I leave you with the Bird, speaking about authors that have influenced him...
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Monday, December 07, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Thankfully, Dissenting Mr Rees was one of the spiritual forerunners of the Presbyterian Church of Wales, and the vicar was proved wrong!
'Where are you from?' asked the clergyman.
'I am from Llanbryn-mair, sir,' answered Lewis Rees, mildly.
'What brought you to Llanbryn-mair?
'The Dissenting congregation was without a minister. At their request I came to them, firstly on probation, and both sides being satisfied, I was appointed pastor over them.'
'How,' said his reverence, 'can you, being a Presbyterian, expect to be tolerated in this country? Go to Scotland. That is the Presbyterians' country.'
'I hope, sir,' said Mr Rees, 'that you act from a higher principle in religion than a regard to the custom of the country in which you happen to live; else, if you were to change your country you would change your religion: if you were to go to Scotland you would turn Presbyterian; if to Italy, a Roman Catholic.'
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
If I say to a friend 'I've kept some beer in the fridge for you', that doesn't mean that he has to get into the fridge in order to drink the beer, 164.
Why will we be given new bodies? According to the early Christians, the purpose of this new body will be to rule wisely over God's new world. Forget those images about lounging around playing harps. There will be work to do and we shall relish doing it, 173.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Highlights for me were:
- Prof Bruce McCormack's paper, Credo sanctam ecclesiam: the Holiness of the Church after Barth. The paper was in part a defense of Protestant ecclesiology against fashionable communion ecclesiologies, but for me it was the presentation of the holiness of the church in mission, a reflection of God's own holiness, that spoke to me. I found the paper moving and edifying. That's not always the case at EDC!
- Prof Henri Blocher's paper on Sacraments. This paper surveyed movements in both Protestant and Roman Catholic views of the sacraments and Prof Blocher's argument was rooted in Calvin's view of the sacraments. Calvin is usually seen as closer to Luther than to Zwingli - Prof Blocher has his doubts! One useful part of the paper was on the paradox of the sign as a sign: it is self-effacing; it fulfils its role when it is not noticed.
- Prof Michael Horton's paper on Apostolicity. Prof Horton is a good speaker and his paper was challenging: the problem of losing the reached while reaching the lost; the need to feed the sheep, not set them aside as self-feeders; the church for believers and unbelievers (Calvin: 'we are partly unbelievers until we die'); worship as the missionary event.
- Prof John Franke's paper on Catholicity. Prof Franke worries some people! He worries me! But, I like his challenging approach and I really appreciated this paper. He viewed his journey to Scotland as the Presbyterian equivalent of a trip to Mecca! Good man! His presentation of the reality of the explosion of Christian communities that do not identify with orthodox Protestantism in any way was particularly striking. The tension between Unity and Pluriformity, or diversity were key themes. I continue to have concerns about how Prof Franke's view of things deals with unorthodoxy; lines should be drawn, but (where) would he draw them?
As usual, the Plenary Session with all speakers interacting between themselves and with the floor was also one of the highlights.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
224. Ibid., 80-81.
225. Ibid., 89.
226. Ibid., 90-91.
227. Ibid., 86, 92-95; cf. 3-7, 23-40.
228. Ibid., 20-43, 81-82, 86-87.
229. Ibid., 40 and 88.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
- 1 Corinthians (Greek Text) 13 solid weeks of Greek exegesis in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians with Dr Mike Bird. Time spent in the company of Paul and Dr Bird is usually profitable! The key texts for this are Thiselton's NIGTC commentary and Dr Bird has recommended Hays' commentary in the Interpretation series - probably worth a look then!
- Biblical Theology I The module I've been waiting for for three years! To be followed by Biblical Theology II next semester! A whole year of Biblical Theology!! The module tutor is Dr Jamie Grant and key texts are the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, and the works by Childs (eg Biblical Theology - a Proposal), Vos and Scobie (eg The Ways of Our God) amongst others. Of course, various OT and NT theologies will also come into it. Also ready on my shelf is Volume 5 of the Scripture and Hermeneutics series (edited by Bartholomew et al), entitled Biblical Theology and Biblical Interpretation.
- Guided Reading in Hermeneutics Level 4 means fewer lectures and more self-study. As part of this, I am able to consult with tutors and concoct a bespoke module! Nice! So, I'll be studying and writing papers on historical approaches to hermeneutics, hermeneutics and literary theory, and hermeneutics and scriptural authority under the guiding hand of Dr Grant.
- Dissertation 25% of my time over the whole year is to be set aside for the dissertation. Mine is concerned with Intertextuality, Function and Meaning in John 1:51.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Homeless in this world, not yet at home in the next, we human beings are wanderers between two worlds. But precisely as wanderers, we are also children of God in Christ. The mystery of our life is God's mystery. Moved by Him, we must sigh, be ashamed of ourselves, be shocked and die. Moved by Him, we may be joyful and courageous, hope and live. He is the origin. Therefore, we persist in the movement and cry out: 'Hallowed be Thy name! Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!"
Konfirmandenunterricht, 1909-1921, 372-3
Monday, August 24, 2009
The syntax of 15:8-9 has not been finally resolved; Cranfield lists no less than six suggested explanations. Keck clearly sets out the crux of the debate: either there are two parallel purposes to Christ's servant-hood (confirming the promises and Gentiles glorifying God), or there is a single purpose (confirming the promises is the means to the Gentiles glorifying God). Moo believes the first alternative best reflects Paul's theological argument here. However, Lambrecht sets out the key objection to this parallelism: the resulting change in subject between clauses is syntactically awkward. Moo attempts to explain the awkward construction by appealing to Käsemann's noting of the theological tension between the equality of Jew and Gentile, and the salvation-historical priority of the Jew. The NIV adopts the second alternative, and translates the conjunction as 'so that', therefore subordinating Christ's servant-hood to the circumcision to the purpose of leading the Gentiles to glorify God. Cranfield himself reads the conjunction as an adversative: 'but the Gentiles glorify God for [his] mercy'. This gives the sense that the Jews should glorify God, but actually only the Gentiles are doing so. Cranfield's solution avoids the awkward syntax of the first alternative, but does not do justice to indications of parallelism in the text. Dunn concurs with Cranfield's reading, but is more ambiguous as to the meaning: 'Paul's whole point is that Christ became servant of the circumcised not with a view to their salvation alone, but to confirm both phases of God's saving purpose: to the Jew first but also to the Gentile'. Wagner produces what we believe is the most satisfying solution, which is achieved by proposing Christ, not the Gentiles, as the subject of the second clause. Wagner's solution can be represented thus:
For I say that Christ has become
a servant to the circumcision
on behalf of the truth of God
in order to confirm the promises to the fathers
And [a servant] to the Gentiles
on behalf of the mercy [of God]
[in order] to glorify God
In filling the ellipses directly from the parallelism, a solution is obtained which is both syntactically and theologically balanced, where the progression of salvation history from Jew (here denoted by the circumcision) to Gentile is reflected in the differentiated roles of God's truth and mercy, and where equality is powerfully underlined in the servant-hood of Christ to both.
References to authors are usually to their major commentaries on Romans. Wagner's paper is 'The Christ, Servant of Jew and Gentile: A Fresh Approach to Romans 15:8-9', JBL 116.3 (1997).
Sunday, August 23, 2009
The important point is that Gentile Christians are considered as wild (uncultivated) olive braches that have been grafted (contrary to nature) into an already existing cultivated olive tree with a rich (pioths) root. Unbelieving Jews are considered to be broken off. The olive tree therefore represents the covenant people of God which has continued into the New Covenant Age from the Old, onto which Christians are grafted and become members. This idea of a renewed covenant with Israel, of which Gentile Christians then become beneficiaries through their in-grafting is reflected in the New Covenant passage in Jeremiah 31, and in the Pentecost narrative. This strong theme of continuity in Paul's thought must be recognised when interpreting Paul.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
In Chapter 7, Paul writes specifically to Jews (7:1). If you don't pick that up, then interpreting this next section is (more) problematic. Paul's great concern is to explain that the Law has served it's purpose (the argument here ties in very well with that in Galatians 3:15-29, esp 24-25). Obviously, as becomes clearer later in the letter (and is evidenced in other parts of the NT), Jewish Christians' attitude to the Law was a major stumbling block to church unity. So, Paul tackles this in the Roman church. If he can address it there, then he has addressed in in the congregations at the centre of the known world. The Law is holy and good (but Paul would still maintain that Christ has superseded the Law). It provided a framework for covenantal obedience, and highlighted sin, revealing to the attentive Jew the need for forgiveness and the importance of faith.
In this context, the problematic section in 7:14-25 then is not about the Christian life, but about the experience of a Jew. Paul could possibly be speaking autobiographically, but I prefer the view that he assumes the persona of a faithful Jew. He is obviously not describing a legalistic, or careless, Jew since the 'I' is joyfully concurring with the law of God in the inner man. That he is describing a Christian is unlikely, simply because he describes the general experience of not doing the good that he wishes, and doing the evil that he does not wish. I don't believe that's a description of the Christian life. It is likely that this is a description of life under the Law. Paul then makes the transitional argument at the beginning of Chapter 8 that there is 'therefore now' no condemnation. That's an eschatological 'now': now, in the New Age, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you/me free from the law of sin and death (the situation he described in 7:14-25). If this is true then Chapter 7 helps us to answer the theological question about the different experience of God's people under the Old and New Covenants, leading into the practical effect of the adoption as sons (8:15, cf8:23), which is an eschatological benefit of the New Covenant.
Interestingly, I think Lloyd-Jones recognised the problem of interpreting this as a description of a Christian and took the view that Paul here was describing the experience of someone becoming a Christian. I wouldn’t agree, but this view has more merit than others.
Friday, August 21, 2009
- Soteriological: to reinforce his point that only obedience to God which is the result of faith (inward circumcision in the language of Deuteronomy) is true obedience, because justification is by faith. Paul wants to emphasise that the promises given to Abraham, the foundation for the great hope of all believers are given to those who have faith and are realised in the New Covenant, not in the Sinaitic Covenant.
- Ecclesiological: to emphasise to the Jewish believers in Rome that the Law was subservient to the true means of justification before God, which is faith. Therefore, Paul can disconnect both circumcision (4:10) and obedience to the Law from justification (4:13, see Galatians 3:17-18). Abraham did not have the Law (contrary to some Rabbinic teaching, which illustrates the problem Paul had!) and so justification cannot rely on the Law. Abraham was justified (his faith reckoned as righteousness) while uncircumcised, so justification cannot rely upon circumcision.
On 3:27, Dunn writes:
Once the centrality of 'faith' in the preceding section is grasped, the movement of thought in v27 becomes clear, for in the resumed diatribe of vv27-31 it is precisely this point which is hammered home: faith as the proper understanding of the law, faith as the indispensible basis of 'doing the law'.
Justification has always been by faith. In the New Age, both Jews' and Gentiles' faith must be in Jesus (Paul's Christology is clear here). In fact, those Jews justified under the Law (their 'doing' of the Law a result of their circumcision of heart, or faith) were also redeemed by Jesus Christ because God had merely passed over their former sins in his forbearance. But now, atonement has been made, and redemption accomplished in Christ.
Romans 3 adequately demonstrates the obstacles in interpreting Paul and the Law. The interpreter is ranging across eschatological and covenantal boundaries. At once dealing with Jewish legalism and obedience under the Old Covenant, and debates on the Law, then with the New Covenant in Jesus Christ, and justification through faith in him.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Paul stresses that circumcision is of value to the one who practices the Law, but to the one who is a transgressor, it becomes uncircumcision (2:25). In the same way, the pagan who is obedient is justified, rather than the Jew who is a transgressor. 'Transgressor' here must be interpreted in as the antithesis of the 'doer' of the Law – it is the person who has no heart concern for obedience. Paul makes clear that this obedience is the sign of an inward change (2:29). Circumcision is of value, if it is followed by circumcision of the heart. The Law itself stresses this – circumcision of the heart, the Law in the heart, is the means to life (see Deut 10:16; 30:6, Cf. 6:4-6; 11:18).
As to who the Gentiles are who instinctively do the things of the Law (2:14,15), or the uncircumcised who keeps the Law (2:27), Paul could be referring to God-fearers (or theoretically to proselytes in the former case), but I think it likely that he here refers to Gentile Christians.
See also my former post on Romans 2.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Paul's critique in Romans 1 bears similarities to Jewish renunciations in Wisdom 11-15. Dodd characterises God's wrath (1:18) as the inevitable process of moral forces. Dr Bird's notes rightly reject this. But, I wonder whether perhaps we should add a 'merely'. It is a theme apparent in OT Wisdom that God's order is stamped in the fabric of the world. Therefore God's wrath is not merely eschatological, or a proactive discrete intervention, but also it is outworked in the fabric of the world, in the structure of his order, and in the effects of the disorder of chaos which works against God's order through the forces of darkness. The giving up (or handing over) of 1:24ff suggests God's grace in holding back the consequences of his wrath revealed in the natural order, but when this grace is removed sinful societies as well as people begin to debase and destroy themselves (they receive the due penalty, 1:27). This is an aspect of God's wrath.
If we want to square this with a conception of 'active wrath', it's not difficult. Paul in Colossians writes of the role of Christ in God's maintaining of the order of matter - at that level natural processes are founded on the order generated by God himself.
As with all of these, there is much more I could write, but I'll leave it there...
Thursday, May 28, 2009
- John Haldane, Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews;
- John Barclay, Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at Durham University; and
- Helen Bond, Senior Lecturer in the New Testament at the University of Edinburgh.
The treatment of Paul was generally very good. It was good to hear Haldane's comments on the influence of philosophical thought on biblical criticism, on the progression from rationalist scepticism to the acceptance that belief in the miraculous is not absurd, and the concomitant shift back towards a straightforward reading of the NT documents; and Barclay's continual emphasis on Paul's eschatological belief that the cosmos was turning on its hinge with the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. There are also good comments on the reconciling death of Jesus.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Easter is the extreme case of God's sovereign action. The resurrection of Jesus must not be trivialized around a biological question of resuscitation of a dead body, nor around questions of curiosity about immortality or life after death. That Jesus is risen is not a statement about heaven, but about the transformation of earth. Proclamation of the Resurrection in the OT, Journal for Preachers, 9 no 3 Easter 1986
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
You will notice I have not spoken of the ministry of the Gospel but of the Word of God, and this I do advisedly. It is not that I want to avoid the word 'Gospel', but because I want you to be very sure what I am talking about. I am not talking about a set of fundamental doctrines of the Word of God, systematic or otherwise, nor any formulation of doctrine (sub-Apostolic, Patristic, Reformed or Modern) culled from the Word of God, but the whole Bible itself. In evangelical circles the danger that the Gospel may be equated with the mere rudiments of the Word of God has become almost a disaster, for these rudiments are only the beginning of the Good News. There are profounder things by far in the Bible than what is called 'the simple gospel', although they issue from it. Indeed, in a sense, those who proclaim almost exclusively forgiveness of sins and justification, only make known the preliminaries to the best Good News, which is not that our sins are put away and that we are justified in God's sight, wonderful though that is, but that God wants us for Himself and to that end brings us to the birth in Christ. After all, the death of Jesus, for all its wonder, is a means to an end, which is not merely that we might be right and clean but that we may be His, which involves personal relationship in love. The Work of the Pastor, 62-63.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Harvie Conn citing Herman Bavink, 'The Future of Calvinism,' The Presbyterian and Reformed Review 5 (1894): 23:
'All the misery of the Presbyterian Churches is owing to their striving to consider the Reformation as completed, and to allow no further development of what has been begun by the labor of the Reformers…. Calvinism wishes no cessation of progress and promotes multi-formity. It feels the impulse to penetrate ever more deeply into the mysteries of salvation and in feeling this honors every gift and different calling of the Churches. It does not demand for itself the same development in America and England [and the author of this volume adds, Africa, Asia and Latin America] which it has found in Holland. This only must be insisted upon, that in each country and in every Reformed Church it should develop itself in accordance with its own nature, and should not permit itself to be supplanted or corrupted by foreign rule' ,221-222.
Monday, April 20, 2009
The soul cannot survive without God. That is true of every human soul, not just the deeply pious. Many or most may not understand the thirst that disturbs and drives their living, but it is there because God created the human soul to correspond to God. Where that correspondence is weakened, disturbed, or interrupted, the experience of its lack becomes like the thirst and hunger that is the opposite of being satisfied. The advantage of the psalmist is that he knows what is missing.Psalms, Interpretation
Friday, April 17, 2009
A mature Christian is one who is able to look at the whole of reality through Christian eyes. He is in the process of achieving an integrated overview of reality in those areas that belong to his experience as well as in those areas that he knows only theoretically. He is learning to understand all things in terms of what they are in this corrupted realm and of what God intends them to be by virtue of his redeeming work. Thus, he is an integrated person who is learning daily through the gospel how to relate, not only to himself, but to all things according to the creative purpose of God. Trilogy, 356
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
What God did for Jesus that explosive morning is what He intends to do for the whole creation. We who live in the interval between Jesus's Resurrection and the final rescue and transformation of the whole world are called to be new-creation people here and now. That is the hidden meaning of the greatest festival Christians have.This true meaning has remained hidden because the Church has trivialised it and the world has rubbished it. The Church has turned Jesus's Resurrection into a “happy ending” after the dark and messy story of Good Friday, often scaling it down so that “resurrection” becomes a fancy way of saying “He went to Heaven”. Easter then means: “There really is life after death”. The world shrugs its shoulders.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Following a search and selection process, the Board of Governors of Highland Theological College UHI has unanimously approved the appointment of Acting Principal Hector Morrison as Principal of the College, with immediate effect.In an announcement to staff today, Chairman of the Board of Governors, the Reverend Alexander Murray, said, “Always passionate about theological education, Hector is committed to wanting the best for his students. He has a very clear vision for the future of HTC as an independent constituent college in its role within the UHI network. In the best sense of the term, Hector is a ‘godly’ person and minister and, as a capable academic, theologian and leader, has a wealth of experience to bring to the role of Principal. We look forward to working with Hector as he leads HTC forward to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”
Hector gained the degrees of BSc, BD and MTh from Glasgow University. He is a Church of Scotland minister, having worked in parishes in Glasgow, the Western Isles and Lochalsh. Along with the Reverend Professor Andrew McGowan, he founded Highland Theological College and has been its Vice Principal since its inception in 1994. With research interests particularly in the discipline of Biblical Studies, most of his teaching concentrates on Old Testament and Hebrew. As well as his teaching commitments, Hector has been a key figure within the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences faculty of UHI. He is Subject Network Leader in Theology & Religious Studies for UHI and also has responsibilities for Academic Management, Quality Assurance and Enhancement and Subject Reviews, amongst other things.
Hector has been Acting Principal at HTC since the former Principal, Andrew McGowan, left in January to become minister of the East Church in Inverness.
Friday, April 10, 2009
The passion narrative at its heart is about the cross, and it still holds true that how we react to the cross of Christ tells us a great deal about ourselves...The cross is the great truth serum and litmus test. Our reaction to it shows what we really believe about God and about life. Some are all too ready to wear the cross, but not to bear the cross. We often prefer a health-and-wealth gospel to one of suffering and service. We join churches because they meet our needs, not because they give us the most opportunity to serve and sacrifice for the gospel. Yet still, the cross beckons us to come and stand in its shadow. Whether we do so or not is the ultimate test of our discipleship. Mark, 409
Friday, April 03, 2009
Wisdom is the critical, reflective, discerning reception of Yahweh’s gift of generosity. That gift is not for self-indulgence, exploitation, acquisitiveness, or satiation. It is for careful husbanding, so that resources should be used for the protection, enhancement, and nurture of all creatures. Wisdom is the careful, constant, reflective attention to the shapes and interconnections that keep the world generative. Where those shapes and interconnections are honored, there the whole world prospers, and all creatures come to joy and abundance. Where those shapes and interconnections are violated or disregarded, trouble, conflict, and destructiveness are sure. There is wisdom in the very fabric of creation. Human wisdom consists in resonance with the “wisdom of things,” which is already situated in creation before human agents act on it.
Brueggemann, Walter: Theology of the Old Testament : Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy. Minneapolis : Fortress Press, 1997, S. 532
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Paul thus points to the intellectual content of the gospel as it reveals the ultimate plan of God. It shows us that this plan is much bigger than we may be used to thinking of it...here Paul put's forward what we might refer to as the cosmic dimension in salvation. That is to say, God's plan, which he revealed in Christ, is to bring the whole universe or cosmos to its proper goal in Christ...Paul's purpose is not to define wisdom but to describe God's ultimate purpose. Yet wisdom is closely related to the knowledge of this purpose. Goldsworthy Trilogy, 354
is not first and foremost a knowledge of how to perform good works, but of what God has really accomplished for us in Christ. 355
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wisdom in the OT is about how to negotiate life successfully in God's good but fallen world. Reading Proverbs with Integrity
- Wisdom and creation - wisdom is closely linked to creation theology. This is brought out in Bartholomew's definition above; wisdom affirms the doctrine of common grace, the goodness of God's revealed primordial intention for human life and society, and the continuing value of these despite the fall, especially with reference to the covenant people. If wisdom relates to the task of life, then this is not merely an activity for the fallen creation.
- Wisdom and scripture - wisdom is to a degree empirical, dealing in observation. Wisdom statements are not to be interpreted as rules or laws, but rather generic norms. For example, reflection on the very first proverb 'A wise son makes his father glad, but a foolish son is a grief to his mother' makes the point - it is not universally true. Therefore the human component of scripture is very much to the fore and presents challenges to any hermeneutic that is not attuned to this.
- Interpreting Proverbs - One of our major assessments dealt with this question. Some interpreters recommend that proverbs are paradigmatic; any situation can be informed by them as long as you pick the correct proverb or combination of proverbs. However, my view (after the course!) is that proverbs have a more significant role as pedagogical rather than epistemological statements. They require interaction as well as interpretation - the empiricism requires reconciliation with the foundational epistemology of Israel, found in the revelation of Yahweh. It is not enough to view the proverbs merely as a toolbox for God's people, pulling out pithy statements to effect guidance in a certain situation; proverbs are more than this - they require interaction, reflection, and become a training ground for the godly...
The didactic function of collected proverbs was not to produce proverbial parrots, but students of wisdom who understood the purposes of Yahweh. In learning wisdom – how to apply the revelation of God in Christ to our topsy-turvy world – proverbs remind us that we do so not by mere rote application, but through having the 'mind of Christ'. Proverbs still function as a training ground for the Church, since Christ is the telos of Yahweh's revelation.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
- Amos (Hebrew), taught by Hector Morrison, covers the whole of the Hebrew text of the prophet Amos looking at text critical issues, exegesis and theology.
- Luke-Acts, taught by Dr Mike Bird, sees us each week spend some time in key themes in the Lukan corpus, exegesis of key passages linked to that theme and a linked mini-seminar.
- Old Testment Themes, taught by Hector Morrison, is really an introduction to Old Testament Theology I suppose, and forms an immediate background to the Biblical Theology modules of the honours year.
- Greek Texts III, taught by Dr Mike Bird, continues our exegetical and text critical work in the UBS4, working this time through the final chapters of Mounce's Graded Reader, including a stab at the LXX and the Didache.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Some brief highlights:
- The material from the Book of the Covenant is fascinating, not least the question of the relationship of the Book to the Decalogue. Also, comparisons to the parallels to other ANE Law Codes, such as those of Hammurabi, emphasise the contextualisation of God's revelation to his people Israel, but also the counter-culture that the Laws of Yahweh represented. Especially striking is the sanctity of life and the egalite of the Mosaic Law, as well as the important of family respect, in contrast to other ANE codes. I found Peter Enns' commentary on Exodus (NIVAC), whilst not technical, helpful and readable. As a technical commentary I used Childs' volume (OTL).
- Interpretation of the book of Ecclesiastes is difficult. I used Longman's recent NICOT volume, in which he propounds the view that the teaching of Qohelet is somewhat heterodox, and is presented by another orthodox author who composes a frame around the work. Longman's commentary is certainly valuable, but I wonder whether his view does justice to the complexities of life as a believer, the absurdity that we do find in existence in a fallen world, as well as the pedagogical role of contradiction in wisdom texts. In any case, reading Qohelet gave me my first experience of enjoying the metrical rhythms of wisdom texts.
- Hosea contains the most difficult textual problems in the whole of the Old Testament. Some of these huge problems are found in Chapter 4 and this is where the passage for the assessed exegesis paper was found. In this chapter, the sins of the people are laid bare, sins which are pictured in Gomer's own promiscuity. Reading around the ANE background to this passage in the fertility cults of Baalism is not particularly edifying, but does shed light on Yahweh's indictment of his people through the ministry of Hosea. Some scholars propose a narrowly spiritual reading of the promiscuity of God's people, but I think it more likely that the promiscuity of Gomer is not officially cultic, but associated with the activities of the hoi polloi at cultic sites - promiscuity had become a practice of the worshippers. Therefore Yahweh's judgements are against the literal, as well as the spiritual (the two being connected) fornications of the people. Also, I must mention Hosea 2:18, which foretells the Edenic peace which is the telos of the New Covenant (and which is also within its scope) - a definite highlight.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
- In exegeting the Christ hymn of chapter 2, Muller's old NICNT volume (produced under the editorship of Ned Stonehouse) was very helpful. Of course, the meaning of harpagmon in 2:6 is debated; I opted for the translation prized possession, following Muller: 'in combination with hegeisthai it is used to denote a much-valued possession or gain, and the pregnant meaning of robbery has been ousted'.
- In 2:6, Paul writes that Christ Jesus existed in the morphe of God. Lightfoot writes that morphe is the 'outward display of the inner reality or substance' as opposed to the schema, which is merely outward appearance, something changeable. In Plato (although the use is rare) it is 'the impress of the idea on the individual'. Therefore here morphe is expressing the essential unity of the pre-existent Christ with deity. There is a problem with most translations of the remainder of this verse. NASB renders it 'did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but...'. The problem is that this can be made to imply that Christ gave up his equality with God, since he did not regard it as a thing to be grasped (or a prized possession). Muller's exegesis of the phrase to einai isa thew is therefore interesting. He translates it as to exist in a manner like unto God rather than to be equal to God, arguing that isa is an adverbial form carrying the sense of in such a way or manner, rather than the substantive isov, which Paul would have used if he wanted to denote equality. This avoids the problem since Paul's thought is therefore that Christ did not consider existing in the same manner as God, i.e. his pre-incarnate spiritual existence, as a prized possession, but emptied himself. To my mind, this is theologically more satisfactory, although I'm sure arguments could be brought against this interpretation of isa.
- The Christ hymn is a sublime passage of scripture which Paul deploys in order to encourage the Phillipian believers to humility and service - something that ought not to be overlooked as we seek to glean Christology from it.
- In James, we noted the connections with wisdom literature, and with the Sermon on Mount, which also has connections with wisdom literature.
- The similarity between James 1 and 1 Peter 1 on faith and testing is striking.
- Christ's quotation from Isaiah whilst explaining the parable of the sower in Matthew's gospel can be compared to the Isaianic source in both the MT and LXX. The differences are very interesting indeed: are the parable spoken because the people don't understand, or so that they will not understand?
- Ephesians 1 is another sublime passage and can be characterised as a berakah psalm....
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
- The Divine Authenticity of Scripture, McGowan
- The Mabinogion, trans. Guest
- Jesus and the Victory of God, Wright