Friday, April 29, 2016

Toward the absence of being

Taking this approach further still we might perhaps consider evil, when portrayed in terms of watery chaos or sea beasts, as a tendency in creation to move away from being and form towards nothingness. Here I am picking up on Augustine’s teaching that evil is not a thing, a substance, but a lack in a thing, a privation. Evil is when good things fall away from their nature.— The Biblical Cosmos, pages 202–3

Thursday, April 28, 2016

God's ongoing creation

At a metaphysical level, the dragon motif also speaks truth. The biblical models of creation picture it as something that left to itself would collapse back into chaos. The world does not sustain itself or order itself. It is God who “in the beginning” ordered reality according to his Logos, thereby creating cosmos, and it is God who holds the chaos at bay from moment to moment by that same Logos. But the tendency towards dis-order is inherent in the world.

We might possibly wish to raise the discussion a notch and transpose this image into the philosophical categories of being. In that mode the sea represents non-being, literally no-thing. Read this way, the world in itself tends towards non-being, but God, through his Logos, is investing it with the powers of existence. God’s ongoing ordering of the sea then speaks of the world’s moment-by-moment dependence on God.— The Biblical Cosmos, page 202 (emphasis original)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

When people pray

It may be concluded that there are three situations in which a human being utters a prayer:
1. A case of actual distress in which a man, on account of the difficult circumstances he is in, addresses himself to a god in an emotional way.
2. A wish arising from the existing situation. The circumstances, however, are not so extreme as to occasion great emotion in the prayer uttered.
3. A general wish, which does not usually originate from the existing situation. In this case, the human being does not ask for a single definite action, but for a repetition of actions, or for a lasting state.—The Greek Imperative, page 99

Center or periphery?

It is also worth reminding ourselves that neither biblical nor Ptolemaic cosmologies understood the earth to be the most important part of the cosmos—the heavens took that role. (In fact, contrary to the modern myth, in the Ptolemaic cosmology that dominated the Christian Middle Ages, the earth was the least significant part of the cosmos, being located at the center, furthest from God’s heaven.)— The Biblical Cosmos, page 198

<idle musing>
It all a matter of perspective, isn't it? We think the center is the most important, but they didn't. The most important place was where God was/is. That's still true, but we don't acknowledge it...
</idle musing>

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Kiss it good-bye

The relative decrease in the number of present imperatives in the Koine in comparison with Ancient Greek may be explained by two factors. In the first place, the present imperative of transformative (especially instantaneous) verbs is used only and exclusively when the speaker is excited. Apparently in those days a present imperative was more readily used when the action could be expressed by verbs that themselves denote duration or perspective. A present imperative is used only when the situation from which the order results is clear or has been made clear to the hearer. The subjective point of view from which the ancient Greek made his choice between the present and aorist imperative seems no longer to be known to the Koine. People are no longer able to voice the finest nuances of thoughts and feelings. Instead, they adhere to objective reality, and consequently express themselves more exactly, at least in this respect.—The Greek Imperative, pages 86–87

Throw it all out!

No modern Christian can say with any intellectual integrity that the biblical view is literally correct. It is not. But does that mean that we simply cast it aside as a disposable husk? No. I propose that this biblical view was not merely a phenomenological perspective on how things appear from our location on the surface of the earth; it was also a means of divine communication. The notion that the earth matters to God is an important part of Christian theology. Ancient cosmology understood that centrality in a physical sense, but geocentrism can still metaphorically point to the importance of earth in God’s purposes.— The Biblical Cosmos, page 197

Monday, April 25, 2016

Present imperative in Koine

Apart from the present imperatives with a general sense and the present imperatives derived from non-transformative verbs, the present imperative in the Koine seems to be used only when both the speaker and the hearer have fully been informed of the situation on account of which the speaker decides that the action ordered has to be performed.—The Greek Imperative, page 85

<idle musing>
Hmmm...this one is testable. What do you think? Is it true in the NT? Could this be why Paul starts out with the theological justification of his imperatives? And sometimes starts out with aorist ones, as well?

Makes sense. But what of 3rd person imperatives? Is that a more polite version of a 2nd person imperative? That's what I think, anyway...
</idle musing>

Stars as connectors to the divine realm

Here is something important to notice about the stars in the biblical texts that we have been considering. The stars, closely linked with the divine council and with angels, were very clearly located in the sky but not in God’s heaven (they were this side of the sky-dome). Yet the divine council and the angels inhabited God’s throne room in God’s heaven (the other side of the sky-dome). So the stars functioned as a link—a visible manifestation of invisible powers; a pointer beyond themselves to the transcendent power structures of the created order.

The linking function of stars meant that a complete disjunction of heaven and earth was impossible because the stars, existing in different modes on both sides of the firmament, blurred the dividing line. The stars reminded people of the duality of heaven and earth—that there is more to creation than can be seen with the eye—but countered any tendency towards dualism: the thought that God’s heaven is some self-contained world disconnected from the visible creation. The “space” and “light” of heaven are connected to the space and light of the visible cosmos, and the light of the sun, moon, and stars represent that connection.— The Biblical Cosmos, pages 192–93

Sunday, April 24, 2016

BHQ Megilloth for $20!

Wow! BHQ Megillot for $20.00 at CBD! I was checking on the availability of BHQ Genesis when I saw this:

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Provision still flows

"Exodus 16* shows that through the obedience of Moses and Aaron to YHWH, and in particular in pointing away from themselves to YHWH as responsible for the exodus and as providing the gift of food, the people are brought to the true knowledge of YHWH (“I am YHWH”) as the one who brought them out of Egypt and provides them with nourishment. This is the YHWH who dwells in their midst by means of the tabernacle/tent of meeting (Exod 29:46). However, the reverse of this, Moses’s (and Aaron’s) disobedience to YHWH’s instructions and usurping YHWH’s role instead of witnessing to YHWH and his provision for the people in the eyes of the people, means that they are deposed as leaders. Their disobedient and corrupt leadership does not disadvantage the people in terms of YHWH’s provision for them—they are still provided with the water. However, such leadership that does not bring the people to knowledge of YHWH means those leaders are stripped of their leadership by YHWH and replaced."—Suzanne Boorer, forthcoming from SBL Press