Daily Archives: 23 Aug 2012

Zwingli’s Understanding of Scripture, Learning, and the Spirit

Zwingli … insisted that … the Scriptures … are of such value that theologians and Biblical scholars must take them with sufficient seriousness that they read them in their original languages. The biblical languages, Hebrew and Greek (with a smattering of Aramaic) are absolutely essential if the Word is to be correctly understood and applied (Z IV 417.23–419.6). Attempting to interpret Scripture, and hence attempting to do theology based on translations, is, to use a modern metaphor, like kissing your spouse through a sheet: it might do in a pinch but it is ultimately unsatisfying and unproductive.

The danger inherent in this view of Scripture, and Zwingli understood this quite well- especially in his encounter with the ‘Enthusiasts’—is that many people will use texts to support their own preconceptions rather than listening to Scripture as it speaks to them. The danger is that we come to them seeking confirmation of our own opinions, so that they become our pupil rather than our teacher. To seek to be master of Scripture is to cease to be the student of Scripture. This must be avoided at all costs. This is precisely where the work of the Spirit in our hearts intersects with our reading Scripture with our minds. 1 Corinthians 2:14 makes it quite clear that Scriptural interpretation requires spiritual aid: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (KJV). One cannot merely quote Scripture and rest one’s case. Scripture must be “rightly divided” [2 Tim 2:15]. This is where the work of the Spirit is most evident, and most necessary.

Scripture is from the Spirit and can only be understood where the Spirit gives understanding. As Zwingli suggests:

Before I say anything or listen to the teaching of man, I will first consult the mind of the Spirit of God (Ps 85): “I will hear what God the Lord will speak’. Then you should reverently ask God for his grace, that he may give you his mind and Spirit, so that you will not lay hold of your own opinion but of his. And have a firm trust that he will teach you a right understanding, for all wisdom is of God the Lord. And then go to the written word of the Gospel … You must be theodidacti, that is, taught of God, not men: that is what the Truth itself said (John 6) and it cannot lie (Z I 377.7–21).

If we do not understand the Scriptures it is not because the Spirit does not make them clear; it is because we are unreceptive or even blind to them. Without the Spirit one is left to flounder in his own reason or the opinions of others, who may or may not be spiritually attuned to God.

Research Project Manager Position At Lausanne

The Swiss-French Institute for Biblical Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, opens a position in Project Manager for the Database “BiBIL” at 80%. The deadline for applications is September, 30, 2012; the beginning date is negotiable. All details of the applications can be found on the website:  https://recruitingapp-2644.umantis.com/Vacancies/299/Description/3?Redirect=true&customer=2644

This position is in the “Institut romand des sciences bibliques”, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies.   As project manager, you are responsible for the development of the databasis of the Institute, “BiBIL” (Bibliographie biblique informatisée de Lausanne) (http://www3.unil.ch/bibil/public/default.action?request_locale=fr). This database has been active for more than 25 years and covers a wide range of scholarly publications in the field of biblical studies and ancient Jewish and Christian literatures.

  • Together with the director and the secretary of the Institute, you select the scholarly books and journals that will be included in the database.
  • You supervise the work of a team of 4-5 research assistants who collaborate to the database.
  • You contribute to the indexation of bibliographical data in the basis, and are responsible for the publication of the Institute’s bulletin once a year
  • You manage the website of the Institute (http://www.unil.ch/irsb/page25196.html)
  • You assist the development of new research projects in the Institute with your technical expertise.

Click the link above for more. With thanks to Thomas Römer for mentioning it first.  Please do, if you can, spread the word.

ASOR Student Grants

ASOR is giving 10 Travel Grant Scholarships to the 2012 Annual Meeting to students at an ASOR Member School.  The deadline for applications has been extended to September 4.  To apply for a scholarship and for more details please click here.  Do not hesitate to contact the ASOR office by phone at 617-353-6570 or at asorad@bu.edu should you have any questions regarding the Annual Meeting or any other issues.

Best regards,
Kelley Herlihy

The People v. Raphael Golb: The Complete Story

By our friend Lawrence Schiffman.  Read it here.  Vintage Prof. Schiffman- brilliant in making available the best stuff.

(I wonder how long it will take BAR to lift Larry’s notice on the document without giving their source credit….  in 3….2…..1…..)

God Out, Dissipation In

About 17 percent of American high school students are drinking, smoking or using drugs during the school day, according to a new study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.  The back-to-school survey — the 17th annual of its kind — relied on telephone interviews with 1,003 students ages 12-17. Of those surveyed, 86 percent indicated they were aware their classmates were abusing substances during the day, and more than half acknowledged there was a place on or near school grounds where students periodically go to use drugs, drink and smoke.

Nearly 44 percent of students told survey-takers they know a classmate who sells drugs. Marijuana was the easiest drug to come by, followed by prescription drugs, cocaine and ecstasy.  This marked the sixth straight year that 60 percent or more of teens reported that their high schools are “drug infected.” However, for the first time in the survey’s history, a majority of private school students reported drugs on campus. The number jumped from 36 percent in 2011, to 54 percent in 2012.

And yet do note that there isn’t any sort of organized outcry amongst the angry atheists to rid the schools of drugs and booze.  No, evidently they’re to be preferred to prayer and spirituality.  Such is life in modern America, our ‘Christian’ nation.

False Converts

I saw this on Reformiert.info-

Sadly, this is an accurate description of our churches today. I believe the local church itself is one of the greatest mission fields because of the great number of false converts sitting in the pews.

The caption has it right.

‘Rev’ Grant Storms: More Pastoral Misconduct (and Hypocrisy)

The Rev. Grant Storms, the former “Christian patriot” pastor whose marches against homosexuality at New Orleans’ Southern Decadence festival briefly put him in the national spotlight, was convicted of obscenity Wednesday, for exposing himself while masturbating at Lafreniere Park last year. In his confession, he described public masturbation as “a thrill,” but authorities debunked suspicions that he was a pedophile.


Storms, 55, who lives in Metairie, declined to comment after the conviction. Judge Ross LaDart of the 24th Judicial District Court, who presided over the daylong trial because Storms waived a jury, did not even break to deliberate. He promptly found Storms guilty of the single count of obscenity. He sentenced Storms to three years of probation, citing no evidence of a criminal history.


In his confession, Storms told Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Kevin Balser he had taken a break from his grass cutting business to sip a beer in the park, where he said he became “horny.” He said he put his hands into his underwear, but he never exposed himself. “Why do you go to the park and do this, as far as masturbating?” Balser asked Storms hours after the arrest. “I don’t know,” Storms responded. “I guess a thrill.”

My, my, my… nothing says ‘Reverend’ like a guy pleasuring himself boozed up in a park… Such persons are a cancer on the body of Christ.  Oh how I long for the days when such persons would feel the Inquisitor’s wrath.

[Robert Wilson pointed out the story on the FB].

Today With Zwingli

As Reform spread across the Swiss Cantons, questions poured in to Zwingli in Zurich.  Indeed, from all parts of the German speaking lands including Southern Germany, Switzerland, and Austria Zwingli was consulted and his theological views sought out.

One of the responses Zwingli penned was this – Wie sich die Mönche zu Rüti mit Lesen und Hören der heiligen Schrift verhalten sollen, 23. August 1525.  In four folio pages Zwingli instructed the Brothers in the proper method of reading and comprehending, correctly, the Bible. He begins

Wie sich die münch ze Rüte mit lesen und hören der heligen gschrift halten söllind. So das lob gottes von ünserem mund niemer komen sol, und aber nit allein kintlich, sunder ytel und narrisch ist, so wir inn loben mit worten, die weder wir noch andre verstond, wie 1. Cor. 14. [1. Cor. 14. 2] wol vermerkt wirt, so ist vor allen dingen not, das die, die ze Rüte yngenomen sind, mit einem, der sy offenlich verstentlich und wol lere, versehen werdind. Und damit die helig gschrift inen wol yngebildet und in gedechtnus yngetruckt werd, ist eben als not, das sy die vil uebind mit züchtigem und gemessem zuohören und lesen. Uff das söllend die genanten alle morgenn zuo gelegner zyt uff ein stund on gevar us dem alten testament lesen mit sölcher ordnung, das sy davor am buoch der gschöpft anhebind und ein capitel fiere oder fünfe einandren strackts nachlesind, damit der verstand an einandren hange, oder so vil sy erfindend uff ein stund not sin, und das mit zimmlicher stimm, nit ze hoch, nit ze nider, ouch rechter maass, nit ze schnell noch ze träg.

From the opening lines through the conclusion Zwingli’s guidance is practical, sensible, and applicable. Modern scholars would do well to adopt the same approach when helping readers understand Scripture.

Today With Calvin

It was the 23rd of August in 1536 that the 27 year old John Calvin published the first edition of his famed ‘Institutio’.  Revisions appeared in several editions with the last, and most famous, coming in 1559.  The best, though, the very best is the 1541 edition which appeared in French.  That fantastic edition was translated into English just a few years ago and published by our friends at Eerdmans.

And just think, it all started when in late August of 1536, the first go was offered to the public.