Two Volumes Reviewed, But You’ll Have to Look Elsewhere For Those Reviews

I’ve worked on a couple of reviews for Reviews in Religion and Theology (to appear in some future number).  Specifically, this book

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And this one

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I can’t repeat what the reviews include except to say, Brown’s book is very, very good and Viazovski’s is a quite interesting technical read.  More philosophically oriented than my tastes appreciate but still quite engaging.  See RRT in due course for the full explanations.

 

Quote of the Day

We have greater work here to do than mere securing our own salvation. We are members of the state and church, and we must labor to do good to many. We are trusted with our Master’s talents for his service, in our places to do our best to propagate his truth, and grace, and church; and to bring home souls, and honor his cause, and edify his flock, and further the salvation of as many as we can. All this is to be done on earth, if we will secure the end of all in heaven. — RICHARD BAXTER

The Eventual Disappearance Of Christianity From Public View

blog-empty-churchThe early Church began as a small group of Disciples and Followers who pledged loyalty to the Lordship of Christ, their Savior and Lord.  It had no public face but the face of each Disciple as he or she lived their faith out day by day.  The Church grew exponentially because these followers of the Nazarene didn’t just talk about being Christians, they lived like they were.  Converts by the millions joined the movement and the ranks of the Church swelled until it filled Europe and North Africa.

The something terrible happened.  As the historian Adolf von Harnack puts it so eloquently- ‘the Church was meant to go into the world, and instead, the world came into the Church’.  The Church became filled with hangers-on and spiritual opportunists who had neither interest in nor loyalty to the Lord Christ.

That trend has continued down to the present.  The Church, as institution, is filled with persons whose discipleship to Christ is not only questionable, but imaginary.  But whilst our ancestors in Europe and North Africa and later the Americas viewed membership in the Church as an important ‘insurance policy’ against the torments of hell, modern Europeans and Americans no longer believe hell is real.  Or, if they do, they believe the heretical and nonsensical idea that everyone goes to heaven anyway, regardless of either what they believe or how they act.

Consequently, the Church has become and is becoming ever less important not only to the world (which sees ‘Christians’ as behaving no differently than the worldlings themselves) but to the nominal (in name only) people who call themselves Disciples of the glorious Risen Lord but who have neither time for nor interest in his Lordship or their own Discipleship.

Whilst the world has no use for the Church, which is naturally to be expected, what is rather shocking, from a Biblical perspective, is the lack of interest those calling themselves Christians have in it as well.  Across North America Churches are empty on Sunday evening and Wednesday evening as they have never been empty before.  Few can be bothered with attending regularly (3 or 4 times a month) on Sunday morning much less any other time (if churches even offer other services of Worship and Bible Study at all).

The youthful generation which will, within a decade or two, assume the reins of local Churches, scarcely appear to be interested in any Church function at all which doesn’t involve some sort of food or entertainment.  It’s not too hard to imagine that their interest in maintaining Sunday evening worship or Midweek Prayer Meeting will be nil.

Eventually, then, the Church will shrink from public view.  All of those generations of saints who invested their time and resources into Church buildings and structures and programs and literature and musical resources and all the rest of the material things it takes to make a Church run will see their work turn to dust.  Not because the Devil and his minions have prevailed against it, but because its own inhabitants will let it.

Real Christians will continue to live their faith and express that faith in prayer and scripture reading and study and communal worship and ministry.  But they will be only a tiny fraction of the population, unable as such to assemble the resources to construct actual structures for worship.

The church will survive because it is the Body of Christ and he can never die.  But it will be comprised of only those who really believe.  The rest will have long since gone their way, adopting some other system of belief.  The authentic Christians will not be of the world.  They will be in it.  But they will not be of it as so many are today.

Which Bible, Whose Public School?

#Bam

Old Life

Are U.S. Christians really comfortable with bringing prayer and Bible reading back to public schools? If so, what do they do with this passage (which was part of yesterday’s Scripture readings)?

As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, worthless fellows, surrounded the house, beating on the door. And they said to the old man, the master of the house, “Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him.” And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my brothers, do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing. Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine. Let me bring them out now. Violate them and do with them what seems good to you, but against this man do not do…

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What Hath Rabbinic Literature to do With New Testament Interpretation?

Rabbinic Literature – A Rich Source for the Interpretation and Implementation of the Old and New Testaments, by Reinhard Neudecker

imagerenderThese selected essays have appeared over a period of two decades and have been revised for inclusion in this volume. They offer some insight into what has become over the years the author’s major fields of interest, namely: 1) Discovering the wealth that ancient Jewish writers drew from the Bible, much of which is still valid and greatly stimulating for modern readers of Scripture as well. 2) Discovering, especially in rabbinic texts that deal with religious experience and insight, ways in which the much-advocated interreligious dialogue is possible and how it can be fruitful.

Giannozzo Manetti’s New Testament

Giannozzo Manetti’s New Testament
95503Annet den Haan
ISBN: 978-90-04-32374-2
Series and Volume number: Brill’s Studies in Intellectual History, Volume 257/1
List price EUR: 199 / List price US$: 239

In Giannozzo Manetti’s New Testament Annet den Haan analyses the Latin translation of the Greek New Testament made by the fifteenth-century humanist Giannozzo Manetti (1396-1459). The book includes the first edition of Manetti’s text.

Manetti’s translation was the first since Jerome’s Vulgate, and it predates Erasmus’ Novum Instrumentum by half a century. Written at the Vatican court in the 1450s, it is a unique example of humanist philology applied to the sacred text in the pre-Reformation era. Den Haan argues that Manetti’s translation was influenced by Valla’s Annotationes, and compares Manetti’s translation method with his treatise on correct translation, Apologeticus (1458).

One of the benefits of reading widely in one’s field and related areas is that one can always learn very interesting facts about what is often portrayed as a fairly straight line of events in history.  For instance, the common supposition is that the poor Germans languished under the oppression of the Vulgate version of the Bible until Luther arrived and, out of the blue, without precedent, translated the Bible from Hebrew (with a lot of help) and Greek (with as much help from Melanchthon as without his help) into German for the first time.

Of course that simply isn’t what happened.  There were numerous translations of the Bible into German before Luther came on the scene.

The same is true in the area of ‘Bible translations’ in Latin.  Jerome may have been the most famous of the translators but he wasn’t the only one.  The present volume introduces us to Manetti’s translation of the New Testament.  Our author describes Manetti’s life, aims in translation, and significance.  He also provides an edition of Manetti’s Latin New Testament which is an authentic delight to read.  This is important because Manetti’s edition was never published and exists in only two manuscripts- one which is quite good and the other which is utter rubbish.

Manetti is probably barely known, which makes this volume even more important.  He was, it seems by all accounts, one of the most important intellectuals of his day.  Accordingly, we’re informed

The first purpose of this book is therefore to make Manetti’s translation accessible to Renaissance scholars (p. 2).

It is also quite useful for biblical scholars and textual critics.  A few pages later den Haan writes

… the so-called ‘Protestant Paradigm’, the common belief that before Luther, the ordinary man and woman could access the sacred text only through the mediation of the Church, which repressed lay book possession and did everything in its power to control religious culture. All this changed only with the Reformation, when the Bible was given back to the lay believer, who could now read and interpret the text for himself.

This belief in a breach with the Middle Ages was actively promoted by the Protestants themselves, and it is now deeply rooted in the collective memory of the Western world. In a recent study on the Bible in late-medieval England, Andrew Gow challenges the Protestant Paradigm. Gow complains of ‘whiggish’ historiography, arguing that the Church indeed imposed restrictions on lay Bible possession, but that there was hardly any (effective) repression, and that the average lay-reader had not more, but less freedom after Luther.  Similar studies for other regions and languages have appeared since (pp 3-4).

I cite this rather extensive section to show that it is not only Renaissance scholars who can learn a great deal from this work or text critics but students of the Reformation as well.

The contents of the volume are these:

  • Manetti’s Life and Works
  • Writing Process
  • Textual Criticism
  • Translation Theory from Antiquity to the Renaissance
  • Apologeticus
  • Translation Method
  • The New Testament Translation of Manetti

A sample of den Haan’s method may be useful to potential readers of the volume.  So, whilst discussing Manetti’s translation method den Haan writes

His main reason for dismissing the ad verbum method is that it compromises the meaning of the original. This happens because the meaning of idiomatic expressions is determined by the way they are used, not by the meaning of the words they consist of.

The clearest example of such an expression in the New Testament is the Greek ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχω [‘to be pregnant’], which literally means ‘to have in the belly’. In the Vulgate, it is rendered by in utero habeo. Valla commented on this unidiomatic translation at Matthew 1:18 and 1:23, and at 1 Thessalonians 5:3.20 Manetti translated it as pregnans [‘pregnant’] at Matthew 1:18, concipio [‘to conceive’] at Matthew 1:23, and parturio [‘to be in labour’] at 1 Thessalonians 5:3. He preserved the unidiomatic in utero habeo at Revelation 12:2. Similary, at 1 John 2:27, he replaced et non necesse habetis [‘you do not need’] with et non est uobis opus, a less literal translation of the Greek οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε.

This volume is an extraordinary accomplishment.  Readers learn so very much about Manetti and the practice of translation, and the Latin edition of  Manetti of the New Testament is a most welcome addition to the library of every New Testament scholar.

The Bee Stings the Pentebabbleist Heretics of TBN

A new Federal Communications Commission rule advocating for transparency regarding broadcast content will see popular programs on the Trinity Broadcasting Network slapped with a heresy warning, played at the beginning of each show, sources at the FCC confirmed Monday.

The warning will contain cautionary language informing audiences and parents of younger viewers that programs on TBN may contain “disturbing, self-serving, insidious, or violently eisegetical” content, and that viewer discernment is strongly advised.

According to a TBN spokesperson, the channel will comply with the warning, broadcasting the message preceding popular programs such as “The Potter’s Touch,” “Everyday Answers with Joyce Meyer,” and the “Joel Osteen Ministries” program beginning this week.

Of course any viewer of those programs is probably watching precisely because they’re heretics.  So any warning will just encourage them to view more.

It’s Repulsive How Entitled These Special Snowflakes Feel

An Oxford graduate is suing the university for £1m claiming the “appallingly bad” and “boring” teaching cost him a first-class degree and prevented him from having a successful career.

Faiz Siddiqui, who studied modern history at Brasenose College, told the high court he believes he would have had a career as an international commercial lawyer if he had been awarded a first rather than the 2:1 he achieved 16 years ago.

If he wins, the case could open the floodgates to similar claims from students complaining about inadequate teaching, unsuitable accommodation and poor decisions.

Siddiqui, 38, who trained as a solicitor after university, says his life and career have been blighted by his failure to obtain a first when he graduated in June 2000. He said he underachieved in a course on Indian imperial history during his degree because of “negligent” teaching which pulled down his overall grade.

He is bringing a loss of earnings claim of at least £1m against the chancellor, masters and scholars of Oxford University, which is seeking to have the claim struck out.

According to a report in the Sunday Times, Siddiqui suffers from insomnia and depression which his barrister, Roger Mallalieu, puts down to his unexpected failure to gain a first.

Mallalieu told the high court that his client’s lesser grade “denied him the chance of becoming a high-flying commercial barrister”.

Oxford University argues that the claim is baseless and should be struck out because of the number of years that have passed since Siddiqui graduated.

Sickening.  I hope he loses and he never finds employment again.  Who would want to hire such an entitled whining snowflake.

Starving Christians in America

Not that kind of starvation- the starvation that comes when worship, prayer, scripture reading, and ministry are either wholly ignored or only occasionally enjoyed.

There’s a famine in the land- but one of our own making and it has resulted in the spiritual emaciation of the vast majority of Christians in this country.  It’s why so many are powerless, weak, and incapable of the smallest spiritual victory.

And worst of all, most Christians know they are spiritually malnourished and they simply do not care.  They’re starving their souls to death, and it does not matter to them.

It’s sad.  But at the end, unsurprising, since none less than Amos spoke about this very sort of famine in the 8th century BC-

The days are coming- declares the Lord Yahweh- when I shall send a famine on the country, not hunger for food, not thirst for water, but famine for hearing Yahweh’s word.  People will stagger from sea to sea, will wander from the north to the east, searching for Yahweh’s word, but will not find it.  ‘That Day, fine girls and stalwart youths will faint from thirst. (Amos 8:11-13)

Those days have come, not because God has sent it but because Christians have made it happen themselves.  We are reaping what we have sown.

Frank Jehle: Barth’s Lectures on Zwingli

In a new essay on Barth’s lectures on Zwingli, Jehle writes

2004 erschien als Band 40 der Karl Barth-Gesamtausgabe dessen Zwinglivorlesung in Göttingen im Wintersemester 1922/23. Von der gelehrten Welt wurde das Buch bis jetzt nur wenig beachtet. Das ist schade. Die Lektüre lohnt sich.

Dass der Band wenig zur Kenntnis genommen wurde, hat verschiedene Gründe. Zunächst mag abschreckend wirken, dass er mehr als fünfhundert Seiten umfasst. Wer hat dafür Zeit? Anderseits weiss man aus Barths Briefen, dass er selbst unzufrieden mit diesem seinem Werk war. Im Alter hat er sogar von der „Katastrophe … mit Zwingli“ gesprochen. Kurz nach Abschluss der Vorlesung schrieb er an Martin Rade: „Ich erlebte … das Fatale, dass ich mitten im Semester ein wesentlich anderes, ungünstigeres Bild von dem Manne bekam, als ich am Anfang meinte ankündigen zu dürfen …“ Eduard Thurneysen anvertraute er kurz vor Semesterende, dass er „die Freudigkeit zu Zwingli wirklich etwas verloren“ habe. Wer hat nach diesen und ähnlichen Äusserungen Lust, das dicke Buch zu lesen?

It’s a fantastic essay! His conclusion is quite sensible- Barth’s lectures on Zwingli are very much worth your time!