The Literature of the Old Testament (1913) [Chapter 6]

[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]

Deuteronomy

(pp.58-65)

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:

“Deuteronomy purports to contain the laws under which Israel is to live in the land of Canaan. It deals with the conditions of an agricultural people, settled in towns and villages, in the presence of a native population to the contamination of whose religion and morals the Israelites are exposed.” 1 

“The book is thus almost wholly in the form of address, and the hortatory note is insistent. As an introduction, Moses briefly recalls the history of the wanderings, from Horeb on, impressing at every turn the lessons of their experience (Deut. 1-3); the material is taken chiefly from E’s narrative, which it was intended to supersede in an independent Book of Deuteronomy.”2 

“The core of Deuteronomy is cc. 5-11; 12-26; 28. Speaking generally, the first part (cc. 5-11) expounds the fundamental principles of religion, while the second (cc. 12-26) contains special laws, and, as a fitting and effective conclusion of the whole, c. 28 sets forth the blessings which God will bestow on Israel if it keeps his commandments, and the curses it will incur by unfaithfulness and disobedience. The special laws, particularly in Deut. 22 ff., are similar in character to those in Exod. 21-23 and in Lev. 17-25, and doubtless embody in the main ancient custom; but beside them are provisions of a singularly Utopian kind, such as those on the conduct of war in c. 20 and the septennial cancelling of all debts (xv. 1-11).”3

“The conception of religion which dominates the whole book, but is most conspicuous in cc. 5-11, is the highest in the Old Testament. There is but one God, supreme in might and majesty, constant in purpose, faithful to his word, just but compassionate; he is not to be imaged or imagined in the likeness of anything in heaven or on earth; idolatry, divination, and sorcery are strictly forbidden. The essence of religion is love (Deut. vi. 4), the love of God to his people and their responsive love to him is the ruling motive in worship and conduct. In the relations of men to their fellows, whether countrymen or strangers and to the brute creation, humanity and charity are the prime virtues; the Utopian features of the laws are such only because they push the ideal of humanity too hard for unideal human nature.”4 

“All the other evidence in Deuteronomy points to the same age. Its conception of God and of religion is derived from the prophets of the eighth century. The influence of Hosea is particularly plain: that the essence of religion is love is Hosea’s idea, if there is such a thing as originality in religion. The language and style of Deuteronomy are of the seventh century, in its excellences and in its defects; Jeremiah and the author of Kings have the closest resemblance to it in its rhetorical manner and in its peculiar pathos.

On these grounds, since the latter part of the eighteenth century, an increasing number of scholars have held that the book was written in the second half of the seventh century for the purpose of bringing about a revolution such as actually followed its well-timed discovery; and this is now the opinion of almost all who admit that the common principles of historical criticism are applicable to Biblical literature.

 Deuteronomy is not all of one piece, as has already been pointed out. Many older laws were taken up into it at the beginning or introduced subsequently; considerable additions were made to it after Josiah’s time, and even after the fall of Judah, for in several passages that catastrophe and the dispersion of the people are an accomplished fact, an existing situation. It is only the reform programme and what hangs together with it that can be definitely dated.”5

Lawyer-Theologians

In my brief study of theologians throughout church history, I noticed a common denominator between many of them. Quite a number of theologians received formal legal training/education in their lifetime6. The following is a non-exhaustive list of lawyer-theologians, arranged chronologically:

2nd Century

Tertullian of Carthage

Background

“Son of a proconsular centurion, Tertullian studied law at Rome and as a young man converted to the Christian faith.”2

“There is an historical tradition, based on Eusebius and the Justinian Law Code, that Tertullian was a great legal expert. Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiastica mentioned that Tertullian knew ‘the Roman laws extremely accurately’. Justinian’s Digesta and Codex also quoted legal works by a jurist named Tertullian.”3

“Many word studies of Tertullian found legal terminology in his writings and declared his theology formed by the legal context. After Barnes, however, scholars began to reevaluate the presuppositions of these words, concluding with different results …

Claude Fredouille, and many now see Tertullian, not as a legal expert, but as a rhetorical genius capable of persuading with a whole range of imagery, including legal imagery.”4

Theological Contribution

Apologeticus
De testimonio animae
De Adversius Iudaeos
Adv. Marcionem
Adv. Praxeam
Adv. Hermogenem
De praesciptione hereticorum
Scorpiace

De monogamia
Ad uxorem
De virginibus velandis
De cultu feminarium
De patientia
De pudicitia
De oratione
AD martyras

3rd Century

Gregory Thaumaturgus

Background

“Gregory of Thaumaturgus had originally left Pontus to study Latin and Roman law at Beirut. While there, he might have been seduced from his legal studies not by biblical studies with the Christian teacher Origen, but by the delights of classic Greek culture.”5

“In the mid-third century, the Church Father, ‘Gregory the ‘wonderworker’ – later known as Gregory Thaumaturgus’ – studied rhetoric and Roman law with a private teacher in his hometown of Neo-Caesarea (the capital of Pontus, Asia Minor), before setting out with his brother and others for the law school at Beirut; they got as far as Caesarea in Palestine, where they continued their education with Origen …”6

“There is a passage from Gregory Thaumaturgus, who had studied law in his youth and became bishop of Nicocaesarea in Pontus about the middle of the third century …”7

Theological Contribution

Oratio Panengyrica
Epistola Canonica
Exposition of the Faith
Epistola ad Philagrium

4th Century

Basil of Caesarea 

Background

“[Basil of Caesarea] studied for five years in Athens, then came back home to begin a successful worldly career, teaching rhetoric and practicing law in Caeserea, the region’s capital.”8

“After years of private study, Basil enrolled in the University of Athens, the most prestigious university at that time. In due course, Basil returned to Cesaria, where he began his legal practice.”9

Theological Contribution

On the Holy Spirit
Refutation of the Apology of the Impious Eunomius

Amphilocius of Iconium

Background

“Amphilocius, later Bishop of Iconium, had abandoned his practice of law and was living in retirement at Ozizala, not far from Nazianzus, where Gregory, his uncle, was bishop.”10

“A number of key bishops in the Eastern Church who had received rhetorical education went on to practice as advocates before their episcopal appointments. From the Cappadocian Fathers we can name Basil the Great and his contemporaries Amphilocius of Iconium and Asterius of Amasea.”11

Theological Contribution

Against False Asceticism
Epistola Synodica
In Occursum Domini
Epistula lambica ad Seleucum

John Chyrsostom

Background

“After the completion of his studies, Chrysostom became a rhetorician, and began the profitable practice of law, which opened to him a brilliant political career.”12

“In due time, Chrysostom began to practice as a lawyer; and as the profession of the law was reckoned one of the surest avenues to political distinction for a man of talent, and the speeches of Chrysostom excited great admiration, a brilliant and prosperous career seemed to lie before him.”13

Theological Contribution

Hieratikon
Kata Ioudaion
Against Those Who Oppose the Monastic Life
On the Priesthood
Instructions to Catechumens
On the Imcomprehensibility of the Divine Nature

Continue reading “Lawyer-Theologians”

Jewish Theology Systematically and Historically Considered (1918) [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 Essence of the Religion of Judaism

(pp.15-18)

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:

“There can be no disputing the fact that the central idea of Judaism and its life purpose is the doctrine of the One Only and Holy God, whose kingdom of truth, justice and peace is to be universally established at the end of time.
This is the main teaching of Scripture and the hope voiced in the liturgy; while Israel’s mission to defend, to unfold and to propagate this truth is a corollary of the doctrine itself and cannot be separated from it. Whether we regard it as Law or a system of doctrine, as religious truth or world-mission, this belief pledged the little tribe of Judah to a warfare of many thousands of years against the hordes of heathendom with all their idolatry and brutality, their deification of man and their degradation of deity to human rank.”14

“Judaism is in a true sense a religion of the people. It is free from all priestly tutelage and hierarchical interference. It has no ecclesiastical system of belief, guarded and supervised by men invested with superior powers. Its teachers and leaders have always been men from among the people, like the prophets of yore, with no sacerdotal privilege or title; in fact, in his own household each father is the God-appointed teacher of his children.”2

“Neither is Judaism the creation of a single person, either prophet or a man with divine claims. It points back to the patriarchs as its first source of revelation. It speaks not of the God of Moses, of Amos and Isaiah, but of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, thereby declaring the Jewish genius to be the creator of its own religious ideas.”3

“[Judaism is] a religion of life, which it wishes to sanctify by duty rather than by laying stress on the hereafter. It looks to the deed and the purity of the motive , not to the empty creed and the blind belief.”4

“Nor is it a religion of redemption , contemning this earthly life; for Judaism repudiates the assumption of a radical power of evil in man or in the world. Faith in the ultimate triumph of the good is essential to it.”5

“Judaism sets forth its doctrine of God’s unity and of life’s holiness in a far superior form than does Christianity. It neither permits the deity to be degraded into the sphere of the sensual and human, nor does it base its morality upon a love bereft of the vital principle of justice.

Against the rigid monotheism of Islam, which demands blind submission to the stern decrees of inexorable fate, Judaism on the other hand urges its belief in God’s paternal love and mercy, which educates all the children of men, through trial and suffering, for their high destiny.”[footnote]pp. 17-18

“Judaism denies most emphatically the right of Christianity or any other religion to arrogate to itself the title of “the absolute religion” or to claim to be “the finest blossom and the ripest fruit of religious development” …

The full unfolding of the religious and moral life of mankind is the work of countless generations yet to come, and many divine heralds of truth and righteousness have yet to contribute their share.”6

“In this work of untold ages, Judaism claims that it has achieved and is still achieving its full part as the prophetic world-religion. Its law of righteousness, which takes for its scope the whole of human life, in its political and social relations as well as its personal aspects, forms the foundation of its ethics for all time; while its hope for a future realization of the Kingdom of God has actually become the aim of human history.”7

“As a matter of fact, when the true object of religion is the hallowing of life rather than the salvation of the soul, there is little room left for sectarian exclusiveness, or for a heaven for believers and a hell for unbelievers. With this broad outlook upon life, Judaism lays claim, not to perfection, but to perfectibility; it has supreme capacity for growing toward the highest ideals of mankind, as beheld by the prophets in their Messianic visions.”8

The Literature and History of the New Testament (1915) [Lesson 2]

[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 Roman Background of Christianity

(pp.10-14)

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 Establishment of the Empire

“By the middle of the first century before Christ the power of the Roman republic extended around the Mediterranean Sea.”[1]

“… in 49 B. C., Julius Cæsar entered Rome at the head of an army, and Roman liberty was at an end. After the assassination of Cæsar in 44 B. C., there was a succession of civil wars, and then, by the victory of Actium in 31 B. C., Octavius, who later assumed the name of Augustus, became sole ruler. Augustus died in A. D. 14.

Subsequent emperors during the first century were: Tiberius (A. D. 14-37), Caligula (A. D. 37-41), Claudius (A. D. 41-54), Nero (A. D. 54-68), Galba, Otho and Vitellius (A. D. 69), Vespasian (A. D. 69-79), Titus (A. D. 79-81), Domitian (A. D. 81-96), Nerva (A. D. 96-98), Trajan (A. D. 98-117).”[2]

ii) Roman Administration under the Empire

“(1) THE PROVINCES.—The provinces of the empire are to be distinguished from the territories of subject kings or princes. The latter were quite subservient to Rome, but were given more independence of administration. A good example of such a subject king, theoretically an ally, but in reality a vassal, was Herod the Great, who ruled over all Palestine till 4 B. C.”[3]

“The provinces themselves were divided into two great classes—imperial provinces and senatorial provinces.

The imperial provinces were under the immediate control of the emperor. They were governed by “legates,” who had no regular term of office, but served at the emperor’s pleasure …

A good example of an imperial province is the great province of Syria, with capital at Antioch. Palestine was more or less under the supervision of the Syrian legate …

The senatorial provinces were governed by “proconsuls,” chosen by lot from among the members of the Senate. The proconsuls served for only one year. Even over these provinces and their governors the emperor retained the fullest supervisory authority. The senatorial provinces composed the central and more settled portions of the empire, where large standing armies would not be needed. Examples are Achaia, with capital at Corinth, and Cyprus with capital at Paphos.”[4]

“(2) LOCAL GOVERNMENT.—The Romans did not attempt to introduce perfect uniformity throughout the empire. The original Greek unit of political life was the city, and Greek cities were scattered over the east before the Roman conquest. With regard to local affairs, many of the cities retained a certain amount of independence …

In addition to the Greek cities, many of which were more or less “free” in local affairs, many “Roman colonies” had been established here and there throughout the empire …

A number of the cities of The Acts were colonies, and one, Philippi, is expressly declared to be such. Acts 16:12.”[5]

“(3) ROMAN CITIZENSHIP.—Before New Testament times Roman citizenship had been extended to all Italy. Italy, therefore, was not a province or group of provinces, but was regarded as a part of Rome. Outside of Italy Roman citizenship was a valuable special privilege. It raised a man above the mass of the provincial population …

Because Paul was a Roman citizen he was legally exempt from the most degrading forms of punishment, and had a right to appeal to the court of the emperor. Roman citizenship was sometimes acquired by money, but Paul inherited it from his father.”[6]

iii) The Roman Religion

“Under the empire, Rome was possessed of a state religion. The ancient gods of the republic were retained. There were great divinities like Jupiter and Mars, and there were numberless private divinities of individual households.”[7]

“… long before the Christian era, there had been a thoroughgoing identification of the gods of Greece with the gods of Rome. The Greek Zeus, for example, was identified with the Roman Jupiter; the Greek Ares with the Roman Mars.”[8]

“In the Roman world, religion was a national affair. Worship of the national gods was not only piety, but also patriotism …

Support of the gods of Rome, even where personal faith in them had been undermined, was considered to be the duty of every loyal citizen.

The political aspect of Roman religion appears most clearly in the worship of the Roman emperors.”[9]

“The Greek inhabitants of the empire really regarded Augustus as their saviour …

He saved them from the miseries of civil war, and from the rapacity of the degenerate republic; he gave them peace and happiness. And they responded by regarding him as a god.”[10]

 

[1] p.10

[2] Ibid.

[3] p.11

[4] Ibid.

[5] p.12

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] pp.12-13

[9] p.13

[10] Ibid.

Coheirs with Christ

Romans 8:17 (NASB) says the following:

“and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”

So what does it mean to be a fellow heir/coheir/joint heir with Christ? This week’s sharing material covers just that! It also tackles two side, yet important, issues, i.e.

i) What are our inheritance?

ii) What is the nature of our inheritance?

 

Attachments:

Coheirs With Christ (Participants Notes)

Coheirs With Christ (Slides)

 

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

Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 5]

[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 John

(pp.63-71)

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) Content

“The contents of the Gospel of John is also divided into five parts:

I. The Advent and Incarnation of the Word, 1:1— 13 …

II. The Incarnate Word the only Life of the World, 1:14 — 6:71 …

III. The Incarnate Word, the Life and Light, in Conflict with Spiritual Darkness, 7:1 — 11:54 …

IV. The Incarnate Word saving the Life of the World through his Sacrificial Death, 11:55 — 19:42 …

V. The Incarnate Word, risen from the Dead, the Saviour and Lord of all Believers, 20:1 — 21:25.” [1]

II) Characteristics

“1. The gospel of John emphasizes more than any of the others the Divinity of Christ. It has no historical starting-point, like the Synoptics, but recedes back into the depths of eternity, and starts out with the statement sublime in its simplicity: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”” [2]

“The miracles of the Lord, narrated in this Gospel, are of such a character that they give great prominence to his divine power.” [3]

See John 4:46, 5:5, 9:1, 11:17

“The teaching of Christ greatly predominates in Johns Gospel, but this is quite different from that contained in the Synoptics. We find no parables here but elaborate discourses, which also contain a couple of allegories. The all absorbing topic is not the Kingdom of God but the Person of the Messiah.”[4]

Christ presents himself as the source of life, 4:46— 5:47; the spiritual nourishment of the soul, 6:22-65; the water of life, 4:7-16; 7:37, 38; the true liberator, 8:31-58; the light of the world, 9:5, 35-41; and the living principle of the resurrection, 11:25, 26.

“The scene of action in this Gospel is quite different from that in the Synoptics. In the latter the work of Christ in Galilee is narrated at length, while He is seen at Jerusalem only during the last week of His life. In the Gospel of John, on the other hand, the long ministry of Christ in Galilee is presupposed rather than narrated, while his work and teaching in Judea and particularly at Jerusalem is made very prominent.” [5]

“4. The Gospel of John is far more definite than the Synoptics in pointing out the time and place of the occurrences that are narrated; it is in a certain sense more chronological than the other Gospels. We are generally informed as to the place of Christ’s operation. Definite mention is made of Bethany, 1:28; Cana, 2: 1; Capernaum, 2:12; Jerusalem, 2:13; Sychar, 4: 5; Bethesda, 5 : 2, etc. The designations of time are equally distinct, sometimes the hour of the day being given.” [6]

“5. The style of the fourth Gospel is not like that of the other three. It is peculiar in that “it contains, on the one hand, except in the prologue and χαρᾷ χαίρειin 3:29, hardly any downright Hebraisms,” Simcox, The Writers of the New Testament p. 73, while, on the other hand, it approaches the style of Old Testament writers more than the style of any other New Testament writing does …

His sentences are generally connected in the most simple way by καί, δεor οὖν, and his descriptions are often elaborate and repetitious. He exhibits a special fondness for contrasts and for the use of the parallelismus membrorum.” [7]

III) Authorship

“The voice of antiquity is all but unanimous in ascribing the fourth Gospel to John.” [8]

“The internal evidence for the authorship of the Gospel is now generally arranged under the following heads:

1.The author was a Jew. He evidently had an intimate acquaintance with the Old Testament, had, as it were, imbibed the spirit of the prophetical writings. He knew them not only in the translation of the LXX, but in their original language, as is evident from several Old Testament quotations. Moreover the style of the author clearly reveals his Jewish nationality. He wrote Greeks it is true, but his construction, his circumstantiality and his use of parallelism, are all Hebraic …

2.The author was a Palestinian Jew. He clearly shows that he is well at home in the Jewish world. He is intimately acquainted with Jewish customs and religious observances and with the requirements of the law, and moves about with ease in the Jewish world of thought [see e.g. 1:21; 4:9; 5:1 ff.; 7:22 ff; 9:2; 9:14 ff] …

3.The writer was an eyewitness of the events he relates.He claims this explicitly, if not already in 1: 14, “we beheld his glory” (Cf. I John 1:1-3), certainly in 19:35. “And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true; and he knoweth that he saith true that ye might believe.” This claim is corroborated by the lively and yet simple manner in which he pictures the events; by the many definite chronological data and naming of localities …

4. [By the process of elimination] The author was the apostle John …” [9]

“Not until the last part of the eighteenth century was the authorship of John attacked on critical grounds, and even then the attacks were of small significance. Bretschneider in 1820 was the first to assail it in a systematic way. But he was soon followed by others, such as Baur, Strauss, Schwegler, Zeller, Scholten, Davidson, Wrede e. a. It has been their persistent endeavor to show that the Gospel of John is a product of the second century. Some would ascribe it to that shadowy person, the presbyter John, whose existence Eusebius infers from a rather ambiguous passage of Papias, but who, in all probability, is to be identified with John the apostle. Others positively reject this theory. Wrede, after arguing that the authorship of John cannot be established, says: “Far less can the recent hypothesis be regarded as proven which purports to find the author of the Gospel in John the presbyter.” The Origin of the New Testamentp. 89.” [10]

“The most important considerations that led many rationalistic critics to the conclusion that the fourth Gospel was written in the second century, are the following: (1) The theology of the Gospel, especially its representation of Christ, is developed to such a degree that it points beyond the first and reflects the consciousness of the Church of the second century. (2) The Gospel was evidently written under the influence of the philosophic and religious tendencies that were prevalent in the second century, such as Montanism, Docetism and Gnosticism. (3) The great difference between the fourth Gospel and the Synoptics appears to be the result of second century cavilling respecting the nature of Christ, and of the Paschal controversy.

But the idea that the Gospel of John is a second century product goes counter to both the internal evidence to which we already referred, and to the external testimony, which is exceptionally strong and which can be traced back to the very beginning of the second century. Some of the Epistles of Ignatius show the influence of John’s Christology, and the writings of both Papias and Polycarp contain allusions to the first Epistle of John, which was evidently written at the same time as the Gospel. The latter was in existence, therefore, in the beginning of the second century.” [11]

Continue reading “Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 5]”

The Literature of the Old Testament (1913) [Chapter 5]

[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]

Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers

(pp.47-57)

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:

“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.” [1]

“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. The announcement of the last plague is the occasion for P to introduce the ordinance of the Passover.” [2]

“All the strands of the triple narrative lead to a holy mountain in the desert (Sinai in P and probably in J; Horeb in E and D), the Mount of God, represented in all as the ancient seat of Jehovah.” [3]

“In all the sources God’s presence is manifested by cloud and fire upon the mountain, and Moses goes to the summit to meet God (Exod. 19, J, E; xxiv. 15 b -18 a , P).” [4]

“… in each of the three sources at this point larger or smaller groups of laws purporting to be delivered to Moses at the holy mountain, and containing what may be regarded as fundamental institutions. These bodies of law are, however, very different; the problem of their relation to one another and to the narratives is extremely difficult, and the parallel account of the legislation at Horeb in Deut. 5 adds another element to the complication. If the reader will attentively compare Exod. 20; 21-23; 24; Deut. 5; ix. 8-x. 5; and Exod. 34, he will get some impression of the nature of the difficulties.

According to Deut. v. 22, the Decalogue (Deut. v. 6-21; Exod. xx. 1-17, with noteworthy variants) was the law written on the two tables of stone by the hand of God which Moses dashed down and shattered when he saw the people wantoning around the golden calf (Exod. xxxii. 19). God proposes to reproduce the law on two new tablets (xxxiv. 1), but the Decalogue (xxxiv. 28) written on these tablets (xxxiv. 14-26) is wholly different from that of Exod. 20, being not a compend of moral law, but prescriptions for the festivals and ritual rules, whereas Deut. ix. 8-x. 5 says in so many words that it was the Decalogue of v. 6-21 which was restored.” [5]

“[The problems] arise in part from the attempt to harmonize radically different representations of what the fundamental law given at Sinai (or Horeb) was, in part from the tendency of later times to ascribe to the original Mosaic legislation the whole body of actual law regarded as having a religious sanction.” [6]

“The fundamental law of J, the basis of the original compact between Jehovah and Israel, is preserved in Exod. xxxiv. 1-5, 10a, 14-28 (with some manifest amplifications in vss. 15, 16, 24). When this was combined with the story of the golden calf and the broken tables (E), it was necessary to take it as a renewal of the law, and this was accomplished by very slight additions in vss. 1 and 4 (“like unto the first,” “that were on the first tables, which thou brakest”).” [7]

“According to [P’s] theory all the ordinances of worship were revealed at Sinai. Legitimate sacrifice presupposes one legitimate temple and altar, a legitimate priesthood, and a minutely prescribed ritual. In J and E the patriarchs set up altars and offer sacrifice in many places; it is an obvious interest of the authors, or of the local legends of holy places which they follow, to trace the origin of the altars, sacred stones, holy trees and wells, at Shechem or Bethel, Hebron or Beersheba, to one of the forefathers. In P, on the contrary, the patriarchs never offer sacrifice. Until the tabernacle was erected and God’s presence filled it, until Aaron was consecrated as priest, until the technique of the various species of offering had been revealed by God and exemplified by Moses or Aaron, no sacrifice could be anything but impious, like the worship of heathen.” [8]

“Lev. x. 1-7 is closely connected with cc. 8-9, and its sequel (combined with other matter) is found in c. 16, the ritual of atonement. Lev. 8-9 is a good specimen of the author’s method. In the form of a description of the sacrifices of consecration and the inaugural sacrifices of Aaron, he gives a paradigm for every variety of offering.” [9]

“… we find in Lev. 1-7 a collection of such laws, some of them (e.g. Lev. 1 and 3) unquestionably old both in substance and formulation, with slight adaptation to their surrounding (e.g. “the sons of Aaron,” i. 5, etc.), or with supplements to meet new economic and social conditions, such as the burnt offering of doves (Lev. i. 14-17, cf. vs. 2); others are younger or have been more extensively enlarged and amended. The chapters thus represent a growth in actual custom and corresponding rule.” [10]

“Lev. 11-15, on various forms of uncleanness and the prescribed purifications, to which x. 10 f. seems to be a fragmentary introduction, have no obvious association with anything in the context, though they are introduced appropriately enough before the general purification of the Day of Atonement, c. 16. The laws, which read like the chapters of an exactly formulated code of purity, have been expanded by the addition of new paragraphs (e.g. Lev. xiv. 21-32, 33-53), and in some cases changes in the ritual may be recognized; compare, for example, Lev. xiv. 1-8 with vss. 10-20.

Chapters 17-26 form a distinct body of law, having certain marked peculiarities of its own, notably the frequent recurrence of the motive of “holiness”—that is, the avoidance of things and actions tabooed by the religion of Israel—often coupled with the appeal to God’s holiness, as in xix. 2, “Ye shall be holy, for I, Jehovah, your God, am holy,” or simply asserting his authority, “I am Jehovah.”” [11]

“The hypothesis which seems best to explain the phenomena is that an independent collection of laws (or rather the remains of such a collection), characterized by the motive of holiness, has been expanded and edited in the spirit and manner of the priestly legislation, while some laws which were originally included in this collection have been transposed to other contexts.” [12]

“The laws in Numbers present the same variety as in Leviticus. There are old laws with modifications and enlargements, and many others which by various signs betray a more recent origin. Num. 28-36 belong as a whole to the latter class; cc. 28 f. exemplify that growth of the law by the formulation of sacerdotal ideals or desiderata which has been noted in the case of Lev. 4. It is to be observed that the narrative of P has reached in Num. xxvii. 12-23 the end of Moses’ career; nothing is in place after it but the ascent of Mt. Abarim and Moses’ death (Deut. 34). Num. 28-36 thus stand even formally in the place of an appendix.” [13]

“The narrative of P (Origin of the Religious Institutions) and the great mass of ritual and ceremonial laws in the three middle books of the Pentateuch are often called collectively the Priests’ Code.” [14]

“… many critics—except for the orderliness, which nobody has ventured to affirm, and with allowance for later additions—regard the Priests’ Code as such a law book, compiled and edited by priestly scribes in Babylonia, brought to Judæa by Ezra, with the authority of the Persian king, to reform the many disorders that existed there, and ratified and put in force in B.C. 444 by the magnates and the people of the Jews. (See Ezra 7; Neh. 8-10, and below, pp. 129 ff.)” [15]

“The phenomena we have observed in Exodus-Numbers suggest the hypothesis, rather, that various old laws, dealing chiefly with sacrifice and with the rules of clean and unclean—the two principal subjects of priestly regulation—were inserted at suitable points in the Origins of the Religious Institutions (P); these received amendments and supplements both before and after their incorporation; other more independent developments, whether representing actual custom or sacerdotal aspirations, found place among or beside them; and thus the whole Priestly stratum grew by a process of accretion through many generations into its present inorganic magnitude.” [16]

 

[1] p.47

[2] pp.47-48

[3] p.48

[4] Ibid.

[5] p.49

[6] p.50

[7] Ibid.

[8] p.51

[9] p.52

[10] pp.52-53

[11] pp.53-54

[12] p.54

[13] pp.55-56

[14] p.56

[15] Ibid.

[16] p.57

Interpretations of Romans 9-11

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

It would be an understatement to say that Romans 9-11 is a controversial passage. It has often been touted to be a proof-text for Calvinism. Today’s article presents the traditional Calvinist interpretation of the passage, as well as other interpretations posited by non-Calvinist scholars.

A) Individual election to salvation

Douglas Moo: “While the passages from Genesis may not refer directly to the salvation of individuals, Paul applies them to the question of who belongs in the spiritual Israel (v. 6). In other words, the ultimate concern is to show how God has determined who belongs to his people. That means that the issue is, finally, about the salvation of individuals …

Romans 9 teaches the absolute sovereignty of God in the decisions he makes about the ultimate fate of human beings.”[1]

John Murray: “The interpretation which regards the election as the collective, theocratic election of Israel as a people must be rejected and the ‘purpose of God according to election’ will have to be understood as the electing purpose that is determinative of and unto salvation and equivalent to that which we find elsewhere (Rom. 8:28-33; Eph. 1:4; 1 Thess. 1:4 et al).”[2]

Steven M. Baugh: “This passage teaches divine election and predestination of individuals to salvation, and the hardening of whom God wills, as candidly as anything is ever taught in the Bible, despite the resolute and persistent efforts of many to obviate it …

For Paul, Israelite privileged status is a biblical teaching which must be qualified by other truths. Specifically, Paul sees that membership in theocratic Israel with its national benefits does not guarantee membership in elect Israel whose benefits are righteousness, salvation, and eternal life.12 This is the point of his thematic statement in Romans 9:6: ‘They are not all Israel who are of Israel’; i.e., elect Israel and national Israel are not coextensive. Put another way, sonship in the Abrahamic line does not guarantee that one is a child of God (9:8) …

… Paul is addressing a more fundamental issue: why don’t all ethnic Israelites believe and thereby partake in the eternal inheritance? Paul’s answer to this deeper question pours out in a staccato stream in Romans 9:10-13. One believes only because God so chooses. The root of all God’s benefits is his own predestinating free will.”[3]

Thomas Schreiner: “When Paul speaks of the anguish in his heart and his desire to be accursed because of his fellow Israelites (Rom 9:1-3), the reason he feels this way is not because Israel is merely losing out on temporal blessings. Distress torments his heart because his kinsmen from Israel were not saved. Paul is almost willing “to be separated from Christ” (9:3) because his fellow Israelites are separated from Christ …

The particular question in [Paul’s] mind in w. 1-5 relates to the salvation of Israel, and thus the claim that God’s word has not failed (9:6) must be interpreted in relationship to the issue that is at the forefront of Paul’s mind—namely, the salvation of Israel. Those interpreters who assert that Paul is referring merely to the historical destiny of Israel and not to salvation do not account plausibly for the relationship of vv. 1-5 to the rest of the chapter, for vv. 1-5 make it eminently clear that the reason Paul brings up the question of the faithfulness of God in v. 6 is that a great portion of Israel is not saved.”[4]

B) Corporate election to salvation

Brian J. Abasciano: “What is imperative to see in relation to the nature of the election Paul envisions in Rom. 9.10-13 is that the significance of the individual Jacob’s election for Israel was that they were elect by virtue of their identification with him. Their election was ‘in him’, and thus intrinsically consequent upon his. This dispels another of the main objections to taking election as corporate in these verses – that the individuals Jacob and Esau are obviously in view to one degree or another, and therefore so is individual election (of individuals as autonomous entities). This objection fails to apprehend the relationship between the election of the corporate representative and his people. The corporate representative’s election is unique, entailing the election of all who are identified with him. Its significance was never that each individual member of the elect people was chosen as an individual to become part of the elect people in the same manner as the corporate head was chosen. Rather, the individual possesses elect status as a consequence of membership in the elect people/identification with the corporate representative. In the case of the divine covenantal election, God chooses his people by his choice of the covenant head.

A great obstacle to the view that Paul is teaching direct election of individuals as individuals to become part of his people and receive salvation is the fact that the corporate view is the view of the Old Testament generally and the texts Paul interprets in Romans 9 specifically as well as the standard view of Judaism in Paul’s day. Moo, an outspoken advocate of individual election, admits as much and concedes, ‘We would expect Paul to be thinking of “election” here in the same terms, an expectation that seems to be confirmed by the OT texts that Paul quotes’. This is exactly right. As I have argued elsewhere, the burden of proof lies squarely upon those who would argue that Paul departs from the standard biblical and Jewish concept of election. Therefore, it is an insuperable problem for the individual election view that everything Paul says here in Romans 9 fits comfortably into the view of corporate election, which could speak of the inclusion or exclusion of individuals vis-à-vis the covenant without shifting the locus of election itself to the individual. Indeed, Paul’s olive tree metaphor in Rom. 11.17-24 evidences the view of corporate election perfectly. Individuals get grafted into the elect people (the olive tree) and participate in election and its blessings by faith or get cut off from God’s chosen people and their blessings because of unbelief, while the focus of election clearly remains the corporate people of God, which spans salvation history. The natural understanding of Jacob’s election in a first-century context would have led readers to apply Paul’s example to the character of the corporate election of God’s people rather than to the individual. Advocates of individual election in Romans 9 appear to have jumped to applying election directly to individuals because of individualistic assumptions foreign to Paul and his socio-historical milieu.

Thus, Paul’s argument based on Jacob and Esau is salvation-historical. Based on the circumstances of their conception and the timing of the divine call/proclamation of Jacob’s election as the covenant heir, Paul concludes that the election of God’s people was not dictated by any distinctive of either twin, but by the sovereign will and call of God. Generally speaking, by basing the foundational election of his people on his sovereign call rather than some meritorious distinctive of Jacob or de-meritorious distinctive of Esau, God ensured that he remained free to choose who his people are according to his own good pleasure. More specifically, he ensured that he remained free to choose the head/mediator of his covenant for any (or no) reason whatsoever, and thereby to choose similarly who his people are. Most specifically in the context of Paul’s argument, God’s sovereign call of Jacob and his descendants ensured that he could call only those who believe in Jesus Christ seed of Abraham if he so chose, that is, regard them as his covenant people, and thereby fulfill his purpose of blessing the whole world in Abraham, for Israel’s election depended wholly on his sovereign will from the beginning and therefore remained subject to the dictates of his own will.”[5]

“God chose the people of Israel in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel (Deut 4:37; 7:6-8). That is, by choosing Jacob/Israel, the corporate/covenant representative, God also chose his descendants as his covenant people. It is a matter of Old Testament covenant theology. The covenant representative on the one hand and the people/nation of Israel on the other hand are the focus of the divine covenantal election, and individuals are elect only as members of the elect people. Moreover, in principle, foreign individuals who were not originally members of the elect people could join the chosen people and become part of the elect, demonstrating again that the locus of election was the covenant community and that individuals found their election through membership in the elect people.”[6]

B. J. Oropeza: “Paul’s references from the Scriptures on individuals such as Isaac, Esau, Jacob, and Pharaoh address the issue of election (cf. Rom. 9:6-19; see below), but their election or rejection by God is brought out to make more relevant points to the Romans about the communities such as Israel (9:23-10:3, 18-21; 11:26-32), the Gentile believers (9:24, 30; 11:13, 25), and the faithful remnant (11:1-7). Likewise in this context, Paul considers himself elect not by virtue of his own independent status with God but because he is a member of the elect remnant of Israel (11:1-7) …

For the Romans whom Paul is addressing, the individual is elect by participating in the elect community “in Christ,” and the assurances of final salvation given to that community pertain to the individual as long as that individual is identified as belonging to the elect community.[7]

Norman Geisler: “… God is not speaking here about the individual Jacob but about the nation of Jacob (Israel) … The reference here [in Gen. 25:23] is not to individual election but to the corporate election of a chosen nation – Israel.

Second, regardless of the corporate election of Israel as a nation, each individual had to accept the Messiah in order to be saved. Paul said, “I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel” (Rom. 9:3-4). He added, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved” (10:1). Even though of the end times he says later that, “all Israel will be saved” (11:26), he is referring to Israel at that time, and clearly at present there is only “a remnant” (v.5). So even though Israel as a nation was elect, each individual had to accept God’s grace by “faith” in order to be saved (v.20).”[8]

William Lane Craig: “The problematic [sic], then, with which Paul is wrestling is how God’s chosen people the Jews could fail to obtain the promise of salvation while Gentiles, who were regarded by Jews as unclean and execrable, could find salvation instead. Paul’s answer is that God is sovereign: He can save whomever He wants, and no one can gainsay God. He has the freedom to have mercy upon whomever He wills, even upon execrable Gentiles, and no one can complain of injustice on God’s part.

So—and this is the crucial point— who is it that God has chosen to save? The answer is: those who have faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul writes in Galatians (which is a sort of abbreviated Romans), “So you see that it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham” (Gal. 3. 7). Jew or Gentile, it doesn’t matter: God has sovereignly chosen to save all those who trust in Christ Jesus for salvation …

Election, then, is first and foremost a corporate notion: God has chosen for Himself a people, a corporate entity, and it is up to us by our response of faith whether or not we choose to be members of that corporate group destined to salvation.”[9]

Continue reading “Interpretations of Romans 9-11”

Jewish Theology Systematically and Historically Considered (1918) [Chapter 2]

[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]

What is Judaism?

(pp.7-14)

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:

“Religion and race form an inseparable whole in Judaism. The Jewish people stand in the same relation to Judaism as the body to the soul.”[1]

“The national or racial body of Judaism consists of the remnant of the tribe of Judah which succeeded in establishing a new commonwealth in Judæa in place of the ancient Israelitish kingdom, and which survived the downfall of state and temple to continue its existence as a separate people during a dispersion over the globe for thousands of years, forming ever a cosmopolitan element among all the nations in whose lands it dwelt. Judaism, on the other hand, is the religious system itself, the vital element which united the Jewish people, preserving it and regenerating it ever anew. It is the spirit which endowed the handful of Jews with a power of resistance and a fervor of faith unparalleled in history, enabling them to persevere in the mighty contest with heathenism and Christianity.”[2]

“Judaism is nothing less than a message concerning the One and holy God and one, undivided humanity with a world-uniting Messianic goal, a message intrusted by divine revelation to the Jewish people.”[3]

“On the one hand, it shows the most tenacious adherence to forms originally intended to preserve the Jewish people in its priestly sanctity and separateness, and thereby also to keep its religious truths pure and free from encroachments. On the other hand, it manifests a mighty impulse to come into close touch with the various civilized nations, partly in order to disseminate among them its sublime truths, appealing alike to mind and heart, partly to clarify and deepen those truths by assimilating the wisdom and culture of these very nations.”[4]

“Its priestly world-mission gave rise to all those laws and customs which were to separate it from its idolatrous surroundings, and this occasioned the charge of hostility to the nations.”[5]

“… Israel’s prophetic ideal of a humanity united in justice and peace gave to history a new meaning and a larger outlook, kindling in the souls of all truly great leaders and teachers, seers and sages of mankind a love and longing for the broadening of humanity which opened new avenues of progress and liberty.”[6]

“Judaism … far from being the late product of the Torah and tradition, as it is often considered, was actually the creator of the Law. Transformed and unfolded in Babylonia, it created its own sacred literature and shaped it ever anew, filling it always with its own spirit and with new thoughts. It is by no means the petrifaction of the Mosaic law and the prophetic teachings, as we are so often told, but a continuous process of unfolding and regeneration of its great religious truth.

True enough, traditional or orthodox Judaism does not share this view. The idea of gradual development is precluded by its conception of divine revelation, by its doctrine that both the oral and the written Torah were given at Sinai complete and unchangeable for all time.”[7]

“Nevertheless, tradition says that the Men of the Great Synagogue themselves collected and partly completed the sacred books, except the five books of Moses, and that the canon was made under the influence of the holy spirit. This holy spirit remained in force also during the creative period of Talmudism, sanctioning innovations or alterations of many kinds. Modern critical and historical research has taught us to distinguish the products of different periods and stages of development in both the Biblical and Rabbinical sources, and therefore compels us to reject the idea of a uniform origin of the Law, and also of an uninterrupted chain of tradition reaching back to Moses on Sinai.”[8]

“It [i.e. Judaism] adopted the Babylonian and Persian views of the hereafter, of the upper and the nether world with their angels and demons; so later on it incorporated into its religious and legal system elements of Greek and Egyptian gnosticism, Greek philosophy, and methods of jurisprudence from Egypt, Babylon, and Rome. In fact, the various parties which arose during the second Temple beside each other or successively—Sadducees and Pharisees, Essenes and Zealots—represent, on closer observation, the different stages in the process of assimilation which Judaism had to undergo. In like manner, the Hellenistic, Apocryphal and Apocalyptic literature, which was rejected and lost to sight by traditional Judaism, and which partly fills the gap between the Bible and the Talmudic writings, casts a flood of light upon the development of the Halakah and the Haggadah.”[9]

“Instead of representing Judaism—as the Christian theologians do under the guise of scientific methods—as a nomistic religion, caring only for the external observance of the Law, it is necessary to distinguish two opposite fundamental tendencies; the one expressing the spirit of legalistic nationalism, the other that of ethical or prophetic universalism. These two work by turn, directing the general trend in the one or the other direction according to circumstances.”[10]

“At one time the center and focus of Israel’s religion is the Mosaic Law, with its sacrificial cult in charge of the priesthood of Jerusalem’s Temple; at another time it is the Synagogue, with its congregational devotion and public instruction, its inspiring song of the Psalmist and its prophetic consolation and hope confined to no narrow territory, but opened wide for a listening world. Here it is the reign of the Halakah holding fast to the form of tradition, and there the free and fanciful Haggadah , with its appeal to the sentiments and views of the people. Here it is the spirit of ritualism , bent on separating the Jews from the influence of foreign elements, and there again the spirit of rationalism , eager to take part in general culture and in the progress of the outside world.”[11]

“An impartial Jewish theology must therefore take cognizance of both sides; it must include the mysticism of Isaac Luria and Sabbathai Horwitz as well as the rationalism of Albo and Leo da Modena.”[12]

“As a safeguard against arbitrary individualism, there was the principle of loyalty and proper regard for tradition, which is aptly termed by Professor Lazarus a “historical continuity.” The Midrashic statement is quite significant that other creeds founded on our Bible can only adhere to the letter, but the Jewish religion possesses the key to the deeper meaning hidden and presented in the traditional interpretation of the Scriptures. That is, for Judaism Holy Scripture in its literal sense is not the final word of God; the Bible is rather a living spring of divine revelation, to be kept ever fresh and flowing by the active force of the spirit.”[13]

“To sum up: Judaism, far from offering a system of beliefs and ceremonies fixed for all time, is as multifarious and manifold in its aspects as is life itself. It comprises all phases and characteristics of both a national and a world religion.”[14]

 

[1] p.7

[2] pp.7-8

[3] p.8

[4] pp.8-9

[5] p.9

[6] Ibid.

[7] p.11

[8] pp.11-12

[9] pp.12-13

[10] p.13

[11] Ibid.

[12] p.14

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

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.