Thursday, July 19, 2018

Henry Alford's Explanation of 2 Peter 1:1

2 Peter 1:1: Συμεὼν Πέτρος δοῦλος καὶ ἀπόστολος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῖς ἰσότιμον ἡμῖν λαχοῦσιν πίστιν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ Σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ·

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

From Henry Alford - Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Dating the Gospel of John (External and Internal Testimony)

It is likely that Irenaeus of Lyons and Origen of Alexandria testify to the early acceptation of GJohn and they help us to see how the Fourth Gospel might be dated. There is also Ignatius of Antioch whose date is usually given as ca. 110 CE. So he would be an earlier witness in favor of the Fourth Gospel being written ca. 98 CE and its being accepted as inspired by the Christian ecclesia. Theophilus of Antioch (ca. 120-185) and Tatian the Assyrian (ca. 110/120-180) would also be such witnesses to GJohn's canonicity.

One view of the Fourth Gospel's dating is given by Robert Mounce:

"More recently, the traditional arguments for a late date have been countered by the view that it must have been written prior to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. For John not to have mentioned this incredibly important event of Jewish history is held to be highly improbable. Carson suggests AD 80– 85 as a reasonable date."

Mounce, Robert H. John (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (Kindle Location 1233-1236). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

I am more convinced by the late dating of GJohn, but I could accept D.A. Carson's ca. 85 CE dating--it is feasible, even if the date is not correct. In a fairly recent work, Stanley Porter also offers reasons why the omission of Jerusalem's temple destruction is not the coup de grâce for a late date.

Now concerning Poimandres (part of the Hermetic literature), yes, some themes might be similar to GJohn--even some of the language. But that does not prove GJohn uses Poimandres as a polemical foil. Nor do the surface commonalities between GJohn and Poimandres demonstrate textual dependence since the subjects discussed in both works were customarily featured in the ancient world. Compare the DSS and Gnostic works.

As for dating GJohn or any other ancient document, historians don't merely rely on style. NT scholars (for example) use internal and external evidence to determine when a document might have been written. So it is not simply a matter of style, but historians look for corroboration and they explore intertextuality inter alia. There is so much to historical spadework and dating things that are written: the Catholic Encyclopedia entry for ecclesiastical history is quite enlightening.


Monday, July 16, 2018

Translating Proverbs 22:13

A question I once posed to some friends. Any input is appreciated.

Dear "Hebrew" brothers,

I have a question about the translation of Proverbs 22:13. The NWT renders the passage: "The lazy one has said: There is a lion outside! In the midst of the public squares I shall be murdered!"

Yet, the English morpheme "murder," denotes (in this particular context):

"transitive and intransitive verb kill somebody illegally: to kill another person deliberately and not in self-defense or with any other extenuating circumstance recognized by law."

The term "murder" also carries the idea of one human being killing another human with premediation or willful/criminal intent (mens rea). Therefore, would "kill" be a more fitting rendering of RTSH (ratsach) here?

Wilma A. Bailey (author of "You Shall Not Kill" or "You Shall Not Murder"?) writes:

"The word RTSH [ratsach] appears in this verse [Proverbs 22:13] in verbal form, but it cannot mean murder. Animals may indeed kill, but they do not make moral judgments" (page 13).

I will defer to you brothers who know more Hebrew than I do.

Addendum: See Insight on the Scriptures for more details. NWT 2013 renders Prov. 22:13 with "I will be killed" instead of "murdered."

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Notes for the Gospel of Mark 2:1-12

The Gospel of Mark tells a vivid and swift-moving story: it is a dynamic Gospel that's relatively short but still contains a lively narrative. Mark reports that unclean spirits and violent winds obey Jesus (1:25-27; 4:36-39). The Lord also performs miracles, but commands people not to talk about being healed (8:30). So what encouragement can we derive from this Gospel when it comes to sin and disease?

In Mark 2:4-5, four men carry a paralytic to Jesus while the Lord is teaching at a house in Capernaum, his usual center of activity. Yet the men cannot directly enter the house since the place is too crowded: there is no more room, not even around the door (Mark 2:2). Hence, these determined persons remove the roof that is above Jesus--they make an opening, then lower the paralyzed man down to Jesus. When Jesus beholds their faith, he's motivated to declare that the paralyzed man's sins are forgiven. Yet some Jewish scribes are at the house and they inwardly begin to question Jesus' authority and his ability to forgive sins. "Only God can forgive sins," they reason (Mark 2:6-7). These scribes consequently accuse Jesus of blasphemy.

Remarking on this account, Eckhard J. Schnabel observes:

Blasphemy is not only the pronouncement of the divine name (Yahweh), as in the technical rabbinic sense (m. Sanh. 7:5), but covers a wider range of offences, including idolatry, arrogant disrespect towards God or insulting God's chosen leaders.

Larry Hurtado adds these informative details about Mark 2:8ff:

Blasphemy is usually regarded as the worst sin among religious people, and so the issue is by no means a small one. The direct forgiveness given by Jesus here in 2:6 is very different from John's "preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" in 1:4, and prompts the theological complaint of these teachers in 2:7: Who can forgive sins but God alone? We should note also that the charge of blasphemy anticipates the condemnation of Jesus in 14:63–64, and it seems likely that in this first controversy scene in his Gospel, Mark intended to give the reader a foretaste of the final opposition and the issue that would lead to Jesus' execution (see note on v. 7).

Jesus knows what these men are thinking in their hearts (Mark 2:8). Admittedly, it's possible for someone to claim authority to forgive sins, but with no evidence, the person making such a pronouncement could be defrauding others. However, Jesus banishes all room for doubt by commanding the paralytic to pick up his stretcher and walk. The man thus picks up his stretcher as he proceeds to walk home; all subsequently glorify Jehovah God for the marvelous work that he's performed (Mark 2:11-12).

Jesus accomplished at least three things by performing this miracle:

A) He demonstrated that sickness is associated with sin.

B) Jesus shows that he possesses the God-given authority to forgive sins on earth and he wields this power to heal the sick.

C) Finally, the Lord provides a foregleam of how, as the rightly appointed King of God's Kingdom, he will eradicate sin and imperfection forever.

This biblical account gives us the strength to keep our eyes not on the things seen, but on the things unseen (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). If we are suffering from illness or have loved ones dealing with serious maladies, Mark's account of the healed paralytic helps us to endure as we intently consider our Lord and exemplar, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Jehovah long ago promised to heal all maladies. [Ps 103]

Sources:

Jw.org

Larry W. Hurtado, Mark, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011.

Eckhard J. Schnabel, Mark: An Introduction and Commentary, Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2017.


Image is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

John Duns Scotus and Universal Hylomorphism

Warning: Recondite Post Ahead

Hylomorphism is the philosophical thesis that posits "every physical object is a compound of matter and form" (SEP). By "matter" (hyle), Aristotle potentially denotes the structural material of X (a concrete particular). On the other hand, "form" (morphe) signifies what X is: the essence or substance of X. To use a hackneyed example, wood might be a chair's matter but its form would be chairness. A tree is material--its treeness presumably is not.

Philosophers normally trace hylomorphism back to Aristotle, but in this brief discussion, my comments about hylomorphic entities will be confined to the metaphysical framework of John Duns Scotus (1266-1308 CE), who built on Aristotle's work like many other philosophers and theologians did.

Scotus denies "universal hylomorphism," which maintained: "all substances except God were composed of matter and form, whereas God is entirely immaterial."

It is common to find God portrayed as the being, who is pure form (without matter) and thus simple, that is, God is supposed to have no spatiotemporal parts. He is thus purportedly non-spatial and timeless--existing completely outside of space and time. That is the basic claim of classical theology. So while finite beings may be constituted of form and matter, since Scotus' theology is classically conditioned, he would not say that God is a hylomorphic compound. Nevertheless, by denying universal hylomorphism, Scotus would also insist that material entities have more than one form. According to Thomas Ward, "the Subtle Doctor" contends that material things have a number of substantial forms. Furthermore, what about angels? Would Scotus believe they are pure form with no matter?

See https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/binarium/#1.1

Compare John Duns Scotus on Parts, Wholes, and Hylomorphism by Thomas M. Ward (pages 76-77).

Notice the thoughts expressed here: http://lyfaber.blogspot.com/2007/11/scotus-and-universal-hylomorphism.html


Source of Duns Scotus Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/73/John_Duns_Scotus_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1178460.jpg/220px-John_Duns_Scotus_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1178460.jpg

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Sergius Bulgakov and the Pre-Nicenes (ANF)

I once acquired a book written by an Orthodox theologian from Russia named Sergius Bulgakov (1871-1944). As I began to peruse Bulgakov's work, I was surprised at how critical he was of the "subordinationism" evidently found in the writings of Tertullian and Origen. He even talks about the "patristic failure" of theology and not only because the early writers of the church were "subordinationistic."

I do not have time to post much from Bulgakov's book which is entitled The Comforter, but I'd like to briefly relate what he says in a paragraph or two of his book.

Bulgakov insists that the church eventually conquered the pagan philosophy which it assimilated over time. However, the church did not "conquer" or transform the SOFIA TOU AIONOS without a perilous fight or "struggle," he argues:

"At times pagan philosophy infiltrated Christian theology without dissolving in it; and therefore it colored, and even distorted, this theology, having on it an inappropriate and excessive influence. Of course, this influence remained subtle and was not perceived by the theologians themselves. It was chiefly manifested not in specific doctrines but in the problematic, in the manner in which problems were approached or posed, which was what determined the paths thought was to take" (p. 5).

While I believe Bulgakov goes a little easy on the ANF and their relationship with philosophy here, he does admit that pagan philosophy "at times" seeped into Christian theology without being effectively reworked. My disagreement with him aside here, what Bulgakov states on page 6 of The Comforter is quite incisive:

"But we must also mention Stoicism, NeoPlatonism, and Aristoteleanism [in addition to Platonism], for they too color various systems of Christian theology, which therefore cannot be fully understood without taking this influence into account" (p. 6).

This is what I'm saying about Tertullian, Justin or Origen. One cannot grasp where they are coming from theologically without having some knowledge of the schools of philosophy mentioned by Bulgakov. One other point I want to make is that I believe there is great value in studying the ANF. While I primarily examine their writings from a historical perspective, I would not say that it is just an academic exercise for me. The ANF help us to see what "Christianity" believed at certain points in history. As Jesus foretold, the wheat and the weeds would exist in the field together until "the conclusion of a system of things" (NWT), so both truth and error would obtain in the congregation of Jesus Christ until this momentous distantly future age. And while the Bible is the norma normans for Witnesses, the ANF may in some ways possibly function as a norma normata for us.

I hope my last statement here is rightly construed. I am not saying that ANF teachings should determine Witness belief, but I am suggesting that the way Justin or Tertullian exegeted certain scriptural passages may give us food for thought as we try to perceive God's will (Eph. 5:15-17). As Origen was fond of saying, sometimes a drunkard stumbles upon a certain part of the truth or he/she gets a figurative "thorn" stuck in
his/her hand (as it were).

Monday, July 09, 2018

The "Dishonest Steward of Jesus' Parable in Luke 16: Scholarly Comments

καὶ ἐπῄνεσεν ὁ κύριος τὸν οἰκονόμον τῆς ἀδικίας ὅτι φρονίμως ἐποίησεν· ὅτι οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου φρονιμώτεροι ὑπὲρ τοὺς υἱοὺς τοῦ φωτὸς εἰς τὴν γενεὰν τὴν ἑαυτῶν εἰσιν. (Luke 16:8, Nestle GNT 1904)

The steward in Luke 16 is commended because he acted φρονίμως. The term usually rendered "dishonest" (even by the ESV) is ἀδικίας. Earlier, we're told that the steward is wasteful and Joel Green thinks all attempts to explain the commendation of the dishonest steward ultimately fail. But here are other thoughts on Luke 16:1-8:

James R. Edwards:
Positive appraisals of the steward run aground on the reef of v. 8, for the steward is summarily described as “a steward of unrighteousness.” Thus the actions of the steward are not upheld as models in the parable. They are expressly called adikia, which in Greek means “wickedness, injustice, wrongdoing.” Moreover, the steward is not called a “son of light,” but rather a “son of this world” (v. 8; NIV “people of this world”). What the steward is praised for is not his unrighteousness but his “shrewdness” or “prudence.” This is the key that unlocks the parable.²² The Greek word for “shrewdly,” phronimōs, occurs only this once in the Bible, although its adjectival form characterizes “the faithful and wise [Gk. phronimos] manager” in 12:42. Throughout the Wisdom literature this same adjective is upheld as the ideal of the wise and prudent person. “Shrewdness,” no less than “praise,” is a commendation in v. 8.

Mikeal C. Parsons:
The manager's actions can be interpreted in one of two ways:

1.His action is not dishonest at all. Either he is foregoing his own commission on the deal (so using what is properly his own quite legitimately and to good effect) or he is canceling out that part of the debt that is interest on the loan, thus bringing his master into line with the OT prohibitions on the charging of interest (Lev. 25:36). It is doubtful, however, that the steward's own commission would be included in the state- ment of the amount owed to the master.
2.More probably, the manager’s action effectively puts the master into a corner: the relieved debtors will be so full of gratitude and praise for the master for his unexpected generosity that either the master has to risk great bitterness by disowning the steward’s action, or he is forced, what- ever he really feels privately, to praise the steward for his action: Then the master commended the crooked manager because he had acted shrewdly (16:8a). In this sense, the story is again part of the larger stock of slave-as-trickster stories (as in the Life of Aesop), in which the shrewd slave outwits the master. These stories found their way into Jewish tradition as well (see Culpepper 1995, 310).

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible:
became he had done wisely
for himself: the wit, and not the goodness of the man is commended; which, in the language and sense of the Jews, may be thus expressed F16:

``because a man, (עושה טובה לעצמו) , "does good" for himself with "mammon" which is not his own.''
Sources:

James R. Edwards, The Gospel According to Luke, The Pillar NT Commentary, Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 2015.

Mikeal C. Parsons, Luke, Paideia Commentary on the NT, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015.

Other articles may be found here: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C34&q=luke+16+steward&btnG=





Saturday, July 07, 2018

Notes on Acts 11:26

From the NIDNTT:

NT 1. In the NT chrēmatizō has 2 distinct senses. It may be connected with chrēsmos, oracle, and with chrēmata, business. (a) In the infancy stories of Jesus, it is used of the instruction of people by revelations. It is usually in the pass., and the recipient is regarded as an instrument of God. Thus the wise men are warned in a dream not to return to Herod (Matt. 2:12). Joseph is likewise warned not to go to Judea where Archelaus ruled and so withdraws to Galilee (2:22). It was "revealed" to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Messiah (Lk. 2:26).

In a similar way, in the account of the opening of the church to the Gentiles, an angel "told" Cornelius to send for Peter to come to his house in order to speak to him (Acts 10:22). Heb. 11:7 speaks of how Noah responded "when warned about things not yet seen," and 12:25 encourages professing Christians not to ignore any message from God, for the Israelites did not escape a less serious message from Moses, "who warned them on earth" (cf. also the use of this vb. for the warning given to Moses in 8:5).

(b) In two instances chrēmatizō means to appear as something, bear a name. Thus in Antioch the disciples "were called Christians" for the first time (Acts 11:26). In Rom. 7:3, a woman "is called an adulteress" if she lives with another man while her husband is still alive.

In one of his big Acts commentaries, Craig Keener maintains that ancient Gentiles (prominent Romans in Antioch) scoffed at early followers of Jesus by deeming them "partisans of Christos," a sham king of the Jews: that seems to be how Keener understands Acts 11:26. I.e., he believes it is saying that "Christians" initially could have been a derisive term.

See https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/chrematizo

Rogers and Rogers: Inf. as subject. χρηματίσαι aor. act. inf. χρηματίζω to bear a name, to be called, to be named, to bear a title (Jos., JW, 2:488; BAGD; TWNT). Inf. as subject. Χριστιανός Christian, adherents of the Anointed One (Barrett; EDNT; TDNT; Haenchen; BC, 5:383-86).

Compare Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

1 John 2:20--All of YOU Have Knowledge?

This blog entry focuses on ὑμεῖς in 1 John 2:20.

Greek: καὶ ὑμεῖς χρίσμα ἔχετε ἀπὸ τοῦ ἁγίου· οἴδατε πάντες (WH 1881)

I.H. Marshall applies these words to "the true members [of the ecclesia] to whom John is writing." They are starkly contrasted with those who go out from the community (see 1 John 2:19). Due to their "spiritual insight," emanating from the sacred anointing (χρίσμα), these early Christians had the ability to distinguish truth from falsity. Because of the distinctions John makes here, Marshall thinks καὶ ὑμεῖς possibly ought to be rendered "And you" rather than "But you" as numerous translations do (see NIV, KJV, ESV). NWT 2013: "And you have an anointing from the holy one . . ."

Marshall appeals to BDF 442 and Schnackenburg to support the notion that καὶ can have adversative force ("and yet"). Robert W. Yarbrough (Baker Exegetical Series) concedes that John uses καὶ adversatively in 2:20; however, he thinks the conjunction appropriately ought to be rendered "but" to mark the contrast between those who leave the community and those who remain--the readers of John's missive. Furthermore, Yarbrough suggests:

The contrast is probably underscored by the second word of the verse: ὑμεῖς (hymeis, you [plural]). This often superfluous but in this case emphatic[13] pronoun has the effect of heightening the distinction between those who departed and those who remain.

Again, it is the anointing that protects members of the ecclesia even though different commentators exposit the anointing from varying perspectives. It cannot rightly be denied that whatever the anointing is, John proclaims its source is "the Holy One."

Some construe the Holy One here to be Christ (see the Cambridge Bible), but Yarbrough rightly understands the Holy One to be God himself. See Isaiah 48:17; Habakkuk 1:12; 3:3 and numerous occurrences in the Tanakh.

Karen Jobes (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary Series) offers a somewhat different understanding of 1 John 2:20: she considers the anarthrous χρίσμα to be a pun on Christos. In any event, Jobes identifies the Holy One as the Holy Spirit while acknowledging that the Father or Jesus Christ are grammatical possibilities. Finally, Jobes calls attention to the fact that οἴδατε possibly has no direct object even though most manuscripts supply πάντες/πάντα.

If the more difficult reading (without the direct object) is correct, Jobes suggests John could have been saying, "you are in the know." That is, by virtue of the anointing, you have the cognitive resources to know what's happening with respect to the false teachers.








Sunday, July 01, 2018

To "Permit a Sorceress" (Exodus 22:18 ESV)

"You shall not permit a sorceress to live" (Exodus 22:18 ESV).

KJV famously states: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."

Elizabeth Sloane claims: "The original Hebrew word used in Exodus, translated as 'witch,' is mekhashepha. But what that word actually meant when Exodus was written thousands of years ago, we cannot know, leaving us with only modern interpretations."

To say that we cannot know what mekhashepha denotes, full stop, seems wrong-headed. Maybe we cannot know with absolute certainty what the word means, but scholars can approximate what it might have denoted when the text was written. We likely have enough data to approximate the meaning.

Exodus 22:18 (LXX): φαρμακοὺς οὐ περιποιήσετε

Brenton Translation: "Ye shall not save the lives of sorcerers."

Targum Jonathan on Exodus 22: "Sons of My people Israel, whosoever practiseth witchcraft you shall not suffer to live."

Compare King Saul's prohibition against "witches" in 1 Samuel 28.

Notice also the LXX connection between the Hebrew word and the Greek, pharmakeia, which is usually translated "spiritism" in the GNT. Besides, Sloane points out, Deut. 18:10-12 issues a similar warning. So it seems clear that witchcraft explicitly conflicts with the Bible's counsel to ancient Israel and the Christian ecclesia. Yet one could reject magic/witches on purely logical grounds as well (i.e., by the light of natural reason). On the other hand, Christians have not been given authority to kill witches/sorceresses.

Victor Hamilton, Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary: "The feminine word mĕkaššēpâ ('sorceress') is the feminine counterpart of masculine mĕkaššēp in Deut. 18:10 (NIV, '[one who] engages in witchcraft'). The difference between the two scriptural references, apart from gender, is that Deut. 18 only condemns the practice of sorcery, while Exod. 22 punishes its practice with death."

Joe M. Sprinkle, The Book of the Covenant, 163:

"In including the case of the sorceress, the author is possibly indirectly condemning the 'sorcerers' of Pharaoh in Egypt who in the narrative had imitated the miracles of Moses (Exod. 7.11) and contributed to Pharaoh's obstinacy. The fact that a feminine form, 'sorceress', was chosen here has struck interpreters as curious. Phillips speculates that Exod. 22.17 is meant to fill a loophole in existing legislation where the prohibition of sorcery previously applied only to men.2 That divination of this type—the exact activities of this kind of divination are not well defined—was more commonly practiced by the female than the male in Canaan is likewise speculative: Deut. 18.10 confirms that men practiced this kind of divination. Interestingly, one of the most prominent diviners in the Bible (under the term 2i«) is the female medium of Endor (1 Sam. 28.7). It is at least possible that an author/ editor of this regulation, being aware of the story of the medium of Endor to come later in the Bible, condemned her by making the form here feminine."

None of the information presented here is meant to justify witch hunting or the Salem witch trials.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Kalam Cosmological Argument and Al-Ghazali

I. Meaning of Kalam

Merriam-Webster defines "kalam" (Arabic) as "Islamic scholastic theology."

Kalam is "a school of philosophical theology originating in the 9th century a.d., asserting the existence of God as a prime mover and the freedom of the will" (dictionary.com).

One formulation of the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA):

1) If the universe came into being, God brought it into being.
2) The universe came into being.
3) Therefore, God brought the universe into being.

See https://hrcak.srce.hr/file/243183

The KCA was developed by Arabic thinkers and scholars of the church. One Arabic (Muslim) name connected with the Kalam argument is Al-Ghazali (ca. 1058/9-1111 CE).

II. Al-Ghazali

Al-Ghazali was a notable professor of Baghdad, who also influenced the Sufi movement (a mystical version of Islam) and gave it some credence (Michael Molloy). This Muslim thinker employed Greek philosophy (chiefly logic) for apologetical reasons: he wanted to defend Islam by the use of reason. See The Columbia History of Western Philosophy. For the purposes of this discussion, it's important to remember that Al-Ghazali figures into the KCA.

See https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/misp.12000

William Lane Craig's work on the subject equally has commanded wide-ranging attention. See https://books.google.com/books?id=coZKAwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=craig+kalam+argument&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi18KLxs_TbAhUIbq0KHWPPAtIQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=craig%20kalam%20argument&f=false


III. Premises of Ghazali's Argument and the Actual Infinite

Al-Ghazali's argument seems to rest upon the premise found in Aristotle that an actual quantitative infinite cannot exist. If the universe always existed and did not have a cause, then it would be an actual quantitative infinite. However, Al-Ghazali rejects such reasoning:

"Ghazali frames his argument simply: 'Every being which begins has a cause for its beginning; now the world is a being which begins; therefore, it possesses a cause for its beginning.'" (William Lane Craig)

See http://www.cbn.com/special/apologetics/articles/Al-ghazali-argument.aspx

Craig frames the KCA thus:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause. (P1)
2. The universe began to exist. (P2)
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause. (C)

The argument is formally valid since the conclusion (C) follows deductively from the argument's premises. Whether the argument is sound (both formally valid and true) is hotly debated by theists and atheists and probably some agnostics. It is not my purpose to adjudicate the merits of the KCA: I find it compelling, but know many objections have been lodged against it. I merely want to introduce blog readers to this classical argument for God's existence and shed light on Al-Ghazali's significant contribution to the argument.

IV. Summary of Argument

Among writers that discuss the KCA, Hal Flemings' discussion is worth considering. Consult the sources below.

I have given a brief version of the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA), a line of reasoning that is compelling to me.

To conclude, some Arabic philosophers of the Middle Ages along with church thinkers reasoned that 1) The universe either had a beginning or did not have a beginning; 2) If the universe began to exist, its existence was either caused or uncaused, and 3) The cause of the universe's existence was either personal or impersonal.

J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig have argued (based on modern scientific evidence and the seeming impossibility of an extensive or quantitative infinite) that the universe did begin to exist. Therefore, since it appears everything that begins to exist has a cause, then the universe must have a cause and its cause is likely personal.

Sources for Further Reading (Intermediate to Advanced Level):

Craig, William Lane. The Kalam Cosmological Argument. Wipf and Stock, 2007.

Flemings, Hal. A Philosophical, Scientific and Theological Defense for the Notion That a God Exists. Lanham, Md: University Press of America, 2004.

Ghazali, Al. The Incoherence of the Philosophers. Brigham Young University Press, 2000.

Nowacki, Mark R. The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God. Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2007.

Wolfson, Harry Austryn. The Philosophy of the Kalam. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1976.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

James 1:27--Look After Orphans and Widows

Greek: θρησκεία καθαρὰ καὶ ἀμίαντος παρὰ τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ αὕτη ἐστίν, ἐπισκέπτεσθαι ὀρφανοὺς καὶ χήρας ἐν τῇ θλίψει αὐτῶν, ἄσπιλον ἑαυτὸν τηρεῖν ἀπὸ τοῦ κόσμου. (WH 1885)

"Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world" (WEB).

"The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world" (NWT 2013)

From Dan G. McCartney's James Commentary in the Baker Exegetical Series: The verb “to look after” (ἐπισκέπτομαι, episkeptomai) carries several possible connotations. In the Greek OT it was used to translate the Hebrew pāqad, which could mean “to visit” or “to bring justice to,” and both these meanings can also be found in the NT (e.g., Luke 1:68; Acts 15:36). It can also mean “to care for” (Heb. 2:6) or “to seek out” (Acts 6:3) or “to concern oneself with” (Acts 15:14).[5] Any of these meanings work well here. The most common meaning in the NT is “to go see a person with helpful intent” (BDAG 378). It is the motive of helpful intent, the objective of giving aid, or undertaking to look out for the interests of someone that is operative here. Given James’s concern that people do things for the needy rather than just say things to them (2:16), it is unlikely that James has only visitation or an intellectual interest in mind here.

From Scot McKnight's James Commentary in The New International Commentary on the New Testament Series:

ἐπισκέπτεσθαι, see BDAG, 378. The term is cognate with ἐπίσκοπος. The present tense indicates vivid or characteristic action and behavior. The infinitive defines αὕτη and thus functions as a complement of the predicate. It is structurally equivalent with τηρεῖν at the end of 1:27.

In What Sense Is God Infinite? Brief Reflection

Is God infinite? First of all, we have to determine what the word "infinite" means when God is the referent of the term or in what sense He is infinite. (After all, we can describe the individual marks on a ruler as "infinite" but that's not the same as divine infinity.) If God is qualitatively infinite, then it means that He is unlimited with respect to His intrinsic perfections, not necessarily with respect to space-time. On the other hand, if God is infinite in the Thomistic sense of the word, it simply means that He is absolute or boundless perfection: God is not finite. Elsewhere (in the Summa Theologica), Thomas associates God's self-subsistent ESSE with His infinity. At any rate, it is difficult to see how qualitative infinitude implies being unlimited vis-a-vis space and time SIMPLICITER.

Aquinas also writes in Summa Contra Gentiles 1.43.1:

"Infinity cannot be attributed to God on the score of multitude, seeing there is but one God. Nor on the score of quantitative extension, seeing He is incorporeal. It remains to consider whether infinity belongs to Him in point of spiritual greatness. Spiritual greatness may be either in power or in goodness (or completeness) of nature. Of these two greatnesses the one follows upon the other: for by the fact of a thing being in actuality it is capable of action. According then to the completeness of its actuality is the measure of the greatness of its power."

From the same portion of SCG, Aquinas likewise explains:

"But in God infinity can be understood negatively only, inasmuch as there is no term or limit to His perfection. And so infinity ought to be attributed to God."

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Meaning of SARX in Context

I would submit that the potential meaning of σὰρξ depends on the literary context in which it occurs. σὰρξ may refer to that soft substance which covers our bones and is permeated with blood, as one lexicographer notes. See 1 Corinthians 15:39; Revelation 17:16; 19:18, 21 for examples of this usage. Additionally, σὰρξ possibly refers to the "physical body" (1 Timothy 3:16); to "human beings" (John 1:14; 1 Peter 1:24); to "human nature, with emphasis upon the physical aspects" (i.e., physical nature) or it may denote "life" (Hebrews 5:7) according to Louw and Nida's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, 2:220. Ultimately, what "flesh" meant to ancient Greeks becomes realizable by means of context.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Markus Barth and Ephesians 5:23 (KEFALH)

The meaning "ruler over" for KEFALH does not mean that the husband could not "nourish" and cherish his wife as Christ does the congregation. The husband in his role as "head" is not supposed to be an autocrat or totalitarian ruler.

BGAD says that KEFALH, when applied metaphorically to Christ and others, denotes "one of superior rank." Louw-Nida makes similar observations. So if we are going to contravene the wisdom of the major lexica in this regard, I think we will need some powerful evidence to maintain such a contravention. Yet I am not so sure that any passage from Ephesians serve the purpose.

For instance, Markus Barth (Anchor Bible Commentary on Ephesians) makes this observation:

"In our translation [of Eph. 5:23], these words are marked as a parenthesis which complements the Messiah's title 'head' with a more specific and extensive description. To use a paraphrase again, the parenthesis says in effect, 'He, and he alone, is not only Head but also Savior'; or, 'He proves Himself Head by saying'; or 'His work of salvation includes his dominion over the church.' However, this interpretation and its variations have always been and still are challenged by a sizable group of commentators who believe that Christ is not the only one predicated as 'savior.' They hold that in a subordinate way the husband, too, is the 'savior of his wife'" (Barth, Volume 34A, pages 614-15).

While I will let others haggle over the idea of the husband being a "savior" of his wife, the main point I want to make with the quotation from Barth is that the parenthesis in Eph. 5:23 functions as a clarification of Christ's position as KEFALH of his own body, the Christian EKKLHSIA. He is KEFALH (according to this passage) insofar as he's Lord and Savior.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Monday, June 18, 2018

Translating Romans 1:11-12 (τοῦτο δέ ἐστιν)

Greek: ἐπιποθῶ γὰρ ἰδεῖν ὑμᾶς, ἵνα τι μεταδῶ χάρισμα ὑμῖν πνευματικὸν εἰς τὸ στηριχθῆναι ὑμᾶς, τοῦτο δέ ἐστιν συνπαρακληθῆναι ἐν ὑμῖν διὰ τῆς ἐν ἀλλήλοις πίστεως ὑμῶν τε καὶ ἐμοῦ. (Romans 1:11-12 WH)

NWT 2013: "For I am longing to see you, that I may impart some spiritual gift to you for you to be made firm; or, rather, that we may have an interchange of encouragement by one another's faith, both yours and mine."


ESV: "For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine."

For Romans 1:12, the Weymouth New Testament states: "in other words that while I am among you we may be mutually encouraged by one another's faith, yours and mine."

The Expositor's Greek Testament calls τοῦτο δέ ἐστιν, "an explanatory correction." The Cambridge Bible observes that Paul is using tact at 1:11-12 in order to combine sympathy with judgment: he wants to clarify that he will not only encourage the holy ones in Rome (1:7), but they will strengthen him too.

From Richard Longenecker's Romans commentary: The second statement of 1:11-12 begins with the expression τοῦτο ἔστιν (“that is”) and the postpositive connective δέ (a mildly adversative “but,” though here probably best translated simply “and”), which together signal an explication. So this second statement is meant to clarify and expand on the immediately preceding statement.

Robertson's Word Pictures: That is (τουτο δε εστιν). "An explanatory correction" (Denney). The δε should not be ignored. Instead of saying that he had a spiritual gift for them, he wishes to add that they also have one for him.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Brief Comment on Mark 12:41-44 and Widows in Kings

Jesus speaks of the widow from Zarephath at Luke 4:25-26 (In fact, he insists there were many widows in Israel at the time). See 1 Kings 17:7-24; Proverbs 19:17.

I cannot help but surmise that the Zarephath widow and the widow in 2 Kings 4:1-7 possibly background (influence/provide a setting for) Luke 21:1-4 and, by extension, Mark 12:41-44. I'm only making a suggestion: it could be wrong. However, I've read similar ideas in commentaries or journal articles that deal with the unnamed Markan/Lukan widow. It certainly would not be a stretch to discern similarities between Kings and Mark/Luke--particularly the example in 1 Kings.

Friday, June 15, 2018

More Notes on the Widow Who Gave Two Mites (Mark 12:41-44)

Jehovah's righteousness is partly reflected when he shows appreciation for the little things that we do (Hebrews 6:10). Yes, even those with few material possessions can still honor Jehovah with their valuable things (Proverbs 3:9-10) and he will appreciate what they do in his behalf. Mark 12:41-44 bears out this point.

In that account, we discover that Jesus observed numerous wealthy individuals dropping money into the treasury chests for the Jewish temple--these receptacles apparently were shaped like trumpets or horns and they contained small openings at the top. Many sources confirm this understanding of the matter including Alfred Edersheim's research on the ancient Jewish temple.

Worshipers of Jehovah (YHWH) would put various offerings into these treasury chests; some rabbinical sources report that thirteen treasury chests might have been distributed around the walls of the Court of the Women. These smaller treasury chests likely were distinct from a larger receptacle into which money from the other treasury chests was put (NWT Study Bible Notes).

While the wealthy were contributing what appeared to be grandiose valuable things, since they were giving many copper coins, an unnamed widow of scanty means just contributed "two small coins of very little value," literally two lepta (the plural form of the Greek word, lepton).

The lepton's value was 1/128th the value of a denarius, which amounted to a day's wage in the first century CE: lepta were apparently the smallest copper or bronze coins used in ancient Israel. Some Bible translations render Mark 12:42 with the word "mites" to describe her contribution. Imagine that! The widow gave currency that amounted to 1/128th the value of a day's wage--an amount which was monetarily insignificant since two coins would have been 1/64th the value of a denarius.

To emphasize the small amount given by the widow, Mark not only reports that she contributed two little coins, but he stresses that the money was of "very little value."

The NWT study Bible note explains that the expression, "of very little value" derived from the Greek means, "which is a quadrans." The Greek word that's equivalent to the Latin term, quadrans, refers to a Roman copper or bronze coin valued at 1/64th the value of a denarius. In other words, two lepta equal a quadrans. So Mark used currency terminology familiar to the Romans, but these words would have been familiar to his Jewish readers too.

It is evident that the widow's contribution was extremely small in monetary value. Nevertheless, how did Jehovah and Jesus view her small gift?

Read Mark 12:43.

It's interesting that the widow put more money in the treasury chests than all the coins placed there by the wealthy. Why was her contribution more valuable? Some wealthy people likely offered contributions in order to be viewed as righteous and some possibly were ostentatious. Although the widow offered money of little value in a material sense, note how Jehovah considered her gift, according to Mark 12:44:

"For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on" (ESV).

The wealthy contributed funds out of their surplus, but the widow gave to Jehovah from her "want" (poverty). She completely relied on God by going out of her way to give. Hence, the widow's contribution was priceless in Jehovah's eyes: it was more valuable than all the contributions of the wealthy combined.

In his Mark commentary, Eckhard J. Schnabel writes: "The concluding phrase all she had to live on (lit. 'her entire life') may mean that after she had donated two perutot, she was without the ability to pay for her next meal. She is an example of what it means to fulfil the greatest commandment: loving God with one's entire self (12:29–32)".

This account of the unnamed widow helps us to see that whether we're able to give little or much, Jehovah God does not forget our work and the love we demonstrate for his beauteous name.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Daniel Lloyd's "Ontological Subordination in Novatian" (Link)

Please see https://epublications.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1183&context=dissertations_mu

Lloyd references my book "Angelomorphic Christology" a few times and, more importantly, he interacts with some of its contents. Aside from these points, his dissertation is important for patristic studies.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Terms of Rhetoric for Greek (Hypallage)

1) Hypallage-"reversal of the syntactic relation of two words (as in 'her beauty's face')." See https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/hypallage

This syntactic reversal is a form of hyperbaton and known by another name, transferred epithet.

Syntax is concerned with word order or what one book calls, "sentence construction."

E.W. Bullinger gives these two examples of hypallage and many others:

Galatians 6:1.-"The spirit of meekness": i.e., meekness of spirit.

Ephesians 1:9.-"The mystery of His will."

For the second example, Bullinger explains:

The word μυστήριον (musteerion) rendered mystery always means a secret. And here it is the Secret pertaining to God's purpose: i.e., the Secret which He hath purposed; or, by the figure Hypallage, His Secret purpose, because the noun in regimen is the word qualified instead of the word which qualifies.

On the other hand, Georg Benedikt Winer strenuously attempts to refute the notion that any genuine examples of hypallage appear in the Greek New Testament. He thinks no example normally offered by commentators is unquestionable including Ephesians 2:2; 3:2.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Victor Hamilton and Exodus 34:29

Three times (vv. 29, 30, 35) this unit uses the verb qāran for Moses’s face “radiating light” or “glowing.” All three of these occurrences are in the Qal stem. The only other occurrence of this verb is once in the Hiphil, Ps. 69:31 [32]: NIV, “This will please the LORD more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns [maqrin, Hiphil participle, and so better “developing its horns”] and hoofs.” The uncommon verb qāran provides the common related noun qeren which means “a horn.” It occurs about a hundred times in the Bible, and refers to: (1) a projection on an altar, the altar's horns; (2) the horn of an animal; (3) as a metaphor for pride and vanity or for strength. It is this cognate connection between the verb qāran and the noun qeren that has led to the idea that Moses's face developed horns, or hornlike phenomena that emanated from his face. Thus, among the ancient versions, LXX translates the verb nonliterally, Moses's face “shone” (dedoxastai), while Vulgate translates more literally, Moses's face “was horned,” that is, v. 29, “he knew not that his face was horned [ignorabat quad cornuta esset facies sua].” I shall have more to say on this in the commentary section. See Kasher (1997), who documents instances in postbiblical literature of a “horned” Moses, and Propp (1987), who debates whether the biblical text suggests Moses’s face was “transfigured” or “disfigured,” and who opts for the latter.

Hamilton, Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary. Published by Baker Academic.

Philippians 1:19, 27; 4:23 and God's Holy Spirit

I submit that both Phil. 1:27 and 4:23 possibly do not refer to the holy spirit. But here's one thing to think about--there are a number of factors that we must take into consideration when trying to understand PNEUMATOS in Phil. 1:19, 27. Besides looking at the macrostructure of Philippians, we must also consider the cotext of Phil. 1:19 and examine the unit it composes. Moises Silva lays out the subunits of Phil. 1 as follows:

Letter opening-Phil. 1:1, 2
Thanksgiving-Phil. 1:3-8
Expansion-Phil. 1:6-8
Prayer-Phil. 1:9-11
Paul's Missionary Report-Phil. 1:12-26 etc.

There is more detail in Silva's commentary on this matter, but this outline might suffice for now. My objective in posting the structure of the first 26 verses of Philippians is to show which unit we should consider when trying to exegete 1:19.

Phil. 1:27 actually belongs to a different textual unit. Now this does not mean that 1:27 has no bearing on 1:19; nevertheless, I think that we should be careful before attempting to interpret 1:19 through the prism of 1:27. The same warning could apply to Phil. 2:1; 3:3, and 4:23.

A number of points in the GNT and Phil. 1:19 make me think that Paul is speaking of the holy spirit when he talks about "the spirit of Jesus Christ."

(1) Paul proclaims that both the prayers of the brothers and sisters as well as
the spirit of Jesus will "result in his deliverance" (Emphatic Diaglott) or
his "salvation" (NWT). Scholars are not certain whether the SWTHRIAN mentioned
refers to eternal salvation, deliverance from prison, or vindication in a
legal sense. But regardless of what "salvation" Paul is talking about, he
most certainly has in mind his eternal destiny as well as a possible release
from prison (this may be an example of deliberate ambiguity). But how would
this "release" come about? Would it happen through the mental disposition of
Christ manifested by Paul or through the holy spirit that God had vouchsafed to
Christ? In answer to this question, notice that Paul associates the spirit of
Jesus with the prayers of the first-century brothers and sisters in Philippi
(Cf. Acts 4:23-31).

But why didn't Paul call the "spirit of Jesus Christ" God's spirit if they
are in fact one and the same? Well, remember when Paul reports that
he entreated the Lord three times, begging God to remove a thorn that
evidently plagued Paul for quite some time (2 Cor. 12:8). What was the result
of Paul's prayer? Jehovah told him that His power was perfected in Paul's
weakness. Consequently, the apostle said that he would boast in his weakness, "so
that the POWER of the Anointed" would "abide upon him" (2 Cor. 12:9 Emphatic Diaglott).
Notice that DUNAMIS is first described as God's power, then it is called "the
POWER of the Anointed" (Christ). But how would Paul be infused with the power
of the Anointed? Acts 1:8; 10:38; Eph. 3:16ff all indicate that the power of
God is communicated via His holy spirit. I therefore conclude that Paul
believed that God and Christ work so closely together when imbuing believers
with the holy spirit--as one WT pointed out--that to desire the spirit of
Jesus Christ is to desire the spirit of God.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Is Eternal Life A Present Possession? Johannine Writings and Greek Aspect

An interlocutor from days of yore contends that eternal life is a possession of the believer in the here-and-now (hic et nunc). Personally I have no disagreement with him as long as he is not interpreting present "eternal life" to mean "eternal security." He never really explained this point, so I am therefore not sure what my partner in dialogue means by eternal life being a present possession of the Christian believer. However, I notice that he seems to rely on some passages in the Johannine corpus. Two that I will cite are John 3:36 and 1 John 5:12:

hO PISTEUWN EIS TON hUION EXEI ZWHN AIWNION hO DE APEIQWN TWi hUIWi OUK OYETAI ZWHN ALL' hH ORGH TOU QEOU MENEI EP' AUTON (Jn. 3:36).

hO EXWN TON hUION EXEI THN ZWHN hO MH EXWN; hO MH EXWN TONN hUION TOU QEOU THN ZWHN OUK EXEI (1 Jn. 5:12).

One point that immediately comes to my mind when reading these verses is that one must "have" (EXEI) the Son in order to see (eternal) life. EXEI is the present indicative active 3rd-person singular form of the verb EXW ("to have or hold"). It could signify continuous action in both Johannine verses. Nevertheless, does it?

When discussing the controversial passage found in 1 Jn. 3:9, Buist M. Fanning concludes that 1 Jn. 3:4-10 is not discussing habitual or customary sin but should be interpreted in a generic or gnomic manner (Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek, 217). But he adds:

"Again, the possibility of a habitual sense cannot be ruled out entirely (cf. Matt. 7:17, John 3:36), but it seems less likely. On purely grammatical grounds, therefore, the absolute interpretation of 1 John 3:4-10 is to be preferred" (217).

Note that while Fanning emphatically denies 1 John 3:4-10 deals with the habitual sinning of a Christian believer or godly believers, he alternately appears to think that Mt. 7:17 and Jn. 3:36 do delineate continuous action. Fanning evidently clarifies his terminology on page 210 of Verbal Aspect after citing Jn. 3:36 again. He explains:

"The gnomic present can be viewed as the final step on the continuum which moves from very narrow reference(instantaneous present), to narrow reference (descriptive present), over to wider reference (customary present), and finally to widest reference (gnomic present). Thus, the gnomic present is similar to the customary present in that they both express generalized continuing or repeated occurrence (this is the aspect-meaning), but the gnomic use is even more general and indefinite, even less focused on particular people and restricted circumstances."

It is not important to understand what Fanning is saying to the nth detail. I quote him to show that 1 Jn. 3:4-10, according to Fanning and others, could potentially be delineating habitual action by its use of the present tense (imperfective aspect), although it's possible that the present does not signify continuous action. Yet Fanning appears to sense a difference aspectual nuance between Mt. 7:17, Jn. 3:36 and 1 Jn. 3:9. His work on aspect thus allows for the possibility that Jn 3:36
and 1 Jn 5:12 may well be saying that the one who
*continually* obeys the Son NOW 'has' life. But one
must continue in such obedience in order to retain the
present possession that JWs refer to as a 'saved
state'.

However one construes the present in Jn 3:36, it seems that Jesus was not teaching eternal security when he encouraged implicit obedience to the Son. I thus conclude that eternal life is a present posession, mutatis mutandis.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Heidegger, Greek Wisdom, and the Soul

Robert Bowman once suggested that we should agree with the ancient Greeks, when they are "correct" about some theological or philosophical subject (like the dichotomy of soul and body). But when they are wrong, Rob asserts, we should accordingly reject the findings of Greek wisdom (SOFIA).

I too believe that accurate knowledge (EPIGNWSIS) is accurate knowledge: it doesn't matter who the source of such knowledge is. If a teaching is correct--then it is correct. But is this the case when it comes to the human YUXH? Is this true of most ancient Greek ideas? Were they on the mark when it came to formulating ontological ideas about Being qua Being?

Plato taught that the soul is tripartite and immortal. According to this ancient Greek, the soul has always existed (in some transcendent realm prior to one's earthly birth) and will continue to exist after death. In fact, Plato taught that death is a release for the soul. Thus, when an individual dies, the soul gains its long awaited release from the body. Such a philosophy tends to denigrate the physical and disproportionately elevates the so-called "spiritual" side of humans (Wolterstorff). Furthermore, Plato's notion of the soul is not in keeping with either Jewish or Christian teaching (Gen. 2:7; 1 Cor. 15:45). The same principle applies to other ancient Greek philosophers. Therefore, for the most part, we cannot rely on Greek wisdom to formulate an accurate concept of humanity. (As Paul observed in 1 Cor. 1:22ff, the Greeks sought wisdom, yet through such SOFIA, they could not come to know God.) Indeed, any THEOLOGIA conceived by humans is not worthy of our credence. So in the end, I would conclude that we ought to be very careful about accepting what the Greeks taught as fact or trying to draw strict correlations between what the Greeks thought and what the Bible teaches. The YUXH of Plato or Heraclitus is not the YUXH of the apostle Paul.

Both Nicholas Wolterstorff and Martin Heidegger have issued timely warnings about mixing Greek SOFIA with the SOFIA TOU QEOU. Interestingly, Heidegger writes:

"The SOFIA TOU KOSMOU [wisdom of the world], however, is that which, according to [1 Cor. 1:22], the hELLHNES ZHTOUSIN, the Greeks seek. Aristotle even calls the PRWTH FILOSOFIA (philosophy proper) quite specifically ZHTOUMENH--what is sought. Will Christian theology make up its mind one day to take seriously the word of the apostle and thus also the conception of philosophy as foolishness?" (Primary Readings in Philosophy for Understanding Theology, P. 259. Edited by Diogenes Allen and Eric O. Springsted).

Wise words from the German thinker who made thinking about the Being (Dasein) of beings his life's work.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Romans 8:23 Comment (Heinrich Meyer)

From Meyer's NT Commentary: epexegesis: (namely) the redemption of our body from all the defects of its earthly condition; through which redemption it shall be glorified into the σῶμα ἄφθαρτον similar to the glorified body of Christ (Php 3:21; 2 Corinthians 5:2 ff.; 1 Corinthians 15:51), or shall be raised up as such, in case of our not surviving till the Parousia (1 Corinthians 15:42 ff.). So, in substance (ΤΟῦ ΣΏΜ. as gen. subj.), Chrysostom and other Fathers (in Suicer, Thes. I. p. 463), Beza, Grotius, Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, and most modern expositors. On the other hand, Erasmus, Clericus, and others, including Reiche, Fritzsche, Krehl, and Ewald, take it as: redemption from the body. This is linguistically admissible (Hebrews 9:15); we should thus have to refer it, not to death, but to deliverance from this earthly body through the reception of the immortal and glorious body at the Parousia, 1 Corinthians 15:51. But in that case Paul must have added to τοῦ σώματ. ἡμῶν a qualitative more precise definition, as in Php 3:21 Remark.

See also Hans Lietzmann, An die Romer, page 85.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Revelation 12:10 and the "Accuser"

Greek: καὶ ἤκουσα φωνὴν μεγάλην ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ λέγουσαν Ἄρτι ἐγένετο ἡ σωτηρία καὶ ἡ δύναμις καὶ ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ ἐξουσία τοῦ Χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ, ὅτι ἐβλήθη ὁ κατήγωρ τῶν ἀδελφῶν ἡμῶν, ὁ κατηγορῶν αὐτοὺς ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡμῶν ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτός.

The word translated "accuser" in Revelation 12:10 is κατήγωρ: the term is actually used of someone who brings a legal charge before a judge in court. Compare Zechariah 3:1-5.

From Vincent's Word Studies: "The correct form of the Greek for accuser is a transcript of the Rabbinical Hebrew, κατήγωρ. The Rabbins had a corresponding term συνήγωρ for Michael, as the advocate of God's people. The phrase is applied to Satan nowhere else in the New Testament."

From Jurgen Roloff's Revelation commentary: It is surprising that Satan is characterized here with a word like "accuser" (Gr. kategor), which appears nowhere else in the New Testament. In terms of the history of the motif this forms an association with the notion of Satan as the accuser of human beings before the divine tribunal (Job 1:9-11, 2:4-5: Zech. 3:1). This does not mean that the dominant view of Satan in this chapter as God's adversary should be minimized, but rather that a particular aspect of his activity is highlighted: his aim is to destroy the relationship of God with human beings.

Jurgen Roloff. Revelation (Continental Commentary Series) (Kindle Locations 2201-2203). Kindle Edition.

Jurgen Roloff. Revelation (Continental Commentary Series) (Kindle Location 2200). Kindle Edition.


William Mounce's definition for κατήγωρ: "accuser, Rev. 12:10, a barbarous form for κατήγορος*"


SEISMOS in the Gospel of Matthew (Quotes from Blomberg)

Regarding Matthew 8:23-25:

"As commonly happened, a sudden squall arises on the Sea of Galilee. Matthew, however, calls the storm a seismos (literally, earthquake), a term used for apocalyptic upheavals (cf. 24:7; 27:54; 28:2), often with preternatural overtones. This seems to be no ordinary storm but one in which Satan is attacking. The boat is in danger of being swamped, and lives are at risk."

Blomberg, Craig L. Matthew: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary) (p. 149). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Blomberg, Craig L. Matthew: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary) (p. 149). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

EGF: I don't necessarily agree with the claim that the "seismos" originated with Satan although it could have (Job 1:19). The main point I want to make is what seismos might signify in Matthew's Gospel.

Regarding Matthew 21:10-11:

"The whole procession has a powerful impact on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, even though they are used to huge crowds of festival pilgrims. 'Stirred' is rather mild for eseisth (used of earthquakes and apocalyptic upheavals; 27:51; Rev 6:13). The NEB's 'wild with excitement' and Weymouth's 'was thrown into commotion' both capture the sense better."

Blomberg, Craig L. Matthew: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary) (p. 313). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Blomberg, Craig L. Matthew: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary) (p. 313). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Continuing with Blomberg's remarks:

"Famine ravaged Judea, as predicted in Acts 11:27-30, datable to ca. A.D. 45-47 by Josephus, Ant. 20.51-53. Earthquakes shook Laodicea in A.D. 60-61 and Pompeii in A.D. 62 (cf. also Acts 16:26)."

Blomberg, Craig L. Matthew: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary) (p. 356). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Blomberg, Craig L. Matthew: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary) (p. 356). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

EGF: Blomberg makes remarks throughout his commentary concerning other earthquakes (seismoi) that are mentioned by Matthew.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Divine Institutes 1.7 (Lactantius Discusses "God Is Love")

Can any one suspect that this is spoken of Jupiter, who had both a mother and a name? Why should I say that Mercury, that thrice greatest, of whom I have made mention above, not only speaks of God as “without a mother,” as Apollo does, but also as “without a father,” because He has no origin from any other source but Himself? For He cannot be produced from any one, who Himself produced all things. I have, as I think, sufficiently taught by arguments, and confirmed by witnesses, that which is sufficiently plain by itself, that there is one only King of the universe, one Father, one God.

But perchance some one may ask of us the same question which Hortensius asks in Cicero: If God is one only, what solitude can be happy? As though we, in asserting that He is one, say that He is desolate and solitary. Undoubtedly He has ministers, whom we call messengers. And that is true, which I have before related, that Seneca said in his Exhortations that God produced ministers of His kingdom. But these are neither gods, nor do they wish to be called gods or to be worshipped, inasmuch as they do nothing but execute the command and will of God. Nor, however, are they gods who are worshipped in common, whose number is small and fixed. But if the worshippers of the gods think that they worship those beings whom we call the ministers of the Supreme God, there is no reason why they should envy us who say that there is one God, and deny that there are many. If a multitude of gods delights them, we do not speak of twelve, or three hundred and sixty-five as Orpheus did; but we convict them of innumerable errors on the other side, in thinking that they are so few. Let them know, however, by what name they ought to be called, lest they do injury to the true God, whose name they set forth, while they assign it to more than one. Let them believe their own Apollo, who in that same response took away from the other gods their name, as he took away the dominion from Jupiter. For the third verse shows that the ministers of God ought not to be called gods, but angels.

See http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf07.iii.ii.i.viii.html#iii.ii.i.viii-p4.1

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Brief Reflections About ALHQINOS/ALHQHS

Brief thoughts on ALHQINOS/ALHQHS:

Louw-Nida point out that ALHQHS and ALHQINOS may possibly denote that which pertains to actual existence, "real, really, true, truly." See John 6:55.

This source comments on John 17:3 (in semantic domain 70.3), noting that this passage could be rendered "that they may know you, the only one who is really God." We are then told that the rendering "the only one who is really God" could be understood in some languages as "the only God who exists" or "who is God and there are no other gods."

In semantic domain 72.1 of Louw-Nida, we also read ALHQHS may signify: "pertaining to being in accordance with historical fact" or "true, truth." Cf. John 4:18. Compare John's use of ALHQINHOS (ALHQINH) in John 19:35.

LSJ observes that ALHQHS (the Doric form is ALAQHS) can mean "unconcealed, true, real" with its opposite being "false" or "apparent." On the other hand, in classical Greek, ALHQINOS can mean "agreeable to truth." When used of persons, it may denote "truthful, trusty"; when employed with respect to things, "true, genuine."

I would encourage our brothers and sisters on this site to study the entry for ALHQINOS in BDAG. It is very informative, especially if one also consults the entry for MONOS in BDAG.

Scriptures to Help Quell Anxiety

Psalm 23:1-6; 41:1-3; 55:22; 68:5, 19-20; 94:19

Isaiah 41:10, 12-14

Matthew 6:25-34

Luke 12:22-34

2 Corinthians 1:1-10; 4:7-9, 16-18 7:6-7

Ephesians 3:20

Philippians 4:6-7, 19-20

1 Peter 5:6-7

Hebrews 13:5-6

Friday, June 01, 2018

Mark 12:44 Notes

Greek: πάντες γὰρ ἐκ τοῦ περισσεύοντος αὐτοῖς ἔβαλον, αὕτη δὲ ἐκ τῆς ὑστερήσεως αὐτῆς πάντα ὅσα εἶχεν ἔβαλεν ὅλον τὸν βίον αὐτῆς.

Zerwick's Grammatical Analysis: περισσεύοντος-participle, "be in excess, abound"

τοῦ περισσεύοντος αὐτοῖς-"of that which abounds to them" or "out of their surplus"

τῆς ὑστερήσεως-"want, poverty"

εἶχεν-imperfect active indicative 3rd-person singular of ἔχω.

τὸν βίον-"physical life, livelihood"

Rogers and Rogers:

περισσεύοντος-present active participle used as a substantive, "to be in abundance"

ὑστερήσεως-genitive singular feminine of ὑστέρησις, "deficiency, want, need."

εἶχεν-"to have, to possess."

βίον-accusative singular masculine of βίος, "living, livelihood, the means by which life is sustained"

The Expositor's Greek Testament: Mark 12:44.— ἐκ τῆς ὑστερήσεως, from her state of want, cf. on Lk.— ὑστέρησις, here and in Philippians 4:11.— πάντα ὅσα: this not visible to the eye; divined by the mind, but firmly believed to be true, as appears from the repetition of the statement in another form.— ὅλον τὸν βίον, her whole means of life. For the use of βίος in this sense vide Luke 8:43; Luke 15:12; Luke 15:30; similarly in classics.

NIDNTT:

ὕστερος-(a) The cognate nouns hysterēma and hysterēsis are interchangeable (cf. Mk. 12:44 with Lk. 21:4). Jesus contrasts the gifts to the temple treasury of the wealthy, who give from their abundance, with the gift of an impoverished widow, who gives everything she has. In this context either noun means want in general, i.e., poverty (cf. a similar contrast in 2 Cor. 8:14; 9:12). The general sense of need or lack is evident in Paul's response to the gift he received from Philippi. He does not complain of "living . . . in want," for he has learned the secret of self-sufficiency in every circumstance (Phil 4:11-12).

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Aquinas, the Resurrection from the Dead, and Body Members

Thomas Aquinas believes that all of our body members will be restored in the resurrection, even if they are not used in the "afterlife." E.g., our kidneys, blood vessels, and genitalia. Now this restoration would present no problem for the righteous inhabiting the new earthly society of God's making (Rev. 21:1-5), but why heavenly creatures would have such members seems hard to comprehend. Of course, the pushback from the opposing side is that heaven and earth will unite one day--also that no one is going to heaven. But if some will be in heaven, as I believe, then human body parts appear to be redundant.

Reminds me of what one man said years ago in the field ministry: since flesh and blood cannot enter heaven, those who inherit the heavenly kingdom will just have fleshly bodies with no blood coursing through their veins. In any event, here are the sections from Aquinas:

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/aquinas/summa.XP_Q80_A1.html

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/aquinas/summa.TP_Q54_A3.html

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Mark 12:43 Notes

Greek: καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἡ χήρα αὕτη ἡ πτωχὴ πλεῖον πάντων ἔβαλεν τῶν βαλλόντων εἰς τὸ γαζοφυλάκιον· (SBLGNT)

Zerwick's Grammatical Analysis: προσκαλεσάμενος is the aorist middle participle nominative singular masculine of προσκαλέω (Mounce: "to call to one's self, summon").

πάντων ἔβαλεν τῶν βαλλόντων-"all those throwing," present participle for an imperfect.

Vincent's Word Studies: This poor widow (ἡ χήρα αὕτη ἡ πτωχὴ):

The Greek order is very suggestive, forming a kind of climax: this window, the poor one, or and she poor.

Constable's Notes: "The poor widow's offering was worth more than the others, because it cost her more to give it, and most of all because she gave it willingly. Since she gave two coins, she could have kept one for herself. Her sacrifice expressed her love for God and her trust in God to sustain her (cf. 1 Kings 17:8-16)."

NIDNTT: γαζοφυλάκιον-"In Mk. 12:41, 43 and Lk. 21:1, gazophylakion refers to one of the thirteen trumpet-shaped collection boxes in the temple, into which the Jews (including the widow lady noticed by Jesus) threw coins. These were marked to indicate the use to which the funds were put. Jn. 8:20 refers to the gazophylakion as the place where Jesus taught in the temple precincts; he was probably standing in the Court of the Women, where the collection boxes were placed."

Monday, May 28, 2018

Mark 12:42 Notes

Greek: καὶ ἐλθοῦσα μία χήρα πτωχὴ ἔβαλεν λεπτὰ δύο, ὅ ἐστιν κοδράντης. (WH)

Zerwick's Grammatical Analysis: ἐλθοῦσα-aorist participle feminine of ἔρχομαι; in this verse, Mark uses μία for τίς.

πτωχὴ-"poor"

ἔβαλεν-aorist active indicative of βάλλω.

λεπτόν-a small coin.

EGF: κοδράντης-The lepton's value was 1/128th the value of a denarius, which amounted to a day's wage in the Roman world. So it would take one hundred twenty eight lepta to equal one denarius.

A lepton was apparently the smallest copper or bronze coin used in ancient Israel. Some Bible translations render Mark 12:42 with the word "mites" to describe the widow's contribution. The widow gave currency that amounted to 1/128th the value of a day's wage--an amount which was monetarily insignificant; two coins thus would have been 1/64th the value of a denarius. (Based on the NWT Study Bible Notes)

Larry Hurtado (Mark): 12:42 / Two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny: The two coins of the widow were the leptons, the smallest denomination in coinage in circulation at the time. The two coins together equaled a penny (Greek, a kodrantes), an almost equally insignificant coin. (See “Money,” IDB, vol. 3, pp. 423–35, esp. p. 428). If this amount was the widow’s whole economic means (all she had to live on, v. 44), she was indeed poor!

Carl Conrad Translation of Mark 12:42: "Then one poor widow came and put in two tiny bits of small change, a pittance."

Byington (The Bible in Living English): "And one poor widow came and dropped in two mites, that is, a farthing."

NET Notes: These two small copper coins were lepta (sing. “lepton”), the smallest and least valuable coins in circulation in Palestine, worth one-half of a quadrans or 1/128 of a denarius, or about six minutes of an average daily wage. This was next to nothing in value.

Further Reading: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Adam_Kubis2/publication/303942909_The_Poor_Widow's_Mites_A_Contextual_Reading_of_Mark_1241-44/links/575fcb9908ae414b8e54a5a6.pdf

http://www.bavlionline.org/articles/the_metrology_of_judaean_small_bronze_coins_david_hendin.pdf

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Mark 12:41 Notes

Greek: Καὶ καθίσας κατέναντι τοῦ γαζοφυλακίου ἐθεώρει πῶς ὁ ὄχλος βάλλει χαλκὸν εἰς τὸ γαζοφυλάκιον· καὶ πολλοὶ πλούσιοι ἔβαλλον πολλά·

Zerwick's Grammatical Analysis: καθίσας is an aorist participle ("he sat down . . . and"); κατέναντι ("opposite"), used with the genitive phrase τοῦ γαζοφυλακίου.

γαζοφυλακίου ("treasury, where boxes were put out to receive the coins of offerers")

βάλλει is present indicative active 3rd-person singular ("tense of [direct] speech")

EGF: I suggest that βάλλει might be rendered "throw, cast, drop"; ESV translates the verb "put"; NWT uses "dropping."

Rogers and Rogers: γαζοφυλακίου-"Probably a reference to the thirteen trumpet-like chests placed at intervals around the walls of the court of the women in the Herodian temple"

χαλκὸν-"copper, brass, bronze money."

πλούσιοι-"rich, very rich."

ἔβαλλον (imperfect indicative active)-"they were repeatedly casting."

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Notes on Matthew 10:29

Text: OUXI DUO STROUQIA ASSARIOU PWLEITAI KAI hEN EX AUTWN OU PESEITAI EPI THN GHN ANEU TOU PATROS hUMWN.

OUXI, in a manner analogous to the Latin NONNE, introduces a question with the expectation that the answer will be "yes." See Zerwick and Grosvenor, page 31.

ASSARIOU-diminutive form of Latin AS (= 1/16th denarius or less than a half hour's wage).

ASSARIOU is a genitive of price (Zerwick-Grosvenor).

Genitive of price-"The genitive substantive specifies the price paid for or value assessed for the word to which it is related. This is relatively rare in the NT" (Daniel B. Wallace, GGBB, page 122).

Brooks and Winbery use the terminology "adverbial genitive of measure" which includes the genitive of price or genitive of measure.

ANEU TOU PATROS hUMWN is an example of the substantive with an adverbial preposition (see Brooks and Winbery,
22).

KAI-"And yet."

NET Bible translates the latter portion of this verse:
"Yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from
your Father's will."

The NET Bible footnote, however, states: "Or 'to the
ground without the knowledge and consent of your
Father.'"

"nonne duo passeres asse veneunt et unus ex illis non cadet super terram sine Patre vestro" (Matthew 10:29 Biblia Sacra Vulgata).

Vincent's Word Studies:

Sparrows (στρουθία)

"The word is a diminutive, little sparrows, and carries with it a touch of tenderness. At the present day, in the markets of Jerusalem and Jaffa, long strings of little birds, sparrows and larks, are offered for sale, trussed on long wooden skewers. Edersheim thinks that Jesus may have had reference to the two sparrows which, according to the Rabbins, were used in the ceremonial of purification from leprosy (Leviticus 14:49-54)."

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

1 Timothy 5:23: Brief Notes

I like William Mounce's Pastoral Letters commentary in the Word series, but have quibbles with him over some issues. 1 Timothy 5:23 reads:

"Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities" (KJV).

Greek (SBLGNT): μηκέτι ὑδροπότει, ἀλλὰ οἴνῳ ὀλίγῳ χρῶ διὰ τὸν στόμαχον καὶ τὰς πυκνάς σου ἀσθενείας.

Mounce reasons that Paul's words to Timothy deal with drinking wine for medicinal purposes only--something like an "elixir" (a panacea) that cures colds and about everything else. But do we have reason to believe the use of wine in this verse is that circumscribed?

It has been observed that Paul was probably quoting a notable proverb from antiquity. After all, the ancients seem to have extolled the virtues of wine in moderation: they recognized its healing properties when used moderately. However, is 1 Timothy 5:23 limiting temperate drinking (particularly, the imbibing of wine) to health purposes alone? Here are some thoughts culled from biblegateway although I hope to build on these sources later:

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: "use a little wine. Most people drank wine with their meals. It was watered down (often about two parts water to one part wine), and not distilled to a higher than natural degree of fermentation. Some have suggested that Timothy was abstaining from wine to avoid the criticism of the false teachers (4:3). your stomach. Wine was often used to settle stomachs and was thought to prevent dysentery; it could be used to disinfect water. Some restorative diets recommended water, others wine; wine was also used in some remedies (i.e., medicinally)."

Expositor's Bible Commentary (Abridged Edition): New Testament: Apparently for medicinal purposes, Timothy is told not to restrict himself to drinking water but to "use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses." The word for wine is sometimes used in LXX for unfermented grape juice. Furthermore, it is generally agreed that the wine of Jesus' day was usually rather weak and, especially among the Jews, often diluted with water. Moreover, safe drinking water was not always readily available in those eastern countries.

Asbury Bible Commentary: "A little wine indicates moderation and probably is a comment on the local water. Perhaps Timothy may be interpreting purity more physically/ascetically than Paul intended."

Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary:

For the most part in the NT, oinos is used literally, but occasionally it has symbolic meanings. In 1 Tim. 5:23, Paul exhorts Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach's sake, and wine is a means of healing in Lk 10:34. John the Baptist abstains from drinking wine, perhaps following a Nazirite vow (Lk 1:15). However, Jesus, like most people, likely drank wine, as can be seen by the exaggerated accusation that he was a “glutton and a drunkard” (Mt 11:18–19), used by his opponents to mean that he did not fast nor abstain from wine (9:14–17; Mk 2:18–22; Lk 5:33–38). Additionally, Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine (Jn 2:1–11).

Symbolically, oinos is used negatively in Revelation, referring to the wine and cup of God’s wrath (14:10; 16:19; 19:15) and to the debauched ways of Babylon (14:8). Positively, oinos serves as a token of hope for the coming celebration for all believers at Jesus’ return. A picture of this coming new age is given in the creation of wine at the wedding in Cana (Jn 2:1–11) and in Jesus’ promise that he will not drink wine again until the great feast when the kingdom of God comes in all its fullness (Mt 26:29; Mk 14:25). See NIDNTT-A, 41–42.


Rhodian Geometric oinochoe by the Bird and Zigzag Painter, 740/720 BC. Paris: Louvre.

Thanks to Wikipedia Commons.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Notes Pertaining to the Book of Proverbs

1. What Is a Proverb?

While the English word "proverbs" conveys the idea of short maxims and pithy observations on life, the Hebrew misle (pl. of mashal) "refers to an apothegm that has currency among those who fear the LORD" (Bruce Waltke, page 56). Others suggest that "proverb" in the biblical sense refers to a brief comparison or representation (ibid.). See Prov. 10:26.

2. Proverbs juxtaposes destructive and healthy patterns of behavior. Proverbs 5:22-23; 14:12; 16:25; 29:3.

3. Authorship:

Proverbs claims Solomon as its writer and I accept what the text states. On the other hand, critical scholars usually want to question Solomonic authorship, and R.N. Whybray maintains that we cannot be sure whether all parts of the book can be traced back to David's son. Nevertheless, Whybray reckons that 1 Kings 4:32 must have some historical foundation; it seems unreasonble to suppose that it does not. He estimates that Proverbs may have been written or produced between the 10th-6th century BCE. See The Book of Proverbs, 4-5.

Robert B. Laurin believes Proverbs was probably edited around the 5th-4th century BCE as it eventually assumed its current shape.

4. The purpose of proverbs seems to be articulated in Prov. 1:7: "The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge; But the foolish despise wisdom and instruction" (ASV).

The fear of God is reverential awe--it is the fear of displeasing God and is expressed by observing his commandments. Compare Leviticus 19:3; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Malachi 3:5.

6. Specific proverbs and the wisdom they contain:

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it" (Prov. 4:23 NIV).

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another" (Prov. 27:17 NIV).

7. An exegesis of one proverb:

Commenting on Prov. 2:6, Fox explains: "Wisdom engenders mature piety because God is the source of wisdom, and in seeking it you are in effect seeking him."

See Michael V. Fox, "The Pedagogy of Proverbs 2," Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 113, No. 2 (Summer, 1994): pp. 233-243.


Image thanks to Wikipedia Commons

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Ontological Argument in Anselm and Descartes

Philosophy of Religion (Loosely based on David Stewart's text)

Arguments for God's Existence

1. Anselm of Canterbury made the ontological argument for God's existence famous: subsequent versions were posited by Rene Descartes, Kurt Gödel and by Alvin Plantinga. The starting point for Anselm's ontological argument is God's being or perfect being theology. This form of argumentation is a priori because it starts from the concept of God (a perfect being in the absolute sense). We might also consider the ontological argument to begin with premises that are deductive and that logically proceed from a possible divine being to an actual divine being (i.e., God).

2. Existence is a great-making property or perfection for Anselm and Descartes: they reason that existent beings take precedence over merely possible entities. The Anselmian and Cartesian form of argumention is a priori as well since it begins with a particular idea concerning God's essence, namely, that God necessarily exists.

3. Why the focus on divine being when formulating the ontological argument? God is called Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν (I am the being) in Exodus 3:14 (LXX). The Latin Vulgate has "ego sum qui sum" and also refers to God as "qui est." Both ways of treating the Exodus text seem to place emphasis on God's being: maybe 3:14 even identifies God as being itself (ipsum esse subsistens).

4. The medieval thinkers also tended to view essence and existence as distinct in relation to creatures but they argued that essence and existence in God's case are identical (the same thing), an idea known as absolute divine simplicity. So God exists necessarily because God is his own existence.

5. Descartes maintains that the very idea of God is "clear and distinct." Clear and distinct ideas are transparent, not obscure, self-evident, and easily distinguished from other ideas. The Euclidean postulate, "all right angles are equal to one another" is a clear and distinct idea. Another example is "all triangles are three-sided polygons." That proposition is clear and distinct like 2 + 2 = 4 is. What about the idea of God. Should it likewise be categorized as a clear and distinct idea?

To learn more about ontological arguments in general, see https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ontological-arguments/

See David Stewart, Exploring the Philosophy of Religion, Seventh Edition (London and Toronto: Prentice Hall, 2010), ISBN: 978-0-205-64519-0.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Milgram Experiment and Human Nature: Nothing New Under the Sun

Stanley Milgram wrote these words about his famous "shock" experiment:

"This is, perhaps, the most fundamental lesson of our study: ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work became patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority."

Milgram conducted his experiment back in the 1960s. He found that at least 60% of those participating as subjects of the experiment were willing to shock people (administering up to 450 volts), if they could be persuaded that the experimenter (the one conducting the experiment) would take full responsibility for what happened to those who were purportedly being shocked.

Milgram's work was undertaken some 40 years ago. I wonder how most people would respond if they participated in similar experiments today. Would 60-85% of people living in our time be willing to shock their fellow humans if an authority figure commanded them to carry out the action? Certain secular studies have asserted that the human race is getting better in terms of social values, moral practices and aggressive tendencies (e.g., Stephen Pinker). I wonder if a new Milgram study would refute or support these claims. My guess based on the Bible, scientific studies, and personal experience is that "nothing don't change much." Or as Qoheleth said in Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Wisdom Texts: the Book of Job (Work in Progress)

The term "wisdom texts" is a designation that has been given to the books of Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. The description is common in professional Bible studies. So in harmony with this familiar way of designating certain Hebrew Bible texts, I want to discuss some general features of the so-called Wisdom texts and their contents. My comments are based on lecture notes I once used in tandem with Robert B. Laurin's Old Testament introductory work.

1. The wisdom texts contain instruction for living the "good life." What is the best way of living? Why are we here? Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes seek to answer those questions and they show worshipers of God how to apply knowledge intelligently (Proverbs 27:11). For example, Proverbs 1:7 states that wisdom begins with fearing YHWH (Jehovah). Ps. 111:10, while not part of the wisdom texts, also repeats this truism: genuine wisdom begins with reverential fear of God. Job likewise emphasizes this point (Job 28:28).

2. Some aspects of life considered in the wisdom texts include living peacefully with others (Proverbs 15:1; 16:32); handling money wisely (Proverbs 22:7; 23:21); understanding the value of a godly wife (Proverbs 18:22; 31:10-31). But the most important consideration in the wisdom texts is one's relationship with God (Proverbs 6:16-19; Ecclesiastes 12:12-13).

3. One unique feature of Job is how the book wrestles with human suffering. Some question whether Job deals with this perennial issue, but the book certainly raises the question, Does God cause suffering? Furthermore, Job makes us wonder about our basis for faith in God. Some answers given in Job are that God does not bring about general human suffering and the book affirms that humans should worship God regardless of personal circumstances.

4. In Job, we equally learn about three "friends" or "comforters" of Job: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. These men purportedly visited Job to give him comfort, to be his friends. However, all they did was accuse Job of sin and they unwittingly misrepresented God's will, purpose, and nature. The men later repented as Job ministered in their behalf, but yet another character appearing in the book is Elihu. He was a wise young man, who patiently waited until the "comforters" of Job finished speaking. Job's wife plays a minor part in the book. She's known for telling Job to just curse God and die; he reprimands her by saying she speaks as one of the foolish women do. Job admonishes his wife to accept the good and bad which the true God allows. Regardless of his dire circumstances (loss of property, children, and diminishing health), he will not give up serving Jehovah. Job doesn't know why he's suffering; he even begins to justify himself instead of God. Nevertheless, in the end, Job is rewarded bountifully by God--even receiving twofold what he lost.

5. Job is a book filled with speeches by Job himself and the other characters mentioned above. However, the weightiest speech is given by God himself in Job 38-42. Jehovah reminds Job of his relative insignificance: he was not around when God founded the world. At that time, the morning stars applauded and the sons of the true God sang out with joy. This final speech is given in the midst of a windstorm as Jehovah makes it clear that he is God while Job is not. The book's epilogue is chapter 42, wherein Job is blessed, but also repents in dust and ashes.

6. A question lingering from the book of Job is whether God tempts humans or not. The book itself seems to deny that any injustice can exist alongside God. He is perfectly righteous and holy and just. One Bible writer would later affirm with utmost clarity that God himself does not try people with evil (James 1:13-17). The same Christian writer points to Job as a sterling example of patience and endurance. Additionally, James writes that we see Jehovah's compassion and mercy in his dealings with Job (James 5:10-11).

Thursday, May 10, 2018

1 Timothy 4:3 ("Foods")--Mounce's Remarks and NIDNTT

Greek: κωλυόντων γαμεῖν, ἀπέχεσθαι βρωμάτων ἃ ὁ θεὸς ἔκτισεν εἰς μετάλημψιν μετὰ εὐχαριστίας τοῖς πιστοῖς καὶ ἐπεγνωκόσι τὴν ἀλήθειαν.

ESV: "who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth."

βρῶμα, “food,” is used elsewhere with various shades of meaning. Paul uses it in his discussions of food being a stumbling block to “weaker” Christians (Rom 14:15, 20; 1 Cor 8:8, 13). Paul's contrasting of food with milk in his discussion of spiritual immaturity (1 Cor 3:2) suggests that βρῶμα is solid food. Paul interchanges it with κρέας, “meat,” in similar discussions (Rom 14:15, 20, 21; 1 Cor 8:13: “If food [βρῶμα] is a cause of my brother's falling, I will never eat meat [κρέα]).

William Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46 (Word Biblical Commentary) (Kindle Locations 12386-12390). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Also from the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology under the entry for βρῶμα

1. Lit. use. In the NT, as in the OT, food is a gift from God. We should ask for it daily (cf. Matt. 6:11) and receive it thankfully (cf. 1 Tim. 4:4). Ascetic and ritual tendencies, which classed certain foods as taboo, are rejected by the NT as false teaching (Col 2:16 - 17; 1 Tim 4:3 - 7; Heb. 13:9). No food is unclean as such (Mk 7:18 - 19; cf. Acts 10:14 - 15), and no food possesses any special significance for our relationship to God (1 Cor. 8:8; cf. 6:13). The kingdom of God is realized not in eating or drinking but in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17).

But Christians can be commanded to avoid a particular food (e.g., meat offered to idols) if a fellow Christian by eating will be plunged into a conflict of conscience (Rom. 14:15, 20; 1 Cor. 8:13). Out of love for that tempted believer for whom Christ died, the "strong" Christian must be willing to forego a particular food.

"for my name is in him": Exodus 23:21 and Later Reflections on YHWH and the Angels

"Be attentive to him and listen to him. Do not defy him, because he will not forgive your acts of rebellion, for my name is in him" (Exodus 23:21 CSB).

While the name of God is said to reside in the angel escorting Israel, it does not appear that any angel mentioned in the canonical literature of Judaism is exalted to the extent that Yahoel or Metatron are: the latter angel is called "the lesser YHWH" in 3 Enoch. And one encounters this passage in Apocalypse of Abraham 10:

"I am called Jaoel by him who moveth that which existeth with me on the seventh expanse upon the firmament, a power in virtue of the ineffable Name that is dwelling in me."

Andrei Orlov explains that "the peculiar designation 'Yahoel' (Slav. Иаоиль) in itself reveals unequivocally the angelic creature as the representation of the divine Name. It is no coincidence that in the text, which exhibits similarities with the Deuteronomic Shem theology, the angelic guide of the protagonist is introduced as the Angel of the Name."

See http://www.marquette.edu/maqom/yahoelsinger.html#_ftn1

Now the Apocalypse of Abraham was written after Philippians and Hebrews: its terminus ad quem is probably the end of the first century CE. Moreover, 3 Enoch is quite late in relation to the GNT although the ideas contained in the work must have an earlier inception date. Of course, the DSS are relevant since 11Q Melchizedek uses Elohim, but the exalted figures of apocalyptic Judaism still possibly exceed what the canonical Jewish texts allow ad litteram.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Bible Translation: Some Complexities and Matthew 24:3

Translation is based on the needs of the target audience. I myself prefer an eclectic translation where both the literal and idiomatic method is used; others prefer a more literal approach to translation. While caution is needed when dealing with kernel clauses, I nonetheless see a place for analyzing such clauses when one is translating. One thing that might help us to determine what the text "really" says might be to compare translations so that we may discern what each translator is trying to accomplish. When undertaking this task, what one quickly discovers is that not all translators aim for literal renderings.

"What will be the SIGN of THY presence, and of the CONSUMMATION of the AGE?" (Matt. 24:3 Emphatic Diaglott)

"What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" (NIV)

"What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" (NRSV)

"Tell us when these things shall be,--And what the sign of thy presence and the conclusion of the age?" (Rotherham's Emphasized Bible)

"Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?" (NWT 2013)

"Tell us when this will be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the final time." (Byington)

Nota Bene: Rotherham's Bible is described as "a literal word-by-word translation with added emphasis to further explain the hidden riches of the original languages."