Tuesday, March 31, 2020

How the Pronunciation of YHWH Became Unknown (Possible Scenarios)

The manner in which Jews ceased to vocalize YHWH is attended by mystery. Christopher Seitz notes that it is “unclear” how articulating God’s proper name stopped and divine circumlocutions started. See “The Divine Name in Christian Scripture,” in This Is My Name Forever, 29-30; Robert Jenson (Triune Identity, 19) dates the cessation of verbalizing the Tetragrammaton to the third century BCE. Cf. Owen Barfield, Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1965), 112-113. He concurs with Jenson’s observation. See TDNT 5:268-269.

Developing Creativity

I was interested in the subject of creativity some years ago. Jehovah is the chief exemplar of creativity as evidenced by the cosmos. How can we also be creative in a productive way?

Psychologist Howard Gardner defines creativity as "divergent thinking." It is the ability to assimilate data and then create new possibilities from an acquired knowledge base. For example, a creative person may look at a book, and think of all the possible ways it could be used. It does not matter whether the ideas are "good" or practical: the creative thinker wisely diverges from common patterns of thought. Creativity involves brainstorming numerous ideas: the details are sorted out later.

I suggest three primary ways to develop creativity--neither idea is all that difficult or takes up much time.

How to Develop Creativity

1. Assimilate voluminous amounts of information. Read a variety of good literature (fiction and non-fiction); take music or art classes, and associate with creative persons. Stimulate your synaptic connections. Remember that the brain is a muscle: strengthen that muscle or it will atrophy. See http://www.livescience.com/4336-smart-strategy-brain-muscle.html

2. Use your mind to explore nontraditional ideas. Isaac Newton thought of F = G m1 m2/r2 (theory of gravitation) by simply using his mind, and he also developed integral calculus by mere thinking. Neither accomplishment was traditional.

3. Don't be afraid to wonder like a child. Einstein is a prime example of someone who never stopped asking childlike questions. He had a reputation for posing various thought-experiments (Gedanken in German) such as "What if lightning strikes simultaneously in the East and West at a train station. How would the lightning appear to an observer on a train headed west, an observer on a train headed east and to someone observing the phenomenon, who was waiting to board a train?" By means of these seemingly basic questions, Einstein creatively altered our understanding of the world.

Thinking divergently is fun and beneficial. To be creative means that a person finds novel uses for old or familiar tools. We can be serious about creativity by using our minds, exploring nontraditional concepts and exercising childlike curiosity (Proverbs 14:6).

De Bono, Edward. Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step. New York: Harper & Row, 1973.

Gardner, Howard. Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen Through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi. New York: BasicBooks, 1993.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Is Romans 5:7 Making An Overarching Point About the Good?

I am inclined to say that Paul is not trying to demonstrate a larger point about "the Good." Even if he were attempting to demonstrate an overarching ethical or metaphysical point about some concept of the ultimate Good, I believe that it would be difficult to ascertain this point from the grammar alone: that is my initial feeling about the Greek of this passage.

Looking at some of my resources, however, I find that Henry Alford (The Greek Testament, vol. II:358) treats the articular expression τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ this way: "on behalf of the good man," thereby working in the definite article and understanding it of the person. He writes (on the same page) that the article in Romans 5:7 refers to the good man "generally" similar to the way that expressions like "the fool" or "the wise man" reference these kinds of persons.

Daniel B. Wallace construes the grammar similarly in his work Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 233. He understands the article in τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ at Romans 5:7 generically. See Matthew 5:5; 2 Peter 3:16.

Chrysostom understands the passage as follows:

"Now what he [Paul] is saying is somewhat of this kind. For if for a virtuous man, no one would hastily choose to die, consider thy Master's love, when it is not for virtuous men, but for sinners and enemies that He is seen to have been crucified—which he says too after this, 'In that, if when we were sinners Christ died for us . . . '"

See his homilies on Acts and Romans.

On the other hand (sed contra), it seems that Saint Jerome understood the construction in Romans 5:7 as a reference to the good itself. See http://books.google.com/books?id=Nnmzhz0B27AC&pg=PA135&dq=romans+5:7+and+saint+jerome&hl=en&ei=oIQhTIrWJ8Gclgeys8yHCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false at google books.

Marvin H. Pope's Discussion of El

From the book El in the Ugaritic Texts, published by Brill.

See https://archive.org/details/elintheugaritictexts/page/n3/mode/2up

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Translating "Unless" in Formal Logic

Translating the word "unless" in formal logic.

Example: "Bob will quit unless Ann gets a raise."


~A--------->B (the ~ is a sign for negation and the one directional arrow represents "if . . . " (i.e., a conditional statement)

Notice that "Ann" has been placed in the antecedent position, symbolized by A, then negated whereas "Bob" has been moved to the consequent position of the conditional statement and symbolized by B.

Another way to translate "unless": "A v B provided that" which = p-------->q or q----------->p

v = either/or

The Problem of Genesis 19:24 Solved?

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Genesis 25:27--Esau and Jacob

Genesis 25:27 (CSB): "When the boys grew up, Esau became an expert hunter, an outdoorsman,[a] but Jacob was a quiet man who stayed at home."

a. 25:27 Lit a man of the field
b. 25:27 Lit man living in tents

NWT 2013: "As the boys got bigger, Eʹsau became a skilled hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a blameless man, dwelling in tents."

I've always wondered about the connection between blamelessness and living in tents versus roaming in the wild and hunting for game. Of course, we know that other verses reveal Esau was not a spiritual person, but 25:27 implies Esau's hunting was diverting his attention from the more important things.

NET Bible: "When the boys grew up, Esau became a skilled 42 hunter, a man of the open fields, but Jacob was an even-tempered man, living in tents. 43"

42 tn Heb “knowing.”

43 tn The disjunctive clause juxtaposes Jacob with Esau and draws attention to the striking contrasts. In contrast to Esau, a man of the field, Jacob was civilized, as the phrase “living in tents” signifies. Whereas Esau was a skillful hunter, Jacob was calm and even-tempered (תָּם, tam), which normally has the idea of “blameless.”

LXX: ηὐξήθησαν δὲ οἱ νεανίσκοι καὶ ἦν Ησαυ ἄνθρωπος εἰδὼς κυνηγεῗν ἄγροικος Ιακωβ δὲ ἦν ἄνθρωπος ἄπλαστος οἰκῶν οἰκίαν

Targum Jonathan: "And the lads grew; and Esau was a man of idleness to catch birds and beasts, a man going forth into the field to kill lives, as Nimrod had killed, and Hanok his son. But Jakob was a man peaceful in his words, a minister of the instruction-house of Eber, seeking instruction before the Lord."

E. A. Speiser Commentary: The description of the two boys is clearly antithetical. The last parts of the comparison are self-evident: Esau is a man of the outdoors (field, steppe), whereas Jacob prefers the quieter life indoors (literally in the “tents,” the plural being used in the abstract; “in the house” would be too urban for the purpose); note the semantically identical Akk. phrase asibuti/u kultari “dwellers in tents,” which in Assyrian king lists (JNES 13 [1954], 210 f., lines 8f.) summarizes the background of the first seventeen rulers; it was no longer primitive, like Enkidu’s (see Comment), yet not urban, but pastoral-rural. The first parts of the comparison, however, are less transparent. Esau is given to hunting (literally "experienced in, privy to,” cf. Isa liii 3 “familiar with illness”), as opposed to Jacob who is (is) tdm, something like “of simple tastes, quiet, retiring.” The over-all contrast, then, is between the aggressive hunter and the reflective semi-nomad.

See the Anchor Bible Commentary, page 195.

G. J. Wenham: But as the boys grow up, the different characters already suggested at birth begin to emerge. Esau, the rough and hairy child, becomes the great hunter, the man of the open spaces, whereas Jacob is the quiet stay-at-home. The word translated “quiet” ( ) is most problematic. Usually it means “perfect” and is a term of highest moral approbation (e.g., Job 1:1, 8; 2:3; cf. Gen 6:9). However, such a moral sense is inappropriate here, but it is not obvious in what way Jacob is perfect. Perhaps the sense is suggested by the cognate verb “to complete”; Jacob, unlike his outgoing activist brother, is a self-contained, detached personality complete in himself, hence “quiet.” “Who lived in tents” contrasts him with his wild hunting brother and may well suggest he would become a herdsman (cf. 4:20) like his father and grandfather (cf. 13:5).

Monday, March 23, 2020

Exodus 24:9-11 (Targum Onkelos and LXX)

Onkelos (Exodus 24:9-11):

"And Mosheh and Aharon, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up. And they saw the Glory of the God of Israel, and under the throne of His glory as the work of a precious stone, and as the face of heaven for its clearness. Yet the princes of the sons of Israel were not hurt; and they saw the Glory of the Lord, and rejoiced in their sacrifices which were accepted with favour, as though they had eaten and drunk."

LXX: καὶ ἀνέβη Μωυσῆς καὶ Ααρων καὶ Ναδαβ καὶ Αβιουδ καὶ ἑβδομήκοντα τῆς γερουσίας Ισραηλ

καὶ εἶδον τὸν τόπον οὗ εἱστήκει ἐκεῗ ὁ θεὸς τοῦ Ισραηλ καὶ τὰ ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ ὡσεὶ ἔργον πλίνθου σαπφείρου καὶ ὥσπερ εἶδος στερεώματος τοῦ οὐρανοῦ τῇ καθαριότητι

καὶ τῶν ἐπιλέκτων τοῦ Ισραηλ οὐ διεφώνησεν οὐδὲ εἷς καὶ ὤφθησαν ἐν τῷ τόπῳ τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἔφαγον καὶ ἔπιον

Brenton: "And Moses went up, and Aaron, and Nadab and Abiud, and seventy of the elders of Israel. And they saw the place where the God of Israel stood; and under his feet was as it were a work of sapphire slabs, and as it were the appearance of the firmament of heaven in its purity. And of the chosen ones of Israel there was not even one missing, and they appeared in the place of God, and did eat and drink."

Thomas B. Dozeman on Exodus 24:9-11

24:9 and Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up. Hebrew wayya`al is singular, "he went up"

24:10 and they saw the God of Israel. Hebrew wayyir'u 'et 'elohe yisra'el indicates a direct perception of the Deity. Cf. LXX, eidon ton topon hou heistekei ekei ho theos ton Israel, "they saw the place where the God of Israel stood"

sapphire stone. Hebrew sappir, "a sapphire-like stone;' denotes lapis lazuli.

purity. Hebrew latohar could also be translated "clearness" (see NRSV).

24:11 the leaders of the Israelites. The identity of the Hebrew 'asile bene yisra'el, "the leaders of the Israelites," is unclear. The LXX translates, ton epilekton, "a select group"

Thomas B. Dozeman. Exodus (Eerdmans Critical Commentary) (Kindle Locations 8233-8235). Kindle Edition.

Ways That the Bible Describes Jehovah

I just finished listening to an old talk by a brother, who said there are three ways the Bible talks about Jehovah: 1) metaphors; 2) similes; 3) anthropomorphisms.

Some would put analogy on the list and I would say that some descriptions are possibly literal ways of describing Jehovah or they're univocal (monosemous). I did not hear the brother make this point, but as I've said before, "Father" seems metaphorical to me.

One example the talk used for anthropomorphism is "the hand of Jehovah."

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Ode to Thanatos (Based on Revelation 6:8)

Been about three years since Thanatos made visit

it would be understating things to say he left exquisite

damage o'er round

as hoofs of his infernal steed

laid deep tracks in the ground.

Twas an awful, ghastly ride bringing tears and pain

but 'though Thanatos is gone, his casualties remain.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

"Coming down out of heaven from God" (Research Revelation 21:2)--In Progress

Revelation 21:2 (WH 1881): καὶ τὴν πόλιν τὴν ἁγίαν Ἰερουσαλὴμ καινὴν εἶδον καταβαίνουσαν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ, ἡτοιμασμένην ὡς νύμφην κεκοσμημένην τῷ ἀνδρὶ αὐτῆς.

SBLGNT: καὶ τὴν πόλιν τὴν ἁγίαν Ἰερουσαλὴμ καινὴν εἶδον καταβαίνουσαν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ, ἡτοιμασμένην ὡς νύμφην κεκοσμημένην τῷ ἀνδρὶ αὐτῆς.

ESV: "And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."

NWT 2013: "I also saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God and prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."

NET Bible: "And I saw the holy city—the new Jerusalem—descending out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband."

I primarily want to focus on καταβαίνουσαν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ

Compare Revelation 3:12; 21:10b. David Aune thinks that "heaven" is a circumlocution for God, and considers ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ to be "superfluous" (Revelation 17-22, Volume 52C in World Biblical Commentary Series).

Very Brief Note Regarding Genesis 22:15-16

ESV: "And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, 'By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,'"

ASV: "And the angel of Jehovah called unto Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son,"

Besides demonstrating the notion of agency when it comes to speech by Jehovah, these verses also illustrate how malak, which can be rendered "angel" or "messenger," may refer to a human or spirit messenger (angel). Compare Gen. 22:11.

Surely it was a spirit creature (an angel) who called out to Abraham--notice that he called a first and second time from/out of heaven.

The Johannine Prologue and Wisdom Literature (Darrell L. Bock and Benjamin I. Simpson)

I am not a Trinitarian and this quote is not taken from a biblical commentary, but from an academic work nonetheless. I have also provided this quote in conformity with U.S. fair use law.

For John, the prologue has a literary function. As we will see, John introduces several themes with the prologue, providing the reader with the narrator’s omniscient vantage point. Alan Culpepper states, “The reader is immediately given all that is needed to understand the story. . . . Like the narrator, therefore, the reader knows more than any of the characters who interact with Jesus.”4 The theme of the Word has rich background that is important to John’s choice of this term, because it compares and contrasts well with four themes of the OT and Judaism: the creative Word of God, Wisdom, Torah, and the memra of the Jewish targums.5 John’s concept of the Word incarnate is unique and represents a significant development from this Jewish backdrop, but his audience did possess some understanding of the imagery that John used, allowing them to appreciate both the nature of the claim and the comparison. The creative Word of God is seen in OT texts such as Isa. 55:11, where the Word comes from above and yields fruit like a sown seed. The Word was present at the creation, the means by which things came into being (Gen. 1; Ps. 33:6). The Word is like a lamp that guides a person’s way on a path (Ps. 119:105). God’s word contains the authority of judgment (Ps. 147:15, 18). So the Word is God’s “effective speech,” a revelation of who he is and what he does, along with being the mediating means by which his purpose is performed. As the spoken word reveals the thoughts of the mind in tangible ways, so the Word expresses and reveals God in both word and act.

Written by Darrell L. Bock and Benjamin I. Simpson. Quote from Jesus According to Scripture, published by Baker Academic.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Psalm 119:70--NWT 1984 vs. 2013, and Byington

I discussed this verse with a Bible study the other day; so I wanted to look deeper into the passage.

Psalm 119:70 (NWT 1984): "Their heart has become unfeeling just like fat. I, for my part, have been fond of your own law."

NWT 2013: "Their heart is insensitive, But I am fond of your law."

Byington Bible in Living English: "Their hearts are fatty as tallow; I take my pleasure in your instructions."

ESV: "their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law."

NET Bible: "Their hearts are calloused, but I find delight in your law."

John Goldingay (Baker Commentary on the OT Wisdom and Psalms): "The line parallels and looks behind the assertion in v. 69a and contrasts the psalmist’s *heart or mind (v. 69b) and that of the *willful. It begins with another vivid word: this heart or mind is thick (ṭāpaš) with fat, as if encased with suet like the stomach, preventing the truth getting through to heart or mind, stopping it from understanding anything outside itself. The second colon restates the contrast, in collocating *delight and Yhwh’s *teaching."

EGF: This verse (Psalm 119:70) is speaking about the "presumptuous" or "willful" (Goldingay): they are relentlessly headstrong, according to Goldingay. One is reminded of 2 Timothy 3:4.

Monday, March 09, 2020

J.V. Dahms, Wisdom Literature and the Son's Generation

From the article, "The Generation of the Son" by John V. Dahms which appears in JETS 32:4 (December 1989) p. 493-501--

The Son is said to be the “Word (Logos)” of God in John 1:1, 14 (cf. 1 John 1:1; Rev 19:13). As is commonly recognized, this designation owes much to Genesis 1 (with its repeated “God said”) and to the Jewish personification of the dynamic word of the Lord (cf. Ps 33:6; Isa 55:11; Wis 9:1; 18:14 ff.; Jewish targums; Philo).4 And there is a sense in which speech is generated by the speaker (cf. Isa 55:11: “My word … that goes forth from my mouth”).5
But can we say that the designation of the Son as the Word of God implies the generation of the Son? May it not be that to say so is to read more into the description than is warranted? Perhaps so. Nonetheless the designation is more or less suggestive of divine generation, to say nothing of the description of the Word as monogenēs, a term we shall consider shortly.

Footnote 4:
This is not to deny that a debt is also owed to the conception of the divine Wisdom in Proverbs, Wisdom and Sirach and to the conception of the Logos in Greek philosophy.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Genesis 15:9--What About That Bird?

ESV: "He said to him, 'Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.'"

NWT 2013: "He replied to him: 'Take for me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.'"

Brenton LXX: "And he said to him, Take for me an heifer in her third year, and a she-goat in her third year, and a ram in his third year, and a dove and a pigeon."

Robert Alter translates Gen. 15:9: "a young pigeon"

Also see http://classic.net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Gen&chapter=15&verse=9

Those translations decidely indicate that a pigeon is being brought/taken for sacrifice, not divided from its young.

Furthermore, a dove/pigeon is mentioned within sacrificial contexts many times (Lev. 1:3, 14; 5:7, 11; 9:3).

Therefore, E.A. Speiser (Genesis, page 113) writes concerning Gen. 15:9:

"Lastly, turtledoves and pigeons are cited repeatedly among the ritual provisions of Leviticus; see especially xiv 22; hence the above 'young pigeons' to render a Heb. noun that normally means 'young bird(s).'"

Nahum Sarna: "a young bird Hebrew gozal appears again only in Deuteronomy 32:11 as the young of an eagle. Here it probably is a pigeon since this bird is usually paired with the turtledove.15"

Footnote 15 above from Sarna: "Cf. Gen. R. 44:17, Targ. Onk., LXX: 'a pigeon.' For parallel tor, cf. Lev. 1:14; 5:7, 11; etc.

You might also find something worth reading here: https://www.academia.edu/25960731/COVENANT_MAKING_IN_GENESIS_15_9-18_IN_THE_CONTEXT_OF_ARCHEOLOGY_AND_YORUBA_WORLD_VIEW_-_Olugbenga_Olagunju

See also Christopher Begg, “The Birds in Genesis 15, 9-10,” BN 36 (1987): 7-11.

BN stands for Biblischen Notizen.