Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Genesis 1:28: Replenish or Fill?

Robert Alter uses "fill" in Genesis 1:28. The Hebrew word is מָלָא

See Genesis 1:22.

KJV: "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."

Alter: "And God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and conquer it, and hold sway over the fish of the sea and the fowl of the heavens and every beast that crawls upon the earth.'"

Brown-Driver and Briggs:

2 transitive fill, of populating sea and earth Genesis 1:22,28; Genesis 9:1 (all P); consecrate מִלְאוּ יֶדְכֶם ליהוה; (literally fill the hand) Exodus 32:29 (compare below); especially of glory of ׳י filling tabernacle and temple; Exodus 40:34,35 (P) 1 Kings 8:10,11, compare Isaiah 6:1; see also Jeremiah 23:24, especially literal Ezekiel 10:3; Ezekiel 43:5;Ezekiel 44:4; 2 Chronicles 5:14; 7:1,2; followed by 2 accusative fill jars (with) water 1 Kings 18:34; absolute overflow עַלכָּֿלגְּֿדוֺתָיו ׳מ Joshua 3:15 (compare 1 Chronicles 12:16.

Gesenius Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon: See https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H4390&t=KJV

Monday, May 27, 2019

Apocope in the New Testament--2 Corinthians 12:7?

Merriam-Webster definition for "apocope": the loss of one or more sounds or letters at the end of a word (as in sing from Old English singan)

Another example of apocope is "photo" for photograph.

I've wondered if apocope occurs in the Bible. Are there examples of this linguistic phenomenon?

Johann Bengel invokes 2 Corinthians 12:7 as an example:

The word σατᾶν only occurs in the LXX. twice or thrice, and that too as indeclinable; but σατανᾶς is declined in thirty-four places in the New Testament, and among these, nine times by Paul; and in this single passage it is used as an indeclinable noun, by a well-weighed apocope [the loss of a syllable at the end], certainly not without good reason. ἄγγελος σατᾶν then does not seem in this passage to be in apposition, as if it were said the angel Satan for the devil, for the devil is nowhere called an angel, but he himself has his angels. Therefore Satan is either a proper name in the genitive or an adjective in the nominative, so that there is denoted either an angel sent by Satan or a very destructive angel, an angel like Satan himself or the devil, as distinguished from the fact of his being sent by Satan.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

W.H.C. Frend's "The Rise of Christianity" (A Review)

I review The Rise of Christianity (Fortress Press: 1984) in this entry. Never has a more vivid and prosaic account of Christianity been written: everyone fascinated by the church's early growth will want to purchase this tome.

Introductory Remarks

The late W. H. C. Frend's classic work on Christianity's ascent from a first-century movement based in Palestine to a universal religion with increasing social power should be read by students and scholars of early Christian history. The book is over 1000-pages long, it has a copious amount of scholarly notes at the end of each chapter, contains helpful bibliographies, maps, a synopsis of events and two indices (subject and name indexes). Moreover, Frend's approach is objective. Another plus is that his method entails a consideration of early Christianity's primary sources. I will admit that the book is not an easy read; on the other hand, it contains material that's indispensable for ecclesiastical historians.

Specific Contents of The Rise of Christianity

Frend's study begins with the Jewish background of Christianity which leads to his chronicling Israel's Babylonian Captivity, the Maccabean Revolt, and the Jewish Diaspora. Frend then focuses on Jesus of Nazareth's baptism as well as the temptations of Jesus that the Gospels report. The relationship between Jesus and John the Baptizer is explored as well as Jesus' role qua "martyr prophet." But this section could have been developed in more detail.

In this historical account written by Frend, we learn about the apostolic deeds of Paul and his ministry to the ancient world. Frend's account of Paul includes the liturgy, Christian baptism and the apostle's conception of the Eucharist.

A movement known as Gnosticism was viewed with suspicion by early Christians from its inception. Gnosticism later was branded a heresy by the ancient church since it advocated mystical knowledge at odds with ecclesiastical teaching. Frend's book provides helpful details about Gnosticism, then we are treated to a rehearsal of the details concerning the Decian Persecution (249-251 CE).

Frend's chapter on the Constantinian Revolution (305-330 CE) is also informative. It sheds light on the Donatist movement and the Arian Controversy, which resulted in the ecumenical council of Nicaea (325 CE). At that time, the council decided that the Son of God was "begotten" and consubstantial with the Father rather than "made."

The book concludes with an exploration of an early group called the Monophysites, who believed that Jesus had one nature--a divine one. Historical details on Saint Benedict and monasticism are told. Frend's account is detailed, erudite, and well researched. I would highly recommend this scholarly resource to advanced readers of church history.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

B.B. Warfield Discusses the "God is love" Argument for the Trinity

Our sympathies go out to that old Valentinian writer — possibly it was Valentinus himself — who reasoned — perhaps he was the first so to reason — that “God is all love,” “but love is not love unless there be an object of love.” And they go out more richly still to Augustine, when, seeking a basis, not for a theory of emanations, but for the doctrine of the Trinity, he analyzes this love which God is into the triple implication of “the lover,” “the loved” and “the love itself,” and sees in this trinary of love an analogue of the Triune God. It requires, however, only that the argument thus broadly suggested should be developed into its details for its artificiality to become apparent. Richard of Victor works it out as follows: It belongs to the nature of amor that it should turn to another as caritas. This other, in God’s case, cannot be the world; since such love of the world would be inordinate. It can only be a person; and a person who is God’s equal in eternity, power and wisdom. Since, however, there cannot be two divine substances, these two divine persons must form one and the same substance. The best love cannot, however, confine itself to these two persons; it must become condilectio by the desire that a third should be equally loved as they love one another. Thus love, when perfectly conceived, leads necessarily to the Trinity, and since God is all He can be, this Trinity must be real. Modern writers (Sartorius, Schoberlein, J. Muller, Liebner, most lately R. H. Grutzmacher) do not seem to have essentially improved upon such a statement as this. And after all is said, it does not appear clear that God’s own all-perfect Being could not supply a satisfying object of His all-perfect love. To say that in its very nature love is self-communicative, and therefore implies an object other than self, seems an abuse of figurative language.

See https://bbwarfield.com/works/trinity/

Monday, May 20, 2019

Review of Matthew Barrett's "None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God"

Matthew Barrett, None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2019), 283 pp.

One common theme in the philosophy of religion and theology is the divine attributes. I can readily think of numerous studies written by Gary Rosenkrantz and Joshua Hoffman, Edward Wierenga, Millard Erickson, and Gerard Hughes, so this new book by Barrett caught my attention--especially in view of open theistic beliefs and process theology.

Barrett writes from a Reformed standpoint: his stance is rooted in classical theology. Chapter 1 explores divine incomprehensibility. He ponders whether it's possible to know God's essence? The answer given is that God is utterly incomprehensible; in the words of Calvin, we must not speculate on the essence of God, but simply adore it.

Chapter 3 investigates whether God is the perfect being, an entity without limitations. Those familiar with Anselm of Canterbury's ontological argument for God's existence will be familiar with Barrett's reasoning in the chapter. While I think most western theists would have no problem conceiving God as infinite, what the term means when applied to God is by no means clear and distinct. Compare Richard Swinburne's The Coherence of Theism.

I cannot help but find Barrett's choice of subject matter interesting whether I agree with him or not: he discusses aseity in Chapter 4, meaning God's self-existence and self-sufficiency (i.e., God doesn't need his creation). Classical theists will agree that God did not need pre-existing matter to make the cosmos--nor is God a contingent being like the beings he's created. However, as if aseity is not complex or controversial enough, Barrett introduces a section about the Trinity, eternal generation and eternal spiration. While that section gives Trinitarian and non-Trinitarian thinkers something to gnaw on, the imposition seems unnecessary in a chapter that's complex enough.

The remaining attributes probed are divine simplicity, immutability, impassibility, timeless eternity, omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience, omnisapience, righteousness, goodness, love, jealousy, and glory. The book contains a glossary, notes, and a bibliography. Those who like divine attribute analyses will probably like Barrett's approach. If one is more favorable toward open theism or likes the thought of God having self-imposed limitations, then you'll find plenty of statements to critique. Moreover, the book is not strictly academic but becomes devotional at certain points. All in all, I think Barrett is worth reading.

I received this book free from the publisher, but I was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Mark Rooker Analyzes Exodus 20:5

Not only are we not to make any image of a god, but we are also forbidden to bow down and worship an existing image (Exod 20:5). The word translated “bow down” (wh) is a unique verb in that it is the only root attested in the rare shafel stem in the Old Testament.12 The verb occurs 170 times in the Old Testament with the meaning of “bow down” or “prostrate oneself,” whether out of respect to a human superior or in obeisance to a god. For example, the Israelites “bowed down” to the image of the golden calf (Exod 32:8). They bowed to the lîlîm made by human hands (Isa 2:8) and to a carved image (Isa 44:15,17). “Bowing down” is a religious gesture that conveys homage and reverence. Idolatry involves “bowing down” in reference to the worship of the stars (Deut 4:19; Jer 8:2) and the worship in a pagan temple (2 Kgs 5:18). But it is fitting for worshippers to “bow down” to Yahweh, the true God (Gen 24:26,48,52; Ps 99:9). Many times this action of bowing down includes placing one’s face to the ground (Gen 18:2; 19:1; 24:52; 42:6; Isa 49:23). We are not only not to bow before idols but also not to “worship them” or “serve them” (bd). The root (bd) often occurs with wh (bow down) in reference to the worship of other gods.13 The verb bd (“worship”) frequently has Yahweh as its object. We see this early in the book of Exodus as we learn that the Israelites will worship God on Mount Sinai (Exod 3:12; 4:23; 7:16; 8:1[7:26]; 8:20[16]; 9:1,13; 10:3,7,8,11,24,26; 12:31).14 For the Israelites to turn back after being delivered from Egyptian bondage (bdîm) and serve other gods would be to reverse the exodus.15 The verb bd (“serve”) can be distinguished from the verb wh (“bow down”) by the fact that wh refers to prostration, whereas bd often refers to making offerings (Exod 10:26; Isa 19:21). As with wh (“to bow down”), the word for worship (bd) has a nontheological usage as it refers to serving kings and political suzerains, which may involve paying tribute (Gen 27:29; Ps 72:11).16

Rooker, Mark. The Ten Commandments: Ethics for the Twenty-First Century (New American Commentary Studies in Bible and Theology) (Kindle Locations 807-827). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Albert Barnes, John 1:14, and the Incarnatio Christi

Like a lot of things posted here, this blog entry is the first word rather than the last about the subject:

I want to deal with the language of "assumption" that is used by those who advocate the Incarnation of Christ. But first I want to clarify why I raised the problem of the Logos becoming flesh. Here is a quote from Barnes' Notes on the Bible about John 1:14 that I find somewhat troubling:

"The expression, then, means that he became a man, and that he became such by the power of God providing for him a body. It cannot mean that the divine nature was 'changed' into the human, for that could not be; but it means that the λόγος Logos, or 'Word,' became so intimately united to Jesus that it might be said that the Logos, or 'Word' 'became' or 'was' a man, as the soul becomes so united to the body that we may say that it is one person or a man."

1. So the Word "became" a man by virtue of the fact that God provided a body for him (according to Barnes). In other words, the bodiless (incorporeal) Logos became or was embodied by divine power, but he became flesh (came to have a body) without any change occurring respecting his deity. It's still difficult for me to understand how this event/action transpired without any change occurring to a divine person, which by definition would represent an alteration to his deity. If C (a change) happens to a human person (P), then C happens to his humanity (H). I have read assertions that no change occurred in the case of the Logos. However, I've yet to see a developed and plausible account that justifies the assertions.

2. Barnes writes that the language in John 1:14 could not mean that the divine nature of the Logos was changed into human nature because that simply could not be the case. In this part of the text, I do not detect a reason for his denial that the divine nature of the Logos was changed into human nature other than John 1:14 simply could not mean that. I'm not arguing for that strong conclusion anyway. Mine is weaker; it's that the divine nature of the Logos as understood by Trinitarians had to experience some type of change if the Logos truly became human or assumed humanity with his divinity.

3. Barnes seems to give the passage a figurative interpretation. He insists that "it could be said" the Word became human although it appears to really denote that the Word became so "intimately united" to Jesus of Nazareth that one could declare that the Logos became human. I believe Barnes is trying to avoid positing real change (ontologically) in the Word. But he is forced to rework the language of the Gospel writer to make it fit the concept of assumption; yet Barnes still uses "became" although he might be using the verb in a qualified sense (with scare quotes).

4. Finally, to say that "S became P" in the relevant sense I'm discussing (e.g., "John became a doctor" or "Paul became a Christian") normally involves some type of actual change. I see no good reason to make an exception in this case unless one wants to argue that the change is metaphorical.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

John 9:38: "he worshiped him"?

G.R. Beasley-Murray writes: "PROSEKUNHSEN [in Jn. 9:38] is commonly translated 'he worshiped him' (so KJV, RSV, JB, NIV, etc.), but this is 'doubtful'" (Murray, John, 159). He later goes on to say that the honor which the healed man ascribes to Jesus in Jn. 9:38 was beyond the honor due to other men but short of that "due to God Almighty." I have no problem with this observation. Where I am suspicious of Murray's interpretation of Jn. 9:38 is when he insists that the man in 9:38 attributed honor to Jesus as "the Redeemer from God" (Murray 160). Notice that Murray capitalizes the word "Redeemer." Why? Is this an implicit attribution of Deity to Christ? While it is no secret that Murray is a trinitarian, I wonder just what he means by this statement. If he is implying that the blind man gave honor to Jesus as DEUS REVELATUS qua DEUS REVELATUS--then I definitively reject this aspect of his explanation. But he seems to be making the claim that the PROSKUNEW Jesus received in Jn 9:38 should not be fully equated with the worship that Almighty God's worshipers render to Him.

Another Johannine commentator named Schnackenburg also implies that while the formerly blind man does not express "formal adoration" to Jesus, he does grant adoration to "the God-sent bringer of salvation which itself gives honor and adoration to God. It shows the man's advance from his Jewish faith to Christian faith." Depending on what Schnackenburg means here, I can accept his contention. But if his words tacitly express trinitarian concepts, then I unequivocally and without reservation reject this part of Schnackenburg's exegesis.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Is There A Third Person Reference in Revelation 22:6? (William Milligan)

The person introduced with the words He said unto me is not indeed named, but there can be little doubt that he is the angel spoken of in the Prologue as sent to "signify" the revelation that was to follow.[586] Again, when the Seer is overwhelmed with what he has seen, and may be said to have almost feared that it was too wonderful for belief, the angel assures him that it was all faithful and true. A similar declaration had been made at chap. xix. 9 by the voice which there "came forth from the throne,"[587] and likewise at chap. xxi. 5 by Him "that sitteth on the throne." The angel therefore who now speaks, like the angel of the Prologue, has the authority of this Divine Being for what he says. It is true that in the following words, which seem to come from the same speaker, the angel must thus be understood to refer to himself in the third person, and not, as we might have expected, in the first,—The Lord sent His angel, not The Lord sent me. But, to say nothing of the fact that such a method of address is met with in the prophetic style of the Old Testament, it appears to be characteristic of St. John in other passages of his writings. More particularly we mark it in the narrative in the fourth Gospel of the death of Jesus on the Cross: "And he that hath seen hath borne witness, and his witness is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye may believe."[588]

Milligan, William. The Expositor's Bible: The Book of Revelation (Kindle Locations 4947-4958). Kindle Edition.

Arrabon: "Earnest-Money" (A Discussion)

Interlocutor: I'm sorry, Edgar, but the earnest money is a pledge that the rest of the money will follow. BAGD says it "is a payment which obligates the contracting party to make further payments."

Edgar: I don't read BDAG or BAGD in the way that you suggest. First, the comment about the down payment obligating the contracting party is a reference to how ARRABWN was used in literal business transactions, not how it was employed figuratively or metaphorically. When a term is utilized metaphorically, it means (according to a number of metaphor theorists) that one conceptual domain overlaps another conceptual domain (A overlaps B). Additionally, metaphors usually focus on certain aspects of a particular conceptual domain. Thus, if Christ is called the "head" of the Christian congregation and his followers are portrayed as his "body," this means that the writer making use of the SWMA metaphor has certain characteristics of the conceptual domain "SWMA" in mind (as it applies to a literal body) when he refers the Greek word to a figurative body (SWMA) such as Christ's bride.

Edgar: My point here is that one cannot legitimately read Paul's "body" metaphor and then begin reading foci into the Pauline trope or metaphor. Rather, one needs to examine the context of the metaphor and in the case of the NT, look and see what other parts of an epistle or the NT have to say that may shed light on the metaphor in question. In short, there is nothing written in Paul's letters to imply that once God "seals" one of His worshipers, the said worshipers are guaranteed to receive other figurative payments. I don't read BDAG that way and neither does Ralph Earle. I recommend you consult his Word Meanings in the NT. As an interesting aside, ARRABWN can also refer to a wedding ring, according to the Greek papyri and it is also evidently used this way in Modern Greek.

Addendum: I should have said that ARRABWN signifies an engagement ring in Modern Greek, not in the ancient papyri.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Martin M. Culy Remarks on 1 John 5:19a

1 John 5:19--A Few Observations

Greek: οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐσμέν, καὶ ὁ κόσμος ὅλος ἐν τῷ πονηρῷ κεῖται. (WH)

Most people seem to focus on 1 John 5:19b without giving much attention to part a. However, what did the apostle mean by ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐσμέν?

Here's some food for thought:

NET Bible: tn The preposition ἐκ (ek) here indicates both source and possession: Christians are “from” God in the sense that they are begotten by him, and they belong to him. For a similar use of the preposition compare the phrases ἐκ τοῦ πατρός (ek tou patros) and ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου (ek tou kosmou) in 1 John 2:16.

7/15/1986 WT: Since anointed ones have evidence that they are spiritual sons of Jehovah, they can say, “We know we originate with God.” The fact that they have faith in Christ and do not practice sin proves that they are God's children on whom Satan has not been able to “fasten his hold.”

Stephen Smalley (Word Commentary Series): The writer now expresses in specific terms what he has enunciated as a general principle in v 18. “We know that we derive from God,” he says, whereas “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” This is the second use of οἴδαμεν (“we know”) in this subsection (vv 18–20), and for the second time it is used with reference to the confidence which may be experienced by the believer (in v 20, at its third appearance, the verb occurs in relation to Jesus). The first part of v 19 echoes v 18a, and the second part picks up the thought of v 18b (cf. Haas, Handbook, 128).

Smalley Continued: For the expression ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐσμεν (literally, “we are of God”) see v 18; also 2:16; 3:9–10; 4:1–4, 6, 7; 5:1, 4; 3 John 11. The opposite is to belong to the devil (ἐκ τοῦ διαβόλου, literally, “of the devil”), as in 3:8.

Smalley, Dr. Stephen S. 1, 2, and 3 John, Volume 51: Revised (Word Biblical Commentary) (Kindle Locations 9810-9815). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Smalley, Dr. Stephen S. 1, 2, and 3 John, Volume 51: Revised (Word Biblical Commentary) (Kindle Locations 9822-9824). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Witherington Discusses Bad Language

Ben Witherington wrote an interesting blog post about "mature" or "adult" language. See https://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2019/02/25/about-mature-or-adult-language/#comment-4360436403

I agree with Witherington when he expresses dismay at people referring to profanity as "mature language." No, as he says, profanity and crude lingo "is juvenile, immature, it's the kind of language teenagers use to seem like they are all grown up (and they aren't)."

Something else to consider (noted in Witherington's blog post) is that what we say could be a reflection of our thinking and of what we regularly assimilate: garbage in, garbage out. Ephesians 4:29-32 provides fitting counsel on speech that's pleasing to Jehovah. Compare Eph. 5:1-5.

In Eph. 5:12, Paul stated: "For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret." (NIV)

So it's not only profanity that Christians must avoid; even mentioning (in sordid detail) what the nations secretly do might be shameful. A Christian is obligated to speak in a way that befits God's holy people: it is possible that Paul knew about the Greek comic Aristophanes or the Latin poet, Martial. He likely would have found their writings to be crude and unholy--especially the writings of Martial.

Harold W. Hoehner makes this observation about Eph. 5:12:

The infinitive λέγειν normally is translated “to speak” but this rendering seems clumsy here. Rather, the translation “to mention” would heighten the ascensive idea of the conjunction. Kreitzer suggests that those things too shameful to mention may have to do with the ritual obscene language associated with the mother-goddess Demeter.[69] Although this could be the case, there is nothing in the text to suggest such a specific reference. It is more likely that Paul has in mind useless deeds in which believers are not to participate. But if these works are so bad that it is shameful to even mention them, why expose them? Exposing such things not only reveals unfruitful works but teaches believers two important lessons. First, it reveals the ugliness of the deeds done in secret. Second, it impresses on them the importance of producing the fruit of light, the works of goodness, righteousness, and truth (v. 9). Deeds of darkness cannot be allowed, therefore, to spread and encompass the community of believers

See Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary.

John Eadie quotes Herodotus 1.138 when explaining Eph. 5:3, ποιέειν οὐκ ἔξεστι, ταῦτα οὐδὲ λέγειν ἔξεστιν.

See https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jec/ephesians-5.html


Thursday, May 02, 2019

William Ockham the Nominalist?

I once read a book about William Ockham (Occam) rather quickly--it's written by Matthew C. Menges (O.F.M., Ph.D.) and the book is quite detailed. One important point struck me in this work:

"Nor can we say that Ockham is a nominalist, if nominalism means a denial of universal concepts, for he surely holds them. His universal knowledge is founded ultimately on intuition, cognitio in se, and so it is knowledge of reality. But we do not know God immediately, or in se" (The Concept of Univocity Regarding the Predication of God and Creature According to William Ockham, page 175).

So do you think we should avoid describing Ockham as a nominalist? I guess it depends on how one defines nominalism.

Anthony Kenny concurs with Menges: he calls Ockham a terminist.