Zwinglius Redivivus

"… ein Wörtlein kann ihn fällen"

On Gerhard von Rad’s Birth Anniversary

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Those who are wise learn from their forebears- even if what they learn is to leave them to the side.  Von Rad, however, can never be left aside.  He stands – even now – as the greatest Everest to grace the theological landscape.  And today is the anniversary of his birth.

Gerhard von Rad was a prominent German Old Testament scholar whose work brought back focus to the Old Testament. He was educated at the University of Erlangen and at the University of Tübingen and later received honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Lund, Wales, Leipzig and Glasgow. He also taught at the University of Jena, University of Gottingen, Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg. The Encyclopedia of World Biography notes him as having “developed the ‘tradition history’ approach to the Old Testament that has dominated the study of the Bible for the last 40 years.” His dissertation was on “Das Gottesvolk im Deuteronomium” (The People of God in Deuteronomy).

“The historical events of his lifetime, including the two World Wars, left their mark on him, and it was not least his detestation for the nazis’s treatment of the Jews, which called his interest for OT forth, and he became a member of the academic world in stead of the clergy. Two fields of research are in a special way connected to his name. He was one of the founders of the traditio-historical method. Being one of A. Alt’s doctoral students, history and the development of traditions always played an important part in his research. The historical credo (Deut 26) and its importance for the making of the Hexateuch has made a great impact on the scholarly world. The other field is OT theology, in which he stressed the theology in the transmission of the biblical traditions, in Vol. I the historical tradition and in Vol II the prophetic tradition. His way of doing Theologie was quite different from the traditional German Old Testament Theology.”

“Von Rad’s views were highly controversial, evoking considerable heat. Many of his theories have not stood the test of time, but it would be difficult to find another person who has contributed so much to the understanding of the Old Testament. It may be that in truth he wrote a history of Israelite religion rather than an Old Testament theology, but he insisted that the Hebrew Bible be understood in the context of the religious life of ancient Israel. That is surely a correct insight.”

Lest we forget…

Written by Jim

21 Oct 2018 at 7:52 am

Philosophy: An Observation

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Philosophy and its speculations are for the weak minded who are by nature of their mental deficiencies incapable of theology.

Written by Jim

20 Oct 2018 at 7:47 pm

Posted in Modern Culture

Wirkendes Wort: Bibel, Schrift und Evangelium im Leben der Kirche und im Denken der Theologie

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Wieder einmal gibt es in der evangelischen Theologie und Kirche in Deutschland einen Streit um das Alte Testament und die Bedeutung von Schrift und Schriftauslegung. Das ist gut so. Ohne diesen Streit würde das, was sich in Kirche und Theologie eingebürgert hat, nur noch so verstanden, wie es gerade weithin verstanden wird: nämlich missverstanden.

Missverstehen ist leicht. Das gilt gerade für die Schrift. Im Gegensatz zur geläufigen Annahme ist die eigentliche Herausforderung nicht, wie die Schrift zu verstehen ist, sondern, was man eigentlich verstehen will. Es geht nicht primär um die Methoden, sondern um den Gegenstand der Auslegung: die Schrift, die zur Kommunikation des Evangeliums gebraucht wird, durch das sich Gottes Wort im Leben der Menschen wirksam zur Geltung bringt.

Seit Längerem neigt die Systematische Theologie dazu, den Umgang mit biblischen Texten aus der systematischen Reflexion des Glaubens auszublenden. Eine Neubesinnung auf die Aufgaben einer theologischen Lehre von der Schrift ist überfällig. Ingolf U. Dalferth bietet diese Neubesinnung in einem großen Wurf, der ein Jahrhundert nach Karl Barths Römerbrief die Theologie am Beginn des neuen Jahrtausends überall dort aufschrecken wird, wo ein theologisches Ethos überlebt hat, das sich Glauben und Kirche zugehörig weiß. Dalferth verbindet seine Ausführungen auch mit praktischen Reformüberlegungen. Das »Leben der Kirche« und das »Denken der Theologie« werden so neu aufeinander bezogen.

Discussed herein, the ‘Crisis of the Scripture Principle’; The Communication of the Gospel; The Church, Scripture, and the Bible; Holy Scripture; The Word of God; The Center of the Scripture; Scripture Interpreting Scripture; Scripture and Interpretation; and finally, the Crisis of the Culture of the Book.

A quick glance through that list of contents immediately informs potential readers that this work is aimed to help modern persons come to terms with the problem of the Scriptures.  What are we to do with the Bible and what are we to make of it in these days of ours when Scripture is not the authoritative source of faith and practice for many?

Working from the premise that the so called ‘Scripture Principle’ is in crisis (to put it mildly), Dalferth carefully and patiently, brick by brick, builds an edifice of a ‘doctrine of Scripture’ that is both relevant and reliable.  Scripture is still the source for the communication of the Gospel.  The Scripture is still appropriately described as both Holy and Word of God.  The Scripture still has a comprehensible ‘core’, and the Scripture is still best understood on its own terms and from its own context.  And, finally, Scripture is still an appropriate object of the interpretive efforts of the community of faith.

The volume concludes with a glance towards the future and how books, like the Bible, may continue to play an important role in the post-print era. He also includes a Scripture index, index of persons, and an index of subjects.

Dalferth assembles a wide range of material from the history of Christian theology and brings it to bear on the question of the continuing relevance of the Bible in an age when bibliolatry is utterly impossible for all but the most stringent fundamentalists.  He includes material from Luther and a plethora of exegetes and theologians whilst managing, somehow, to completely ignore Zwingli and Calvin; which means that this volume is Lutheran in intent and content.

Persons interested in a contemporary Lutheran understanding of Scripture will learn a great deal from this wonderful, partisan book.  Persons interested in a broader theology of Scripture will find here the building blocks of a sensible methodology and a lot of historical-theological material.

This is a remarkably interesting book.  Dalferth is a composer of succinct prose.  For instance, in his exposition of ‘God’s Word as the Content of Scripture’ he writes

Der zweite Weg, um die Bibel als Gottes Wort zu verstehen, rekurriert nicht auf Gott als den Autor der Schrift, sondern auf Gottes Wort als ihren Inhalt:  Di biblischen Texte sind Gottes Wort nicht allein deshalb, weil Gott ihr autor ist, sondern weil sie Gottes Wort zum Inhalt haben (p. 262).

Brilliantly stated and expertly expanded upon and illustrated in the pages which follow.

This is a worthwhile work.  I commend it heartily.

Written by Jim

20 Oct 2018 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Books

The Most Shocking Thing About Modern Christianity…

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Is the amount of sub-Christian behavior it tolerates and still happily calls the practitioners ‘Christians’.  Things that are now ‘ok’ with Disciples of the Crucified and Risen Lord are (in no particular order)

  • premarital sexual relations
  • premarital pregnancy
  • marital infidelity
  • premarital cohabitation
  • failure to participate in worship
  • failure to contribute to ministry
  • failure to pray
  • failure to read the Bible with any regularity
  • failure to share the Gospel with neighbors and friends
  • failure to show the decency and compassion which Jesus requires (cf. Mt 25)

In short, you don’t have to believe, do, or be anything which is the hallmark of Christian belief.  All you need to do is call yourself a ‘Christian’ and, voila, you are one…  Or so you would think…

Which is why it’s helpful to remind our contemporaries of a simple pronouncement of Jesus:

‘It is not anyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. When the day comes many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?” Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, all evil doers! ‘Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock. But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand.  Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!’  (Matt. 7:21-27)

If you aren’t going to obey him, don’t bother to identify with him.

Written by Jim

20 Oct 2018 at 2:30 pm

Posted in Theology

People Never Really Change

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Therefore thus says the LORD: Behold, I will surely bring calamity on them which they will not be able to escape; and though they cry out to Me, I will not listen to them.

Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they offer incense, but they will not save them at all in the time of their trouble.  For according to the number of your cities were your gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem you have set up altars to that shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal.  

So do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble. What has My beloved to do in My house, Having done lewd deeds with many? And the holy flesh has passed from you. When you do evil, then you rejoice. (Jer. 11:11-15)

Contemporary.

Written by Jim

20 Oct 2018 at 1:42 pm

Posted in Modern Culture

Reminder: ‘Jesus Take the Wheel’ Is Horrible Theology

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Jesus is more than your last ditch hope.  When you reduce him to that, you devalue utterly and absolutely everything he ever taught about what it means to be a disciple.

If the only use you have for God is to get you out of binds that you can’t extricate yourself from, and that you’ve gotten yourself into, he isn’t your God, he’s your tool.  Your ‘God of the gaps’ isn’t the God revealed in Scripture.  He is a god you’ve created in your own mind, for your own purposes.

Written by Jim

20 Oct 2018 at 1:36 pm

Posted in Theology

It Must be A Saudi Cat…

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Written by Jim

20 Oct 2018 at 11:35 am

Posted in Modern Culture

Quote of the Day

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Written by Jim

20 Oct 2018 at 8:33 am

Posted in Theology

How Barthians Make A Sandwich

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Written by Jim

20 Oct 2018 at 8:25 am

Posted in Modern Culture

James Robison is Lying

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The day after President Trump called Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress with whom he allegedly had an adulterous affair, a “horseface,” televangelist James Robison posted a video in which he declared that Trump has a deep admiration of the faith of the Religious Right leaders with whom he has surrounded himself, and that their efforts to preach the word of God to him are having an impact.

The only impact Trump’s fake ‘Christian’ advisors are having on him is granting him permission to think that Christians can be utterly godless and still pretend they have faith.

Written by Jim

19 Oct 2018 at 6:29 pm

Posted in Modern Culture

We Live in A Society Where Powerful People Worship one God: Money, and their Creed is Greed

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Written by Jim

19 Oct 2018 at 3:26 pm

A Stern Warning, Not to the Pagans, But to God’s Disobedient People…

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`I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end will be, For they are a perverse generation, Children in whom is no faith. They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols. But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation; I will move them to anger by a foolish nation. 

For a fire is kindled by my anger, And shall burn to the lowest hell; It shall consume the earth with her increase, And set on fire the foundations of the mountains. `I will heap disasters on them; I will spend My arrows on them.  They shall be wasted with hunger, Devoured by pestilence and bitter destruction; I will also send against them the teeth of beasts, With the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword shall destroy outside; There shall be terror within For the young man and virgin, The nursing child with the man of gray hairs. (Deut. 32:20-25)

Let those who have ears to hear, hear.

Written by Jim

19 Oct 2018 at 2:13 pm

Posted in Bible

You Need a Commentary

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Everyone needs a commentary on the Bible that they can understand and that answers their questions about the meaning of the text.  So I wrote one for lay people on the whole Bible.

So if you or someone you know has wanted to get a copy of the collection in PDF format, you can do so from yours truly for $75 by clicking my PayPal Link.  Leave your email in your paypal payment note so I can send it to you right away.

Written by Jim

19 Oct 2018 at 2:07 pm

I’m Reading Lincoln Harvey’s Book…

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I shall be informing you about my feelings towards it in the not too awfully distant future.

I just hope it’s better than some stuff is on the topic.

Written by Jim

19 Oct 2018 at 12:51 pm

Posted in Book Review, Books

A Free Book from DeGruyter- “We Were All in Adam The Unity of Mankind in Adam in the Teaching of the Church Fathers”

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Available for download, again, for free, here.

Contrary to a common conviction, original sin is one of the fundamental Patristic issues, because it is the starting point of Patristic anthropology and sets the stage for the need for salvation.  The Church Fathers before Augustine did not used the term “original sin”, but described its reality, having the greatest possible feeling for the mystical unity of mankind with its first ancestor. As regards the issue of the unity of human nature in Adam, the East and the West speak with one voice, which is first to be found in Irenaeus’ works.

Written by Jim

19 Oct 2018 at 10:19 am

Posted in Books, Church History

Quote of the Day

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The differences among Christians are nothing in comparison of the differences among heathens. The truth is, religion is such an illustrious, noble thing, that dissensions about it, like spots in the moon, are much more noted by the world, than about any lower, common matters. Men may raise controversies in philosophy, physic, astronomy, chronology, and yet it makes no such noise, nor causes much offense or hatred in the world: but the devil and corrupted nature have such an enmity against religion that they are glad to pick any quarrel against it, and blame it for the imperfections of all that learn it and should practice it.  — RICHARD BAXTER

Written by Jim

19 Oct 2018 at 9:58 am

Posted in Theology

In Which Zwingli Is Asked About Rumors of Promiscuity

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On 19 October, 1522 the Cantonal Clerk of Schwyz wrote Zwingli the following letter in which he relates to Zwingli various charges of promiscuity which are swirling around concerning him (along with other matters).  The letter is quite respectful and it is very clear that the Clerk doesn’t believe the charges, but wishes to have Zwingli’s response in order to silence his enemies.

Min früntlichen gruoß, heyll unnd alles guot wünsch ich üch in Cristo Jhesu, unnßerm herren.

Nachdem unnd ich ein besundern gunst zuo mier tragende von üch gespürt hab alls “Ein getrüwe warnung, unßer vatterlandt z ͦbeschirmen” von üch insunders enpfieng, darab ich nit wenig erfröwt, üch des billich hochen danck sag; dann es, ob gott will, so vyll unnd mier müglich, sin krafft unnd die meinig, dorum es erdicht, in mier würcklich handlen soll. Unnd so dann ich yetzo kurtz vergangner zytt durch ettliche priester, min Der Schreiber gibt u (im Anlaut v) und seinen Umlaut, ebenso uo und seinen Umlaut durch dasselbe Zeichen wieder, gewöhnlich durch ü resp. ü. In unserm Abdruck  sind beide auf Grund der Etymologie auseinander gehalten.

Zweifelhafte Fälle: dürch, brüder, hinderrücks, pfründen, anthwürt.  guot günner, gereitzt, minem allten fürnemen abzuostan, unnd mich ettlicher maß uff die evangelische ler unnd meining alls den rechten weg der selikeytt gebogen, deßhalb mir ettliche kleine büchly unnd ermanungen, mich darin zuo erlernen unnd erlustigen, in min huß getragen, unnd namlich eins durch üch gebredigott unnd den erwirdigen geistlichen frowen zuo Zürich  in Ödembach zuogeschribenn, vom großen münster am vj. tag Septembris in dißem jar, wysende “Don der klarheit unnd krafft deß wortz gottes” etc.; unnd so me ich mich darin ersuoch unnd befindt der frucht, ye me min sell enzünt wirt nach denen geistlichen lustbarkeitten hungerig zuo sin unnd durst zuo haben nach den himelschen ergetzlikeyttenn: vermag ich durch mich selbs nitt, sunder bin in hoffnung, der allmechtig habmich darzuo gezogen; dann ich dißn dingen hievor unverstanden widerfacht gentzlich davon nüt hörren wollt.

Harum, lieber bruoder in Cristo, lassendt üch min frävelheit, an üch zuo schriben, nit wunder nemen; dwyl unns doch angeborn, zuoflucht zuo haben an die end, dahar er sich allermerst trostz versicht. Ist kein wunder, das ich harinn zuo üch besunder zuokerren; dann alls ich üch vor ettwas jaren necher dann yetz gesessen, schampt ich mich nit, üch anzuorüffen um hillff, mier unnd minen kinden zitlichen hunger abzuowenden, darin ich von üch gantz unverlaßen, sunder millte hanntreichung täglich enpfieng, um weliches guot üch gott widergellt thüy etc. So das um den zyttlichen hunger beschechen, den mier gott durch sin gnad abgestellt – dem lob sy in ewikeyt – wie vyl mer soll ich mich trostz zuo üch versechen um den hunger miner seel, dwyll unnd ich weißt [!] üwer gröste neigung unnd begirlich fröid sin, die Cristen zuo furen uff den weg warer cristenlicher liebe.

Dwyll unnd wier dann alle glider sind in Cristo Jesu, unnßerm houpt, verhoff ich, min hunger sölle üch wie mier angelegen sin; deßhalb ich üch vermanen unnd bitten in Cristo Jhesu, unnßerm lieben herren, dwyll unnd mich gott durch sin sunder gnad mit kranckheit angeregt, ouch ich mins amptz halber so vyll beladen, das ich an die ortt und end, da man semlich ding veyll hatt, nitt kommen kan, das yer mier semliche liebliche bücher, die yer erkennennt mier aller bequemost sin zuo der liebe gotz unnd cristenlichen leben; dann ich darzuo ein semliche neigung gewunnen, das mier nüt me angenemers ist, dann in sölichen cristenlichen dingen mich zuo erlernen unnd leßen, zuo frucht mier unnd minem hußfölckly unnd allen denen, so darzuo neigung haben.

Hierin wellindt mich in brüderlicher trüw bevolhen haben, mier semliche bücher ußzuozüchen unnd mier zuo schicken mit schrifftlichem bericht, was sy kosten; will ich dorum by cristenlicher trüw früntlich bezalung thuon etc. Dwyll unnd ich dann ein besundere früntliche neigung zuo üch hab, deßhalb ich ungern hör ützit ungerattes von üch sagen, mag ich nit verhallten die schmach, so üch hinderrucks um der warheit willen zuogelegt: zum ersten, so fließen üwer bredigen nit uß guotem grundt, sunder uß nid unnd haß, syendt leckersbuoben; zum andern so schelltendt unnd schmützent yer nun die geistlichen oberkeytt, worum nit ouch den keyßer unnd die welltlichen fürsten? dorum daß sy üch beschirment; zum dritten, dwyll unnd yer das evangelium so lutter wellint machen, gepürte es, das yer im ouch nachleptindt (möcht davon ein yeder bewegt werden, üch nachzuovollgen!); so aber yer überflüssiger in buobery dann ander lebendt, sy ein zeichen üwer unwarheit.

Das regt nun üwer person allein nit an, aber dis: ier habendt zwo oder dry pfruonden erbredigot, das yer deßter mer huoren gehaben mögent unnd deßter baß üwer pracht mit tantzen, pfiffen, singen, seittenspil gehaben mügt, etc. Unnd so man semlich reden zuo vyll malen brucht unnd durch vyll personen gesagt, so der warheit widerfechten, um daß sis nit mögen erliden, begerte ich, yer welltendt mich zimlicher anthwurt hieruff zuo geben berichten, wo ich semlichs oder derglichen mer hörren wurde, semlichs von mier in keiner andern meinig dann in cristenlicher  trüw zuo vermercken, damit yer unnd ich die warheit deßter baß beschirmen  mögen.

Hiemit bevilch ich mich üch in cristenlicher brüderlicher trüw nach minem vertruwen. Hiemit wellindt mier ouch sagen min dienst unnd gruotz  bruoder Cuonratten zuo Küßnacht. Beger hierin früntlich anthwurt, so  erst das sin mag.

Datum Schwytz am 19. Octobris a 15xxij. üwer underteniger Balltassar Stapfer,  lanndtschriber zuo Schwytz.

Dem erwürdigen wollgelerten geistlichen herren Huldrichen Zwingly,  lüpriester zuo Zürch bim grossen münster,  minem gnädigen lieben herren unnd cristenlichen bruoder.

Zwingli’s full response is lost.  What a tragedy.

Written by Jim

19 Oct 2018 at 7:26 am

Posted in Church History, Zwingli

Signs of the Times

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Written by Jim

19 Oct 2018 at 7:21 am

Posted in Modern Culture

The Hypocrisy is Certainly Mockery-Worthy

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Media outlets worldwide congratulated Meghan Markle after it was announced earlier this week that she has a meaningless blob of tissue developing in her womb.

Despite happening many times per day, the world showed it hasn’t lost its appreciation for the miracle of new, utterly insignificant groupings of cells being formed inside women’s reproductive systems.

“Meghan Markle Glowing After Announcing Potential Human Life Growing Within Her,” read the New York Times headline, while across the pond, the BBC ran “Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Expecting Royal Clump Of Cells” and The Daily Mail pondered “Is That a Fetus Bump We See Already?!”

“I’m so excited to meet the Royal Parasite!” said one Londoner. “I ran down to Tesco straight away to get as many magazines as I could. I just love devouring information about a totally not human, completely purposeless little growth inside another woman, one that she could terminate at any time if she chooses to, as is her right.”

The Washington Post devoted some time to discussing the potential future office of the pregnancy, depending on what gender the amorphous parasite would eventually choose for itself.

The way people who don’t believe the unborn are human beings, worthy of protection, fawn and carry on whenever a royal gets pregnant is mockery worthy, to say the least.

Written by Jim

19 Oct 2018 at 6:04 am

Posted in mockery, Modern Culture

Textus, Issue One

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The first issue of Textus with Brill is now available, and to celebrate this occasion with you, the issue is now freely accessible.  http://ow.ly/LRZX30mhwSI

With articles by Emanuel Tov, Hila Dayfani, Leeor Gottlieb, Drew Longacre, Jordan S. Penkower, Gary A. Rendsburg, David Marcus, John Screnock and Jan Joosten, Justus Theodore Ghormley, Jean-Sébastien Rey, Matthieu Richelle, Jonathan Vroom.

The importance of the discipline of textual criticism received an enormous boost from the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, showing that the study of these ancient documents is absolutely necessary for the exegesis of Biblical literature. Textus covers that area as well as many additional ones, pertaining to all the fields that are traditionally studied by textual critics.

Via Brill.

Written by Jim

19 Oct 2018 at 5:53 am