Tuesday, June 30, 2020

"Non Sum Dignus" (Luke and Plautus)

I am familiar with the Catholic practice of uttering "Domine, non sum dignus" in the so-called "Holy Communion of the Traditional Latin Rite." Moreover, my understanding is that the locus classicus of these words is Luke 7:6 (Vulgata) although I have found a similar use of the operative phrase in Plautus (254-184 BCE). He writes: "Quia enim non sum dignus prae te, ut figam palum in parietem" (from the play, Miles Gloriosus 1140).

Saturday, June 27, 2020

2 Peter 3:1 (Greek and Latin Texts)

Greek: Ταύτην ἤδη, ἀγαπητοί, δευτέραν ὑμῖν γράφω ἐπιστολήν, ἐν αἷς διεγείρω ὑμῶν ἐν ὑπομνήσει τὴν εἰλικρινῆ διάνοιαν (Westcott-Hort)

Stepbible Manuscript Variant Apparatus: ὑμῶν] p72 ‭א A B C Byz WH

ἡμῶν] al ς

omit] pc

Latin Vulgate: hanc ecce vobis carissimi secundam scribo epistulam in quibus excito vestram in commonitione sinceram mentem

Gene Green Remarks (BECNT):
Peter addresses the readers/hearers with the vocative “beloved,” saying, Ταύτην ἤδη, ἀγαπητοί, δευτέραν ὑμῖν γράφω ἐπιστολήν (Tautēn ēdē, agapētoi, deuteran hymin graphō epistolēn, This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you). Throughout this section he returns to address them in the same way (3:8, 14, 17) as he makes his appeal to them to heed his teaching and not to succumb to the heretics’ appeal to engage in an immoral way of life. The ones normally called “beloved” were children, especially only children (Homer, Od. 2.365; 4.817; Il. 6.401; Demosthenes, Speeches 21.165; Tob. 10:13 LXX; Mark 9:7; 12:6), and indeed, when used outside the context of the family, the family comparison is near at hand (as Aristotle, Pol. 2.1262B.23). The use of “beloved” within the early church was a marker of the familial relationship between the disciples of Christ, who call on one Father (Acts 15:25; Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 4:17; Eph. 5:1). Since one of the principal contexts of moral exhortation was the family, we are not surprised to find that our author repeatedly appeals to the recipients of the letter as “beloved” (cf. 1 Cor. 4:14; 10:14; 1 Pet. 2:11; 4:12). The address lends force to Peter’s appeal and at the same time marks the solidarity of the readers with the author. They are those who are inside, within the circle of the family, and not those separated off, as were the heretics. The force of Peter’s appeal is highlighted by the recollection that this is now the second missive the author is writing to these churches. In the literature on 2 Peter, the weight of discussion about this declaration centers on which letter the author refers to (1 Peter, a lost letter, or even Jude?) and the evidences for any relationship between this letter and 1 Peter. As important as these questions are, especially in relationship to debates about authorship, Peter’s point is sometimes lost in these interpretive conundrums. The opening words of the sentence, Ταύτην ἤδη (Tautēn ēdē, This is now), sometimes appear at the head of numbered sequences (as Gen. 27:36 LXX: “And he said, Rightly was his name called Jacob, for lo! this second time [ἤδη δεύτερον τοῦτο, ēdē deuteron touto] has he supplanted me”; John 21:14 NRSV: “This was now the third time [τοῦτο ἤδη τρίτον, touto ēdē triton] that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead”). The emphasis is on the way the second or third in the sequence serves as a confirmation of the previous. The “second” occurrence of some event also appears to hold some particular importance as a confirmation of a previous event (Matt. 26:42; John 4:54; 9:24; Acts 7:13; 10:15; 2 Cor. 13:2; Titus 3:10; Heb. 8:7; 9:28; 10:9; Jude 5 and comments). Euripides remarked about “second thoughts”: “Among mortals second thoughts are, I suppose, wiser” (Hipp. 436). Peter’s comment that this is his second letter confirms the content of the first epistle but, at the same time, highlights the importance of the present teaching. In fact, it elevates the importance of this letter above the first. The expression underscores the weight and authority of the present teaching and thus becomes the basis of the appeal the author makes through the final section of the letter.

My Comments: Compare Jude 17 with 2 Peter 3:1-2. Jude reads: Ὑμεῖς δέ, ἀγαπητοί, μνήσθητε τῶν ῥημάτων τῶν προειρημένων ὑπὸ τῶν ἀποστόλων τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ·

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Notes from "On Communitarian Divinity" by Okechukwu Ogbonnaya

I started these notes years ago, but never finished them because too many things got in the way. Roman has inspired me to post what I have so far. Maybe I will build on these notes. All page references are for On Communitarian Divinity: An African Interpretation of the Trinity, New York: Paragon House, 1994. The viewpoints expressed here represent the author's stance, not mine.

Notes from On Communitarian Divinity by Okechukwu A. Ogbonnaya:

Ogbonnaya insists that too much discourse about God is Eurocentric; even African theologians, who traditionally seem to rely on the notion of communality, still adhere to Eurocentric concepts in their theological discussions (x).

Page xiii-Tertullian's historical context permitted him to shape a notion of God "as community." The community notion of God purportedly allows for "ontological equality, personal distinctiveness within the Divine" and "functional subordination among the persons of the Trinity that is temporal rather than ontological."

Later debates about God in the Christian church "fostered concepts of ontological hierarchy instead of equality" (ibid.).

Ogbonnaya relates that Arians misconstrued Tertullian's proclamation, "there was a time when the Son was not" because they did not comprehend the notion of "communal ontological equality," which Tertullian was supposed to have advocated (ibid.). He allegedly expressed this view in Adversus Praxeas but actually expressed the concept more explicitly in Adv Hermogenem 3.4.

There is some debate among scholars as to whether Egyptian religion was monotheistic or polytheistic (33-38).

Ogbonnaya contends that evidence from the primary and secondary literature about religion in ancient Egypt suggests that Egyptian gods "were seen as a community of related beings who are of similar substance" but yet they were differentiated in terms of their hypostaticity and agential features (44). However, Ogbonnaya issues the following admonition: do not confuse modern conceptions of personhood (i.e., individuality) with ancient notions which are framed in relational terms. He points to Grant Allen, who urges that the word "god" anciently signified "a class or community of beings who share something in common" (ibid). The Egyptian gods were viewed as a community: these beings were consubstantial, coequal, but maintained "an independent existence" (45).

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Notes on Colossians 1:9-10

Greek (SBLGNT): Διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡμεῖς, ἀφ’ ἧς ἡμέρας ἠκούσαμεν, οὐ παυόμεθα ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν προσευχόμενοι καὶ αἰτούμενοι ἵνα πληρωθῆτε τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ καὶ συνέσει πνευματικῇ, περιπατῆσαι ἀξίως τοῦ κυρίου εἰς πᾶσαν ἀρεσκείαν ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ ἀγαθῷ καρποφοροῦντες καὶ αὐξανόμενοι τῇ ἐπιγνώσει τοῦ θεοῦ,

M.J. Harris: Επίγνωσις (ἐπί + γνῶσις), -εως, ἡ, may mean “complete understanding,” “clear knowledge” (Weymouth), “deeper knowledge” (TCNT), or “ever-growing knowledge” (Barclay; intensive or perfective ἐπί; cf. R 600; Robertson, Pictures 475; sim. Lightfoot 136), but this compound noun need not signify more than γνῶσις (cf. R. Bultmann, TDNT 1: 704– 8). Indeed, after a detailed discussion of the issue (pp. 248– 54), J. A. Robinson concludes that γνῶσις is the wider word, “knowledge” in the fullest sense and in the abstract, ἐπίγνωσις expressing knowledge directed toward (ἐπί) a particular object that, if expressed, is indicated by the obj. gen. (St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians [London: Macmillan, 1928 ²], 254), viz., τοῦ θελήματος in v. 9 and τοῦ θεοῦ in v. 10. See also the discussion of ἐπέγωτε in 1:6 and K. Sullivan, “Epignosis in the Epistles of St. Paul,” Studiorum Paulinorum Congressus Internationalis Catholicus 1961 (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1963), 2.405– 16. See For Further Study 12, “The Will of God (1: 9).”

Harris, Murray J. Colossians and Philemon (Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament) (Kindle Locations 1277-1287). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

G.K. Beale: The content of the “knowledge” (ἐπίγνωσις) is defined as consisting “in all spiritual wisdom and understanding”: ἐν (en, in) plus the dative (πάσῃ σοφίᾳ καὶ συνέσει, pasē sophia kai synesei) modifies the verbal noun “knowledge” (ἐπίγνωσις) and indicates content.6 It is possible that the prepositional phrase modifies “filled,” so that “in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” is the instrumentation by which God will “fill.”7 However, that “wisdom and understanding” modifies and unpacks the content of the verbal notion of “knowing” (i.e., “knowledge”) is apparent from our preceding observation that this phrase is part of an allusion to Exod. 31 and 35 and 1 Kings 7, as well as perhaps secondarily Isa. 11:2, where “knowledge,” “wisdom,” and “understanding” are placed in synonymous parallelism, and all convey the general notion of “effective understanding.”8 This is a “wisdom and understanding” about God’s will, especially how he wants them to live.

Beale, BECNT on Colossians, Philemon.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Scripture As the Written Word of God (Sailhamer)

I've been reading a book by John H. Sailhamer that discusses Old Testament theology: it seems to be one of the more thorough OT theology introductions. In any event, Sailhamer makes this point about calling written scripture, the Word of God:
We will argue that both Scripture itself and the classical formulations of the doctrine of Scripture in the church lay the stress on the written Word of God as the locus of special revelation. In 2 Timothy 3:16 Paul writes, “All scripture is inspired by God.” In calling Scripture “inspired,” Paul gives it the highest claim to authority. It is specifically “Scripture” that Paul points to as the locus of God’s revelation. We should add that it was the OT that Paul was primarily referring to in this passage as Scripture. Moreover, in 2 Peter 1:20-21, Peter says, “First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” Passages such as these in the NT have been primarily responsible for the classical identification of Scripture (sacra scriptura) and God’s Word (verbum dei) in Protestant theology.¹⁴ Although such an understanding of the nature of Scripture cannot claim universal acceptance among modern theologians,¹⁵ it remains the hallmark of those theologians who call themselves evangelical.¹⁶
From Introduction to Old Testament Theology: A Canonical Approach (pages 54-55, electronic edition), published by Zondervan, 2010.

Osiris Described as "most great god" in the Greek Papyri

According to Amazon, I purchased Select Papyri, Volume II, Public Documents (Loeb 282, Greek) on 8/20/2004. This volume contains a reference to Osiris being called the great god; here is the image from the Loeb work:

Monday, June 15, 2020

Contra Celsum 8.30 (Origen)--On Food

As to things strangled, we are forbidden by Scripture to partake of them, because the blood is still in them; and blood, especially the odour arising from blood, is said to be the food of demons. Perhaps, then, if we were to eat of strangled animals, we might have such spirits feeding along with us. And the reason which forbids the use of strangled animals for food is also applicable to the use of blood. And it may not be amiss, as bearing on this point, to recall a beautiful saying in the writings of Sextus, which is known to most Christians: "The eating of animals," says he, "is a matter of indifference; but to abstain from them is more agreeable to reason." It is not, therefore, simply an account of some traditions of our fathers that we refrain from eating victims offered to those called gods or heroes or demons, but for other reasons, some of which I have here mentioned. It is not to be supposed, however, that we are to abstain from the flesh of animals in the same way as we are bound to abstain from all race and wickedness: we are indeed to abstain not only from the flesh of animals, but from all other kinds of food, if we cannot partake of them without incurring evil, and the consequences of evil. For we are to avoid eating for gluttony, or for the mere gratification of the appetite, without regard to the health and sustenance of the body. We do not believe that souls pass from one body to another, and that they may descend so low as to enter the bodies of the brutes. If we abstain at times from eating the flesh of animals, it is evidently, therefore, not for the same reason as Pythagoras; for it is the reasonable soul alone that we honour, and we commit its bodily organs with due honours to the grave. For it is not right that the dwelling-place of the rational soul should be cast aside anywhere without honour, like the carcasses of brute beasts; and so much the more when we believe that the respect paid to the body redounds to the honour of the person who received from God a soul which has nobly employed the organs of the body in which it resided.

For his complete statement, see https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/04168.htm

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Example of Logic Exam

In order to do theology, it helps to know logic. So I now provide you with a sample logic assessment:

Logic Assessment 2 (PHI 101.01)

Dr. E.G. Foster

I. Identifying Deductive and Inductive Arguments

1. Is it possible for a valid deductive argument to have all true premises and a false conclusion? Explain your answer.

2. Is the following argument deductive or inductive?

A) For native speakers of English, Japanese is more difficult than French.
B) For native speakers of English, Chinese is more difficult than Japanese.
C) Therefore, for native speakers of English, Chinese is more difficult than French.

3. Define “inductive argument.”

4. Is the following argument inductive or deductive?

A) Two independent witnesses claimed John committed the murder.
B) John's fingerprints are the only ones on the murder weapon.
C) John confessed to the crime.
D) Therefore, John committed the murder.

5. Is the following argument, valid or invalid?

A) No S are P
B) Some M are S
C) Therefore, Some M are P

Saturday, June 13, 2020

A Little Latin (6/13/2020)

I'm trying to introduce a modicum of Latin in my blog entries. Today, I'll briefly discuss present indicative active verbs: second conjugation. My source is John F. Collins' work, A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin.

Collins teaches that the present indicative active Latin verb of the second conjugation is formed by removing the -re ending from the present infinitive, which is the second principal part of the verb. In other words, if we take the verb, moneo, the principal parts are moneo, monere, monui, monitus ("warn, advice"). Notice that the second principal part of moneo is monere, which is a present infinitive. So if we drop the -re ending on monere, we've now derived the present stem, which is mone (with a macron over the 'e').

From that present stem, we can now build present indicative active, second conjugation Latin verbs. Like Collins, I will list the paradigm for moneo:

1. moneo (I warn)
2. mones (you warn)
3. monet (he/she/it warns)

1. monemus (we warn)
2. monetis (you warn)
3. monent (they warn)

One thing we learn by analyzing Greek or Latin verbs is the regular patterns that occur in both languages: once you learn the patterns, other facets of the language begin to make sense.

Guide for the Perplexed 3.XXXII (Maimonides)

In Guide for the Perplexed, 3.XXXII, Rabbi Maimonides writes:

What prevented Him from giving us, as part of our nature, the will to do that which He desires us to do, and to abandon the kind of worship which He rejects? There is one general answer to these three questions, and to all questions of the same character: it is this: Although in every one of the signs [related in Scripture] the natural property of some individual being is changed, the nature of man is never changed by God by way of miracle. It is in accordance with this important principle that God said, "O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me," etc. (Deut. v. 26). It is also for this reason that He distinctly stated the commandments and the prohibitions, the reward and the punishment. This principle as regards miracles has been frequently explained by us in our works: I do not say this because I believe that it is difficult for God to change the nature of every individual person; on the contrary, it is possible, and it is in His power, according to the principles taught in Scripture; but it has never been His will to do it, and it never will be. If it were part of His will to change [at His desire] the nature of any person, the mission of prophets and the giving of the Law would have been altogether superfluous.

Friedlander Edition

1 John 5:7 in Hixson/Gurry

Elijah Hixson and Peter Gurry discuss 1 John 5:7 in more than one place. But in their book, Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism, they make these remarks on pages 207-8. I actually use three different copies of this book: one in PDF, another on Scribd, and I have the paperback version: talk about largesse. At any rate, here's one quote about 1 John 5:7:
Sometimes the impression from the apologetic literature is that variants do not matter at all. Others are more careful to claim only that “no orthodox doctrine or ethical practice of Christianity depends solely on any disputed wording.”⁵⁴ Daniel Wallace is even more precise, admitting that some “noncentral” beliefs or practices seem to be affected by viable variants but that “no viable variant affects any cardinal truth of the New Testament.”⁵⁵ Both qualifications (“viable” and “cardinal”) are important and match what we have here called difficult and important variants. In this sense, Wallace is surely right that no core Christian doctrine (e.g., the resurrection, the deity of Christ, salvation, the Trinity) is based solely on a textually difficult passage. Even Bart Ehrman grants that his own view is not a problem for this conclusion. He has said publicly that his view is not at odds with that of his mentor, Bruce Metzger, which is that “essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.”⁵⁶ That is not to say, however, that no passage that addresses or touches on core doctrines is textually suspect. Some certainly are, such as 1 John 5:7-8, which says in the King James Version, “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.” That is as explicit a definition of the Trinity as one finds in the Bible. Yet no serious textual critic today accepts this reading as authentic, and neither do evangelical theologians, who are still quite able to make a biblical case for the doctrine of the Trinity.⁵⁷ In other words, the fundamental doctrine of the Trinity in no way depends on this variant reading even though the variant in question certainly addresses that doctrine. As for variants touching on matters of Christian practice, we might mention the text-critical debates over Romans 16:7 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and the bearing they have for some on the question of women’s ordination.⁵⁸ In light of such cases, we cannot claim without qualification that variants never affect texts that touch on Christian doctrine or practice. Sometimes they clearly do. Yet no one would claim that an issue such as the Trinity or the ordination of women is hanging in the balance because of these disputed texts. It would be better to say, then, that no Christian doctrine or practice—major or minor—is determined by a textually difficult passage.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Augustine of Hippo (Confessions--Book 1, Chapter XIII)

But why did I so much hate the Greek, which I studied as a boy? I do not yet fully know. For the Latin I loved; not what my first masters, but what the so-called grammarians taught me. For those first lessons, reading, writing and arithmetic, I thought as great a burden and penalty as any Greek. And yet whence was this too, but from the sin and vanity of this life, because I was flesh, and a breath that passeth away and cometh not again? For those first lessons were better certainly, because more certain; by them I obtained, and still retain, the power of reading what I find written, and myself writing what I will; whereas in the others, I was forced to learn the wanderings of one Aeneas, forgetful of my own, and to weep for dead Dido, because she killed herself for love; the while, with dry eyes, I endured my miserable self dying among these things, far from Thee, O God my life.

See https://www.ccel.org/ccel/augustine/confess.ii.xiii.html

Thursday, June 11, 2020

One Way to Understand Colossians 2:21-22 (N.T. Wright)

N.T. Wright:
It hardly needs to be said that this verse is a contemptuous reference to the sort of regulations Paul is opposing, not a statement of his own views. NIV has, in fact, brought this out by putting quotation marks round the three prohibitions, and a question mark at the end of the verse. The verb here translated ‘handle’ ⁴⁵ is stronger than that rendered ‘touch’, thus producing a downward sliding scale (Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!) which corresponds to the upward rise in absurd scrupulosity. Examples of this sort of regulation are not difficult to find in the Judaism roughly contemporary with Paul. There is no reason either to look to pagan sources or to imagine that only when one has found a religion which said exactly what Paul here says has the correct background been located. The tone throughout the passage has been heavily ironic, and this continues to the end of the chapter. The two arguments here advanced against regulations of this sort are so close to those found on the lips of Jesus in Matthew 15:1–20 and Mark 7:1–23⁴⁶ that many scholars have suggested a conscious echo on Paul’s part. This may be judged probable whether or not the Colossians would have picked up such a reference. The first argument, these are all destined to perish with use, highlights the futility of regulations dealing with materials – i.e. foodstuffs – whose proper use is also their destruction (cf. 1 Cor. 6:13). ‘Perish with use’ does not just mean ‘may wear out in time’, but indicates that ‘the things could not be used without rendering them unfit for further use’. ⁴⁷ The second argument, because they are based on human commands or teachings, refers, like Matthew 15:9, to Isaiah 29:13, where the prophet condemns his contemporaries for their heartless outward show of religion. NIV seems to imply, with its addition of ‘because’ to the Greek original, that this clause is supposed to be the reason why foodstuffs will perish with use, but this is clearly absurd. The two clauses stand in parallel, both commenting independently on the regulations mocked in verse 21.

David Conway and the Problem of Evil

In "The Philosophical Problem of Evil," David A. Conway argues that the proposition "Evil is omni-preventable" is true, regardless of whether it is necessarily or contingently true. He chides those who attempt to make modal distinctions regarding truth as necessarily or contingently true--at least, in this case he does (e.g., Alvin Plantinga).

Does modal logic have a proper role to play in analyzing the logical problem of evil? Modal logic theorizes about logical necessity, logical possibility/impossibility and moral obligations (e.g., "It is possible that P). Its effectiveness with resolving the truthfulness of certain utterances has been called into question, but I'll deal with one sample utterance to illustrate the importance of modal logic when analyzing the logical problem of evil.

Let's examine Conway's claim that the proposition "Evil is omni-preventable" is true. Quite frankly, I have reservations about his approach since the modal distinctions apparently make a big difference here. I do not believe that it will suffice to assume that the foregoing proposition is simply true without qualification (simpliciter). Why is that the case? Imagine S (a person smoking three packs of cigarettes daily) who has made a choice which could be described as "evil" (morally speaking) that leads to yet another evil or bad state of affairs, namely, lung cancer.

Granted, one might argue that God "could" have prevented S from smoking 3 packs a day and he could have prevented S from getting lung cancer by means of this "evil" habit. Yet, in order for God (the omnipotent and omniscient being of Christianity and Judaism) to prevent these two evils, it seems that God might not have created S or the world in which S lives such that S smoked three packs daily and got lung cancer; in that case, God could have prevented these evils. However, while God could have prevented such evils by not creating the world he did or by making a different kind of world, it's logically possible there are good reasons why God did not take such a course of action.

By "logical possibility," I mean "not self-contradictory" or "terminologically congruent." For example, if I utter the words, "Larry is a married bachelor," the statement would be logically impossible; on the other hand, "The cow jumped over the moon" is not logically impossible because the statement does not contradict itself and it's terminologically congruent.

So even if Conway wants to argue that God could have made the world such that S might never have made the decision to smoke, I truly do not see how the occurrence of these previously-mentioned evils disprove God's existence. Why reason that way, since it appears that God possibly has good reasons for making a world in S chooses to smoke or might refrain from smoking? Because if God controls the willing of S, then how is the will of S truly free? What is meritorious about preventing S from putting the cigarette to the lips of S? We might encourage, exhort, warn or admonish someone not to smoke; however, we usually don't force or coerce adults to refrain from smoking cigarettes.

In summary, one of my objections to Conway's assertion concerns the proposition "Evil is omni-preventable" is true: I agree with Plantinga that modal distinctions are requisite in matters of this sort. We have to make subtle distinctions concerning evil and show why God should or would bring it about that S could not choose to smoke 3 packs a day, drink alcohol in copious amounts, become a serial killer or drive 120 mph on I-40, all actions which could be characterized as "evil" in some sense.

David A. Conway, "The Philosophical Problem of Evil," International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, (Jul. - September, 1988), pp. 35-66.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Craig Keener Observations About Acts 10:15-16

Keener's remarks are more extensive than what I'm posting here, but this should give you some idea regarding his stance. Taken from his thick and multi-volume Acts commentary, Volume 2:
The voice, correcting Peter’s inappropriate attitude, commands him to stop regarding as common what God has cleansed (Acts 10:15).[438] This passage should probably be included among the early Christian texts that challenged the necessity of kashrut, at least for the Gentiles (Mark 7:18–19; probably Rom 14:2–3; Col 2:21–22; 1 Tim 4:3; Heb 13:9).[439] Some scholars cite a later Jewish tradition about the cleansing of unclean animals in the world to come, as they were clean before Noah’s day;[440] this tradition is probably too late to constitute background for this text, however.[441] The primary point, in any case, is not the cleansing of foods but the cleansing of people who eat them (Acts 10:28).[442] Not calling foods impure in context refers to not calling Gentiles impure,[443] but there is a reason that the image for Gentiles involves cuisine.[444] The image of pure foods represents the Gentiles in two ways. First, because ancient moralists used the language of external “purity” also for the soul and moral behavior,[445] the analogy between “pure” foods and pure people was a natural one.[446] But second, table fellowship between Jew and Gentile was a major factor in emphasizing Gentiles’ impure status. Food purity is related to the basis for table fellowship with Gentiles (cf. esp. 15:20, 29) and is an important issue in Peter’s interaction with Cornelius, at least from the perspective of its critics within the Jerusalem church (11:3). Both in Rom 14:2–23 (in the entire context of Romans) and in Mark 7:19 (if closely related to its following context), the debate over pure foods also addresses the welcoming of Gentiles into the Jesus movement. Part of the original purpose of the kashrut was separation (Lev 11:44); various nations had their own respective food customs (see comment above on Acts 10:12). Acts 10 does not forbid the usefulness of kashrut for Jews, but it forbids making food rules (except the minor ones in Acts 15:20, 29) a basis for eating together.

Expansion of 1 Kings 18:27 Remarks

Donald J. Wiseman (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries):
Elijah’s taunt is that Baal was acting in a merely human manner. He uses terms known to the people from the Ugaritic Baal myths. Was the god musing on the action to take (deep in thought)? Had he gone aside to answer the call of nature (so Targum; NEB ‘engaged’; NIV, after LXX, busy) or had he left on a journey with Phoenician merchants? Was Baal asleep as Yahweh was not (Ps. 121:3–4)? The practice of self-inflicted wounds to arouse a deity’s pity or response is attested in Ugarit when men ‘bathed in their own blood like an ecstatic prophet’.³⁰ In mourning this was forbidden to the Hebrews (Lev. 19:28; Deut. 14:1). Baal’s priests acted like ecstatic prophets (v. 29, NIV, frantic prophesying; better RSV ‘ranted and raved’). This rare form of the verb (Heb. hitnabbē’) is used of mad actions (cf. 2 Kgs 9:11; Jer. 29:26). The fact that there is no response indicates Baal’s impotence (Jer. 10:5).

Simon J. De Vries (Word Biblical Commentary):
MT adds the scurrilous gloss, “and perhaps he is defecating.”

“Elijah . . . ridicule[d]”: Heb. This is the sole biblical occurrence of the word, but its meaning is evident from the context (see the LXX). “Call in a loud voice”—the same as above, only more so. “He is musing (Heb . . . gone aside (Heb . . . gone on a journey.” The interpretation is somewhat conjectural. It is tempting to go along with some Jewish exegetes in taking this as a racy, sly sarcasm meaning “busy at the privy.” “He is asleep and needs to be awakened”: various ancient religions conceived of their gods going to sleep at night—but this is noonday!

Monday, June 08, 2020

The Difference That Greek Prepositions Make (More from Harris)

Originally, then, it was the case that showed the meaning of the preposition, but ultimately the preposition was regarded as giving a particular meaning to the case. To express the point another way, at the outset cases “governed” prepositions, but in the end prepositions were thought to “govern” cases in the sense of determining the case of a noun or pronoun that would produce a specific meaning. Since a plain case is often capable of various senses, an added preposition or prepositional phrase can clarify and reinforce the intended meaning or actually remove ambiguity. For example, a phrase such as ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ Χριστοῦ (2Co 5:14) could mean “the love shown by Christ” (subjective genitive) or “love for Christ” (objective genitive), but ἡ ἀγάπη ἡ ὑπὸ τοῦ Χριστοῦ would express the former meaning unequivocally.

(Murray J. Harris, Prepositions and Theology in the Greek Testament)

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Gerald Hawthorne on Philippians 2:26 (Revised Word Biblical Commentary)

Hawthorne translation of 2:26: "I must do this because he was very homesick for all of you and greatly distressed because you heard he was sick."

Hawthorne Commentary on 2:26 (pages 560-561 of electronic version):

ἐπειδὴ ἐπιποθῶν ἦν πάντας ὑμᾶς καὶ ἀδημονῶν, διότι ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἠσθένησεν, “I must do this because he was very homesick for all of you and greatly distressed because you heard he was sick.” Two of the reasons for Paul’s decision to send Epaphroditus to Philippi are discussed in this verse and in very strong words: ἐπιποθῶν ἦν, “he was very homesick,” and ἀδημονῶν [ἦν], “[he was] greatly distressed.” The first of these words, ἐπιποθεῖν, denotes a deep “yearning” or “longing” (cf. Phil 1:8). When the object of this yearning is one’s family or friends, as here, it may describe the painful experience of homesickness (Plummer, Martin [1959], Loh [sic] and Nida). The other of these words, ἀδημονεῖν, “greatly distressed,” is the same word used of Jesus’ anguish in Gethsemane (Mark 14:33). It “describes the confused, restless, half-distracted state which is produced by physical derangement or mental distress” (Lightfoot, 123). This distress seems to have been caused by Epaphroditus’s anxiety for the Philippians’ anxiety for him upon their learning that he was sick (v 26b). For some interpreters this is strange behavior for a grown man—that he should be worried about their worry for him (Barth). But a second-century papyrus letter, written by a soldier to his mother, who had somehow learned that he was sick (P.Oxy. 12.1481.4, cited in MM, 382, s.v. λυπέω), shows that this is quite a natural reaction, and it is plainly understandable in any age. This soldier’s words parallel the idea expressed in this verse: “So do not grieve about me. I was much grieved to hear that you had heard about me, for I was not seriously ill.” Like Epaphroditus, this soldier’s pain was increased by the knowledge of the pain that news of his illness had caused one who loved him (Moffatt, JTS o.s. 18 [1917] 311–12). Furthermore, both these verbs (ἐπιποθῶν ἦν, “he was very homesick”/ἀδημονῶν [ἦν], “[he was] greatly distressed”) are periphrastic. This kind of construction gives voice to a persistent continuance in something—in this case, in homesickness and in mental distress. Hence, what Epaphroditus was experiencing was not an easily satisfied yearning, on the one hand, or a cavalierly dismissed state of the mind, on the other. Apparently only a trip home could relieve these deep-seated emotional tensions.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Rare Cases of Sarcasm in the Bible

Two ways to define "sarcasm":

1. A cutting, often ironic remark intended to express contempt or ridicule.
2. A form of wit characterized by the use of such remarks: detected a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
[Late Latin sarcasmus, from Greek sarkasmos, from sarkazein, to bite the lips in rage, from sarx, sark-, flesh.]

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

See https://www.thefreedictionary.com/sarcasm

Two possible cases of sarcasm in the Bible are Zechariah 11:13 and 2 Cor. 11:12-29. Another one that comes to mind is the account regarding Elijah in 1 Kings 17-19: the way that Elijah deals with the prophets of Baal is filled with explicit and derisive irony.

Read the letters to the Galatians and Philippians for more examples of derisive speech.

See also https://www.leadershipresources.org/sarcasm-in-the-bible-dale-ralph-davis