Daily Archives: 17 Aug 2019

What is an Evangelical?

The word ‘Evangelical’ has nothing to do with Christianity. Instead it has become a political term describing someone on the far right who supports racist and xenophobic policies.

Encouragement from Martin Luther

Truly, I never imagined, and at the same time was shocked, to see how deeply you still cling to your errors. — Martin Luther

Christian Facebook Is a Funny Thing

If you post a death notice, Christians are all about announcing prayers for the family.

But if you post a reminder of the importance of commitment, suddenly all of those praying Christians are nowhere to be found.

Those Shrinking Congregations

Their parents taught them that going to the lake or playing ball on Sunday was more important than being at worship. Consequently, they now have little use for faith.

We reap what we sow.

Septuaginta. Band 11,2 Ecclesiastes

Die Herausgabe der großen kritischen Edition des ältesten erreichbaren Septuaginta-Textes ist Ziel des 1908 gegründeten Septuaginta-Unternehmens der Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen. Anspruch und Aufgabe einer solchen Edition ist die auf möglichste Vollständigkeit angelegte Erfassung und transmissionsgeschichtliche Auswertung der handschriftlichen überlieferung, angefangen mit den griechischen vorchristlichen Papyri (3./2. Jh. v.Chr.) bis hin zu den Minuskelhandschriften des 16. Jh. n.Chr., sodann der lateinischen, koptischen, syrischen, äthiopischen und armenischen Tochterübersetzungen, ferner der Septuaginta-Zitate bei den griechischen und lateinischen Kirchenschriftstellern unter Einschluss der sog. Catenenüberlieferung und schließlich aller Druckausgaben der Septuaginta vom 16. bis zum 20. Jh. Erstmals erscheint mit Peter Gentrys Arbeit eine vollständige kritische Edition des Buches »Ecclesiastes«. Der vorliegende Band XI bildet den 2. Band der Gesamtreihe »Septuaginta« und setzt so die Göttinger Editio critica maior fort.

The chief concern for those potentially interested in the acquisition of new editions of biblical texts is ‘how is it different from or an improvement upon earlier editions already in my possession?’ This is especially important to those working with a limited budget or who are trying to make the wisest choices for their personal purchases.

And that is the question that many will wish answered concerning this new edition of Ecclesiastes in the extraordinary Göttingen Septuagint. How is it an improvement upon the edition already at hand in Rahlfs/ Hanhart or BHQ?

The answer to this very basic and yet very central question is fairly simple: yes, it is an improvement on Rahlfs and yes it does offer differences substantial enough to justify its acquisition even for those in possession of BHQ (for those interested in the textual history of Ecclesiastes and working in textual criticism in particular).

The numerous differences between the text of Rahlfs and Göttingen which will be detailed by the author in a separate volume (according to Will Ross). There is, unfortunately, no list provided of such differences in the Introduction to Gentry’s edition herein reviewed. This is something of a shame, as users of the volume are now forced to wait for the list of variations or hunt them down and discover them for themselves.

In the above cited interview the editor also remarks

The Greek Translation has only a dozen places where it differs from MT, and most of these are not serious issues. The differences between MT and LXX were exaggerated by the editor of the BHQ volume on Ecclesiastes.

Curious about this, I posed the question to Adrian Schenker, the Editor in Chief of BHQ, and he replied that the editor of Ecclesiastes for BHQ was not inclined to exaggerations.

To be sure, editors will often see things differently.  Yet there is no evidence within the edition of BHQ itself that its findings have been exaggerated.

A fairly brisk comparison of Rahlfs and Gentry yields the following samplings:


  • Rahlfs- Ῥήματα Ἐκκλησιαστοῦ υἱοῦ Δαυιδ βασιλέως Ισραηλ ἐν Ιερουσαλημ.
  • Gentry- Ῥήματα Ἐκκλησιαστοῦ υἱοῦ Δαυὶδ βασιλέως Ἰσραὴλ ἐν Ἰερουσαλήμ.


  • Rahlfs- Εἶπον ἐγὼ ἐν καρδίᾳ μου Δεῦρο δὴ πειράσω σε ἐν εὐφροσύνῃ, καὶ ἰδὲ ἐν ἀγαθῷ, καὶ ἰδοὺ καί γε τοῦτο ματαιότης.
  • Gentry- Εἶπον ἐγὼ ἐν καρδίᾳ μου Δεῦρο δὴ πειράσω σε ἐν εὐφροσύνῃ, καὶ ἰδὲ ἐν ἀγαθῷ· καὶ ἰδοὺ καί γε τοῦτο ματαιότης.


  • Rahlfs- Οὐκ ἔστιν ἀγαθὸν ἐν ἀνθρώπῳ, ὃ φάγεται καὶ πίεται καὶ δείξει τῇ ψυχῇ αὐτοῦ, ἀγαθὸν ἐν μόχθῳ αὐτοῦ.
  • Gentry- Οὐκ ἔστιν ἀγαθὸν ἐν ἀνθρώπῳ· ὃ φάγεται καὶ πίεται, καὶ δείξει τῇ ψυχῇ αὐτοῦ ἀγαθὸν ἐν μόχθῳ αὐτοῦ.


  • Rahlfs- Καὶ περισσὸν ὅτι ἐγένετο Ἐκκλησιαστὴς σοφός, ἔτι ἐδίδαξεν γνῶσιν σὺν τὸν λαόν, καὶ οὖς ἐξιχνιάσεται κόσμιον παραβολῶν.
  • Gentry- Καὶ περισσὸν ὅτι ἐγένετο Ἐκκλησιαστὴς σοφός, ἔτι ἐδίδαξεν γνῶσιν σὺν τὸν ἄνθρωπον, καὶ οὖς ἐξιχνιάσεται κόσμιον παραβολῶν.

Our third sampling (2:24a) and our fourth (12:9) show slight differences between Rahlfs and Gentry.  Text critics wanting to know the reason for these differences will find amazingly full textual notes and here we arrive at the chief difference between these two editions:  the incredibly thorough textual material brought to bear in witness to the readings provided in the Göttingen Septuagint when compared to the scant and slight materials of the critical apparatus of Rahlfs is astonishing.

The volume’s introduction comprises half of its entire contents and the text of Ecclesiastes barely occupies a fifth of the page whereas the textual notes and other materials take up 4’5ths of each page.

This is a remarkable work which students of Ecclesiastes will absolutely find indispensable (and I do not use that word lightly or carelessly).  Textual critics will make use of it for centuries to come (and I do not say that lightly either).  And finally, students of the Greek text of the Old Testament will need to consult if if they intend to do any serious work on the text of Ecclesiastes.

Gentry may be wrong about the viewpoint of the editor of the BHQ volume on Ecclesiastes, and he may be forgiven for holding off his list of variations between Rahlfs and his own work, but he is to be congratulated for producing an amazingly meticulous text critical masterpiece.

The English Bible in the Early Modern World

The English Bible in the Early Modern World addresses the most significant book available in the English language in the centuries after the Reformation, and investigates its impact on popular religion and reading practices, and on theology, religious controversy and intellectual history between 1530 and 1700. Individual chapters discuss the responses of both clergy and laity to the sacred text, with particular emphasis on the range of settings in which the Bible was encountered and the variety of responses prompted by engagement with the Scriptures. Particular attention is given to debates around the text and interpretation of the Bible, to an emerging Protestant understanding of Scripture and to challenges it faced over the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.


  • Many of the essays herein are exceptional but some stand out for their intriguing content and wonderful writing styles.  These are
  • Nuts, Kernels, Wading Lambs and Swimming Elephants: Preachers and Their Handling of Biblical Texts, by Mary Morrissey
  • The Catholic Contribution to the King James Bible, by Gordon Campbell
  • ‘Not the Word of God’: Varieties of Antiscripturism during the English Revolution, by Ariel Hessayon

The volume is, as are so many these days, the outcome of a conference:

This volume is the third to emerge from the ‘Insular Christianity’ Project, based in Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin, and more especially from the symposium held in Trinity in 2011.

Clearly the production of the volume took a number of years, given that this collection was not published until 2018.  But, as the old saw goes, it was worth waiting for.

Morrissey’s wonderful essay includes this important observation, which is worth repeating at length:

I would argue that biblical commonplaces facilitated, rather than constrained, a preacher’s engagement with topical subjects. Preachers did not create new political meaning for passages from the Bible; such meanings were often already there, in the interpretations that had accrued around the text in previous ages. The preacher often needed only to give a renewed valence to those particular readings, and he could do this by demonstrating that current events were best understood in the light of already-instituted interpretations of his chosen passage from Scripture. Commonplacing provides us with a vital interpretative tool when approaching early modern sermons. A great many of the printed sermons are conventional: they say very much the same sorts of things based on the same biblical text.

Naturally there is little to argue with here, as she has put her finger on the pulse of early modern Christianity.  In much the same way, it has to be said, that Campbell has tapped into an important aspect of the history of the KJV and its dependence on the New Testament translation of the version of Douey-Rheims in his distinguished contribution.  For instance, he remarks

There are many different sorts of debts of the kjv to Reims, and many examples of each kind, but the scale of the debt is clearly very considerable. It is clear that on occasion Gregory Martin’s excellent ear for demotic English caught the eye of the kjv translators. The best known example occurs at Mark 1.45, when the leper whom Jesus has healed, in the words of the Bishops’ Bible, ‘began to tell many thynges, and to publishe the saying’. This is a perfectly adequate translation, as διεφημίσθην means ‘to spread a report’. Reims, however, has ‘began to publish and to blaze abroad the matter’.

He amply illustrates this dependence.  Brilliantly.

This is a wonderfully informative volume and I heartily recommend it to all who have interest in the history of the Bible in England.

Earthquakes at Durham University!

There apparently have been so many that there’s a post-doc research associate position to study them!

Reading Metaxas is Like Eating Rancid Potatoes

This endorsement is true if you don’t read anything else. Like eating rancid potatoes is the best meal you will have this month if you don’t eat anything else.

Pastors, Theologians, and Biblical Scholars…

Who don’t read the biblical languages are fundamentally incompetent and are not capable of their task.


A court in Germany has rejected a 9-year-old girl’s bid to join a centuries-old Berlin boys choir.

In its ruling Friday, the Berlin administrative court said the choir’s right to choose its singers outweighed the principle of gender equality.

The girl’s lawyer, who is also her mother, claimed the State and Cathedral Choir had rejected her daughter’s membership on the basis of gender.

The choir, which has never admitted any girls since its founding in 1465 by Frederick II of Brandenburg, denied the allegation. It said the girl would have been asked to join if she had displayed extraordinary talent and motivation and “if her voice had matched the desired sound characteristics of a boys choir.”

Luther on Your Doubt Peddlings

We are better equipped to doubt than to hope; because hope comes from the Spirit of God but doubt comes from our own spirit. Accordingly God has forbidden it [doubt] under severe penalty. That we more easily believe penalty than reward is a product of the reason or spirit of man. Hoping and believing are different from thinking and speculating. Reason sees death before it, and it’s impossible for reason not to be terrified by it. Likewise we can’t be persuaded [by our reason] that God gives his Son and loves us so much, and hence we say, ‘You have not allowed your Son to be crucified for nothing!’ This is above reason. That God is so merciful, not on account of my works but on account of his Son, is incomprehensible. –  Martin Luther

Quote of the Day

It’s not surprising a country in the Middle East decides to ban foreigners entry on the basis of their political opinions. That Israel would choose to join them is a sign of political weakness, not strength.  –  Ian Bremmer

Today With Zwingli

What is the Eucharist?  Is it a sacrifice?  A memorial?  The means by which salvation is conferred?  A simple sign?  Those were the questions plaguing the Reformation beginning as early as 1522 and coming to a head in 1529 at the Marburg Colloquy.

In 1525 Huldrych Zwingli addressed the question in a quite scholarly volume titled Subsidium sive coronis de eucharistia and published on the 17th of August.

The story of Zwingli’s coming to a clear understanding, finally, of the meaning of the Eucharist is related by himself in this volume.  He remarks that Exodus 12 came to mind while he was lying in bed and that he sprang to his feet, opened his Septuagint (which he apparently kept right at his bedside) and read it.  The next day, they discussed it at the Prophezei and that discussion became the outline of the present book.

What, you may be wondering, has Ex 12 to do with the Eucharist?  Zwingli noted in explaining his discovery that just as the events of the Passover were ‘memorialized’ in the passover meal, so too the death of Jesus was ‘memorialized’ in the Supper.

The book opens, after the dedication, with this scintillating sentence (a sentence which is typical and emblematic of Zwingli’s style) –

reformers1.jpgScimus non defuturos esse, qui protinus, ut libri titulum intuiti sunt, ęqum esse dicant, ut copiis imbecillibus subsidium mittatur, quorum urbanitati respondere consilium non est, duplici nomine: Vel quod nunquam quicquam tam circumspecte dixeris, quod ipsi vertere in ludibrium non audeant; vel quod difficulter subsidio cedunt, in quos copię ipsę impressionem nullam facere potuerunt.

And the closing sentence:

Det deus optimus maximus lucem ac pacem, ut cognita veritate in veram animi pacem ac tranquillitatem restituamur. Amen!

And between those two bookends the – in my view – clearest exposition of the Supper written.