Friday, July 31, 2020

Defining Torah

My contention is that "Torah" can be translated as "law," teaching or instruction. Either translation is acceptable.

One translation of Maimonides states: "The Torah" refers to the Written Law; "the mitzvah," to its explanation. [God] commanded us to fulfill "the Torah" according to [the instructions of] "the mitzvah."5 "The mitzvah" is called the Oral Law.


In an article for Jewish Bible Quarterly, Jacob Chinitz provides this information:

This article will attempt to answer two questions: What is the meaning, or what are the meanings, of the word "Torah" when it occurs in the Torah? Is the Torah aware of itself as a book? There are 32 appearances of the word torah, or ha-torah, in the Pentateuch. In 11 of these, it is a common noun meaning "law" or "rule" in general, without specific reference to the Torah. In the other 21 appearances, the word refers to the Torah; once in Exodus and 20 times in Deuteronomy. In the first meaning, the word is used twice for law in general and nine times for a rule for a particular situation. In the second meaning, the word is used 10 times for the contents of the Torah, and 11 times for the material scroll of the Sefer Torah.

See "The Word 'Torah' in the Torah" by Chinitz.

Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906: The Torah receives its title from its contents, the name itself connoting "doctrine." The Hellenistic Jews, however, translated it by νόμος = "law" (e.g., LXX., prologue to Ecclus. [Sirach], Philo, Josephus, and the New Testament), whence came the term "law-book"; this gave rise to the erroneous impression that the Jewish religion is purely nomistic, so that it is still frequently designated as the religion of law. In reality, however, the Torah contains teachings as well as laws, even the latter being given in ethical form and contained in historical narratives of an ethical character.

Jewish Virtual The Torah, or Jewish Written Law, consists of the five books of the Hebrew Bible - known more commonly to non-Jews as the "Old Testament" - that were given by G-d to Moses on Mount Sinai and include within them all of the biblical laws of Judaism. The Torah is also known as the Chumash, Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses.

The word "Torah" has multiple meanings including: A scroll made from kosher animal parchment, with the entire text of the Five Books of Moses written on it; the text of the Five Books of Moses, written in any format; and, the term "Torah" can mean the entire corpus of Jewish law. This includes the Written and the Oral Law.

From Oxford Bibliographies:

Law” or “Torah” (Hebrew) normally refers to instruction given by God to Moses at Sinai and preserved in the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy), but can occasionally be used more broadly, even to refer to the Psalms, as in John 10:34. This article focuses on the former meaning and thus on works that deal with how New Testament writers (and also the historical Jesus) view the Law. Research on the latter has been greatly influenced by the way scholars have understood how Judaism at the time of Jesus and the early Christian movement viewed the Law. Stereotypical conflicts between Protestants and Catholics contributed to stereotypical views of Judaism and Law in much of the literature up to the mid-20th century, so that, at worst, Judaism was depicted as a religion where one earned status before God by meticulous observance of the Law, seen as burdensome, and had no real hope of forgiveness.


NABRE Footnote for Exodus 12:49: One law: the first appearance of the word torah, traditionally translated as “law,” though it can have the broader meaning of “teaching” or “instruction.” Elsewhere, too, it is said that the “alien” is to be accorded the same treatment as the Israelite (e.g., Lv 19:34).

Catholic Encyclopedia: Torah, [Image] (cf. Hiph. of [Image]), signifies first "direction, instruction", as, for instance, the instruction of parents (Proverbs 1:8), or of the wise (Proverbs 3:1). It is used chiefly in reference to the Divine instruction, especially through the revelation to Moses, the "Law", and to the teaching of the Prophets concerning the will of God. In the sense of law "Torah" refers only to the Divine laws. "Torah" is applied to the books containing the teaching of the Mosaic revelation and the Law, that is, the Pentateuch.

Brian Neil Peterson, Genesis as Torah, 21-22 of the electronic edition:

What is torah? Broadly defined torah means law or instruction (Gen 26:5;  Exod 12:49; 13:9; 18:16 etc.). When assessing the Pentateuch, torah can be  more narrowly defined as instruction in the ways and commands of YHWH  (Exod 16:4; cf. 24:12).² Frank Crüsemann adds that “it comprises legal, moral,  cultic, religious, theological and historical statements.”³ When most scholars speak of torah, it is quite clear that Genesis does not immediately come to mind.⁴ Instead they generally turn their focus to the obvious portions of the Pentateuch⁵ that engender the concept of law, namely, the Book of the  Covenant (Exod 20:22—23:33); the Holiness Code of Leviticus 17–26; the Deuteronomic Law (Deut 12–26); or the Decalogue of Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.⁶ A fine example of this is the approach used by Albrecht Alt  (1883–1956), who when discussing the origins of the law in Israel only mentions Genesis in one passing footnote.

It is obvious that scholars struggle with using the term torah in its strictest  sense when classifying the book of Genesis. Characteristic of this line of  thought is Terence Fretheim’s definition of torah. He states, “The Hebrew  word torah can be more properly used if it is broadly defined as instruction, and hence could include both law and narrative. But, given the usual meanings of the word ‘law,’ it should not be used as a shorthand reference to the  Pentateuch in its entirety” (italics original).⁸ While I can appreciate what  Fretheim is trying to say, I disagree with his conclusion that the word “law”  should not encapsulate the whole of the Pentateuch. Not only are such definitions too narrow, they also fail to give proper weight to the torah instruction found in narratives throughout Genesis in particular. Moreover, these narrow definitions go against Jewish tradition, which identifies Genesis not only as  part of the Torah, but as its very introduction!  At the same time, care must be taken not to diminish the juridical force of  the law in favor of its value as “religious instruction.”⁹ While using the term “instruction” in a general sense may help alleviate the tension, Genesis can also rightly be termed “law” or “case law” in a variety of situations where God in fact brought forth judgment (see next section below).¹⁰ Therefore, focusing  mainly on the overt legal portions of the Torah as the primary legal  instruction¹¹ within the Pentateuch is in fact to miss the importance of the implicit legal instruction present within the narratives of Genesis.¹² And, as just  noted, such designations fail to take seriously the longstanding Jewish practice of labeling the entirety of the first five books of the Hebrew canon as Torah.   

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Categorical Statements: An Introduction

Readers of this blog know that I like to post something about logic every now and again, so this post briefly deals with categorical statements (also known as categorical propositions).

By "categorical," I mean statements that name/relate categories or classes of things like humans, dogs, cats, etc. We'll now examine four kinds of categorical statements:

1. Universal affirmative statements: an example is "All dogs are canines." Formally, this statement assumes the form, "All S is/are P." S is the subject while P is the predicate. Terms like "all," "no" and "some" are labeled quantifiers; are/are not bear the technical name, copula, in logic.

2. Universal negative statements: "No dogs are canines." The form of this statement is "No S are P."

3. Particular affirmative statements: "Some dogs are canines." The form here is "Some S are P."

4. Particular negative statements: "Some dogs are not canines." The form is "Some S are not P."

Statements like "All dogs are canines" and "No dogs are canines," we call contraries because they can be false at the same time, but they cannot simultaneously be true. On the other hand, "Some dogs are canines" and "No dogs are canines" not only are contrary statements, but they're contradictories. So are "All dogs are canines" and "Some dogs are not canines."

These categorical statements can be arranged into syllogisms, that is, arguments that have premises and a conclusion. Strictly speaking, syllogisms contain a major premise, minor premise, and conclusion.

Picture is courtesy of public domain.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Books I've Read (Part III)

1. Cambridge Latin Course (Four Volumes). Published by Cambridge University Press.

2. Brown, Peter (editor) and Augustine of Hippo. Confessions. Reprint edition. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2000.

3. Appiah, Kwame Anthony. In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture. London: Methuen; New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

4. Austin, J.L. How to Do Things with Words: The William James Lectures delivered at Harvard University. Editors, J.O. Urmson and Marina Sbisà), Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962 [updated in 1975].

5. Tillich, Paul. The Courage To Be. Yale University Press, 1952. Print.

6. Molloy, Michael. Experiencing the World's Religions: Tradition, Challenge, and Change. Seventh edition. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2017.

7. Pustejovsky, James. The Generative Lexicon. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995. Print.

8. Saeed, John I. Semantics. Second edition. Oxford: Blackwell, 2003. Print.

9. Niditch, Susan. War in the Hebrew Bible: A Study in the Ethics of Violence. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995. Print.

10. Fretheim, Terence E. The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984. Print.

11. Palmer, Michael W. Levels of Constituent Structure in New Testament Greek. New York: Peter Lang, 1995. Print.

12. Hengel, Martin. Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross. Translated by John Bowden. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977. Print.

13. Frankl, Viktor. Man's Search for Meaning. Beacon Press, 2006. Print.

14. Cooper, John W. Our Father in Heaven: Christian Faith and Inclusive Language for God. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998. Print.

15. Cooper, John W. Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989. Print.

16. Meye Thompson, Marianne. The Promise of the Father: Jesus and God in the New Testament. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2000. Print.

17. Kasper, Walter. Jesus the Christ. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1977. Print.

18. Ozment, Steven. The Age of Reform, 1250-1550: An Intellectual and Religious History of Late Medieval and Reformation Europe. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1980. Print.

19. Metzger, Bruce M. The Bible in Translation: Ancient and English Versions. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001. Print.

20. Giles, Kevin. The Trinity & Subordinationism: The Doctrine of God and the Contemporary Gender Debate. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002. Print.

21. Hallman, Joseph M. The Descent of God: Divine Suffering in History and Theology. Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 1991.

22. O'Collins S.J., Gerald. The Tripersonal God; Understanding and Interpreting the Trinity. Mahway, NJ: Paulist Press, 1999. Print.

23. Bradley, James and Richard A. Muller. Church History: An Introduction to Research. Methods and Resources. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1995 [updated in 2016]. Print.

24. Studer, Basil, and Andrew Louth (translator). Trinity and Incarnation: The Faith of the Early Church. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1993. Print.

25. Burgess, Stanley M. The Holy Spirit: Eastern Christian Traditions. Hendrickson, 1989.

John 16:2--"sacred service to God"?

John 16:2 (THGNT): ἀποσυναγώγους ποιήσουσιν ὑμᾶς· ἀλλ᾽ ἔρχεται ὥρα ἵνα πᾶς ὁ ἀποκτείνας ὑμᾶς δόξῃ λατρείαν προσφέρειν τῷ θεῷ.

While reading this verse for the daily text one day, I started wondering if the infinitive προσφέρειν might have sacrificial connotations in this verse, especially since it's paired with λατρείαν and modifies that noun. Compare Mark 1:44; Luke 5:14; Heb. 5:1, 3, 7; 8:3-4; 9:25, 28; 11:17.

John Paul Heil thinks that John 19:29, framed as ironic worship, evokes Jesus' utterance at John 16:2. Moreover, he connects the action described in 19:29 with Passover: see Heil, The Gospel of John: Worship for Divine Life Eternal, page 132.

B.F. Westcott shows that the LXX employs προσφέρειν "for the 'offering' of sacrifices and gifts," and the Epistle to the Hebrews employs the verb quite frequently (some 19 times) in a similar fashion. See Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews: The Greek Text with Notes and Essays, page 120.

Westcott makes this observation for Epistle to the Hebrews: "This usage of προσφέρειν [in Hebrews] appears to be Classical and not Hellenistic" (ibid.).

I think John P. Lange gets a little off-track with differing forms of fanaticism (Gentile versus Jewish), but he associates λατρείαν προσφέρειν τῷ θεῷ with "Cherem" (herem), which he translates as "curse-sacrifice."

Meyer's NT Commentary: πᾶς ὁ ἀποκτ., κ.τ.λ.] that every one, who shall have put you to death, may think that he offers a sacrificial service to God (namely, through the shedding of your blood). On λατρεία, cultus (Plat. Apol. p. 23 C, Phaedr. p. 224 E; Romans 9:4), here, by means of the προσφέρειν, the standing word used of sacrifices (see Matthew 5:23; Matthew 8:4; Acts 7:32; Hebrews 5:1; Schleusner, Thes. IV. p. 504), in the special reference of sacrificial divine service, comp. Romans 13:1; Hebrews 9:1; Hebrews 9:6.

Henry Alford GNT for John 16:2: προσφέρειν, the technical word for offering a sacrifice

But see Alford's cautionary remark for λατρείαν in John 16:2. Compare

Craig S. Keener (The Gospel of John: A Commentary, page 1027): "The behavior of the believers' enemies itself condemns them. The believers' opponents believe that the death of Christians offers priestly sacrifice to God (16:2), no doubt pleasing to God the way Phinehas's execution of an Israelite idolater had been.360 In fact, however, they think in this manner precisely because they have never genuinely known God or his agent (16:3)."

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Galatians 2:12: What Was Peter Doing?

Douglas J. Moo (BECNT)
"Peter, who had apparently been staying in Antioch for some time, had been in the habit of 'eating with' his Gentile brothers and sisters (the verb συνήσθιεν [synēsthien] is in the imperfect tense, signaling continuous or repeated action). It is difficult to know just what this language implies. Dunn has argued that Peter would probably have continued to keep Jewish food laws, and that believers in Antioch were accommodating Jewish dietary restrictions via various well-known means to provide for Jewish-Gentile interaction in the Diaspora (see, e.g., Dunn 1983; 1993a: 121–22; and also Hays 2000: 232; Sanders 1990). But Paul’s claim that Peter is 'living like a Gentile' in verse 14 appears to suggest that Peter had gone farther and had begun to give up Jewish scruples about food in general (Martyn 1997: 232; Witherington 1998: 153). Peter would have been acting on the basis of the vision he had received in Acts 10, where God showed him that there were no truly 'impure' foods. There is no reason to think that this practice was restricted to or particularly focused on the Lord’s Supper (Hays 2000: 233–34; contra, e.g., Esler 1995: 286–311; Schlier 1989: 83–84). But Peter’s practice of eating with the Gentiles changed when 'some men from James arrived.' He then 'withdrew and separated himself' (ὑπέστελλεν και ἀφώριζεν ἑαυτόν, hypestellen kai aphōrizen heauton). The verb ὑπέστελλεν could be intransitive, 'he drew back' (Bruce 1982b: 130–31)—or it could have as its object ἑαυτόν, meaning 'he withdrew himself (Lightfoot 1881: 112; R. Longenecker 1990: 75; see BDAG 1041 for these options). It is also possible that it has an inceptive force here: Peter 'began to draw back' (cf. NIV, NAB, NASB, NET, CEB).[3] Peter changed his habits in Antioch when 'some men from James arrived (ἐλθεῖν τινας ἀπὸ Ἰακώβου, elthein tinas apo Iakōbou) and 'because he feared the people of the circumcision' (φοβούμενος τοὺς ἐκ περιτομῆς, phoboumenos tous ek peritomēs; the participle is causal)."

Page 287 of the electronic edition.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Talk for July about Moses in Egypt (Edited)

Jehovah always makes his confidential matter known to his servants the prophets before he acts (Amos 3:7). We observe this same pattern in Exodus when Jehovah clearly stated how he would deliver Israel from bondage to an oppressive Pharaoh.

Notice what we learn from Exodus 6:1:

So Jehovah said to Moses: “Now you will see what I will do to Pharʹaoh. A mighty hand will force him to send them away, and a mighty hand will force him to drive them out of his land.”

Did you notice what Jehovah would do to Pharaoh? He would use his "mighty hand" to make the ruler of Egypt free Israel and chase the descendants of Jacob away from Egypt: that mighty hand represents Jehovah's unrivaled and applied power that's manifested through his holy spirit. It is the same power that he employs today in behalf of his servants. For example, God gives us "power beyond what is normal" (2 Cor. 4:7) to accomplish the preaching work.

What would be the result of Jehovah's acting in Israel's behalf?

Exodus 6:6-7: “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am Jehovah, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians and rescue you from their slavery, and I will reclaim you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. And I will take you in as my people, and I will be your God, and you will certainly know that I am Jehovah your God who is bringing you out from under the burdens of Egypt."

Although Israel suffered despair because of Pharaoh's decree, Jehovah assured them through Moses that he would deliver his people from the Egyptians and rescue Israel from slavery. Jehovah's "outstretched arm," his applied power and holy spirit, would reclaim his people. The study Bible footnote for Exodus 6:6 says "outstretched" or "powerful."

So it was now time for Jehovah to make the full meaning of his name known: this disclosure of the divine name is what Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had waited longingly to see. Pharaoh would equally come to know the full meaning of Jehovah's name, but that realization would happen with dire consequences for the prideful ruler; he would eventually hasten the Israelites from Egypt by driving them out.

This point is brought out in Exodus 7:4-5:

"But Pharʹaoh will not listen to you, and I will lay my hand upon Egypt and bring my multitudes, my people, the Israelites, out of the land of Egypt with great judgments. And the Egyptians will certainly know that I am Jehovah when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out from among them.”

The book of Exodus does not simply narrate a battle occurring between human nations; the real fight was between Jehovah and the gods of Egypt (Exod 12:12ff). By means of the first three plagues, Jehovah demonstrated that the gods of Egypt were powerless: even the magic-practicing priests of Pharaoh felt defeated after the initial three plagues from Jehovah.

After the plagues hit Egypt, Jehovah's name was declared throughout Egypt, accomplishing both a softening and a hardening toward the divine name​—both the Israelites and some of the Egyptians were softened, but Pharaoh, his advisers along with his supporters were hardened. (Exodus 9:16; 11:10; 12:29-39) The Egyptians knew that it was Jehovah bringing the plagues rather than the gods of Egypt. Pharaoh was made to know Jehovah as the living and true God.

Discuss the pictures and question.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Books I've Read (Part II)

1. Beasley-Murray, George R. Word Biblical Commentary: John. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999. Print.

2. Conybeare, F.C. and St. George Stock. Grammar of Septuagint Greek: With Selected Readings, Vocabularies, and Updated Indexes. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1995. Print.

3. Dana, H.E. and Julius R. Mantey. A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. Toronto: Macmillan, 1955. Print.

4. Earle, Ralph. Word Meanings in the New Testament. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1997. Print.

5. Knight, George W. A Simplified Harmony of the Gospels. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2001. Electronic.

6. Wright, N T. Evil and the Justice of God. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2013. Electronic.

7. West, M.L. Hesiod: Works & Days. Oxford: 1978. Print.

8. Most, G.W. Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, Testimonia. Loeb 57. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA: 2006. Print.

9. Evans, Ernest (editor). Tertullian: Adversus Marcionem. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972. Print.

10. Evans, Ernest (editor). Tertullian: Against Praxeas. London: SPCK, 1948. Print.

11. Alfs, M. Concepts of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: A Classification and Description of the Trinitarian and Non-Trinitarian Theologies Existent Within Christendom. Minneapolis: Old Theology House, 1984. Print.

12. Anderson, Paul N. The Christology of the Fourth Gospel: Its Unity and Disunity in the Light of John 6. Valley Forge: Trinity Press, 1996. Print.

13. Wilken, Robert. The Myth of Christian Beginnings. London: SCM Press, 1979. Print.

14. Arthur, Richard. An Introduction to Logic - Second Edition: Using Natural Deduction, Real Arguments, a Little History, and Some Humour. Ontario: Broadview Press, 2016. Print and Electronic.

15. Barnard, L.W. Justin Martyr: His Life and His Thought. London: Cambridge University Press, 1967. Print.

16. Bock, D.L. Blasphemy and Exaltation in Judaism: The Charge Against Jesus in Mark 14:53-65. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000. Print.

17. Boman, T. Hebrew Thought Compared With Greek. New York: Norton, 1970. Print.

18. Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Ethics. Eberhard Bethge, ed. New York: Macmillan, 1965. Print.

19. Flemings, Hal. A Philosophical, Scientific and Theological Defense for the Notion That a God Exists. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2004. Print.

20. Mikhail, Bakhtin. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Ed. Michael Holquist. Trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin and London: University of Texas Press, 1981. Print.

21. Mounce, William D. A Graded Reader of Biblical Greek. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996. Print.

22. Rubenstein, Richard E. When Jesus Became God: The Epic Fight Over Christ's Divinity in the Last Days of Rome. Boston: Mariner Books, 2013. Print.

23. Dorner, Isaak A. Divine Immutability--A Critical Consideration. Minneapolos, MN: Fortress Press, 1994. Print.

24. Robinson, J.A.T. Honest to God. John Knox Press, 1963. Print.

25. Hughes, Gerard. The Nature of God. London: Routledge, 1995. Print.

Revelation 11:15 in Robert Mounce--One Pronoun for Two Persons?

Greek (THGNT): Καὶ ὁ ἕβδομος ἄγγελος ἐσάλπισεν, καὶ ἐγένοντο φωναὶ μεγάλαι ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ [a]λέγουσαι· ἐγένετο ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ κόσμου τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ, καὶ βασιλεύσει εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων.

RSV: "Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.'"

Robert Mounce (NICNT): "Although the Son will ultimately be subjected to the Father (1 Cor 15:28), he will nevertheless share the eternal rule of God. The singular ('he will reign') emphasizes the unity of this joint sovereignty."

βασιλεύσει is future indicative active-3rd person singular. As Mounce says, it could be translated "he will reign," but is the singular verb being used to reference two divine persons? That is doubtful as we examine the context of 11:15 (see Rev. 11:16-17). Furthermore, 11:15 uses this language: τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ. Would the singular verb not more fittingly reference "the Lord" (i.e., Jesus' Father)? The context helps us to answer that question in the affirmative.

Robert Wall's observations sound more convincing: "The radical theocentrism of John’s Revelation is not heard more clearly than here. The antecedent of he will reign for ever and ever is God rather than either Christ or both God and Christ. The effective result of the messianic mission of the faithful Jesus is to bring to an end the world’s rebellion against God and to provide God with the agent worthy enough to open the sealed scroll that declares and institutes God’s sovereignty over the evil powers forever."

See Wall, Robert W. Revelation. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995. Fifth Printing.

From David Aune's Word Biblical Commentary on Revelation: "The subject of the 3rd sing. fut. verb βασιλεύσει can be either 'the Lord' or 'his Messiah,' but is probably the former."

Aune, Dr. David. Revelation 6-16, Volume 52B (Word Biblical Commentary) (p. 845). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.

Aune provides further evidence from many sources that "the Lord" likely is the referent of the singular pronoun in Rev. 11:15:

"καὶ βασιλεύσει εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, 'who will reign for ever and ever.' While the grammatical subject of βασιλεύσει, 'will reign,' is ἡ βασιλεία, 'the kingdom' (v 15b), this is clearly impossible, for the logical subject is certainly God, to be supplied from τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν, 'our Lord,' in v 15b."

Aune, Dr. David. Revelation 6-16, Volume 52B (Word Biblical Commentary) (p. 855). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Speaking of Euphemisms (Scripture and Indirect Speech)

An interesting article on euphemisms appears here:

Euphemisms are forms of speech that replace more offensive terms with less offensive terms. For example, instead of saying, "Jones died last night," we might say, "Jones passed away last night." Euphemisms tend to soften or cushion the impact of our words: they're also considered to be more polite forms of speech--especially where taboo subjects are concerned. To say that "Jones fell asleep" would be another way of euphemizing speech.

Although the Bible is quite direct in many places, it also seems to contain euphemisms. Under the entry for euphemisms in the Jewish Encyclopedia, we read:

A figure of speech by which a softened, indirect expression is substituted for a word or phrase offensive to delicate ears though more accurately expressive of what is meant. Instances of euphemisms are found in the Bible; and in the Talmud they are frequent, having been used whenever it was necessary to avoid unsuitable expressions. "Man should always express himself in fitting terms" (Sanh. viii. 1; Pes. 3a) was a favorite saying of the Rabbis.


While Bible writers use numerous euphemisms throughout Scripture, I want to discuss two instances.

A. Exodus 4:25-- "But Zipporah took a flint knife, and she cut off the foreskin of her son, and she touched his feet, and she said, 'Yes, you are a bridegroom of blood to me.'" (LEB, Italics are mine)

Comment: The Good News Translation gives a highly interpretive rendering of this verse, and provides this footnote: "This reference to 'feet' is thought by some to be a euphemism for the genitals."

NABRE Footnote for Exodus 4:25: "Touching his feet: a euphemism most probably for the male sexual organ (see 2 Kgs 18:27; Is 7:20); whether the genitals of the child (after Zipporah circumcised him) or of Moses (after the circumcision of his son) is not clear."

B. 1 Samuel 24:3(4)-- "When he came to the sheepfolds along the way, he found a cave, which he entered to relieve himself. David and his men were occupying the inmost recesses of the cave" (NABRE).

NET Note: "tn Heb 'to cover his feet,' an idiom (euphemism) for relieving oneself (cf. NAB 'to ease nature')."

CEB: "He came to the sheep pens beside the road where there was a cave. Saul went into the cave to use the restroom.[a] Meanwhile, David and his soldiers were sitting in the very back of the cave."

CEB [a]: "Or to cover his feet (a euphemism)"

One can adduce other potential euphemisms related to genitalia or death (Ezekiel 16:25); the main point is that the Bible writers, while being direct, also made use of softer terms when such language seemed more fitting.

Someone passed along this article:

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Books I've Read (Part I)

This list obviously doesn't include every book I've read, but it will serve as a bibliography and recommendation list for others. I will progressively add to this list, but I'm not going to put these works in alphabetical order. I'm doing this work to organize what I've read, to benefit others, and for fun.

1. George, Timothy. Galatians. Nashville, Tenn.: B & H, 1994. Print.

2. Davies, Paul. God and the New Physics. Paw Prints, 2010. Print.

3. Toulmin, Stephen E. The Uses of Argument. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Print.

4. LaCugna, Catherine M. God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993. Print.

5. Bigg, Charles. Origins of Christianity. Place of publication not identified: Nabu Press, 2010. Print.

6. Pokorný, Petr, and Siegfried S. Schatzmann. Colossians: A Commentary. Peabody Mass: Hendrickson, 1991. Print.

7. Herrick, Paul. Introduction to Logic. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Print.

8. Grant, Robert M. Gods and the One God. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1986. Print.

9. Rosenstand, Nina. The Moral of the Story. Mountain View, Calif: Mayfield, 1999. Print.

10. Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2008. Print.

11. Hasker, William. God, Time, and Knowledge. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998. Print.

12. Creel, Richard E. Divine Impassibility: An Essay in Philosophical Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1986. Print.

13. Gieschen, Charles A. Angelomorphic Christology. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2017. Print.

14. Stuckenbruck, Loren T. Angel Veneration and Christology: A Study in Early Judaism and in the Christology of the Apocalypse of John. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2017. Print.

15. Moule, C.F.D. An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1953. Print.

16. Jastrow, Robert. God and the Astronomers. New York: W. W. Norton, 1978. Print.

17. Brooks, James A., and Carlton L. Winbery. Syntax of New Testament Greek. Lanham, MD, 1979. Print.

18. Silva, Moises. Philippians. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007. Print.

19. Aune, David. Revelation. Word Biblical Commentary, vols. 52a-c. Dallas, TX: Word Book, 1997. Print.

20. Black, David. Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek: A Survey of Basic Concepts and Applications. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988. Print.

21. Baugh, S.M. A First John Reader: Intermediate Greek Reading Notes and Grammar. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 1999. Print.

22. LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are. New York: Penguin, 2003. Print.

23. Barrow, John D. The Book of Nothing: Vacuums, Voids, and the Latest Ideas about the Origins of the Universe. New York: Random House, 2011.

24. Borchert, Gerald. John 1-11. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1996. Print.

25. Virgilio, Marón P., and Robert Fitzgerald. The Aeneid. New York: Vintage Books, 1983. Print.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Exodus 7:4-5 (God's Mighty Hand)

The Hebrew word, yad, occurs almost fifty times in the first fourteen chapters of Exodus. See Alan J. Hauser, David J.A. Clines, David M. Gunn (editors), Art and Meaning, page 49ff. Moreover, yad refers to Jehovah's figurative hand, fourteen times. Note also the climactic use of "hand" in Exodus 14:30. Just what is the hand of God?

Exodus 7:4-5 (ESV): "Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them."

Victor Hamilton: "What the angel tells Abraham not to do to Isaac (Gen. 22:12, 'Do not lay a hand on the boy'), and what the man refuses to do to David’s son Absalom (2 Sam. 18:12, 'I would not lift my hand against the king’s son'), the Lord will do to Egypt: 'I shall set my hand against/lay my hand on Egypt.' This is the exact phrase the NT uses about Jesus: 'And the chief priests . . . sought to lay hands on him' (Luke 20:19 KJV) or 'they laid hands on him' (NIV, 'seized him'; Mark 14:46); 'Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me' (Luke 22:53). Of and to his own followers, Jesus says, 'They will lay hands on you and persecute you' (Luke 21:12). There are numerous scenes in Scripture about somebody laying hands on another, but not all have the same meaning. The OT phrase 'to lay hand(s) on' may denote hostile action, often ending in death (1 Kings 20:6; Acts 4:3). It also carries the nuance of judgment (Isa. 5:25; 11:14–15; 25:11). (My late father justified an occasional spanking of his sons by claiming that the laying on of hands was scriptural!) Pity the poor person or nation on whom God lays his hand. It will not be a pretty picture." (pages 246-7)

Hamilton Continued: "For references elsewhere to God's 'mighty hand and outstretched arm' as a symbol of deliverance, see Deut. 4:34; 5:15; 7:19; 11:2; 26:8. It is not unheard of in Egyptian literature to find references to the 'arm' of the Pharaoh. Rameses II is called 'The Strong-Armed.' Pharaoh Apries (Hophra) took on the titulary name 'Possessed of a Muscular Arm.' And his father, Psammeticus II, gave himself the epithet 'Mighty-Armed (references in Lundbom 2004a: 102)." (247)

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable for Exodus 7: "The ultimate purpose of God's actions was His own glory (Exodus 7:5). The glory of God was at stake. The Egyptians would acknowledge God's faithfulness and sovereign power in delivering the Israelites from their bondage and fulfilling their holy calling. God's intention was to bless the Egyptians through Israel (Genesis 12:3), but Pharaoh would make that impossible by his stubborn refusal to honor God. Nevertheless the Egyptians would acknowledge Yahweh's sovereignty."

Jehovah's mighty hand would be expressed through the ten plagues, which were unique signs of his power. Compare Exodus 9:16; 1 Peter 5:6-7.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

David's Heart Began to Beat Him

I'm sure you've noticed those times when King David's heart started to beat him, that is to say, his conscience began to trouble him. His heart beat him when he cut the edge of Saul's robe--he did not even harm or kill Saul (1 Samuel 24:3-7)--and David's heart started beating him after he took an ill-advised census that resulted in the death of seventy thousand people (2 Samuel 24:10).

Ralph Klein observes: "David's heart (conscience?) also smote him according to 2 Sam 24:10 when he numbered the people. At that time he confessed, 'I have sinned.'"

Robert D. Bergen adds these thoughts: "After David received the reckoning, his 'heart struck him' (v. 10; NIV, 'was conscience-stricken'). He recognized that the census as he conducted it was in violation of the Lord's will. Wisely, David took responsibility for his transgression and confessed that he had 'sinned greatly in what' he had done (cf. Ps 32:1–5). Employing a verb that can denote morally deficient activity (Hb., cf. 1 Sam 13:13), he admitted that in taking the census he had 'done a very foolish thing'" (page 862, electronic edition).

One ironic thing I've found is that when David committed his sin with Bathsheba (arguably his worst mistake), his heart did not beat him before he sinned nor did it beat him afterwards (2 Samuel 11:2-5). Nor did David's heart beat him when he had Uriah the Hittite illegitimately slain (2 Samuel 11:14-27). But thankfully, David showed humility, contrition, and integrity when Nathan corrected him as he said, "I have sinned against Jehovah" (ASV). The sin finally hit David like a ton of bricks (2 Samuel 12:13); however, I've recently wondered why David's conscience bothered him in less severe instances, even with cutting the sleeve of Saul's garment, but more serious actions did not trouble his conscience until he received stern correction from God's prophet. In any event, we know that David's heart eventually started to beat him because of the words he penned in Psalm 51.

David was a man of integrity: we cannot question that. Jehovah loved him, and pardoned David's sin with Bathsheba. Yet David suffered all his life for what he did (2 Samuel 12:10). As a brother once said, when do you call on Jehovah for help? Is it before, during or after you've sinned? Yes, we can appeal to him at anytime, but may our hearts beat us before we commit grave sins against the living God. Be like Joseph, who fled from ungodly desire.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Revelation 21:3--"from the throne" or "from heaven"?

Greek: καὶ ἤκουσα φωνῆς μεγάλης ἐκ τοῦ θρόνου λεγούσης Ἰδοὺ ἡ σκηνὴ τοῦ θεοῦ μετὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, καὶ σκηνώσει μετ' αὐτῶν, καὶ αὐτοὶ λαοὶ αὐτοῦ ἔσονται, καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ θεὸς μετ' αὐτῶν ἔσται

Alexandrian and Vulgate have the variant ἐκ τοῦ θρόνου, but Andreas reads οὐρανοῦ. Compare Scrivener's NT (1894).

Aune writes:

Variants: (1) θρόνου] A (lacuna in C) 94 vg IrenaeusLat Ambrose Tyc3. (2) οὐρανοῦ] 025 046 051 Oecumenius2053 Andreas Byzantine itgig syrph Tyc2 Beatus. The context (21:5) favors reading (1), while the origin of (2) can be explained as a mechanical repetition of the phrase ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ in 21:2 (see Schmid, Studien 2: 83; TCGNT 1, 763; TCGNT 2, 688).

Aune, Dr. David. Revelation 17-22, Volume 52C (Word Biblical Commentary) (p. 1242). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

On the voice coming from the throne, see Rev. 4:5; 16:17; 19:5. Edmondo F. Lupieri also perceives a connection between ἡ σκηνὴ τοῦ θεοῦ and the tabernacle in Exodus (compare Leviticus 26:12; Rev. 7:15; 13:6; 15:5). See Lupieri, A Commentary on the Apocalypse of John, pages 333-334.

Monday, July 06, 2020

The Possible Meaning of Hebrews 12:23 (The Soul and Spirit)

Hebrews 12:23 is somewhat complex, so my response to the dualist interpretation of the passage will consist
of three areas.

I want to show that Heb. 12:23 does not mean the soul of man is immortal.In order to facilitate this discussion, I want to focus on YUXH and not just PNEUMA in this discussion.

A) The Semantic Domain of YUXH

When we research the signifier YUXH, it becomes evident there are divergent opinions and views about the denotation of this term. BAGD lists the following senses (glosses) of YUXH:

(1) Life on earth in its external, physical aspects--breath of life, life-principle, soul of animals (Gen. 9:4; Rev. 8:9).

Under this category, BAGD states that when the YUXH leaves the body, "death occurs." From there, this lexicon claims the YUXH evidently lives in Hades "or some other place outside the earth" (Rev. 6:9; 20:4).

(2) YUXH can denote earthly life itself (Mt. 20:28). Rev. 12:11 seemingly describes "loving one's life" (something the "brothers" mentioned in that self-same verse refuse to do).

(3) YUXH is the seat and center of the inner life of man in its varied aspects (Ps. 106:9; Prov. 25:25; Rev. 18:14).

(4) YUXH may also depict the feelings and emotions of humans (Mk 12:30-33).

(5) Lastly, BAGD claims YUXH sometimes conveys the sense of "the seat and center of life that transcends the earthly" (Phaedo 28; Mt. 10:28).

Thus speaks BAGD. Conversely, Louw-Nida gives us an entirely different picture of YUXH. Based on the semantic domains listed in their lexicon, it's possible that the soul is not an incorporeal "substance" which departs from man at death; that is, Louw-Nida makes us wonder if the soul is an entity capable of living in another realm when a person ceases to live "under the sun." Here are the semantic fields listed by L-N:

(1) The inner self (26.4). See Phil. 1:27.

(2) Life (23.88).

(3) A person (9.20).

(4) A living creature (4.1). Cf. Rev. 16:3.

Furthermore, I now list Louw-Nida on PNEUMA according to its Semantic Domains:

(12.18) The Holy Spirit.

(12.33) Spirit, in general (a supernatural being). Cf. John 4:24

(12.37) Evil spirit.

(12.42) A ghost (Luke 24:37). But read this information carefully. It does
not necessarily prove that the common cenception of "ghost" is under
discussion in Luke 24:37.

(26.9) Inner being.

(30.6) Wind.

After examining YUXH and PNEUMA, I will try to explain Heb. 12:23 from my own personal religious paradigm. This discussion is not intended to serve as an exercise in proselytism or question begging, I simply want to show why
the common view of Heb. 12:23 might just be wrong. I will analyze this verse from two perspectives.

(1) The lexical perspective

(2) From a discourse perspective (i.e., I will look at the macrostructure of Hebrews)

I have already covered some lexical aspects of the problem and demonstrated that the best GNT lexica do not fully resolve questions about the afterlife from a New Testament perspective. Now I want to take a deeper look at the lexical semantics of Heb. 12:23 and its literary context.


The writer of Hebrews uses PNEUMATWN to describe the role that God the Father plays in disciplining us so that we might partake of His holiness. Heb. 12:9 calls God the "Father of our spirits" ["our spiritual life" NWT 2013].

DIKAIOS is also utilized in Heb. 10:38 where the term clearly applies to Christians in the "here and now." Of course, one might feel tempted to include "righteous" Abel in the phrase KAI PNEUMASI DIKAIWN TETELEIWMENWN, but this does not harmonize with the author's use of the perfect participle TETELEIWMENWN. Cf. Heb. 11:40.

The only persons truly spoken of as "perfected" in Hebrews are Jesus (Heb. 2:10; 5:9; 7:28) and his "children" (those who are being sanctified). Compare Heb. 2:10-13 with Heb. 10:14. Notice that the sanctifying is evidently ongoing, but the "perfecting" is accomplished in the present. This point is forcefully brought out in Heb. 10:14:

"For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (RSV).

"for by one offering he has brought those who were to be sanctified into perfect status in perpetuity" (Byington's Bible in Living English).

"With one sacrifice, then, he has made perfect forever those who are purified from sin" (TEV).

As the context and (imperfective) aspect of hAGIAZOMENOUS (present passive middle participle) of 10:14 demonstrate, the sanctifying is continual but the perfecting is completed when one is justified via Christ's blood. My point: the discussion about "spirits" in Heb. 12:23 does not apply to men and women who have departed, but to living, breathing beings who have already been perfected and are being sanctified.

This is the same conclusion George Wesley Buchanan reaches in his Anchor Bible Commentary. Commenting upon this lingual unit, KAI KRITHi QEWi PANTWN, Buchanan writes:

"Also present was God [the] Judge of all on the Day of Atonement . . . If the sacrifices were properly performed so that atonement really took place, on the Day of Atonement "[the] spirits of the righteous were "perfected," meaning that all their sins were removed and they were sanctified" (Buchanan 223).

Indeed the macrostructure of Hebrews suggests such an interpretation. In the context of Heb. 9-10, the Day of Atonement is the topic of discourse. In these fateful chapters, the writer both engages in comparing and contrasting the ancient Israelite ritual with what Christ accomplished. What the Mosaic covenant was unable to effect, the new covenant is able to accomplish. Through the blood of the new covenant, Jesus makes perfect the spirits of those who are being sanctified. He is the antitypical priest who has presided over the greater Day of Atonement. As pointed out by Buchanan, being "perfected" means that one's sins are "removed," as it were (i.e., one's sins are no longer imputed to one's personal being). One does not have to wait until death to reach this goal (TELOS).

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Hebrews 11:5-6 (Enoch Pleased God Well)

Hebrews 11:4-5 (Greek, THGNT): Πίστει Ἐνὼχ μετετέθη τοῦ μὴ ἰδεῖν θάνατον καὶ οὐχ ηὑρίσκετο διότι μετέθηκεν αὐτὸν ὁ θεός· πρὸ γὰρ τῆς μεταθέσεως μεμαρτύρηται εὐηρεστηκέναι τῷ θεῷ· 6 χωρὶς δὲ πίστεως ἀδύνατον εὐαρεστῆσαι· πιστεῦσαι γὰρ δεῖ τὸν προσερχόμενον τῷ θεῷ ὅτι ἔστιν καὶ τοῖς ἐκζητοῦσιν αὐτὸν μισθαποδότης γίνεται.

Genesis 5:24 (LXX): καὶ εὐηρέστησεν Ενωχ τῷ θεῷ καὶ οὐχ ηὑρίσκετο ὅτι μετέθηκεν αὐτὸν ὁ θεός

Robertson's WP: "That he had been well-pleasing unto God (ευαρεστηκενα τω θεω). Perfect active infinitive of ευαρεστεω, late compound from ευαρεστος (well-pleasing), in N.T. only in Heb 11:5f.; 13:16 . With dative case θεω. Quoted here from Ge 5:22,24. The word is common of a servant pleasing his master."


For LXX occurrences of this word, see Genesis 5:22, 24; 6:9; 17:1; 24:40; 39:4; 48:15; Exodus 21:8; Judges 10:16; Psalm 26:3; 35:14; 56:13; 116:9.

Genesis 5:22 (Brenton): "And Enoch was well-pleasing to God after his begetting Mathusala, two hundred years, and he begot sons and daughters."

5:24 (Brenton): "And Enoch was well-pleasing to God, and was not found, because God translated him."

To see how euaresteo functions thematically in the Epistle to Hebrews, vide David A. desilva, Perseverance in Gratitude: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Epistle "to the Hebrews," Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000, pages 389-392.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Psalm 105:19--The Saying of Jehovah Refined Him?

Psalm 105:19 (ASV): "Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of Jehovah tried him."

Darby: "Until the time when what he said came about: the word of Jehovah tried him."

ESV: "until what he had said came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him."

NABRE: "Till his prediction came to pass, and the word of the Lord proved him true."

NET: "until the time when his prediction came true. The Lord’s word proved him right."

NWT 2013: "Until the time that his word proved true, The saying of Jehovah is what refined him."

NICOT Commentary:
The psalm, like the book of Genesis, asserts that God’s will was being worked out through the suffering and agency of a singular, vulnerable ancestor — Joseph. The sufferings of Joseph are described metaphorically in v. 18: they inflicted his feet with a fetter; his neck was placed in iron. The transition to the story of Joseph comes in v. 19, with the understated phrase: until his word came to be. The verse is a reference to the tradition of Joseph’s gift of interpreting dreams and the story that he languished in prison until the time came when his word was fulfilled. The second half of the verse — until the word of the LORD tested him — is variously interpreted. One view (cf. NIV) is that the word of the LORD “proved him true,” meaning that the word came true and thus proved Joseph’s authenticity (2 Sam. 22:31 provides a possible support for this view, but the passive use of the verb ṣārap there undermines the interpretation). The preferable interpretation is that Joseph himself was tested, with God’s word refining him as in a blacksmith’s forge. The meaning of ṣārap is “to be refined, tested” (cf. Ps. 12:6; 26:2 Qere). Not to be missed is the deliberate double entendre. In the first phrase, the word is Joseph’s and it comes to be; in the second phrase the word belongs to the LORD, and it refines Joseph. There is deliberate ambiguity — the distinction between the prophetic word as “divine” and as “prophetic” is always a matter of guity [sic].

the saying of the Lord purified him: It tried Joseph, for he was tested and he overcame the temptation [to sin] with his master’s wife, and he was tortured because of her and purified with tortures to place him in the dungeon.