Author Archives: Jim

About Jim

I am a Pastor, and Lecturer in Church History and Biblical Studies at Ming Hua Theological College.

Very Sad News: Ernst Jenni has Died

Via Jack Sasson this very sad news.

The Faculty of Theology of the University of Basel mourns the loss of Professor emeritus Ernst Jenni, who passed away on November 22, 2022 at the age of 95.

Ernst Jenni was Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Philology at the University of Basel from 1958 to 1997 and was Dean of the Faculty of Theology five times (1961, 1967, 1977, 1985, 1991) during his nearly forty years of service to the University.

Ernst Jenni was born on February 17, 1927 as the son of a baker. Already as a teenager, he had a passion for languages, and in addition to the school subjects of Latin, Greek, and French, he learned English, Italian, and Swedish through independent study. Many further ancient and modern languages would follow later. His interest was never limited solely to Hebrew and other Semitic languages, but also included linguistics more generally, which is reflected in his own research on classical Hebrew philology.

In his dissertation on the word ʿōlām in the Hebrew Bible (“Das Wort ʿōlām im Alten Testament,” published in ZAW in two parts in 1952–1953), he showed that the original use of the Hebrew word ʿōlām referred to the “furthest time” and not to “eternity,” as it had often been understood in the scholarly literature. Through his careful exegetical and philological publications, Ernst Jenni established himself early on as a Hebraist of international importance. He regularly attended the triennial meetings of the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament (IOSOT) and was its president in 2001. In his 2001 presidential address, which opened the seventeenth Congress of the IOSOT, he dealt with the subject of the “Polite Request in the Old Testament” (“Die höfliche Bitte im Alten Testament”), using as an example the invitation to the reception following his lecture (“Kommen Sie bitte nachher zum Umtrunk!” – *bôʾûʾel-hammišteh).

Ernst Jenni was innovative in his scholarship, yet he always remained unpretentious. He described his characteristic thoroughness as an “effort to demonstrate a theory not only through a few important examples, but to verify it, wherever possible, through every relevant occurrence” (E. Jenni, Studien zur Sprachwelt des Alten Testaments II, p. 8).

Beginning in 1986, Ernst Jenni was the first member of the Faculty of Theology in Basel to work with a computer, painstakingly creating a database of the 15,570 occurrences of the preposition bet in the Hebrew Bible, which served as the foundation for his 1992 book on the same subject. Later, he created further databases for his studies on the Hebrew prepositions kaph (1994) and lamed (2000). Ernst Jenni regularly followed developments in the field of general linguistics and applied its findings to classical Hebrew philology wherever possible. In doing so, he refined and modified his own views over the course of his career in light of new insights. For example, he revised his views on the Hebrew pi‘el verbal stem from a 1968 article (“Das hebräische Piʿel: Syntaktisch-semasiologische Untersuchung einer Verbalform im Alten Testament”) thirty years later on the basis of new insights from linguistics (“Aktionsarten und Stammformen im Althebräischen: Das Piʿel in verbesserter Sicht,” ZAH 13 [2000], 67–90).

Ernst Jenni’s passion for Hebrew philology accompanied him throughout his retirement, and he continued to publish until the end of his life. In 2021, his article “Hebräische Relationsverben: Nifʿal ohne Grundstamm. Von Murren bis Glauben” appeared in the Theologische Zeitschrift (77/1, pp. 3–44), and in 2022 his article “Qal-Passiv, Nif‘al und Passivpartizip” appeared in a Festschrift for his colleague Thomas Krüger in Zürich (Menschsein in Weisheit und Freiheit, ed. Veronika Bachmann, Annette Schellenberg, and Frank Ueberschaer, OBO 296, Leuven 2022, pp. 455–480).

Ernst Jenni has left an enduring legacy: pioneering studies on the syntax and semantics of the Hebrew verbal system, foundational works on Hebrew prepositions, and exegetical aids such as the Theologisches Handwörterbuch zum Alten Testament. Those who knew him personally remember with gratitude a fine person with a dry sense of humor.

His lexicon, co-authored with Westermann, is my regular companion in lexical studies.  His works are profoundly important.  May he rest in peace.  He can never be replaced.

Doubt is Easier than Faith

A question was proposed by Master Ignatius, a student of sacred literature, on the day before the Kalentis of December, 1532 [i.e., 30 November]: Why do we more readily believe Satan when he terrifies than Christ when he consoles? The question was answered by Dr. Martin Luther: “Because we are better equipped to doubt than to hope; because hope comes from the Spirit of God but despair comes from our own spirit. Accordingly God has forbidden it [despair] 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. – Luther’s Table Talk

Calvin the Impatient

calvin_budapestAlas, it is true that with none of my great and numerous shortcomings have I wrestled harder than with such impatience.  Yes, I am making some progress but I have never reached the point yet of keeping this wild beast completely under control. — John Calvin

Quote of the Day

“Ist Gott im Herzen des Menschen, so werden göttliche Werke daraus kommen, wie die Hitze aus dem Ofen, wenn Feuer darin ist.  Wie die Redner sagen: Wo einem ein Handel ein herzliches Anliegen ist, so wird tapfer davon geredet; wo nicht, da ist alles saft-und kraftlos.” – Huldrych Zwingli (Sermon on Jeremiah, 17).

Johnny Hunt Should Never Stand in a Pulpit Again

Sure, he can repent his evil predation.  Sure, God can forgive him.  But he is DISQUALIFIED from ministry. Permanently.  Period.

It’s funny how these ‘Pastors’, who pretend to love God and who pretend to know scripture, will allow what God does not.  And scripture is particularly clear here-

The presiding elder must have an impeccable character. Husband of one wife, he must be temperate, discreet and courteous, hospitable and a good teacher; not a heavy drinker, nor hot-tempered, but gentle and peaceable, not avaricious,  a man who manages his own household well and brings his children up to obey him and be well-behaved:  how can any man who does not understand how to manage his own household take care of the Church of God?  He should not be a new convert, in case pride should turn his head and he incur the same condemnation as the devil.  It is also necessary that he be held in good repute by outsiders, so that he never falls into disrepute and into the devil’s trap. (1 Tim. 3:2-7)

The bits in bold face are where Hunt is a clear and present failure.  The bits in italic are probably areas of failure.

Hunt is DISQUALIFIED on all counts.

“We believe the greatest days of ministry for Johnny Hunt are the days ahead,” said Rev. Steven Kyle, pastor of Hiland Park Baptist Church in Panama City, Florida, in the video.  Kyle, along with pastors Mark Hoover of NewSpring Church in Wichita, Kansas; Benny Tate of Rock Springs Church in Milner, Georgia; and Mike Whitson of First Baptist Church in Indian Trail, North Carolina, said they had worked with Hunt and his wife on an “intentional and an intense season of transparency, reflection and restoration” in recent months.

None of those four are familiar with even the most basic teaching of scripture.  They should probably be excluded from ministry as well.  Whatever the case may be with them,


Matthew Henry Daily Devotional Bible

For more than three centuries, Matthew Henry’s work has been consulted and quoted by teachers and students the world over. Now you can have his insights available alongside the trusted New King James version of the Bible in the Matthew Henry Daily Devotional Bible.

Featuring 366 devotions, the Matthew Henry Daily Devotional Bible will help you gain greater understanding and appreciation of Scripture and encounter God’s heart every day. Drawn from Henry’s enormously popular commentary, his insights paired with Scripture will guide you into a deeper relationship with the Father as you find comfort, knowledge, and wisdom from God’s Word.

A free copy for review has arrived via the good folk at the Bible Gateway ( #bgbg2) (as a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid #BibleGatewayPartner).  More anon.

A-J Levine on the ‘Magi’: A Zoom Lecture

If you’re really curious about the Magi, and you want the straight scoop without having to read the far too many books out there about them filled with all that rank speculation and imaginary material created to fill pages with smoke and mirrors rather than with light and truth, then Zoom in to A-J’s lecture.

Forsake the speculative.  Listen to a real scholar.

Zwingli and Others on Harlots and Harlotry

Is it not a disgraceful thing to sleep with a woman and next morning hold mass? Answer: Can one not also do that if he has stayed with a harlot? If we had not conscience otherwise than that we so far forgetting God and ourselves should be inclined to such wickedness…  – H. Zwingli

I am now come to speak of adultery, which is a sin whereby the husband goeth to another woman, or the wife turneth aside after another man, to whom they make common the use of their bodies, which are not their own bodies now, but their mates in wedlock. Some there are that flatter themselves, and are of opinion, that they are not culpable of adultery, if they have the company of any unbetrothed maiden, or one that is unmarried; or if a woman play the harlot with an unwedded man: they will have it (in God’s name) to be fornication, and not adultery. But the scripture teacheth the contrary. Thou goest to another woman, thou art an adulterer: thou breakest thy faith, thou art forsworn: thy body is not thine, but thy wife’s; when therefore thou bestowest thy body on another, thou committest adultery. If thou, being wedded, dost lie with a married wife, thou doublest the sin of thine adultery. – H. Bullinger

… all know that no seed is so fertile in propagating mankind as the sacerdotal: for to such a degree has the untamed lust of almost all monks and popish priests burst forth, that he is justly deemed chastest who is satisfied with a harlot in his house. — J. Calvin

Never has a heathen, never a Turk, never a pope, never an emperor, and never any human being on earth made or enforced a law that anyone should be put to death because of marriage.  It is a new, unheard-of thing, begun by you new bishops, who are the greatest endowment robbers, harlot keepers, and whore hunters on earth in your chapters.  Nor do you do it for the sake of chastity, but all because others will not practice harlotry and unchastity, as you do, for you let them go unpunished. No one can believe that you conscientiously intend chastity with this penalty, since there are no greater enemies of chastity anywhere than you are, for you pursue it in your own bodies with all lewdness most shamefully, without letup. – M. Luther