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 Remonstrant Brotherhood, a Dutch denomination which follows the work of Arminius and his followers, is a full member of the World Communion 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

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.

[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] “Members.” WCRC.ch. Accessed November 6, 2018. http://wcrc.ch/members

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)

Guest Contributor: Hon Sir Neng

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.

 

Daniel 1-2

DANIEL 1

Introduction[2]

  • Dan 1:1-2 – Nebuchadnezzar conquers Jerusalem

David Guzik: “There is also no contradiction between Daniel, who says this happened in the third year of Jehoiakim, and Jeremiah 46:2, which says it was in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. Daniel reckoned a king’s years after the Babylonian method: the first year of a king’s reign begins at the start of the calendar year after he takes the throne. Jeremiah uses the Jewish method.

“It was customary for the Babylonians to consider the first year of a king’s reign as the year of accession and to call the next year the first year … Having spent most of his life in Babylon, it is only natural that Daniel should use a Babylonian form of chronology.” (Walvoord)”[3]

Zdravko Stefanovic: “The three major Babylonian invasions can be summarized as follows:

605 B.C. Members of the royal family and nobility, including Daniel and his friends were led to Babylon (2 Kings 24:1, 2; 2 Chron. 36:5-7).

597 B.C. King Jehoiachin, princes, and priests, including the prophet Ezekiel, were taken to Babylon (2 Kings 24:10-14; 2 Chron. 36:10).

586 B.C. King Zedekiah and all the remaining people other than the poor were exiled to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1-21; 2 Chron. 36:17-20).”[4]

Mark Copeland: “Daniel was contemporary with Jeremiah and Ezekiel

Jeremiah prophesied in Jerusalem before and during the Babylonian exile (626-528 B.C.)

Ezekiel prophesied in Babylon among the exiles (592-570 B.C.)

Daniel prophesied in the capital of Babylon (605-586 B.C.)”[5]

Gene Taylor: “[Babylon] was also called “Shinar.” (Gen. 10:10; 11:2; Isa. 11:11) … and was later called “the land of the Chaldeans.” (Jer. 24:4; Ezek. 12:13).”[6]

Babylon’s system of indoctrination

Dan 1:3-4 – The best and the brightest of Jerusalem’s young men are chosen and taken to Babylon

Zdravko Stefanovic: “Daniel was one of the captives who were led from Jerusalem to Babylon. He and his friends were most probably between fifteen and eighteen years old when they were taken there.”[7]

Dan 1:5-7 – In Babylon, the Hebrew youths are groomed for the civil service

AIA Devotionals: “The conscious goal of the Babylonian captivity was cultural assimilation (making Jews think/act like Babylonians)”[8]

“…Daniel and his three friends also received new legal names that reflected the worldview Babylon wanted them to adopt. For example, in Hebrew the name Daniel means “God is my judge,” but Belteshazzar means “may a god protect his life” or “Goddess, protect the king” (vv. 6–7).”[9]

i) Hananiah: “Yahweh is gracious/merciful.”[10] became Shadrach: “The Command of [Aku].”

ii) Mishael: “Who is what God is!” (probable) became Meshach: “Who is What Aku Is?”

iii) Azariah: “Yahweh has helped.” became Abednego: “the servant of [the god] Nebo”[11]

Dan 1:8 – Daniel’s decision to be faithful

Zdravko Stefanovic: “As to why the young men decided to abstain from the rich royal food, scholars have put forward three proposals: dietary, political, and religious. The dietary reason had to do with the Mosaic prohibition against eating unclean animals and eating clean animals whose blood was not drained when slaughtered. The political reason had to do with the culture of the Bible: Eating with a person meant making an alliance or a covenant with that person. The religious reason may have been belief of the four Hebrews that no earthly king but only the God in heaven should be given credit for one’s success in life … The term choice food is consistently followed by the words “the king” to stress the fact that the king provided for the young men’s needs while they were in training. In other words, the young men were made “the king’s pensioners.””[12]

David Guzik: “Why did Daniel and his friends consider the king’s food defiled? First, it undoubtedly was not kosher. Second, it was probably sacrificed to idols. Third, it implied fellowship with Babylon’s cultural system.”[13]

The results of Daniel’s courageous decision

Dan 1:9 – God gives Daniel favor and goodwill with the authorities.

Dan 1:10-13 – Daniel suggests a plan

Dan 1:14-16 – Daniel and his companions are blessed for their faithfulness

Dan 1:17-21 – Daniel and his companions are blessed and promoted

DANIEL 2

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream

Dan 2:1 – The troubling dream

Dan 2:2-9 – Nebuchadnezzar demands to know the dream and its interpretation from his wise men

Dan 2:10-11 – The wise men explain the impossibility of Nebuchadnezzar’s request

Dan 2:12-13 – A furious Nebuchadnezzar sentences all his wise men to death

God reveals the dream to Daniel

Dan 2:14-16 – Daniel reacts to Nebuchadnezzar’s decree by asking for a brief extension

Dan 2:17-18 – Daniel asks his companions for prayer

Dan 2:20-23 – Daniel praises God for this revelation

The dream of Nebuchadnezzar and its interpretation

Dan 2:24-30 – Daniel is ushered into the king’s presence, and gives glory to God for revealing the dream

Dan 2:31-35 – Daniel describes Nebuchadnezzar’s dream

Dan 2:36-45 – The interpretation of the dream

J. Vernon McGee:

i) Babylon – head of gold

ii) Medo-Persia – chest & arms of silver

iii) Greece – belly and thighs of bronze / sides of brass

iv) Rome – legs of iron, with feet mixed with iron & clay[14]

Dan 2:46-49 – Nebuchadnezzar’s reaction to Daniel’s reporting of the dream and its interpretation

What can we learn from Daniel 1-2?

Daniel remained faithful to God when it seemed as though God was not faithful to him (1:1-4)

Daniel looked for God’s favour above man’s favour (1:4)

Daniel was persistent (1:8-11):

First – asked commander of the officials;

Second – asked overseer appointed by commander of the officials

Daniel was courteous in pursuing his convictions (1:12)

God is always in control (1:2, 9, 17)[1]

Daniel understood the importance of prayer (2:17-18)

Daniel had faithful friends alongside him (2:17)

It is by the will of God that kings are raised or deposed (2:21)

Daniel understood the importance of giving thanks to God (2:19-23)

Daniel was a witness for God (2:27-28, 47)

The kingdoms of men will result in destruction but the kingdom of God under the rule of the Messiah will result in glory (2:44-45)

Conclusion

Zdravko Stefanovic: “… in the story of chapter 2, Daniel is portrayed as a model of wisdom (Dan. 2:14), prayer (2:18), praise (vv. 19-23), and witness (vv. 27-28).”[15]

Thomas Nelson: “Daniel is one of the few well-known biblical characters about whom nothing negative is written. His life was characterized by faith, prayer, courage, consistency, and lack of compromise. This ‘greatly beloved’ man (9:23; 10:11, 19) was mentioned three times by his sixth-century B.C. contemporary Ezekiel as an example of righteousness.”[16]

 

[1] Thomas Nelson, Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts (2010), p.236: “The theme of God’s sovereign control in the affairs of world history clearly emerges and provides comfort to the future church, as well as to the Jews whose nation was destroyed by the Babylonians. The Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans will come and go, but God will establish His kingdom through His redeemed people forever.”

[2] William S. Deal, Baker’s Pictorial Introduction to the Bible (1967), p.200: “That Daniel is the author of this book has been received both by the Jews and the Christian church throughout the centuries”; see also Thomas Nelson, Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts (2010), p.233: “Daniel claimed to write this book (12:4), and he used the autobiographical first person from 7:2 onward. The Jewish Talmud agrees with this testimony, and Christ attributed a quote from 9:27 to ‘Daniel the prophet’ (Matt. 24:15).”

[3] David Guzik, “Study Guide for Daniel 1.” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/archives/guzik_david/studyguide_dan/dan_1.cfm

[4] Zdravko Stefanovic, Daniel: Wisdom to the Wise : Commentary on the Book of Daniel (2007), p.49

[5] Mark Copeland, “Sermons from Daniel” (2002), p.3

[6] Gene Taylor, “A Study in the Book of Daniel” (1998), p.11

[7] Zdravko Stefanovic, Daniel: Wisdom to the Wise : Commentary on the Book of Daniel (2007), pp.16-17; see also p.52: “The expression …, “young men,” [in Daniel 1:4] means that the youth were in their adolescent years (Gen. 37:30).”

[8] “Daniel 1 Living By Identity in a Secular World.” AIA Devotionals. Accessed December 1, 2017. https://www.princeton.edu/~aia/files/talks/daniel1.pdf

[9] “In the Court of a Pagan King.” Ligonier Ministries. Accessed December 1, 2017. http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/court-pagan-king/

[10] Zdravko Stefanovic, Daniel: Wisdom to the Wise : Commentary on the Book of Daniel (2007), p.56

[11] Zdravko Stefanovic, Daniel: Wisdom to the Wise : Commentary on the Book of Daniel (2007), p.57; see also David Guzik, “Study Guide for Daniel 1.” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed December 15, 2017. https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/archives/guzik_david/studyguide_dan/dan_1.cfm: “Abed-Nego (meaning Servant of Nego).”

[12] Zdravko Stefanovic, Daniel: Wisdom to the Wise : Commentary on the Book of Daniel (2007), pp.57-58; see also David Guzik, “Study Guide for Daniel 1.” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed December 15, 2017. https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/archives/guzik_david/studyguide_dan/dan_1.cfm: “”By eastern standards to share a meal was to commit one’s self to friendship; it was of covenant significance.” (Baldwin)”

[13] David Guzik, “Study Guide for Daniel 1.” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed December 15, 2017. https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/archives/guzik_david/studyguide_dan/dan_1.cfm

[14] J. Vernon McGee, “Notes & Outlines Daniel.” Thru the Bible. Accessed December 16, 2017. http://www.ttb.org/docs/default-source/notes-outlines/no19_daniel.pdf?sfvrsn=2

[15] Zdravko Stefanovic, Daniel: Wisdom to the Wise : Commentary on the Book of Daniel (2007), p.95

[16] Thomas Nelson, Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts (2010), p.233

Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [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]

The Gospel of Matthew

(pp.37-45)

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

“The  Gospel  of  Matthew  may  be  divided  into  five  parts:

The Advent  of  the  Messiah, 1:1 – 4:11 …

The Public  proclamation  of  Messiah’s  Kingdom, 4:12 – 16:12 …

The  Distinct  and  Public  Claim  of  Messiahship, 16:13 – 23:39 …

The Sacrifice  of  Messiah  the  Priest, 24:1 – 27:66 …

The Triumph  of  Messiah  the  Saviour  and  King.”[1]

ii) Characteristics

“As  to form  we  find,  in  the  first  place,  a  characteristically  Jewish  numerical  arrangement of  things  in  this  Gospel.  The  genealogy  in  ch.  1  consists  of  three  groups  of  generations  of fourteen  each.  There  are  seven  beatitudes  ch.  5;  seven  petitions  in  the  Lord’s  prayer  ch.  6;  a group  of  seven  parables  ch.  13;  and  seven  woes  on  Pharisees  and  Scribes  ch.  23.”[2]

“As  to  the style  of  Matthew,  in  the  second  place,  may  be  said  that  it  is  smoother  than  that  of  Mark, though  not  so  vivid.  But  it  is  tinged  with  Hebraisms,  less  indeed  than  the  language  of  Luke, but  more  than  that  of  Mark.  It  is  rather  impersonal,  lacking  in  individuality.”[3]

“The  arrangement  of  the  material  in  this  Gospel  also  differs  considerably  from  that  in the  other  Synoptics.  The  narrative  is  not  continuous,  but  is  interrupted  by  five  great  discourses,  such  as  are  not  found  in  the  Gospels  of  Mark  and  Luke,  viz,  the  Sermon  on  the Mount,  chs.  5-7;  the  charge  to  the  apostles,  ch.  10;  the  parables  of  the  Kingdom,  ch.  13;  the discourse  on  the  church,  ch.  18;  and  the  final  eschatological  discourses  of  Christ  on  the  last judgment,  chs.  23-25.  After  every  one  of  these  discourses  we  find  the  words:  “And  it  came to  pass,  when  Jesus  had  ended  (made  an  end  of,  finished)  these  sayings,  etc.””[4]

“As  to  contents  the  following  peculiarities  deserve  our  attention:  In  the  first  place  the Gospel  of  Matthew  has  a  more  Jewish  aspect,  than  the  other  Synoptics.  Its  predominant subject  is,  the  Messiah  and  his  Kingdom …

In  the  second  place  the  first  Gospel  alludes to  the  Old  Testament  more  frequently  than  any  other:  It  emphasizes  the  fact  that  the  New Testament  reveals  the  fulfilment  of  Old  Testament  promises;  that  Christ  was  born,  revealed himself  and  labored  as  the  prophets  of  old  had  foretold.  Matthew  contains  more  than  40 quotations,  while  Mark  has  21  and  Luke,  22.”[5]

iii) Authorship

“The  superscription  ascribes  the  first  Gospel  to  Matthew.  That  this  embodies  the  opinion of  the  early  Church  is  evident  from  the  testimony  of  Irenaeus,  Tertullian,  Origen,  Eusebius and  several  others,  who  all  point  to  Matthew  as  the  author.”[6]

“The  Gospel  itself  shows  unmistakably,  by  its  Jewish  physiognomy,  that  its  author  was  a  Jew,  yea  even  that  he  was  a Palestinian  Jew,  for  he  quotes  from  the  Hebrew  and  not  from  the  Septuagint.”[7]

“It  contains  no direct  evidence,  however  to  the  authorship  of  Matthew,  though  there  are  a  couple  points  of difference  between  it  and  the  other  Synoptics  that  are  best  explained  on  the  assumption  that Matthew  wrote  it.  When  we  compare  the  lists  of  the  twelve  apostles  in  Mt.  10:2-4;  Mk.  3: 16-19;  and  Luke  6:14-  16,  we  notice  that  only  in  the  first  Gospel  the  name  Matthew  is  followed by  the  less  honorable  qualification  “the  publican  ;”  and  that  it  has  the  order,  “Thomas  and Matthew”  instead  of,  “Matthew  and  Thomas.’”[8]

“Our  information  regarding  Matthew  is  very  scanty.  We  read  of  him  first  in  connection with  the  call  to  follow  Jesus,  Mt.  9:  9,  10;  Mk.  2:14,  15;  Lk.  5 :  27-29.  There  is  no  reason  to doubt  that  the  Matthew  of  the  first  Gospel  is  the  Levi  of  the  second  and  third.  Possibly  his name  was  changed  by  the  Lord  after  his  call  to  the  discipleship,  just  as  those  of  Peter  and Paul.”[9]

“A  veil  of  obscurity  is  cast  over  the  apostolic career  of  Matthew.  Tradition  has  it  that  he  remained  at  Jerusalem  with  the  other  apostles for  about  twelve  years  after  the  death  of  the  Lord,  laboring  among  his  fellow-countrymen. When  the  work  was  done,  it  is  said,  he  preached  the  Gospel  to  others,  according  to  the popular  opinion  in  Ethiopia.  He  probably  died  a  natural  death.”[10]

iv) Composition

“A  hotly  debated  question  is  that  regarding  the  language  in  which Matthew  originally  wrote  his  Gospel.  The  difficulty  of  the  problem  arises  from  the  fact  that external  testimony  and  internal  evidence  seem  to  disagree.  As  a  result  the  camp  is  very  much divided,  some  scholars  ardently  defending  a  Hebrew,  others  with  equal  zeal  a  Greek  original.”[11]

“… evidence  both  external  and  internal  has  given  rise  to  several  theories,  which  we  can  briefly  state  in  the  following  manner:

(1.)  Matthew  wrote  his  Gospel  in  Hebrew  and  someone  else  translated  it  into Greek.  This  position  was  held  by  the  Church  in  general  until  the  time  of  the  Reformation. Since  then  several  Protestant  scholars  took  another  view,  because  Rome  defended  the  ultimate authority  of  the  Vulgate  by  pointing  out  that  the  Greek  Matthew  was  also  merely  a  translation. The  attacks  of  Rationalism  on  the  so-called  second-hand  Matthew,  and  the  dubious  character of  a  part  of  the  ancient  testimony,  also  served  to  bring  this  theory  into  discredit …

(2.)  There  never  was  a  Hebrew  original,  but  Matthew  wrote  his  Gospel  in  the  Greek language.  The  present  gospel  is  not  a  translation,  but  an  original  work …

(3.)  Matthew  wrote  neither  a  Hebrew  nor  a  Greek  Gospel,  but,  if  anything,  a  work  called the  λόγια by  Papias,  which  must  have  been  a  collection  of  the  sayings  or  discourses  of  the Lord.  According  to  some  these  λόγια are  lost,  but  must  probably  be  identified  with  one  of the  supposed  sources  (Q)  of  our  present  Gospels.  Others  as  Godet  and  Holdsworth  believe that  the  work  contained  the  discourses  that  we  find  in  the  Gospel  of  Matthew  and  was therefore  incorporated  bodily  in  our  present  Gospel.

(4.)  The  evangelist  after  writing  his  Gospel  in  Hebrew  with  a  view  to  his  countrymen, possibly  when  he  had  left  Palestine  to  labor  elsewhere,  translated  or  rather  furnished  a  new recension  of  his  Gospel  in  the  Greek  language  with  a  view  to  the  Jews  of  the  Diaspora.  The former  was  soon  lost  and  altogether  replaced  by  the  latter.”[12]

“The  Gospel  of  Matthew  was  undoubtedly  destined  for  the  Jews. This  is  expressly  stated  by  Irenaeus,  Origen,  Eusebius,  Gregory  Nazianzen,  e. a.  This  testimony is  corroborated  by  internal  evidence.  The  genealogy  of  Jesus  goes  back  only  to  Abraham, the  father  of  the  Hebrew  race;  and  in  harmony  with  the  tenets  of  the  Jews  the  Messiahship of  Christ  is  proved  from  the  prophets.  The  whole  Gospel  impresses  one  as  being  occasioned by  the  exigencies  of  the  Jews  both  in  Palestine  and  without.”[13]

“Irenaeus  makes  a  very definite  statement,  viz.:  “Matthew  among  the  Hebrews  published  a  Gospel  in  their  own language,  while  Peter  and  Paul  were  preaching  the  Gospel  at  Rome  and  founding  a  church there.”  This  must  have  been  somewhere  between  63-67  A.  D.”[14]

“The  dates  assigned  to  this  Gospel  by  rationalistic  critics  range  from about  70  to  125  A.  D.”[15]

“The  question  arises,  whether  Matthew  used  sources  in  the  composition  of his  Gospel.  The  prevalent  opinion  at  present  is  that  the  writer  of  this  Gospel,  whoever  he may  have  been,  drew  in  the  main  on  two  sources,  viz,  on  the  λόγια of  Matthew  for  the  discourses  of  the  Lord,  and  on  the  Gospel  of  Mark  for  the  narrative  portion  of  his  work …

Against  these  see  Davidson  and  Salmon.  Zahn’s  opinion  is  that  Mark  employed  the  Hebrew  Matthew  in  the  composition  of his  Gospel,  and  that  the  writer  of  our  Greek  Matthew  in  turn  used  the  Gospel  of  Mark.”[16]

“All  we  can  say  is  (1)  that  in  all  probability  the  Hebrew  Matthew  depended  on  oral tradition  only;  (2)  that  our  Greek  Matthew  is  based  on  the  Hebrew;  and  (3)  that  it  is  not impossible  that  Matthew  had  read  the  Gospel  of  Mark  before  he  composed  the  present Greek  Gospel.”[17]

v) Canonical Significance

“This [i.e. traces  of  the Gospel of Matthew’s  use,  especially  of  the  Sermon  on  the  Mount  in  the  Didache, and the Gospel of Matthew being clearly  quoted  in  the  Epistle  of  Barnabas] proves  that  the  Gospel  was  used  and  recognized  as  canonical in  the  early  part  of  the  second  century.”[18]

“Further  it  is  abundantly  testified  to  until  the  beginning of  the  third  century,  when  all  controversy  ceases,  there  being  up  to  that  time  altogether  21 witnesses,  so  that  this  Gospel  is  one  of  the  best  attested  books  in  the  New  Testament.  Among these  witnesses  are  the  old  Latin  and  Syriac  Versions  that  contain  this  Gospel;  early  church fathers  that  refer  to  it  as  authoritative  or  quote  it;  and  heretics  who,  even  while  attacking the  truth,  tacitly  admit  the  canonical  character  of  the  Gospel.”[19]

“This  book  is  properly  placed  at  the  very  beginning  of  the  New  Testament.  It  forms  part of  the  foundation  on  which  the  New  Testament  structure  was  to  be  reared.  And  among  the Gospels,  which  together  constitute  this  foundation,  it  is  rightly  put  in  the  first  place.  It  is, as  it  were,  a  connecting  link  between  the  Old  Testament  and  the  New.  As  the  Old  Testament had  reference  to  the  Jews  only,  so  the  Gospel  of  Matthew  is  written  for  the  old  covenant people.  And  it  is  clearly  linked  to  the  Old  Testament  by  its  continual  reference  to  the prophets.”[20]

“The  permanent  spiritual  value  of  this  Gospel  is  that  it  sets  forth  in  clear  outline Christ  as  the  One  promised  of  old;  and,  in  harmony  with  the  prophetic  literature,  especially as  the  great  divine  King,  before  whom  the  Church  of  all  ages  must  bow  down  in  adoration.”[21]

[1] pp.37-38

[2] p.38

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] pp.38-39

[6] p.39

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] p.40

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] pp.41-42

[13] p.43

[14] p.44

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] p.45

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

C) Chapter Review:

  • Readability: 9/10
  • Theological depth: 8/10
  • Any other comments: Louis Berkhof’s summary of the different positions out there re the composition of Matthew is very helpful. It gives the reader just enough information & if the reader is curious to know more, he/she can delve into the scholarship on the issue.

The Literature of the Old Testament (1913) [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]

The Old Testament as a National Literature  

(pp.25-29)

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 religious apprehension of Jews and Christians the Old Testament is a body of Sacred Scriptures, containing the Word of God as revealed to the chosen people. The revelation was made “at sundry times and in divers manners” through many centuries, that is to say, it has a historical character, an adaptation to the needs or accommodation to the capacities of men, and, from the Christian point of view, makes a progressive disclosure of the divine purpose and plan of salvation.”[1]

“… for many scholars, Catholic and Protestant, the deliverances of the church, or the consent of tradition, or the testimony of the New Testament, or the concurrence of all these, outweighs, in such a matter as the unity and Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, the internal evidence of the books themselves, and makes it their task to show that the evidence which seems to contradict this attribution is, when properly interpreted, compatible with it; while others hold that no external authority and no theory of inspiration can be allowed to countervail the cumulative weight of internal evidence.”[2]

“In this literature are also the sources for the political history of the Hebrew people and for the history of its civilization and religion.”[3]

“All that survives of Hebrew literature prior to the age of Alexander is preserved in the Jewish Bible. It is not until the beginning of the third century B.C. that we come upon books written by Jews in Hebrew or in Greek which are not included in the canon. It is, doubtless, only a small part of a rich and varied literature that has thus been rescued across the centuries; much the larger part of what was written in the days of the national kingdoms, for example, must have perished in the catastrophes which befell Israel in the eighth century and Judah in the beginning of the sixth.”[4]

“The books of the Old Testament differ widely in matter and form—history and story; legislation, civil and ritual, moral and ceremonial; prophecy and apocalypse; lyric, didactic, and dramatic poetry.”[5]

[1] p.25

[2] p.26

[3] Ibid.

[4] p.27

[5] p.28

C) Chapter Review:

  • Readability: 6/10
  • Theological depth: 5/10
  • Any other comments: This chapter was disappointingly short & lacked good content. I expected more substance seeing how George Moore decided to set aside an entire chapter to cover this.