Monthly Archives: May 2012

Quote of the Year

“I don’t want to be misunderstood – so I’ll try to be as clear as possible: Wright is a heretic. A heresiarch. He will forever burn under God’s righteous wrath and under the solemn and scornful gaze of the Lamb of God for all eternity if he does not change his theological views before he dies, or rather, his lack of good theology! He is a false teacher, and one of the most influential heretics of the century because he affected people at the seminary level – where pastors are trained and scholars born – and has infected a good number of churches, right down to the layman and youth of the day.” — Matthew McMahon of A Puritan’s Mind

And I thought the Puritans were goofy! Clearly they had some good thoughts!!!
😉

(Via Steph Fisher on the FB).

Look, I Don’t Mean to be Pedantic (It Just Comes Naturally)…

But if you don’t know how to spell “Israel” and instead you spell it “Isreal” you lose me (and all credibility)…

What REALLY Happened to the Dinosaurs? The Answer!

via Elio Jucci on FB

Hear, Hear, Christian!

When the place you call your church encourages the murder of others, it no longer deserves to be called a church.  At that moment, it becomes a godless pagan cult and you should leave it without looking back.  I agree with you, Christian.  See his post.  You’ll agree too.

A German Politician Who Thinks Too Much Contrition for the Holocaust is Counterproductive

I bet this poor guy is assaulted as an anti-semite before anyone even takes a few moments to consider the sanity of his argument.  Here’s what he says:

Speaking to weekly newspaper Die Zeit, [Joachim] Gauck said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s stated position that Israel’s right to exist was a raison d’ état or national interest for Germany could be asking too much from the next generation.  “This sentence by Mrs Merkel comes from the hearts of my generation,” he said.   “Everything that we want to do should be guided by the goal that Israel should be protected as the homeland of the Jews,” he said.   “This sentence hasn’t just been born out of political rationale but from a deep contrition. It’s a moral imperative to ourselves which makes me really worried about whether we can translate the magnitude of this demand into political action.”

Gauck, who visited Israel this week, said he was not at all talking about drawing a line under the Holocaust debate. “But there’s one tendency I don’t want to follow – pulling the perception of the Holocaust into a quasi-religious dimension, into something surreal,” he said.

Think about it.  Yes, think about what he says.  Don’t get angry- just think.

Hmmm… We May Have an Explanation for all those ‘Clergy’ Who Quit The Ministry and Blame ‘Atheism’…

Perhaps they, like their Catholic counterparts, are leaving for another reason altogether…  Maybe ‘I just don’t believe in God anymore’ [they never believed in God in the first place- they only ever believed in ‘god’, a god their own minds created] is just an excuse…

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee admitted yesterday that it had paid abusive priests up to $20,000 to encourage them to leave the ministry.

The church released a statement after documents filed during its bankruptcy filings revealed the payments. As The New York Times reports, the 2003 policy was crafted under then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who is now a cardinal in New York and as the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Biships, one of the leading Catholic figures in the country.

[‘Biships’????  Really NPR?????  Sigh.  Just.  Sigh]

New From TVZ: Samuel Arnet’s “Wortschatz der Hebräischen Bibel”

Our friends at TVZ have just published the 4th edition of Samuel Arnet’s Wortschatz der Hebräischen Bibel.

Der bereits in vierter, erweiterter Auflage vorliegende «Wortschatz» ist eine unverzichtbare Hilfe, um das Alte Testament auf Hebräisch lesen und verstehen zu können. Im ersten Teil dieses Wörterbuchs finden sich die aufgenommenen hebräischen Lexeme in alphabetischer Reihenfolge, und im zweiten Teil sind dieselben Lexeme nach thematischen Gesichtspunkten geordnet. So lässt sich nicht nur die Bedeutung der einzelnen Wörter nachschlagen, sondern es sind auch Studien zur Semantik möglich. Dank des Registers deutsch–hebräisch sind alle hebräischen Wörter mühelos im ersten und im zweiten Teil auffindbar. Das Buch geht mit seinen über 2500 Vokabeln weit über den Grundwortschatz von etwa 800 Wörtern hinaus.

Once More, It’s The Anniversary of the ‘Theological Declaration of Barmen’

The ‘Barmen Declaration’ was promulgated on the 31st of May, 1934. It was the Church’s response to the aggressive secularism of the German Christians and Nazis.  You can read an English translation here.

Though signed by many, it was Karl Barth who wrote the lion’s share of the text, while the Lutherans were taking their afternoon nap.

On the 50th anniversary of the Declaration, TVZ published a brilliant little (virtually unknown, it seems) volume titled Texte zur Barmer Theologischen Erklärung (second edition, 2004) which contains various essays by Barth which he published over the course of his life on the Declaration.  It’s fantastic.

These lines in particular resonate today-

We reject the false doctrine, as though the State, over and beyond its special commission, should and could become the single and totalitarian order of human life, thus fulfilling the Church’s vocation as well.

We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church, over and beyond its special commission, should and could appropriate the characteristics, the tasks, and the dignity of the State, thus itself becoming an organ of the State.

Americans need to take those theological truths seriously. The State cannot be the Church, and the Church cannot be the State.  As I wrote last year on the Anniversary of the Declaration, more than ever before, the Christian Church needs to affirm the truths expressed in this brilliant document.

Have a Happy Barmen Declaration Day!

Though I’d Love to Read It, I’m Disinclined to Pay $39 for the Privilege…

New in the Palestine Exploration Quarterly, an essay titled PALESTINIAN ANTIQUITIES LOOTERS, THEIR SKILL DEVELOPMENT, METHODOLOGY AND SPECIALISED TERMINOLOGY: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY.

The state of Palestine’s archaeological heritage resources is one of serious risk, due to the on-going looting of antiquities. Vandalising archaeological resources is a widespread phenomenon throughout the Palestinian National Territories (PNT) and has resulted in either total or partial damage to thousands of these resources, and the extraction of at least hundreds of thousands of archaeological objects. The main aim of this study is to explore the measures that have been used by Palestinian antiquities looters to develop their knowledge, fieldwork skills and experience. To this end, I interviewed 96 antiquities looters residing in the West Bank. The Gaza Strip, which is totally relevant to the issues under discussion, was only excluded from this study due to the current travel restrictions between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

And it can be mine for a paltry (…) $39.  Good heavens.  I’m all for people making a living.. but fair is fair.  $39 for an essay that costs, what, 1 cent to turn into electronic format?  If that?  It was probably submitted by its author in electronic form anyway.  $39…  It’s just absurd.

Bat Poo

A Church in Yorkshire is infested with bats… and can’t take much more. And of course, it being Britain, the bats can’t be driven out- so the people are leaving. Bats, after all, being far more important than people and their roosting far more important than the ministry of the Church…

St Hilda’s church in North Yorkshire has become the roosting place for bats, which has turned many worshippers away from the building. Bat droppings and wider health and safety concerns have meant that the church had not been able to hold a wedding ceremony for over 12 years.

Watch the report.

Mike Bost Needs a Xanax

Creepy politicians. Oh shoot, that’s redundant isn’t it.

Cat-Holics are Bad Readers

via Joel Watts on FB

Robert Cargill Has Changed Since He Moved to Iowa…

And I mean CHANGED!  Take a look!

Via Irene Hahn

The moral? DON’T move to Iowa! It ruins you!!!!!

How They Go Boating in Australia…

If You Take the Long Ending of Mark Literally, You’ll Die (and You’re Silly)

Pastor Mack Wolford, the son of a snake-handling pastor who died from a rattler bite, lived by faith and died on Sunday, like his father before him, from a serpent bite.  Julia Duin has the riveting story of belief in miracles that defies mere rational understanding. Wolford, 44, “a flamboyant Pentecostal pastor from West Virginia,” refused treatment for snake bites and, like his father before him, died within hours of a Sunday afternoon service in an isolated park.

Guess they didn’t have sufficient faith then…  Crazy Pentebabbleists.

[Yes, I feel badly for their family.  Yes, it’s tragic.  But it’s lunacy.  And the long ending of Mark isn’t even authentic!]

Pastor Mack doing his thing…

Oded Golan Sentenced and the Fate of the ‘James Ossuary’ Decided

Matthew Kalman reports

The Tel Aviv antiquities collector acquitted in March after a seven-year trial of faking the burial box of Jesus’s brother, an inscribed tablet that may have adorned Solomon’s Temple, and dozens of other valuable antiquities was sentenced Wednesday to a month in jail and fined 30,000 NIS for three minor charges of illegal trading in antiquities and handling goods suspected of being stolen.

And

[Judge] Farkash ordered the prosecution to present detailed arguments by July 1 justifying the confiscation of each item, including dozens of ancient seals and seal impressions, inscribed pottery, lamps, decanters and other artifacts seized on suspicion of being fakes.

Farkash also revealed that he had been petitioned by two other collectors – Shlomo Moussaieff and George Weill – for the return of items belonging to them.

“Antiquities theft in the land of Israel has become a national plague,” Judge Farkash said in an eight-page written decision that he read out to an almost empty courtroom. “Antiquities theft damages various sites spread out across the land of Israel, sites which are an inseparable part of the history and culture of this land and its inhabitants, who lived here from thousands of years ago until the present day. Antiquities theft also damages the ability of experts to document the history of the people of Israel in its land.”

There’s a lot more but that’s the core of the matter.

The Nature of Sin Explained

Sin makes us believe that what it wants for us is more important than what God wants for us.

Evangelical Exegetical Commentary: 1-3 John

Newly published, the latest volume of the EEC covers 1-3 John.  The commentary’s author, Gary Derickson, asserts both Johannine authorship and the traditional time, place, and occasion for the epistles.  As with Philemon, the structure of the commentary is original (language) text followed by textual notes, then translation, then commentary proper.  So, for example, of 1:1 Derickson writes (in considerable detail)-

1:1 Ὃ ἦν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, “That which was from the beginning.” This initial series of relative clauses serves to describe the nature of John’s eyewitness understanding of Jesus, who is Eternal Life personified, described initially as “the Word of Life.” These clauses describe his understanding as the result of personal experience. Further, they are introduced with an initial relative clause that takes the reader back to the prologue of his Gospel.

John introduces his subject with the repetition of “that which” in a parenthetical statement describing his authority to speak as an eyewitness. The difficulty of determining John’s exact meaning results from his choice to use the neuter relative pronoun ὃ rather than the masculine which might seem more appropriate grammatically. Culy (2) sees this as “a topic (or ‘cleft’) construction” wherein John introduces his topic through a “series of appositional relative clauses” whose relative pronoun is in the case it would have within the clause that follows it. Whereas the masculine would clearly refer to Jesus, the neuter allows additional referents. Five possible meanings for the pronoun translated “that which” have been proposed: (1) John might be referring to revelation about Christ (Painter, 120). This would fit with some of the doctrinal issues raised in the epistle. (2) It could refer to the teachings of Christ, which would fit with some of the ethical issues raised in the epistle. (3) It refers to the eternal life manifested by Christ. (4) It could refer to Christ Himself. On one hand, this option may initially appear less likely because it would be much clearer with the masculine pronoun.

However, elsewhere John uses the neuter pronoun to refer to people (1 John 5:4) and Christ (John 3:6; 6:37, 39; 17:2 and 24). Finally, (5) it could refer to all of Jesus’ life, teachings, as well as His person (Burge, 53; Haas, de Jonge, and Swellengrebel, 11; Strecker, 10). This use of the neuter avoids the confusion of thinking he is referring exclusively to “life,” a feminine noun, or “word,” a masculine noun. The neuter pronoun focuses the reader on Jesus as both, the “Word” and “Life.” Thus it communicates John’s comprehensive view of Christ. Further, his use of “heard,” “saw with our eyes,” “beheld,” and “handled” points his readers to the person of Christ. His reference to “the Word of Life” clearly alludes to the prologue of the Gospel, wherein the Word of God is the incarnate Word, Jesus. Finally, it could be that John intended both Jesus as eternal life incarnate and His teachings about eternal life to be in view (Kistemaker, 8). As Akin notes, “The message and the person ultimately cannot be separated. Each explains the other” (Akin, 51).

“The beginning” is equally ambiguous. (1) It could refer to the beginning of time or creation (Brooke, 1; Burge 53; Haas, de Jonge, and Swellengrebel, 11; Smalley, 7; Strecker, 9). This would give it an identical meaning as the term in John 1:1. John would be consciously developing the prologue of his epistle along the lines of that of the Gospel. However, though John clearly intends to allude to the prologue of the Gospel, his focus on “life” over “word” in the parenthetical statement mitigates against having the same meaning (Harris, 50). (2) It might allude to the beginning of the reader’s faith in Christ (Westcott, 6–7). This could only work if “the Word of Life” had referred to the apostolic teachings. However, the context of the other descriptives makes it more likely a reference to Jesus’ earthly ministry since John is describing Jesus as eternal life itself, and so “Word of Life” refers to Him. (3) It could be the beginning of Jesus’ earthly life, His incarnation (Kruse, 50–51; Mitchell, 22). (4) It could mean the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (Brown, 158; Walls and Anders, 155). This would accord with his reference at the end of the epistle to Jesus coming “by water and blood” (1 John 5:6). John’s use of ἀπό rather than ἐν also strengthens this view (Culy, 2). (5) It could refer to the beginning of the church in Acts 2 (Williams, 17). In this context it would not be a reference to a commonly held tradition whose details were in dispute. Nor does it serve as an allusion to the apostles’ true claims about Jesus as opposed to the claims of the heretics (Brown, 71–72). It should, though, be seen as an initial indication of John’s continued emphasis on the deity of Christ and the christological focus of this epistle with Jesus’ incarnation in view, as will be evidenced in the phrases that follow.

John chooses first person plural verbs throughout this descriptive prologue to describe his experience of the incarnate Christ. His use of “we” is seen by some as a reference to (1) John himself, equivalent to “I,” as an “authorial plural” (Schnackenburg, 52; Strecker, 11), (2) including both John and his readers (Dodd, 9–10), (3) referring to the “Johannine school” (Brown, 160), (4) to “all Christians” (Williams, 17), or (5) referring to the apostolic band of eyewitnesses, which includes John (Hodges, 47; Kistemaker, 204–5). The last view seems most reasonable since, as Kistemaker says, “[o]nly Jesus’ original disciples can say and write that they touched him with their hands, as John states in the introductory verses of his first epistle” (Kistemaker, 205). Further, John uses the first person singular to refer to himself elsewhere in his epistles, and so should be seen as fully capable to doing so here in order to be clear (Harris, 51).

John’s use of “we” includes himself and, most likely, the other apostles as eyewitnesses (Haas, de Jonge, and Swellengrebel, 8). This places him within a larger group of eyewitnesses who are testifying to the church (in this case the recipients of this epistle) their experience of Christ. Culy (3) rightly notes that this emphasizes his “status as one of the limited group of eyewitnesses” and strengthens the epistle’s authority by his association with them. In this epistle it is very important to note the person of the verbs and pronouns. Both the verbs and pronouns often occupy emphatic positions in their sentences and are critical to understanding both his meaning and emphasis. Thus, his use of “we” is not as an authorial “we” equivalent to “I,” however as the spokesman for a group of eyewitnesses whose experience matches his own. Later this will become significant as he develops his “we” versus “them” distinctions between the apostles and false teachers.

ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes.” John describes his experience of Christ as eternal life incarnate through the perfect tense verbs ἀκηκόαμεν and ἑωράκαμεν. By these he indicates the continuing impact of his having heard and seen Jesus. The significance of his having seen Jesus is made through what would at first seem a redundant reference to having seen “with our eyes” (τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν). This would place him in contrast to the false teachers who might claim revelations, however could never claim eyewitness status. It also establishes a different level of authority from those who were merely eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection such as the five hundred who saw the living Jesus following His resurrection (1 Cor 15:6). Additionally, the perfect clarifies that though he saw Him in the past, Jesus’ impact on him continues to the present, and so his status as an eyewitness remains valid.

ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν, “which we beheld and our hands handled.” John’s deliberate movement from the perfect toaoristin the next two verbs ἐθεασάμεθα and ἐψηλάφησαν to describe his seeing and handling of Jesus clarifies that, though he and the other eyewitnesses had touched and seen Jesus during His earthly ministry, they no longer do at the time of writing. Jesus is no longer with them and John is not claiming any special appearances of Jesus beyond the corporate experience of the apostles. In contrast to the secret knowledge of Gnosticism, what John testifies to is common knowledge, experienced and known by a group that extends beyond him and his followers. Granted, Paul does meet Jesus on the road to Damascus and in subsequent revelations.

However, his experience is not being alluded to by John here. Furthermore, John will again experience a personal appearance of Jesus on the Isle of Patmos some years after the writing of this epistle. However, that is a story waiting its telling!

John’s use of ἐθεασάμεθα can simply mean looking intently at something, though it may also be used as a synonym of the more common ὁράω. Contra Hass et al., John’s choice seems to be more than to provide variation in the text, but to heighten the significance of his eyewitness status by the distinction created (Haas, de Jonge, and Swellengrebel, 12). He not only saw Jesus (ἑωράκαμεν), but he paid close attention to Jesus (ἐθεασάμεθα). Thus his understanding of Jesus from personal experience could be seen as both thorough and reliable.

Finally, John affirms further that he not only saw Jesus, but he was in personal, physical contact with Him during His earthly ministry. He uses ἐψηλάφησαν to emphasize the reality of Jesus’ corporeality, by noting that his experience of Jesus was physical as well as aural and visual (Haas, de Jonge, and Swellengrebel, 12). Thus, all of these verbs of perceiving serve to verify John’s status as an eyewitness with the right to relate His teachings with authority.

περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς, “concerning the Word of Life.” What John experienced was “the Word of Life.” This is best seen as a reference to Jesus, who is the living “Word” of God (John 1:1, 14) and the “Life” (John 14:6), not just the source of that life (Haas, de Jonge, and Swellengrebel, 19). Some see this referring to revelation: Jesus reveals truths about spiritual life.

Just as Jesus is not referred to as “the Word” in the Gospel after the prologue, John’s use here seems to follow the same pattern (Haas, de Jonge, and Swellengrebel, 12). However, although in his Gospel he has the preincarnate “Word” in view, here John has the incarnate “Word” in view. This is likely an allusion to the Gospel account, or at least reflects a conceptual connection. In this prologue, Jesus as eternal life incarnate is introduced with the movement from “Word of Life” to “Life,” and then to “Eternal Life.” Just as John’s use of “Word” in the Gospel prologue more likely expressed the Old Testament concept of God’s Word in creation, revelation, and salvation, here he appears to intend the same connection. Thus, rather than seeing this as an allusion to the gnostic concept of the logos, John is still speaking in terms of the Old Testament concept of divine revelation embodied in the person of Jesus. However, as he develops this concept in these three steps, he takes it further, moving from revelation to source.

Jesus is not simply the One who gives life. He is life itself. Yet, Scripture also speaks of eternal life as something we possess as a gift from God, freely given and never revoked. This reference may be taken as an objective genitive, referring to the word concerning life. This is supported by passages such as 1 John 1:10; 2:5, 7 and 14 where “word” does not refer to Jesus but to biblical revelation. Some take this as a reference to the gospel message rather than the person of Jesus (Brown, 182; Westcott, 6–7). Yet the subject of the prologue is not the message about Jesus and eternal life, but Jesus, who is eternal life. The subject is better seen as the person of Jesus rather than the topic of life.

Certainly this gives readers and potential readers a fair representation of what Derickson is about here.  But is he right?  In many respects he is.  In others, however, there are problems.  Primarily his seeming assumption of the existence of full blown gnosticism is problematic.  However, on the whole, there is more here that is right than is not.

Exposition is followed by biblical theology and application.  D. also includes, from time to time, additional and supplemental exegetical notes (footnotes, as it were with other more in depth observations on the Greek text).

Derickson has assembled an impressive amount of information which I believe readers will find exceedingly useful.

Lending a Hand and Promoting a Worthy Project

My friend Cliff Kvidahl writes on the facebook-

Help me bring French scholarship to English readers.

And then he links to Ceslas Spicq’s two volume commentary on Hebrews which Logos is considering publishing in English if there is sufficient interest. Apparently they’re almost there- so I’m happy to mention it and bring attention to it.

Tale a look- it certainly might be something you’d find useful.

Signs of the Times