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).

Monday, September 03, 2018

1 John and AUTOS

Dear blog readers,

This list is a continuation of previous work that I've done on αὐτὸς in 1 John. It is my long-term goal to expand on these documented examples, and change the characters below to actual Greek letters/words.


1 John 2:2-αὐτὸς refers to Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν in 2:1d.
2:3a-The antecedent of αὐτόν is probably Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν.
2:3b-αὐτοῦ evidently refers to Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν.
2:4a-αὐτόν also seems to reference Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν.
2:4b-AUTOU points to IHSOUN XRISTON in 2:1d.
2:5a-AUTOU TON LOGON describes Jesus' LOGON.
2:5c-EN AUTWi refers to IHSOUN XRISTON.
2:6-EN AUTWi speaks of "remaining" (MENEIN) in IHSOUN XRISTON.
2:6-The antecedent of AUTOS is hO LEGWN EN AUTWi MENEIN.
2:8b-EN AUTWi again speaks of Jesus Christ.
2:9c-The antecedent is hO LEGWN EN TWi FWTI EINAI.
2:11-Both occurrences of AUTOU refer to hO MISWN TON ADELFON
2:15e-AUTWi describes the one loving the world (EAN TIS AGAPA TON
2:21-The antecedent of AUTHN is ALHQEIAN.
2::25b-The antecedent of AUTOS is TWi PATRI (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,
2:27-AUTOU refers to the Father.
2:28-AUTWi in 2:28 is not so clear. John appears to be switching
referents here. S.M. Baugh implies that AUTOS 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 PAROUSIA seems to indicate
Christ Jesus is under discussion.
2:29-This passage is equally ambiguous, but appears to have reference
to God the Father (EX AUTOU GEGENNHTAI).

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Meaning of NEPES/PSYCHE in Scripture

The word "soul" (Hebrew nepes and Greek psyche) apparently has three primary meanings in the Bible:

(1) A human person. (Genesis 2:7)

(2) An animal.

(3) The life enjoyed by a person or animal. (Genesis 9:3-5)

Genesis 2:7 describes Adam becoming a "living being" (Amplified Bible) or a "living soul" (New World Translation 1984). The Apostle Paul invokes this account when reproving some in the Corinthian ecclesia (1 Cor. 15:45). Furthermore, animals are called "souls" in Numbers 31:28; Ezekiel 47:9; Revelation 8:9; 16:3. For an example of psyche denoting "life," see Matthew 16:25; 20:28.

Technically, I do not believe there is a metaphysical dichotomy between the body and the soul in the OT or NT. A number of biblical commentators have noted this point:

"The Jewish origin of the word [psyche] is determinative: Nephesh is the living quality of the flesh. The soul belongs to man's earthly existence. It does not exist without physical life. It is not, say, freed by death, then to live its untrammelled purity. Death is its end. The word psyche can also mean the person, and this is related to SWMA, SARX and PNEUMA (Rom. 16:4: hUPER THS YUXHS MOU 'For my life')" (An Outline of the Theology of the New Testament. Hans Conzelmann. 179).

Notice where the "souls" are located in Rev. 6:9; they are "at the foot of the altar" (Amplified Bible), and this description reminds one of Lev. 4:7 where the Aaronic priest is commanded to pour out the blood of a bull at the "base of the altar" (Amplified Bible). Why was the priest to pour out blood at the foot of the altar? Because the life ("soul") of the flesh was in the blood (Lev. 17:14). That's why there is no remission of sins unless blood is poured out (Heb. 9:22ff).

What bearing does this information have on Rev. 6:9? Well in that verse the blood of martyrs is symbolically envionaned at God's heavenly "altar." The blood is not poured out for the forgiveness of sins within that context: it has been spilled by God's enemies. Therefore, the blood ("souls") in Rev. 6:9 does not cry for mercy, but for vengeance. The same thing happened when Abel's blood was shed (Gen. 4:10,11; Heb. 12:24). His blood also cried from the ground. Did this mean that Abel's blood was a living thing? Or was this simply a personification of an inanimate thing because of what blood symbolizes in the Bible? Please note that James 5:4 exclaims that "wages" held back from poor workers cried out in the first century. Surely "wages" are not living, sentient things, are they? I hope this discussion will give some insight into why I do not believe Rev. 6:9 teaches that the soul is immortal (cf. Rev. 18:11-13). Nor do other scriptural verses.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Pronouncing Ancient Greek Words

How should ancient Greek morphemes be pronounced? According to Brooks and Winbery's book on morphology, there are at least 4 principal ways to pronounce Greek phonemes/morphemes. Moreover, one Gifford Fellow at the University of Glasgow, who was completing his doctoral work at Cambridge University when I resided in the UK, told me that Cambridge (UK) has its own distinct way to pronounce Latin and Greek words. His statement accords with what I've studied about ancient Greek and Latin phonology wherein books delineate how those in Great Britain traditionally have articulated Latin or Greek. So this subject opens a can of worms to be sure.

None of us can be sure how ancient Greek words were or should be pronounced. Some argue that modern Greek vocalization is pretty close to the ancient while others vigorously dispute the claim. At any rate, I'm not always consistent in my pronunciation of omega. Sometimes I pronounce it as an English long "o" (as in "go") and other times I say "aw" as in the English "saw" or "law." See Donald Mastronarde's Intro to Attic Greek, p. 12.

In ANTILUTRON (1 Timothy 2:6, I once stated that the iota could be either long or short, depending on the Greek accent; however, I would now urge readers to pronounce it with long "i" although some might demur from my suggestion. But the upsilon should probably be pronounced like a long/short French or German "u."

Okay, let the beating commence.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Exodus 3:5 and Joshua 5:15: Sandals/Sandal

A friend asked me about the language contained in Exodus 3:5 and Joshgua 5:15. One verse says "take off your sandals" but the other passage speaks of one sandal rather than two. Why the difference?

My answer:

Interesting question about the sandals. A book written by Hebrew scholar Bruce Waltke (Hebrew Syntax) addresses the issue. In section 7.2.1 of Waltke's "Syntax," here's what we read:

"With countables the singular serves to enumerate one object. With entities that Hebrew counts as 'one object' or 'more than one object,' the singular usually enumerates the referent as an individual. Countable nouns are the most common."

"With collectives the singular designates a group. Some words in Hebrew, like 'fish,’ ‘sheep,’ and ‘fruit’ in English, are treated as collectives and represented by the singular. As noted above, English and Hebrew differ in their distribution of countables and collectives. Collectives occur in both grammatical genders. A collective singular may not agree in number with other words in the sentence syntactically related to it (cf. English ‘the sheep are in the field’ versus ‘the wheat is…’; 6.6); thus a singular collective noun can govern a plural verb. We distinguish between words in Hebrew that are conventionally collective (i.e., words almost always represented in the singular) and those that are nonconventionally collective (i.e., words that are often represented by the plural but for contextual reasons may be represented by a collective)."

When I also checked Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew-English Lexicon, it said the usage in Joshua 5:15 is an example of a "dual" form. In other words, the singular is used to describe a "pair" of sandals rather than just one shoe. That is why translations usually render with the plural "sandals" although the word is grammatically singular or "dual." Compare Amos 2:6; 8:6.

This subject also makes me wonder about Augustine of Hippo's famous Latin words, inquietum est cor nostrum, which are usually translated "our hearts are restless."

Proverbs 12:10a (Showing Mercy to Animals)

Some of the older commentators somewhat entertain me as I'm reading them. For instance, John Trapp on Proverbs 12:10a:

"There be beasts ad usum, et ad esum. Some are profitable alive, not dead, as the dog, horse, &c.; some dead, not alive, as the hog; some both, as the ox. There is a mercy to be shewed to these dumb creatures, as we see in Eleazar; [Genesis 24:32] and the contrary in Balaam, who spurred his ass till she spake. [Numbers 22:27-28] Otherwise we shall make them 'groan under the bondage of our corruption,' [Romans 8:21] and he that hears the young ravens, may hear them, for 'he is gracious.' [Exodus 22:27] The restraint that was of eating the blood of dead beasts, declared that he would not have tyranny exercised on them while they are alive."

On the other hand, Michael V. Fox writes:

"In only a few places in the Bible is humanitarian concern shown toward animals: One must not muzzle an ox when threshing (Deut 25:4). When taking eggs from a nest, one must not seize 'the mother together with the children' (Deut 22:6). A sacrificial animal must be left with its mother for seven days after birth (Exod 22:29; Lev 22:27). One must not sacrifice an animal and its offspring on the same day (Lev 22:28). One must not seethe a kid in its mother's milk (Exod 23:19b = 34:26b = Deut 14:21b; see Haran 1985). The motives for these injunctions are not transparent, but humanitarian feelings are certainly reflected in some of them. These concerns may be motivated less by sympathy for the animals' suffering (for they will still suffer) than by a sense of decency, a desire to respect the
proper order. Solicitude for one's livestock also has a practical aspect, since it is
just good husbandry to keep them well-fed; see Prov 27:23–27" (Proverbs 10-31: A New Translation, Anchor Bible Commentary).

From Bruce Waltke (The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 1-15):

The topic of sensible wealth (v. 8) now shifts from the well-earned prosperity of the righteous in contrast to feigned wealth (v. 9) to caring for, not exploiting, the worker (v. 10). A righteous person, who by definition serves others, not self (see p. 97-98), is one who knows [i.e., listens to, pays attention to, and internally empathizes with the need; see 1:2]⁵⁵ the desires [or “appetites and drives,” nepeš; see p. 90) of his animal (behēmâ). Behēmâ refers to any four-footed domesticated animal such as a horse or mule (see Neh. 12:14; Isa. 30:6; 46:1), or one of his cattle or flocks (see Lev. 1:2). The Creator has compassion for animals (cf. Deut. 11:15; Pss. 36:6b [7b]; 104:14, 17; Jon. 4:11) and in his law he commanded Israel to share his sabbaths with them (Exod. 20:10; 23:11–12; Lev. 25:1–7). The proverb probably entails an argument a minores ad maiores. If one shows mercy in the lesser creation, how much more in the greater.⁵⁶ Providing for the needs of the working ox functions in the law as a proverb for taking care of one’s workers (Deut. 25:4; 1 Cor. 9:9–10).⁵⁷ If so, there may be a connection between owning a slave (v. 9) and caring for him by anticipating his needs (v. 10).

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Genesis 3:21--Whence the Skins?

"And Jehovah God made for Adam and for his wife coats of skins, and clothed them" (ASV).

A basic question that arises with this account is from where did Jehovah derive the "coats of skins." Were animals slain in order for Adam and Eve to be given these coats?

Expositor's Bible Commentary--Old Testament (Abridged Edition): "The mention of the type of clothing that God made—'garments of skin,' i.e., tunics—is perhaps intended to recall the state of the man and the woman before the Fall: 'naked' and 'no shame' (2:25). The author may also be anticipating the notion of sacrifice in the animals slain for the making of the skin garments (cf. Ex 28:42)."

Victor Hamilton, The Book of Genesis 1-17: "It is probably reading too much into this verse to see in the coats of skin a hint of the use of animals and blood in the sacrificial system of the OT cultus.¹² The word we have translated coats is the one that is used to describe the garment Jacob made for Joseph (e.g., 37:3). It is true that the word skin here refers to animal skins, and we do have in Genesis itself the idea of animal skins as coverings. See 27:16, where Rebekah 'put on' (same verb as here) the hands and neck of Jacob 'the skins of the kids' so that Jacob would feel like and smell like Esau to Isaac. But keṯōneṯ is more than simply a covering. It is an actual robelike garment worn next to one's skin. Both men (2 Sam. 15:32) and women (2 Sam. 13:18, 19; Cant. 5:3) could wear it (cf. Gen. 3:21). A keṯōneṯ was also one of the garments worn by the priests, and it was made from linen (Exod. 28:39; 39:27)."

While conducting research on this question, I read that Augustine of Hippo believed God used "dead cattle" to provide skins for Adam and Eve. One source also quotes another view of interest:

THEODORET OF CYRUS. How are we to understand the clothing of skins? Allegorizing commentators (Origen, Didymus, and Theodore) have claimed that the skins were mortal flesh, others that they were made from the bark of trees. But I adopt neither of these views; the latter is merely inquisitive, the former too much of a mythological fable. Since holy Scripture says that the body was formed even before the soul, how can this claim that the man and woman took mortal flesh only after the transgression of the commandment amount to anything but a fable? And it strikes me as futile to pry into the way God came by skins and to imagine a novel form of clothing. We should be content with the text, acknowledge that there is no task beyond the Creator of the universe, and admire the unlimited goodness of God who, taking care for sinners, did not overlook their need for clothing when they were naked. [Theodoret of Cyrus, Question 39 on Genesis]


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Luke 18:8--"The Faith" and "This Faith"

Notes for Luke 18:8

Greek: λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ποιήσει τὴν ἐκδίκησιν αὐτῶν ἐν τάχει. πλὴν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐλθὼν ἆρα εὑρήσει τὴν πίστιν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς

NET: "I tell you, he will give them justice speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

NWT 2013: "I tell you, he will cause justice to be done to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man arrives, will he really find this faith on the earth?"

Luke's Greek has the definite article ("the"), but to emphasize that a particular kind of faith is being discussed contextually, NWT translates "this faith" which indicates demonstrative force. In other words, the "faith" discussed must be interpreted in harmony with the parable of the unrighteous judge and the persistent widow.

Albert Barnes' Notes: "He asks them here whether, when he came, he should find 'this faith,' or a belief of 'this truth,' among his followers? Would they be found persevering in prayer, and 'believing' that God would yet avenge them; or would they cease to pray 'always, and faint?'"

Robertson's Word Pictures: "āra comes in the middle of the sentence instead of near the beginning, an unusual position for either inferential αρα — āra or interrogative αρα — āra
On the whole the interrogative αρα — āra is probably correct, meaning to question if the Son will find a persistence of faith like that of the widow."

Henry Alford's GT: "for ἡ πίστις, though ‘faith’ generally, is yet here faith in reference to the object of the parable—faith which has endured in prayer without fainting. Or the meaning may be general and objective; as in reff."

Bengel's Gnomon: "τὴν πίστιν) the faith, whereby the godly trust in the Lord, and cry to Him."

Cambridge Greek Testament: "ἆρα εὑρήσει τὴν πίστιν; ‘Shall He find this faith on the earth?’ So St Peter tells of scoffers in the last days who shall say 'Where is the promise of His coming?' 2 Peter 3:3-4; and before that day 'the love of many shall wax cold,' Matthew 24:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Even the faith of God's elect will in the last days be sorely tried (Matthew 24:22). Ἆρα is like the Latin num. Comp. Galatians 2:17 ἆρα Χριστὸς ἁμαρτίας διάκονος;"

Joel Green, The Gospel of Luke: "In fact, according to the Greek text of v 8, Jesus' question is not concerned with 'faith' (in general) but with 'the faith'⁷⁵—that is, that manner of faith demonstrated by the widow in the antecedent parable. These two motifs—the certainty of God's justice and the call for resolute faithfulness in anticipation of that certainty—come in for development on account of the situation Jesus has anticipated in 17:22–25."

John, Jesus, History, volume 3. See BDAG.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Job 6:2-3: "Wild Talk"

Anguish (mental and physical pain or suffering) sometimes causes us to say and do things that we don't really mean; what people say in the midst of pain may not truly reflect what they are at heart (Ecclesiastes 7:7). For instance, the faithful man Job experienced indescribable anguish at the hands of Satan the Devil. What can we learn from his mental and physical anguish?

In Job 6:2-3 (ESV), we read this exclamation:

“Oh that my vexation were weighed, and all my calamity laid in the balances! For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea; therefore my words have been rash."

εἰ γάρ τις ἱστῶν στήσαι μου τὴν ὀργήν τὰς δὲ ὀδύνας μου ἄραι ἐν ζυγῷ ὁμοθυμαδόν
καὶ δὴ ἄμμου παραλίας βαρυτέρα ἔσται ἀλλ᾽ ὡς ἔοικεν τὰ ῥήματά μού ἐστιν φαῦλα

Brenton translates Job 6:3: "And verily they would be heavier than the sand by the seashore: but, as it seems, my words are vain."

But see how Aquila renders the Hebrew account:

See 1 Maccabees 3:51.

Luther Bible in German (1912): Denn nun ist es schwerer als Sand am Meer; darum gehen meine Worte irre.

Keil-Delitzsch: Referring to Job, they say, "His words are like those of one in delirium."

Job speaks of his anguish or vexation being "heavier than the sand of the sea." The result is that his speech becomes "wild talk" (NWT) or as the footnote in the NWT points out: “rash or reckless speech.” Compare Proverbs 20:25.

So Job articulated thoughts in a way that did not reflect his true heart motivation--he also apparently thought that Jehovah no longer cared whether he remained faithful or not (Job 9:20-22). Consequently, Job exclaimed that he did not want to go on living: "Therefore, I will not restrain my mouth. I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in my bitter distress. I loathe my life; I do not want to go on living. Leave me alone, for my days are like a breath” (Job 7:11, 16).

Similarly today, a brother or sister might become utterly discouraged or depressed. They may begin to speak “wildly” or rashly; but how might this kind of talk be handled?

Although it may be difficult, in these circumstances, it is good to remember how anguish can affect people. In the words of Proverbs 24:10: "If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small" (ESV). Since anguish tends to drain our strength both mentally and physically, the Bible encourages Christians to support the weak, and speak consolingly to depressed persons (1 Thessalonians 5:14), and show insight, because having insight will slow down our anger (Proverbs 19:11). This counsel is especially important when parents deal with “wild talk” from their children.




Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas: Notes on Divine Infinity

John Duns Scotus imputes the following line of reasoning to Thomas Aquinas:

1) If form is limited by matter, then form is finite (if p, then q--mp)
2) God, being simple, is not limited by matter (deny the antecedent, ~p)
3) So God is not finite (true conclusion, but invalid argument, ~q)


Scotus thereby indicates that Aquinas reasons fallaciously which naturally leads to an invalid argument. By "invalid," I mean that the conclusion does not follow deductively from the premises (3 cannot be deduced from 1, 2). In other words, 1) and 2) do not entail 3).

The argument would be deductively valid if someone reasoned:

1) If form is limited by matter, then form is finite.
2) God is not finite (deny the consequent, ~q).
3) So God is not limited by matter (~p).

I am using the ~ (tilde) for negation.

Now Scotus appears to posit that something is finite or infinite by reason of "its own intrinsic degree of finite or infinite perfection." He argues that simplicity (non-compoundedness) or the state of being non-mereological will not necessarily produce infinity; on the other hand, Scotus asserts that finitude "is not a result of composition." For Scotus, infinity is potentially a positive, intrinsic property--"an intrinsic degree of perfection." But Aquinas clearly believes that infinity is a negative property: it tells us what something is not, namely, not finite or limited.

This technical debates makes us wonder, Is infinite being a measure of intrinsic and unbounded excellence? Imagine an actual qualitative infinity filled with various degrees of perfection. We would normally call such an infinity, "God." So Scotus thinks God is filled with maximal degrees of perfection; hence, Scotus reckons it's possible to deduce other perfections from the attribute of divine infinity.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Ezekiel 16:30 and NWT 2013

The NWT 2013 Revision has some interesting features; it is not just a continuation of NWT Refib8 1984. For example:

"O how I am filled up with rage against you,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘by your doing all these things, the work of a woman, a domineering prostitute!" (Ezekiel 16:30 1984 edition)

Compare the 2013 Revision:

"'How sick your heart was,’ declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘when you did all these things, behaving like a brazen prostitute!'"

I'm particularly focusing on the first part of Ezekiel 16:30 which reflects an utter difference in the text: "O how I am filled up with rage against you" versus "How sick your heart was"

Why the disparity between 1984 and 2013?

In the footnote of the 2013 edition, it informs us, "Or possibly, 'O how I am filled up with rage against you.'"

That leads to another question. Why relegate the words about Jehovah's rage to the footnote in the newer version of NWT?

To help answer this question, consider that the ESV chooses the rendering: “How sick is your heart, declares the Lord God, because you did all these things, the deeds of a brazen prostitute,"

ESV explains that "How I am filled with anger against you" comes about from revocalizing the Hebrew words of Ezekiel. So NET translates Ezekiel 16:30: “‘How sick is your heart, declares the sovereign Lord, when you perform all of these acts, the deeds of a bold prostitute."

No explanatory footnote is offered, but we again witness the translational assonance between NWT 2013, ESV, and NET here although NWT in the latest iteration uses the verb "was" as opposed to "is."

Back to the original question, why prefer "How sick your heart was/is," to "O how I am filled up with rage against you"?

The explanation is complex and lengthy, but here are some preliminary remarks:

Bob Utley:
"how languishing is your heart" This is the only occurrence of this verb (BDB 51, KB 63, Qal participle) in the Qal stem. Its basic meaning is "weak," implying weak-willed. But this does not fit the context of the next phrase. Some early copies of the Hebrew OT were found in a hidden room behind the shelves that contain the Scripture scrolls in Cairo, Egypt. These copies have 'How inflamed was your heart,' which fits the context much better and may be the source of the Septuagint and Vulgate translations of "how strong" (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 426).


K.J. Cathcart Writes:
The unsatisfactory translations of 'mlh lbtk (Ezek. 16:30) in many modern English Bibles illustrate what might be described as an example of wilful resistance to knowledge gained from comparative philology. The NRSV has: ‘How sick is your heart’; the NAB, 'How wild is your lust’, and the JPSV, ‘How sick was your heart’. The JPSV translator does admit in a footnote that, on the basis of the Akkadian, a change of vocalisation will give, ‘How furious I was with you’. The NEB and REB have a satisfactory version: 'How you anger me!’ The correct understanding of this verse was first published by David Hartwig Baneth in 1914, when he published a suggestion made by his father Eduard Baneth that Akk. libb¯ati malˆ u, ‘to become angry with’, had a counterpart in Ezek. 16:30.17 It was noted that the same idiom occurred in Aramaic too. Godfrey Rolles Driver made the same proposal in 1928, and elaborated on it in 1931. All the main Hebrew lexicons admit this identification by Baneth, and the Akkadian loan has been subjected to further scrutiny by Harold Cohen and again thoroughly by Paul Mankowski in his very important published Harvard dissertation. Among early modern commentators, G.A. Cooke accepted the Akkadian and Aramaic evidence for the correct understanding of the text, but some commentators still prefer the interpretation apparently intended by whoever pointed the ˜M. The interpretation of the Akkadian loanword, lbh, ‘anger’, as a cognate of Heb. l¯eb, ‘heart’, is an example of a loanword in the consonantal Hebrew text of the Bible being wrongly interpreted in the Massoretic text. It is interesting to note that the Ì (‘How should I dispose of your daughter?’) and the Í (‘Why should I judge your daughter?’) did not interpret lbtk as ‘your heart’.

See The Old Testament in Its World, edited by R.P. Gordon and J.C. de Moor, pages 5-6.

Knox Translation: "Salve is none, says the Lord God, for such a heart as thine, set on following a harlot’s ways."

Latin Vulgate: In quo mundabo cor tuum, ait Dominus Deus, cum facias omnia hæc opera mulieris meretricis et procacis?

LXX: τί διαθῶ τὴν θυγατέρα σου λέγει κύριος ἐν τῷ ποιῆσαί σε ταῦτα πάντα ἔργα γυναικὸς πόρνης καὶ ἐξεπόρνευσας τρισσῶς

Saturday, August 11, 2018

A Brief Comment with Respect to Psalm 25 (Lange)

This statement is taken from Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures. He is talking about Psalm 25 when he claims:

"the individual features are not concrete enough, to refer them directly to historical events in the life of David."

So I understand Lange to be saying that although Psalm 25 might be Davidic, a datum he does not seem to reject, still nothing in the psalm helps us to pin down historical specifics in David's life such that we could determine when he wrote the psalm, etc.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

The Greek Aorist and Its Diverse Uses

The aorist "tense" has numerous uses in ancient Greek speech/writing. I outline some uses, definitions, and examples here:

1) Constative aorist- K.L. McKay (A New Syntax of the Verb in New Testament Greek, page 46) points out that the constative aorist expresses the totality of an activity. See Acts 28:30; Revelation 20:4. 2 Corinthians 8:9 is possibly an example, but more than likely the aorist there is inceptive ("he became poor"). See McKay, ibid.

2) Ingressive (inceptive, inchoative) aorist- The aorist participle λαβών, if translated
woodenly, would be rendered "having taken" (active) or "having received" (passive) the form of a servant: it would thus have reference to an action that is antecedent to the main verb. Yet there are times when the aorist participle also possesses ingressive force and makes an action's beginning salient to the hearer/reader.

3) Consummative (ecbatic) aorist-: This use of the aorist stresses an action's termination (its end). An example is Revelation 19:7: χαίρωμεν καὶ ἀγαλλιῶμεν, καὶ δώσομεν τὴν δόξαν αὐτῷ, ὅτι ἦλθεν ὁ γάμος τοῦ ἀρνίου, καὶ ἡ γυνὴ αὐτοῦ ἡτοίμασεν ἑαυτήν

Certain scholars think ἦλθεν is a consummative aorist (i.e., "has come") whereas others indicate ἦλθεν could be proleptic (futuristic). See

4) Gnomic aorist-: Gnomic aorists express timeless generic truths like "Grass dries up, and flowers fall to the ground" (1 Peter 1:24 CEV). Compare James 1:11.

One contrived example I've used to illustrate the gnomic aorist is "The winds blow and the blades [of grass] dance."

"The Greek gnomic aorist is a perfective past tense that is used to represent a generic fact, habitual truth, or habitual action."


5) Epistolary aorist- This use of the aorist occurs when authors write letters from the vantage-point of their audience (from the standpoint of those receiving the letter). An example is 1 John 5:13.

Cambridge Bible: "As in 1 John 2:21; 1 John 2:26, 'I have written' is literally, 'I wrote': it is the epistolary aorist, which may be represented in English either by the present or the perfect."

6) Proleptic (Futuristic) aorist- The aorist sometimes delineates a future event and in this way stresses an act's definitiveness (Jude 14). Revelation 10:7 is a possible example; compare Revelation 15:1.

7) Immediate Past (Dramatic) aorist- "The aorist tense can be used of an event that happened rather recently." See Matthew 26:65.

Other Sources:

Richard Young


Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Commentary on Isaiah 6:2 from the International Critical Commentary (George Buchanan Gray)

Page 105 of the ICC.

Notes for Luke 15:23

NIV: "Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate" (NIV).

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible:
fattened calf. Would feed the entire village. Calves would be fattened with a special occasion in mind, such as a wedding, a son’s coming of age, or some other celebration beyond the purview of the parable. A fattened calf offered more meat than a young goat (v. 29). have a feast. A person of means invited as many people as possible to a major celebration.

The IVP New Testament Commentary Series:
the son proceeds with his confession, but the father interrupts. The son is satisfied to be a slave, but the father will restore him to full sonship. So the father orders the servants to bring the best robe, a ring for the son's hand and sandals for his feet. A fattened calf is prepared, and a party will be held. Fatted calves were saved for special occasions like the Day of Atonement. This is not just any party; it is a rare and complete celebration. There will be rejoicing for the lost son, now found (vv. 7, 10).

Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke:

Within the co-text provided by the parable itself as well as the co-text in which the parable is set, the father’s instructions in vv 23–24 bear particular significance. As in the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin, recovery gives way to celebration (vv 5–6, 9).²⁴⁶ Here, though, that celebration comes in the guise of a full-blown banquet, with the table set with the best and most expensive beef, enough for dozens, perhaps even scores, of guests.²⁴⁷ It is as if the father had declared, “Spare no effort! Spare no expense!” Why? Because the son who had slandered his father, the son who had proposed to return as nothing more than a day laborer in his father’s fields, is nevertheless “this son of mine” (v 24).

In a footnote, Green explains:
The adjective σιτευτός refers here to grain-fed beef. In Through Peasant Eyes (94), K. E. Bailey notes that a slaughtered calf would provide enough meat for 35 to 75 persons; elsewhere he speaks of over a hundred at the table (Poet and Peasant, 187).

Luke Timothy John's Comments Regarding Luke 15:23:
the fatted calf. Is literally "the grain-fed" (sitos). In contrast to the cattle left to graze on grass, the beast destined for special feasts is stuffed with grain to put on extra weight and tenderness. It is a mark of great esteem to spend this valuable possession for a celebration. The phrase occurs in the LXX of Judg 6:25, 28 and Jer 46:21.

See Johnson's The Gospel of Luke, page 238.

Bernard S. Jackson also published a work with Brill in 2008 entitled Essays on Halakhah in the New Testament. Chapter Six of the book is "The Jewish Background to the Prodigal Son: An Unrsolved Problem" (page 111). Jackson supplies helpful remarks about the fatted calf throughout the chapter, but please consult page 147 for an estimate of how many people might be fed by the calf. He relies on Bailey on that page.

Of course, calves and bulls were sacrificed to Jehovah God in ancient times. Yet the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery edited by Leland Ryken, et al. points to other uses of calves (page 484):

A fatted (grain-fed, stall-kept) calf also symbolized hospitality and celebration. When guests arrived, proper etiquette dictated a meal with meat (Gen 18:7; 1 Sam 28:24). This show of proper respect for the guest also provided an opportunity to display the prosperity of the host. The indolence of the calf tied in its stall for fattening typifies those who do no work (Jer 46:21). A diet of fatted calves marks an opulent, indulgent life style (Amos 6:4). The fatted calf appears as a symbol of exuberant celebration in the parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15:23). In the days prior to refrigeration, meat was used quickly; hence the amount of food butchered indicates the size of the celebration. A feast built around the slaughter of a “fattened calf” might well include as many as two hundred guests (see Hospitality).

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Co-workers or Fellow Workers (1 and 2 Corinthians)--συνεργοί

1 Corinthians 3:9: θεοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν συνεργοί· θεοῦ γεώργιον, θεοῦ οἰκοδομή ἐστε.

Commentary: Who are the co-workers of God mentioned by Paul? In this context, he is likely talking about himself and Apollos (1 Corinthians 3:5-6). They were both ministers of God and each man had "farmed" in Corinth by planting and watering, but God caused the seed of truth to grow.

A second question I have is why Paul uses the language "God's field" (θεοῦ γεώργιον). To what does θεοῦ γεώργιον refer? Could the apostle have been comparing the Corinthian ecclesia to a field in which Jehovah God does his divine work? Granted, Jesus identified the field as the world in Matthew. However, Paul here writes that the Corinthians are the field of God. Therefore, he is more specific here.

Thirdly, why does Paul use the mixed metaphor θεοῦ οἰκοδομή in 1 Corinthians 3:9? In what sense are the Corinthians the house of God? Is there an allusion to temple language here? Both the context and Greek-English lexicons suggest the answer is affirmative. See 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:19-22.

Paul's language in 1 Corinthians 3:9 also naturally leads into 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 about Paul building with fire-resistant materials.

2 Corinthians 1:24: οὐχ ὅτι κυριεύομεν ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως, ἀλλὰ συνεργοί ἐσμεν τῆς χαρᾶς ὑμῶν, τῇ γὰρ πίστει ἑστήκατε.

Commentary: So who are the συνεργοί mentioned in this passage? Could Paul be referring to himself and Timothy? See 2 Corinthians 1:1; 3:1-4. The context of Paul's utterance is the defense of his apostolic authority.

2 Corinthians 8:23: εἴτε ὑπὲρ Τίτου, κοινωνὸς ἐμὸς καὶ εἰς ὑμᾶς συνεργός· εἴτε ἀδελφοὶ ἡμῶν, ἀπόστολοι ἐκκλησιῶν, δόξα Χριστοῦ.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

ἄνθρωπος in 1 Timothy 2:5

Looking over Donald J. Mastronarde's Introduction to Attic Greek (p. 40), one quickly notes that ἄνθρωπος is a generic term describing a class. The examples that Mastronarde gives are ὁ ἄνθρωπος (man, mankind) and οἱ ἄνθρωποι (humans in general). See Matthew 12:36. Compare the famed Greek utterance of Protagoras: πάντων μέτρον ἄνθρωπός ἐστιν.

Smyth 1129: "Words denoting persons, when they are used of a class, may omit the article. So ἄνθρωπος, στρατηγός, θεός divinity, god (ὁ θεός the particular god)."

For this reason, some commentators argue that ἄνθρωπος at 1 Tim. 2:5 is possibly generic. The context, however, may allow for a different understanding, namely, that Jesus Christ is "a man" (a person) which would be an indefinite sense--not generic.

William Mounce proffers: "ἄνθρωπος is anarthrous, emphasizing the quality of being human; i.e., it was as a human being that Christ gave himself for all humanity (cf. Marshall, SNTU-A 13 [1988] 173). This is not a denial of Christ's divinity (contra Windisch [ZNW 34 [1935] 213– 38], who says the PE teach that Jesus is exalted but subordinate to God and not divine) but an emphatic assertion of the incarnation."

Later, Mounce reiterates: "But ἄνθρωπος is anarthrous, designating not identity ('the Son of man') but quality (i.e., that which makes a person human)."

Yet he offers this explanation as well: "It is difficult, but acceptable, to translate ἄνθρωπος in v 5c generically as 'person' as is often the case with this term (cf. 1 Tim 4:10; 2 Tim 3:2)."

I disagree with Mounce regarding the Son's "incarnation," but his work shows how ἄνθρωπός might be understood in 1 Tim. 2:5.

Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46 (Word Biblical Commentary) (Kindle Locations 7848-7849). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46 (Word Biblical Commentary) (Kindle Locations 7845-7846). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46 (Word Biblical Commentary) (Kindle Locations 7836-7839). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46 (Word Biblical Commentary) (Kindle Location 7836). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Notes on Isaiah 6:2 (Six Wings of the Seraphim)

Hebrew: See

ESV: "Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew."

NWT 2013: "Seraphs were standing above him; each had six wings. Each covered his face with two and covered his feet with two, and each of them would fly about with two."


JPS 6:2 - "Above Him stood the seraphim; each one had six wings: with twain he covered his face and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly."

TJBU 6:2 - "Holy ministers on high stood before him: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, that it should not see; and with twain he covered his body, that it should not be seen; and with twain he was ministering."


LXX: καὶ σεραφιν εἱστήκεισαν κύκλῳ αὐτοῦ ἓξ πτέρυγες τῷ ἑνὶ καὶ ἓξ πτέρυγες τῷ ἑνί καὶ ταῖς μὲν δυσὶν κατεκάλυπτον τὸ πρόσωπον καὶ ταῖς δυσὶν κατεκάλυπτον τοὺς πόδας καὶ ταῖς δυσὶν ἐπέταντο

The Great Isaiah Scroll (DSS): "Seraphs stood above him, each with six wings. With two they covered their face, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew."


Commentary by John Ostwalt (The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1-39):
One pair of wings is used to cover their faces, for even the most perfect of creatures dare not gaze brazenly into the face of the Creator. The sight would be too much. Another pair covers their feet. The precise meaning of this action is not clear. The Targum has “body” for “feet” and says the body was covered so that it might not be seen. “Feet” is sometimes used in ancient Near Eastern literature as a euphemism for genitalia, and it is possible that such a meaning is intended here (cf. also Ruth 3:4, 7, 8). In any case, the sense is the same, with the part standing for the whole body. As the creature should not look upon the Creator, so the created should not be displayed in the sight of the Creator. But to be in the presence of the Creator is not primarily to be prostrated with awe. Rather, it is to be filled with praise. So, with the third pair of wings the seraphim were flying, all the while calling out their ecstatic song.

I want to build on these notes, but one question I've had lately is why do the seraphs (seraphim) in Isaiah's vision have six wings. Is there any significance beyond the stated reasons given in the verse. Just a question that I have since the number six sometimes depicts uncleanness in Scripture or human imperfection.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Polycarp (Philippians 4)

The following is taken from Polycarp's Epistle to the Philippians 4 which I culled in part from Charles Ryrie's The Role of Women in the Church (page 100). Polycarp exhorts the Philippians:

"Teach the widows to be discreet as respects the faith of the Lord, praying continually for all, being far from all slandering, evil-speaking, false-witnessing, love of money, and every kind of evil; knowing that they are God's altar, that He clearly perceives all things, and that nothing is hid from Him, neither reasonings, nor reflections, nor any one of the secret things of the heart."

τὰς χήρας σωφρονούσας περὶ τὴν τοῦ κυρίου πίστιν, ἐντυγχανούσας ἀδιαλείπτως περὶ πάντων, μακρὰν οὔσας πάσης διαβολῆς, καταλαλιᾶς, ψευδομαρτυρίας, φιλαργυρίας καὶ παντὸς κακοῦ, γινωσκούσας ὅτι εἰσὶ θυσιαστήριον θεοῦ καὶ ὅτι πάντα μωμοσκοπεῖται, καὶ λέληθεν αὐτὸν οὐδὲν οὔτε λογισμῶν οὔτε ἐννοιῶν οὔτε τι τῶν κρυπτῶν τῆς καρδίας.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

The Potential Meaning of SHACHAH/PROSKUNEW (Zodhiates and Gesenius)

"SHACHAH; to depress, to prostrate oneself (in homage to royalty or to God, Gen. 23:7, 37:7, 9, 10; Lev. 26:1); to bow down (Is 51:23); to crouch; to fall down, sink down; to humbly beseech; to do obeisance; to worship (1 Sam. 15:25; Jer. 7:2). SHACHAH was not used in the general sense of worship, but specifically to bow down, to prostrate oneself as an act of respect before a superior being. Joseph saw sheaves, representing his brothers, bowing down before his sheaf (Gen. 37:5, 9, 10). Ruth bowed before Boaz (Ruth 2:10). David bowed before Saul (1 Sam. 24:8). This honor was shown not only to superiors, such as kings and princes (2 Sam. 9:8) or to equals (Gen. 23:7), but especially in worshiping a deity. Therefore it meant to honor God with prayers (Gen. 22:5; 1 Sam. 1:3), even without prostrating the body (Gen. 47:31; 1 Kings 1:47). However, those who used this mode of salutation often fell upon their knees and touched the ground with their foreheads (Gen. 19:1; 48:12). In short, it was a way of showing submission (Ps 45:11) . . . See the equivalent, PROSKUNEW" (Complete Word Study: Old Testament [Spiros Zodhiates]).

"this honour [SHACHAH] was not only shown to superiors, such as kings and princes . . . but also to equals; Gen. 23:7; 37:7, 9, 10 [?]; but especially-- (2) in worshipping a deity; hence to honour God with prayers, Gen. 22:5; 1 Sam. 1:3; even without prostration of the body, Gen. 47:31; 1 Ki 1:47. (3) to do homage, to submit oneself. Ps. 45:12" (Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament).

Sunday, July 29, 2018

1 Timothy 5:17: "Double Pay"?

Greek: Οἱ καλῶς προεστῶτες πρεσβύτεροι διπλῆς τιμῆς ἀξιούσθωσαν, μάλιστα οἱ κοπιῶντες ἐν λόγῳ καὶ διδασκαλίᾳ·

One Translation: "Presbyters who preside well deserve double honor, especially those who toil in preaching and teaching" (NAB).

Gordon Fee offers the following comments:
"It is clear from verse 18 that honor (see on v. 3) here includes at least pay. But it is highly unlikely that double honor means 'double pay' (as GNB), implying either twice as much as others who do not teach or twice as much as the widows. Rather it means 'twofold honor,' the honor and respect due those in such positions as well as remuneration" (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, pp. 128-129).

From William Mounce's Word Commentary:
Paul begins the first of his four statements about elders on the same note with which he began and ended the preceding discussion of widows— honor— and in both cases honor involves money. The elders who were following his instructions and doing a good job not only were worthy of the peoples’ respect but should also be paid for their work (“double honor”). He will continue in v 18 with his reason: workers should be paid. This was Paul’s general rule (1 Cor 9: 4–6; cf. Rom 13:7) although he himself often chose to earn his own living (cf. 1 Cor 4: 12; 2 Cor 11: 7– 9; 1 Thess 2: 9; cf. 2 Thess 3: 7– 9; Acts 18:3).

Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46 (Word Biblical Commentary) (Kindle Locations 14412-14413). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46 (Word Biblical Commentary) (Kindle Locations 14409-14412). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Raymond Brown and John 3:13

Looking At Greek "Tense" From An Internal Perspective (Emic Approach)

1) The ancient Greek writers were no more hyper-grammatical than we moderns are today when uttering our own native languages. For instance, most English speakers do not stop and think about nit-picky distinctions between inceptive, customary or iterative present-tense verbs. We simply speak according to the conventions of our respective speech community and normally get our message across just fine. Similarly, ancient Greek speakers did not usually stop and ask whether the verbs they read or heard were durative presents, conative presents, or ingressive aorists (an emic perspective). We "outsiders" use these categories to make sense of what we are reading (an etic perspective). The same principle applies to Latin where one encounters ablatives of specification or datives of possession. I do not think most ancient Romans had to stop and think about what kind of ablative or dative a certain construction was. But the Greeks obviously did use tenses and aspects to communicate with other Greek speakers as the Romans employed various cases in their writing and speech.

2) I think we need to differentiate between the Bible writers' grammar and the way we perceive their use of grammar. While I believe a knowledge of aspect morphology or Aktionsart can benefit the modern-day Bible student or exegete, I do not suppose the Bible writers always employed certain verb "tenses" or aspects to make theological points. Maybe the Bible writers did not use verbal tenses to formulate theological nuances at all: that is a larger question in this debate.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Rabbinic Literature in Ancient Judaism (A Brief Primer)

Religion scholars commonly distinguish biblical from rabbinic Judaism. The primary way to differentiate one type from the other is by appealing to 70 CE as the dividing point for biblical and rabbinic Judaism, when the Romans destroyed the Jewish temple and the city of Jerusalem. The type of religion practiced before 70 CE is categorized as "biblical," whereas Judaism after 70 is deemed "rabbinic." Of course, by "rabbi," I mean a teacher belonging to the Jewish religion. Jesus' disciples impute the designation to him sometimes (John 1:49). However, after 70 CE, the Jewish rabbis developed a huge body of writings respectively known as Midrashim, the Mishnah, the Gemara, and the Talmud. I will discuss each type of rabbinic literature below. Much of this discussion is indebted to Michael Molloy's book Experiencing the World's Religions, but I do not take my source material exclusively from his book.


The Jewish Encyclopedia (1906) offers this explanation of the Hebrew word, "midrash" (singular):

A term occurring as early as II Chron. xiii. 22, xxiv. 27, though perhaps not in the sense in which it came to be used later, and denoting "exposition," "exegesis," especially that of the Scriptures. In contradistinction to literal interpretation, subsequently called "peshaṭ" (comp. Geiger's "Wiss. Zeit. Jüd. Theol." v. 244), the term "midrash" designates an exegesis which, going more deeply than the mere literal sense, attempts to penetrate into the spirit of the Scriptures, to examine the text from all sides, and thereby to derive interpretations which are not immediately obvious.

An example of midrash (exegesis): Walter Brueggemann (Theology of the Old Testament, page 326) gives Amos 9:8 as an illustration of midrash insofar as it deals with "surface irregularities" of the biblical text. That verse reads:

"Behold, the eyes of the Lord Jehovah are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; save that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith Jehovah" (ASV).


Here is one description of the Mishnah:

Compiled around 200 [CE] by Judah the Prince, the Mishnah, meaning "repetition", is the earliest authoritative body of Jewish oral law. It records the views of rabbinic sages known as the Tannaim (from the Aramaic "tena", meaning to teach).

The Torah - the first five books of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, as handed down by God to Moses - forms the basis of Jewish written law. The Mishnah supplements the Torah, but its laws lack all scriptural references.



The Gemara is a commentary on the Mishnah: it is the second part of the Talmud and the word Gemara means "supplement" or "completion"; the Gemara and Mishnah jointly comprise the Talmud. The Gemara is comprised of analysis and exposition.

Talmud (Palestinian and Babylonian):

The word "Talmud" usually denotes "doctrine" or "instruction." There is a Jerusalem Talmud (also known as the "Palestinian Talmud" and its more notable counterpart, the Babylonian Talmud. The Talmud was completed ca. 500 CE, but gradually edited over time--any deviation from the Talmud is considered to be heretical.


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Obiter Dictum Pertaining to Pantheism

Writers define the concept "pantheism" as the belief that God is everything and everything is God; or some prefer to define nature in its totality as sacred, that is, all of nature is God.

However, pantheism is not going to work as a serious Judeo-Christian doctrine of God despite the 17th century efforts of Baruch Spinoza. I'm sorry, but pantheism is less than credible in my estimation and it conflicts with Scripture (Genesis 1:1; Acts 17:24; Romans 1:20; Hebrews 11:3; Revelation 4:11). Furthermore, pantheism has unseemly implications for human nature and it abolishes the ontological distinction between the Creator and the creature. I also have trouble seeing how a contingent universe could be God. Spinoza's alternative was to posit the universe as God, say everything else is a divine mode, then declare freedom to be non-existent. We call that view, hard determinism.