“Scribal Harmonization”: A New Study — Larry Hurtado’s Blog

I commend a newly-published study of what is called “harmonization” of texts of the Gospels: Cambry G. Pardee, Scribal Harmonization in the Synoptic Gospels, NTTSD, 60 (Leiden: Brill, 2019). I have just completed a larger review for Review of Biblical Literature which won’t appear till November this year, but the book deserves to be noticed […]

via “Scribal Harmonization”: A New Study — Larry Hurtado’s Blog

Before You Die, Read This:

It is widely acknowledged Einstein and Newton were some of the greatest thinkers in history. They didn’t start out as exceptional though. Einstein had a slow development as a child while Newton could only get through 2 or 3 pages a day in scientific reading when starting out. All this to say to not get discouraged by weighty philosophical writing.

Cornelius Van Til is the author of this article and he shows clearly the progression of thought from Plato and Aristotle through Aquinas then Kant as opposed to the revelation of God in scripture. In the end there are only two positions: autonomous man who by definition (self-rule) is his own god, and the truth of scripture. Van Til speaks of the Westminster Confession and Calvin but it should be nuanced to indicate the grammatical-historical reading (plain sense) of scripture. 

 

https://thirdmill.org/magazine/hof/ST12006/Nature%20And%20Scripture%20by%20Van%20Til.pdf

Still Not Living in The Matrix

James Anderson has a PhD in computer simulation from the University of Edinburgh so he knows what he speaks about regarding this concept. To me the concept is purely atheistic since it denies the obvious creation, design, and word of God. However, Dr. Anderson explains using logic what the better solution is:

 

A couple of commentators on a previous post pointed me to an Arc Digital article by Thomas Metcalf which contends that the Simulation Argument (SA) ought to be taken more seriously. (Metcalf’s article wasn’t written in response to mine, although it appeared a week or so afterward: post hoc sed non propter hoc.) I don’t…

via Still Not Living in a Computer Simulation — Analogical Thoughts

Supersessionism?

Craig Keener identifies some of the ideas that has led many to think that membership in a certain group is salvific. A better reading of the Torah sees both authentic believers in Israel’s history alongside “wicked fools” (see 2 Samuel 13.13). For certain, the New Covenant replaces the Old Covenant but nowhere does the bible speak of a replacement of peoples. For sure God worked with National Israel but most (10 tribes) were divorced by the Lord for unfaithfulness. Salvation is from the Lord and not based on affiliation of group membership. Since Jesus inaugurated The New Covenant, all peoples weather Jew or Gentile have equal status and are accepted having their hearts cleansed by faith:

Paul certainly cared about Gentiles; his letters are replete with signs of his intimate concern for the members of the many congregations he started, many of whose members were Gentiles. The Bible also suggests that the Lord will return after the good news has been proclaimed among all peoples (Matt 24:14), probably related to Paul’s…

via Provoking Israel’s jealousy—Romans 11 — Bible BackgroundBible Background

The Theological Interpretation of Scripture (TIS)

Andy Naselli and Brian Collins advocate for reading the bible theologically. Part of this approach is acknowledging the whole of scripture and reading sections as they relate to the whole. Here, however, the author of the featured work (free E-book download) mainly counters allegorical approaches and multiple-sense ideas. This recommended method will deliver the reader from overly atomistic and irrelevant conclusions. Perhaps it will also redirect our focus on God instead of reading the bible as a book of solutions for ourselves and humanity. The bible offers solutions for humans during this life but it is not humanly-centered.

Evaluating Theological Interpretation of Scripture: An Interview with Brian Collins

Gen. 1.1 as the First Event and Not a Summary

Appendix “A” in Vern Poythress’ book “Interpreting Eden,” counters Bruce Waltke’s contention that the first verse of God’s word is a summary of the creation account which follows. The “initiation view” has much more to commend itself since, grammatically, it is the most natural way to take the text. I believe its important to remember who the recipients were of this revelatory communication. All the early readers of this text were shepherds and farmers, not students of dead languages creatively working out possible solutions to align with certain constructs. Therefore, the most straight-forward approach grammatically should yield the correct results.

Here is an interview with Logos featuring Poythress’ book “Interpreting Eden:”

How Should We Interpret Genesis 1–3? An Interview with Vern Poythress from the Logos Academic Blog

The Inherent Frustration of Trusting Modern Science for Ultimate Truth

By “Modern Science” I mean the Post-Enlightenment idea that man is the standard for explaining himself and his environment. It is as if reality is perceived only through the things that resister from his own sensors. If God cannot be seen or touched then He must not be there according to fallen man. We moderns are easily dazzled by discovery of knowledge and the making of gizmos but often fail to realize that the laws of science which enabled that knowledge and gizmo presuppose an absolute Lawgiver. Those gizmos will not work without His laws either. Here is a post about something that Cornelius Van Til wrote which touches upon and expands this point. Van Til was probably the most incisive theologian of the Twentieth Century.

“It was useful to seek to apply the method of reasoning discussed in the previous chapters to the various schools of philosophy about us. However, since we have constantly sought to bring out that all forms of antitheistic thinking can be reduced to one, and since the issue is fundamentally that of the acceptance or […]

via Anti-theism Presupposes Theism — Presuppositionalism 101

II Peter 1.19: Why Study the Prophets?

This material I cut from my previous post as it involved another theme to the point I was making. However, studying the prophets is both explicitly and implicitly urged in order to better understand God’s person and program.

Biblical exhortations are important because they are from God. They are also important since in the whole of scripture exhortations are what called the people back to God. Often, what the text of the prophets do not include is the response of groups and especially individuals turning to God after the proclamation. Undoubtedly, many did respond to the prophet’s preaching or when reading his text. Undoubtedly, Daniel and his three friends were influenced by Jeremiah’s preaching since his ministry occurred prior and during Daniel’s exile of 605 B.C.E. (see Jer. 25.3). Daniel would later refer to Jeremiah’s prophecy of the “70 years” (either taken from Jeremiah’s letter or book) as a certainty and pray accordingly (see Dan. 9.2-3). One God-ordained reason for dissemination of preaching in Hebrew society is the biblical observance of attending the central sanctuary for the three yearly festivals by (at least) all males over the age of twelve.

Whenever The New Testament quotes an O.T. passage, the readers and hearers are alerted to the context in which the new information refers. This new message is rooted and grounded in instruction or revelation given previously to others. Seeking to make sense or understand how God’s word applies to modern hearers involves both knowing the O.T. and the New Covenant and how both contents inform each other.

The promise in 2 Pet. 1.19 is stated mildly but is extremely important: We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts (NIV). Reading the prophets is important because they illumine this dark world. The ‘dawning of day’ is internal to a believer as is the ‘rising of the morning star.’ The “day” seems to be the believer’s hope, their confident eternal assurance in God’s program. The “Morning Star” undoubtedly is Christ and our growing faith in Him becoming the heart’s focus. Similar calls in the N.T. include: “fixing your eyes upon Jesus” (Heb.12.2) and “cling to the Lord” (Acts 11.23). The more we see God’s working in the O.T. Prophets and their history, the more confident we will be in our deliverance from evil now and in the future.

The Unity of Isaiah

Initially, I planned to distill the concept of the unity of the book of Isaiah in Peter Gentry’s “How to Read and Understand the Biblical Prophets.” He, however, presents this material in several places so that the full explication is not laid out very conveniently or discretely in his book. I do not fault him in the least since the object of his work was teaching others to understand a body of literature: the Biblical Prophets. Of course the issue of credibility and reliability of the writings such as the book of Isaiah is part of what Gentry seeks to establish which he finds in the internal evidences of the works themselves.

What I propose to highlight in this post are his statements and rationale for holding Isaiah as a unity and invite the reader to further explore his work. I want to also post a book review where I may add other evidences from Gentry as to why Isaiah is best viewed as, and, demands a unity.

Firstly, Gentry notes that most scholars today do not hold to the unity of Isaiah and gives the reason: Enlightenment thinking which is rationalistic. He laments that this approach offers no big picture of the prophet’s overall message. He identifies the lexical analysis of words and phrases as faulty since the analysts have never asked what were the original intentions of the biblical authors in constructing their work.

Gentry sees the reason for the divided structure of Isaiah by the prophet (or God) was to first established the prophet’s ministry upon the immediate needs of the community (calling them back to the covenant) along with immediate prophecy and fulfillment before future visionary prophecy is written. This is the normal way of building one’s reputation and is more persuasive than a person stating claims without prior attestation from God. Also, Dt. 18.21-22 gives guidelines for whether to trust a prophet: And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him (NIV). Isaiah’s dramatic predictions of Sennacherib’s failure to capture Jerusalem and destruction of his army gives the reader the confidence that the future visions will be fulfilled.

He next identifies a feature of Hebrew Biblical composition as being repetitive and recursive. Recursive writing or speech takes up a topic from a certain perspective, making the point, and concluding. Next, the same topic is presented from a different vantage and in a progressive manner often including one or more items. Gentry notes that this type of speech and writing sounds monotonous to western ears and even boring. This is of course misapprehension of the message and the historic scene. This method of repetition Gentry maintains is multidimensional like the different channels in a stereo system. The inherent message is the same but comes from slightly different perspectives.

Isaiah, Gentry says, has a central theme divided into seven separate sections which deal with the same topic from different angles and thus similar to viewing a kaleidoscope since the same elements are presented in different arrangements. He notes that the structure of each prophetic book holds the interpretive key to its message. In Chart 3.1 he lists his theme and outline for Isaiah:

The Central theme of Isaiah: From Zion in the Old Creation to Zion in the New

  1. The Judgment and Transformation of Zion Part 1 (1.2-2.4)
  2. The Judgment and Transformation of Zion Part 2 (2.5-4.6)
  3. The Judgment of the Vineyard and the Coming King (5.1-12.6)
  4. The City of Man vs. The City of God (13.1-27.13)
  5. Trusting the Nations vs. Trusting in the word of YHWH (28.1-37.38)
  6. Comfort and Redemption for Zion and the World (38.1-55.13)
  7. The Servants of YHWH and the New Creation (56.1-66.24)

 

The Big Picture of God’s Disclosure

The former things I declared of old; they went out from my mouth, and I announced them; then suddenly I did them, and they came to pass. (Is. 48.3) ESV

Since the judgment scene in the Garden of Eden recorded in Gen. 3.15 as the sentence upon the serpent, we humans have known of the promise of the Lord who will come from the seed of a woman. Subsequent revelation tells us that God decreed redemption through Christ and human election before the creation week of Gen. 1 (see Heb. 4.4-the context clearly speaks of redemptive work). Additionally, we read in Rom. 5.14 that Adam was created as a type which anticipates another. Therefore, the creation of Adam and the Fall all look forward to mercy in Christ.

Since God already decreed the outcome and disclosed it to us, can we find the reason as to why God is involved in this sort of activity? An obvious answer could be His love, and I would agree that God’s outworking displays His attributes and brings Him glory. There seems to be more however and in typical fashion Jesus reveals to His friends in the scriptures what He is doing.

From the text we know that God is Spirit while the creation is apart from Him conceptually. However, Jn. 1.14 tells us that “He became flesh”, and therefore God has taken an additional property previously not counted as belonging inherently to Him. Also, the promise toward the Christian of having a “spiritual body” like Jesus’ speaks to the redemption of the physical universe. Notice how Paul gives the big picture explanation to the Romans in 8.19-21:

For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. (NIV)
This speaks of nothing less than the spiritualization of matter in the resurrected body of Jesus and the eventual freeing and glory of creation including us believers. So reading Gen. 1.1-2 in this light  can possibly direct us to the bigger picture of redemption. Though God created everything good initially, at some point the creation became topsy turvy though God’s Spirit ultimately governed the totality of the created order (Gen. 1.2). This resulted in the separation of light (revelation and goodness?) and darkness in Gen. 1.4 and the needed eventual cleansing of the heavens and earth spoken about throughout the bible.  We can conclude by saying: the incarnation of Jesus tells a greater story than we first imagined.

The Backbone of History

Without chronology history becomes a muddled mess. The bible seems to urge us to deeper study since it references so many markers of time in its narratives and prophecies. In several places of the text apparent disagreements occur with other witnesses to the same event. However, I counsel to suspend judgment about any perceived contradiction until further or more analysis is completed. Even then, if the discrepancy persists, waiting on the Lord for an answer has proven fruitful for this author.

Here is a learned article dating Christ’s crucifixion:

https://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1985/JASA3-85Humphreys.html

Biblical Reign Dating Minutia

Here is a helpful post which shows the accuracy of the Biblical Account. I learned these facts while still in bible college but want to repost them here for the benefit of non-technical readers. I am a Bible believer who holds it as God’s word to humanity. This is why I resist most modern attempts from linear Greco-Roman thinking to date the writings other than what the bible witnesses. Look also for a forthcoming post on the unity of the book of Isaiah.

Traditionally, the royal chronologies in Kings and Chronicles appear to be a hopeless jumble to modern readers. The solution required distinctions in terms of different calendars at different times and places, regnal years, and coregencies. This was facilitated by biblical archeology, which provided a cross-check in terms of ancient Near Eastern calendrical methods. So what initially seems to be irresolvable discrepancies turns out to be a witness to the minute factual accuracy of Kings and Chronicles.
The official start of the new year was different in Judah (Tishri) than in Israel (Nisan). Judah initially used accession year reckoning whereas Israel used non-accession year reckoning. For a while Judah switched to non-accession year reckoning before switching back to accession year reckoning. Israel eventually changed to accession year reckoning. For Judah, there was the matter of coregencies.
By recognizing that Uzziah’s reign was reckoned according to Judah’s Tishri-based year while the northern kingdom observed a Niasan-based year for its kings, what otherwise seem to be occasional discordancies in the synchronisms all fall into place. This six-month difference in when the year began then provided to be a useful aid in determining the half-year in which some of these kings terminated their reign, and in the the cases of Jeroboam II through Shallum, the actual month of the kings’ death could be determined…The basic data that allows this kind of precision in dating could never have been provided by a late-date editor; the data must have come from contemporary accounts, probably from the official court records of these two kingdoms. A. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology (Concordia 2011), 128, 139-40; cf. 38-39.