caesar, the early followers of Jesus Christ worshiped God and rendered homage to the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 12:3). This tension between the Christian ecclesia and imperial Rome is played out in John's Apocalypse, "which represents a challenge to the Roman principate" (86).

Charles rightly depicts Rome as the "aggressor" in its numerous military activities and he believes this historical datum was not lost on the writer of Revelation. Hence, maybe for this reason and based on other factors, Revelation is replete with war imagery (Rev. 2:16-17; 12:7-12, 17; 19:11-21; 20:7-10). Yet despite the battle waged against the Christian ecclesia, the Lamb will conquer those opposing his followers (Rev. 17:14). Nevertheless, what about those Christian overcomers, who figuratively tread upon the serpent's head? Charles claims they will "reign on the earth" (page 86). To substantiate this point, he invokes Rev. 5:10; 20:6; 22:5.

Charles primarily mentions Christians reigning on earth to demonstrate the contrast between the Roman imperium and Messiah's rule. He explains how God's rule through Christ is exercised differently from current political systems, but Charles also explores important questions dealing with Roman rule including its religious and political aspects (86-7). To address these dual roles, Charles asserts that Rev. 5 supplies a "throne-vision of the Lamb" which contains both royal and sacerdotal elements in order "to reassure John's audience" (87). The article claims that John applies the language of "adoration and worship" normally rendered to "a deified emperor" to the Lamb (87). It is not possible to serve two masters, avers Charles: one must "worship" the conquering Lamb in place of the emperor. John calls upon the first-century assembly to make a decisive choice (88):

"Inasmuch as the Christians called Jesus Kyrios/Dominus, the same title could not legitimately be ascribed to the emperor--a dilemma interpreted plainly enough by Pliny. Ultimately, for the first-century Christian the matter comes down to a fundamental antithesis: Divus Imperator('Emperor Divine') or Christus Dominus ('Christ the Lord')."

Charles reminds us that Caesar only started to be recognized as Dominus from Emperor Domitian onwards, who reigned from 81-96 CE, even though Kyrios (the corresponding Greek term) was applied to Caesar in the East "almost from the beginning" (88). Examining the overall context of ancient Rome and its relationship with the primitive ecclesia leads to a consideration of how Rev. 5 possibly functions in this regard.

Many views have been expressed about Revelation 5, but Charles maintains that chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation have liturgical, religious, and political importance: "The central fact that pervades heaven is the absolute authority of God" (88). God sits upon the throne (Rev 4); exousia flows out from his right hand (5:1, 7); divine judgments emanate forthwith and dramatically (89). In climactic fashion, the Lamb steps forward to open the scroll, which none in heaven or upon earth can break open. The "Lion-Lamb" is simultaneously Savior and Conqueror--Charles insists that these images must be understood within the context of Roman imperialism (89).

Imperial Rome supposedly was a political and ecclesiastical entity: it promoted adoration of the state and of the Emperor. Being a state was not so offensive to the early Christians as were the pretensions to potestas absoluta by Rome. The imperium demanded ultimate allegiance from the ancient followers of Jesus Christ--a type of loyalty which they could not render unto Caesar (90).

Acts 2:24 (Anaphora)

ὃν ὁ θεὸς ἀνέστησεν λύσας τὰς ὠδῖνας τοῦ θανάτου, καθότι οὐκ ἦν δυνατὸν κρατεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ὑπ' αὐτοῦ·

I would say that the antecedent of the 3rd-person singular pronoun αὐτοῦ is "death" (the articular genitival τοῦ θανάτου). τὰς ὠδῖνας cannot be the antecedent since that noun phrase is accusative plural whereas τοῦ θανάτου is genitive singular. It seems that αὐτοῦ is used anaphorically here (its "normal" use). Cf. Wallace, GGBB, page 324. A good example of an anaphoric personal pronoun is Acts 27:32.

The NRSV has for Acts 2:24: "But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power" (1989 Version). In the ftn., it has "Gk. pains of death."