Friday, October 30, 2020

Scriptures about the Wicked One/Tempter

2 Thessalonians 3:3

1 John 3:12

1 John 5:18-19

1 John 2:14

Matthew 6:13

1 Thessalonians 2:18

Ephesians 6:16

Monday, October 26, 2020

Brief Note About My Mom

 Hello all,

My mom died on October 24, 2020 from dementia. She was 84 years old and was baptized as a witness in 1979. I will miss her. Although I won't take comments here, thanks for your thoughts and support my friends. My blogging activity might be affected, but I will be okay. The resurrection hope is a comfort.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Brief Review of the Ten Commandments (A Book Written by Mark Rooker)

Rooker, Mark. The Ten Commandments: Ethics for the Twenty-First Century. B & H Academic, 2010. 234 pp.

This book is academic and scholarly, but accessible. It elucidates each of the Ten Commandments (the Decalogue) and discusses the Decalogue's ancient context while showing its practical application for today. I have derived much benefit from perusing this work. Rooker is thorough and writes coherently, but knowledge of some Hebrew is required.

Now I want to deal with particular commands that the book analyzes: we'll review issues like God's name and blasphemy, the Sabbath, killing/murder, and covetousness.

1) Treating God's name in a worthless manner (Exodus 20:7):

The third command of the Decalogue prohibits using God's name in a worthless way. Rooker illustrates how this command was given within the context of pagan invocations to Egyptian deities as an example. One Egyptian prayer demonstrates the seriousness of lightly uttering Ptah's name; similarly, the third commandment enjoins Israel not to "misuse" God's name (the name of YHWH).

Just what is meant by God's name though? Rooker argues that "name" denotes the deity (God) himself or his essence/character. That is the meaning that name commonly had in the Ancient Near East: Adam names the animals under God's direction and Isaac gives the wells that he reopens, the same names his father had given them (Genesis 26:18). See also Genesis 17:5; 17:15; 32:28-31; 2 Kings 24:17. The Hebrew word shem may signify the “fame, honor, power, or reputation” of a person or persons (Rooker); additionally, we are told tha the name of God refers to his nature, being, person, and teaching. After considering these aspects of the divine name, Rooker then discusses the personal name of God (YHWH/Jehovah).

Like many scholars working in the field, Rooker uses Yahweh as a reconstructed pronunciation for the Tetragrammaton: he points out that the root for the name is hwh. Since the divine name appears within the context of the famed saying of Exodus 3:14, it apparently means "He causes to be" or "He brings into existence" (Rooker). While God's name is peerless and holy, Rooker insists that shem refers to more than a label or moniker for God: his name (shem) signifies his reputation, characteristics, his being, divine righteousness and God's hesed, but it may denote his personal name too. See Psalm 143:11-12; Isaiah 42:8; 1 Kings 8:41-42; Psalm 83:18; 145:21; Jeremiah 23:27.

I conducted an electronic search for "Jehovah" in Rooker's study, and the name evidently does not appear in the book: he opts for Yahweh instead. However, just what does it mean to take God's name in a worthless way. Is pronouncing the name enough to be charged with blasphemy in God's eyes?

"Any invocation of the Lord or calling on His name that is insincere or needless is simply perfunctory and constitutes taking God’s name in vain" (Rooker).

That is probably only a brief description of what it means to treat God's name worthlessly; Rooker shows this to be the case later in his book. He thinks Exodus 20:7 forbids employing God's nomen "in a magical incantation, false swearing, or a general inappropriate use."

2) The Sabbath Law in Exodus 20:11-12

Rooker argues that the Sabbath is no longer binding on God's people/Christians today, but we can still gain benefit from the principles undergirding that day.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Apostle Paul on Circumcision

 Did Paul think that Christians must get circumcised in order to be justified or approved for salvation? Here are some of the texts in Paul's writings that deal with circumcision. Compare Acts 15.

See Romans 4:11; 1 Corinthians 7:18-19; Galatians 2:3; 5:6; 6:14-16; Ephesians 2:11-14; Philippians 3:1-3.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Jo-Ann Brant and John 21:15-17

 Jo-Ann A. Brant, John, Paideia Commentaries, pages 283-284.

Peter’s Reversal and Fate (21:15–19)

The dialogue in John 21:15–22 has been described in terms of rehabilitation, reinstatement as leader, and redemption. Within the framework of Aristotle’s (Poet. 1452a.23–1452b.14) plot elements, the dialogue enacts Peter’s reversal of his relationship with Jesus (peripeteia). Peter has denied his role as a disciple in acts of self-preservation (18:17, 25, 27). Now he acknowledges his attachment to Jesus and completes his identification with the Good Shepherd (see table 6 at 13:11). After they had taken breakfast, the heart of the action begins when Jesus says to Simon Peter, “Simon [son] of John, do you love [agapas] me more than these [toutōn]?” (21:15a). Toutōn could refer to the disciples or to the fish, which signify his occupation. Jesus may be preparing Peter to leave the solidarity of the disciples for a solitary path, or he may be preparing Peter for the choice to leave his old way of life and follow a path to a martyr’s death.

The fish may also signify a life of comfort: recall that Peter’s physical comfort is linked with his denials in 18:17–27. Jesus uses Peter’s given name (Simon) rather than his nickname (Cephas/Peter; see 1:42), suggesting that Peter is indeed starting over.

In the give-and-take that follows, John alternates words for love (agapaō and phileō), sheep (arnia and probata), and tend (boskō and poimainō) so that no combination is repeated. Nineteenth-century scholars tend to argue for the superiority of agapaō over phileō and insist that Peter persists in misunderstanding the nature of divine love when he says, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love [philō] you.” The current consensus is that the words agapaō and phileō are synonyms (see also Augustine, Tract. Ev. Jo. 123.5); therefore, when Jesus says, “Graze [boske] my lambs [arnia]” (21:15b), he is clarifying what that love entails and reiterating the love commandment (13:34; 14:15). A more-elegant translation would be “See that my lambs can graze.” The process of canceling out Peter’s threefold denial continues when Jesus repeats the question:

“Simon [son] of John, do you love [agapas] me?” Peter replies, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love [philō] you,” and Jesus instructs, “Shepherd [poimaine] my flock [probata]!” (21:16). With Jesus’s third repetition of the question, “Simon [son] of John, do you love [phileis] me?” the narrator registers Peter’s emotional response: Peter was pained that he said to him a third time, “Do you love [phileis] me?” The narrator’s glimpse into Peter’s interiority at this point, after he has withheld it at the time of his denial, perhaps suggests that Peter continues to suffer for what he has done. Peter’s longer response is then not simply an expression of his convictions about Jesus’s omniscience; it is a confession: “Lord, you know [oidas] everything; you know [ginōskeis] that I love [philō] you.” Jesus’s repeated instruction, “Graze [boske] my flock [probata]!” (21:17), becomes an acknowledgment of Peter’s past failure and present contrition as well as a commission. Besides negating Peter’s threefold denial and substantiating Peter’s sincerity, the exchange draws on the storytelling “rule of three,” the phenomenon that things that come in three are more satisfying, be it three wishes, three musketeers, or “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Are Christians Still Under the Law of Moses? (Draft in Process)

Yeah, I know we've discussed this subject here before, and I really don't want to argue about diets or observing the Sabbath, but I'm just following up on a past discussion.

It seems that Christians are not under the Law of Moses: Paul wrote that the Law was a tutor (custodian/pedagogue) leading "us" to Christ (Galatians 3:24). He continues: "Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian" (3:25 NIV). If we're no longer under the guardian/tutor/pedagogue, then how could we still be under Law?

Romans 7:12 also speaks of the Law as being holy, just, and good, but due to human weakness, the Law led to death rather than life (Romans 8:3-4). A solution was needed and Paul teaches that the solution (our Teacher) is Christ: "So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24 NIV).

What about observing days like Sabbath, Yom Kippur or Sukkoth? Galatians 4:8-11 appears to teach that these days are unnecessary for Christians. See also Col. 2:16-17.

Yet Romans 6-7 demonstrates that followers of Christ are not without law, but under charis. May I sin although I'm not under law. May that never happen! This is the exclamation of the inspired apostle.

Regarding the food laws, Col. 2:21-23 and 1 Timothy 4:1-5 strongly indicate that Christians have great latitude when it comes to diet; besides, food laws were only given to Jews, not to Gentiles. Acts 14 speaks about God allowing the nations to continue in their own way, even though he provided rains for them and governed the nations. Ps 147:19-20 likewise speaks of Jehovah given his laws to Israel alone, not to mention 2 Cor. 3:7-11. Compare Romans 3:1-2.

If you have something new to add, please comment. However, I will be limiting this thread to theology/exegesis alone. Let's avoid the "weeds." :)

Ark of the Covenant (An Edited Talk)

What lessons can we learn from studying the ancient Israelite tabernacle? Why was the Ark of the Covenant so important to the nation of Israel?

Read Exodus 25:9. (Show picture in Workbook)

The Ark was made of acacia wood and completely overlaid with pure gold. An artistic “border of gold” served as a crowning wreath “round about upon it.” The second section of the Ark, its cover, was made of solid gold, and not just wood overlaid with gold. Furthermore, it was the full length and breadth of the chest.

Also mounted on this cover were two golden cherubs of hammered workmanship, one at each end of the cover facing each other; their heads were bowed, but their wings extended upward as they overshadowed the Ark.
Ex 25:10, 11, 17-22; 37:6-9) The cover was also known as the “mercy seat” or “propitiatory cover.”​ See Ex 25:17; Heb 9:5. Compare the footnote.

So the Ark, this sacred chest, was the preeminent and supreme object of the tabernacle and the whole camp of Israel. (The last biblical mention of the Ark is in Revelation 11:19)

But who showed Moses how to design the Ark? Jehovah did, and since he gave Moses the pattern or design, notice that Moses was obligated to make the Ark exactly as Jehovah specified.

For example, the Ark's dimensions were supposed to be 2.5 cubits long, 1.5 cubits wide, and 1.5 cubits high (c. 111 × 67 × 67 cm; 44 × 26 × 26 in.).

Just like Noah with the ark that floated on the waters, so Israel had to make the Ark of the Covenant strictly according Jehovah's guidelines. One lesson we learn is the necessity of implicitly obeying Jehovah: we should keep his comamnds to the best of our ability. However, a second lesson we can learn is from Exodus 25:21-22.

The Ark served as a holy archive for the safekeeping of sacred reminders or testimony with the principal contents being the two tablets of the testimony, that is, the Ten Commandments. (Ex 25:16); “[a] golden jar having the manna and the rod of Aaron that budded” were added to the Ark but were later removed sometime before the building of Solomon’s temple. (Heb 9:4; Ex 16:32-34; Nu 17:10; 1Ki 8:9; 2Ch 5:10)

The Ark was associated with God’s presence throughout its history. Jehovah promised: “I will present myself to you there and speak with you from above the cover, from between the two cherubs that are upon the ark of the testimony.” “In a cloud I shall appear over the cover.” (Ex 25:22; Le 16:2) Samuel wrote that Jehovah “is sitting upon the cherubs” (1Sa 4:4); hence the cherubs served as “the representation of the chariot” of Jehovah. (1Ch 28:18) Accordingly, “whenever Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with [Jehovah], then he would hear the voice conversing with him from above the cover that was upon the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubs; and he would speak to him.” (Nu 7:89) Later, Joshua and High Priest Phinehas also inquired of Jehovah before the Ark. (Jos 7:6-10; Jg 20:27, 28) However, only the high priest actually entered the Most Holy and saw the Ark, one day a year, not to communicate with Jehovah, but to carry out the Atonement Day ceremony.​—Le 16:2, 3, 13, 15, 17; Heb 9:7.

Friday, October 09, 2020

1 Kings 4:29-30, 32-33 and Ancient Wisdom

"And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon's wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt" (ESV).

Verses 32-33 (ESV): "He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish."

Origen of Alexandria writes:

Now it seems to me that certain wise men of the Greeks took these ideas from Solomon, since it was long before them in age and time that he first gave these teachings through the Spirit of God. The Greeks have brought them forth as their own discoveries, and they have also included them in their books of instructions and left them to be handed down to their successors. But, as we have said, Solomon discovered them before all the rest and taught them through the wisdom he received from God, as it is written, “And God gave Solomon understanding and wisdom beyond measure, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore. And his wisdom was made greater than that of all the ancient sons of men and all the wise men of Egypt” (1 Kings 4:29-30).


Haec ergo, ut mihi videtur, sapientes quique Graecorum sumpta a Solomone, utpote qui aetate et tempore longe ante ipsos prior ea per Dei Spiritum didicisset, tamquam propria inventa protulerunt, et institutionum suarum voluminibus comprehensa posteris quoque tradenda reliquere. Sed haec, ut diximus, Solomon ante omnes invenit, et docuit per sapientiam quam accepit a Deo,  sicut scriptum est: Et dedit Deus prudentiam Solomoni et sapientiam multam valde et latitudinem cordis sicut arenam quae est ad oram maris. Et multiplicata est in eo sapientia super omnes antiquos fitios hominum et super omnes sapientes Aegypti.  (3 Ki - 2 Sam - 4,29-30)


Brenton LXX:

And the Lord gave understanding to Solomon, and very much wisdom, and enlargement of heart, as the sand on the seashore. And Solomon abounded greatly beyond the wisdom of all the ancients, and beyond all the wise men of Egypt.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Recommended Greek Works from the Last Ten Years

David L. Mathewson, Elodie Ballantine Emig. Intermediate Greek Grammar: Syntax for Students of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016.

Caragounis, Chrys C.
New Testament Language and Exegesis: A Diachronic Approach. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, [2014].

Porter, Stanley E., Jeffrey T. Reed, and Matthew B. O'Donnell. Fundamentals of New Testament Greek. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2019. Print.

Porter, Stanley E. Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament: Studies in Tools, Methods, and Practice. Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Academic, 2015. Internet resource.

. Greek: A History of the Language and Its Speakers. Second Edition. Chichester/Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. Print.

Runge, Steven E and Christopher J. Fresch, Eds. The Greek Verb Revisited: A Fresh Approach for Biblical Exegesis. Lexam Press, 2016. Print.

Bortone, Pietro. Greek Prepositions: From Antiquity to the Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.

See also

Friday, October 02, 2020

Ontology and Exodus 3:14 (Edited Version of An Earlier Post)

 The Ontological View of Exodus 3:14

Exodus 3:14 is one of the most debated scriptures in all of Jewish and Christian history. A question that immediately arises in connection with this verse is Moses' intent when he records the authorial words of Jehovah God:  "I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you" (KJV).

Does this verse embody information that would connote God's eternality? Is God (YHWH) delineating His necessary existence (esse a se) in this passage? Does this verse deal with ontological aspects of God, or is there some other point that the writer is trying to convey with the Hebrew phrase EHYEH ASHER EHYEH?

The second century CE, as I have contended elsewhere, was a time when the infiltration of Hellenistic philosophical and religious ideas permeated the church (ecclesia). One idea that filtered into the early Christian community, was the notion of divine impassibility (apatheia). This concept seemed to distort the true nature of God's immutable character.

The idea of divine impassibility might seem as if it accurately defines God's immutability; such a conclusion would be mistaken, however. For while the philosophical idea of divine impassibility apparently sets forth the actual nature of God, it's possible that the concept needs to be re-evaluated for the following reason: YHWH is not an impassible deity. Jehovah is neither strictly comparable to the First Mover of Aristotle nor can He be equated with The Good (The Inexhaustible Ground of all Being) in Plato's Republic or the One in Plotinus' Enneads. To the contrary:

"in their assertion of the freedom of God, the [biblical] prophets emphasized at the same time his involvement with the covenant people in love and wrath. Therefore the Old Testament doctrine of the sovereign freedom of God [cannot] be synonymous with the philosophical doctrine of divine impassibility (APAQEIA)" ((Pelikan, Jaroslav, The Christian Tradition I:52-54).

Impassibility denotes that God is free from the quality of Becoming, and not constrained by the fluidity and vicissitudes concomitant with life in the finite sphere. In contrast, the Hebrew prophets affirmed the presence and might of God in their lives. They affirmed a God who was Living and dynamic--EHYEH ASHER EHYEH. Exodus 3:14 does not flatten this dynamic view of Yahweh. With the aforementioned points in mind, I will now review Exodus 3:14. In the ancient ecclesia, Exodus 3:14 was believed to be the supreme proof of God's Impassibility. The views on this Scripture were divergent, yet there were numerous attempts to exegete this Jewish passage in an ontological manner.

Clement of Alexandria contended that "God is one, and beyond the one and above the monad itself." Hilary exclaims that Exodus 3:14 is "an indication concerning God so exact that it expresses in the terms best adapted to human understanding an unattainable insight into the mystery of the divine nature" (Pelikan, 54). Thomas Aquinas interpreted the account in terms of the Vulgate's wording "Qui est" (He Who Is). But is this view correct? Should Exod. 3:14 be understood in an ontological sense?

While some of the aforementioned Patristic and medieval ideas possibly have some merit, they evidently fail to reveal the complete reality of God. Exodus 3:14 is not an ontological statement of God's Deity. It does not, tell us so much about God's nature (His ONTOS), as it tells us about His purposes or functions with regard to His purposes. I would humbly submit that the phenomenological view of Exod. 3:14 comes much closer to explaining the thornbush account. It espouses the idea that God is the One who will "be" in the sense of carrying out His purposes ("causing to be"). In this exegetical paradigm, what God is to "be" is left unstated. He will become whatsoever He has to become in order to accomplish His purpose.

In Bibliotheca Sacra, Charles Gianotti offers some pertinent criticism regarding the ontological view: he winds up advocating either the phenomenological or the covenantal view:

"This view seems to rest on the Septuagint translation of Exodus 3:14 (EGW EIMI hO WN). On the face of it, the use of eijmi seems to support his view. This view is untenable for a number of reasons. Though the Septuagint is a serviceable translation of the Pentateuch, the Septuagint is not inspired; it is a human translation by Jewish scholars. The primary understanding of Exodus 3:14 should come, rather, from a contextual understanding of the passage as well as from an analysis of the meaning and usage of the Hebrew term hy*h* and its imperfect form hy#h=a# . . . Significantly, most interpreters translate hy#h=a# in Exodus 3:12 as future (i.e.. 'I will be [hy#h=a#] with you'). Yet, two verses later, why should not the same translation suffice?"

Gianotti sums up matters writing:

"One may safely conclude that Exodus 3:14 does not support an 'ontological' or 'existence' view; the name YHWH therefore is not rooted in that view, by virtue of its close relation to Exodus 3:14."