Monday, April 30, 2018

Raymond E. Brown on Nicaea and the Use of Scripture

"A development from the Scriptures to Nicaea, at least in formulation and thought patterns, is recognized by all. Indeed, the council fathers at Nicaea were troubled over the fact that they could not answer the Arians in purely biblical categories."

Source: Raymond E. Brown, "Does the New Testament Call Jesus God?" TS 26 [1965]: 545–73.

Leave My "Bara" Alone (Genesis 1:1)

I'm not an Hebrew-Aramaic scholar, but I've followed the most recent discussions on the Hebrew term, bara, and noticed that certain scholars want to militate against traditional views of the verb's denotation.

Bara admittedly has different senses, depending on the context. "Create" even has different meanings in English: creating a song versus creating mayhem as opposed to creating progeny. We also have to look at the whole of scripture and contextualize Genesis 1:1 from which the whole issue arises. I think bereshith indicates creation is the meaning of bara in Gen. 1:1. It appears that bara and asah could be interchangeable at times, but bara likely communicates an idea that asah does not.

Considering the ancient evidence, one finds that the LXX understands bara to mean "create" and the Latin Vulgate follows suit. Is there any ancient evidence to the contrary?

I must admit it's odd to me that so many scholars and members of Judaism (including Rashi, Maimonides and Nachmanides) could be wrong about the meaning of bara. I also find it strange that the Bible at the very outset would not provide information about our ultimate origins, including the origin of matter. As I study Jewish history and what lexicographers have concluded, and most Hebrew scholars today, it is difficult for me to reject the "create" meaning for Gen. 1:1.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Scientific Limitations, Theoretical Hypotheses, and Christianity (Draft Version)

Clearly science just like religion believes there are certain premises which function as starting points--these are basic axioms, hypotheses or working assumptions (archai). Scientists who militate against these conventional premises usually are castigated and anathematized as it were; science's guild does not allow wayward dissent. The paradox of this situation is that scientific progress has often transpired because an inquiring mind was willing to go against the paradigmatic grain (e.g., the Copernican Revolution); paradigms in science usually shift when a courageous individual becomes unafraid to swim against the tide. But when paradigm shifts occur, this does not necessarily mean that a total discontinuity with past ideas has to occur.1

After the momentous work of Albert Einstein in the early 1900s, other significant developments took place in science, many of which attempted to modify or subvert Einstein's view of the universe. But I have not seen anyone completely accomplish that task yet. Granted, quantum physics did yield new aspects of "reality" and Einstein apparently was mistaken about particle physics as shown by the two-slit experiment; however, Einstein has not been toppled. To the contrary, relativity theory still has immense explanatory power. This is not to say that one day, the paradigm will not shift again. We likely will find out more about the nature of black holes, the second law of thermodynamics, the "twin paradox," the two-slit experiment and the notion of simultaneity. Nevertheless, although our paradigm might shift once more, we will not wholly disassociate ourselves from past ideas in toto.

Despite the progress that science has made, as we can see, she is not without her limitations. Paradigmatic changes are common in science and science just like religion works from a given set of presuppositions. Science has made a clean break with religion, and it has endeavored to eschew metaphysics, but without much success. What accounts for metaphysics rearing its head in scientific discussions? One reason has been due to the fact that science has its own inherent limitations. For instance, science can tell us how a particular planet or star moves, but science cannot tell us why a celestial body moves (its final cause). Empirical investigation cannot tell us why out of all the vast reaches of space, we as minute earthlings are here on this specific rock. What is the purpose of life? Why do we die? Paul Davies has indicated that science frequently runs into "turtle trouble" when it delves into metaphysics. In other words, science has an epistemological boundary when it comes to explaining things; it cannot answer the infinite regress of questions that arise from reflection on sensory experience.

Eventually we get to a point where it's no longer possible to empirically investigate certain questions any further. The problem of infinite regression inevitably arises. As one woman reportedly told Bertrand Russell, the earth is not just hanging in space, but "it's turtles all the way down." We may chuckle at such an idea since we know that the earth is not supported by turtles. Yet while we may ridicule an infinite regression of turtles, we find that science runs into the same "turtle trouble" whenever it tries to explain, for instance, the origin of life. There are obvious limitations to science, yet this paper about science is not meant to polemicize empirical investigations. Rather, the point has been 1) to show that science has inherent limitations; (2) to demonstrate that science, when kept in its proper sphere is good, but becomes less utile when one tries to make it an explanatory tool for all things related to human existence; it can become the proverbial knife that cuts the hand of its wielder; (3) to illustrate how rightly utilized science can enhance our view of the cosmos.

Personally, I love science, but know its limitations. I do not believe that we should put complete trust in science when interpreting the Bible--nor should it be ignored. A vital balance is needed: both scientism and its converse should be avoided.

"A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it." - Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds

The classic statement on paradigm shifts was made by Thomas Kuhn. See his reflections on that important work here:

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Does Jehovah Perform Miracles Today Like Healing or Cause People to Speak in Tongues? (Response to a Friend)

Dated 12/27/2005

I have no doubt that Jehovah has been working and continues to work in many ways (John 5:17). Jehovah's eyes probe the entire earth in order that he may show his strength in behalf of those whose hearts are complete toward him (2 Chronicles 16:9; John 4:23-24). Was God's blinding of the Gestapo [in modern times] a miracle? Maybe it was. There are some complexities that I do not wish to discuss here. Suffice it to say that I wonder whether the term "miracle" adequately describes God's actions toward the Gestapo.

Friend: "The preaching work is to my mind the best example. It cannot be done without God's Spirit motivating, directing, sometimes even protecting, etc those who do the work. It is not in our own "strength" that we do it."

I have no disagreements with what you say here. It just seems that the FDS [faithful and discreet slave] does not think "miracle" is the best term to describe the work that Jehovah God is doing today. Maybe you've read something different in our literature. But it seems that "miracle" is restricted to divine acts that excite wonder or amazement, acts that cannot be explained simply by the laws of nature or human power.

Addendum: Some years ago, one WT publication did use "miracle" in a looser sense to describe the invention of modern technology and new developments of the contemporary era. But such miracles would not be directly attributable to God like healing or speaking in tongues would be.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Ranko Stefanovic on Revelation 16:16: Armageddon/Harmageddon

Revelation 16:16-Harmageddon (William Milligan's Comments)

Why Har-Magedon? There was, we have every reason to believe, no such place. The name is symbolical. It is a compound word derived from the Hebrew, and signifying the mountain of Megiddo. We are thus again taken back to Old Testament history, in which the great plain of Megiddo, the most extensive in Palestine, plays on more than one occasion a notable part. In particular, that plain was famous for two great slaughters, that of the Canaanitish host by Barak, celebrated in the song of Deborah,[438] and that in which King Josiah fell.[439] The former is probably alluded to, for the enemies of Israel were there completely routed. For a similar though still more terrible destruction the hosts of evil are assembled at Har-Magedon. The Seer thinks it enough to assemble them, and to name the place. He does not need to go further or to describe the victory.
Milligan, William. The Expositor's Bible: The Book of Revelation (Kindle Locations 3649-3651). Kindle Edition.

Milligan, William. The Expositor's Bible: The Book of Revelation (Kindle Locations 3644-3649). Kindle Edition.

Milligan, William. The Expositor's Bible: The Book of Revelation (Kindle Location 3644). Kindle Edition.

Note: For you spelling purists out there, the word may be spelled "Har-Magedon," Harmagedon or Harmageddon. Also see the more recent paper written here:

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Luke 2:50: "they did not understand" (NIV)

My personal view is that there are few, if any, slam dunks in exegesis: we base our understanding of biblical texts on things other than grammar when all is said and done. Rolf Furuli brings out this point in his book on biblical translation and bias. Now exegesis is not reading one's preconceptions into the Bible; that would be eisegesis. Nevertheless, to illustrate how Greek texts have various possibilities when it comes to translation or exegesis, I would like to draw a contrast between Jesus' parents being shocked and his parents lacking comprehension in Luke 2:50. In my humble opinion, the Greek text communicates the latter understanding as opposed to the former:

"SUNHKAN aor. ind. act. SUNIHMI (# 5317) to bring together, to understand, to comprehend" (Rogers and Rogers New Linguistic and Exegetical Key, p. 114).

Moulton-Milligan say that the "literal meaning" of SUNIHMI is "bring together"; metaphorically speaking, it conveys the sense "perceive" or "understand" (Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, p. 607-608).

Finally, the NIDNTT confirms this way of approaching Luke 2:50:

CL & OT 1. In cl. Gk. the vb. syniēmi originally meant to bring together, a meaning not found in the NT. Fig., syniēmi means to perceive, take notice of, understand, comprehend. The noun synesis originally meant a joining (e.g., of rivers); then, in a transferred sense, the faculty of judgment, apprehension, understanding, insight, comprehension. Neither vb. nor noun acquired any great philosophical importance. The adj. synetos means quick at apprehending, clever; also intelligible. The opposite is asynetos, stupid or unintelligible.

In [Luke] 2:47 the insight of Jesus at twelve years of age is the subject of amazement, and there is no doubt that such insight is regarded as a gift from God. Conversely, his parents' failure to understand (2:50) must be seen as the opposite. In addition, it is the risen Christ who enables the downcast disciples on the Emmaus road to understand the Scriptures and to grasp the fact that his sufferings were foreordained by God (24:45).

This brief exercise illustrates how when we're faced with two or more possible options for translating a Greek word, the deciding factor will be context and passages in which a word is similarly used by other writers. We must also consider the synchronic features of a word--not just the diachronic features.

Aspect, Aktionsart and 1 John 3:9

There are a number of fine works that examine aspect and Aktionsart from different perspectives. However, I
would initially like to mention Rolf Furuli's approach to tense and aspect.

Rolf, like Bernard Comrie, evidently defines tense as "the grammaticalization of location in time" (Furuli, The Role of Theology, 75). He then writes:

"Given Comrie's definition of 'tense,' neither Hebrew nor Greek have tenses, save possibly Greek future, which is viewed by most researchers as a tense" (ibid).

Alhough I have read the studies produced by Porter, Furuli, Fanning and McKay, I have been very hesitant to concur with the non-temporal view of Greek tenses ex toto. In my personal estimation, there does not seem to be good reason for totally removing the notion of tempus from Greek tenses, even when the future "tense" is not under consideration. But I do believe that aspect is more prominent than the concept of tempus when it comes to Greek tenses. Furthermore, Wallace and Fanning seem to have a point when they contend that a number of factors (i.e., affected vs. non-affected meaning) provide temporal data in Greek.

Firstly, as Richard Young points out, "Although the thesis that time is not grammaticalized in Greek may sound extreme, it seems to be the logical conclusion one draws from the study of the nuances of Greek 'tenses'" (Young, Intermediate NT Greek, 105). However, Young qualifies this remark:

"Nevertheless, there is still merit in the traditional view that temporal distinctions are grammaticalized in the indicative mood, even though it results in a greater number of anomalies. This does not necessarily indicate a flaw in the analysis, since all languages have forms which overlap into the semantic domain of other forms" (ibid., 107).

S. M. Baugh (A First John Reader, 52) argues that "the function and force of tense forms varies with the different moods." Therefore, "An author chooses the tense form of a participle and the tense form of a complementary infinitive for different reasons" (ibid.). He then illustrates this argument with the example of 1 Jn. 3:9.

Baugh believes that three factors buttress his interpretation of 1 Jn. 3:9.

(1) The immediate context.

(2) The lexical significance of hAMARTANEIN.

(3) The influence of DUNAMAI upon the tense form of its complementary infinitive.

He contends that since the infinitive form of hAMARTANW does not appear elsewhere in the NT, John must have used the infinitive at 3:9 to signal an ongoing activity, not a state. He concludes: "the phrase OU DUNATAI hAMARTANEIN in 1 John 3:9 expresses the fact that the Christian is prevented by the new birth and the abiding presence of God from falling into persistent sin" (52).

In ftn. 16 on page 52 of his A First John Reader, Baugh also addresses views posited by Smalley and Wallace regarding this verse. He demonstrates that 1 John 5:16 with its use of hAMARTANONTA does not eradicate the iterative force of 1 Jn. 3:9--hAMARTANONTA is an adverbial present participle utilized to express action contemporaneous with the main verb. John's discussion of sin differs in this regard.

Baugh thus insists that time may be grammaticalized in certain moods. I encourage you to read his entire Excursus in A First John Reader as well as Baugh's comments regarding aspect in the Primer that he produced. You might also want to review D. B. Wallace's assessment of the temporal and non-temporal views of Greek "tense." See Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 504-510. Compare Stanley Porter's research with Buist Fanning's Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Hebrew Names and Greek Morphology

One work I'd highly recommend is A Morphology of New Testament Greek: A Review and Reference Grammar (Lanham and New York: University Press of America, 1994) by James A. Brooks and Carlton L. Winbery. You will have access to a number of morphological forms by using this grammar.

This reference work shows that IEREMIAS (nominative) would be IEREMIOU in the genitive singular. But IOUDAS would be IOUDA because some -AS nouns (masculine first declension) end with a genitive -OU, whereas others terminate with the Doric ending -A in the genitive singular. This phenomenon is what might be confusing at first--Brooks and Winbery provide helpful information on p. 49ff of their book.

Notes on Colossians 2:9: "Bodily"?

Robertson's Word Pictures states: "Paul here asserts that 'all the PLHRWMA of the Godhead,' not just certain aspects, dwells in Christ and in bodily form (SWMATIKWS, late and rare adverb, in Plutarch, inscription, here only in N.T.), dwells now in Christ in his glorified humanity (Philippians 2:9-11), 'the body of his glory' (TWi SWMATI THS DOXHS)."

Louw-Nida (8.2): "SWMATIKWS: EN AUTWi KATOIKEI PAN TO PLHRWMA SWMATIKWS: 'in him all the fullness of deity dwells bodily' or . . . in physical form' Col 2.9. It is also possible to interpret SWMATIKWS in Col 2.9 as meaning 'in reality,' that is to say, 'not symbolically' (see 70.7)."

BDAG suggests that SWMATIKWS (adverbial of SWMATIKOS) bears the potential sense "bodily, corporeally" and probably should be understood from Col 2:17 "as = in reality, not fig." See page 984.

Roger and Rogers New Linguistic and Exegetical Key agrees with Robertson concerning SWMATIKWS: "The word [in Col 2:9] refers to the human body of Christ (Johnson, 310), indicating also the full humanity of Jesus a humanity which was not simply a covering for His deity (Lohse; TDNT; Moule; Lohmeyer; O'Brien).

But Petr Pokorny is most certainly right when he concludes: "The concept SWMA has a further meaning that comes to light especially in ---> 2:17. SWMA is also the archetype (---> 1:15), the reality in contrast to the shadow and copy. This is the most probable meaning here, given the framework of the interpretation of 2:19" (Colossians:
A Commentary
, 122).

Saturday, April 21, 2018

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (An Emphasis on Divine Comfort)

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (SBLGNT): Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ πατὴρ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν καὶ θεὸς πάσης παρακλήσεως, 4 ὁ παρακαλῶν ἡμᾶς ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ θλίψει ἡμῶν, εἰς τὸ δύνασθαι ἡμᾶς παρακαλεῖν τοὺς ἐν πάσῃ θλίψει διὰ τῆς παρακλήσεως ἧς παρακαλούμεθα αὐτοὶ ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ. 5 ὅτι καθὼς περισσεύει τὰ παθήματα τοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἡμᾶς, οὕτως διὰ τοῦ Χριστοῦ περισσεύει καὶ ἡ παράκλησις ἡμῶν. 6 εἴτε δὲ θλιβόμεθα, ὑπὲρ τῆς ὑμῶν παρακλήσεως καὶ σωτηρίας· [a]εἴτε παρακαλούμεθα, ὑπὲρ τῆς ὑμῶν παρακλήσεως τῆς ἐνεργουμένης ἐν ὑπομονῇ τῶν αὐτῶν παθημάτων ὧν καὶ ἡμεῖς πάσχομεν, 7 καὶ ἡ ἐλπὶς ἡμῶν βεβαία ὑπὲρ [b]ὑμῶν· εἰδότες ὅτι [c]ὡς κοινωνοί ἐστε τῶν παθημάτων, οὕτως καὶ τῆς παρακλήσεως.

"Note that the word 'comfort,' as a noun or a verb, occurs ten times in this passage. It has the connotations of encouragement and strength as well as consolation" (Philip B. Harner, An Inductive Approach to Biblical Study, 100).

Also notice how Paul elsewhere uses words for comfort in his second letter to the Corinthians.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Attributive Genitive (Wallace)

Daniel B. Wallace (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, pp. 78-88) explains that in the case of the attributive genitive, "The genitive substantive specifies an attribute or innate quality of the head substantive. It is similar to a simple adjective in its semantic force, though more emphatic: it 'expresses quality like an adjective indeed, but with more sharpness and distinctness.'"

The last part of that quote is taken from A.T. Robertson's big grammar.

As Wallace points out, the genitive itself (whether possessive or descriptive, etc.) is grammatically substantival, but semantically adjectival; that is, the genitive functions like an adjective, although it is formally a substantive (i.e., a noun).

See Luke 16:9; Romans 6:6 for potential examples.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Joel Green on Luke 17:21

Joel B. Green explains:

Attempts to read Luke's ἐντὸς ὑμῶν as a reference to the inward, spiritual dynamic of the kingdom of God (e.g., Caragounis, “Kingdom of God?” 423–24) find ready adherents in this age of psychology and individualism here in the West. But they falter especially on the grounds that (1) nowhere else in Luke-Acts is the dominion of God regarded as an inner, spiritual reality; and (2) the notion that the Pharisees contain within themselves the kingdom of God is inconsistent with the Lukan portrayal of persons from this Jewish group. For the usage of ἐντός + plural object with the sense “among,” see the survey in Mattill, Last Things, 203–7. Cf. Lebourlier, “Entos hymōn”; Maddox, Purpose, 134; Carroll, End of History, 79. An alternative translation is grammatically possible and makes sense within this co-text—namely, “within your purview” (cf. the related views of Darr, Character Building, 11314; Beasley-Murray, Kingdom of God, 102–3).

See The Gospel of Luke, page 1607.


The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies (A Review)

Tremper Longman III and Mark L. Strauss. The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2018.

I'm amazed at how useful this concise dictionary is. One usually encounters numerous technical terms in academic biblical studies: many of the words tend to perplex unseasoned readers. Even those of us who have become acclimated to reading professional biblical studies may find ourselves confounded by theological vocabulary or termini technici associated with scriptural studies.

The new work written by Longman III and Strauss provides definitions for unfamiliar terms and it contains entries for place names, personal names, academic specialties, and the definitions are clear and specific. Not only do the authors discuss strictly biblical topics or words, but even words that apply to the ancient world at large are found in the dictionary. For example, an informative paragraph about the Epicureans not only defines the word, but says that Epicurus was a materialist who believed that matter and space exist--bodies and motion--but nothing else.

There is not much written about Shekinah, other than the term is rabbinic and derives from a Hebrew verb meaning "to dwell." The book provides more information for the word "Ketuvim." An acronym for the Hebrew Bible is Tanakh (also spelled Tanach or Tanak): these letters stand for Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible), Nevi'im (the Prophets), and Ketuvim refers to "the Writings." Which books comprise the Nevi'im and the Ketuvim? The Baker Compact Dictionary supplies accurate and helpful definitions for each one of these words.

While I by no means endorse everything that this dictionary asserts, readers of academic biblical literature will be hard pressed to find a resource that has this much content for such a low price. I also want to thank Baker Books for sending me a review copy of this publication; I was not under obligation to give a favorable review.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

DOXA in Exodus and Ezekiel LXX

Exod. 16:10 proclaims that Jehovah's glory "appeared" in the cloud--it was some kind of visible manifestation. Compare Exod. 13:21; 16:7; 24:16; 40:34-35; Numbers 16:42; Ezekiel 3:23. Ezekiel 43:2 states that the earth shone because of God's glory.

It's hard for me to understand how one can deny that YHWH's glory in Ezekiel 1:28 is visible, bright, and overwhelming to the prophet. I also do not necessarily see the brilliance restricted to lightning in the verse: "The meaning is, In the brightness, or light, that was about what I saw, was the appearance of the rainbow" (Benson Commentary).

2 Cor. 3:18 mentions beholding the Lord's glory-DOXA "as in a glass" (KJV) which again connotes visibility on some level. Furthermore, Paul urges that "we" are changed "into the same image from glory to glory" by the spirit of God.

This page contains plenty of information on DOXA:

The rendering "glory" is vague, but the basic idea is still conveyed that the word DOXA potentially refers to external splendor, an outward manifestation of brilliance, etc.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

John 1:29 and "Sin"

Τῇ ἐπαύριον βλέπει τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐρχόμενον πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ λέγει· ἴδε ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ αἴρων τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου. (John 1:29 NA28)

" The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (ESV)

Why does 1:29 say τὴν ἁμαρτίαν (singular) instead of the plural form "sins"?

Robert Mounce: Temple, 1:24, writes that John uses the singular (“sin”) because there is only one sin and it is characteristic of the entire world, “the self-will which prefers ‘my’ way to God's— which puts ‘me’ in the centre where only God is in place.”

See Mounce, Robert H.. John (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (Kindle Locations 1758-1760). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Stanley Porter believes that 1:29 uses the singular form "to represent sin in its collective sense" (John, His Gospel, and Jesus, page 210). Compare Westcott (John, 1:40).

Rogers and Rogers claim the singular form appears in 1:29 in order to reference "the mass of sin and the subsequent guilt incurred (Godet; Hoskyns)."

On the other hand, before reading too much into the singular, maybe one should compare 1 John 3:5 and other texts that speak of the Lamb (Jesus) taking "sins" away.

Friday, April 06, 2018

David Stewart and Arguments for God's Existence

David Stewart and Arguments for God's Existence

1. William Paley uses the complexity of a watch and its parts along with order and motion to suggest an intelligent designer.

2. The world and its order are being compared to artifacts that exemplify design, intelligence and mechanical skill.

3. A watch or another artifact might be imperfect; for example, a watch might seldom tell the correct time or sometime fail to work properly. Nevertheless, one might still arrive at the conclusion that watches have designers, albeit imperfect ones. (p. 145)

4. Most people would not be inclined to believe that a watch just came to be organized in the form of a watch by an impersonal "principle of order" (p. 146); watches do not assume their respective forms by chance or random events (p. 146). Compare Heb. 3:4.

5. Another way to confront secular views of God is by emphasizing problematic features of things that infinitely regress (p. 148). See the first and second "way" of Aquinas' cosmological argument. If the universe has always existed and did not have a beginning, it would be an example of infinite regression. However, what are the chances that the cosmos infinitely regresses?

6. Immanuel Kant possibly makes a case for God or a supreme being by appealing to the existence of morality and ethics (p. 154). Is it possible for morality to exist without God? See Romans 2:14-15.

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

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

John 14:1-Interacting with Scholarship and the Greek Text

Μὴ ταρασσέσθω ὑμῶν ἡ καρδία· πιστεύετε εἰς τὸν θεόν, καὶ εἰς ἐμὲ πιστεύετε. (John 14:1 SBLGNT)

This verse is part of the Upper Room Discourse given by Jesus to his apostles on the night before his sacrificial death. Jesus encouraged his disciples not to let their hearts be troubled although he possibly meant "stop being troubled" (Robert H. Mounce). What would help the disciples of Jesus to avoid becoming faith of heart? His next words provide the answer:

"Trust in God, trust also in me." Moreover, according to Mounce:

Jesus is saying to his disciples, “You do trust in God; therefore trust also in me [pisteuete, “trust,” GK 4409, can be taken as indicative or imperative in either clause]. Have I not yet convinced you that I and my Father are one [10:30; cf. 17: 21– 23]? If the Father is worthy of your trust, so also is the Son.” In light of this, then, Jesus urges, “You must not let yourselves be distressed” (Phillips).

Mounce, Robert H. John (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (Kindle Locations 6942-6944). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Mounce understands the first πιστεύετε to be indicative while he thinks the second πιστεύετε is imperative although he points out that either occurrence of the verb could be indicative or imperative. What difference does the verb's mood make?

Again, quoting Mounce:

The interpretation of v. 1b adopted above takes the first πιστεύετε (pisteuete, GK 4409) as indicative and the second as imperative. Since both can be indicative or imperative in either location (plus the fact that the first may be taken as a question), a rather confusing number of possibilities are available. Jesus is about to be rejected by the nation’s leaders as the promised Messiah, and this event will expose the disciples’ faith to an extreme test. So he encourages them that since they do believe in God they are also to maintain their belief in him, regardless of his coming rejection and death.

Mounce, Robert H.. John (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (Kindle Locations 7048-7052). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Mounce, Robert H.. John (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (Kindle Locations 7052-7053). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

W. Harris Hall offers these comments on the grammatical questions in John 14:1

"The translation of the two uses of pisteuete is difficult. Both may be either indicative or imperative, and as Morris points out, this results in a bewildering variety of possibilities.118 To complicate matters further the first may be understood as a question: 'Do you believe in God? Believe also in me.' Morris argues against the AV (KJV) translation which renders the first pisteuete as indicative and the second as imperative on the grounds that for the writer of the Fourth Gospel, faith in Jesus is inseparable from faith in God."


D.A. Carson also discusses the Upper Room Discourse although he calls it, "the Farewell Discourse." One thing I like about Carson's treatment of John 14:1 is that he links Philippians 4:6-7 with the verse: we might also associate Colossians 3:15 in this case. On the other hand, I must offer some critical remarks regarding Carson's exposition of this passage.

Carson believes the indicative/imperative question is "incidental" from one perspective since "in either case Jesus is linking himself directly with God" (page 20). He reckons that John 14:1 constitutes a transparent "claim to deity." His reasoning is that all first-century Jews knew they had to trust in God, but what Jew would put trust in a man the same way that he/she trusted in God (YHWH)? Besides, at some point, a man is going to disappoint us and dash our hopes somehow. But Jesus would never let us down or disappoint us (1 Peter 2:6).

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

Response: Carson imports large assumptions into his exposition of John 14:1. The verse doesn't exactly declare, "trust in me like you trust in God." Christ just urges his disciples to trust in God and his Son. The verse could be read from the perspective of agency, that is, one could reason that Christ is the agent of God sent to accomplish the divine will. He is the holy one of God (the Messiah), but not necessarily God himself (John 6:69; 17:3). Yes, I'm aware of John 1:1c. But that verse needs to be exegeted with care. Carson and Mounce will not agree, but I see a conceptual parallel between John 14:1 and 2 Chronicles 20:20:

καὶ ὤρθρισαν πρωὶ καὶ ἐξῆλθον εἰς τὴν ἔρημον Θεκωε καὶ ἐν τῷ ἐξελθεῖν ἔστη Ιωσαφατ καὶ ἐβόησεν καὶ εἶπεν ἀκούσατέ μου Ιουδα καὶ οἱ κατοικοῦντες ἐν Ιερουσαλημ ἐμπιστεύσατε ἐν κυρίῳ θεῷ ὑμῶν καὶ ἐμπιστευθήσεσθε ἐμπιστεύσατε ἐν προφήτῃ αὐτοῦ καὶ εὐοδωθήσεσθε (LXX).

Note on Rhetorical Devices:

It appears that John 14:1 employs a rhetorical device. Notice the syntax, πιστεύετε εἰς τὸν θεόν, καὶ εἰς ἐμὲ πιστεύετε.

I might reword the structure like this: "trust in (A) God (B) and in me (B) trust (B)." Observe that "trust" (a verb) begins and ends the clause. We apparently have a chiastic arrangement in 14:1 that not only begins and ends with "trust," but uses verbs and prepositional phrases in a rhetorical manner. See

Monday, April 02, 2018

Thomas Aquinas on Lying

Here is a passage from Thomas Aquinas taken from the Summa Theologica (Second part of the second part, question 110):

"As regards the end in view, a lie may be contrary to charity, through being told with the purpose of injuring God, and this is always a mortal sin, for it is opposed to religion; or in order to injure one's neighbor, in his person, his possessions or his good name, and this also is a mortal sin, since it is a mortal sin to injure one's neighbor, and one sins mortally if one has merely the intention of committing a mortal sin. But if the end intended be not contrary
to charity, neither will the lie, considered under
this aspect, be a mortal sin, as in the case of a
jocose lie, where some little pleasure is intended, or
in an officious lie, where the good also of one's
neighbor is intended. Accidentally a lie may be
contrary to charity by reason of scandal or any other
injury resulting therefrom: and thus again it will be
a mortal sin, for instance if a man were not deterred
through scandal from lying publicly."

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Galatians 4:6-Potential Readings

Ὅτι δέ ἐστε υἱοί, ἐξαπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ εἰς τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν κρᾶζον· αββα ὁ πατήρ. (Galatians 4:6 NA28)

"And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!'" (ESV)

Ὅτι δέ ἐστε υἱοί ἐξαπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ εἰς τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν κρᾶζον Αββα ὁ πατήρ (TR)

"And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." (KJV)

Hence, should the verse read "our hearts" or "your hearts"?

Douglas J. Moo explains:
"The one variant worthy of comment in this verse is the variation in pronoun after εἰς τὰς καρδίας. This variant is one of the more common ones found in the NT, the difference being of only one letter, with both pronouns often making perfectly good contextual sense. The earliest and best MSS (𝔓⁴⁶ א B et al.) read the first-person plural ἡμῶν, 'into our hearts.' But other MSS (𝔐 along with D², Ψ, 33) have the second-person plural ὑμῶν, 'into your hearts.' In addition to having the stronger external support, the former reading, because it involves a shift in person in midverse—'because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts'—is the more difficult reading. It is rather clear, then, that it should be preferred (Metzger 1994: 526; for the contrary opinion, see Witherington 1998: 289–90)."

See Moo, Galatians, 519-520.

P46 just states that God has sent "his spirit into our hearts." It omits τοῦ υἱοῦ. See Howard Eshbaugh, "Textual Variants and Theology: A Study of the Galatians Text of Papyrus 46," JSNT 3 (1979): 60-72.

The potential date for P46 is ca. 200-225 CE.


The link above contains images of P46.