Praedestinationem vocamus aeternum Dei decretum, quo apud se constitutum habuit, quid de unoquoque homine fieri vellet. Non enim pari conditione creantur omnes: sed aliis vita aeterna, aliis damnatio aeterna praeordinatur. Itaque prout in alterutrum finem quisque conditus est, ita vel ad vitam vel ad mortem peredestinatum dicimus.*
Which is to say
By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.
Or if you prefer
Nous appellons Predestination: le conseil eternel de Dieu, par lequel il a determiné ce qu’il vouloit faire d’un chacun homme. Car il ne les crée pas tous en pareille condition: mais ordonne les uns à vie eternelle, les autres à eternelle damnation. Ainsi selon la fin à laquelle est creé l’homme, nous disons qu’il est predestiné à mort ou à vie.
However you slice it and dice it and splice it and translate it- it’s one mess of a doctrine. To be sure, Calvin had his reasons for it. But…
*Institutio Christianae religionis (III,21,5)
Readers of the Bible may be familiar with that phrase, but a new essay in Bible and Interpretation sheds a good bit of light on its meaning.
Here’s how it begins
What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. (Mathew 11:7-9)
These questions are attributed by the writer of Matthew’s Gospel to Jesus of Nazareth, in his confrontation with the disciples of John the Baptist. With a modicum of reflection, however, a case might be made that they equally relate to Jesus himself. Indeed, these rhetorical questions delineate the many issues swirling around the Galilean preacher as keenly if not more so than they do with regard to the baptizer from Judea.
When it comes to the state of contemporary “Jesus scholarship,” a more cogent question might be: What did you go into the academic wilderness to research? The slender-leaved plant of the Aesopian fable of the oak and the reed? A prophet, reminiscent of the ancient Israelite oracles? A wise sage, in the tradition of the early Pharisaic “proto-rabbis?” A pious messianic figure, someone “more than a prophet?” Or a militant, anti-Roman “zealot,” prepared to resurrect the hope of Israel by throwing off the yoke of Rome in the spirit of the Maccabees? The scholarly landscape has for centuries been populated with those who scarcely know.
I’ve been waiting for this one since volume two came out in 2003.
In this masterful volume—the culmination of his three-volume History of New Testament Research (vol. 1, From Deism to Tübingen, 1992; vol. 2, From Jonathan Edwards to Rudolf Bultmann, 2012)—William Baird continues his insightful, balanced, and accessible survey of the major developments in New Testament scholarship. Volume 3 charts the dramatic discoveries and breakthroughs in method and approach that characterized the mid- and late twentieth century. Baird gives attention to the biographical and cultural setting of persons and approaches, affording both beginning student and seasoned scholar an authoritative account of the evolution of historical-critical study of the New Testament.
Hallelujah! Amen! Glory!
Via Larry Schiffman on the twitter,
We are far too inclined to forget the giants upon whose shoulders we stand. Greenspoon writes, in part-
Not long ago I received an email that read: “The American Schools of Oriental Research awarded Oded Lipschits and David Vanderhooft the 2012 G. Ernest Write Award for the book The Yehud Stamp Impressions: A Corpus of Inscribed Impressions from the Persian and Hellenistic Periods in Judah (Winona Lake, Eisenbrauns,2011).
This award is given to the author(s) of the most substantial volume dealing with archaeological material, excavation reports and material culture from the ancient Near East and eastern Mediterranean.” There is something terribly wrong with this announcement, and I don’t mean the award-winners, who I am sure are well-deserving. Rather, it is the title of the award itself: As I am sure many BAS members know, “G. Ernest Write” never existed, at least to my knowledge, as a major figure in biblical archaeology and biblical theology. His name was G. Ernest Wright.
The wrong spelling of his name is more, I fear, than the result of inattentiveness. It seems, to me at least, that we—all of us who care about Biblical Studies—are in danger of losing our individual and collective memories about major figures in our field. I had the honor and pleasure of studying with Wright during his final years of teaching at Harvard University (he died in August 1974), and I can tell you that he was never more alive or animated than when he held an archaeological artifact in his hands.
First, I’m glad I didn’t send the email with the misspelled word. And second, again, I agree that we are too forgetful as members of the biblical studies guild when it comes to those who have come before. That’s why it has been my longstanding practice to remind folk of them via the ‘Lest We Forget’ series of posts.
We do need to remember those who have done so much work in our discipline and we do need to appreciate them more. As, hopefully, we ourselves will one day be appreciated and potentially even remembered.
Courtesy of John Fry-
Ultimate security is not to be found in money, or in religious practices, but in knowing the God who sent His Son Jesus to be the world’s saviour. It’s not easy to keep looking to God; when challenging times come, I find it easier sometimes to rely on what I can see or change rather than keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus. The apostle Paul knew this too— that’s why he sent Timothy to the Thessalonians to encourage them when it was difficult to live as a Christian. In order to keep going with God, we need more than just our Bibles and self-will. We need the help of the Spirit, but also help from each other. It is God revealed in the Lord Jesus alone who saves, but our faith is strengthened through giving and receiving encouragement from others.*
*2012 Advent Devotional, Wycliff Hall, Oxford. You can download the Advent Devotional, for free, here.
Joel is celebrating something he calls ‘The Feast of St. Nicholas’. My view is that the jolly fat guy (Santa, just to be clear) is actually feasting on children! St. Nicholas Feast Day…. it’s when he eats your kids! Keep the precious little ones home from school or the Metho-Cath wicked guy in the red suit (like Satan) may get them…
[NB- do remember, Santa and Satan have all the same letters, with just a few arranged differently, just to throw off the gullible!]
Don’t let Satan eat your kids!
Via Brian Kelley
I love these emails.
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I’m SO excited… So, does anyone know what 25% of $12 million is after taxes?
By all accounts Zwingli was a powerful speaker who held the attention of his audience as few have, or do. He, modestly, simply says of it in a letter of 1523 that he
“… began to preach the gospel of Christ in the year 1516 before anyone in my locality had so much as heard the name of Luther; for I never left the pulpit without taking the words of the gospel as used in the mass service of the day and expounding them by means of the Scriptures; although at first I relied much upon the Fathers as expositors and explainers.”
His biographer, S. Jackson, explains
This letter has been lost. Our knowledge of it and its contents comes from Rhenanus, who, in his reply, dated Basel, December 6, 1518 strikes a deeper note, shows a more earnest spirit, and bears welcome testimony to the quality of Zwingli’s preaching.
“I have laughed a great deal at the peddler of indulgences [Samson], whom you depicted so vividly in your letter. They give letters to the leaders in a war for those who shall perish in battle. How petty and unworthy of the representatives of the Pope these things are! What will they not think up so that Italy may get our money! And yet I do not consider this is a laughing matter, but rather one for tears. For nothing grieves me more than to see a Christian people laden with ceremonies that do not reach the heart of the matter or that are rather empty nothings.
And I see no cause for it except that the priests, deceived by those mule-driving sophistical theologians, teach heathen and Jewish doctrines. I am now speaking of the rank and file of the priesthood. For it does not escape me that you and those like you bring forth to the people the pure philosophy of Christ, straight from the fountain, uncorrupted by interpretation of Scotist or Gabrielist, but expounded by Augustine, Ambrose, Cyprian, Jerome, faithfully and correctly.
But those people standing in a position where whatever is said the people at large think is true, bleat out nonsense about the power of the Pope, remission, purgatory, counterfeit miracles by the saints, restitution contracts, vows, pains of the damned, Antichrist.
But you in preaching to your congregation show the whole doctrine of Christ briefly displayed as in a picture; how Christ was sent down to the earth by God to teach us the will of the Father, to show us that this world, i. e., riches, honour, authority, pleasures, and all that kind of thing, are to be contemned so that the heavenly country can be sought with the whole heart, to teach us peace and concord and the attractive community of all possession (for Christianity is nothing else).*
Zwingli preached briefly, descriptively, and soundly. Today, he would be very odd indeed since most preachers babble on too long, speak to much of themselves, and are as sound doctrinally as a dying 94 year old is healthy. It’s a shame they didn’t have voice recorders back then. It would have been grand to hear the guy- and the other Reformers as well.
S. Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531).