Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Translating the Greek Word Sarx ("flesh")--A Screen Shot

I am totally on board with this translational approach.

Scattered Notes on Judges 5: Song of Deborah and Barak

Judges 5:1: The song of Deborah and Barak begins (Compare Judges 5:3, Ellicott Commentary). Was Deborah the sole writer of the song or did Barak share in crafting it?

See Exodus 15:1-6 for the Song of Moses, the Israelites and Miriam singing with the women of Israel.

Judges 5:2-Compare Ps. 93-97; Ps. 110:3. See Deut. 32:42; Judges 5:9; 2 Chron. 17:16.

Compare Judges 5:7

Judges 5:9-the people offered themselves willingly.

Judges 5:12-Ps. 68:18; Daniel 11:33; Eph. 4:8-11; Rev. 13:10.

Judges 5:18-Possibly a connection with Rom. 16:1-4:

Ζαβουλων λαὸς ὠνείδισεν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ εἰς θάνατον καὶ Νεφθαλι ἐπὶ ὕψη ἀγροῦ (Judges 5:18 LXX)

οἵτινες ὑπὲρ τῆς ψυχῆς μου τὸν ἑαυτῶν τράχηλον ὑπέθηκαν οἷς οὐκ ἐγὼ μόνος εὐχαριστῶ ἀλλὰ καὶ πᾶσαι αἱ ἐκκλησίαι τῶν ἐθνῶν (Romans 16:4)

Judges 5:31-Ps. 83:1-18; Daniel 12:3; Mt. 13:43. Ps. 19:4-6; 68:2-3; 97:10; 145:20. Exod. 20:6; Deut. 5:10.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Gospels and Source/Form Criticism

GNT scholars are inclined to view Matthew and Luke as expansions of Mark, a Synoptic Gospel which numerous scholars believe was the first one written. Statistically, twenty percent of Matthew does not appear in either Mark or Luke, but two hundred verses in both Luke and Matthew are similar to one another like the Beatitudes and the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 5-7; Luke 6:20-26; Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4). This parallel material is often identified as the hypothetical Q source (Quelle) and those who investigate such potential founts of the GNT Gospels are said to practice source criticism (source Geschichte).

On the other hand, form criticism (form Geschichte) claims that one can identify oral sources of the Gospels by means of occurrent parables, sayings, miracles, and pronouncement stories that appear in the Gospels: so-called Gattungen. Reconstructing how the accounts of Jesus' life might have existed in oral form seems to involve a good measure of speculation. That is why Paul Anderson has been particularly good at demonstrating the limitations of Bultmannian form-critical constructs. Rudolf Bultmann seems to be Anderson's primary target when he critiques form criticism; furthermore, Anderson has written an introduction for Bultmann's Johannine commentary, which offers constructive feedback on Bultmann's work.

Speaking of John's Gospel (the Fourth Gospel), Daniel B. Wallace reports that GJohn is also ninety-two percent unique. Why is John so different from the other Gospels? Why did Clement of Alexandria call GJohn the "spiritual Gospel"? Robert Mounce writes:

Because the fourth gospel is so different from the Synoptics, its authenticity is sometimes called into question. Many of the major themes and events of the first three gospels are missing in John, while at the same time it includes many significant episodes not mentioned by the others. The argument is that if the Synoptics present a clear picture of Jesus, then John's portrayal can hardly be accepted. Such criticisms overlook the varying purposes for which the four gospels were written. It was not John's purpose to supplement or correct the Synoptics. His gospel is a later, more reflective presentation of major themes in Jesus' life and ministry. If it is true, as many assert, that John's gospel grew out of his preaching ministry, its various differences from the Synoptics would not come as a surprise; they would, in fact, be expected.

Mounce, Robert H.; Mounce, Robert H. John (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (Kindle Locations 1227-1229). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Mounce, Robert H.; Mounce, Robert H. John (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (Kindle Locations 1224-1227). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

For more information, see

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Matthew 16:19 Through A Rabbinic Lens?

GRB-Murray notes that the majority of commentators interpret Matthew 16:19 through the rabbinic uses of "binding" and "loosing." This appeal to the aforesaid utilization of "loosing" and binding is supposed to buttress the Roman Catholic notion of a magisterial office that is able to make decisions which are subsequently ratified in heaven. But B-Murray writes that "the terms [loose and bind] were also applied to imposing or relieving the 'ban' on offenders, i.e., their exclusion from or readmittance to the synagogue" (John. GRB Murray. Page 383).

In the final analysis, B-Murray opts for understanding Matt. 16:19 in a forensic sense, so that we are to understand Peter being given the authority to forgive those who respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and condemn those whom he sees fit to condemn (those who do not respond favorably to the good news of God). But this conclusion is also by no means certain.

BAGD (page 178) indicates that one way to interpret DEW in Matt. 16:19; 18:18 is by appealing to the Aramaic uses already delineated heretofore. But this lexical source says that the rabbinic terms in question could mean "to forbid" or "to permit." And while certain scholars emphasize this aspect of the rabbinic terms, others see the binding and loosing of Matthew 16:18; 18:18 as somehow connected with magic practices (which admittedly seems highly doubtful in light of the GNT).

Before discussing the rabbinic background of Matthew 16:19, however, BAGD points out that Matt. 16:19; 18:18 may be understood from a Greek vantage standpoint (apart from invoking the rabbinic background). Matthew's language may well be reflecting the Greek declaration made about Prometheus: hOSA DHSEIEN hO ZEUS, TAUT' EXON 'HRAKLEI LUSAI (BAGD 178). So it is quite possible that we need not resort to the rabbinic tradition at all.

Interestingly, Spiros Zodhiates writes that "believers can never make conclusive decisions about things, but can only confirm those decisions which have already been made by God Himself as conclusive in the general context of his kingdom" (The Complete Word Study: New Testament. Page 60). Zodhiates' words appear to be supported by Deuteronomy 1:17, where we are told that the OT judges were not to be influenced by man because "the judgment belongs to God." Jehoshaphat similarly reminded the judges of his time that they were judges for Jehovah (2 Chron. 19:6, 7). Christian "judges," therefore, can only allow or forbid what has already been permitted or forbidden in heaven. God does not follow the dictates of mere men on earth; they submit themselves to his judicial decisions. Put another way--heaven dictates to earth, not earth to heaven

Friday, February 23, 2018

Foundation Stone: The Apostles or Christ?

Jesus is the foundation of the Christian ecclesia. While I have always taken Eph. 2:20 as a reference to the apostles and prophets as "secondary foundation stones" with Jesus as the "primary foundation stone" or cornerstone of the Christian communitas fidelis--it must be admitted that there is another possible (grammatical) understanding of this verse.

Ralph Earle notes that while it is "often assumed that Paul here declares 'the apostles and the prophets' (probably NT prophets) to be the foundation on which the Church is built," this conclusion does not necessarily follow from the syntax and grammar of the text. Earle refers to Meyers' observation that the foundation in Eph. 2:20 is Christ. Meyers writes: "The apostles and prophets are not the foundation, but have laid it."

Indeed it is possible to construe the genitive in this way ("TWN APOSTOLWN KAI PROFHTWN"), namely as a genitive of possession (not as a genitive of apposition). Nevertheless, I have no problem with viewing the apostles as secondary rather than primary foundation stones.

David Aune also maintains that while Eph. 2:20 can be taken as a genitive of apposition, Paul speaks of Jesus Christ "as the basic QEMELIOS, "foundation" (1 Cor 3:11)." See Aune's Word commentary on Revelation (page 1157). While the apostles are called foundation stones of New Jerusalem (the glorified EKKLHSIA TOU QEOU)--this appellation in no way conflicts with the verses that declare Christ to be the foundation anymore than do those passages which speak of both Christ and his ecclesia as "the seed of Abraham" (Gal. 3:16, 29):

"Peter applies Isaiah's prophecy concerning the cornerstone to Christ. It is noteworthy that a cornerstone controls the design of the building and holds the structure together. In the NT, the symbol of the foundation stone is used both of Christ (1 Cor 3:11) and of the apostles and prophets (Eph 2:20). But only Christ combines the functions of both foundation stone and cornerstone" (1 and 2 Peter, Jude. Norman Hillyer. P. 62-63).

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Book Review: D.A. Carson's "The Farewell Discourse"

The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Evangelical Exposition of John 14-17. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980; Repackaged Edition published in 2018.

The Gospel of John 13-17 like other parts of the Fourth Gospel is the subject of many books, dissertations, blogs, conference papers, and journal articles: these chapters are known as the upper room or farewell discourse. D.A. Carson (author of Exegetical Fallacies and a notable Johannine commentary) sets out to exposit John 14-17 for those who are not scholars, but this work does contain material that deals with textual issues and Greek syntax. Carson's book is unabashedly "evangelical" and consequently Trinitarian. Carson does not shy away from problem verses and he frequently calls attention to the deity of Christ. Moreover, this study openly affirms that John 14-17 faithfully represents the historical words and deeds of Jesus, not mere redactional material produced by some Johannine editor. The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus also helpfully points readers to more advanced works in order to access fuller explanations of Carson's hermeneutical presuppositions respecting historical-critical matters.

Carson is a talented writer: his manner of expression is clear, the examples he uses to establish main ideas are stark, and he is a perceptive exegete in many cases. For instance, this book places the reader in the very midst of Jesus' farewell meal with his disciples and we are treated to textual possibilities that might be easy to overlook, if reading the text alone; for scholars, the author's familiarity with secondary literature is quite apparent, and fortunately, Carson is far from being predictable when he attempts to explain Johannine verses. Of course, his Trinitarian presuppositions are quite evident throughout the book. Nevertheless, his penchant for locating a reader within a Biblical narrative is striking and useful.

When discussing John 13 and Jesus' conversation with Peter and the other disciples, Carson writes: "The atmosphere instantly became stultifying again. The silence returned, an engulfing blanket, as the disciples stared at each other. This time there was no doubt what the Master meant" (page 13).

Who would betray Jesus? Which follower of Christ would it be? The exposition of John 13-17 captures the tension that Jesus' disciples must have felt among themselves. Carson elevates the suspense as he makes us wonder, what must the followers of Christ have experienced that fateful night? Jesus later signaled who the treacherous apostle would be. But were his actions completely transparent to those men reclining with him at the farewell event? Did they really get the import of what Jesus did in his interaction with Judas Iscariot? Carson uses this backdrop to introduce the discussion of John 14-17 as he immediately begins a discussion of John 14:1-2--both its textual issues and expositional ones. For this reason and more, Carson's commentary made me think about many of the Fourth Gospel's discrete components and their uniqueness. I loved the challenge of this study, but the book is not without some problems in my estimation.

Admittedly, The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus is a popular treatment of four Johannine chapters, but it should not give the impression that scholarly consensus exists regarding John 14:1-2 or 14:28. In what I consider to be an unjustified embellishment of the text, Carson (although he is not alone) takes John 14:28 as evidence of Christ's deity (pages 94-95): the Father is greater than I am. He believes the verse does not make sense unless one reads the passage as indicative of proof for the divinity of Christ; however, other possibilities exist for 14:28 that make better sense of the account than Carson's interpretation does. Compare the thoughtful commentary of R.E. Brown and Paul Anderson's study on John, both of whom are Trinitarians. Neither of these works reject Jesus' "deity," but at least their explanations of 14:28 are more plausible than Carson's.

While Carson sets out to defend Trinitarianism throughout this book and does not give other views equal time, the book is worth reading for ardent students of John's Gospel, its doctrine of God, and interesting Christology.

I was provided a review copy of Carson's work from Baker Books in exchange for my review. However, the viewpoints I have given represent my own impressions of his study.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Judges 3:12 (ASV and NWT 2013)

The ASV renders Judges 3:12. : And the children of Israel again did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah: and Jehovah strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah."

But NWT Rbi8 says: "At that Jehovah let Eglon the king of Moab grow strong against Israel"

NWT 2013: "And once again the Israelites began doing what was bad in Jehovah’s eyes. So Jehovah let Egʹlon the king of Moʹab prevail over Israel, because they did what was bad in Jehovah’s eyes."

So "let" versus "strengthened" or "gave" as others render the Hebrew. Did Jehovah permit Eglon and other armies to dominate Israel or was his role a more active one?

Every commentator I read takes the view that Jehovah actively strengthened Eglon. K-D have this comment:

When the Israelites forsook the Lord again (in the place of וגו את־הרע ... ויּעשׂוּ, Judges 3:7, we have here the appropriate expression ... הרע הרע לעשׂות, they added to do, i.e., did again, evil, etc., as in Judges 4:1; Judges 10:6; Judges 13:1), the Lord made Eglon the king of the Moabites strong over Israel. על חזּק, to give a person strength to overcome or oppress another. כּי על, as in Deuteronomy 31:17, instead of the more usual אשׁר על (cf. Jeremiah 4:28; Malachi 2:14; Psalm 139:14).

In my estimation, Rotherham is good on this subject of "do" versus "let do."

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thomas Dozeman Offers Commentary Regarding Exodus 33:11

Only he [Moses] speaks to God, and he does so "face-to-face;" as friends speak to each other. All cultic activity takes place before the face of God (see the priestly blessing in Num 6:22-26). But the phrase "face-to-face" expresses a more intimate encounter of a direct and charismatic inspiration. Jacob realizes that he has seen God "face-to-face" only after he physically wrestles with God all night at the Jabbok River (Gen 32:30). Gideon comes to the same realization after his commission by the Messenger of Yahweh (Judg 6:22). Deuteronomy 5:4 attributes the same experience to the Israelite people, stating that they heard God speak the Decalogue to them "face-to-face," which is qualified in the following verse (5:5). It is Moses, however, who most clearly embodies the experience of speaking to God face-to-face, always within the tent of meeting. Deuteronomy 34:10 uses this experience to separate Moses from all other prophets, while Num 12:6-8 provides further commentary on Moses' unique status. God states: "With him [Moses] I speak face-to-face [lit. `mouth-to-mouth'], clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of Yahweh."

Thomas B. Dozeman. Exodus (Eerdmans Critical Commentary) (Kindle Locations 10671-10675). Kindle Edition.

Thomas B. Dozeman. Exodus (Eerdmans Critical Commentary) (Kindle Locations 10669-10671). Kindle Edition.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Very Short Note on Acts 2:36

It's increasingly becoming weirder to me how Jesus was "made Lord" (i.e., Jehovah) if he was already Jehovah in his preexistent life (Acts 2:36). While Incarnation advocates may argue that he emptied himself, thus making glorification by the Father necessary, they still want to claim that nothing was subtracted by the Incarnation--only humanity was assumed with his divinity. So would he not have remained Lord in that case when he became flesh? Why the need to make him Lord after his resurrection? That is, make him YHWH? Makes no sense to me. How can someone who is already Lord (YHWH) be made Lord by another?

Moses and the Sight of Jehovah's "Form" (Exodus 33:19-20) and John 1:18

How Moses saw Jehovah's form has befuddled Jewish and "Christian" commentators. The expression is likely figurative in view of Exodus 33:19-20; Deuteronomy 4:15-16; 5:4-5; John 1:18 and 1 John 4:12. See also Exodus 24:9-11. The last Pentateuchal account likely refers to a divine vision if we examine the context--not to the act of literally seeing God.

Another way that exegetes have tried to explain accounts regarding Jehovah's form is by making some kind of distinction between God as he reveals himself to us (quoad nos) and God in his essence (quoad essentiam). Some then place the Son qua angel in the first category, but locate the tripersonal God as he exists "immanently" in the second category. However, even apart from the untenable Trinity doctrine, I wonder about the lexical basis for interpreting John 1:18 as a reference to the divine essence rather than construing the language as referentially about the Father.

It is common to say that God = the Father in John 1:1b and the Son/Logos in 1:1c; yet some like M.J.. Harris contend that "God" means the divine essence in 1:18 although the Logos/Son is called "QEOS" in 1:18 and is said to exegete (explain) the Father. Cf. 1 John 4:12.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

1 Corinthians 13:12 and Numbers 12:8, Etc.

1 Corinthians 13:12 has some connection to Numbers 12:8 and other related scriptures, but some verses possibly are more intimately connected: e.g., Genesis 32:30-31; Judges 6:22-23.

βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι' ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον· ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην. (1 Corinthians 13:12 WH)

Gen 32:31: εἶδον γὰρ θεὸν πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον, καὶ ἐσώθη μου ἡ ψυχή. (LXX)

Judges 6:22: καὶ εἶδεν Γεδεων ὅτι ἄγγελος κυρίου ἐστίν, καὶ εἶπεν Γεδεων ῏Α ἆ, κύριε κύριε, ὅτι εἶδον τὸν ἄγγελον κυρίου πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον. (LXX)

Both accounts involve angels (spirit beings) manifested as dynamic agents of YHWH, and notice the expression πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον.

Numbers 12:8 has στόμα κατὰ στόμα λαλήσω αὐτῷ ἐν εἴδει καὶ οὐ δ αἰνιγμάτων καὶ τὴν δόξαν κυρίου εἶδεν καὶ διὰ τί οὐκ ἐφοβήθητε καταλαλῆσαι κατὰ τοῦ θεράποντός μου Μωυσῆ

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Notes on Humans as the Image of God in Sibylline Oracles

Lactantius quotes Orac. Sib. 8.402: "Man is an icon of me, possessing true reason." I.e., humans are icons of God insofar as we possess "true reason."

See Bowen and Garnsey, Divine Institutes, 150-151. Cf. Divine Institutes 2.10.4.

The Greek of the Orac. Sib. reads: EIKWN EST' ANQRWPOS EMH LOGON ORQON EXOUSA.

Milton Terry offers this reading: "Man is my image, having upright reason." In Terry, the numbering is 8.533. See

Notice how MORFH and EIKWN are used conjunctively in Orac. Sib. 3.8.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Quotation from 1QM 17.4-8 (Qumran War Scroll)

(4) But, as for you, take courage and do not fear them [... for] their end is emptine and their desire is for the void. Their support is without st[rength] and they do not [know that from the God] of
(5) Israel is all that is and that will be. He [...] in all which exists for eternity. Today is His appointed time to subdue and to humiliate the prince of the realm
(6) of wickedness. He will send eternal support to the company of His redeemed by the power of the majestic angel of the authority of Michael. By eternal light
(7) He shall joyfully light up the covenant of Israel peace and blessing for the lot of God, to exalt the authority of Michael among the gods and the dominion
(8) of Israel among all flesh.


See also

Paul Rainbow Discusses Michael the Archangel--Part II from His Thesis

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Paul Rainbow: Michael the Archangel (Part I)-From His Doctoral Thesis

This evidence points toward Michael being identified as an angel early in Judaic history.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Hebrews 12:16--'Not Appreciating Sacred Things'

"and watch that among you there is no one who is sexually immoral* nor anyone who does not appreciate sacred things, like Eʹsau, who gave up his rights as firstborn in exchange for one meal" (Hebrews 12:16 NWT 2013).

μή τις πόρνος ἢ βέβηλος ὡς Ἠσαῦ, ὃς ἀντὶ βρώσεως μιᾶς ἀπέδετο τὰ πρωτοτόκια ἑαυτοῦ. (NA28)

βέβηλος occurs 1 time in the GNT; βεβήλοις occurs 1 time (1 Tim. 1:9) and βεβήλους is found 3 times (1 Tim. 4:7; 1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 2:16).

As you can see, the adjectival form of the word occurs 4 times in Timothy and once outside those letters. Why is that the case? Why does Hebrews use βέβηλος like the Pastorals do?

Victor C. Pfitzner (Hebrews, 180) states that βέβηλος "has cultic connotations, suggesting the distinction between the holy and the profane." In other words, Esau spurned what is holy/sacred by bartering an item that possessed the divine benediction.

David Allen writes: "Esau's rejection of his birthright was tantamount to spiritual prostitution and de facto adultery" (Deuteronomy and Exhortation in Hebrews, 136).

Allen also believes that apostasy is "the dominant heuristic motif in 12:16-17" (ibid.).

Older commentators did not want to apply πόρνος to Esau, but more recent works do, even if it is not clear why 12:16 gives him that designation. William Lane (Word Biblical Commentary) relates that "Elliott" tried contending that ἢ in 12:16 is disjunctive--separating πόρνος from βέβηλος and distinguishing two kinds of people. Lane reckons that the suggestion is less than convincing since ἢ "is never strictly disjunctive" (although he sees no reason to think Esau was a literal fornicator). βέβηλος is understood here as "irreligious," "secular" or profane.

According to Westcott, "The word describes a character which recognises nothing as higher than earth: for whom there is nothing sacred: no divine reverence for the unseen" (The Epistle to the Hebrews, 408). He consider Esau to be "the embodiment" of βέβηλος.

Compare Leviticus 10:10; 1 Samuel 21:4 (LXX).

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Note for John 3:13 in the Zondervan Bible Commentary (One Volume)

(who is in heaven [margin] though omitted by a number of early MSS should probably be left in the text. Jesus revealed the life of God, which exists in heaven, whilst He was upon earth. His permanent dwelling place is there; He only ‘dwelt among us . . .’ [cf. 1:14].)

I will let the quote speak for itself.

Preverbal Uses of QEOS and Periphrastic Constructions: Philippians 2:13 and 2 Corinthians 5:19

Certain scholars contend that QEOS in Phil 2:13 is
both predicative and emphatic. Moreover, Stanley
Porter suggests that 2 Cor 5:19 serves as an example
of a periphrastic construction, although he adds: "there
is much controversy among grammarians and
commentators" concerning this text (Stanley Porter,
Idioms of the GNT, page 47).

I also find it interesting that Porter wants to render
2 Cor 5:19, "in Christ, God was reconciling the world
to himself." He thus seems to place emphasis on EN
XRISTWi, rather than the preverbal QEOS. And while it
seems that QEOS in 2 Cor 5:19-20 is possibly
predicative and emphatic, I think Colwell's rule is a
plausible explanation of the anarthrousness of QEOS,
which is evidently definite here and not qualitative.

On page 109 of Idioms, Porter discusses Greek
articular usage with linking verbs and suggests that
the construction IHSOUS ESTIN hO XRISTOS in Jn 20:31
should be construed "the Christ is Jesus" (taking
Christ as the subject). He makes this decision based
on McGaughy's rule, but 1 Jn 2:22 might serve as a
counter-example to Porter's argument.