Daily Archives: 10 Apr 2019
Anyone who hates reproof walks in the footsteps of a sinner, and those who fear the Lord will turn back to him from the heart. Those who are powerful in speech are widely known, but those who are thoughtful know when they slip. Those who build their houses with another person’s money are like those who gather stones for their own burial mound. A gathering of lawless people is the same as bundled flax; their end is a flaming fire. The path of sinners is made level with stones, but its end is the pit of hell. (Sir. 21:6-10)
Elisabeth of Schönau, a 12th-c Cistercian mystic, had a vision where she asked the Virgin Mary about the state of Origen’s soul. The Virgin replied that Origen’s heresies weren’t due to evil but to an over-zealous immersion in the profundities of scripture. So his soul was OK.
Via Ben Myers (who, in his defense, doesn’t think mystics did crack. I, however, do).
Originally posted in May, 2015.
John Barton’s work on these three volumes is a tour de force in academic publishing. First, because the collection is so expansive. And second, because Barton’s editorial hand never quivers or shakes or deviates from the task- which is to make available those rare creatures of biblical scholarship- interesting essays and reviews- which flowed Mozartesque from Barr’s pen.
I’ve been reading a number of the essays and as the weeks go by I’ll have ample occasion to cite them. They are as amazing as I expected them to be.
I have a long-abiding interest in and fascination with the work of Barr for a very personal reason: I am his academic Grandson. My teachers in grad school, the illustrious John I. Durham and the equally illustrious Samuel Balentine were both students of Barr at Oxford.
Furthermore, I had the honor of meeting Prof. Barr and chatting a bit at SBL a couple of times before his very untimely death. I also spent time with his very, very lovely wife when the SBL (both nationally and in the Southeast Region) honored Professor Barr with special sessions and she was in attendance.
I’ve also had the great privilege of being a colleague of John Barton in the Society for Old Testament Study and it was at one of those meetings during the middle of a very fruitful discussion that Prof. Barton first mentioned his work on the collection and my nerdy heart skipped a beat in anticipatory excitement.
Now that James Barr’s collected essays are available and readers can access much more than the few books they can round up in the used book stalls, I think that a new generation of budding biblical scholars will learn how scholarship really works and how supposition and fad methodologies simply will not abide the test of time, or use.
[I realize that the 3 volumes are costly. I realize that as a consequence many private scholars and few students will be able to have them in their personal libraries. It is precisely for that reason that research libraries ought to be urged by biblical scholars and theologians to add these volumes to their collections. It is imperative that students and faculty have access to this work. Accordingly, in the strongest possible terms, I advise libraries to get a copy. And if the parents, friends, families, and total strangers wish to pitch in and buy you something- get them to pitch in to buy this. You will not regret it].
To see James Barr review #JesusHisLife on the History Channel. It would be glorious. And withering.
With thanks to Jim Aitken for pointing out this brilliantly fun and witty and acerbic essay.
“‘Guessing’ in the Septuagint,” in Studien Zur Septuaginta – Robert Hanhart Zu Ehren., 19-34. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1990. Republished in Volume 3 of ‘Bible and Interpretation: The Collected Essays of James Barr’, pp. 28ff.
If heaven is our country, what can the earth be but a place of exile? If departure from the world is entrance into life, what is the world but a sepulchre, and what is residence in it but immersion in death? If to be freed from the body is to gain full possession of freedom, what is the body but a prison? If it is the very summit of happiness to enjoy the presence of God, is it not miserable to want it? … Wherefore, if it becomes us to live and die to the Lord, let us leave the period of our life and death at his disposal. Still let us ardently long for death, and constantly meditate upon it, and in comparison with future immortality, let us despise life, and, on account of the bondage of sin, long to renounce it whenever it shall so please the Lord.
Joseph’s being dragged out by the Midianites after his brothers agree to sell him since he’s worth more alive than dead.
Be like Joseph’s brothers. Toss your siblings in a pit day.
But if you do not [do Yahweh’s will], you will sin against Yahweh, and be sure your sin will find you out. — (Num. 32:23)
Let it therefore be held as fixed, that those who are inwardly taught by the Holy Spirit acquiesce implicitly in Scripture; that Scripture, carrying its own evidence along with it, deigns not to submit to proofs and arguments, but owes the full conviction with which we ought to receive it to the testimony of the Spirit. Enlightened by him, we no longer believe, either on our own judgment or that of others, that the Scriptures are from God; but, in a way superior to human Judgment, feel perfectly assured—as much so as if we beheld the divine image visibly impressed on it—that it came to us, by the instrumentality of men, from the very mouth of God. We ask not for proofs or probabilities on which to rest our Judgment, but we subject our intellect and judgment to it as too transcendent for us to estimate.
This, however, we do, not in the manner in which some are wont to fasten on an unknown object, which, as soon as known, displeases, but because we have a thorough conviction that, in holding it, we hold unassailable truth; not like miserable men, whose minds are enslaved by superstition, but because we feel a divine energy living and breathing in it—an energy by which we are drawn and animated to obey it, willingly indeed, and knowingly, but more vividly and effectually than could be done by human will or knowledge. Hence, God most justly exclaims by the mouth of Isaiah, “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he,” (Isa. 43:10).
Such, then, is a conviction which asks not for reasons; such, a knowledge which accords with the highest reason, namely knowledge in which the mind rests more firmly and securely than in any reasons; such in fine, the conviction which revelation from heaven alone can produce. I say nothing more than every believer experiences in himself, though my words fall far short of the reality. I do not dwell on this subject at present, because we will return to it again: only let us now understand that the only true faith is that which the Spirit of God seals on our hearts. Nay, the modest and teachable reader will find a sufficient reason in the promise contained in Isaiah, that all the children of the renovated Church “shall be taught of the Lord,” (Isaiah 54:13).
This singular privilege God bestows on his elect only, whom he separates from the rest of mankind. For what is the beginning of true doctrine but prompt alacrity to hear the Word of God? And God, by the mouth of Moses, thus demands to be heard: “It is not in heavens that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart,” (Deut. 30:12, 14). God having been pleased to reserve the treasure of intelligence for his children, no wonder that so much ignorance and stupidity is seen in the generality of mankind.
In the generality, I include even those specially chosen, until they are ingrafted into the body of the Church. Isaiah, moreover, while reminding us that the prophetical doctrine would prove incredible not only to strangers, but also to the Jews, who were desirous to be thought of the household of God, subjoins the reason, when he asks, “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1). If at any time, then we are troubled at the small number of those who believe, let us, on the other hand, call to mind, that none comprehend the mysteries of God save those to whom it is given. Inst I,vii,5