The Literature and History of the New Testament (1915) [Lesson 1]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The New Testament

(pp.5-9)

A) About the author of the chapter:

John Gresham Machen “studied at Johns Hopkins University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the universities at Marburg and Göttingen. In 1906 he joined the faculty of the Princeton Theological Seminary …

He left Princeton in 1929, after the school was reorganized and adopted a more accepting attitude toward liberal Protestantism, and he helped found Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.” [1]

[1] https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Gresham-Machen

B) Chapter Summary:

i) The Origin and Meaning of the Name

“The English word “testament” comes from a Latin word. The equivalent Greek word is hard to translate. As used in the Greek Bible it may mean either “covenant” or “testament.” Usually it should probably be translated “covenant.””[1]

“The phrase “new covenant” occurs about five times in the New Testament. In none of these passages does the phrase refer to the “New Testament” in our sense. It designates a new relationship into which men have been received with God.”[2]

“The names “old and new covenants,” then, were applied first to these two special relationships into which God entered with men [i.e. with the Hebrew nation, and with all who through faith accept the salvation offered by Christ]. Afterwards the names were applied to the books in which the conditions of those relationships were set forth.”[3]

ii) One Book or a Collection of Books?

“In the first place, the New Testament may be treated in every respect as a single book …

Nevertheless, the Bible is as a matter of fact not a mere textbook of religion, and if we treat it as such we miss much of its richness.”[4]

“It is nearer the truth … to say that the New Testament is a single book than to say that it is a collection of books. Its parts differ widely among themselves, in authorship, in date, in circumstances, in aim. Those differences must be studied carefully, if the full meaning is to be obtained. But widely as the New Testament writings differ among themselves, they differ yet far more widely from all other books. They presented themselves originally to the Church with a divine authority, which is foreign to the ordinary writings of men. That authority has been confirmed through the Christian centuries.”[5]

iii) The Four Divisions of the New Testament

“(1) THE GOSPELS … “gospel” means “good news,” and “good news” means tidings, information derived from the witness of others. In other words, it means history.”[6]

“(2) THE BOOK OF THE ACTS.—The Book of The Acts is a history of the extension of Christianity from Jerusalem out into the Gentile world. It represents that extension as guided by the Spirit of God, and thus exhibits the divine warrant for the acceptance of us Gentiles, and for the development of the Christian Church. It provides the outline of apostolic history without which we could not understand the other New Testament books, especially the epistles of Paul.”[7]

“(3) THE EPISTLES.—The Epistles of the New Testament are not just literature put in an epistolary form, but real letters. It is true that the addresses of some of them are very broad, for example, those of James and of I Peter; and that some of them contain no specific address at all, for example, Hebrews and I John. But the great majority of them, at least, were written under very special circumstances and intended to be read first by very definite people.”[8]

“The letters of Paul differ widely among themselves. The Epistle to the Romans is almost a systematic exposition of the plan of salvation. Philemon is concerned with a little personal matter between Paul and one of his converts.”[9]

“(4) THE APOCALYPSE … the Apocalypse opens a glorious vision of the future. The vision is presented in symbolical language.”[10]

 

[1] p.5

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] p.6

[5] p.7

[6] Ibid.

[7] p.8

[8] Ibid.

[9] p.9

[10] Ibid.

Walking with God

Guest Contributor: Zech Chan

Continuing the series on 1 John being conducted, this portion will be on 1 John 1:5-10. This portion is a direct continuation of the first 4 verses which, in the last session, wanted to convey that man’s joy is complete when in fellowship with God. This portion of the text focuses on how we can achieve this fellowship with God.

With any relationship we choose to be in (either with a significant other or a friend), generally we have certain standards before we can be with that person. For example, if I were to choose a girlfriend, there will be some criteria that I personally have before I choose to be in a relationship. Similarly, God has a requirement we need to meet before we can enter into fellowship with Him.

God has a requirement we need to meet before we can enter into fellowship with Him. Click To Tweet

John starts 1 John 1:5 with “This is the message we have heard from him”, as a claim to authority that he and the apostles themselves witnessed, heard and learned from Jesus personally and the message was that God is light and that there is no darkness in him at all. This claim of God being light and the contrast of darkness to the light is repeated by John throughout verses 5 to 10 (e.g. verse 6 that immediately follow talks about traits of those walking in the dark).

Light when referring to God, as Calvin explains, is God’s pureness and perfection which reveals all things that are sinful. For example, in Isaiah 6:5, when Isaiah has a vision of God, he says “for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” Therefore, God being light is a testament to God’s holiness and in as John writes later in 1 John 3:5 “In him there is no sin(darkness).”

John also uses light and truth interchangeably as he also uses sin and darkness. In verse 6, John argues that if we still walk in darkness while still claiming to have fellowship with God, we do not practice the truth. One would also surmise that if one is walking in the darkness, he is not walking in the light. Verse 7 also further uses it similarly when one claims to be walking in the light and having fellowship with one another by the blood of Jesus which cleanses us from all sin.

Not only that, there is a claim that walking in the light allows one to have fellowship with one another, this not only means with God but also with the body of believers and this is only possible through the Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and our confession and repentance of sins. Therefore, for the one seeking God and wanting to be in fellowship with Him, there needs to first be a repentance of sins, having faith in the work that Jesus has done on the cross and taking hold of the assurance in 1 John 1:9 that God is faithful to His promises to us of forgiveness and salvation but not only that, He is also just as Jesus has already paid our debts on the cross.

However, there is another dimension to having fellowship with God besides the work that has been accomplished by Jesus and that is our daily response to Christ. In verse 7, the blood of Jesus his Son (continually) cleanses us from all sin. As Matthew Henry said, “The Christian life is a life of continued repentance, humiliation for and mortification of sin, of continual faith in, thankfulness for, and love to the Redeemer, and hopeful joyful expectation of a day of glorious redemption, in which the believer shall be fully and finally acquired, and sin abolished for ever.” As we still live in a world that is of sin, a Christian is still fallible to sin and how one responds to their sin will be an indication of that believer.

In verse 8, the one that claims to be sinless is deceiving himself and that the truth is not in them. A Christian who has had his past, present and future sins forgiven on the cross does not lose his salvation when he sins but rather he does not experience it in his walk until he confesses his sin. The confession of sin is not the cause or condition of salvation nor the manifestation of it but rather it is descriptive of the person, one who is subject to God’s will and has experienced his grace and love of forgiveness.

A Christian who has had his past, present and future sins forgiven on the cross does not lose his salvation when he sins but rather he does not experience it in his walk until he confesses his sin. Click To Tweet

In conclusion, God who is holy cannot tolerate sin. As people who are born with sin, we cannot naturally have a relationship with God. However, through the work of Christ on the cross, the one who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life and will continually walk in the light of God, being committed to walk in His ways daily.

The confession of sin is not the cause or condition of salvation nor the manifestation of it but rather it is descriptive of the person, one who is subject to God’s will and has experienced his grace and love of forgiveness. Click To Tweet

References

John Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 136-147

Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. Retrieved from: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/1-john/1.html

John Gill, John Gills’ Exposition of the Bible. Retrieved from: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/1-john-1-9.html

Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 4]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Gospel of Luke

(pp.55-62)

A) About the author of the chapter:

Louis Berkhof “graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1900 …

In 1902 he went to Princeton University for two years earning a B.D. degree …

In 1906 he was appointed to the faculty of Calvin Theological Seminary. He assumed the presidency of the seminary in 1931 …” [1]

[1] http://www.calvin.edu/hh/seminary_presidents/semm_pres_berkhof.htm

B) Chapter Summary:

i) Contents

“Like  the  contents  of  the  previous  Gospels  we  may  also  divide  those  of  Luke’s  into  five parts:

I. The Advent  of  the  Divine  Man, 1:-4:13 …

II. The Work  of  the  Divine  Man  for  the  Jewish  World, 4:14 – 9:50 …

III.  The  Work  of  the  Divine  Man  for  the  Gentiles, 9:51 – 18:30 …

IV. The Sacrifice  of  the  Divine  Man  for  all  Mankind, 18:31 – 23:49 …

V. The Divine  Man  Saviour  of  all  Nations, 24.”[1]

ii) Characteristics

“1.  In  point  of  completeness  it  surpasses  the  other  Synoptics,  beginning,  as  it  does,  with a  detailed  narrative  of  the  birth  of  John  the  Baptist  and  of  Christ  himself,  and  ending  with a  record  of  the  ascension  from  the  Mount  of  Olives.  In  distinction  from  Matthew  and  Mark this  Gospel  even  contains  an  allusion  to  the  promise  of  the  Father,  24:  29,  and  thus  points beyond  the  old  dispensation  to  the  new  that  would  be  ushered  in  by  the  coming  of  the  Holy Spirit.  The  detailed  narrative  of  Christ’s  going  to  Jerusalem  in  9:  51-18:14  is  also  peculiar  to this  gospel.”[2]

“2.  Christ  is  set  before  us  in  this  Gospel  as  the  perfect  Man  with  wide  sympathies.  The genealogy  of  Jesus  is  trace  back  through  David  and  Abraham  to  Adam,  our  common  progenitor,  thus  presenting  him  as  one  of  our  race.”[3]

See 2:40-52; 3:21; 9:29.

“3.  Another  feature  of  this  gospel  is  its  universality.  It  comes  nearer  than  other  Gospels to  the  Pauline  doctrine  of  salvation  for  all  the  world,  and  of  salvation  by  faith,  without  the works  of  the  law.”[4]

See 4:25-27;  7:2-10; 9:52-56;  10:30-37;  17:11-19

“4.  More  than  the  other  evangelists  Luke  relates  his  narrative  to  contemporaneous  history and  indicates  the  time  of  the  occurrences.”[5]

See 1:1, 26;  2:1;  2:2; 3:1, 2

“5.  Luke  writes  a  purer  Greek  than  any  of  the  other  evangelists,  but  this  is  evident  only, where  he  does  not  closely  follow  his  sources.  The  Greek  of  the  preface  is  of  remarkable purity,  but  aside  from  this  the  first  and  second  chapters  are  full  of  Hebraisms.  Of  the  rest of  the  Gospel  some  parts  approach  very  closely  to  classical  Greek,  while  others  are  tinged with  Hebrew  expressions.”[6]

iii) Authorship

“Irenaeus  asserts  that  “Luke,  the  companion  of  Paul,  put  down  in  a  book  the  Gospel  preached by  him.”  With  this  agrees  the  testimony  of  Origen;  Eusebius,  Athanasius,  Gregory,  Nazianze, Jerome,  e. a.”[7]

“In  1882  Dr.  Hobart  published  a  work  on,  The Medical  Language  of  St.  Luke,  showing  that  in  many  instances  the  evangelist  uses  the  technical  language  that  was  also  used  by  Greek  medical  writers,  as  παραλελυμἐνος,  5:18,  24  (the other  Gospels  have  παραλύτικος);συνεχομένη  πυρετῷ  μεγαλλῳ 4  :38;  ἔστη  ἡ  ῥύσις  τοῦ ἅιματος 8  :44  (cf.  Mt.  5 :29)  ;  ἀνεκάθισεν, 7  :14,  Luke  carefully  distinguishes  demoniacal possession  from  disease,  4:18;  13:  32;  states  exactly  the  age  of  the  dying  person,  8:42;  and the  duration  of  the  affliction  in  13:11.  He  only  relates  the  miracle  of  the  healing  of  Malchus ear.  All  these  things  point  to  Luke,  “the  beloved  physician.”[8]

“The  question  must  be  asked,  whether  Paul  was  in  any  way  connected  with  the  composition  of  the  third  Gospel.  The  testimony  of  the  early  Church  is  very  uncertain  on  this  point.

Tertullian  says:  “Luke’s  digest  is  often  ascribed  to  Paul.  And  indeed  it  is  easy  to  take  that  for the  master’s  which  is  published  by  the  disciples.”  According  to  Eusebius,  “Luke  hath  delivered in  his  Gospel  a  certain  amount  of  such  things  as  he  had  been  assured  of  by  his  intimate  acquaintance  and  familiarity  with  Paul,  and  his  connection  with  the  other  apostles.”  With  this the  testimony  of  Jerome  agrees.  Athanasius  states  that  the  Gospel  of  Luke  was  dictated  by the  apostle  Paul.

In  view  of  the  preface  of  the  gospel  we  may  be  sure  that  the  Church  fathers exaggerate  the  influence  of  Paul  in  the  composition  of  this  Gospel,  possibly  to  give  it apostolic  authority.  Paul  s  relation  to  the  third  Gospel  differs  from  that  of  Peter  to  the  second; it  is  not  so  close.  Luke  did  not  simply  write  what  he  remembered  of  the  preaching  of  Paul, much  less  did  he  write  according  to  the  dictation  of  the  apostle,  for  he  himself  says  that  he traced  everything  from  the  beginning  and  speaks  of  both  oral  and  written  sources  that  were at  his  command.  Among  these  oral  sources  we  must,  of  course,  also  reckon  the  preaching of  Paul.  That  the  great  apostle  did  influence  Luke  s  representation  of  “the  beginning  of  the Gospel,”  is  very  evident.  There  are  175  words  and  expressions  in  the  gospel  that  are  peculiar to  Luke  and  Paul.  Cf.  Plummer  p.  LIV.”[9]

Continue reading “Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 4]”

The Literature of the Old Testament (1913) [Chapter 4]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

Character of the Sources: Genesis

(pp.33-47)

A) About the author of the chapter:

George Foot Moore “graduated from Yale College in 1872 and from Union Theological Seminary in 1877, in 1878 Moore was ordained in the Presbyterian ministry and until 1883 was pastor of the Putnam Presbyterian Church, Zanesville, Ohio.

He was Hitchcock professor of the Hebrew language and literature at Andover Theological Seminary, 1883–1902. In 1902 he became professor of theology and in 1904 professor of the history of religion at Harvard University.” [1]

[1] https://www.britannica.com/biography/George-Foot-Moore

B) Chapter Summary:

“For the sake of brevity, it is customary to designate these sources by symbols: J (Jahvist), the source in which God is from the beginning called Jehovah (more exactly, Jahveh); E (Elohist), the closely cognate source in which Elohim (God) is consistently used throughout Genesis; D, Deuteronomy and the kindred narrative in Joshua; P (Priestly), the source in which the interest in the religious institutions predominates.”[1]

“The two sources, J and E, both narrate the story of the patriarchs at some length. J begins with the migration of Abraham from Haran (Gen. 12); the corresponding introduction of Abraham in E is not preserved, and the first passage that can with confidence be attributed to that source is Gen. 20. From that point through Genesis and down to Exod. 24, J and E furnished the author of the Pentateuch most of his narrative. The contents of both were evidently drawn from the same common stock of legend, and they tell in large part the same stories in variant forms, with differences of incident or of localization. Sometimes one is ampler and more detailed, sometimes the other. The author of Genesis in such cases often chose the fuller version, enriching it here and there from the other; in other places the two are combined in more equal measure into one continuous narrative; or, again, as in parts of the story of Joseph, extracts from the two alternate in large blocks.”[2]

“For J the reader will find good examples in Gen. 18-19; 24; 38; 39; and 43-44 (which are nearly solid extracts from that source); with the latter chapters, from the story of Joseph, should be compared Gen. 40-42, chiefly from E. Gen. 22 is also from E.”[3]

See Gen. 18, Genesis 32

“He [i.e. E] is particularly well informed in things Egyptian; he knows, for example, the Egyptian names of the chief personages in the story of Joseph. It is in accord with this tendency that he introduces the name Jehovah only after the call of Moses (Exod. iii. 14 ff.), and for the patriarchal period employs only the appellative, God.”[4]

“The conception of deity [in E] is less naïve than in J: God never appears in tangible bodiliness like a man, but reveals himself in visions or dreams, or makes known his will by a voice out of the unseen. Things objectionable to morals or taste are frequently softened down.”[5]

“… the interventions of God in E often show a disposition to magnify the miracle and to give it a magical character. Thus at the crossing of the Red Sea, in J the waters are driven back by a strong wind, leaving the shallow basin dry; in E the miracle is wrought by Moses with his wand (like the plagues), and this representation is followed by P, in which the waters stand in walls on either hand while the people march between.”[6]

“If the author of E was acquainted with J, as it would be natural to assume, he certainly does not copy him; of literary dependence in a strict sense there is no sign. The two appear, rather, to be parallel narratives, drawing on a common stock of tradition, which had already acquired by repetition, whether oral or written, a comparatively fixed form. This common stock included traditions of different groups of tribes and of holy places in different parts of the land.”[7]

“In the treatment of the common tradition in J and E, respectively, local or national interests appear, from which it is generally inferred that E was written in the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and J in the Southern (Judah).”[8]

“From J come Gen. ii. 4b-iv. 25; vi. 1-8; a part of the composite story of the Flood (vii. 1-5, 7-10, 12, 17b, 22-23; viii. 6-12, 13b, 20-22); the sons of Noah, ix. 18-27, and part of the table of nations (x. 8-19, 21, 24-30); the Tower of Babel (xi. 1-9).”[9]

“The third chief narrative source in the Pentateuch, commonly called the Priestly History (P), is of a different character from those which we have been examining.

A more descriptive title for it would be, Origins of the Religious Institutions of Israel. In the view of the author, these institutions were successively ordained by God at certain epochs in the history of mankind and in connection with certain historical events; these events he narrates as the occasion or ground of the institution, which the subsequent observance recalls and commemorates.

These institutions were not all first revealed to Israel and prescribed for it; on the contrary, the author has a theory of a progressive revelation of God’s will, beginning with the first man and woman, and amplified from age to age by the addition to its contents of fresh ordinances, while at the same time its extension gradually narrows, until, in the Mosaic Law, it is addressed to the chosen people of Israel alone.

The place of each new institution is therefore fixed not only in a chronological system but in the genealogical scheme of races and nations. The genealogies which connect one epoch of revelation with the following one are thus not the bare bones of history, stripped of its flesh and blood, but serve a distinct and characteristic purpose.”[10]

“The diction and style of P are very unlike that of J and E; a favourable example of his manner is Gen. 17. Even in a translation, which necessarily obliterates much, some of the author’s peculiarities can be observed, foremost among them a certain stiffness and a laborious circumstantiality, which will be felt if Gen. xvi. 1-2, 4-8, 11-14 (J) or xvi. 8-21 (E) be compared with c. 17 (P).”[11]

“In the early chapters of Exodus the narrative is chiefly a combination of J and E; the first considerable extract from P is Exod. vi. 2-vii. 13, recalling the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and announcing its approaching fulfilment, adding, as the signature of the new epoch of the history now opening, the revelation of the name God, Jehovah (Jahveh), which none of the patriarchs had known.

In the story of the plagues all three sources are interwoven; a distinctive feature of P is that Aaron with his wand, under Moses’ direction, brings the plagues to pass.”[12]

 

[1] p.35

[2] pp.35-36

[3] p.36

[4] p.39

[5] Ibid.

[6] p.40

[7] Ibid.

[8] p.41

[9] Ibid.

[10] p.44

[11] pp.46-47

[12] p.47

How One Can Be Reformed and Arminian

This article intends to argue for the proposition that one can identify as Reformed and Arminian at the same time. First off, for the purposes of clarification, this should not be confused with Reformed Arminianism. The latter is synonymous with Classical Arminianism, that is Arminian theology closer to that which was held by Jacob Arminius himself[1]. Reformed Arminianism stands in contrast to Wesleyan Arminianism.

So, how can one claim to be Reformed and Arminian at the same time? Isn’t Reformed theology closely associated to or even sometimes used synonymously with Calvinism?[2] It is submitted that it all boils down one’s definition of Reformed. The same goes for concepts like “sovereignty” and “decree” in relation to God[3].

A) Defining “Reformed”

The problem with defining the concept “Reformed” is that even those who claim to be Reformed disagree on what constitutes “Reformed”. There are extremely narrow definitions, as well as extremely broad ones.

C. Matthew McMahon starts off with some basic principles of the Reformed tradition:

“Some good starting points in the consideration of this topic would be the following.

1] The Majesty and the Praise of God,

2] The Polemic Against Idolatry,

3] The Working Out of God’s Divine Covenant Purposes in History through justification by faith by the one and only mediator Jesus Christ,

4] Sanctification and a life of Holiness,

5] The Life of the Mind as the Service of God,

6] Biblical Preaching,

7] The order of Church Government and Pastoral Care,

8] The Disciplined Life, and

9] The Simplicity of the Gospel.”[4]

The problem with these definitions is that they can be readily affirmed by all Protestants. However, Reformed folks who hold to a narrow definition of what it means to be Reformed would not consider some Protestants as being Reformed. Case in point would be Methodists for their Arminianism.

Byron G. Curtis, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Geneva College provided his extensive definition on what it means to be reformed. He says:

“To be reformed means:

1) to confess with the orthodox churches the consensus of the first five centuries of Christianity, including:

a) Classic theism: One omnipotent, benevolent God, distinct from creation.

b) Nicene and Chalcedonian Trinitarianism: one God in three eternally existent persons, equal in power and glory.

c) Christ, the God-Man, the one mediator between God & the human race, incarnate, crucified, resurrected, ascended, & coming again.

d) Humanity created in the image of God, yet tragically fallen & profoundly in need of restoration to God through Christ.

e) The Visible Church: the community of the redeemed, indwelt y the Holy Spirit; the mystical body of Christ on earth.

The one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

f) The Sacraments: visible signs and seals of the grace of God, ministering Christ’s love to us in our deep need.

g) The Christian life: characterized by the prime theological virtues of faith, hope, and love.

2) to confess with the Reformation churches the four great “Solas:”

a) RE the source of authority: Sola Scriptura.

b) RE the basis of salvation: Sola Gratia.

c) RE the means of salvation: Sola Fide

d) Re the merit of salvation: Solus Christus

3) to confess with the Reformed churches the distinctives of the Reformed faith:

a) In salvation: monergism not synergism. God alone saves. Such monergism implies T.U.L.I.P., the Five Points of Calvinism from the Synod of Dordt:

T = Total Depravity

U = Unconditional Election

L = Limited Atonement, or, better, Particular Redemption

I = Irresistible Grace

P = Perseverence [sic] and Preservation of the Saints

b) In worship: the Regulative Principle of Worship “Whatever is not commanded in public worship is forbidden.” God alone directs how he is to be worshiped in the assem- bly [sic] of the visible church.

c) In the Visible Church: Covenant Theology & Covenant Community. The Church is the New Israel, incorporating believers among Jews and Gentiles alike. Infant Baptism ordinarily follows from this understanding. Sacraments are not merely human observances, but acts of Jesus Christ, marking out the visible church.

d) In life: Life is religion: there is no sacred/secular destinction [sic]. As such Christians have neither jobs nor careers; they have vocations (callings). Every calling is “full time Christian service,” because every Christian is a full-time Christian.

4) finally, in everything, as Christians everywhere joyfully affirm: Soli Deo Gloria. ‘To God alone be the glory.’”[5]

Richard Muller, shares a similar definition, though he adds belief in amillennialism into the mix:

“Any of these documents [i.e. Reformed Confessions and Catechisms], in addition to standing in substantial agreement on the so-called five points — total inability to attain one’s own salvation, unconditional grace, limited efficacy of Christ’s all-sufficient work of satisfaction, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints — also stand in substantial agreement on the issues of the baptism of infants, the identification of the sacraments as a means of grace, and the unity of the one covenant of grace from Abraham to the eschaton.

They also — all of them — agree on the assumption that our assurance of the salvation, wrought by grace alone through the work of Christ and God’s Spirit in us, rests not on our outward deeds or personal claims but on our apprehension of Christ in faith and on our recognition of the inward work of the Spirit in us. Because this assurance is inward and cannot easily or definitively be externalized, all of these documents also agree that the church is both visible and invisible — that it is a covenanted people of God identified not by externalized indications of the work of God in individuals, such as adult conversion experiences but by the preaching of the word of God and the right administration of the sacraments.

Finally, they all agree, either explicitly or implicitly, that the “thousand years” of Revelation 20 is the kingdom of grace established by Christ at his first coming that extends until his Second Coming at the end of the world.”[6]

R. C. Sproul, well known amongst the narrow-definition-Reformed-folk as being Reformed, grew to accept postmillennialism as the biblical eschatological position [7]. Under Richard Muller’s definition, this would disqualify R. C. Sproul from being considered Reformed, although he checks the other boxes.

C. Matthew McMahon’s definition which includes infant baptism (pp.20-21), covenant theology (pp.28-29), and the Lord’s Supper as sign and seals (pp.29-30)[8] is less comprehensive but, just like the definitions provided before it, would exclude Reformed Baptists who affirm credobaptism. It would seem odd that individuals like John Bunyan (1628–1688), Alistair Begg (1952–), D. A. Carson (1946–), John Gill (1697–1771), Wayne Grudem (1948–), Albert Mohler (1959–), Arthur Pink (1886–1952), John Piper (1946-), Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892), and James White (1962-) would not make the Reformed cut.

Michael Allen adds to the discussion by arguing that, “By “Reformational,” we speak of those churches and persons who affirm the five solas (sola Scriptura, solus Christus, sola gratia, sola fide, and soli Deo Gloria), the five points enumerated by the Reformed Synod of Dordt regarding the doctrine of predestination, and the importance of penal substitution as a crucial (though not exclusive) understanding of the atonement.”[9] R.C. Sproul takes it a step further and synthesises the Five Points of Reformed Theology as being just TULIP[10].

To include TULIP in the pre-requisite of being Reformed, or even to make it the sole criterion, might exclude the following individuals who are/were regarded as Magisterial Reformers. First off, Phillip Melanchton who studied under Martin Luther himself[11].  Leighton Flowers points out that, “… Calvin, though a close friend, took great issue with Melanchthon’s soteriology, as would most Calvinistic scholars today. Melanchthon affirmed a more corporate approach to the doctrine of predestination, while rejecting the typical Calvinistic view that God predetermines to save some individuals to the neglect of the rest. For instance, Melanchthon wrote,

“The eternal fate of individuals was in their own hands at the moment when they heard the Spirit-illumined Gospel promises. Altogether, therefore, the choice for a saving faith in Jesus had three origins: the Word, the Spirit, and the individual free will.””[12]

Gregory Graybill observes that, “In 1532, Melanchton’s gradually evolving doctrine on the will’s role in justification finally reached a tipping-point. In The Summary of Ethics, he was almost there. In The Commentary on Romans, he was there, and in the Loci of 1533-5, he strengthened his position. A subtle change had taken place in Melanchton’s thinking, marking a transition from a bound-will position to one of evangelical free will.”[13]

Secondly, “… it would appear likely that the chief Polish shaper of the Reformed church, Jan Laski, though he was involved only after his return from the West from 1556 until his death in 1560, remained somewhat Erasmian on predestination and free will.”[14] It has been noted that “few Reformed theologians were to turn sympathetically to Erasmus’s championing of free will, the exception being that independent-minded Erasmian Jan Laski.”[15]. Erasmus’s view of predestination and free will is contrary to that of Luther’s and the latter was a significant influence in Calvin’s view of soteriology, as seen in Beneficio di Cristo.

Thirdly, John Wycliffe who was quoted as having said: “And who knoweth the mesure of goddis mercy, to whom herynge of goddis word schal thus profits, eche man schal hope to come to hevene & enforce hym to here & fulfille goddis word, for sith eche men hath a free wille & chesyng of good and evyl, no man schal be savyd but he that wilfully hereth and endless kepith goddis hestis, and no man schal be dampnyd but he that wilfully & endeles brekith goddis comaundementis, & foraskith thus & blasphemeth god. & herynge of goddis word & grace to kepen it, frely govyn of god to man but gif he wilfully dispise it, is right weie to askape this peril & come to endeles blisse.”[16]

Wycliffe was basically of the opinion that “Although ‘trewe men’ acknowledge that ‘god hath ordeyned goode men to blisse’, this does not contradict the truth that he also ‘geveth to eche man a free wille to chese good or evyl & god is redi to geve hem grace gif thei wolen resceyven it.”[17]. This position seems to be in conflict with the U and I of TULIP.

To include TULIP in the pre-requisite of being Reformed, or even to make it the sole criterion, might exclude ... individuals who are/were regarded as Magisterial Reformers Click To Tweet

Roger Olson acknowledges the definitional problem at hand. He articulates that, “On one end of the spectrum of defining it, “Reformed” requires affirmation of and adherence to the “three symbols of unity”—The Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, and the Canons of the Synod of Dort. By that definition, Presbyterians are not Reformed. (Which is why, for example, the publisher Presbyterian and Reformed is so named.) Everyone agrees that they have much in common, but some Reformed scholars define “Reformed” in such a way as to exclude even Presbyterians.

At the other end of the spectrum of defining “Reformed” is the traditional Lutheran approach. For many “old school” Lutherans (e.g., Casper Nervig in Christian Truth and Religious Delusions ) all Protestants are either Lutheran or Reformed with Anglicans being sort of a hybrid. Anabaptists aren’t Protestant. But Methodists are Reformed (in this taxonomy)!”[18]

Perhaps the solution is to embrace a broader definition which encompasses that which the Protestant Reformation stood for. The spirit of the Reformation was Ecclesia reformata et semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei (‘The church reformed and always reforming according to the Word of God’). C. Matthew McMahon notes that, “The term “Reformer” was used to describe those men who desired to reach back to the foundations of the Word of God and the true Gospel of Jesus Christ in contrast to human traditions and ecclesiastical corruption.”[19]

Perhaps the solution is to embrace a broader definition which encompasses that which the Protestant Reformation stood for, a mere-Reformed definition if you will Click To Tweet

Tim Challies agrees when he says that, “It is important to understand that because the Reformed tradition arose from the Protestant Reformation, the term Reformed was not defined from within a void. Rather, it was defined as a biblical response to the excesses and perversions of the Roman Catholic Church. The Reformers, having returned to Scripture, attempted to carefully and faithfully rebuild the church upon the teachings of the New Testament.”[20] According to John Barber, “the message of the Lutheran and Reformed theologians have been codified into a simple set of five Latin phrases: Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), Solus Christus (Christ alone), Sola Fide (faith alone), Sola Gratia (by grace alone) and Soli Deo Gloria (glory to God alone).”[21]

As such, anyone who, embodies the spirit of the Reformation and by extension, affirms the five solas, should be entitled to refer to himself/herself as Reformed. This would, undeniably, include Arminians. Carl Bangs, an Arminius scholar, notes that “Arminius stands firmly in the tradition of Reformed theology in insisting that salvation is by grace alone and that human ability or merit must be excluded as a cause of salvation. It is faith in Christ alone that places a sinner in the company of the elect.”[22]

... anyone who embodies the spirit of the Reformation, and by extension affirms the five solas, should be entitled to refer to himself/herself as Reformed. This would, undeniably, include Arminians. Click To Tweet

B) Why Reformed?

In light of fact that the term “Reformed” is historically and theologically loaded, why would an Arminian want to identify as such? The simple answer is that Arminius himself was Reformed. Arminius scholar, Keith D. Stanglin, asserts that “… Arminius and the Remonstrants before the Synod of Dort (1618-1619) considered themselves to be Reformed.”[23]

So why would Arminius consider himself to be Reformed? Arminius “studied under Calvin’s successor Beza in Geneva and was given a letter of recommendation by him to the Reformed Church of Amsterdam. It seems highly unlikely that the chief pastor at Geneva and principal of its Reformed academy would not know the theological inclinations of one of his star pupils.”[24]

Arminius also taught at the University of Leiden/Leyden[25] which was “a centre of Dutch Reformed theology and of science and medicine in the 17th and 18th centuries,”[26] and affirmed the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism[27]. Furthermore, “… the contemporary Dutch denomination known as the Remonstrant Brotherhood, which stems from the work of Arminius and his followers, is a full member of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches!”[28]

In consideration of all that has been said, Arminians should not be afraid or embarrassed to embrace the Reformed label. Their theological tradition stands squarely within the framework of historical Reformed thought. Whether or not they wish to take up the designation is an entirely different matter.

Arminians should not be afraid or embarrassed to embrace the Reformed label. Their theological tradition stands squarely within the frame of historical Reformed thought. Click To Tweet

[1] For further elaboration, see Matthew Pinson, “Meet A Reformed Arminian.” TheGospelCoalition.org. Accessed May 15, 2018. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/meet-a-reformed-arminian/

[2] Tim Challies, “Defining My Terms: Calvinist and Reformed.” Challies.com. Accessed May 15, 2018. https://www.challies.com/articles/defining-my-terms-calvinist-and-reformed/: “I will treat the terms “Reformed” and “Calvinist” as being synonymous. While some may disagree with this, I believe it is beyond dispute that most people use the terms interchangeably.”

[3] With regards to “sovereignty,” Calvinists, Arminians, Provisionalists/Traditionalists, Lutherans, and Molinists would affirm that God is sovereign, but they do not necessarily share the same conception of it.

[4] C. Matthew McMahon, The Reformed Apprentice: A Workbook on Reformed Theology (2013), p.27

[5] Byron G. Curtis, “A “Reformed” Definition.” Fivesolas.com. Accessed May 17, 2018. http://www.fivesolas.com/ref_defn.htm

[6] Richard Muller, “How Many Points?” Calvin Theological Journal, Vol. 28 (1993): 427

[7] Kenneth Gentry, “Recent Developments in the Eschatological Debate.” ReformationOnline.com. Accessed May 17, 2018. http://www.reformationonline.com/debate.htm: “A recent noteworthy “convert” to postmillennialism is R. C. Sproul, who invited me to speak on postmillennialism and preterism at his 1999 National Conference in Orlando”; see also “The End? Finding Hope in the Millennial Maze: 1999 National Conference.” Ligonier.org. Accessed May 17, 2018. https://www.ligonier.org/learn/conferences/orlando_1999_national_conference/postmillennialism/

[8] C. Matthew McMahon, The Reformed Apprentice: A Workbook on Reformed Theology (2013)

[9] Michael Allen, Reformed Theology (2010), p.6

[10] R.C. Sproul, What is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics (2005)

[11] “Phillip Melanchton 500th Anniversary Exhibit.” LutheranHistory.org. Accessed May 17, 2018. http://www.lutheranhistory.org/melanchthon/: “At Wittenberg Philipp Melanchthon studied theology under Dr. Martin Luther. In September 1519 he was granted his first degree in theology: baccalaureus biblicus. Melanchthon turned out to be a popular lecturer. And Luther, who was fourteen years his senior, recognized Melanchthon’s remarkable abilities.”

[12] Leighton Flowers, “Is Reformation Day only for the Calvinists?” Soteriology101.com. Accessed May 15, 2018. https://soteriology101.com/2016/10/31/is-reformation-day-only-for-the-calvinists/

[13] Gregory Graybill, Evangelical Free Will: Phillipp Melanchthon’s Doctrinal Journey on the Origins of Faith (2010), p.199

[14] George Huntston Williams, The Proceedings of the Unitarian Universalist Historical Society, Volume 18 (1976), p.586

[15] Zwingliana: Beiträge zur Geschichte Zwinglis der Reformation und des Protestantismus in der Schweiz (2005), p.175; see also Samuel Fiszman, The Polish renaissance in its European context (1988): “But significantly, perhaps of all the classical Protestant luminaries of first orsecond magnitude, Jan Laski was the most Erasmian in mitigating this major thrust of classical Protestantism in his interest in free will”

[16] ‘Speculum de Antichristo’ in The English Works of John Wyclif, ed. F. D. Matthew (1880), p.111

[17] D. Andrew Penny, Freewill Or Predestination: The Battle Over Saving Grace in Mid-Tudor England (1990), pp.16-17

[18] Roger Olson, “Is Arminianism “Reformed?”” Patheos.com. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2014/02/is-arminianism-reformed/

[19] C. Matthew McMahon, The Reformed Apprentice: A Workbook on Reformed Theology (2013), p.19

[20] Tim Challies, “What It Means To Be Reformed.” Challies.com. Accessed May 15, 2018. https://www.challies.com/articles/what-it-means-to-be-reformed/

[21] John Barber, The Road from Eden: Studies in Christianity and Culture (2008), p.233

[22] Carl Bangs, Arminius: A Study in the Dutch Reformation (1971), p. 198

[23] Keith Stanglin, Arminius on the Assurance of Salvation: The Context, Roots, and Shape of the Leiden Debate, 1603-1609­ (2007), p.14

[24] Roger Olson, Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities (2009), p.48

[25] see William den Boer, God’s Twofold Love: The Theology of Jacob Arminius (1559-1609) (2010), p.21: “Following the events of this assembly as recorded above, there appeared today in the same assembly Dr Jacobus Arminius, Doctor and Professor at the University of Leiden”; see also Arminius, Arminianism, and Europe: Jacobus Arminius (1559/60-1609) (2009), eds. Theodoor Marius van Leeuwen, Keith D. Stanglin, Marijke Tolsma, p. IX: “In any case in October 2009 at Leiden University, where Arminius was a professor from 1603 until his death, a conference was held in honour of him.”

[26] “Leiden.” Britannica.com. Accessed May 17, 2018. https://www.britannica.com/place/Leiden

[27] After citing the 14th and 16th article of the Belgic Confession and questions 20 and 54 of the Heidelberg Catechism, Arminius says the following: “Since these are the actual statements of our confession and catechism, no good reason can be foot put forward by those who defend these ever mentioned sentiments on predestination to force these doctrines on their colleagues or on the church of Christ; nor should they be offended and place it in the worst possible light when something is taught in the church or university that does not exactly correspond to or is in opposition to their position.” [Arminius and His Declaration of Sentiments: An Annotated Translation With Introduction and Theological Commentary, ed. W Steven Gunter (2012), p.112]

[28] Roger Olson, Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities (2009), p.16ff

Does the Bible Contain Error?

On the 15th of June 2018, I was given the opportunity to speak at a workshop, within a conference, on the question of whether the Bible contains error. [1] Instead of taking the usual harmonization approach, that is to look at apparent contradictions and resolve them, I decided to tackle the question from a textual criticism angle. There are plenty of books and websites dedicated to the former [2] whereas knowledge of the latter seems to be lacking amongst lay Christians.

Furthermore, I had previously presented on textual criticism [3] and found it to be able to adequately address the sub-questions provided by the organisers (i.e. why there are discrepancies in the Bible if it is the Word of God and how we can reconcile those discrepancies).

This time round, my presentation included the following additional content:

i) “Recent” developments re manuscripts [4], including the Mark fragment published in  Oxyrhynchus Papyri, volume LXXXIII

ii) An overview of the types of scribal errors, both intentional and unintentional ones

iii) A non-exhaustive list of institutions devoted to the field of textual criticism

iv) A non-exhaustive list of critical editions of the Old Testament (OT) and New Testament (NT)

v) A brief look at some OT and NT passages quoted in 1 Clement

 

[1]  “Workshop Overview.” Fairstival.my. Accessed June 6, 2018. http://fairstival.my/workshopsoverview/

[2] see page 4 of the slides in the attachment below

[3] Joshua Wu, “Manuscript Errors in the Bible?” LaikosTheologos.com. Accessed June 11, 2018. https://laikostheologos.com/manuscript-errors-in-the-bible/

[4] I put recent in inverted commas because according to the Egypt Exploration Society, the Mark fragment was “excavated … probably in 1903 …” [“P.Oxy LXXXIII 5345.” EES.ac.uk. Accessed June 11, 2018. https://www.ees.ac.uk/news/poxy-lxxxiii-5345]. The Dead Sea Scrolls, the other example cited, were also discovered in the 20th century [see “Discovery and Publication.” DeadSeaScrolls.org.il. Accessed June 11, 2018. https://www.deadseascrolls.org.il/learn-about-the-scrolls/discovery-and-publication].

 

Attachments:

Does the Bible Contain Error? (Slides)

Does the Bible Contain Error? (Participants Notes)

 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author, and they do not reflect in any way views of the institutions to which he is affiliated  and/or the other Laikos Theologos contributors.

 

Jewish Theology Systematically and Historically Considered (1918) [Chapter 1]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Meaning of Theology

(pp.1-6)

A) About the author of the chapter:

Kaufman Kohler “… was educated at the Universities of Munich, Berlin and Leipzig, (1865-69), and received the degree of Ph.D. from the University of Erlangen in 1868.” [1]

“Feb. 26, 1903, he was elected to the presidency of Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati.” [2]

[1] https://www.jta.org/1926/01/29/archive/dr-kaufmann-kohler-president-emeritus-of-hebrew-union-college-dies

[2] http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/9419-kohler-kaufmann

B) Chapter Summary:

“The name Theology, “the teaching concerning God,” is taken from Greek philosophy. It was used by Plato and Aristotle to denote the knowledge concerning God and things godly, by which they meant the branch of Philosophy later called Metaphysics, after Aristotle.”[1]

“In the Christian Church the term gradually assumed the meaning of systematic exposition of the creed, a distinction being made between Rational, or Natural Theology, on the one hand, and Dogmatic Theology, on the other.”[2]

“In common usage Theology is understood to be the presentation of one specific system of faith after some logical method, and a distinction is made between Historical and Systematic Theology. The former traces the various doctrines of the faith in question through the different epochs and stages of culture, showing their historical process of growth and development; the latter presents these same doctrines in comprehensive form as a fixed system, as they have finally been elaborated and accepted upon the basis of the sacred scriptures and their authoritative interpretation.”[3]

“Theology and Philosophy of Religion differ widely in their character. Theology deals exclusively with a specific religion; in expounding one doctrinal system, it starts from a positive belief in a divine revelation and in the continued working of the divine spirit, affecting also the interpretation and further development of the sacred books. Philosophy of Religion, on the other hand, while dealing with the same subject matter as Theology, treats religion from a general point of view as a matter of experience, and, as every philosophy must, without any foregone conclusion. Consequently it submits the beliefs and doctrines of religion in general to an impartial investigation, recognizing neither a divine revelation nor the superior claims of any one religion above any other, its main object being to ascertain how far the universal laws of human reason agree or disagree with the assertions of faith.”[4]

“… we have learned to distinguish between subjective and objective truths, whereas theology by its very nature deals with truth as absolute. This makes it imperative for us to investigate historically the leading idea or fundamental principle underlying a doctrine, to note the different conceptions formed at various stages, and trace its process of growth.”[5]

“Judaism is a religion of historical growth, which, far from claiming to be the final truth, is ever regenerated anew at each turning point of history. The fall of the leaves at autumn requires no apology, for each successive spring testifies anew to nature’s power of resurrection.”[6]

“The object of a systematic theology of Judaism, accordingly, is to single out the essential forces of the faith.”[7]

Jewish theology differs radically from Christian theology in the following three points:

“A. The theology of Christianity deals with articles of faith formulated by the founders and heads of the Church as conditions of salvation , so that any alteration in favor of free thought threatens to undermine the very plan of salvation upon which the Church was founded. Judaism recognizes only such articles of faith as were adopted by the people voluntarily as expressions of their religious consciousness, both without external compulsion and without doing violence to the dictates of reason.”[8]

“Christian theology rests upon a formula of confession , the so-called Symbolum of the Apostolic Church, which alone makes one a Christian. Judaism has no such formula of confession which renders a Jew a Jew. No ecclesiastical authority ever dictated or regulated the belief of the Jew …”[9]

“The creed is a conditio sine qua non of the Christian Church. To disbelieve its dogmas is to cut oneself loose from membership. Judaism is quite different. The Jew is born into it and cannot extricate himself from it even by the renunciation of his faith, which would but render him an apostate Jew.”[10]

“The truth of the matter is that the aim and end of Judaism is not so much the salvation of the soul in the hereafter as the salvation of humanity in history …

It [i.e. Judaism] does not, therefore, claim to offer the final or absolute truth, as does Christian theology, whether orthodox or liberal. It simply points out the way leading to the highest obtainable truth.”[11]

 

[1] p.1

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] pp.1-2

[5] pp.3-4

[6] p.4

[7] Ibid.

[8] p.5

[9] Ibid.

[10] pp.5-6

[11] p.6

Masculine Imageries of God (Part 1)

INTRODUCTION

Throughout Scripture, God is addressed with masculine pronoun. Nowhere has God ever been addressed by feminine pronoun(s). This is an issue that needs to be discussed, especially with the rise of what some Western theologians would call “Christian Feminism.” Some of the more radical ones would promote the idea of addressing God with a female pronoun (i.e. she, her & etc). Many would go to the extent of claiming it was written from a patriarchal mindset and that women must reinterpret Scripture for themselves. There are certain underlying assumptions and implications behind this idea, especially when the masculine imageries are taken away.

To start things off, we need to establish 3 assumptions.

GOD’S GENDER

Firstly, God has no gender, He is neither male or female. Reason being that Scripture describes God’s incorporeality or Him being immaterial, just as John Frame argues how He is not identified with any physical being in the world (389-390)[1]. However, there are certain things which we can deduce from Scripture:

i. God was never addressed with female pronoun, but with male pronoun.

ii. God revealed Himself to us primarily through masculine imageries.

iii. Scripture also contains feminine imageries of God.

These findings suggests that, even in light of God being genderless, Scripture emphasizes the importance of addressing God with a masculine pronoun. The masculine and feminine imageries in the Bible also describe certain attributes and acts of God. This series will solely focus on the masculine imageries only.

ANTHROPOMORPHISM

Secondly, God reveals Himself to us via anthropomorphic means. Beegle describe it as “…a figure of speech that describes God as having human form (Exo. 15:3, Num. 12:8), with feet (Gen. 3:8; Exo. 24:10), hands (Exo. 24:11; Jos. 4:24), mouth (Num. 12:8; Isa. 40:5), and heart (Hos. 11:8), but in a wider sense the term also includes human attributes and emotions (Gen. 2:2; 6:6: Exo. 20:5; Hos. 11:8)”[2] This simply means God who is transcendent (i.e. far above), uses human imageries to reveal Himself and communicate with humans. That does not mean God possesses all these physical attributes. As we mentioned earlier, God is incorporeal, and does not possess any physical forms.

GOD’S DESIGN OF MALE & FEMALE

Thirdly, God created and ordained men and women in a way that complements each other. Within Scripture, God has established and ordained certain positions for only the men. Take for example the Priests (Lev. 8), Pastors and Elders (1 Tim. 2:12-13), as well as Kings and Apostles. Even within marriage, God has ordained the husband as the head of the house to lovingly lead the family (Eph. 5:22-24). These roles display headship within its specific function(s).

CONCLUSION

What can we make out of these 3 assumptions? God does not reveal Himself out of a vacuum. Instead, he reveals Himself even through means like human function or roles which He ordained and established. These three assumptions would better help us understand the masculine imageries of God as we explore further in the next few articles.

 

[1] John M. Frame, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (P & R Publishing, 2013), 289-290.

[2] Walter A. Elwell, ed., Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle, Cumbria: Baker Pub Group, 1996), 69.

 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author, and they do not reflect in any way views of the institutions to which he is affiliated  and/or the other Laikos Theologos contributors.

Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 3]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Gospel of Mark

(pp.46-54)

A) About the author of the chapter:

Louis Berkhof “graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1900 …

In 1902 he went to Princeton University for two years earning a B.D. degree …

In 1906 he was appointed to the faculty of Calvin Theological Seminary. He assumed the presidency of the seminary in 1931 …” [1]

[1] http://www.calvin.edu/hh/seminary_presidents/semm_pres_berkhof.htm

B) Chapter Summary:

i) Contents

“We  may  divide  the  contents  of  Mark’s  Gospel,  that  treats  of  Christ  as  the  mighty Worker,  into  five  parts:

I. The Advent  of  the  mighty  Worker, 1:1 — 2:12 …

II. The Conflict  of  the  mighty  Worker, 2:12 — 8:26 …

III. The  Claim  of  the  mighty  Worker, 8:27 — 13:37 …

IV. The Sacrifice  of  the  mighty  Worker, 14:1—15:47 …

V. The mighty  Worker  as  Conqueror  of  Death, 16:1-20.”[1]

ii) Characteristics

“The  most  striking  peculiarity  of  the  second  Gospel  is  its  descriptive  character.  It  is Marks  constant  aim  to  picture  the  scenes  of  which  he  speaks  in  lively  colours.”[2]

e.g. the  look  of  anger  that  Christ  cast  on  the hypocrites  about  him,  3:5;  Jesus  taking little  children  in  his  arms and  blessing  them,  9:36;  10:16;  Jesus,  looking  at  the young  ruler,  loved  him,  10:21

“This  Gospel  contains  comparatively  little  of  the  teaching  of  Jesus;  it  rather  brings  out the  greatness  of  our  Lord  by  pointing  to  his  mighty  works,  and  in  doing  this  does  not  follow the  exact  chronological  order …

Mark,  though  considerably  smaller  than  Matthew,  contains  all the  miracles  narrated  by  the  latter  except  five,  and  besides  has  three  that  are  not  found  in Matthew.  Of  the  eighteen  miracles  in  Luke,  Mark  has  twelve  and  four  others  above  this number.”[3]

“In  the  Gospel  of  Mark  several  words  of  Christ  that  were  directed  against  the  Jews  are left  out,  such  as  we  find  in  Mt.  3:  7-10;  8:  5-13;  15:  24,  etc.  On  the  other  hand  more  Jewish customs  and  Aramaic  words  are  explained  than  in  the  first  Gospel,  f.  i.  2:18;  7:3;  14:12;  15:6, 42;  3:17;  5:41;  7:11,  34;  14:  36.  The  argument  from  prophecy  has  not  the  large  place  here that  it  has  in  Matthew.”[4]

“The  style  of  Mark  is  more  lively  than  that  of  Matthew,  though  not  as  smooth.  He  delights  in  using  words  like  εὐθύς or  εὐθέως and  πολύς prefers  the  use  of  the  present  and  the imperfect  to  that  of  the  aorist,  and  often  uses  the  periphrastic  εἶναι with  a  participle  instead of  the  finite  verb.  There  are  several  Latinisms  found  in  his  Gospel,  as  κεντυρίων,κορδάντης, κράββατος,πραιτώριον,  σπεκουλάτωρ and  φραγελλοῦν.”[5]

iii) Authorship

“Just  as  in  the  case  of  Matthew  we  are  entirely  dependent  on  external  testimony  for  the name  of  the  author  of  the  second  Gospel.”[6]

“… the  voice  of  antiquity  is  unanimous  in ascribing  it  to  Mark.  The  most  ancient  testimony  to  this  effect  is  that  of  Papias,  who  says: “Mark,  the  interpreter  of  Peter,  wrote  down  carefully  all  that  he  recollected,  though  he  did not  [record]  in  order  that  which  was  either  said  or  done  by  Christ.  For  he  neither  heard  the Lord  nor  followed  him;  but  subsequently,  as  I  have  said,  [attached  himself  to]  Peter,  who used  to  frame  his  teaching  to  meet  the  [immediate]  wants  [of  his  hearers]  ;  and  not  as making  a  connected  narrative  of  the  Lords  discourses.  So  Mark  committed  no  error,  as  he wrote  down  some  particulars  just  as  he  called  them  to  mind.  For  he  took  heed  to  one thing—to  omit  none  of  the  facts  that  he  heard,  and  to  state  nothing  falsely  in  [his  narrative] of  them.”  Several  other  church  fathers,  such  as  Irenaeus,  Clement  of  Alexandria,  Tertullian, Origen,  Jerome,  Eusebius,  e. a.,  follow  in  his  wake;  there  is  not  a  dissentient  voice.”[7]

“After  the  death  of  Peter  he [i.e. Mark]  is  said  to  have  visited  Alexandria,  where  he  was  the  first  to  found  Christian  churches,  and  finally  died  a  martyrs  death. This  tradition,  though  old,  is  not  without  suspicion.”[8]

Daniel Seely Gregory: “[Mark was] like  Peter  more  a  man  of  action  than  of  deep  and  abiding principle,  a  man  of  fervor  and  enthusiasm  rather  than  of  persevering  effort;  but  he  was transfused  by  the  power  of  the  same  Christ  who  transfused  Peter  into  the  man  of  rapid, continued  and  effective  effort  in  the  missionary  work  of  the  Church.”[9]

“Papias  says  that  “Mark was  Peters  interpreter  and  wrote  down  carefully  all  that  he  recollected.”  Clement  of  Alexandria  also  says  that  he  wrote  down  the  discourses  of  Peter,  as  he  remembered  them.  Irenaeus, Tertullian  and  Jerome  all  style  Mark  “the  interpreter  of  Peter.”  Tertullian  even  says  that  “the Gospel  published  by  Mark  may  be  reckoned  Peter’s,  whose  interpreter  he  was.”  And  Origen still  stronger:  “Mark  wrote  his  Gospel  according  to  the  dictates  of  Peter.”  Similarly  Athanasius.  All  these  testimonies  agree  in  asserting  that  Mark  was  dependent  on  Peter  in  writing his  Gospel;  they  disagree,  however,  as  to  the  degree  of  dependence,  some  claiming  merely that  Mark  recorded  what  he  remembered  of  Peters  preaching,  and  others,  that  he  wrote what  Peter  dictated.”[10]

“The  Gospel  itself  incidentally  testifies  to  the  relation  in  which  it  stands  to  Peter.  There are  many  touches  that  indicate  first-hand  knowledge,  as  in  1:16-20;  1:29;  9:5; 15:54,  72;  16: 7.  Some  things  found  in  the  other  Synoptics  are  unexpectedly  omitted  by  Mark,  as  Peters walking  on  the  water,  Mt.  14:  29;  his  appearance  in  the  incident  of  the  tribute  money,  Mt. 17:  24-27;  the  statement  of  Christ  that  He  prayed  for  Peter  individually,  Lk.  22: 32;  the  significant  word  spoken  to  him  as  the  Rock,  Mt.  16:18.  In  other  cases  his  name  is  suppressed, where  it  is  used  by  Matthew  or  Luke,  as  7:17  cf.  Mt.  15: 15;  14:13  cf.  Lk.  22:8.”[11]

Continue reading “Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 3]”

The Literature of the Old Testament (1913) [Chapter 3]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Pentateuch

(pp.29-33)

A) About the author of the chapter:

George Foot Moore “graduated from Yale College in 1872 and from Union Theological Seminary in 1877, in 1878 Moore was ordained in the Presbyterian ministry and until 1883 was pastor of the Putnam Presbyterian Church, Zanesville, Ohio.

He was Hitchcock professor of the Hebrew language and literature at Andover Theological Seminary, 1883–1902. In 1902 he became professor of theology and in 1904 professor of the history of religion at Harvard University.” [1]

[1] https://www.britannica.com/biography/George-Foot-Moore

B) Chapter Summary:

“The Old Testament begins with a comprehensive historical work, reaching from the creation of the world to the fall of the kingdom of Judah (586 B.C.), which in the Hebrew Bible is divided into nine books (Genesis-Kings). The Jews made a greater division at the end of the fifth book (Deuteronomy) and treated the first five books (the Pentateuch) as a unit, with a character and name of its own, the Law.”[1]

“The names of the several books in our Bibles are derived from the Greek version, and indicate in a general way the subject of the book, or, more exactly, the subject with which it begins: Genesis, the creation of the world; Exodus, the escape from Egypt; Leviticus, the priests’ book; Numbers, the census of the tribes; Deuteronomy, the second legislation, or the recapitulation of the law.”[2]

“The three middle books of the Pentateuch (Exodus-Numbers) are more closely connected with one another than with the preceding and following books (Genesis, Deuteronomy); in fact, they form a whole which is only for convenience in handling divided into parts. In these books narrative and legislation are somewhat unequally represented. Exod. 1-19 is almost all narrative, as are also c. 24, and cc. 32-34; the story is picked up again in Num. 10, what lies between is wholly legislative; in Num. 10-27, 28-36, narrative and laws alternate, the latter predominating. It is evident that from the author’s point of view the narrative was primarily a historical setting for the Mosaic legislation.”[3]

“Deuteronomy begins with a brief retrospect (Deut. 1-3) of the movements of the Israelites from the time they left the Mount of God till they arrived in the Plains of Moab, the lifetime of a whole generation. There, as they are about to cross the Jordan to possess the Land of Promise, Moses delivers to them the law which they shall observe in the land, and with many exhortations and warnings urges them to be faithful to their religion with its distinctive worship and morals. Thus Deuteronomy also presents itself essentially as legislation.”[4]

“The history of the Israelite tribes opens with the account of the oppression in Egypt, the introduction to the story of deliverance. Its antecedents are found in the Book of Genesis, the migration of Jacob and his sons from Palestine to Egypt several generations earlier in a time of famine; and this in turn is but the last chapter in the patriarchal story which begins with the migration of Abraham from Syria or Babylonia to Palestine.”[5]

“Gen. 1-11 tells of creation and first men; the great flood; the dispersion of the peoples, with a genealogical table showing the affinities of the several races and another tracing the descent of Abraham in direct line from Shem the son of Noah. But even in Genesis the interest in the law manifests itself in various ways, such as the sanction of the sabbath, the prohibition of blood, and the introduction of circumcision.”[6]

“In regarding the whole Pentateuch as Law, or, to express it more accurately, as a revelation of the principles and observances of religion, the Jews were, therefore, doing no violence to the character and spirit of these books; and in ascribing them to Moses they were only extending to the whole the authorship which is asserted in particular of many of the laws, and especially of the impressive exhortations in Deuteronomy which form the climactic close of his work as a legislator.”[7]

[1] pp.29-30

[2] p.30

[3] Ibid.

[4] pp.30-31

[5] p.31

[6] Ibid.

[7] pp.31-32

C) Chapter Review:

  • Readability: 7/10
  • Theological depth: 5/10
  • Any other comments: Interestingly enough, George Foot Moore did not touch on the different theories regarding the authorship of the Pentateuch. The chapter, just like the previous one, was really short & found wanting content wise.