Friday, March 30, 2018

Augustine, Anselm, and the Divine OLAM

Augustine of Hippo writes:

"Let them see than [sic] that there can be no time apart from creation, and let them cease to talk such nonsense. Let them stretch forth to the things that are before,and let them realize that before all times You are the Eternal Creator of all times, and that no times are co-eternal with You, nor is any creature, even if there were a creature above time" (Augustine, Confessiones 11.XXX).

We also have these words from Anselm of Canterbury:

"Thou wast not, then, yesterday, nor wilt thou be tomorrow; but yesterday and today and tomorrow thou art; or, rather, neither yesterday, nor today nor tomorrow thou art; but, simply, thou art, outside all time. For yesterday and today and tomorrow have no existence, except in time; but thou, although nothing exists without thee, nevertheless dost not exist in space and time, but all things exist in thee" (qt. in Stephen T. Davis' Logic and the Nature of God, p. 9).

But I am inclined to believe that God exists from OLAM to OLAM (Psalm 90:2) in that he exists sempiternally, that is, always in time. The verse found in Psalms indicates that God possibly exists in boundless time. If time has existed forever, then it is possible that God has existed for a temporal eternity: time might be an inherent feature or aspect of God's nature. As Garrett Deweese says, it may be the case that time resides in God.

Furthermore, it is possible that God's time-strand is not exactly conterminous with ours. Our time-strand is part of the created order. Yet it seems that time is ultimately time qua tempus. If the views I have set forth here are correct, then it is possible that "before" and "after" (two successive temporal states) occur in God. Conversely, if God does not somehow work in human history, then it would seem that he is not the Redeemer God. However, I am not espousing some pantheistic or panentheistic vision of Almighty God.

Yet does one want to say that God exists in the space-time continuum which he created? Let us suppose that time is everlasting (it has always existed and always will exist) but was not capable of being counted prior to God's creation of the material universe or his creation of humanity (a suggestion discussed by Stephen T. Davies). That is to say, there could have been a point at which time became discrete or countable. Given these assumptions, it might be said that the same deity is able to act in the now discrete form of time that has been created without being adversely affected by the vicissitudes of time (i.e., the divine experience of time does not result in God's growing old or becoming decrepit). I humbly submit these ideas without being overly dogmatic about any of them.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Revelation 14:3 (NWT 2013)

And they are singing what seems to be a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders, and no one was able to master that song except the 144,000, who have been bought from the earth.

NWT 2013 is apparently translating ὡς as "what seems to be."

"And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth" (American KJV).

"and they sing as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the elders: and no man could learn the song save the hundred and forty and four thousand, even they that had been purchased out of the earth" (ASV)

Compare the Douay-Rheims and the ERV.

Henry Alford writes: "And they sing [as it were] a new song (i. e. if the ὡς be retained, they sing what sounded like a melody unheard before."

But some think ὡς should be omitted; NA28 places ὡς in brackets.

Prayer of Joseph (Images of Fragment A with Notes)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

John Chrysostom on Wine

Taken from Homily XIX of Chrysostom's Homilies on Galatians and Ephesians:

Wouldest thou know where wine is good? Hear what the Scripture saith, "Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto the bitter in soul." (Prov. xxxi. 6.) And justly, because it can mitigate asperity and gloominess, and drive away clouds from the brow. "Wine maketh glad the heart of man" (Ps. civ. 15.), says the Psalmist. How then does wine produce drunkenness? For it cannot be that one and the same thing should work opposite effects. Drunkenness then surely does not arise from wine, but from intemperance. Wine is bestowed upon us for no other purpose than for bodily health; but this purpose also is thwarted by immoderate use. But hear moreover what our blessed Apostle writes and says to Timothy, "Use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thine often infirmities."

Monday, March 26, 2018

Apollos of Alexandria

I've always found it interesting that Luke the physician wrote about "a certain Jew named Apollos," who was "a native of Alexandria" and an eloquent man well-versed in the Scriptures (Acts 18:24-28). What factors contributed to his intellectual tendencies? How did Apollos' cultural environment influence his personal development? This discussion examines his social context and the vivid description that Luke applies to this man.

Alexandria, for one, was the hub of higher learning in the first century. The famed Alexandrian Library was located in that city; hence, a number of well-known scholars conducted rigorous investigations there, such as Aristarchus (he formulated a heliocentric theory of the cosmos) and brilliant Hypatia along with Philo Judaeus and Eratosthenes (he calculated the circumference of the earth thereby ascertaining that it was round). The Alexandrian Library, which was eventually burned down, housed 400,000 volumes according to Seneca. Others estimate that anywhere from 500,000 to 700,000 volumes were in the great library at one time. Indeed, Alexandria was a center of learning (sophia).

More important than what the library of Alexandria contained, however, was the fact that a number of Jewish scholars lived in this sophisticated city of Egypt. Therefore, it is fitting that the LXX (Septuagint version of the Bible) was produced in Alexandria. This Greek translation was probably completed sometime between the years ca. 285-150 BCE. Work on the LXX commenced during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus, but the story about the LXX found in the Letter of Aristeas is probably a legend, although the name Septuaginta (in Latin) meaning "seventy" eventually stuck.

Apollos likely gained his eloquence, knowledge of the Scriptures, and secular learning in this academic and scriptural center. Certain scholars have debated whether we should translate LOGIOS in Acts 18:24 as "eloquent" or "learned." The NWT settled on "eloquent" while others favor "learned." With a tinge of humor, Ralph Earle says that Apollos was no doubt both "eloquent" and "learned." Nevertheless, he seems to have placed scriptural learning first in his life. That is probably why Apollos was humble enough to accept correction from others, who did not share his erudition (Acts 18:26). Paul was probably thinking of Apollos (inter alios) when he wrote:

"For you behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called . . ." (1 Cor. 1:26)


Ralph Earle, Word Meanings in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1986).

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Augustine of Hippo and the Arians (De Trinitate VI.1.1)

Some think themselves hindered from admitting the equality of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, because it is written, "Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God;" in that, on this ground, there does not appear to be equality; because the Father is not Himself power and wisdom, but the begetter of power and wisdom. And, in truth, the question is usually asked with no common earnestness, in what way God can be called the Father of power and wisdom. For the apostle says, "Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." And hence some on our side have reasoned in this way against the Arians, at least against those who at first set themselves up against the Catholic faith. For Arius himself is reported to have said, that if He is a Son, then He was born; if He was born, there was a time when the Son was not: not understanding that even to be born is, to God, from all eternity; so that the Son is co-eternal with the Father, as the brightness which is produced and is spread around by fire is co-eval with it, and would be co-eternal, if fire were eternal. And therefore some of the later Arians have abandoned that opinion, and have confessed that the Son of God did not begin to be in time. But among the arguments which those on our side used to hold against them who said that there was a time when the Son was not, some were wont to introduce such an argument as this: If the Son of God is the power and wisdom of God, and God was never without power and wisdom, then the Son is co-eternal with God the Father; but the apostle says, "Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God;" and a man must be senseless to say that God at any time had not power or wisdom; therefore there was no time when the Son was not.

Augustine, De Trinitate VI.1.1.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Revelation and Warfare

Have you ever noticed all that Revelation (Apocalypse) has to say about war, in particular, divine warfare?

Rev. 1:16, 2:20-23; 6:1-8; 12:1-17; 14:19-20; 16:13-16; 19:11-21; 20:1-10.

This element of the book has often unsettled those who opt to be pacifists. Or people wonder why this book dwells on war since Jesus taught that those who live by the sword will die by the sword (Matt. 26:52).

However, Revelation deals with divine justice or righteous warfare as the book describes history's culmination. The Bible's last book emphasizes that God will exact judgment from the wicked but he will deliver his people, the righteous (Rev. 6:-11; 11:15-18; 17:1-7). One portion of Revelation which vividly foretells the eventual fate of the wicked is Rev. 14:19-20:

"The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. 20 They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia" (NIV).

What is this account possibly foretelling? Why does John write about the final battle in this way?

The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible offers this perspective:

blood flowed out of the press. Wine was sometimes called the “blood of grapes” (Ge 49:11; Dt 32:14); here red wine evokes the gruesome image of human blood crushed out of maimed flesh. rising as high as the horses’ bridles. Ancient descriptions of wars spoke of blood flowing in streams or of rivers flowing with blood when people were slain in them. In poetic depictions the blood obstructed ships, or trees dripped with gore dropped on them when satiated birds grew weary of feasting on corpses. Apocalypses amplified further: in the pre-Christian work 1 Enoch, sinners’ blood covers chariots; horses walk up to their chests in the blood. Some later rabbis lament horses drowning in blood and blood rolling huge boulders some 40 miles (65 kilometers) out to the sea. Sometimes the more extreme descriptions were merely figurative ways of expressing the horrific bloodshed (e.g., Eze 32:5 – 6). 1,600 stadia. Revelation again rounds to a square number: 1,600 is 40 x 40 (see NIV text note). The figure especially underlines the awful grotesqueness of the image: none of the beast’s army will survive. Whereas the river of paradise flows from God's throne (22:1 – 2) to a significant height (Eze 47:4 – 5), the wicked would drown in a river of their own blood.

The 1600 stadia means the distance (figuratively speaking) is about 180 miles or 300 kilometers.

J.B. Phillips NT:

Then the angel swung his sickle upon the earth and gathered the harvest of the earth's vineyard, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. The grapes were trodden outside the city, and out of the winepress flowed blood for two hundred miles in a stream as high as the horses' bridles.

The Greek stadion was about 600 feet or 1 furlong (circa 1/8 of a mile).

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Justin Martyr and Immortality

There seems to be no doubt that Justin Martyr understands the soul to be immortal. But when I say that Justin affirms the immortality of the soul, I am not claiming that he believes the soul exists immortally in the Platonic sense because he clearly rejects the Platonic view of the soul in most respects--despite the fact that he was a Neoplatonist. However,
Justin does believe that wicked souls are punished after death which requires that the soul live on post mortem. See Arthur J. Droge, "Justin Martyr and the Restoration of Philosophy," Church History 56.3 (1987): 303-319. He provides textual evidence that Justin retains certain Platonic doctrines in a mutated form, particularly, that the wicked will be punished after death. Compare Plato's Republic and the Myth of Er.

Admittedly, there is a passage in Dialogue with Trypho 80, wherein Justin denigrates those so-called Christians who believe their souls will ascend to heaven in the flesh after death. However, while Justin does appear to believe that the prophecies foretold in Isaiah will be fulfilled through the Christian congregation, he nonetheless argues that the ungodly will be consigned to eternal torment. Maybe such texts can be interpreted differently, but I would humbly submit that Justin affirms there is an immortal soul in some sense of the term--At least there is for the wicked.

See Dialogue with Trypho 130.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Some Definitions for Logic Terms

I've compiled a list of definitions for terms commonly employed by logicians since logic is an essential part of academic theology. For without logic, there is no theo-logic:

Logic Definitions

(1) Ostensive Definition: Pointing toward an entity in order to signify a term (e.g., pointing toward a car in order to signify what "car" means).

(2) Extension: The set of individuals, objects, or events to which one can correctly apply a term (e.g., "boat"). Logicians also classify a set of individuals, objects or events as the denotation.

(3) Intension: The set of all and only those properties that a thing must possess in order for a term to have applicability for it (= connotation).

(4) Theory: Refers to a general approach to or belief about some subject matter that is expressed in a set of interrelated statements concerning the nature of the subject.

Secondly, theory may refer to a set of general but precise claims about the nature of society or the physical world.

(5) Epistemology: The branch of philosophy that concerns itself with theories regarding the sources, nature, and limits of knowledge (i.e., theory of knowledge). One writer defines "epistemology" as the critical analysis of cognition.

(6) Validity: If the premises of an argument happen to be true, then the conclusion of the argument has to be true.

(7) Conditional: A statement of the form "If P then Q," asserting that Q is, or will be, the case, so long as P obtains.

(8) Sound: Both the conclusion and premises are true. So the conclusion necessarily follows from the premises: a sound argument has all true premises and is valid.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Understanding Romans 8:5 (NWT 2013)

Greek: οἱ γὰρ κατὰ σάρκα ὄντες τὰ τῆς σαρκὸς φρονοῦσιν, οἱ δὲ κατὰ πνεῦμα τὰ τοῦ πνεύματος. (NA28)

"For those who are in accord with the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those in accord with the spirit on the things of the spirit" (Romans 8:5 NWT 1984).

"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit, on the things of the spirit" (2013 Revision).

"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit" (ESV).

Comments: George Carraway (Christ Is God Over All: Romans 9:5 in the Context of Romans 9-11, page 41) demonstrates that κατὰ σάρκα in Rom. 8:5; Eph. 6:5 and Col. 3:22 functions attributively by modifying a participle or a noun. On the other hand, compare Rom. 9:5.

κατὰ σάρκα-"in accord with the flesh" (NWT) or "according to the flesh" (NWT 2013; ESV).

"In accordance with the flesh" (J.D.G. Dunn).

Rogers and Rogers on Rom. 8:5:

ὄντες pres. act. part. εἰμί to be. Part. as subst. φρονοῦσιν pres. ind. act. φρονέω to think, to set one's mind or heart upon something, to employ one's faculty for thoughtful planning, w. the emphasis upon the underlying disposition or attitude (LN, 1:325). It denotes the whole action of the affections and will as well as of the reason (SH).

τὰ-definite article, accusative neuter plural.

φρονέω-"to incline to, be set upon, mind, Mt. 16:23; Mk. 8:33; Rom. 8:5; Phil. 3:15, 19; Col. 3:2" (William Mounce)

"think, concentrate on, be devoted to" (Zerwick-Grosvenor)

According to the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology:

φρόνησις (phronēsis), way of thinking, frame of mind, intelligence, good sense (G5860); φρονέω (phroneō), think, judge, give one's mind to, set one's mind on, be minded (G5858); φρόνημα (phronēma), way of thinking, mentality (G5859); φρόνιμος (phronimos), intelligent, discerning, sensible, thoughtful, prudent (G5861).

William Newell, Romans Verse-by-Verse: The word phronousin, “mind,” does not here have reference to intellect or understanding, but to the attention or occupation of the being, caused by its natural disposition.

δὲ is adversative here: "but."

Supply ὄντες with the second οἱ (= "those who live/are")

Henry Alford writes:

but those (who live) according to the Spirit (= οἱ πνευματικοί, see above), (mind) the things belonging to the Spirit (the higher aims and objects of desire of the spiritual life).

Asbury Bible Commentary:

V. 5 begins with "for" in Greek and places vv. 4 and 5 in the causal relationship. To live according to the Spirit (v. 4) is the result of having their minds set [phroneō] on what the Spirit desires (v. 5). Vv. 5-8 contrast the mind of the flesh and the mind of the Spirit. To have their minds set (phroneō) includes the elements of thinking, willing, pursuing, and doing (cf. Php 2:5). The mind of the flesh is hostile to God and consequently cannot submit to God's law. This leads to death. To have their minds set on the things of the Spirit is to pursue what pleases God, which leads to doing the requirements of the law as expressions of God's will. This results in life and peace.

The second τὰ is also a definite article, accusative neuter plural.

τοῦ πνεύματος is genitive neuter singular and so is τῆς σαρκὸς. D. Moo consequently writes:

"It is better, therefore, to translate 'regard things with an attitude characteristic of the flesh/Spirit,' taking the genitives as descriptive" (The Epistle to the Romans, page 1404).

The Expositor's Greek Testament:

οἱ κατὰ σάρκα ὄντες are those whose nature is determined simply by the flesh; their “mind,” i.e., their moral interest, their thought and study, is upon τὰ τῆς σαρκός: for which see Galatians 5:19 f. οἱ κατὰ πνεῦμα are those whose nature is determined by the spirit: for τὰ τοῦ πνεύματος see Galatians 5:22.

Compare 1 Cor. 2:10-14.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Significance of Redness and Revelation 6:4

Is the color red inherently connected with sin, anger or prostitution? Revelation 6:4 mentions a HIPPOS PURROS that admittedly is associated with death, warfare and destruction in John's apocalypse, but the fiery-red horse of Zech. 1:8; 6:2 evidently is not. The color "red" also seems to have been viewed from somewhat of a dualistic perspective in ancient Egypt. It was associated with life and death, peril and quickening, preservation and destruction. What red signifies metaphorically or symbolically will greatly depend on the speech context in which it appears.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Rogers and Rogers Comments on Anwqen--John 3:3

Source: The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament by Cleon L. Rogers, Jr., and Cleon L. Rogers III.

Friday, March 09, 2018

The Greek "Pistis" Used in a Wider Context (Platonic Usage)

πίστις can be translated "faith" or "faithfulness" (Galatians 5:22-23) but in Plato, it's more commonly rendered "belief" although C.D.C. Reeve offers the rendering "folk-wisdom." Plato famously makes a distinction between opinion/εἰκασία (at the lower epistemic level) and belief/folk-wisdom (πίστις) at the higher epistemic level of knowing--the via cognoscendi. Conviction would also be a good way to render πίστις.

In this case, I'm discussing supposed logical movement from epistemic darkness to epistemic light (based on the Greek ἐπιστήμη). Plato seems to argue that some individuals perceive things at the level of opinion (εἰκασία) whereas others apprehend things mentally at the level of πίστις: yet πίστις is not knowledge since knowledge for Plato is likely (maybe) "justified true belief." Knowledge only materializes (according to the Republic) when one begins to reflect on abstract/intelligible objects. Therefore, one only begins progressing towards genuine knowledge when contemplating mathematical objects and subsequently reflecting on the Forms (εἶδος). Unless someone has passed through the various stages of knowing (the epistemic ladder) discussed by Plato, then one is only perceiving shadows or identifies objects via πίστις instead of apprehending those objects by dint of genuine knowledge (i.e., νόησις).

My understanding is that the cave and divided line in Plato's Republic should be read as close parallels. Granted, there are differences between the two analogies, but from what I recall, we should understand progression to be occurring in the divided line as one moves up the epistemic ladder.

Richard Hays' 1 Corinthians 11:3 Remarks

The following quote is taken from Richard Hays' commentary on 1 Corinthians. This material is just for general informational purposes:

"Another strategy would be to begin with the clause 'God is the head of Christ' (v.3) and to ask what such headship means concretely within a Trinitarian understanding of God. Paul, of course, did not have an explicit doctrine of the Trinity, and he often appears to operate with a subordinationist christology (cf. 15:28). If, however, we now read 11:3 through the lens of a theological tradition that affirms Christ's full participation in the Godhead, then we must ask ourselves how this affects our understanding of the analogy between 'God is the head of Christ' and 'man is the head of woman.' The subsequently developed orthodox doctrine of the Trinity actually works against the subordinationist implications of Paul's argument about men and women: it presses us to rethink the way in which 'in the Lord' men and women participate together in a new identity that transcends notions of superiority and inferiority. Such suggestions move us beyond simplistic arguments about whether Paul was right or wrong and enable us to rethink more deeply the substantive theological issues raised by his treatment of hairstyles in the worship
of the Corinthian church" (Richard Hays, 1
, page 192).

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Our Weapons Are Not Carnal (2 Cor. 10:3-5): Clement of Alexandria on War According to the Flesh

Paul specifically professes that Christians do not wage war carnally. Our weapons, he contends, are not fleshly but spiritual (2 Cor. 10:3-5). The inspired apostle seems to allow no room for Christians participating in wars that result in the taking of human life, whether such life can be termed innocent or not. Clement of Alexandria appears to believe that Paul's words in 2 Cor. 10:3-5 apply to carnal warfare. He reports:

"For we do not train our women like Amazons to manliness in war; since we wish the men even to be peaceable. I hear that the Sarmatian women practise war no less than the men; and the women of the Sacae besides, who shoot backwards, feigning flight as well as the men" (Stromata IV.VIII).

Elsewhere, Clement insists that Christians do not even "draw an outline" of bows or swords since they opt for peace. If Christ's professed disciples in Clement's time (generally speaking) would not even trace outlines of war armaments, then how could they actually pick them up and kill their enemies in polemic activity? Furthermore, Clement quotes Paul's words when delineating his apparently pacifistic stance. So, at least Clement, Justin and other pre-Nicenes (including Origen, Arnobius and Lactantius) thought Paul's words applied to carnal warfare and they fittingly encouraged disciples of Christ to eschew such activities.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Bruce Metzger on Revelation 20:2 (Brief Note)

Metzger's textual commentary on the GNT brings attention to a variant in Revelation 20:2. He reports that the Textus Receptus (following Aleph, 046 and P) reads TON OFIN TON ARXAION, "thus avoiding the inconcinnity of the nominative hO OFIS hO ARXAIOS" (page 687).

Word Biblical Commentary Sale Until 3/4/2018

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Isaiah 14:4 and Literary Tropicality

Isaiah 14:4 (Latin Vulgate): sumes parabolam istam contra regem Babylonis et dices quomodo cessavit exactor quievit tributum

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

I don't think there is any doubt that Isa. 14:4 (LXX) can be rendered with the use of "parable" although I will admit there are other ways parabolam may be handled or understood in the passage. But the Douay-Rheims treats the verse as follows: Thou shalt take up this parable against the king of Babylon, and shalt say: How is the oppressor come to nothing, the tribute hath ceased?

See the definitions given for parabola at

In any event, the literary context causes me to believe the words found in Isa. 14:12-20 are symbolic, poetic--not to be taken literally.

The language "Yet thou shalt be brought down to Sheol, to the uttermost parts of the pit" (ASV) are echoed elsewhere in the Tanakh and appear to be clearly tropical (i.e., non-literal). Compare Ezek. 31:1-2,15-17.