Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Leave them hanging

It is clear from the tone of these lines that the ritual is not an end in and of itself. The final appeasement of the angered deities is still pending. The use of the precative (line 112, liškunū; 121, liššakin) and the prohibitive (line 113, ayy iršû) underscores the petitionary character of these lines and looks for future action by the heavenly realm. They are blessings. They seek divine beneficence at the expense of the dissolution of the malediction. Therefore, these blessings are indirect curses directed against curses. They await divine intervention. In fact, if Reiner’s restoration of line 113 reflects the original, then only the command of the highest ranking deities, Ea/ Enki and Marduk, can assuage the wrath of the heavenly realm. Subsequently the incantation leaves the offender still waiting for forgiveness.— Cursed Are You!, page 340

<idle musing>
And the incantation ends with them hanging in suspense. Will they manage to get the deities to endorse their plea? Or will they suffer under the hands of the curse deities?

I could mouth some simple platitudes here about the superiority of the Judaeo-Christian view, but I've been reading Job lately, so they would sound empty. Funny how scripture does that, isn't it? You want a nice, tightly reasoned, airtight, take-it-to-the-bank answer, and God puts Job in there. Drat!

They should rename the Bible. It should be The Book with No Easy Answers. But, maybe that's the purpose. Maybe, just maybe, the Bible wasn't meant to be an instruction book. Maybe, just maybe, it was meant to point beyond itself. Maybe, just maybe, it was designed to show us that we need to listen to the Holy Spirit. Maybe...

But that isn't easy! I want easy answers! I want surety! I want to know that I'm right! Did you catch the pronouns there? I, I, I, I... Hmmm...what did that blasted Bible say? Death to self? Ouch!

Just an
</idle musing>

A safe savior

Too often, I think, we desire a Savior who, after assuring us of eternal lie, leaves us alone until our next crisis. We want Him to comfort us but never convict us; we desire Him to heal us but not inhabit us. We want the Holy Spirit to help us obtain the “American dream.” Yet what we have is a Holy Spirit who, instead, seeks to give us the dream of God: man living in the image of Christ (see Genesis 1:26).— This Day We Fight!, page 112 (emphasis original)

<idle musing>
That's the final post from the book. As I've repeatedly said:
Disclaimer: This book is full of bad theology and American Exceptionalism. I don't recommend it at all! It was written shortly after 9/11/2001 and reflects the reigning sentiments of that time (when the church failed dramatically to stand up for peace and reconciliation, sadly).

That being said, as you can see, there is some gold among the dross : )
</idle musing>

The present weakness

I’ve talked with people who have learned about the power of confession and found it easy to share their past secrets, but have difficulty confessing their present secrets. Confession isn’t just about the past. Rather confession is about the secret that might be an all-out war today. To tell someone about the struggle you’re having requires the humility to say, “I haven’t gotten this under control and need help.” To confess is to say, “I am weak.” It is in this weakness that God is strong.—What’s Your Secret? page 74

The cross—again

This love the Messiah had and has for the world and for the church is not, for Paul, only a reference to Jesus’ deep concern for individuals’ salvation in the sense of their reconciliation to God—though it is clearly and emphatically that. Indeed, everything Paul thinks and says about peace is grounded in and flows from his theology of the cross. For him, there can be no true and lasting peace among humans without reconciliation with God, without a common embrace of the cross. Yet there can be no doubt that for Paul “the love of Christ” manifested on the cross refers not only to his compassionate desire to restore humanity to fellowship with God, but also to Jesus’ deep concern to effect reconciliation of people to one another. That is, the purpose of Christ’s death on the cross is to create a people of the covenant—the new covenant promised by the prophets in which people live in peace with God and with one another.— The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant, page 175

Tuesday's thought

These are the days of projects and enterprises and ambitions from little fellows who have not stayed in Jerusalem long enough to be endued with power. They go out in the power of educated flesh and put on a project, and then ask God to bless their project. They even will pray all right. They will send out a mailing list to enlist people to pray such and such an hour for their project. It is their project nevertheless. They have not died yet! They are making their plans.—A.W. Tozer, Voice of a Prophet, pages 190–91

Monday, March 02, 2015

A unique use for flour

As is characteristic of simile maledictions, the curse opens with kima (line 130) ‘like’, ‘just as’. The simile builds on the flour’s particular properties. As flour, the grain will never enjoy propagation. It is useless to the farmer. Never will it develop in a cultivated field or along a canal in the wild. Nor will it have roots or shoots. It is sterile. The object compared is the curse within the victim’s body. Like the flour, the curse is not to engender itself and spread throughout the sufferer’s interior. Like the flour, the malediction is to be impotent. Once extracted, no seed of the curse is to be left behind that might enable the malediction to grow and spread. The removal is to be complete and thorough. Throwing the curse-bearing flour into the fire destroys the grain and the curse it has absorbed. Both are effectively eliminated from the land of the living. Both are killed. Both are rendered extinct.— Cursed Are You!, page 337

<idle musing>
A bit of background might help here. Flour was commonly used in canceling curses. They would make a line on the floor, usually surrounding the person or thing that had been cursed. It acted as a boundary-marker, containing the curse.
</idle musing>

Active faith

Now the idea that Christ seeks to perfect our faith makes a fine doctrine, but in the practical outworking of our lives, we deeply resist the idea. For we know that faith, in order [to] be perfected must be tested.— This Day We Fight!, page 111

<idle musing>
Disclaimer: This book is full of bad theology and American Exceptionalism. I don't recommend it at all! It was written shortly after 9/11/2001 and reflects the reigning sentiments of that time (when the church failed dramatically to stand up for peace and reconciliation, sadly). But, it does have a few good lines, so I'll be putting those up over the next few days.
</idle musing>


Transparency is about you, while vulnerability is about you and others. Confession to others is about inviting the help and strength of others into your situation. This is more than just semantics; it’s about the difference between humility and pride, between isolation and community, and between your strength and God’s strength. And these differences make all the difference in the world.—What’s Your Secret? page 72

It's in Luke from the start

These first three peace texts in Luke—first the promise of imminent peace to be brought by the Messiah (Luke 1:79); then, immediately, the inauguration of peace in the birth of the Messiah (Luke 2:14); and then, immediately, the confession of Simeon (Luke 2:29–30)—are programmatic for Luke’s Gospel and his entire theological project. They tell us what the ministry of the Messiah consists of: inaugurating the age of peace and thereby creating a community, a people, of shalom—a covenant community that experiences and practices God’s peace and justice.— The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant, page 164

Tozer on a Monday

The first prayer was, “Hallowed be Thy name.” For God to be exalted, for us to put God up first, we must let God have first place in our thinking; we must let Him have first place in our giving, and first place in our lives, our homes, our business, our profession. God must be first in your life. The triune God is supreme in all things. This supremacy restores the health of the universe, for the trouble with the fallen world is that it is inverted. God is made to take second place. He never actually takes second place, but He is made to take it in the minds of fallen men, and they are exalting themselves all the time.—A.W. Tozer, Voice of a Prophet, page 187

Fonts on an iPad

I'm probably way behind the curve here, but I just discovered over the weekend how to add fonts to an iPad...

Why would I want to do that, you ask? Well, for one thing, I'm sick of Syriac displaying as square boxes : ) For another, now that Dropbox integrates with M$ Word—and you don't have to pay them a fee!—it would be nice to have the option to edit manuscripts containing Greek and Hebrew on the iPad.

But the iPad already displays Greek and Hebrew, you say. Indeed, it does. But, when I'm editing, one of the things I need to do is make sure that the Greek and Hebrew are in the proper font. In most cases, that is SBL Greek or SBL Hebrew. Neither of those are included in the iPad's default fonts.

By now you are probably wondering how to do it, right? I've whet your appetite by giving you good reasons and you're sick of my delaying. Well...

Last night I did a handy-dandy Google search for "adding fonts to an iPad." The first hit was the Mac Observer from last June. He recommended a little app for $1.99. So, I went off to the App Store and did a search for it. Low and behold, there was also a free app called iFont that seemed to do the same thing. (Note: you need to look for iPhone apps to see it; for some reason it doesn't show up under iPad searches.) I figured I'd give it a try.

iFont allows you to access the desired fonts in various ways, but for me the easiest was Dropbox. I opened up Font Book on my MacBook, copied the desired fonts over to Dropbox, and waited for them to synchronize. Then I opened up Dropbox on my iPad, found the first font, SBL Hebrew, clicked on it, chose Open in, and then selected iFont (it was the first option). I clicked User Fonts, and there it was, listed as uninstalled. I clicked on install and wham! I was sent through a dizzying array of apps opening and switching until I was in Settings. OK, that's an exaggeration, but it seemed that way...I don't remember what else I did, but it was very straightforward. When I got back to iFont, it listed the font as installed. I repeated the procedure for SBL Greek and Estrangelo Edessa (Syriac).

Now for the test...I switched back to Dropbox and clicked on Final_Corrections_HBCE_Proverbs.doc. This file is loaded with Greek, Hebrew, and Syriac. Bummer! The text in Dropbox didn't show the Syriac font. Well, let's see what it looks like in Word. Hey! It's there! Sweet! The Syriac displayed correctly! I checked the font on the Greek and Hebrew. Sure enough, it was correct. Even better, I didn't get the notice at the beginning saying that the requested fonts weren't available.

So, now I can edit on the iPad. I'm not sure how much I will—I usually have too many windows open on too many desktops for the poor iPad—but it is nice to have an alternative. I can see using it for quick changes, too. By the way, about 6 months ago I bought a great keyboard for the iPad, the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. I had been eyeing it for some time, but there was no way I would pay $100! But one day I saw it for $25.00—now that was a price I could justify. So, I ordered it and have been using it ever since. I've only had to charge it once, so it's easy on the battery life. Highly recommended. And it makes the iPad look like a small MacBook Pro with the metal casing on the keyboard.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

The role of the Holy Spirit

This illumination of the Holy Spirit is part of the re-ordering of the monk's heart and mind, at first simply to combat thoughts which arise from the devil and from the disordered self, but eventually as enlightenment about the mysteries of the faith in the form of contemplation. The Spirit is at work in the heart of the ascetic who interacts with scripture. Meditation on scripture works not simply because the practice involves focusing on one thing. Meditation on scripture works because the Spirit enlightens those who encounter the mysteries hidden within it.—Ascetic Pneumatology from John Cassian to Gregory the Great, page 49

<idle musing>
Amen and amen! Without the Holy Spirit, our meditation on scripture is just a form of head knowledge, enabling us to one-up others or pat ourselves on the back. It is only as we rely on the Holy Spirit to quicken scripture to us that we can truly understand it.
</idle musing>

The power of prayer

In former times, prayer was able to rescue from fire and beasts and hunger, even before it received its perfection from Christ. How much greater then is the power of Christian prayer?—Tertullian

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Whence the view that words have innate power?

"According to a number of biblical scholars the spoken word in ancient Israel 'is never an empty sound but an operative reality whose action cannot be hindered once it has been pronounced'" (Thiselton on Hermeneutics, p. 53; the quoted material is from Jacob, Theology of the Old Testament, 1958). He provides a list of authors, including Jacob, von Rad, Zimmerli, Eichrodt, Ringgren, Knight, even Bultmann!

I don't know about you, but that list includes most of the people on my Old Testament Theology bibliography from when I took it in 1983. No wonder I adopted the idea that words have innate power! It was in the air I breathed. But that doesn't make it right...

"What are we to say about such an attitude towards language and words? Von Rad implies that this primitive outlook offers a positively richer view of language than that found in modern Western culture. He comments, 'One could ask whether language has not become impoverished because it has lost functions which at an earlier cultural level had once belonged to it.' (von Rod Old Testament Theology 2:81)...But the verdict forced upon us by modern general linguistics since the work of Saussure is that far from being 'richer', such a view of words is simply wrong." (Thiselton, 56–57)
Thiselton proceeds to lay out four criticisms (58–66), but I'm only going to mention two of them: the second and third. You'll have to read the article/chapter for yourself to get the other two : )
The nature of the second problem has not, it seems, been clearly recognized. Arguments are put forward about the nature of words in general on the basis of passages which speak not about words as such but about words which have been uttered usually by a god or sometimes by a king or a prophet. But such arguments break down if words that have been spoken by Yahweh, or by Marduk, or by Atum or Khnum, are in practice regarded as 'power-laden' not because of the supposed nature of words in general, but precisely because these words proceed from the mouth of a god. We suggest that a generalizing argument has misleadingly been put forward on the basis of selected paradigms of a very special nature. (p. 60, emphasis original)
Did you catch that? Most of the examples usually cited for the innate/magical power of words in the ancient world and the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament were spoken either by gods or by people in authority who could give substance to the words. Yep, that's right. They had the power to make them stick. The words had a derived authority, not an innate one.

The third criticism has to do with what is called speech act theory (you'll have to look that one up on your own; it's way too involved to explain right now!). Here's what he says about blessings and curses specifically, since that is what triggered this whole excursion in the first place:

First, most writers stress that the effectiveness of blessing and cursing depends in a large measure both on the strength and status of the speaker who pronounces the blessing, and also on the receptivity of the person who is being blessed. In other words, the 'power' of the pronouncement is by no means automatic. Indeed, Murtonen believes that the reason why Isaac did not try to recall his blessing from Jacob was not because of word-magic, but because, on the one hand, he believed that Jacob rather than Esau had 'ability to hold what was promised to him', and on the other hand, already 'God himself was called upon as the final authority.' Thus Murtonen convincingly argues that a supposition about word-magic 'does not seem necessary' (Murtonen, VT 9 [1959], 158–77). (Thiselton, p. 63)
I'm not sure I buy Murtonen's explanation, but that isn't the point, as Thiselton says. What matters is that falling back to the magical power of words isn't necessary. Here's another extended quotation:
Seen from one viewpoint, a blessing is supposedly power-laden if and when it is the blessing of God. But even if we leave theological beliefs in Israel out of account, we are still left with the concept of blessings and cursings as performative utterance which do things on the basis of conventional procedures in which the appropriate persons take part. Pronouncements by prophets or kings may now be seen in this double light. They are effective because they are spoken by someone in authority, and may often take the form of performative utterance. (p. 64)
And a final parting shot, "The words themselves effect an award, a sentence, or a commitment. But they no more depend on primitive notions of word-magic than a modern judge and jury do when their words actually consign a man to prison or to freedom." (p. 64, emphasis original)

I think that last line sums it all up. Words do have power, no doubt about it. But they do not have innate or magical power. Their power is because of who spoke them and context in which they were spoken.

Friday, February 27, 2015

I like this

I'm editing a discourse handbook right now and ran across this little gem:
James provides an important qualification to the type of faith he is referring to with the phrase ἐὰν μὴ ἔχῃ ἔργα (if it does not have works). Though one could argue that this qualification is unnecessary—since he goes on to say "faith … by itself"—the nature of the content is not completely redundant: it adds more precision and leaves no room for mistaking which type of faith he is talking about. It is important to note—and though perhaps often overlooked—that James does not compare faith and works. He compares two different types of faith: on the one hand "a faith with works", and, on the other "a faith without works."
<idle musing>
An often overlooked fact...I know I'm guilty!

No, I can't link to the book right now because it doesn't have one!
</idle musing>

Name it! Claim it!

Wow! James was a real Word of Faith preacher (2:15-16a):
ἐὰν ἀδελφὸς ἢ ἀδελφὴ γυμνοὶ ὑπάρχωσιν καὶ λειπόμενοι τῆς ἐφημέρου τροφῆς εἴπῃ δέ τις αὐτοῖς ἐξ ὑμῶν· ὑπάγετε ἐν εἰρήνῃ, θερμαίνεσθε καὶ χορτάζεσθε...

If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill” (NRSV)

What would a real Word of Faith preacher say as the final apodosis? Of course, he would say, νόμον τελεῖτε βασιλικὸν κατὰ τὴν γραφήν· ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν (2:8)

[You] fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (NRSV)

Right? Isn't that what you expect? I've heard it. So have you.

But what does James really say? Not that! Here it is:
μὴ δῶτε δὲ αὐτοῖς τὰ ἐπιτήδεια τοῦ σώματος, τί τὸ ὄφελος;

and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? (NRSV)

Personally, I would prefer to translate it, "What's the use?"

Yep. James was a real Word of Faith preacher...

Such a choice

In order to counteract problems of this type [a curse being directed against you], a person had two management options. First, he or she could consign the rābiṣu to an associate demon that is equally “evil.” Because two negative beings, both hostile to life, naturally nullify each other, then the result enhances existence. It cuts off the evil and creates a blessing. A “medical text” from the same period affirms the notion…

The second strategy petitioned a deity who had power over these beings. The suppliant in the above “medical text” prays to Dumuzi: ‘Separate me from the Sentry, an evil demon who has attached itself to me to cut off my life’. A petitioner in another Neo-Assyrian text pleads with Marduk to eliminate a stalking ghost in the following manner: ‘Drive it away from my body, cut it off from my body, remove it from my body!’ Here a positive force, Marduk, is to attack a negative force, the ghost, by severing it from the victim’s person.— Cursed Are You!, pages 334–35

<idle musing>
Not exactly my idea of great options. No wonder Christianity had such an appeal...
</idle musing>

Speaking of marriage

For our marriage, God’s grace is there when we need it. We have both changed so much in the last 35 years that I can only thank the Lord. Forgiving each other helps. Forgiveness is the key to building and maintaining a healthy relationship. God gives us the grace to survive the many difficulties.— This Day We Fight!, page 103

<idle musing>
Disclaimer: This book is full of bad theology and American Exceptionalism. I don't recommend it at all! It was written shortly after 9/11/2001 and reflects the reigning sentiments of that time (when the church failed dramatically to stand up for peace and reconciliation, sadly). But, it does have a few good lines, so I'll be putting those up over the next few days.
</idle musing>

As much as it might hurt...

I have had lively debates with friends over questions like “Should a cheating spouse tell their spouse what they have done if they have the help they need? Won’t it preserve the family if the spouse doesn’t know?” The reality is that the truth must be told, not just to a pastor or accountability partner but also to the spouse whose trust was betrayed. Without honesty, the trust in any relationship isn’t real! Confessing our sins allows us to build authentic trust that leads to true intimacy.

Some might reply: “But I will create a huge mess by letting the wronged parties know about my sin. Aaron, your Swatch story is child’s play compared to the mess I would make and the people I would hurt.”

The key is to understand that, as Andy Stanley said, “confession doesn’t hurt people, sin and concealment hurt people.”—What’s Your Secret? pages 68-69

<idle musing>
As much as it might hurt, he's right. There was a line by Billy Crystal in City Slickers. His macho buddy was giving hypothetical situations where sex outside of marriage might be ok. He creates a real whopper: some alien comes to earth and wants to have sex with him. No one will ever know; the alien will step off the spaceship, then back on without detection. Billy Crystal's response was excellent, "I'll know." That sums it up.

You will know. It will haunt you and overshadow your life. Unconfessed sin always does... (No, I haven't sinned against my wife sexually, but I've done sinful and hurtful things against her and tried to keep them secret. It doesn't work...)
</idle musing>

The Messianic age

Righteousness and faithfulness, peace and security: these are the traits of the Messianic age. In 11:10–11 Isaiah extends these benefits beyond Israel to the Gentiles; he internationalizes the messianic peace.— The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant, page 158

Reality begs to differ

The clash of the prophets was between the ideal and the actual. The people to whom they brought the message believed they were okay. They bought into the idea that if they had pleasant thoughts everything would be all right. Indeed, such is the case today. If you keep positive thoughts in your mind, so we are told, you will have a positive outcome in your life. Nobody wants a prophet to come and bring reality into his or her life.—A.W. Tozer, Voice of a Prophet, page 181

Wow! Just wow!

Wow! I just saw an abstract of an article by Udo Schnelle about early Christianity, with thanks to Evangelical Textual Criticism for the link. Unfortunately it is behind a pay wall so I can't get the full details, but it is sure to stir up a controversy.

Here's the extract. The article is entitled Das frühe Christentum und die Bildung (roughly translated Early Christianity and Culture):

Early Christianity is often regarded as an entirely lower-class phenomenon, and thus characterised by a low educational and cultural level. This view is false for several reasons. (1) When dealing with the ancient world, inferences cannot be made from the social class to which one belongs to one's educational and cultural level. (2) We may confidently state that in the early Christian urban congregations more than 50 per cent of the members could read and write at an acceptable level. (3) Socialisation within the early congregations occurred mainly through education and literature. No religious figure before (or after) Jesus Christ became so quickly and comprehensively the subject of written texts! (4) The early Christians emerged as a creative and thoughtful literary movement. They read the Old Testament in a new context, they created new literary genres (gospels) and reformed existing genres (the Pauline letters, miracle stories, parables). (5) From the very beginning, the amazing literary production of early Christianity was based on a historic strategy that both made history and wrote history. (6) Moreover, early Christians were largely bilingual, and able to accept sophisticated texts, read them with understanding, and pass them along to others. (7) Even in its early stages, those who joined the new Christian movement entered an educated world of language and thought. (8) We should thus presuppose a relatively high intellectual level in the early Christian congregations, for a comparison with Greco-Roman religion, local cults, the mystery religions, and the Caesar cult indicates that early Christianity was a religion with a very high literary production that included critical reflection and refraction.
<idle musing>
Wow! Fifty percent literacy?! Most scholars think that literacy was under 10%, and closer to 2–3% (at best) if you want anything more than a bare functional literacy the equivalent of being able to read street signs.

I can't wait to see the responses. And maybe even grab the article itself, although my German is so bad right now that it would be a painful process to read it...
</idle musing>

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Take no chances

Esarhaddon is inclusive in his anxiety and describes two ways a malediction is rendered impotent. First, a curse could be ‘turned back’ (târu, lines 377, 379). Undoubtedly, this refers to the procedure of returning a curse to its source. Second, a curse could be ‘undone/released’ (parāšu, lines 378, 379). Both of these strategies are mentioned in the next phrase, turtu turri māmīt pašāri taḫassasani teppašani ‘you shall not (even) think of or perform (a ritual) either to reverse or undo the curse’. The statement could not be more explicit. Certain rites could nullify maledictions. In all likelihood, these are the rituals vassals performed to extricate themselves from the treaty’s chafing constraints.— Cursed Are You!, pages 322–23

Stay humble

The key is staying humble. I don’t believe most people intentionally hurt each other, but it does happen. I sincerely do not want to hurt her [his wife] or my children in any way. If we can remove the hurt, we can cultivate the love.— This Day We Fight!, page 101

<idle musing>
Disclaimer: This book is full of bad theology and American Exceptionalism. I don't recommend it at all! It was written shortly after 9/11/2001 and reflects the reigning sentiments of that time (when the church failed dramatically to stand up for peace and reconciliation, sadly). But, it does have a few good lines, so I'll be putting those up over the next few days.
</idle musing>

Double ouch

The Bible talks more about confessing to others than it does about confessing to God. We must not forget the need to confess to God as a step toward repentance, but we must also tell someone else. Much of our Christian culture advises us to tell God and be forgiven, or maybe even just tell a spiritual leader (such as a pastor or priest); but the Bible teaches us to go to a much more demanding and uncomfortable place. … God knows that His people will disobey the law and hurt one another, so He tells us to confess to Him, confess to the one who was wronged, and also to give back what was taken … and more.—What’s Your Secret? pages 66-67

<idle musing>
Double ouch! Yesterday's was tough, but this one is even tougher. Especially in our easy-believism culture.

Yet, when I read about some of the revivals in the 19th century, they preached restitution and going to the one you wronged. I remember reading where one revivalist was told to stop preaching restitution by the local shipyard because they now had too many tools! People had brought back all the tools that they had stolen over the years and the shipyard didn't know where to put them all! Not likely to happen after any of the current revival services I attended...

When I was at Asbury Seminary, I had the unique privilege of studying for a semester under Dr. Kinlaw. He was the president of Asbury College during the famous revival of 1970. He told us during one class about sitting in the back of the chapel in awe at what God was doing. A young co-ed approached him, asking for advice. She was under conviction for how she had treated some of her classmates. Kinlaw wisely advised her to go to each of them and ask for forgiveness.

A few days later, he saw her on campus and she shouted out to him, "Number nineteen and I'm finally free!" Can you imagine preaching that in some places today? Can I imagine doing that in my own life? Kind of humbling, isn't it? Lord, set us free!
</idle musing>

Messianic age

The phrase “Peace and righteousness (or justice)” is frequently shorthand for the eschatological or messianic age in both the OT—including Isaiah specifically—and in at least some Second Temple texts. Paul both knows this slogan and develops it, as Rom 5:1, 14:17, and several other texts make clear.

For Paul, then, Jesus is indeed the Prince of Peace, the one through whom God has made and is making the messianic shalom a reality, the covenant of shalom to which the scriptures of Israel bear witness.— The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant, page 160

Wisdom from Tozer

I do not like the kind of evangelism that gets people in by cards. I think there ought to be a cry of pain. There ought to be a birth within. I feel there should be the terror of seeing ourselves in violent contrast to the holy, holy, holy God. And if it does not go that deep, I do not know how deep our repentance will ever go. And if our repentance does not go deep, our Christian experience will not go deep.—A.W. Tozer, Voice of a Prophet, page 171

<idle musing>
Indeed! Maybe we should reintroduce the anxious bench?
</idle musing>

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


The problem is that too many Christians have confused peace with passivity. They have hollow peace instead of hallowed peace. Their lives are prayerless and they live in perpetual compromise with heaven’s enemies. This is not peace; it is bondage.— This Day We Fight!, page 44

<idle musing>
Disclaimer: This book is full of bad theology and American Exceptionalism. I don't recommend it at all! It was written shortly after 9/11/2001 and reflects the reigning sentiments of that time (when the church failed dramatically to stand up for peace and reconciliation, sadly). But, it does have a few good lines, so I'll be putting those up over the next few days.
</idle musing>

It's the fine print that will get you

Apparently, the ever-cautious Esarhaddon assessed a conditional self-curse on the citizens of Sippar. Yet the character of this particular malediction is very ominous. It is an arrat la napšur ‘a curse that cannot be released” (N of parāšu). Because Esarhaddon felt it necessary to include this statement, then we may read between the lines and conclude that, unless otherwise qualified, most imprecations were able to be undone in one way or another.— Cursed Are You!, page 321

<idle musing>
We're always looking for the escape clause, aren't we? Esarhaddon closed that one, but I'll bet somebody found another one. Remember that the Assyrians would sometimes adjust the calendar to avoid an ominous day...of course we would never do that! That's why there's so few 13th floors in public buildings...
</idle musing>

This is tough

This is going to require soul-searching courage. Not only the courage to face it yourself but also the courage to show someone else. By keeping the secrets of our hearts locked behind closed doors, we think we can avoid what lurks in the depths. Maybe we try to avoid it because we’re scared that we won’t be able to bear the pain or shame of its revelation. Maybe we want to avoid it because we’re concerned about what people will think. Our avoidance can even be so powerful that we don’t see ourselves as we really are, living out of what we wish we were instead. As appealing as this might sound, it will only give greater control to the very thing we are trying to avoid.—What’s Your Secret? pages 44-45

<idle musing>
Ouch! This is a tough one, isn't it? We think we can hide—but we can't...this is really a tough one, but true. Lord, may I have the faith to do this always and trust you with the results...
</idle musing>

A strange Messiah

As we have examined the practices of faithfulness and love that the predictions of Jesus’ death generate, and that are the essence of participation in that death, we have seen that these practices are all counterintuitive and countercultural. They are also inherently political, if we define that word as referring to the public life of a community. Moreover, these practices also clearly represent a politics of nonviolence, of suffering and of suffering love. This politics would support neither a theology of Roman, imperial domination nor a theology of messianic hatred and violent overthrow, since the “Lord” and the “Messiah” of the passion predictions, and of the New Testament writings more generally, is the Lord who willingly dies at the hands of the imperial authorities after subverting their theology and practices in his life and teaching. A strange sort of Lord and Messiah indeed.— The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant, page 131

True repentance

One of the things wrong with us today is that we do not repent enough. The reason we do not have more repentance is that we repent for what we do instead of for what we are. The repentance for what you do may go deep, but the repentance for what you are goes deeper. It was the sharp contrast between what God was and what Isaiah was—the absolute holiness of the deity, and the spotted, speckled impurities of Isaiah’s nature—that brought this feeling of being absolutely profane to this man of God.—A.W. Tozer, Voice of a Prophet, page 167

What's with this translation?

I read the NIV2011 of Prov 3:5–6 yesterday that made me do a double take. Here it is; tell me what's wrong with it:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Hint: it's in verse 6a. Maybe this will help:
Here's the Hebrew:
‮בְּכָל־דְּרָכֶ֥יךָ דָעֵ֑הוּ וְ֝ה֗וּא יְיַשֵּׁ֥ר אֹֽרְחֹתֶֽיךָ׃

and here's the Greek (first half of the verse):
ἐν πάσαις ὁδοῖς σου γνώριζε αὐτήν

Just for fun, here's the Latin:
in omnibus viis tuis cogita illum

And just to complete it all, here's the Syriac:
ܕܥܝܗܝ ܒܟܠܗܝܢ ܐܘܪ̈ܚܬܟ (that font is so small I can barely read it, so it might not have pasted correctly...)

Any of those say "submit"? Hardly! For those of you who can't read the languages, here's a bit of help:
The Hebrew דָעֵ֑הוּ is an imperative from ידע which means "to know" with the object of knowing attached at the end, "him." The Greek is a bit different, coming from the root γνωρἰζω with a meaning of "make known, reveal" which causes some to think the the LXX translator read the Hebrew as a Hiphil (causative) instead of a Qal and that wisdom is what you make known (wisdom is feminine in Greek and the pronoun is feminine) Here's what Fox says in the HBCE volume:

[The LXX translator] uses γνώριζειν only for the H- and A-stems of ידע (or a synonym), never for the G-stem, and there would be no reason for דעהו to throw the translator off track. Once he understood the verb in 3:6a as “make known” rather than “know,” he took the direct object to be wisdom (hence the feminine αὐτήν). The result, “In all your ways, declare [or ‘teach’] it,” accords with G’s assumption that the wisdom mentioned in 3:5 is of the virtuous sort. Proverbs, pages 98–99
What about the Latin? Jerome gets the Hebrew right, using the standard Latin word for "know," cogito. That just leaves the Syriac, which uses the same root as the Hebrew, yd`, which means "know" in Syriac as well. The Targumim in Proverbs are just a translation back into Aramaic from the Syriac, so they are no help.

So where does the NIV2011 get "submit"? I checked my handy old 1978 version of the NIV and it says "acknowledge"—just like almost every other translation. But, when I checked the TNIV, guess what? Yep, here's what it says: "in all your ways submit to him." So where did the TNIV get it from?

That I don't know, but it certainly wasn't from any of these versions...