Sunday, July 29, 2018

1 Timothy 5:17: "Double Pay"?

Greek: Οἱ καλῶς προεστῶτες πρεσβύτεροι διπλῆς τιμῆς ἀξιούσθωσαν, μάλιστα οἱ κοπιῶντες ἐν λόγῳ καὶ διδασκαλίᾳ·

One Translation: "Presbyters who preside well deserve double honor, especially those who toil in preaching and teaching" (NAB).

Gordon Fee offers the following comments:
"It is clear from verse 18 that honor (see on v. 3) here includes at least pay. But it is highly unlikely that double honor means 'double pay' (as GNB), implying either twice as much as others who do not teach or twice as much as the widows. Rather it means 'twofold honor,' the honor and respect due those in such positions as well as remuneration" (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, pp. 128-129).

From William Mounce's Word Commentary:
Paul begins the first of his four statements about elders on the same note with which he began and ended the preceding discussion of widows— honor— and in both cases honor involves money. The elders who were following his instructions and doing a good job not only were worthy of the peoples’ respect but should also be paid for their work (“double honor”). He will continue in v 18 with his reason: workers should be paid. This was Paul’s general rule (1 Cor 9: 4–6; cf. Rom 13:7) although he himself often chose to earn his own living (cf. 1 Cor 4: 12; 2 Cor 11: 7– 9; 1 Thess 2: 9; cf. 2 Thess 3: 7– 9; Acts 18:3).

Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46 (Word Biblical Commentary) (Kindle Locations 14412-14413). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46 (Word Biblical Commentary) (Kindle Locations 14409-14412). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Raymond Brown and John 3:13

Looking At Greek "Tense" From An Internal Perspective (Emic Approach)

1) The ancient Greek writers were no more hyper-grammatical than we moderns are today when uttering our own native languages. For instance, most English speakers do not stop and think about nit-picky distinctions between inceptive, customary or iterative present-tense verbs. We simply speak according to the conventions of our respective speech community and normally get our message across just fine. Similarly, ancient Greek speakers did not usually stop and ask whether the verbs they read or heard were durative presents, conative presents, or ingressive aorists (an emic perspective). We "outsiders" use these categories to make sense of what we are reading (an etic perspective). The same principle applies to Latin where one encounters ablatives of specification or datives of possession. I do not think most ancient Romans had to stop and think about what kind of ablative or dative a certain construction was. But the Greeks obviously did use tenses and aspects to communicate with other Greek speakers as the Romans employed various cases in their writing and speech.

2) I think we need to differentiate between the Bible writers' grammar and the way we perceive their use of grammar. While I believe a knowledge of aspect morphology or Aktionsart can benefit the modern-day Bible student or exegete, I do not suppose the Bible writers always employed certain verb "tenses" or aspects to make theological points. Maybe the Bible writers did not use verbal tenses to formulate theological nuances at all: that is a larger question in this debate.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Rabbinic Literature in Ancient Judaism (A Brief Primer)

Religion scholars commonly distinguish biblical from rabbinic Judaism. The primary way to differentiate one type from the other is by appealing to 70 CE as the dividing point for biblical and rabbinic Judaism, when the Romans destroyed the Jewish temple and the city of Jerusalem. The type of religion practiced before 70 CE is categorized as "biblical," whereas Judaism after 70 is deemed "rabbinic." Of course, by "rabbi," I mean a teacher belonging to the Jewish religion. Jesus' disciples impute the designation to him sometimes (John 1:49). However, after 70 CE, the Jewish rabbis developed a huge body of writings respectively known as Midrashim, the Mishnah, the Gemara, and the Talmud. I will discuss each type of rabbinic literature below. Much of this discussion is indebted to Michael Molloy's book Experiencing the World's Religions, but I do not take my source material exclusively from his book.


The Jewish Encyclopedia (1906) offers this explanation of the Hebrew word, "midrash" (singular):

A term occurring as early as II Chron. xiii. 22, xxiv. 27, though perhaps not in the sense in which it came to be used later, and denoting "exposition," "exegesis," especially that of the Scriptures. In contradistinction to literal interpretation, subsequently called "peshaṭ" (comp. Geiger's "Wiss. Zeit. Jüd. Theol." v. 244), the term "midrash" designates an exegesis which, going more deeply than the mere literal sense, attempts to penetrate into the spirit of the Scriptures, to examine the text from all sides, and thereby to derive interpretations which are not immediately obvious.

An example of midrash (exegesis): Walter Brueggemann (Theology of the Old Testament, page 326) gives Amos 9:8 as an illustration of midrash insofar as it deals with "surface irregularities" of the biblical text. That verse reads:

"Behold, the eyes of the Lord Jehovah are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; save that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith Jehovah" (ASV).


Here is one description of the Mishnah:

Compiled around 200 [CE] by Judah the Prince, the Mishnah, meaning "repetition", is the earliest authoritative body of Jewish oral law. It records the views of rabbinic sages known as the Tannaim (from the Aramaic "tena", meaning to teach).

The Torah - the first five books of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, as handed down by God to Moses - forms the basis of Jewish written law. The Mishnah supplements the Torah, but its laws lack all scriptural references.



The Gemara is a commentary on the Mishnah: it is the second part of the Talmud and the word Gemara means "supplement" or "completion"; the Gemara and Mishnah jointly comprise the Talmud. The Gemara is comprised of analysis and exposition.

Talmud (Palestinian and Babylonian):

The word "Talmud" usually denotes "doctrine" or "instruction." There is a Jerusalem Talmud (also known as the "Palestinian Talmud" and its more notable counterpart, the Babylonian Talmud. The Talmud was completed ca. 500 CE, but gradually edited over time--any deviation from the Talmud is considered to be heretical.


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Obiter Dictum Pertaining to Pantheism

Writers define the concept "pantheism" as the belief that God is everything and everything is God; or some prefer to define nature in its totality as sacred, that is, all of nature is God.

However, pantheism is not going to work as a serious Judeo-Christian doctrine of God despite the 17th century efforts of Baruch Spinoza. I'm sorry, but pantheism is less than credible in my estimation and it conflicts with Scripture (Genesis 1:1; Acts 17:24; Romans 1:20; Hebrews 11:3; Revelation 4:11). Furthermore, pantheism has unseemly implications for human nature and it abolishes the ontological distinction between the Creator and the creature. I also have trouble seeing how a contingent universe could be God. Spinoza's alternative was to posit the universe as God, say everything else is a divine mode, then declare freedom to be non-existent. We call that view, hard determinism.

Immanuel Kant and German Theology

Two things I'll say compactly about The Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft):

On one hand, it has caused a number of its readers to be skeptical and doubt the existence of an objective or mind-independent world. The fruits of Kantianism with respect to German theology likewise are telling, as J.C. O'Neill brings out in The Bible's Authority: A Portrait Gallery of Thinkers from Lessing to Bultmann.

O'Neill writes:

"Kant is dogmatic about free-will in morality, but sceptical in natural science; he is dogmatic about the teleological principle of the natural order, but sceptical about teleology in morality. We must posit an almighty originator of the world [according to Kant], but we are to be completely sceptical about his existence" (page 64).

Another criticism of Kant's thinking or the legacy that emanated from it, is the proclivity to sharply dichotomize facts and values, otherwise known as the epistemological cleaving of phenomena and noumena. Mikhail Bakhtin criticized Kant on another score, namely, his evisceration of the particular ought in favor of the universal ought.

These are some negative points concerning Kant, not to mention his wrongheadedness (in some ways) and utter begging of the question when it comes to synthetic a priori judgments.

On the other hand, Kant is such an important historical figure and influential thinker that it is hard to ignore him in some ways. He analyzes the ontological and cosmological arguments for God's existence and has some interesting things to say regarding them. Those who choose to read Kant probably need to remember the biblical reminder at Ecclesiastes 12:11-12.

Monday, July 23, 2018

ζητεῖτε, Matthew 6:33 and Aspect/Aktionsart

(1) From The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament (p. 15):

"ζητεῖτε (#2426) pres. imp. act. to seek. Pres. calls for a constant attitude. Imp. followed by the fut. forms the apodosis in a Semitic cond. cl. (Beyer, 252-55)."

(2) From Daniel B. Wallace's Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (p. 499):

"In general, we can say that aspect is the unaffected meaning while Aktionsart is aspect in combination with lexical, grammatical, or contextual features. Thus, the present tense views the action from within, without respect to beginning or end (aspect), while some uses of the present tense can be iterative, historical, futuristic, etc. (all of these belong to Aktionsart and are meanings of the verb affected by other features of the language). This is the same kind of distinction we have called ontological vs. phenomenological (terms that can be applied to ANY morpho-syntactic category, not just the verb tense)."

Also, from GGBB, p. 2:

"Along the same lines, a careful distinction needs to be made between the unaffected or ontological meaning of the construction and the affected or phenomenological meaning. By 'unaffected' is meant the meaning of the construction in a vacuum--apart from contextual, lexical, or other grammatical intrusions. By 'affected' is meant the meaning of the construction in its environment--i.e., 'real life' instances."

(3) After discussing the present imperatives in Mt. 7:7 and the aorist in 1 Jn. 5:21, Moises Silva writes:

"In conclusion, we may say that an interpreter is unwise to emphasize an idea that allegedly comes from the use of a tense (or some other subtle grammatical distinction) unless the context as a whole clearly sets forth that idea. Whether the use of the tense contributes to that idea or whether it is the idea that contributes to the use of the tense is perhaps debatable, but no interpretation is worth considering unless it has strong contextual support. If it doesn't, then the use of the grammatical detail becomes irrelevant; if it does, then the grammar is at best a pointer to, not the basis of, the correct interpretation" (See Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation, pp. 262-263 edited by Moises Silva).

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Answering Questions About Judaic Angelology

(1) A Dictionary of Angels (Gustav Davidson) reports that the belief in seven archangels is derived from various sources and authorities, including 1 Enoch, 3 Enoch, Testament of Solomon and Gregory the Great (et al.).

(2) Later Judaism also interpreted the plural pronoun "us" in Gen. 1:26 as a reference to the heavenly angelic council mentioned elsewhere in Scripture (1 Kings 22:19). Of course, Irenaeus tried to combat this idea in Adversus Haereses, as did later writers in the Greek Orthodox tradition (as documented in the second volume of Jaroslav Pelikan's The Christian Tradition).

(3) I do not believe it is possible for us lowly humans to answer questions about how seraphs or messenger angels differ in appearance compared to cherubs. As the apostle John wrote, what "we" (anointed Christians) are going to be has not yet been made manifest (1 Jn. 3:1-3). Therefore, if the intricate details of heavenly or celestial realities have not been revealed to those who will one day attend the throne of God in heaven (Rev 4:1-11), is it even possible to talk meaningfully about how the angels truly appear metaphysically? The Bible does not provide a definitive answer to such questions.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Henry Alford's Explanation of 2 Peter 1:1

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

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

From Henry Alford - Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Dating the Gospel of John (External and Internal Testimony)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 16, 2018

Translating Proverbs 22:13

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

Dear "Hebrew" brothers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Notes for the Gospel of Mark 2:1-12

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

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

Remarking on this account, Eckhard J. Schnabel observes:

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

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

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

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

Jesus accomplished at least three things by performing this miracle:

A) He demonstrated that sickness is associated with sin.

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

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

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

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


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

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

Image is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

John Duns Scotus and Universal Hylomorphism

Warning: Recondite Post Ahead

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

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

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

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


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

Notice the thoughts expressed here:

Source of Duns Scotus Image:

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Sergius Bulgakov and the Pre-Nicenes (ANF)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 09, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other articles may be found here:

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Notes on Acts 11:26

From the NIDNTT:

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

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

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

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


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

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

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 01, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Exodus 22:18 (LXX): φαρμακοὺς οὐ περιποιήσετε

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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