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" (

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.


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.


William Lane Craig's work on the subject equally has commanded wide-ranging attention. See

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)


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

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

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:



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

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.


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.


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).