Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Some of My Favorite Theology Books

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Jerome's Commentary With Respect to Daniel 3:25

"And they said to the king in reply, 'Truly, O king!' The king answered (the Vulgate omits "the king"): 'Behold, I see four men unbound and walking about in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt, and the appearance of the fourth man (B) is the likeness of a son of God.' " Let me say again, how wise was the fire and how indescribable the power of God! Their bodies had been bound with chains; those chains were burnt up, whereas the bodies themselves were not burnt. As for the appearance of the fourth man, which he asserts to be like that of a son of God, either we must take him to be an angel, as the Septuagint has rendered it, or indeed, as the majority think, the Lord our Savior. Yet I do not know how an ungodly king could have merited a vision of the Son of God. On that |44 reasoning one should follow Symmachus, who has thus interpreted it: "But the appearance of the fourth is like unto the sons," not unto the sons of God but unto gods themselves. We are to think of angels here, who after all are very frequently called gods as well as sons of God. So much for the story itself. But as for its typical significance, this angel or son of God foreshadows our Lord Jesus (p. 512) Christ, who descended into the furnace of hell, in which the souls of both sinners and of the righteous were imprisoned, in order that He might without suffering any scorching by fire or injury to His person deliver those who were held imprisoned by chains of death.


Saturday, February 23, 2019

God Recommends His Own Love (Romans 5:8)

The supreme manifestation of Jehovah's love is Jesus Christ's ransom sacrifice: that ransom provides the basis for Jehovah's vindication and is our way to obtain everlasting life (Romans 6:23). Notice what we learn about God's love and our need for the ransom from Romans 5:8, 12:

After reading the verses:

Comment on Rom. 5:8: God sent Christ while we were yet sinners. What an expression of divine love since the Son of God did not die for righteous or good people, but in behalf of sinners.

Romans 5:12 stresses our need for the ransom that Jehovah lovingly provided through Christ: "Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned."

Jehovah made Adam and Eve perfect, but they used their free will to disobey him. The first couple was given just one limiting and reasonable directive: don't eat from the tree that's in the middle of the garden. Nevertheless, they ignored Jehovah and consequently repudiated his sovereignty. Yet how did Adam and Eve's disobedience affect us?

To address that question, please consider Romans 5:13, 14:

After reading the verses:

By virtue of Adam's disobedience, sin ruled as king from Adam down to Moses, even prior to the Mosaic law code. However, once Jehovah gave the law to Israel, then sin became manifest because the law code plainly defined sin: it clearly demonstrated that we are sinners. As Paul wrote in Romans 7:7, I would not have known how to identify sin or covetousness if it had not been for the law.

To illustrate sin's effect on us, we might compare sin to an illness or disease. Nevertheless, while diseases like hemophilia can be transmitted from parents to children, it is still possible for a child to carry hemophilia without actually having the disease himself. But that is not the case with sin. If a parent is sinful, then children will be tainted with sin. Therefore, how can we escape this predicament?

Romans 5:18, 21 explains the way:

What does the expression, "their being declared righteous for life" mean? One scholar writes that when God declares someone righteous, he doesn't cleanse the person inwardly, but rather Jehovah acquits the accused person standing before him. Yes, our situation is comparable to an accused person, who appears before a human judge to receive a sentence of innocent or guilty. We can be thankful that Jehovah lovingly acquits those who exercise faith in the ransom; he declares them guiltless. The result of being declared righteous is "everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 5:21).

As we reflect on God's love for us even while we were sinners, the question naturally arises as to how we can show appreciation for the ransom. Two concrete ways are dedication and baptism along with preaching the good news of God's kingdom. It is also good to ask ourselves in what other ways, we might show gratitude to Jehovah for Jesus' ransom sacrifice. For it is by means of the ransom that God especially recommends his love to us.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Monday, February 18, 2019

Bruce Metzger's and Revelation 13:18 (666/616)--Screenshots

Margaret Barker Comments About Revelation 13:18 (666/616)

Taken from Barker's Revelation of Jesus Christ, pages 233-235. My posting these remarks do not constitute an endorsement of Margaret Barker's position:

Most references to the beast refer only to his mark (14.9; 16.2; 19.20, 20.4), but the introduction of his 'number' is another device to indicate Nero. The name of the beast and 666, the number of its name (13.17), refer to the way that letters were also used as numbers; the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet was used for 1, the third for 3 and so on. Treated thus, a process known as gematria, the Greek name 'Neron Caesar', spelled in Hebrew letters, becomes N (50) + R (200) + W (6) + N (50) + Q (100) + S (60) + R (200), making 666. This spelling of the name is confirmed by an Aramaic document found at Murabba'at, dated 'the second year of the Emperor Nero'. This implies an interpretation of the name by people who understood Hebrew or Aramaic, even though Revelation is now written in Greek. The identification of the beast as Nero has been a commonplace among scholars since it was first suggested a century ago, long before the Murabba'at document confirmed the contemporary spelling of the name Nero. The problem is that this form of gematria is only known elsewhere using Greek letters, not Hebrew. At the end of the second century CE, however, there were some versions of Revelation which had the number of the beast as 616, a further challenge to scholars' ingenuity (Irenaeus, AH 5.30). It could represent the Latin form 'Nero Caesar', the final 'N' of the Greek form being dropped and thus the gematria number being reduced by 50 to 616. Or it could be conventional gematria with the Greek letters of the name 'Gaios Kaisar', and the beast could be Caligula. By the time of Irenaeus, the end of the second century CE, the identification of the beast as Nero was not known (AH 5.28-30), but the fear of Nero had passed into Christian tradition, and there can be no doubt that Nero's evil reign was written into the final interpretation of the beast in the Book of Revelation. The Ascension of Isaiah, whose Christian version was completed towards the end of the first century CE, 'foresees' the reign of Nero:

Beliar will descend, the great angel, the king of this world ... He will descend from his firmament in the form of a man, a king of iniquity,* the murderer of his mother** and he will persecute the plant which the twelve apostles of the Beloved have planted ... By his word he will cause the sun to rise by night, and the moon also he will make to appear at the sixth hour. And he will do everything he wishes in the world; he will act and speak like the Beloved and he will say, 'I am the LORD and before me there was no one' ... And all men in the world will believe in him. They will sacrifice to him and will serve him saying, 'This is the LORD and besides him there is no other' ... And the power of his miracles will be in every city and district and he will set up his image before him in every city. (Asc. Isa. 4.1-12)

The beast, however, had taken many forms before it was identified as Nero. The evil reign of Antiochus Epiphanes (175-163 BCE) was also a time of the beast, as can be seen from Daniel 7.19-27 which explained that the time of the fourth and last beast had come. When a false rumour arose that Antiochus was dead, civil strife broke out in Judea and Antiochus returned to quell the trouble in Jerusalem (2 Macc. 5). A great slaughter followed, with 40,000 killed and a similar number sold as slaves. He robbed the temple and defiled the sanctuary by entering it and then setting up a pagan altar. Many Jews adopted his pagan ways and sacrificed to idols (1 Macc. 1). The Book of Daniel addressed this situation and interpreted the ancient vision of the Man ascending to heaven as a sign of hope for those troubled times (Dan. 7). There would be an abomination set in the temple, but the saints would triumph. Much of what is said about the beast in Revelation could have been said of Antiochus. Had these fragments of Revelation been discovered for the first time, abandoned in a cave, it would have been easy for scholars to argue for a date in the second century BCE. The beast had the blasphemous name 'Epiphanes', which means 'The Manifest God'; there had been a rumour of his death but he returned to wreak havoc in Jerusalem just as the beast returned 'from the bottomless pit' to wreak havoc in Jerusalem (11.7-8); he blasphemed God's Name and his dwelling, the temple (13.6), and he both took captives and slew with the sword (13.10)

There is more, but see Barker.

Monday, February 11, 2019

In What Sense Did God Possibly Create Darkness? (Isaiah 45:7)

Here are suggestions for reading:

Information for this article: "THE CREATION OF DARKNESS AND EVIL (ISAIAH 45:6C-7)"
Tina Dykesteen Nilsen
Revue Biblique (1946-)
Vol. 115, No. 1 (JANVIER 2008), pp. 5-25.

Furthermore, see

Note the comments made here:

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Stephen B. Miller's Remarks About Daniel 3:25

What impressed Nebuchadnezzar most of all was that now the three Jews had been joined by a fourth man, and this one looked like “a son of the gods.” Porteous69 and the majority of Jewish scholars have identified this person as an angel. For example, Slotki remarks, “The Talmud asserts that it was the archangel Gabriel (Pes. 118a, b).”70 According to Lacocque, “The expression is used in the inscriptions at Karatepe and Ugarit where it designates the members of the divine court.”71 However, the expression “a son of the gods” ascribes deity to the being, since an offspring of the gods partakes of the divine nature. Young remarks: “The meaning is son of deity, i.e., a Divine Person, one of the race of the gods, a supernatural being.”72 The NRSV's “the appearance of a god” seems to capture the idea well, for the king believed that he had seen no less than a god in the flames with the three Hebrews. The KJV renders this phrase “the Son of God,” an apparent allusion to the second person of the Trinity. Either the NIV or KJV translation is possible grammatically. In biblical Aramaic the plural noun ’ĕlāhîn may be assumed to have the same force as ’ĕlōhîm in biblical Hebrew, which can be rendered as a plural, “gods,” or as a singular, “God,” when denoting the true God, the plural form being an attempt to express the divine fullness and majesty.73 In this context, however, the translation of the NIV and most modern versions is to be preferred, since Nebuchadnezzar was polytheistic and had no conception of the Christian Trinity. Thus the pagan king only meant that the fourth figure in the fire was divine. From the Christian perspective, we know that the preincarnate Christ did appear to individuals in the Old Testament. Most likely the fourth man in the fire was the angel of the Lord, God himself in the person of his Son Jesus Christ, a view held by many expositors (cf. comments on 6: 21–22).74 It is certainly true that when believers go through fiery trials Christ is with them. The three Hebrews experienced literally the promise, “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze”(Isa 43:2).

Miller, Stephen B. Daniel: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture: 18 (The New American Commentary) (Kindle Locations 2197-2218). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Daniel 3:25: "a Son of God"

Daniel 3:25 (ESV) reads: He answered and said, "But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods."

Bob Utley offers these remarks:
"the fourth is like a son of the gods" A considerable amount of speculation has been made about this fourth personage. He is an angel of the Lord (cf. Dan. 3:28 also 6:22). It is humorous to note that when Nebuchadnezzar calls the boys out by name, he makes no mention of that fourth person!

The Anchor Bible Commentary, Daniel 1-9 (by L. F. Hartman and A.A. Di Lella) says for Daniel 3:25: "a divine being. Literally, ―a son of God,‖ rightly understood in vs. 28 as an angel; cf. also vs. 26."

Sunday, February 03, 2019

PANTA in Philippians 3:8 and 1 John 2:20

Moisés Silva argues that panta has a relative sense in Philippians 3:8. After all, the context indicates that this Greek adjective is delimited since the "all things" Paul references are objects that he considers to be "refuse" (skybala) or objects that he viewed as loss (ezemiothen). It is clear that Paul is not saying he deemed "all things" in the cosmos to be skybala. One would be doing violence to 3:8 by construing the author's words that way. Rather, panta is not being used in an absolute sense at Philippians 3:8, yet there are other New Testament constructions that make the same point.

Besides 1 John 2:27, we encounter an interesting variant for 1 John 2:20 that appears in the KJV: "But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things." Concerning this epistolary verse, Ralph Earle (Word Meanings in the NT) states:

"If the reading of the bulk of later manuscripts is correct, 'all things' would have to be taken as meaning all things necessary to salvation (v. 27). But it is probably better to accept pantes [rather than the neuter pural accusative panta] as original--'you all know.'"

Earle agrees that neither the variant of 1 John 2:20 nor 1 John 2:27 imply that the holy ones know "all things" or are taught concerning "all things" in an absolute sense. Why, then, should we hastily conclude that the apostles meant Jesus was omniscient simply because they attributed "great knowledge" to him in John 16:30? Compare Proverbs 28:5.