Monday, December 31, 2018

A Few More Thoughts Pertaining to Exodus 34:29 ("Radiant")

"As Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant in his hands, he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant* while he spoke with the LORD." (Exodus 34:29, Catholic NABRE)

Footnote: Radiant: the Hebrew word translated “radiant” is spelled like the term for “horns.” Thus the artistic tradition of portraying Moses with horns.

"Moses came down, after this, from Mount Sinai, bearing with him the two tablets on which the law was written; and his face, although he did not know it, was all radiant after the meeting at which he had held speech with God" (Knox Bible).

"Cumque descenderet Moyses de monte Sinai, tenebat duas tabulas testimonii, et ignorabat quod cornuta esset facies sua ex consortio sermonis Domini" (Latin Vulgate).

The Douay-Rheims Bible famously reports that Moses' face "was horned from the conversation of the Lord."

Menahem Haran reviews the historical developments that led to the Vulgate and DR rendering "was horned," but then Haran writes:

However, most commentators, both the older and the more contemporary, have already concurred that the verse refers to rays of light radiating from the brilliance of Moses' face, just as in Habakkuk 3.4 it is said of God himself: 'rays of light, qarnayim [cognate with qaran], flash from his hand' (before which we read that 'his brightness is like the light'). The splendour surrounding the image of God is alluded to in several additional biblical passages: the seventy elders of Israel saw God 'and under his feet there was the likeness of a pavement of sapphire, like the very sky for purity' (Ex. 24.10), Ezekiel saw 'radiance all about him' (Ezek. 1.27-28), while the psalmist describes the Lord as 'wrapped in light as with a garment' (Ps. 104.2; see also below). Something of the divine radiance was imparted, then, to Moses' face, which thereafter also shone. Later on the passage relates how the people, being repulsed by this radiance, were afraid to get close to Moses, but he dispelled their fears, and after telling them the Lord's message he put a masweh over his face. The substantive masweh, also mentioned only in this passage, is mostly explained, according to the context, as a veil or scarf hung over the face, though the etymology is uncertain.

To understand the wider context of Haran's remarks, see Barrick, W. Boyd, John R. Spencer, and Gösta W. Ahlström. In the Shelter of Elyon: Essays on Ancient Palestinian Life and Literature in Honour of G.W. Ahlström. Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1984. Pages 159-160.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Different Approaches to Mentality and Materialism/Physicalism

Philosophers of mind wonder if mental properties can be reduced to neural states. For instance, is it possible to reduce my perception of redness to a particular brain state? The answer to these questions is not simple, but some potential approaches that could be taken are:

1) Supervenience theory which has been given the label "property dualism." It posits that there are not two substances (body and soul) but two kinds of properties (mental and physical attributes) which stand in some kind of dependent relationship that preserves their distinctness but coequal real status.

2) Eliminative materialism (EM) which entails completely reducing mental states to brain states (usually in an ontological sense). But one downside to EM is that it wants to do away with talk of emotions and subjective states (qualia or raw feels), thereby replacing them with neuroscientific terminology.

3) Biological naturalism which is John Searle's take on the philosophy of mind says that all conscious states arise from lower-level brain processes. So consciousness is then a higher-level brain process that arises from neuronal activity.

Reductionism is not always wrong, but one problem is that it normally oversimplifies complex phenomena. Josef Seifert wrote an overlooked book about getting back to the things themselves (based on a saying by Edmund Husserl). In that work, Seifert demonstrates why reductionism could be problematic. The bottom line is that many think the reduction of subjectivity to synaptic connections and neural firings is overly simplistic, but I personally am inclined to favor this kind of reductionism. I am a Christian materialist, so I have to reconcile physicalism as it pertains to humans with my belief in God. Yet I see no genuine conflict between these two ideas.


Friday, December 28, 2018

Jesus, A Perfect Man?

In light of recent discussions here about divine and human perfection, I want to offer scriptural evidence that Christ was a perfect human. I understand that Christendom normally calls Christ, "the God-man," (Deus homo) but this blog entry is not intended to address that issue. Rather, I want to establish that Jesus was a perfect human and being perfect in his case meant, being sinless.

The apostle Peter identifies Jesus as a man used by God: "Israelite men, listen to these words! Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—" (Acts 2:22 LEB)

However, Jesus was not just any ordinary man; like Adam, he was sinless:

"For what was impossible for the law, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the law would be fulfilled in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:3-4 LEB).

What does Paul mean when he writes that God the Father (apparently) "condemned sin in the flesh"?

Numerous articles, commentaries, and papers have been written about this verse. Here's one suggestion from Colin G. Kruse:

"because the apostle has just said that God sent his Son 'in the likeness of sinful flesh and as a sin offering', it is best to think of sin being condemned in the 'flesh' of Jesus Christ, that is, when God presented his Son as a sin offering, the condemnation that humanity's sin deserved was absorbed by the incarnate Christ when he died on the cross (cf. 2 Cor 5:21; Col 2:14-15)."

I don't believe that Christ was God incarnate, nor do I believe he died on a cross. Yet Kruse captures the spirit of how I partly understand Romans 8:4: God condemned sin through Christ by presenting his Son as an offering for our sins. Secondarily, Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses by perfectly obeying its precepts. Other verses confirm that he did not sin:

2 Corinthians 5:20-21; Hebrews 4:15-16; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 2:21-25.

So, I emphasize that at least one way Christ was perfect was through his sinless course. Compare 1 Timothy 3:16.

Hebrews 5:8-9 proclaims that Christ learned obedience from the things he suffered and that he became perfect. But the context there suggests the writer is discussing Christ becoming perfect in his capacity as high priest.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Professor Joseph Kelly, Saturnalia, and the Inception of Christmas

Joseph Kelly, who has written a book on the origins of Christimas, also states:

"Many Romans venerated the sun, whose birthday was Dec. 25, or a virility god named Mithra with the same birthday. Also, the Romans observed a raucous celebration called Saturnalia Dec. 17-23. Thus, Dec. 25 offered a date with a good theological basis that also would counter several pagan holidays.

Although we don't know the final steps, in 336 the church at Rome officially observed the 'birth day of Christ' Dec. 25. This tradition spread."


Sunday, December 23, 2018

God's Perfection and Human Perfection

One cannot talk about the biblical concept of perfection without including God's perfection. Even Matthew 5:48 mentions God prior to giving the command for Jesus' disciples to be perfect like God the Father is perfect. God and man's perfection are two different things, but we cannot understand one without comprehending the other. Not only does Jehovah not lack anything, but he is also morally perfect: without moral blemish and with no wickedness residing in him. God's activity is perfect and he is fully just (Deuteronomy 32:4). That is not a mere abstraction. Let us not overlook the moral component of God's perfection. And what about the moral component of Jesus' perfection? Perfection in the case of Jesus did not simply mean that he lacked any old generic quality: the Christ was sinless. Deny that datum and one abnegates Scripture and subverts the Christian ecclesia. Divine and human perfection have multiple facets that encompass the moral dimension. I refuse to water down that aspect of divine or human perfection.

The ancient Hebrews also tried to observe Torah, but could not do it perfectly. However, Christ did (Romans 8:1-5).

Wine and Glad Hearts?

ESV renders Psalm 104:15, "and wine to gladden the heart of man," but I understand this usage of "heart" to be figurative like Deuteronomy 6:5ff. Also see how the Greeks used kardia (compare Romans 2:28-29; 1 Peter 3:4).

Since God made wine to gladden the human heart and Jesus even turned water into wine, there's apparently nothing wrong with being "merry/glad" from wine; however, being drunk is another matter, and problem drinking is still another story. In my humble estimation, moderation is the key: "Give me neither riches nor poverty." We likely need to avoid extremes when it comes to eating, drinking, our clothing or anything else (1 Corinthians 10:31). The main thing is whether we're glorifying Jehovah God by our eating and drinking habits.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

War/Battle Motifs in Revelation

Revelation 1:16, 2:21-23; 9:7-9; 11:7; 12:1-17; 13:7; 14:19-20; 16:13-16; 19:11-21; 20:1-10.

David Aune's Remarks on Revelation 19:11:

καὶ ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ κρίνει καὶ πολεμεῖ, “With justice he judges and wages war.” The use of the present tense in the verbs κρίνει, “he judges,” and πολεμεῖ, “he wages war” (here the general or gnomic present, used to express customary actions and general truths; see Burton, Syntax, § 12), often used in explanatory remarks in Revelation, suggests that this phrase is a narrative aside. The phrase κρίνειν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ, “to judge with righteousness,” is not used here exclusively in connection with the destruction of the rider's enemies (contra Beckwith, 732; Mounce, 344) but also has the positive connotation of the salvific action of Christ toward his people, i.e., as judge of his Church (Holtz, Christologie, 169– 70; Rissi, Future, 22). When God is described in the OT as “judging with righteousness,” it can be applied to the nations as well as to his people (Pss 9: 8; 72: 2; 96: 13; see Prigent, 292).

Aune, Dr. David. Revelation 17-22, Volume 52C (Word Biblical Commentary) (p. 1234). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

For more commentary pertaining to these war motifs, see Aune's 3-volume Word Biblical Commentary.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Parallelism Among the Hebrew Poets

There is a literary phenomenon that appears in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) known as parallelism. A simple way to explain the subject is that one may find a) synonymous parallelism, b) antithetical parallelism and c) synthetic parallelism. Examples of type a (synonymous parallelism) include:

Job 38:7; Psalm 150:1-2; Micah 5:2.

Job 3:3 exemplifies antithetical parallelism, and Psalm 42:1 illustrates synthetic parallelism.


Wilderness Motifs in Revelation (ἔρημος)

1. She gave birth to a male child who is to shepherd all the nations “with a rod of iron”. Her child was snatched up to God and to his throne, while the woman fled into the desert where she has a place prepared for her by God’s command. There they will take care of her for twelve hundred and sixty days. (Revelation 12:5-6, J.B. Phillips NT)

Greek: καὶ ἔτεκεν υἱόν, [a]ἄρσεν, ὃς μέλλει ποιμαίνειν πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐν ῥάβδῳ σιδηρᾷ· καὶ ἡρπάσθη τὸ τέκνον αὐτῆς πρὸς τὸν θεὸν καὶ πρὸς τὸν θρόνον αὐτοῦ. καὶ ἡ γυνὴ ἔφυγεν εἰς τὴν ἔρημον, ὅπου ἔχει ἐκεῖ τόπον ἡτοιμασμένον ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα ἐκεῖ τρέφωσιν αὐτὴν ἡμέρας χιλίας διακοσίας ἑξήκοντα. (SBLGNT)

But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.
(Revelation 12:14, ESV)

Greek: καὶ ἐδόθησαν τῇ γυναικὶ αἱ δύο πτέρυγες τοῦ ἀετοῦ τοῦ μεγάλου, ἵνα πέτηται εἰς τὴν ἔρημον εἰς τὸν τόπον αὐτῆς, ὅπου τρέφεται ἐκεῖ καιρὸν καὶ καιροὺς καὶ ἥμισυ καιροῦ ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ ὄφεως. (SBLGNT)

And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns.
(Revelation 17:3, ESV)

Greek: καὶ ἀπήνεγκέν με εἰς ἔρημον ἐν πνεύματι. καὶ εἶδον γυναῖκα καθημένην ἐπὶ θηρίον κόκκινον, [a]γέμοντα ὀνόματα βλασφημίας, ἔχων κεφαλὰς ἑπτὰ καὶ κέρατα δέκα.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Did Jehovah Replace Faithful Apostles Too?

Why did Jehovah replace unfaithful Judas but not the faithful disciple James when he was martyred?

Jesus' apostles fill an important role in Jehovah's purpose: they are secondary foundation stones for the holy city, New Jerusalem, which started to be formed on the day of Pentecost (Revelation 21:14, 19-20). Revelation 21 states that exactly 12 figurative stones are needed to support the holy city. So then, what if one of the twelve apostolic stones draws away from Jehovah? Would that stone then need to be replaced?

For the answer to these questions, see Acts 1:15-17; 1:21-26. (Compare Ps. 69:25; 109:8). In fulfillment of these psalms, the Apostles made the decision to replace Judas Iscariot. They were undoubtedly directed by holy spirit.

On the other hand, the faithful disciple James martyred by Herod was not replaced (Acts 12:1-2). The special role played by the Twelve also explains why faithful apostles were not replaced. The Twelve were meant to be witnesses of Christ's life, death and resurrection. For example, the inspired Apostles Paul and John relate that the Twelve along with certain other Christians saw, touched and heard God's Son before and after his resurrection (1 Cor. 15:8; 1 Jn. 1:1).

In this way, the valuable witness of the Twelve was substantiated; however, as faithful apostles like James, John, and Peter died, it eventually became impossible to fill their apostolic office with someone who had personally witnessed the resurrected Jesus. Only a miraculous divine act could mitigate that situation. Therefore, Jehovah saw fit to replace Judas Iscariot, but he did not fill the spot of faithful apostolic witnesses or martyrs.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Aquinas' Five "Proofs" for God's Existence?

There's a question about the status of Aquinas' five ways to "prove" God's existence. Are they really proofs after all?

The five ways are:

1) The argument from motion
2) argument from efficient causes
3) argument from possibility and necessity
4) argument from degress of perfection/gradations of being
5) argument from the governance of the world

Concerning these five ways, here's what I once wrote to a colleague:

In Prima Pars, Quest. 2, Articulus 3 of the Summa Thelogiae, Aquinas does write: "Respondeo dicendum quod Deum esse quinque viis probari potest."

But I would agree that reason is limited; a posteriori demonstrations (like the five ways) can only show that God's existence is possible or maybe probable.

For the potential sense of the Latin word, probari, see

Compare the words of Cicero (Ver. 2.1.10): "his ego iudicibus non probabo C. Verrem contra leges pecuniam cepisse?"

Friday, December 07, 2018

Did Jesus Practice Voluntary Poverty? Examining 2 Corinthians 8:9

Before answering the question concerning Jesus and whether he practiced voluntary poverty or not, some important distinctions need to be made. Firstly, poverty could be relative or absolute. Relative poverty means that one's poverty is to a degree; for example, if someone makes $20,000.00 annually while supporting a family of six, he or she is considered poor in the USA although that would not be the case in other lands. On the other hand, absolute poverty means someone does not have life's essentials: not enough money for food, water or adequate clothing (see 1 John 3:17-18).

The online Merriam-Webster Dictionary makes the following distinctions:

"POVERTY, INDIGENCE, PENURY, WANT, DESTITUTION mean the state of one with insufficient resources. POVERTY may cover a range from extreme want of necessities to an absence of material comforts. INDIGENCE implies seriously straitened circumstances. PENURY suggests a cramping or oppressive lack of money. WANT and DESTITUTION imply extreme poverty that threatens life itself through starvation or exposure."

So it is possible to be poor in one sense without being impoverished in another sense, and there are different levels of poverty. Morover, we could include a distinction between involuntary and voluntary poverty. That is, some people are poor by dint of circumstances over which they have no control; others choose to be poor for a sense of vocation, whether to God or for some other cause. What about Jesus Christ? Did he choose to be materially poor?

2 Corinthians 8:9 reads:

BDAG Greek-English Lexicon defines PTWXEUW this way: "to be or become poor as a beggar, be (extremely) poor . . . of Christ in ref. to renunciation of transcendent prosperity EPTWXEUSEN PLOUSIOS WN he became poor (for the [aorist] cp. Tob 4:21; B-D-F section 331; Rob. 834) 2 Cor 8:9 . . ."

This Greek lexicon obviously suggests that Christ voluntarily became poor in that he renounced his transcendent or heavenly glory and privileges. In other words, he emptied himself, taking on the appearance and form of a man (Philippians 2:6-7). Therefore, I will grant that Paul is probably not using the Greek terms PTWXEUW or PTWXEIA to describe Christ's socioeconomic status although he makes a contrast between Christ's being EN MORFHi QEOU and his existing hWS ANQRWPOS.

Nevertheless, I have always been under the impression that Jesus' family was not that well off from a financial perspective: neither was Jesus after his ministry started in 29 CE. Granted, Jehovah God always made sure that his beloved Son had bread for each day and Jesus was certainly no advocate of an encratic lifestyle, which is to say he was no severe ascetic (he enjoyed social events and apparently drank wine). However, I believe it is possible to say that Jesus was poor in the sense that he have lots of currency on his person and his net worth likely was close to zero.

Christ did not have any money set aside for a rainy day; he was quite impecunious, it seems. Why the Son of Man did not even have a place to lay his head and apparently only had one fine garment to his name when he died.

In closing, I'd just like to say that I remember doing some research on Luke 2:22-24 some years ago and I believe that these verses suggest that Jesus' family was not well to do. Maybe they were not even lower middle class. For they offered "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons" at the temple in Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve years old. I'll need to go back and check out those sources again. At any rate, I am not arguing that Christians should renounce everything and become impoverished. But I do believe that we have the supreme example of a self-sacrificing worshiper of God in the PERSONA CHRISTI. It is also evidently incumbent upon all Christians to imitate Jesus' fine example of
not pleasing one's self in order that we might enrich others spiritually.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Is It Possible for Imperfect Humans To Be Perfect?

Perfect in the appropriate sense of the word is not that hard to define or understand within a biblical context. Something/someone can be absolutely perfect or relatively perfect; absolute means to be fully complete/mature without qualification. Only Jehovah God is absolutely perfect in the fullest sense. On the other hand, relative perfection means something/someone is well suited for the task at hand; that is, perfect to a degree, with qualifications.

Noah was relatively perfect. He led an overall righteous life, but he once got intoxicated, thereby becoming in some way exposed because of his error (Genesis 6:9; 9:20-27; Hebrews 11:7). Job was "perfect" (Job 1:1 KJV). However, Job had to repent in dust and ashes since he committed mistakes by overly defending his righteousness instead of God's (Job 42:6). John the Baptist's parents were perfect in a relative sense because they were Torah-observant Jews (Luke 1:5-6). Yet only God is perfect in the absolute sense without qualification. These words from J.A. MacDonald (Pulpit Commentary) are worth consideration:

"The power of man is formative. He can mould, he can combine, he can disjoin. He cannot create. He cannot destroy, God can create. He can reverse the act of creation."

As for Jesus, he was fully human (both Trinitarians and non-Trinitarians agree on that point). Yet he was separated from sinners, without sin, and morally unblemished: "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth" (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22-23). Furthermore, Jesus was the unique/only-begotten Son of God (John 1:18; 3:16).

Regarding Matthew 5:48, much has been written on the verse, even by the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. The simple answer is that Jesus was encouraging his disciples to be perfect (mature, complete) in love as Jehovah is perfect in love. Analogies don't presuppose that both things being compared are exactly the same. For instance, when Jesus states that his disciples should be one as he and his Father are one; the oneness in each case does not correspond exactly 1:1 (see John 17:21-23).

I think Jesus was perfect insofar as he was sinless just like Adam initially was. Christ was sinless, but that does not mean he was incapable of sinning--those are two very different things.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Elaine Pagels and Contemporary Gnostic Studies

One problem with Elaine Pagels is her controlling ideology that's superimposed on the Gnostic Gospels (i.e., feminism); in my estimation, there is a great chasm between the so-called "orthodox views" in antiquity and Gnosticism. While scholarship's picture of the Gnostics has become clearer since the 1940s, some general features of the philosophy/religion seem apparent. The Gnostics denigrated flesh/matter and elevated spirit: some Gnostics were also libertines, but others tended to be ascetics. Read Irenaeus of Lyons, Hippolytus of Rome, and Ignatius of Antioch to see the big difference between "orthodox" thinking and Gnosticism although we have to allow room for ideology or propaganda in the pre-Nicenes. Something else to consider is that Gnostics would not have accepted/did not accept John 1:14--the Word became flesh. Some writers also assert that 1 Timothy and 1 John were early jousts against Gnostic/proto-Gnostic thinking.

Another objectionable aspect to Gnosticism was the belief in aeons paired in masculine-feminine deities (so-called syzygies). That the world of matter is evil by virtue of being material is an affront to both Judaism and Christianity. From my studies of the Hermetic literature, I do not think it was even prominent in the first century CE. Hans Dieter Betz calls attention to the fact that the date for Poimandres is "still open to discussion" (Antike und Christentum, 206). So we must be careful with lingual comparisons unless we carefully examine the original texts themselves.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Revelation 21:23 and Divine Glory (Robert H. Mounce)

Mounce writes:

The heavenly city has no need of sun or moon to shine because it is illuminated by the glory of God. Isaiah had pictured the glorious restoration of Jerusalem in much the same terms (Isa 60:19–20). John is not supplying his readers with information about future astrological changes but setting forth by means of accepted apocalyptic imagery the splendor that will radiate from the presence of God and the Lamb. In his Gospel John used language in much the same way. He called Jesus the “true light that gives light to every man” (John 1:9) and the “light of the world” (John 8:12; cf. 3:19; 12:35). The metaphor is not uncommon in apocalyptic language (2 Esdr 7:39–42). The nations are said to walk by the light of God’s glory, and the kings of the earth bring their splendor into the city. Isaiah 60 serves as a model. The glory of the Lord is seen upon Jerusalem, and nations and kings are attracted to its brightness (Isa 60:1–3). The wealth of the nations comes back to Zion as her sons and daughters return from afar (Isa 60:4–5; also vv. 6, 9, 11, 13, 17).

Source: Mounce, Robert H. 1998. The Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Basic Logic for Theology

It's commonly agreed that we can't have theologic without logic itself. Theology usually is defined as "the doctrine of God" (something to that effect) or more colloquially as "talking about God" whereas "logic" is "the science/study of correct thinking." Logic studies correct ways of thinking, that is, correct inferences. What do we mean by correct inferences? Here are some examples:

1. Modus Ponens

A) If P, then Q
B) P
C) Therefore, Q

2. Modus Tollens

A) If P, then Q
B) Not Q
C) Therefore, Not P

3) Conjunction

A) P
B) Q
C) Therefore, P and Q

4) Hypothetical Syllogism

A) If P, then Q
B) If Q, then R
C) Therefore, If P, then R

5) Disjunctive Syllogism

A) Either P or Q
B) Not P
C) Therefore, Q

Acts 2:21--Proof of Jesus' Deity?

Many Trinitarians attempt to argue that Acts 2:21 is proof of Christ's deity. However, the context (Acts 2:22ff) suggests otherwise--nevertheless, what exactly are Trinitarian scholars saying about Acts 2:21?

Greek: καὶ ἔσται πᾶς ὃς ἐὰν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα Κυρίου σωθήσεται. (Acts 2:21)

LXX (Joel 2:32): καὶ ἔσται πᾶς ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου σωθήσεται ὅτι ἐν τῷ ὄρει Σιων καὶ ἐν Ιερουσαλημ ἔσται ἀνασῳζόμενος καθότι εἶπεν κύριος καὶ εὐαγγελιζόμενοι οὓς κύριος προσκέκληται

ESV: And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Darrell L. Bock:
The reference to the Lord (κύριος, kyrios) needs careful attention. In Joel this means calling out to Yahweh (יְהוָה), Israel’s God, for salvation. At a literary level, nothing in Peter’s speech up to this point would have anyone think otherwise about the meaning of this reference, because verse 20 speaks of the day of the Lord, which would be the day of God’s judgment. But one of the functions of the entire speech is to show that Jesus is Lord, a key title also applied to Yahweh. Peter will give Jesus a place alongside Yahweh as carrying out the plan and will make clear that the name one is to call on belongs to Jesus (Acts 2:38; 4:10–12).

Bock insists that Peter would have applied Joel 2:32 to the resurrected Christ in this way, although he would likely not have spoken the divine name--YHWH. So Bock thinks Peter's quotation of Joel is geared to demonstrate that Christ is LORD (YHWH). See Bock, Acts, Grand Rapids: Baker Academics, 2007 [2012].

Craig Keener (Acts--An Exegetical Commentary):
The expression “call on the Lord’s name” was familiar in Jewish texts, where it concerned especially praying to him,[642] as in the later Targum on this verse (Tg. Joel 3:5), or praise (Jdt 16:1). Luke’s term for “call upon” (ἐίικαλέω) could also apply to a formal appeal to Caesar (as in Acts 25:11–12, 21; 26:32; 28:19), but it is the Lord who could grant true deliverance. Peter’s sermon expounds at length on this final line from Joel, arguing that the Lord’s name on which his hearers must call in this salvific era is Jesus (2:21, 34, 38).[643] Thus Peter concludes by exhorting them to call on the Lord’s name by baptism in Jesus’s name (2:38).[644] After this Peter com- pletes his Joel quotation, picking up later in Joel’s sentence after the point where he broke off to begin expounding the last line he had quoted (2:39; see also comment there).[645] Cultic invocation of Jesus’s name appears elsewhere in Acts (22:16) and early Christianity (e.g., Rom 10:9, 13; cf. 1 Cor 1:2; 12:3; Phil 2:11); in this context, Jesus’s name is necessary for salvation (Acts 4:12), and in the immediate context, he is “Lord” (2:36).[646]

Peter Pett's Commentary:
To ‘call on the name of the Lord’ was to approach God in worship and to seek His mercy. Compare Genesis 4:26; Genesis 12:8; 2 Samuel 22:4; Psalms 55:16; Psalms 86:5; Psalms 105:1; Psalms 116:13; Psalms 116:17; Psalms 145:18). But here was probably the added idea that it was Jesus Who was the Lord Who had to be called on.

The Expositor's GT:
But just as in Romans 10:12 this same prophecy of Joel is beyond all doubt referred by St. Paul to the Lord Jesus, so here the whole drift of St. Peter’s speech, that the same Jesus who was crucified was made both Lord and Christ, points to the same conclusion, Acts 2:36. In Joel κύριος is undoubtedly used of the Lord Jehovah, and the word is here transferred to Christ. In its bearing on our Lord’s Divinity this fact is of primary importance, for it is not merely that the early Christians addressed their Ascended Lord so many times by the same name which is used of Jehovah in the LXX—although it is certainly remarkable that in 1 Thess. the name is applied to Christ more than twenty times—but that they did not hesitate to refer to Him the attributes and the prophecies which the great prophets of the Jewish nation had associated with the name of Jehovah, Zahn, Skizzen aus dem Leben der alten Kirche, pp. 8, 10, 16 (1894), and for the force of the expression, ἐπικ. τὸ ὄνομα, in 1 Corinthians 1:2, see Harnack, History of Dogma, i., p. 29, E.T.— ὃς ἂν ἐποκ., “whosoever”: it would seem that in St. Peter’s address the expression does not extend beyond the chosen people . . .

[Conzelmann; Haenchen]

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Jehovah Sets Precedents? An Idea in Germ Form

A dear friend I knew some years ago, now deceased, used to tell me that she felt Jehovah sets precedents (always?) before he acts. I don't remember reading about this concept in WT literature, but it may be there. And frankly, I don't find the idea objectionable and it even seems scriptural. But I need to do more research, find the scriptural basis for believing that Jehovah sets precedents although the organization has written that Jehovah will set a precedent for all time to come, when he destroys Satan, his demons, and other rebels after the test mentioned in Revelation 20:7-10. Maybe Jehovah also set a precedent when he gave his Son to eradicate sin and death. See also Jude 1-7.

Edward P. Arbez and John P. Weisengoff: Notes on Genesis 1:1-2 (Screenshots)

Monday, November 12, 2018

Is It Possible That the Third Heaven Is Identical with Paradise in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4?

We find recurrent antecedents in Jewish writings that indicate paradise and the third heaven might be identical. See Andrew Lincoln, Paradise, page 6.

Compare Apocalypse of Moses 37.5; Life of Adam and Eve 25.3.

2 Baruch 51:11: For there shall be spread before them the extents of Paradise, and there shall be shown to them the beauty of the majesty of the living creatures which are beneath the throne and all the armies of the angels who are now held fast by my word, lest they should appear, and are held fast by a command, that they may stand in their places till their advent comes.

Comments from the International Critical Commentary on 2 Corinthians:

εἰς τὸν παράδεισον. See on Luke 23:43 and Sewte on Revelation 2:7, the only other passages in N.T. in which παράδεισος occurs; also Hastings, DB. ii. pp. 668 f., DCG. ii. p. 318; Salmond, Christ. Doct. of Immortality, pp. 346 f. The word tells us little about the nature of the unseen world. In the O.T. it is used either of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9, Genesis 2:2:10, Genesis 2:15, etc.) or of a park or pleasure-ground (Song of Solomon 4:13; Ecclesiastes 2:5; Joel 2:3; etc.); but it represents three or four different Hebrew words. We must leave open the question as to whether St Paul regards paradise and the third heaven as identical, or as quite different, or as one containing the other, for there is no clue to the answer. See Int. Journal of Apocrypha, July 1914, pp. 74 f.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Robert Thomas' Exegetical Treatment of Revelation 4:11

The combination ēsan kai ektisthēsan has occasioned various explanations. One takes the former verb to express the existence of creation in the will of God before its actual existence and the latter verb to refer to the actual creation (Swete; Charles). In other words, ēsan looks back to the eternal past and ektisthēsan pictures the genesis of nature (Swete). This view furnishes a possible explanation of the imperfect tense of ēsan, but it introduces into the context a completely foreign element, the thought of the potential existence of cre- ation (Beckwith). The imperfect tense could just as well view the state of creation immediately after the initial creative act. Another approach to this combination of verbs has been to understand the second as explanatory of the first.¹⁰⁷ Existence, first thought of as an accomplished fact, is made more specific by the latter verb (Beckwith). This proposal is modeled after the creation account in Genesis where the general description of man's creation in Genesis 1 is followed by a more detailed account in Genesis 2 (Charles; Beckwith; Ladd). The debilitating deficiency of this view is the difference between the two verbs. They convey two significantly distinct thoughts, and construing the latter as elaboration of the former is impossible. A third explanation for the two-verb combination is the figure of hysteron proteron, because of the non-chronological arrangement of the two: certainly the τίσις (ktisis, “creation”) must exist before one can say ēsan. The latter verb is proposed to be the act of creation, and the former one the process of creation (Moffatt). Though hysteron proteron is a common literary device of this author (cf. Rev. 3:9, 17) (Beckwith), it is unnecessary to resort to it because of the reverse chronological sequence of the two verbs. The writer may be thinking logically rather than chronologically. The simplest and most satisfactory explanation is that the two verbs speak of the simple fact of the creation's existence (ēsan) and then of the fact of the beginning of its existence (ektisthēsan) (Alford; Ladd). All created things (ta panta) existed in contrast to their prior nonexistence, and God gave them that existence by a specific act of His own power.

Thomas quotes Henry Alford. Here's what he writes about Revelation 4:11:

The elders, though themselves belonging to creation, in this ascription of praise look on creation from without, and that thanksgiving, which creation renders for its being, becomes in their view a tribute to Him who called them into being, and thus a testimony to His creative power. And thus the reason follows): because Thou didst create all things (τὰ πάντα, “this universal whole,” the universe), and on account of Thy will (i. e. because Thou didst will it: “propter voluntatem tuam,” as Vulg.: not durch Deinen Willen, as Luther, which represents διὰ with a gen. “For thy pleasure,” of the E. V., introduces an element entirely strange to the context, and however true in fact, most inappropriate here, where the ὅτι renders a reason for the ἀξιότης of ἡ δόξα, ἡ τιμή, and ἡ δύναμις) they were (ἦσαν, not = ἐγενήθησαν, came into being, as De W., al.: for this it cannot signify: nor again, though thus the requirement of ἦσαν would be satisfied, as Lyra, “in dispositione tua ab æterno, antequam crearentur:” nor, as Grot., “erant jam homines quia tu volueras, et conditi sunt, id est, iterum conditi, per Christum:” nor again as Bengel, “all things were, from the creation down to the time of this ascription of praise and henceforward.” The best explanation is that of Düsterd., they existed, as in contrast to their previous non-existence: whereby not their coming into being, but the simple fact of their being, is asserted.

The remarkable reading οὐκ ἦσαν is worth notice: “by reason of Thy will they were not, and were created:” i. e. “they were created out of nothing.” But besides the preponderance of authority the other way, there is the double chance, that οὐκ may have arisen from the preceding ου, and that it may have been an escape from the difficulty of ἦσαν) and were created (they both had their being,— ἦσαν; and received it from Thee by a definite act of Thine,— ἐκτίσθησαν).


Henry Alford, "Commentary on Revelation 4:4." Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7: An Exegetical Commentary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1992.

________________. Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1995.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Scholarly Suggestions Pertaining to Revelation 4:11

Greek (NA28): ἄξιος εἶ, ὁ κύριος καὶ ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν, λαβεῖν τὴν δόξαν καὶ τὴν τιμὴν καὶ τὴν δύναμιν, ὅτι σὺ ἔκτισας τὰ πάντα καὶ διὰ τὸ θέλημά σου ἦσαν καὶ ἐκτίσθησαν.

Grant Osborne (Baker Exegetical Commentary):
Many have noted the strange order in the two final verbs; one would expect them to be reversed, with the act of creation preceding the existence of creation. Some (R. Charles, Swete, Mounce) interpret ἦσαν as teaching the preexistence of creation in the mind of God, the potential of existence before it was created. This is ingenious but unnecessary. It is far simpler to note the ABA pattern and see ἐκτίσθησαν (ektisthēsan, were created) as restating the “created all things” of the first element. We do not have chronology here but rather a logical order (so Ladd 1972:78; Thomas 1992:368). God is creator and sustainer of the whole of creation. As Beale (1999:335) says, the purpose “is to emphasize preservation because the pastoral intention throughout the book is to encourage God's people to recognize that everything that happens to them throughout history is part of God’s creation purposes.”

R. Dean Davis, "The Heavenly Court Scene of Revelation 4-5,"(pages 229-230): Several scholars have made reference to a problem in the words of praise of the second hymn: "for thou didst create all things, and by thy will they existed and were created" (4:11). They believe these words suggest that all things existed before they were created. Some manuscripts try to solve the problem by substituting εἰσίν ("are") for ἦσαν ("were") or placing οὐκ ("not") before ἦσαν ("were"). The real solution, however, appears to be one of the following: (1) Hebrew parallelism is present here; (2 ) the καί ("and") is epexegetical; or (3) the two clauses are a hysteron proteron in which there is Inversion of the logical sequence. Beckwith has demonstrated that this inversion is a common feature of Revelation.


Davis, R. Dean, "The Heavenly Court Scene of Revelation 4-5" (1986). Dissertations. Paper 31.

Osborne, Grant. Revelation. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Talk Regarding the Pattern That Jesus Left for Us (John 13:15; 1 Peter 2:21)

A good instructor knows that students learn best from patterns or examples: instructors may provide examples regarding how to solve math problems, then the students are asked to try solving the problems by following the teacher's example. Similarly, our Leader and Teacher Jesus Christ left a pattern for his disciples to follow (1 Peter 2:21). But how in particular did he leave this pattern for us?

Notice the lesson that he stated in John 13:5: the most frequently used footwear in ancient Israel was the sandal. Since sandals were just made of straps attached to one's soles and ankles, this meant that a traveler's feet would usually get dusty or dirty with ease as he walked in the ancient eastern world. Because sandals usually got so dirty, and rather quickly at that, it was common for a guest to take them off when entering a home. A host might then wash the feet of his guest or have someone else to perform the task. Hence, the Bible famously mentions this practice at a number of places (Genesis 18:4, 5; 24:32; 1 Samuel 25:41).

Why did Jesus wash the feet of his followers? Why would a Master wash the feet of his disciples? It was an object lesson that illustrated humility. Reading John 13 bears out this point.

(Read John 13:12-14)

By saying, "you also should wash the feet of one another," Jesus stressed the obligation that his followers have to deal humbly with one another. The Greek verb translated "should" at times refers to a financial debt, but in John 13:14, Jesus stresses the moral debt that his disciples owe each other; it is a debt to exercise humility and modesty in the service of our God (Micah 6:8).

Yet the verse that pinpoints how Jesus left a pattern for his disciples to follow is John 13:15: "For I set the pattern for you, that just as I did to you, you should also do"

What a powerful lesson in humility shown by Jesus as he washed his disciples' feet. His example demonstrates the importance of not striving to earn positions, prestige or futile honor. Instead, Christians serve each other just like Jesus ministered to his followers (Matthew 20:28). He set the pattern: his followers then imitate what the Instructor does. Jesus' actions likewise remind Christians to perform the humblest services for one another.

Yet how can disciples of Christ apply the principles that he taught regarding humility?

The Apostle Peter taught that humility is key to being an approved worshiper of Jehovah. See 1 Peter 5:1-7, where the inspired writer urges ancient Christians to be humble in imitation of Christ.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Dating John's Gospel and the Ancient Witnesses

The Gospel of John probably was not completed until the late 1st century. So how early would one expect quotes from the book to appear? If Ignatius of Antioch references John, that would be quite early (ca. 110 CE); Irenaeus of Lyons probably uses John's Gospel and he wrote around 180 CE. What we also have to consider is that it's not enough for a Gospel to exist, but it also had to be considered authoritative by the early church and apostolically rooted. So if early fathers already impute that kind of weight to the Fourth Gospel, then it should speak volumes, not to mention Origen's thorough discussion of the Johannine Prologue and later, Augustine of Hippo and John Chrysostom's discussions. And let's not forget that the 2nd-century Muratorian Canon likewise recognizes John's Gospel?

From what we know of the Gospels, the Prologue could not have been written that late. One other thing: the pre-Nicenes wrote for a reason. So not all of them needed to quote the Johannine Prologue in order to accomplish their purpose for writing.

Stanley Porter, after a rigorous analysis of the papyrological evidence, offers the following proposal:

If the timeline I have just articulated is correct, and if a reasonable time for transmission of a document was thirty years (this seems to be a rule of thumb used by a number of scholars),⁸⁰ then it is worth reconsidering the date of composition for John's Gospel. I cannot go into detail here, but the sequence would fit both ends of the trajectory noted above. Beginning with the latest date, if P.Rylands Greek 457 was copied around 120, then a reasonable date of the composition of John’s Gospel would be around 90. So far, this conclusion matches the standard and usual dates for the composition of the two documents, as indicated above. If P.Rylands Greek 457 was copied around 100, however, then the date of composition of John's Gospel might have been as early as 70. This scenario also would fit within the parameters of some of the suggested dates for John's Gospel mentioned above. If we were to be highly speculative and posit a date for copying of P.Rylands Greek 457 that was earlier than 100, then that would quite possibly, even if not necessarily, push the date of composition of John's Gospel even earlier, possibly even earlier than the fall of Jerusalem. Even though the usual arguments for such an early date are not convincing, as noted above, an argument from the surrounding manuscript data may just make such a hypothesis at least worth considering and not dismissing too easily. I will note that there is no early papyrological or transmissional evidence that stands in the way of an early dating. In fact, the timeline above might well encourage such a recalculation.

See Porter, John, His Gospel, and Jesus: In Pursuit of the Johannine Voice

Monday, October 29, 2018

Is Matter Eternal Like Jehovah

Almost everyone knows Einstein's equaation E = mc^2--(kinetic) energy equals (relativistic) mass times the speed of light squared. Dynamic energy seems to be a property of Jehovah, but we should not conflate Einstein's famous equation with God's dynamic energy that transcends and is prior to the material universe (Isaiah 40:25-26). Universe normally means all that exists. See

"The universe is the whole of space and all the stars, planets, and other forms of matter and energy in it" (Collins English Dictionary).

However, does that include the Creator of the universe? What about the angels? For now, I am restricting my use of the term "universe" to all material/physical entities--what empirical science is capable of investigating. As far as we know, based on empirical science, matter is a dynamic configuration of energy. Yet relativity theory does not address what energy might imply in the case of God. Again, by universe, I am talking about the material world. Regardless of what we 21st century denizens might think, I see no reason to believe that Moses, Isaiah or Jeremiah denied the inception of the material or the spiritual universe, in the sense that matter and angels were created.

Revelation 4:11 seems to clearly acclaim God as the creator of all things, and heavenly creatures recognize God's sovereignty based on that truth. To also clarify why I'm invoking Revelation 4:11, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that God is the Creator of the material universe and we profess that the act of creating all things establishes the ground for Jehovah's divine sovereignty. So my point is that if we throw out Jehovah being the Creator of the universe, what then obligates us to render him all glory, honor and power as the 24 elders exclaim? His status as Sovereign hinges on his role as Creator.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A Contrast Between Glory and Shame in Corinthians

I have recently begun to wonder why Paul was inspired to emphasize a glory/shame or power/weakness dichotomy in his letters to the Corinthians. The examples are numerous:

"And there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. The glory of the heavenly body is one sort and the earthly another." (1 Corinthians 15:40 NET)

"It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power" (1 Corinthians 15:43 NET)

"But if the ministry that produced death - carved in letters on stone tablets - came with glory, so that the Israelites could not keep their eyes fixed on the face of Moses because of the glory of his face (a glory which was made ineffective)" (2 Corinthians 3:7 NET)

"through glory and dishonor, through slander and praise; regarded as impostors, and yet true" (2 Corinthians 6:8 NET)

Also see 2 Cor. 3:18; 12:9, 10; 13:4.

Joseph A. Fitzmyer: (1 Corinthians, Anchor Bible Commentary

It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in splendor. Whereas the earthly human body is subject to atimia, “dishonor,” the second quality of the risen body is doxa, “splendor, glory, radiance.” See Note on 2:7. The human body, thus sown, “has lost all rights of citizenship (atimia), and, excepting decent burial, all rights of humanity” (Robertson-Plummer, 1 Cor, 372). Recall how Paul contrasts “decay” (phthora) with “splendor, glory” (doxa) in Rom 8:21, a slightly different consideration. Cf. also Rom 9:21; Phil 3:21. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. Whereas the earthly human body is powerless, subject to frailty and weakness (astheneia), the third quality of the risen body is dynamis, “power.” It thus shares in the power given by the Creator. The same contrast is found in 2 Cor 12:9; 13:4.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

"I Set A Pattern" (John 13:14-15 and 1 Peter 2:21)

"For I set the pattern for you, that just as I did to you, you should also do." (John 13:15 NWT 2013)

"In fact, to this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving a model for you to follow his steps closely." (1 Peter 2:21 NWT 2013)

The language at John 13:15 caught my attention this week for our Bible reading, and it made me recall 1 Peter 2:21, which the NWT references in the footnote. John 13:15 and 1 Peter 2:21 seem to convey similar ideas although two different Greek words are used by each writer. Moreover, the contexts admittedly are different, one from the other.

John uses ὑπόδειγμα whereas Peter employs ὑπογραμμὸν (the accusative singular form of ὑπογραμμός).

ESV renders 1 Peter 2:21, "For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps."

However, John 13:15 reads: "For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you."

However, what are the differences between these two Greek words?

ὑπόδειγμα could be rendered by the English words, "example, model" or pattern (C. Bennema); the term possibly refers to an exemplar--that is, something or someone to be emulated. Notice how Hebrews 8:5 utilizes ὑπόδειγμα. So maybe we should think of ὑπόδειγμα as an example to be imitated or followed.



New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology:

ὑπογραμμός (hypogrammos), outline, copy, example (G5681).

CL & OT This word is late. Philo uses it in the sense of outline. Its most common use is for the faint outlines of letters that pupils traced over while learning to write, then also of the sets of letters written at the top of a page to be copied repeatedly by the learner on the rest of the page.

NT hypogrammos is applied metaphorically in 1 Pet. 2:21 to the example left by Christ for his disciples to follow, esp. in his patient endurance of undeserved suffering.

John 13:15 emphasizes the pattern that Christ set in being humble or lowly of mind; 1 Peter 2:21 stresses how that Christ is our Exemplar in the matter of suffering.

Friday, October 12, 2018

"A feast of wines . . . of fat things full of marrow" (Isaiah 25:6)

Isaiah 25:6--"And in this mountain will Jehovah of hosts make unto all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined" (ASV).

1) "And in this mountain"--likely a reference to Mount Zion. The prophecy likely finds its eschatological fulfillment with respect to figurative Zion (Revelation 14:1-3).

2) "a feast of fat things" for all the peoples. John N. Oswalt explains:

"a feast of fatness. To a people who did not have to worry about cholesterol, the fat portions of the meat were the best (Ps. 36:9 [Eng. 8]; 63:6 [Eng. 5]). Thus it is not surprising that these were the portions of the sacrifices reserved for God (Lev. 3:3; 4:8, 9). But here God is giving the rich food to his people, as the host (Ps. 24:6).²⁸ This is always the principle of sacrifice. God asks that we give to him in order that he may give to us. (Cf. the thank offering and the feasting associated with it, Lev. 7:11–18)."

See Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1-39.

3) "a feast of wine on the lees . . . of wines on the lees well refined"

Oswalt offers these remarks:

"a feast of lees refers to wine which has been allowed to strengthen by leaving the dregs in the wine after the fermentation process. The wine, strained before drinking, was clear and strong, i.e., good wine. šemārîm, 'lees,' was probably used here also because of its assonance with šemānîm, 'fatness.'"

LXX: καὶ ποιήσει κύριος σαβαωθ πᾶσι τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἐπὶ τὸ ὄρος τοῦτο πίονται εὐφροσύνην πίονται οἶνον χρίσονται μύρον

Brenton: "And the Lord of hosts shall make [a feast] for all the nations: on this mount they shall drink gladness, they shall drink wine:"

Wildberger has a long note on some textual issues and the literary form of Isaiah 25:6-8. See Hans Wildberger, Isaiah 13-27, Trans. Thomas H. Trapp (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997), pages 523-531.

To summarize Wildberger's comments, he views Isaiah 25:6-8 as a coronation meal in which YHWH is host and offerer of divine grace. It is significant that Jehovah is called YHWH of hosts: the expression is used only two places in Isaiah 24-27. The prophet likewise distinguishes this meal by saying it is for the peoples, that is, the nations (non-Israelites). So God is extending his graciousness to all peoples.

Wildberger claims that Zion is "the focal point of Yahweh's rule, just as it is clear that the מלכות ׳הוה (kingdom of Yahweh) is not a transcendent type of rule."

He possibly means that the kingdom of YHWH is not heavenly, but he explicitly states that the "people of God" are not necessarily barred from this feast, by whom he probably means Israel. Although, see 1 Peter 2:9-10.

The commentator, Wildberger, concludes this section of his commentary about Isaiah 25:6-8 by contending:

"When סמנים (rich foods) is used (this plural form occurs only here), one ought not think it refers to meat, but rather to foods that have been prepared using a lot of oil. For an extraordinary festival, one also needs to have
an excellent wine, in this case one that has been prepared carefully, with special effort to strain it meticulously so as to make it clear, without sediment. What is described is the opposite of what was presumably the popular notion
in Israel, that Yahweh would prepare for the peoples a drinking feast at which he would 'make them drunk, until they become merry and then sleep a perpetual sleep and never wake' (Jer. 51:39; cf. Jer. 25:15ff. and Ps. 75:9)."

He also encourages readers to view this ancient text through Israelites eyes of antiquity.

Alec Motyer makes an interesting observation as well:

"The rich food and finest of wines contrast with the bread and water of 21:14. Aged wine can mean the sediment that forms in the process of fermentation (Zeph. 1:12), but here it means the wine itself, purified and matured by being allowed to stand. Finest of wines is (lit.) ‘lees thoroughly filtered’; best of meats (lit.) ‘rich food, filled with marrow’, a picture of nourishment."

See Genesis 4:4; Exodus 29:2; 7, 21, 23, 40; Nehemiah 8:10; Isaiah 28:1, 4.

Keil-Delitzsch prove to be worth consulting here. At least part of what they write appears to be on the mark:

Shemârim mezukkâkim are wines which have been left to stand upon their lees after the first fermentation is over, which have thus thoroughly fermented, and have been kept a long time (from shâmar, to keep, spec. to allow to ferment), and which are then filtered before drinking (Gr. οἶνος σακκίας, i.e., διΰλισμένος or διηθικὸς, from διηθεῖν, percolare), hence wine both strong and clear. Memuchâyı̄m might mean emedullatae ("with the marrow taken out;" compare, perhaps, Proverbs 31:3), but this could only apply to the bones, not to the fat meat itself; the meaning is therefore "mixed with marrow," made marrowy, medullosae. The thing symbolized in this way is the full enjoyment of blessedness in the perfected kingdom of God.

Monday, October 08, 2018

King Solomon's Hecatombs in 1 Kings 8:63ff

Jehovah cares for animals; of that fact, I have no doubt (Proverbs 12:10). On the other hand, what about the thousands upon thousands of animals sacrificed by the nation of Israel and the animals killed during the flood? Did not King Solomon offer up 100,000 animals (around that number) at one time to Jehovah?

"And Solomon offered for the sacrifice of peace-offerings, which he offered unto Jehovah, two and twenty thousand oxen, and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of Jehovah" (1 Kings 8:63 ASV).

Compare verse 64.

Joseph Benson: "1 Kings 8:63. And Solomon offered — By the hands of the priests, two and twenty thousand oxen, &c. — Not all in one day, but in seven, or, it may be, in the fourteen days mentioned 1 Kings 8:65. So the king and all Israel dedicated the house of the Lord — Began to set it apart for the work and services of God by these sacrifices and holy exercises."

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: "fellowship offerings to the Lord: twenty-two thousand cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. The parameters of the fellowship offering are not clear, but the amount of meat generated could certainly have fed a large percentage of the people gathered for the temple dedication ceremony. Sacrifices numbering thousands of animals were not uncommon in the temple and palace dedications of Egyptian pharaohs and Assyrian monarchs."

Yet are we to conclude it's wrong for us to eat meat for survival? Furthermore, if Paul insists that "all things" have been sanctified by God--give thanksgiving and eat (1 Timothy 4:1-5).

Two caveats:

1) I am not passing judgment on God and claiming that those animals never should have been sacrificed. Jehovah, in his infinite wisdom, saw good reason to accept sacrifice for sins, praise, and thanksgiving. See also Genesis 4:4-5; Hebrews 9:22; 10:1-4.

2) I'm not suggesting that veganism/vegetarianism is wrong; brothers and sisters are free to eat meat and they're free to abstain from eating meat. I respect either decision. More importantly, so does Jehovah.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Scholarship on Deuteronomy 12:16ff--"Only, the blood . . . "

Deuteronomy 12:16 (YLT): "'Only, the blood ye do not eat -- on the earth thou dost pour it as water;'"

Peter C. Craigie: "In this new situation, it would be quite legitimate to slaughter and to eat meat freely;¹³ the slaughtering and eating would take place in any settlement, and it would not be necessary to be ritually clean to participate. Likewise, meat could be eaten in such circumstances as would not be permissible for sacrifices (the meat of the gazelle or hart). The only limitation on this general eating of meat was that the blood was not to be eaten, but to be poured out. Thus, although the eating described here is totally secular (i.e., in no way associated with a sacrificial meal or offering), nevertheless the blood was to be poured ritually upon the ground. The blood was treated with respect, regardless of whether the slaughter was carried out in a secular or ritual setting, because the blood symbolized life, that which God imparted to all living creatures. The freedom of eating meat, however, did not extend to those products and foodstuffs which were set aside specifically for God (v. 17); they could be eaten legitimately only in God's sanctuary (v. 19), as had already been stressed earlier in the chapter (vv. 6,11)."

Deuteronomy 12:19 (ASV): "Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest in thy land."

Compare Deut. 12:12.

Meredith G. Kline: Besides bringing the Israelite tribes into contact with heathen shrines, the inheriting of Canaan would locate the tribal homes at considerable distances from Israel’s own central sanctuary (v. 21). If the stipulations of Deut 12:4-14 were to be carried out in that new situation, a distinction had to be made between the slaughtering and eating of animals suitable for a sacrificial feast and those suitable for an ordinary meal; and permission must be granted for the decentralization of the latter. This new provision constituted a modification of the requirements of Lev 17:1 ff., which governed the Israelites’ consumption of flesh while they were a compact camp about the Tabernacle in the wilderness. 15 b. The unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of the gazelle and as of the hart (RSV; cf. v. 22). Participation in the family feast was not dependent on ceremonial condition (cf. Lev 7:19 ff.), and the kind of meat permissible included that which was proper for sacrifice as well as meat like game (cf. Deut 14:5), which was not sacrificially acceptable. Attached to this permission were certain restrictions. One is the familiar prohibition of blood – ye shall not eat the blood (vv. 16,23 ff.; cf. Lev 17:10 ff.; Gen 9:4). Pouring the blood upon the ground would be a safeguard against pouring it as a sacrifice on some nearby, illegally remaining Canaanite altar.


Saturday, October 06, 2018

E.C. Wickham and Hebrews 1:8

E. C. Wickham evidently concurs with B. F. Westcott’s assessment of Hebrews 1:8. He argues that the nominative of address (vocative) is not the most appropriate construal of the Greek text for two primary reasons: (1) It is not likely that a “human prince” would be called Elohim or theos by the OT writer of Psalm 45; (2) "O God" (the vocative) would serve as the climax in Heb. 1:8. But Wickham appears to think that the noun theos here does not function climatically. He reasons that we should translate Heb. 1:8, "God is thy throne" or "thy throne is (i.e., represents) God." See Wickham, The Epistle to the Hebrews with Introduction and Notes (London: Methuen, 1910), page 8.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Comments Regarding the Use of Wine in 1 Timothy (Paul M. Zehr)

All of the quotes below are taken from 1-2 Timothy and Titus by Paul M. Zehr. The bibliographical details appear below.

"Not a drunkard (1 Tim 3:3) refers to one of the vices common in antiquity. The overseer need not abstain from wine (5:23). But like the deacon (3:8), the overseer must control his appetite so that drunkenness does not overtake him (Titus 1:7; cf. Eph 5:18)."

(Page 80)

"The list of desired qualities begins with the qualifier serious. Similar to the overseer who is above reproach (v. 2), deacons need inward character, a dignified and serious manner of life that outwardly engenders respect from others. This virtue is followed by three prohibitions. First, not double-tongued means deacons must not be duplicitous. They are not double talkers who say one thing while thinking another or who say one thing to one person and something different to the next (Kelly:81). As go-between persons in the Christian community, deacons dare not yield to the vice of duplicity, which destroys the trust people give them to carry out their service. Second, not indulging in much wine speaks against the excessive use of wine, which leads to drunkenness and disqualifies one from this work. Paul applies this prohibition to other church leaders as well, such as bishops and women deacons.

(Page 82)

"One way the unhealthy teachers have expressed themselves is through abstinence and ascetic teachings (4:3-4). Timothy may have abstained from wine and followed the abstinence teaching of the teachers by drinking only water, which in his case created health problems, perhaps because it was impure. So Paul instructs him not only to keep himself pure and free of sin, but also to take care of his physical health by taking a little wine. Stomach problems were common in the ancient world, and Greco-Roman doctors prescribed a little wine. The Talmud indicates that Jewish elders also believed that wine was the primary medicine (Collins:149). For health reasons, Timothy is to avoid the ascetic practice and the Nazirite rejection of wine (Num 6:1-4), which Paul apparently considers unhealthy teaching."

(Page 118)

See also page 221 for Zehr's commentary pertaining to 2 Timothy 4:6. Compare Numbers 15:5, 7, 10.

Pastors are not to be ascetics (1 Tim 4:3-7), but are to discipline themselves in godliness more than athletes discipline themselves, since godliness holds promise both in this life and the life to come (4:7-8). Pastors are to be the Lord’s servants as they maintain Christlike attitudes during difficult times (2 Tim 2:22-24). They test their ministry in the presence of the living God and the living Christ. By faithfully preaching and teaching the Scriptures through sound doctrine, pastors help the congregation discern within their culture what to choose and what to reject. They reject the ascetic practices of the surrounding culture (1 Tim 4:1-6) but borrow from the athletic ideal (4:7-10). They borrow from the medical use of wine (5:23), but reject drunkenness (1 Tim 3:3, 8; Titus 1:7). They borrow from the household practices of caring and sharing (1 Tim 5:8), adjust slavery practice with the Christian gospel and the mission of the church (6:1-2), and reject the view that one can use religion
to gain money (6:5, 9-10). Instead, they are to be content with what they have (6:6-7) and not be lovers of money (1 Tim 3:3, 8; 6:9; Titus 1:7)

(Page 362)

Work Cited: Zehr, Paul M. 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2010.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Study of Deuteronomy 12:15 and Following

I want to study Deuteronomy 12:15ff. Here is my initial post for this portion of the Pentateuch.

Deuteronomy 12:15 (ESV): "However, you may slaughter and eat meat within any of your towns, as much as you desire, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you."

(NWT 2013): "But whenever you desire it, you may slaughter and eat meat, according to the blessing that Jehovah your God has given you in all your cities. The unclean person and the clean person may eat it, as you would eat a gazelle or a deer."

Footnote: Or "in all the desire of your soul."

Robert Alter reckons that the word nephesh used in this passage most likely refers to appetite. Compare Psalm 107:9; see Alter, The Five Books of Moses.

Another exegetical issue is how one should understand the Hebrew particle be. Does it refer to the degree of craving (Richard E. Friedman) or to the frequency of craving (NJPS)? Alter thinks we should construe the particle locatively (i.e., "in"):

"The noun phrase itself, ’awat nefesh, suggests intense appetite, and the instructions that follow have to do chiefly with place—that henceforth the Israelites will be allowed to slaughter and eat meat wherever they happen to be, though sacrificial slaughter can take place only on the central altar" (The Five Books of Moses).

According to Alter, Deuteronomy 12:15ff deals with so-called "secular slaughter" in view of the fact that these rules would govern non-sacrificial uses of meat. Notice also that both clean and unclean persons could partake of the meat.

Yet another comment made by Alter is likewise enlightening:

"The one category of meat always permitted outside the cult was game, neither deer nor gazelle being among the animals specified for sacrificial use. Now, animals otherwise devoted to the cult (sheep, bulls, goats, rams) may be eaten without sacrifice, just as game is eaten."

Compare Genesis 27:1-4.

Turning to another work by Edward Cook, we read these observations about Deut. 12:15:

"This verse establishes a major change in religious and dietary practice (Tigay 1996: 124). Here we may observe an alteration to the previous legislation given at Leviticus 17:2–9, where the children of Israel were a pilgrim people within the wilderness setting. Now, the (profane) slaughter or sacrifice (zābaḥ) of animals otherwise suitable for the altar sacrifice (cf. Lev. 17:5) may be carried out on a par with the gazelle and deer (cf. 14:5) in any of their towns, according to the blessing of the Lord. Furthermore, the people need not be ritually clean in order to participate. This concession only has real meaning in the light of the anticipation of a central sanctuary at verse 18 (cf. vv. 5, 11, 14), and the impracticality of getting there frequently from distant places."

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Another Question for Trinitarians

A question that crossed my mind today concerns ancient philosophical presuppositions about reality and change.

Aristotle contends that material objects constitute matter-form unities. For example, tables are made of some material (matter) like wood, but they table also has a form (tableness). The same principle applies to other material objects--whether chairs, houses or humans. But the story does not end there since Aristotle insists that God is "pure form," that is, pure actuality. Hence, God is a being with no potential because God is perfect (no room for change).

Looked at through this prism, here's my question to Trinitarians. Do you believe the preexistent Christ was actually human or potentially human? For if he was actually human (as God), then he did not become human. On the other hand, if he was potentially human, then it seems that he actualized that potency and thereby became human through a process of change. And if God cannot change, then how did Christ "assume" humanity (as Aquinas argues)? That point is also still unclear to me.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Present of Past Action and John 8:58

Richard Young uses the terminology "durative present" whereas McKay seems to prefer "present of past action" (1994:41-42). Both types of nomenclature describe an action that begins in the past and continues up until the present. Young lists Jn 14:9; 15:27; 1 Jn 3:8 as examples of durative presents. Wallace (1996:519-520) cites Lk 13:7; 15:29; Jn 5:6; Acts 15:21; 27:33; 1 Cor 15:6 (possible); 2 Pt 3:4; 1 Jn 3:8. I consider Jn 8:58 to be a durative present as well. Ego eimi in that verse accordingly can be translated, "I have been." Rolf Furuli argues that the translation, "Before Abraham came into being, I have been" (NWT), is somewhat "ungrammatical" (1999:237). He prefers K.L. Mckay's handling of the verse with the word "since" used. Nevertheless, both Furuli and other Norwegian linguists whom he consulted think the NWT rendering is superior to the common rendition, "I am" (1999:238). Also compare Brooks and Winbery on the durative present (1979:84-85).

McKay proposes the rendering, "I have been in existence since before Abraham was born."

Part of Gene L. Green's Remarks on 2 Peter 2:12--Taken from the Baker Exegetical Commentary

While the heretics have denied the inevitability of future judgment (3:3–10), Peter affirms that they, just as captured beasts, will be slaughtered: οὗτοι δὲ ὡς ἄλογα ζῷα γεγεννημένα φυσικὰ εἰς ἄλωσιν καὶ φθορὰν ἐν οἷς ἀγνοοῦσιν βλασφημοῦντες, ἐν τῇ φθορᾷ αὐτῶν καὶ φθαρήσονται (houtoi de hōs aloga zōa gegennēmena physika eis halōsin kai phthoran en hois agnoousin blasphēmountes, en tē phthora autōn kai phtharēsontai, But these, as irrational beasts, born in accord with nature to be captured and destroyed, slandering that about which they are ignorant, shall even be destroyed in their destruction). The source of Peter's thought is Jude 10, from which he draws a number of expressions, such as calling the heretics “irrational beasts” (οὗτοι δὲ . . . ὡς τὰ ἄλογα ζῷα, houtoi de . . . hōs ta aloga zōa, but these . . . as irrational beasts) and the comment on how they slander what they do not understand (ὅσα . . . οὐκ οἴδασιν βλασφημοῦσιν, hosa . . . ouk oidasin blasphēmousin, slander whatever they do not understand). Peter echoes other parts of Jude 10 yet gives them a somewhat different twist, such as the instinctual knowledge of the beasts (ὅσα δὲ φυσικῶς . . . ἐπίστανται, hosa de physikōs . . . epistantai, whatever they know by instinct), which becomes in 2 Pet. 2:12 a note about the nature of the beasts as creatures to be caught and slaughtered. Similarly, the moral corruption Jude 10 mentions (ἐν τούτοις φθείρονται, en toutois phtheirontai, by these they are corrupted) is morphed by Peter into a reflection on the heretics' final destruction. Whereas the emphasis in Jude 10 is on the corrupt character of the heretics, Peter's principal concern is with their final destiny. Once again, our author has adopted and adapted his source in a way that speaks directly to the situation at hand. The heretics' denial of future judgment is met by the declaration that they, as captured beasts, are destined to be destroyed. Peter compares the heretics to animals without reason, whose nature is to be captured and slaughtered. The comparison of a person's nature with that of the animals was a commonplace in ancient vituperatio (see Jude 10 and comments). The characteristic that Peter emphasizes is the irrationality of the animals. The expression ἄλογα ζῷα (aloga zōa) describes beasts (see Philo, Alleg. Interp. 3.9 §30; Josephus, Ag. Ap. 2.29 §213; Ant. 10.11.6 §262), underscoring their lack of reason. Plutarch (Mor. 493D) comments that “the irrational animals” (τὰ ἄλογα ζῷα, ta aloga zōa) follow “na- ture,” but by way of contrast, “in man ungoverned reason is absolute master.” Since the sixth/fifth century BC a debate had ensued in philosophical cir- cles about the nature and rights of animals and whether they should be killed or could be rightly ill-treated. The discussion concerning their nature (see Plutarch, Mor. 493C–D) centered on the beasts’ lack of rationality; Aristotle, later followed by both Epicureans and Stoics, denied them rationality and therefore concluded that justice need not be shown to them. “Epicurean ratio- nale . . . is that justice is owed only where there is a contract, hence only among rational agents” (OCD 90). Peter’s accusation that the heretics are as “irrational animals” sets the stage for his following statements about the de- struction for which they are destined.

I'll clean up the quote later.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Four Basic Steps for Biblical Exegesis

1. Analyze the historical context of a passage. For example, what is the setting or historical context for 2 Timothy 1:7?

2. Look at what past scholarship has said about the verse or account. It would be interesting to do a literature survey on Psalm 82:1-6.

3. How does the verse/account contribute to the whole of Scripture? Not everyone agrees, but it seems that one part of the Bible relies on other parts. See Revelation 19:10, for example.

4. Perform textual analysis (if necessary). I.e., try to discern the original reading of the text. John 1:18 is a classic example for textual criticism; so is John 7:8, 1 John 5:7 and Revelation 20:5.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Romans 16:20 (Brief Notes)

Greek-ὁ δὲ θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης συντρίψει τὸν Σατανᾶν ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας ὑμῶν ἐν τάχει. Ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ μεθ' ὑμῶν.

Syntax-Definite article (ὁ) occurs with the substantive word, "God" (θεὸς). The word for God is the subject nominative; continuative δὲ is the postpositive word here. On the other hand, Johann Albrecht Bengel thinks δὲ is adversative in this case (i.e., "but").

τῆς εἰρήνης is possibly a subjective genitive or could be a descriptive genitive.

συντρίψει-future active of συντρίβω ("shatter," "crush" or "bruise").

"The term συντρίψει, shall bruise, is evidently an allusion to the ancient promise, Genesis 3:15, which—strange to say—is referred to nowhere else in the N. T." (Frédéric L. Godet)

"There is an allusion to Genesis 3:15, though it is doubtful whether Paul found anything there answering to συντρίψει. The LXX has τηρήσει." (The Expositor's Greek Testament)

τὸν Σατανᾶν-accusative singular masculine of Σατανᾶς.

ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας ὑμῶν-"under your feet." Accusative; an expression also signifying that the subject has total control over the subordinate entity (LN 37.8).

ἐν τάχει-"speedily"

Thursday, September 20, 2018

William Mounce and 2 Timothy 1:7 ("Cowardice")

Timothy's supposed timidity has been overemphasized. δειλία occurs only here in the NT. However, there is good reason to question its translation as “timidity,” and the translation here will affect one’s view of Timothy’s character. (1) The general picture of Timothy is not one of a shy, timid person who had to be constantly encouraged, who had ceased using his spiritual gifts and needed to be urged to relight the fire (v 6; see Introduction). (2) δειλία is better translated “cowardice” (Ellicott; Fee; cf. BAGD 173; cf. Trench, Synonyms, 58–59), and even if Timothy may have been timid, he certainly was not a coward. δειλία occurs nine times in the LXX: Ps 54:5 speaks of the “terrors of death”; speaking of his enemies, Judas prayed that God would “fill them with cowardice [δειλίαν]; melt the boldness of their strength; let them tremble in their destruction” (1 Macc 4:32); when the Syrian Heliodorus came to Jerusalem to plunder the treasury, God “caused so great a manifestation that all who had been so bold as to accompany him were astonished by the power of God, and became faint with terror [δειλίαν] at the vision” (2 Macc 3:24; Heliodorus was struck down to the point of death, but raised up through Onias’s sacrifice); when Eleazar refused to obey Antiochus and eat pork, he said it would be shameful to break the law for cowardice (δειλίᾳ; 4 Macc 6: 20); δειλία is joined with fear (Sir 4:17) and confusion (3 Macc 6:19); if the Israelites disobey God, he will punish them severely (Lev 26:27–35), and he will make the heart of those who remain so fearful (δειλίαν) “that the sound of a windblown leaf will put them to flight” (Lev 26:36 [NIV]; cf. also Ps 89:40; Prov 19:15; and the cognate verb in Deut 1:21 and John 14:27). These passages show that δειλία means “cowardice” and not the weaker “timidity,” and it is highly doubtful that Paul is implying that Timothy was a coward. Also, if cowardice describes what Timothy was, “power,” “love,” and “self-control” would describe what Timothy was not, and this too seems unlikely. It is better to see Paul encouraging Timothy by calling him continually to act with power and love and self-control. Cowardice is merely a foil that serves to emphasize and define what Paul means by power (see Fee’s discussion of the οὐ/ ἀλλά, “not/ but,” construction in Paul in which “Paul’s concern is always expressed in the ἀλλά [‘but’] phrase or clause” [God's Empowering Presence, 788]).

Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46 (Word Biblical Commentary) (Kindle Locations 19547-19551). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

(Kindle Locations 19541-19547). Zondervan.

(Kindle Locations 19536-19541). Zondervan.

(Kindle Locations 19532-19536). Zondervan.

Some Basic Features of Epistemological Schemata

Epistemology refers to the theory of knowledge, and one writer defines epistemology as the critical analysis of cognition. The analysis of knowledge or cognition usually makes us question how we know what we know, or think we know? Here are four basic ways to reflect on epistemological schemas:

1. Academic disciplines/sciences only allow a limited degree of precision (Aristotle)--we cannot expect more than what a particular knowledge domain is capable of giving us.

2. Explanatory hypotheses have inherent limitations (Dan Robinson). Think of hypotheses as epistemological starting-points; they are axiomatic in this sense of the word.

3. Immanuel Kant limited knowledge to make room for faith. That is, he restricted knowledge's domain in order to posit moral faith and Kant thereby distinguished phenomena from noumena.

4. Competing hypotheses coterminously exist (Stephen Pepper). How do we determine which hypothesis has greater explanatory power?

5. It has been suggested that our knowledge of the cosmos has natural boundary limits imposed by the mind's inherent structure (Kant). On the other hand, does Kant's notion of the transcendental self wind up begging the question? Does he assume as true what needs to be proved?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Cowardice, Fear, and Awe of the Divine (Words to a Friend)

Trench's Synonyms of the New Testament:

x. δειλία, φόβος, εὐλάβεια.
Of these three words the first, δειλία, is used always in a bad sense; the second, φόβος, is a middle term, capable of a good interpretation, capable of an evil, and lying indifferently between the two; the third, εὐλάβεια, is quite predominantly used in a good sense, though it too has not altogether escaped being employed in an evil.

[End Quote]

δειλία is the word appearing in 2 Timothy 1:7 that's translated "fear" in the KJV, but "cowardice" by NWT. The word δειλία is only used pejoratively in the GNT; for φόβος, see Hebrews 10:31 and the language "fearful thing." I've also read that Hebrews 10:31 is alluding to/quoting from 2 Samuel 24:14, LXX.

The words in both verses are definitely similar, even if the meaning is not. The Insight book discusses dread, another facet of fear, and in addition to considering Hebrews 10:26-27, Insight mentions Hebrews 12:28.

Some things to consider.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

1 Corinthians 6:11 (Brief Notes)

1 Corinthians 6:11 (Greek): Καὶ ταῦτά τινες ἦτε· ἀλλὰ ἀπελούσασθε, ἀλλὰ ἡγιάσθητε, ἀλλὰ ἐδικαιώθητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν.

Rogers and Rogers alerts us to the fact that ταῦτά (neuter form) is probably employed to signify contemptuousness (i.e., "such abominations!" EGT).

ἦτε is imperfect indicative active 2nd-person plural of εἰμί ("you were")

ἀπελούσασθε-"to wash, to wash thoroughly" (Rogers and Rogers)-aorist indicative middle of ἀπολούω. See Acts 22:16.

Rogers and Rogers likewise states that the aorist form indicates the Corinthians were washed thoroughly and decisively, citing Morris, but that might be an over-reading of the aorist since it's likely the default "tense" that portrays action as a whole.

Joseph A. Fitzmyer also suggests that ἀπελούσασθε potentially refers to the act of baptism, and since the word is middle voice, he quotes Steyn, who apparently believes the verb could be understood to mean, "you washed yourselves." However, compare 1 Peter 3:21. And even Fitzmyer alludes to BDAG 117, which states that ἀπολούω only appears as a middle form in the NT.

The aorists in this verse have been interpreted as divine passives (Fitzmyer). See the Anchor Bible Commentary on 1 Corinthians. But Paul D. Gardner suggests that ἀπελούσασθε might be understood to denote "you let yourself be [washed]"; yet he reckons the verb has "passive intent" and Gardner states that's how nearly all English bibles render the verb.

See Gardner, 1 Corinthians (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2018).

Finally, Rogers and Rogers view ἐν as instrumental dative, so it could be translated with "by."

Webster's Bible Translation: "and by the Spirit of our God."

Fitzmyer perceives a "triadic ending" (page 258) for 6:11 and others make comments about the holy spirit's deity. They profess 1 Cor. 6:11 supports the belief that God's holy spirit is also God (third person of the tripersonal deity); however, one could read the passage as proof for God using the spirit to accomplish his will without the spirit actually being deity (third person of the godhead).

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Florence the Storm

I'm aware that many of our blog readers undoubtedly are being affected by the recent weather developments. I live in NC, but don't believe my part of the state will suffer the things happening down east. I am concerned about all people, and especially those related to me in the faith (Galatians 6:10). Witnesses believe in prayer, and we take active steps to help our neighbors too. I am thinking about all who frequent this space: may we all do what's in our power to help others (Proverbs 3:27).


Isaiah 14:4 and 41:7 in LXX and Translation

Isaiah 14:4: καὶ λήμψῃ τὸν θρῆνον τοῦτον ἐπὶ τὸν βασιλέα Βαβυλῶνος καὶ ἐρεῖς ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ πῶς ἀναπέπαυται ὁ ἀπαιτῶν καὶ ἀναπέπαυται ὁ ἐπισπουδαστής

Brenton: "And thou shalt take up this lamentation against the king of Babylon, How has the extortioner ceased, and the taskmaster ceased!"

Knox: "it will be thy turn to have thy say against the king of Babylon. Can it be (thou wilt say) that the tyranny is over, the exactions at an end?"

Isaiah 41:7: ἴσχυσεν ἀνὴρ τέκτων καὶ χαλκεὺς τύπτων σφύρῃ ἅμα ἐλαύνων ποτὲ μὲν ἐρεῖ σύμβλημα καλόν ἐστιν ἰσχύρωσαν αὐτὰ ἐν ἥλοις θήσουσιν αὐτὰ καὶ οὐ κινηθήσονται

Brenton: "The artificer has become strong, and the coppersmith that smites with the hammer, and forges also: sometimes he will say, It is a piece well joined: they have fastened them with nails; they will fix them, and they shall not be moved."

NIV: "The metalworker encourages the goldsmith, and the one who smooths with the hammer spurs on the one who strikes the anvil. One says of the welding, 'It is good.' The other nails down the idol so it will not topple."

Gary V. Smith:
the prophet describes their deluded trust in idols made by skilled craftsmen, goldsmiths, and other workers (41:7).160 The builders of these idols say that the results of their effort to construct this man-made god are “good”, but Gen 1:12,31 indicates that only what God created was “good.” In order to show how precarious the strength of their faith in the idol was, the prophet explains that it all depends on the nail or peg that will keep the idol standing up securely on a pedestal.

See Smith, Gary V. The New American Commentary - Isaiah 40-66: 15B (Kindle Locations 3322-3326). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Moses: The "Meekest" or "Most Humble" Man? (Numbers 12:3)

I've noticed that Numbers 12:3 NWT Study Bible states that Moses "was by far the meekest of all the men" on earth's surface. The footnote adds: "Or 'was very humble (mild-tempered), more so than any other man.'"

NET Bible treats Numbers 12:3 as a parenthetical statement: "(Now the man Moses was very humble, more so than any man on the face of the earth.)"

It explains that the difference in how one reads 12:3 depends on the familiar kethib-qere distinction. Furthermore, NET gives this supplemental information: "The word עָנָו (’anav) means 'humble.' The word may reflect a trustful attitude (as in Pss 25:9, 37:11), but perhaps here the idea of 'more tolerant' or 'long-suffering.' The point is that Moses is not self-assertive. God singled out Moses and used him in such a way as to show that he was a unique leader. For a suggestion that the word means 'miserable,' see C. Rogers, 'Moses: Meek or Miserable?' JETS 29 (1986): 257-63.

The Septuagint (LXX) reads: καὶ ὁ ἄνθρωπος Μωυσῆς πραΰς σφόδρα παρὰ πάντας τοὺς ἀνθρώπους τοὺς ὄντας ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς.

Targum Jonathan: "But the man Mosheh was more bowed down in his mind than all the children of men upon the face of the earth; neither cared he for their words."

Whether Moses was the meekest or the humblest (the man with a very mild disposition), despite the fact that he showed uncharacteristic long-suffering/patience, he eventually "lost it" with his people, the Hebrews (the children of Israel). We all remember when Moses struck the rock at Meribah and exclaimed, “Listen, you rebels, shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” (NRSV) So doing, he took glory for something divinely wrought by Jehovah. The consequence was that Jehovah did not permit Moses to enter the Promised Land even though Jehovah God let him see the land from a distance--and we know that Moses will be resurrected in the new earth to come: he is alive in God's eyes. However, it strikes me as somewhat ironic that Moses had exemplary mildness/meekness and humility, but even he let anger cause him to speak embittered words that resulted in deep loss: "and it went ill with Moses on their account; for they made his spirit bitter, and he spoke words that were rash" (Psalm 106:32-33 NRSV).

The account is a serious warning on the one hand reminding us to guard our spirit and always glorify Jehovah, but it's encouraging to know that the ancient spokespersons of YHWH were individuals with feelings and foibles like ours (James 5:17). Some people often get hung up on the fact that a humble person might write, "I am the most humble person on earth." It's never really bothered me that Moses might have written those words, but some scholars think the utterance is part of an editorial addition later contributed to the Pentateuch: they understand these words to be added and insist Numbers 12:3 could be parenthetical. In any event, the likely reason that 12:3 provides this detail is to let us know that Moses did not usually seek his own glory. Jehovah God (YHWH) appointed Moses as leader over Israel; the office was not gained by inappropriate ambition, but rather through divine appointment (Numbers 12:6-8). What an example that Moses set in humility, meekness or lowliness of mind. Jesus similarly was mild-tempered and lowly in heart (Matthew 5:5; 11:28), but he remained that way without taint.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

My Review of Frederick C. Copleston's "Medieval Philosophy"

Frederick C. Copleston is a master historian. His nine-volume A History of Philosophy is remarkable for its breadth, depth and analyticity. These qualities especially can be attributed to his book on ancient Greek philosophy. However, Copleston's introductory study A History of Medieval Philosophy seems dry. It's consequently a little harder to read than other works he has produced.

The familiar objectivity and precision of other volumes which comprise the series is still on display in this historical coverage of the middle ages; but I would submit that Copleston needed to give this work some much needed life. That is the main problem I have with this history of medieval thought, one of many that I've read. That complaint notwithstanding, the text is definitively magisterial and characteristically erudite.

Copleston begins chronicling the medieval period by showing the important nexus between ancient Christianity and philosophy in the middle ages. He then discusses such thinkers as John Erigena, Berengarius of Tours and Roscelin of Compiegne. The book laconically recounts famed controversies surrounding transubstantiation in the case of Berengarius and purported tritheism (an accusation that was lodged at Roscelin) before turning to Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury and Peter Abelard--the infamous dialectician and lover of Heloise.

Anselm is known for developing what's called the "ontological argument" for God's existence. The basic premise of Anselm is that God must exist in reality, if God exists within the mind. Otherwise, God would not qualify as "that being than which a greater could not be conceived." Yet the main thinker of the period (Thomas Aquinas) faulted the ontological argument for conflating different senses of the expression "self-evident." It quickly becomes obvious from this brief example that medieval philosophy is fairly technical and generally recondite.

Nevertheless, a quite helpful part of this book is Copleston's analysis of the debate between those philosophers who are nominalists and those known as philosophical realists: the so-called "problem of universals." He convincingly demonstrates that there is a continuum which existed between nominalism and realism. For example, realism exists in moderate and extreme forms.

Maybe A History of Medieval Philosophy could have spared certain unnecessary details in much of the book. That is always the challenge with relating historical developments or events. How do those of us who work in history or related fields tell stories without boring our audience? At any rate, Copleston's account should be read by all those who are serious about medieval philosophy. It is the perfect place to immerse oneself in theoretical ideas of the past.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

The Use of AUTOS and Its Antecedents in 1 John 1 (Chapter One)

The following is a list of how AUTOS possibly functions in 1 John 1.
1 John 1:3-The antecedent is TOU PATROS.
1:5-The antecedent is evidently IHSOU XRISTOU in 1:3.
1:5d-The antecedent is hO QEOS in 1:5c.
1:6-hO QEOS is again the antecedent.
1:7-Both AUTOS and AUTOU refer to hO QEOS as the phrase TOU hUIOU AUTOU makes clear.
1:10-hO LOGOS AUTOU also has reference to God's word (Go back to 1:5).

Amended Version of 1 John and AUTOS

Thanks to Duncan for adding the Greek characters below!

1 John 2:2- αυτος refers to Ιησουν χριστον in 2:1d.
2:3a-The antecedent of αυτου is probably Ιησουν χριστον.
2:3b-αυτου evidently refers to Ιησουν χριστον.
2:4a-αυτον also seems to reference Ιησουν χριστον.
2:4b-αυτον points to Ιησουν χριστον in 2:1d.
2:5a-αυτου τον λογον describes Jesus' λογον.
2:5c-εν τουτω refers to Ιησουν χριστον.
2:6-εν αυτω speaks of "remaining" (μενειν) in Ιησουν χριστον.
2:6-The antecedent of ουτω is ο λεγων εν αυτω μενειν.
2:8b-εν αυτω again speaks of Ιησουν χριστον.
2:9c-The antecedent is ο λεγων εν τω φωτι ειναι.
2:10-αυτου and αυτω refer to ο αγαπων τον αδελφον αυτου.
2:11-Both occurrences of αυτου refer to ο δε μισων τον αδελφον αυτου.
2:15e-αυτω describes the one loving the world (εαν τις αγαπα τον κοσμον).
2:21-The antecedent of αυτην is αληθειας.
2:25b-The antecedent of αυτος is τω πατρι (Note that this
antecedent is the closest of two possible antecedents. The Father clearly
seems to be in view also in light of Tit. 1:2; 1 John 1:1-3; 2:1; 5:11-12,20).
2:27-αυτου refers to the Father.
2:28-αυτω in 2:28 is not so clear. John appears to be switching
referents here. S.M. Baugh implies that αυτου in this passage applies to the
Son. A confusing aspect of this passage is that up to this point, John talks
about the Father. But his use of the Greek term παρουσια seems to indicate
Christ Jesus is under discussion.
2:29-This passage is equally ambiguous, but appears to have reference
to God the Father (εξ αυτου γεγεννηται).