Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Meaning of NEPES/PSYCHE in Scripture

The word "soul" (Hebrew nepes and Greek psyche) apparently has three primary meanings in the Bible:

(1) A human person (Genesis 2:7).

(2) An animal.

(3) The life enjoyed by a person or animal (Genesis 9:3-5).

Genesis 2:7 describes Adam becoming a "living being" (Amplified Bible) or a "living soul" (New World Translation 1984). The Apostle Paul invokes this account when reproving some in the Corinthian ecclesia (1 Cor. 15:45). Furthermore, the Bible calls animals "souls" in Numbers 31:28; Ezekiel 47:9; Revelation 8:9; 16:3. For an example of psyche denoting "life," see Matthew 16:25; 20:28.

Technically, I do not believe there is a metaphysical dichotomy between the body and the soul in the OT or NT. A number of biblical commentators have noted this point:

"The Jewish origin of the word [psyche] is determinative: Nephesh is the living quality of the flesh. The soul belongs to man's earthly existence. It does not exist without physical life. It is not, say, freed by death, then to live its untrammelled purity. Death is its end. The word psyche can also mean the person, and this is related to SWMA, SARX and PNEUMA (Rom. 16:4: hUPER THS YUXHS MOU 'For my life')" (An Outline of the Theology of the New Testament. Hans Conzelmann. 179).

Notice where the "souls" are located in Rev. 6:9; they are "at the foot of the altar" (Amplified Bible), and this description reminds one of Lev. 4:7 where the Aaronic priest is commanded to pour out the blood of a bull at the "base of the altar" (Amplified Bible). Why was the priest to pour out blood at the foot of the altar? Because the life ("soul") of the flesh was in the blood (Lev. 17:14). That's why there is no remission of sins unless blood is poured out (Heb. 9:22ff).

What bearing does this information have on Rev. 6:9? Well in that verse the blood of martyrs is symbolically envisioned at God's heavenly "altar." The blood is not poured out to forgive sins within that context: it has been spilled by God's enemies. Therefore, the blood ("souls") in Rev. 6:9 does not cry for mercy, but for vengeance. The same thing happened when Abel's blood was shed (Gen. 4:10,11; Heb. 12:24). His blood also cried from the ground. Did this mean that Abel's blood was a living thing? Or was this simply a personification of an inanimate thing because of what blood symbolizes in the Bible? Please note that James 5:4 exclaims that "wages" held back from poor workers cried out in the first century. Surely "wages" are not living, sentient things, are they? I hope this discussion will give some insight into why I do not believe that Rev. 6:9 teaches the soul is immortal (cf. Rev. 18:11-13). Nor do other scriptural verses.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Pronouncing Ancient Greek Words

How should ancient Greek morphemes be pronounced? According to Brooks and Winbery's book on morphology, there are at least 4 principal ways to pronounce Greek phonemes/morphemes. Moreover, one Gifford Fellow at the University of Glasgow, who was completing his doctoral work at Cambridge University when I resided in the UK, told me that Cambridge (UK) has its own distinct way to pronounce Latin and Greek words. His statement accords with what I've studied about ancient Greek and Latin phonology wherein books delineate how those in Great Britain traditionally have articulated Latin or Greek. So this subject opens a can of worms to be sure.

None of us can be sure how ancient Greek words were or should be pronounced. Some argue that modern Greek vocalization is pretty close to the ancient while others vigorously dispute the claim. At any rate, I'm not always consistent in my pronunciation of omega. Sometimes I pronounce it as an English long "o" (as in "go") and other times I say "aw" as in the English "saw" or "law." See Donald Mastronarde's Intro to Attic Greek, p. 12.

In ANTILUTRON (1 Timothy 2:6, I once stated that the iota could be either long or short, depending on the Greek accent; however, I would now urge readers to pronounce it with long "i" although some might demur from my suggestion. But the upsilon should probably be pronounced like a long/short French or German "u."

Okay, let the beating commence.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Exodus 3:5 and Joshua 5:15: Sandals/Sandal

A friend asked me about the language contained in Exodus 3:5 and Joshua 5:15. One verse says "take off your sandals" but the other passage speaks of one sandal rather than two. Why the difference?

My answer:

Interesting question about the sandals. A book written by Hebrew scholar Bruce Waltke (Hebrew Syntax) addresses the issue. In section 7.2.1 of Waltke's "Syntax," here's what we read:

"With countables the singular serves to enumerate one object. With entities that Hebrew counts as 'one object' or 'more than one object,' the singular usually enumerates the referent as an individual. Countable nouns are the most common."

"With collectives the singular designates a group. Some words in Hebrew, like 'fish,’ ‘sheep,’ and ‘fruit’ in English, are treated as collectives and represented by the singular. As noted above, English and Hebrew differ in their distribution of countables and collectives. Collectives occur in both grammatical genders. A collective singular may not agree in number with other words in the sentence syntactically related to it (cf. English ‘the sheep are in the field’ versus ‘the wheat is…’; 6.6); thus a singular collective noun can govern a plural verb. We distinguish between words in Hebrew that are conventionally collective (i.e., words almost always represented in the singular) and those that are nonconventionally collective (i.e., words that are often represented by the plural but for contextual reasons may be represented by a collective)."

When I checked Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew-English Lexicon, it said the usage in Joshua 5:15 is an example of a "dual" form. In other words, the singular is used to describe a "pair" of sandals rather than just one shoe. That is why translations usually render with the plural "sandals" although the word is grammatically singular or "dual." Compare Amos 2:6; 8:6.

This subject also makes me wonder about Augustine of Hippo's famous Latin words, inquietum est cor nostrum, which are usually translated "our hearts are restless."

Proverbs 12:10a (Showing Mercy to Animals)

Some of the older commentators somewhat entertain me as I'm reading them. For instance, John Trapp on Proverbs 12:10a:

"There be beasts ad usum, et ad esum. Some are profitable alive, not dead, as the dog, horse, &c.; some dead, not alive, as the hog; some both, as the ox. There is a mercy to be shewed to these dumb creatures, as we see in Eleazar; [Genesis 24:32] and the contrary in Balaam, who spurred his ass till she spake. [Numbers 22:27-28] Otherwise we shall make them 'groan under the bondage of our corruption,' [Romans 8:21] and he that hears the young ravens, may hear them, for 'he is gracious.' [Exodus 22:27] The restraint that was of eating the blood of dead beasts, declared that he would not have tyranny exercised on them while they are alive."

On the other hand, Michael V. Fox writes:

"In only a few places in the Bible is humanitarian concern shown toward animals: One must not muzzle an ox when threshing (Deut 25:4). When taking eggs from a nest, one must not seize 'the mother together with the children' (Deut 22:6). A sacrificial animal must be left with its mother for seven days after birth (Exod 22:29; Lev 22:27). One must not sacrifice an animal and its offspring on the same day (Lev 22:28). One must not seethe a kid in its mother's milk (Exod 23:19b = 34:26b = Deut 14:21b; see Haran 1985). The motives for these injunctions are not transparent, but humanitarian feelings are certainly reflected in some of them. These concerns may be motivated less by sympathy for the animals' suffering (for they will still suffer) than by a sense of decency, a desire to respect the
proper order. Solicitude for one's livestock also has a practical aspect, since it is
just good husbandry to keep them well-fed; see Prov 27:23–27" (Proverbs 10-31: A New Translation, Anchor Bible Commentary).

From Bruce Waltke (The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 1-15):

The topic of sensible wealth (v. 8) now shifts from the well-earned prosperity of the righteous in contrast to feigned wealth (v. 9) to caring for, not exploiting, the worker (v. 10). A righteous person, who by definition serves others, not self (see p. 97-98), is one who knows [i.e., listens to, pays attention to, and internally empathizes with the need; see 1:2]⁵⁵ the desires [or “appetites and drives,” nepeš; see p. 90) of his animal (behēmâ). Behēmâ refers to any four-footed domesticated animal such as a horse or mule (see Neh. 12:14; Isa. 30:6; 46:1), or one of his cattle or flocks (see Lev. 1:2). The Creator has compassion for animals (cf. Deut. 11:15; Pss. 36:6b [7b]; 104:14, 17; Jon. 4:11) and in his law he commanded Israel to share his sabbaths with them (Exod. 20:10; 23:11–12; Lev. 25:1–7). The proverb probably entails an argument a minores ad maiores. If one shows mercy in the lesser creation, how much more in the greater.⁵⁶ Providing for the needs of the working ox functions in the law as a proverb for taking care of one’s workers (Deut. 25:4; 1 Cor. 9:9–10).⁵⁷ If so, there may be a connection between owning a slave (v. 9) and caring for him by anticipating his needs (v. 10).

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Genesis 3:21--Whence the Skins?

"And Jehovah God made for Adam and for his wife coats of skins, and clothed them" (ASV).

A basic question that arises with this account is from where did Jehovah derive the "coats of skins." Were animals slain in order for Adam and Eve to be given these coats?

Expositor's Bible Commentary--Old Testament (Abridged Edition): "The mention of the type of clothing that God made—'garments of skin,' i.e., tunics—is perhaps intended to recall the state of the man and the woman before the Fall: 'naked' and 'no shame' (2:25). The author may also be anticipating the notion of sacrifice in the animals slain for the making of the skin garments (cf. Ex 28:42)."

Victor Hamilton, The Book of Genesis 1-17: "It is probably reading too much into this verse to see in the coats of skin a hint of the use of animals and blood in the sacrificial system of the OT cultus.¹² The word we have translated coats is the one that is used to describe the garment Jacob made for Joseph (e.g., 37:3). It is true that the word skin here refers to animal skins, and we do have in Genesis itself the idea of animal skins as coverings. See 27:16, where Rebekah 'put on' (same verb as here) the hands and neck of Jacob 'the skins of the kids' so that Jacob would feel like and smell like Esau to Isaac. But keṯōneṯ is more than simply a covering. It is an actual robelike garment worn next to one's skin. Both men (2 Sam. 15:32) and women (2 Sam. 13:18, 19; Cant. 5:3) could wear it (cf. Gen. 3:21). A keṯōneṯ was also one of the garments worn by the priests, and it was made from linen (Exod. 28:39; 39:27)."

While conducting research on this question, I read that Augustine of Hippo believed God used "dead cattle" to provide skins for Adam and Eve. One source also quotes another view of interest:

THEODORET OF CYRUS. How are we to understand the clothing of skins? Allegorizing commentators (Origen, Didymus, and Theodore) have claimed that the skins were mortal flesh, others that they were made from the bark of trees. But I adopt neither of these views; the latter is merely inquisitive, the former too much of a mythological fable. Since holy Scripture says that the body was formed even before the soul, how can this claim that the man and woman took mortal flesh only after the transgression of the commandment amount to anything but a fable? And it strikes me as futile to pry into the way God came by skins and to imagine a novel form of clothing. We should be content with the text, acknowledge that there is no task beyond the Creator of the universe, and admire the unlimited goodness of God who, taking care for sinners, did not overlook their need for clothing when they were naked. [Theodoret of Cyrus, Question 39 on Genesis]


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Luke 18:8--"The Faith" and "This Faith"

Notes for Luke 18:8

Greek: λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ποιήσει τὴν ἐκδίκησιν αὐτῶν ἐν τάχει. πλὴν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐλθὼν ἆρα εὑρήσει τὴν πίστιν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς

NET: "I tell you, he will give them justice speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

NWT 2013: "I tell you, he will cause justice to be done to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man arrives, will he really find this faith on the earth?"

Luke's Greek has the definite article ("the"), but to emphasize that a particular kind of faith is being discussed contextually, NWT translates "this faith" which indicates demonstrative force. In other words, the "faith" discussed must be interpreted in harmony with the parable of the unrighteous judge and the persistent widow.

Albert Barnes' Notes: "He asks them here whether, when he came, he should find 'this faith,' or a belief of 'this truth,' among his followers? Would they be found persevering in prayer, and 'believing' that God would yet avenge them; or would they cease to pray 'always, and faint?'"

Robertson's Word Pictures: "āra comes in the middle of the sentence instead of near the beginning, an unusual position for either inferential αρα — āra or interrogative αρα — āra
On the whole the interrogative αρα — āra is probably correct, meaning to question if the Son will find a persistence of faith like that of the widow."

Henry Alford's GT: "for ἡ πίστις, though ‘faith’ generally, is yet here faith in reference to the object of the parable—faith which has endured in prayer without fainting. Or the meaning may be general and objective; as in reff."

Bengel's Gnomon: "τὴν πίστιν) the faith, whereby the godly trust in the Lord, and cry to Him."

Cambridge Greek Testament: "ἆρα εὑρήσει τὴν πίστιν; ‘Shall He find this faith on the earth?’ So St Peter tells of scoffers in the last days who shall say 'Where is the promise of His coming?' 2 Peter 3:3-4; and before that day 'the love of many shall wax cold,' Matthew 24:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Even the faith of God's elect will in the last days be sorely tried (Matthew 24:22). Ἆρα is like the Latin num. Comp. Galatians 2:17 ἆρα Χριστὸς ἁμαρτίας διάκονος;"

Joel Green, The Gospel of Luke: "In fact, according to the Greek text of v 8, Jesus' question is not concerned with 'faith' (in general) but with 'the faith'⁷⁵—that is, that manner of faith demonstrated by the widow in the antecedent parable. These two motifs—the certainty of God's justice and the call for resolute faithfulness in anticipation of that certainty—come in for development on account of the situation Jesus has anticipated in 17:22–25."

John, Jesus, History, volume 3. See BDAG.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Job 6:2-3: "Wild Talk"

Anguish (mental and physical pain or suffering) sometimes causes us to say and do things that we don't really mean; what people say in the midst of pain may not truly reflect what they are at heart (Ecclesiastes 7:7). For instance, the faithful man Job experienced indescribable anguish at the hands of Satan the Devil. What can we learn from his mental and physical anguish?

In Job 6:2-3 (ESV), we read this exclamation:

“Oh that my vexation were weighed, and all my calamity laid in the balances! For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea; therefore my words have been rash."

εἰ γάρ τις ἱστῶν στήσαι μου τὴν ὀργήν τὰς δὲ ὀδύνας μου ἄραι ἐν ζυγῷ ὁμοθυμαδόν
καὶ δὴ ἄμμου παραλίας βαρυτέρα ἔσται ἀλλ᾽ ὡς ἔοικεν τὰ ῥήματά μού ἐστιν φαῦλα

Brenton translates Job 6:3: "And verily they would be heavier than the sand by the seashore: but, as it seems, my words are vain."

But see how Aquila renders the Hebrew account:

See 1 Maccabees 3:51.

Luther Bible in German (1912): Denn nun ist es schwerer als Sand am Meer; darum gehen meine Worte irre.

Keil-Delitzsch: Referring to Job, they say, "His words are like those of one in delirium."

Job speaks of his anguish or vexation being "heavier than the sand of the sea." The result is that his speech becomes "wild talk" (NWT) or as the footnote in the NWT points out: “rash or reckless speech.” Compare Proverbs 20:25.

So Job articulated thoughts in a way that did not reflect his true heart motivation--he also apparently thought that Jehovah no longer cared whether he remained faithful or not (Job 9:20-22). Consequently, Job exclaimed that he did not want to go on living: "Therefore, I will not restrain my mouth. I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in my bitter distress. I loathe my life; I do not want to go on living. Leave me alone, for my days are like a breath” (Job 7:11, 16).

Similarly today, a brother or sister might become utterly discouraged or depressed. They may begin to speak “wildly” or rashly; but how might this kind of talk be handled?

Although it may be difficult, in these circumstances, it is good to remember how anguish can affect people. In the words of Proverbs 24:10: "If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small" (ESV). Since anguish tends to drain our strength both mentally and physically, the Bible encourages Christians to support the weak, and speak consolingly to depressed persons (1 Thessalonians 5:14), and show insight, because having insight will slow down our anger (Proverbs 19:11). This counsel is especially important when parents deal with “wild talk” from their children.




Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas: Notes on Divine Infinity

John Duns Scotus imputes the following line of reasoning to Thomas Aquinas:

1) If form is limited by matter, then form is finite (if p, then q--mp)
2) God, being simple, is not limited by matter (deny the antecedent, ~p)
3) So God is not finite (true conclusion, but invalid argument, ~q)


Scotus thereby indicates that Aquinas reasons fallaciously which naturally leads to an invalid argument. By "invalid," I mean that the conclusion does not follow deductively from the premises (3 cannot be deduced from 1, 2). In other words, 1) and 2) do not entail 3).

The argument would be deductively valid if someone reasoned:

1) If form is limited by matter, then form is finite.
2) God is not finite (deny the consequent, ~q).
3) So God is not limited by matter (~p).

I am using the ~ (tilde) for negation.

Now Scotus appears to posit that something is finite or infinite by reason of "its own intrinsic degree of finite or infinite perfection." He argues that simplicity (non-compoundedness) or the state of being non-mereological will not necessarily produce infinity; on the other hand, Scotus asserts that finitude "is not a result of composition." For Scotus, infinity is potentially a positive, intrinsic property--"an intrinsic degree of perfection." But Aquinas clearly believes that infinity is a negative property: it tells us what something is not, namely, not finite or limited.

This technical debates makes us wonder, Is infinite being a measure of intrinsic and unbounded excellence? Imagine an actual qualitative infinity filled with various degrees of perfection. We would normally call such an infinity, "God." So Scotus thinks God is filled with maximal degrees of perfection; hence, Scotus reckons it's possible to deduce other perfections from the attribute of divine infinity.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Ezekiel 16:30 and NWT 2013

The NWT 2013 Revision has some interesting features; it is not just a continuation of NWT Refib8 1984. For example:

"O how I am filled up with rage against you,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘by your doing all these things, the work of a woman, a domineering prostitute!" (Ezekiel 16:30 1984 edition)

Compare the 2013 Revision:

"'How sick your heart was,’ declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘when you did all these things, behaving like a brazen prostitute!'"

I'm particularly focusing on the first part of Ezekiel 16:30 which reflects an utter difference in the text: "O how I am filled up with rage against you" versus "How sick your heart was"

Why the disparity between 1984 and 2013?

In the footnote of the 2013 edition, it informs us, "Or possibly, 'O how I am filled up with rage against you.'"

That leads to another question. Why relegate the words about Jehovah's rage to the footnote in the newer version of NWT?

To help answer this question, consider that the ESV chooses the rendering: “How sick is your heart, declares the Lord God, because you did all these things, the deeds of a brazen prostitute,"

ESV explains that "How I am filled with anger against you" comes about from revocalizing the Hebrew words of Ezekiel. So NET translates Ezekiel 16:30: “‘How sick is your heart, declares the sovereign Lord, when you perform all of these acts, the deeds of a bold prostitute."

No explanatory footnote is offered, but we again witness the translational assonance between NWT 2013, ESV, and NET here although NWT in the latest iteration uses the verb "was" as opposed to "is."

Back to the original question, why prefer "How sick your heart was/is," to "O how I am filled up with rage against you"?

The explanation is complex and lengthy, but here are some preliminary remarks:

Bob Utley:
"how languishing is your heart" This is the only occurrence of this verb (BDB 51, KB 63, Qal participle) in the Qal stem. Its basic meaning is "weak," implying weak-willed. But this does not fit the context of the next phrase. Some early copies of the Hebrew OT were found in a hidden room behind the shelves that contain the Scripture scrolls in Cairo, Egypt. These copies have 'How inflamed was your heart,' which fits the context much better and may be the source of the Septuagint and Vulgate translations of "how strong" (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 426).


K.J. Cathcart Writes:
The unsatisfactory translations of 'mlh lbtk (Ezek. 16:30) in many modern English Bibles illustrate what might be described as an example of wilful resistance to knowledge gained from comparative philology. The NRSV has: ‘How sick is your heart’; the NAB, 'How wild is your lust’, and the JPSV, ‘How sick was your heart’. The JPSV translator does admit in a footnote that, on the basis of the Akkadian, a change of vocalisation will give, ‘How furious I was with you’. The NEB and REB have a satisfactory version: 'How you anger me!’ The correct understanding of this verse was first published by David Hartwig Baneth in 1914, when he published a suggestion made by his father Eduard Baneth that Akk. libb¯ati malˆ u, ‘to become angry with’, had a counterpart in Ezek. 16:30.17 It was noted that the same idiom occurred in Aramaic too. Godfrey Rolles Driver made the same proposal in 1928, and elaborated on it in 1931. All the main Hebrew lexicons admit this identification by Baneth, and the Akkadian loan has been subjected to further scrutiny by Harold Cohen and again thoroughly by Paul Mankowski in his very important published Harvard dissertation. Among early modern commentators, G.A. Cooke accepted the Akkadian and Aramaic evidence for the correct understanding of the text, but some commentators still prefer the interpretation apparently intended by whoever pointed the ˜M. The interpretation of the Akkadian loanword, lbh, ‘anger’, as a cognate of Heb. l¯eb, ‘heart’, is an example of a loanword in the consonantal Hebrew text of the Bible being wrongly interpreted in the Massoretic text. It is interesting to note that the Ì (‘How should I dispose of your daughter?’) and the Í (‘Why should I judge your daughter?’) did not interpret lbtk as ‘your heart’.

See The Old Testament in Its World, edited by R.P. Gordon and J.C. de Moor, pages 5-6.

Knox Translation: "Salve is none, says the Lord God, for such a heart as thine, set on following a harlot’s ways."

Latin Vulgate: In quo mundabo cor tuum, ait Dominus Deus, cum facias omnia hæc opera mulieris meretricis et procacis?

LXX: τί διαθῶ τὴν θυγατέρα σου λέγει κύριος ἐν τῷ ποιῆσαί σε ταῦτα πάντα ἔργα γυναικὸς πόρνης καὶ ἐξεπόρνευσας τρισσῶς

Saturday, August 11, 2018

A Brief Comment with Respect to Psalm 25 (Lange)

This statement is taken from Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures. He is talking about Psalm 25 when he claims:

"the individual features are not concrete enough, to refer them directly to historical events in the life of David."

So I understand Lange to be saying that although Psalm 25 might be Davidic, a datum he does not seem to reject, still nothing in the psalm helps us to pin down historical specifics in David's life such that we could determine when he wrote the psalm, etc.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

The Greek Aorist and Its Diverse Uses

The aorist "tense" has numerous uses in ancient Greek speech/writing. I outline some uses, definitions, and examples here:

1) Constative aorist- K.L. McKay (A New Syntax of the Verb in New Testament Greek, page 46) points out that the constative aorist expresses the totality of an activity. See Acts 28:30; Revelation 20:4. 2 Corinthians 8:9 is possibly an example, but more than likely the aorist there is inceptive ("he became poor"). See McKay, ibid.

2) Ingressive (inceptive, inchoative) aorist- The aorist participle λαβών, if translated
woodenly, would be rendered "having taken" (active) or "having received" (passive) the form of a servant: it would thus have reference to an action that is antecedent to the main verb. Yet there are times when the aorist participle also possesses ingressive force and makes an action's beginning salient to the hearer/reader.

3) Consummative (ecbatic) aorist-: This use of the aorist stresses an action's termination (its end). An example is Revelation 19:7: χαίρωμεν καὶ ἀγαλλιῶμεν, καὶ δώσομεν τὴν δόξαν αὐτῷ, ὅτι ἦλθεν ὁ γάμος τοῦ ἀρνίου, καὶ ἡ γυνὴ αὐτοῦ ἡτοίμασεν ἑαυτήν

Certain scholars think ἦλθεν is a consummative aorist (i.e., "has come") whereas others indicate ἦλθεν could be proleptic (futuristic). See

4) Gnomic aorist-: Gnomic aorists express timeless generic truths like "Grass dries up, and flowers fall to the ground" (1 Peter 1:24 CEV). Compare James 1:11.

One contrived example I've used to illustrate the gnomic aorist is "The winds blow and the blades [of grass] dance."

"The Greek gnomic aorist is a perfective past tense that is used to represent a generic fact, habitual truth, or habitual action."


5) Epistolary aorist- This use of the aorist occurs when authors write letters from the vantage-point of their audience (from the standpoint of those receiving the letter). An example is 1 John 5:13.

Cambridge Bible: "As in 1 John 2:21; 1 John 2:26, 'I have written' is literally, 'I wrote': it is the epistolary aorist, which may be represented in English either by the present or the perfect."

6) Proleptic (Futuristic) aorist- The aorist sometimes delineates a future event and in this way stresses an act's definitiveness (Jude 14). Revelation 10:7 is a possible example; compare Revelation 15:1.

7) Immediate Past (Dramatic) aorist- "The aorist tense can be used of an event that happened rather recently." See Matthew 26:65.

Other Sources:

Richard Young


Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Commentary on Isaiah 6:2 from the International Critical Commentary (George Buchanan Gray)

Page 105 of the ICC.

Notes for Luke 15:23

NIV: "Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate" (NIV).

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible:
fattened calf. Would feed the entire village. Calves would be fattened with a special occasion in mind, such as a wedding, a son’s coming of age, or some other celebration beyond the purview of the parable. A fattened calf offered more meat than a young goat (v. 29). have a feast. A person of means invited as many people as possible to a major celebration.

The IVP New Testament Commentary Series:
the son proceeds with his confession, but the father interrupts. The son is satisfied to be a slave, but the father will restore him to full sonship. So the father orders the servants to bring the best robe, a ring for the son's hand and sandals for his feet. A fattened calf is prepared, and a party will be held. Fatted calves were saved for special occasions like the Day of Atonement. This is not just any party; it is a rare and complete celebration. There will be rejoicing for the lost son, now found (vv. 7, 10).

Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke:

Within the co-text provided by the parable itself as well as the co-text in which the parable is set, the father’s instructions in vv 23–24 bear particular significance. As in the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin, recovery gives way to celebration (vv 5–6, 9).²⁴⁶ Here, though, that celebration comes in the guise of a full-blown banquet, with the table set with the best and most expensive beef, enough for dozens, perhaps even scores, of guests.²⁴⁷ It is as if the father had declared, “Spare no effort! Spare no expense!” Why? Because the son who had slandered his father, the son who had proposed to return as nothing more than a day laborer in his father’s fields, is nevertheless “this son of mine” (v 24).

In a footnote, Green explains:
The adjective σιτευτός refers here to grain-fed beef. In Through Peasant Eyes (94), K. E. Bailey notes that a slaughtered calf would provide enough meat for 35 to 75 persons; elsewhere he speaks of over a hundred at the table (Poet and Peasant, 187).

Luke Timothy John's Comments Regarding Luke 15:23:
the fatted calf. Is literally "the grain-fed" (sitos). In contrast to the cattle left to graze on grass, the beast destined for special feasts is stuffed with grain to put on extra weight and tenderness. It is a mark of great esteem to spend this valuable possession for a celebration. The phrase occurs in the LXX of Judg 6:25, 28 and Jer 46:21.

See Johnson's The Gospel of Luke, page 238.

Bernard S. Jackson also published a work with Brill in 2008 entitled Essays on Halakhah in the New Testament. Chapter Six of the book is "The Jewish Background to the Prodigal Son: An Unrsolved Problem" (page 111). Jackson supplies helpful remarks about the fatted calf throughout the chapter, but please consult page 147 for an estimate of how many people might be fed by the calf. He relies on Bailey on that page.

Of course, calves and bulls were sacrificed to Jehovah God in ancient times. Yet the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery edited by Leland Ryken, et al. points to other uses of calves (page 484):

A fatted (grain-fed, stall-kept) calf also symbolized hospitality and celebration. When guests arrived, proper etiquette dictated a meal with meat (Gen 18:7; 1 Sam 28:24). This show of proper respect for the guest also provided an opportunity to display the prosperity of the host. The indolence of the calf tied in its stall for fattening typifies those who do no work (Jer 46:21). A diet of fatted calves marks an opulent, indulgent life style (Amos 6:4). The fatted calf appears as a symbol of exuberant celebration in the parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15:23). In the days prior to refrigeration, meat was used quickly; hence the amount of food butchered indicates the size of the celebration. A feast built around the slaughter of a “fattened calf” might well include as many as two hundred guests (see Hospitality).

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Co-workers or Fellow Workers (1 and 2 Corinthians)--συνεργοί

1 Corinthians 3:9: θεοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν συνεργοί· θεοῦ γεώργιον, θεοῦ οἰκοδομή ἐστε.

Commentary: Who are the co-workers of God mentioned by Paul? In this context, he is likely talking about himself and Apollos (1 Corinthians 3:5-6). They were both ministers of God and each man had "farmed" in Corinth by planting and watering, but God caused the seed of truth to grow.

A second question I have is why Paul uses the language "God's field" (θεοῦ γεώργιον). To what does θεοῦ γεώργιον refer? Could the apostle have been comparing the Corinthian ecclesia to a field in which Jehovah God does his divine work? Granted, Jesus identified the field as the world in Matthew. However, Paul here writes that the Corinthians are the field of God. Therefore, he is more specific here.

Thirdly, why does Paul use the mixed metaphor θεοῦ οἰκοδομή in 1 Corinthians 3:9? In what sense are the Corinthians the house of God? Is there an allusion to temple language here? Both the context and Greek-English lexicons suggest the answer is affirmative. See 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:19-22.

Paul's language in 1 Corinthians 3:9 also naturally leads into 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 about Paul building with fire-resistant materials.

2 Corinthians 1:24: οὐχ ὅτι κυριεύομεν ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως, ἀλλὰ συνεργοί ἐσμεν τῆς χαρᾶς ὑμῶν, τῇ γὰρ πίστει ἑστήκατε.

Commentary: So who are the συνεργοί mentioned in this passage? Could Paul be referring to himself and Timothy? See 2 Corinthians 1:1; 3:1-4. The context of Paul's utterance is the defense of his apostolic authority.

2 Corinthians 8:23: εἴτε ὑπὲρ Τίτου, κοινωνὸς ἐμὸς καὶ εἰς ὑμᾶς συνεργός· εἴτε ἀδελφοὶ ἡμῶν, ἀπόστολοι ἐκκλησιῶν, δόξα Χριστοῦ.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

ἄνθρωπος in 1 Timothy 2:5

Looking over Donald J. Mastronarde's Introduction to Attic Greek (p. 40), one quickly notes that ἄνθρωπος is a generic term describing a class. The examples that Mastronarde gives are ὁ ἄνθρωπος (man, mankind) and οἱ ἄνθρωποι (humans in general). See Matthew 12:36. Compare the famed Greek utterance of Protagoras: πάντων μέτρον ἄνθρωπός ἐστιν.

Smyth 1129: "Words denoting persons, when they are used of a class, may omit the article. So ἄνθρωπος, στρατηγός, θεός divinity, god (ὁ θεός the particular god)."

For this reason, some commentators argue that ἄνθρωπος at 1 Tim. 2:5 is possibly generic. The context, however, may allow for a different understanding, namely, that Jesus Christ is "a man" (a person) which would be an indefinite sense--not generic.

William Mounce proffers: "ἄνθρωπος is anarthrous, emphasizing the quality of being human; i.e., it was as a human being that Christ gave himself for all humanity (cf. Marshall, SNTU-A 13 [1988] 173). This is not a denial of Christ's divinity (contra Windisch [ZNW 34 [1935] 213– 38], who says the PE teach that Jesus is exalted but subordinate to God and not divine) but an emphatic assertion of the incarnation."

Later, Mounce reiterates: "But ἄνθρωπος is anarthrous, designating not identity ('the Son of man') but quality (i.e., that which makes a person human)."

Yet he offers this explanation as well: "It is difficult, but acceptable, to translate ἄνθρωπος in v 5c generically as 'person' as is often the case with this term (cf. 1 Tim 4:10; 2 Tim 3:2)."

I disagree with Mounce regarding the Son's "incarnation," but his work shows how ἄνθρωπός might be understood in 1 Tim. 2:5.

Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46 (Word Biblical Commentary) (Kindle Locations 7848-7849). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46 (Word Biblical Commentary) (Kindle Locations 7845-7846). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46 (Word Biblical Commentary) (Kindle Locations 7836-7839). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46 (Word Biblical Commentary) (Kindle Location 7836). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Notes on Isaiah 6:2 (Six Wings of the Seraphim)

Hebrew: See

ESV: "Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew."

NWT 2013: "Seraphs were standing above him; each had six wings. Each covered his face with two and covered his feet with two, and each of them would fly about with two."


JPS 6:2 - "Above Him stood the seraphim; each one had six wings: with twain he covered his face and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly."

TJBU 6:2 - "Holy ministers on high stood before him: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, that it should not see; and with twain he covered his body, that it should not be seen; and with twain he was ministering."


LXX: καὶ σεραφιν εἱστήκεισαν κύκλῳ αὐτοῦ ἓξ πτέρυγες τῷ ἑνὶ καὶ ἓξ πτέρυγες τῷ ἑνί καὶ ταῖς μὲν δυσὶν κατεκάλυπτον τὸ πρόσωπον καὶ ταῖς δυσὶν κατεκάλυπτον τοὺς πόδας καὶ ταῖς δυσὶν ἐπέταντο

The Great Isaiah Scroll (DSS): "Seraphs stood above him, each with six wings. With two they covered their face, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew."


Commentary by John Ostwalt (The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1-39):
One pair of wings is used to cover their faces, for even the most perfect of creatures dare not gaze brazenly into the face of the Creator. The sight would be too much. Another pair covers their feet. The precise meaning of this action is not clear. The Targum has “body” for “feet” and says the body was covered so that it might not be seen. “Feet” is sometimes used in ancient Near Eastern literature as a euphemism for genitalia, and it is possible that such a meaning is intended here (cf. also Ruth 3:4, 7, 8). In any case, the sense is the same, with the part standing for the whole body. As the creature should not look upon the Creator, so the created should not be displayed in the sight of the Creator. But to be in the presence of the Creator is not primarily to be prostrated with awe. Rather, it is to be filled with praise. So, with the third pair of wings the seraphim were flying, all the while calling out their ecstatic song.

I want to build on these notes, but one question I've had lately is why do the seraphs (seraphim) in Isaiah's vision have six wings. Is there any significance beyond the stated reasons given in the verse. Just a question that I have since the number six sometimes depicts uncleanness in Scripture or human imperfection.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Polycarp (Philippians 4)

The following is taken from Polycarp's Epistle to the Philippians 4 which I culled in part from Charles Ryrie's The Role of Women in the Church (page 100). Polycarp exhorts the Philippians:

"Teach the widows to be discreet as respects the faith of the Lord, praying continually for all, being far from all slandering, evil-speaking, false-witnessing, love of money, and every kind of evil; knowing that they are God's altar, that He clearly perceives all things, and that nothing is hid from Him, neither reasonings, nor reflections, nor any one of the secret things of the heart."

τὰς χήρας σωφρονούσας περὶ τὴν τοῦ κυρίου πίστιν, ἐντυγχανούσας ἀδιαλείπτως περὶ πάντων, μακρὰν οὔσας πάσης διαβολῆς, καταλαλιᾶς, ψευδομαρτυρίας, φιλαργυρίας καὶ παντὸς κακοῦ, γινωσκούσας ὅτι εἰσὶ θυσιαστήριον θεοῦ καὶ ὅτι πάντα μωμοσκοπεῖται, καὶ λέληθεν αὐτὸν οὐδὲν οὔτε λογισμῶν οὔτε ἐννοιῶν οὔτε τι τῶν κρυπτῶν τῆς καρδίας.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

The Potential Meaning of SHACHAH/PROSKUNEW (Zodhiates and Gesenius)

"SHACHAH; to depress, to prostrate oneself (in homage to royalty or to God, Gen. 23:7, 37:7, 9, 10; Lev. 26:1); to bow down (Is 51:23); to crouch; to fall down, sink down; to humbly beseech; to do obeisance; to worship (1 Sam. 15:25; Jer. 7:2). SHACHAH was not used in the general sense of worship, but specifically to bow down, to prostrate oneself as an act of respect before a superior being. Joseph saw sheaves, representing his brothers, bowing down before his sheaf (Gen. 37:5, 9, 10). Ruth bowed before Boaz (Ruth 2:10). David bowed before Saul (1 Sam. 24:8). This honor was shown not only to superiors, such as kings and princes (2 Sam. 9:8) or to equals (Gen. 23:7), but especially in worshiping a deity. Therefore it meant to honor God with prayers (Gen. 22:5; 1 Sam. 1:3), even without prostrating the body (Gen. 47:31; 1 Kings 1:47). However, those who used this mode of salutation often fell upon their knees and touched the ground with their foreheads (Gen. 19:1; 48:12). In short, it was a way of showing submission (Ps 45:11) . . . See the equivalent, PROSKUNEW" (Complete Word Study: Old Testament [Spiros Zodhiates]).

"this honour [SHACHAH] was not only shown to superiors, such as kings and princes . . . but also to equals; Gen. 23:7; 37:7, 9, 10 [?]; but especially-- (2) in worshipping a deity; hence to honour God with prayers, Gen. 22:5; 1 Sam. 1:3; even without prostration of the body, Gen. 47:31; 1 Ki 1:47. (3) to do homage, to submit oneself. Ps. 45:12" (Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament).