Friday, September 28, 2007

Resources on the Gospel of John

Hello all. I've got an idea brewing and I need to do some research. I need the best resources you know of for the Gospel of John. I'm specifically interested in the Gospel's sources and intended audience. Just leave your suggestions in the comments if you don't mind!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Rebuttal to Matthew Rondeau 1.1

From the last rebuttal I noticed that nearly everything I said was left untouched. So, I'd like to run through some points from the last post that went unanswered and give Matthew the opportunity to explain them (without throwing ourselves into a philosophical whirlwind).

For one, what did the Church do for the first nearly 400 years without a defined canon? Could the Church prior to that believe in sola scriptura?

Why was God able to inspire men to write infallibly, but not speak on matters of faith and morals infallibly? Is infallibility somehow particular to writing?

Also, an explanation was not given for either the 2 Thess. passage or the 2 Timothy passage.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A blog in limbo...

One thing I don't want this blog to turn into is an apologetics blog for the Catholic Church. For one, there are plenty of websites out there that fulfill that function. Secondly, I'm not interested in apologetics, I'm interested in history, interpretation of texts, languages, etc.

However, a lot of what I'm reading right now for my classes is naturally very Catholic. We're reading "The Mystery of Jesus Christ" right now in my Theology of Christ class, which is written by three Catholic theologians (a systematic guy, a historical theology guy, and a Biblical studies guy....a smart way to write a book, if you ask me). I don't want Catholicism to alienate my Protestant readers...but there are definitely different hermeneutics at work at times. For instance, I have a real appreciation for typological interpretation. I think it's really interesting, but I realize that a lot of people don't really care much for it.

So, the lack of posting is due to the fact that I'm trying to figure out how to incorporate all the best from both worlds. Expect some real theological breakthroughs here. It's going to be amazing.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Nomina Sacra and Mary

In his book The Earliest Christian Artifacts, Larry Hurtado mentions on pg. 97 that other than the four divine nomina sacra, others began to be used in the Byzantine period. One of these NS was for ΜΗΤΗΡ (Mother, specifically in reference to Mary). I'm wondering if there's some way I could find the earliest manuscript known that uses the NS for Mary. Anyone know? (I'm looking your way, Evangelical Textual Criticism!)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

New blogs and German

So as I was visiting this new blog, which I found out about through both Jim West and Chris Tilling, I was reminded of how bad my German is. In fact, let me restate that...I was reminded of how non-existent my ability to read German is. Last semester I started buying German grammar books and over the summer my mother got me a copy of Hoffnung fur Alle while in Germany. Well, I've realized: I stink at languages on my own! Granted, I've not been as diligent as I should have been, but I really think I would do a lot better if I took a class....or....went to Germany and lived there. Perhaps I could pull a Ted Haggard and beg? No, I don't think so.

Oh well. At any rate, go and check out this chap's blog.

Friday, September 7, 2007

This is why I love this guy

Dr. Black has written an article on his blog concerning two of my favorite things in New Testament/Early Christian studies: The Synoptic Problem and the Fathers! Could I ask for anything more? I think Dr. Black is touching on an issue that carries over into all NT studies (as I've stated before), that the Fathers are important for the study of the NT.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Because my comments are acting up

I couldn't post this below for some reason, so here we go.

Danny and I both agree that the full canon is inspired. We both accept the full canon on faith, however, we also agree with it because it corresponds to the historical position of the Church (both the inspiration and number of books). Also, the idea of sola scriptura would've made zero sense in any of the earliest ecclesiastical communities. It is alltogether absent from the thought of the Apostles, their disciples, etc. What Danny and I both believe is that the Catholic Church has been the Church since the Apostles. No doubt they've expounded upon and defined doctrines and dogmas, but has been one Church nonetheless. We believe this with faith, however, we also look to history. Faith, in the words of Daniel Wallace of Dallas Theological, should be a step, not a leap. Our faith in the Church, in the full canon, etc, is a faith based in reality, based on right reason. One can have faith, but it shouldn't be faith that contradicts reality. So, when you have a faith that contradicts reality (i.e. the Fathers/Councils affirming a truncated canon), it naturally causes suspicion (regardless of the philosophical dress that it wears).

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

New to the Blogroll: James' Thoughts and Musings

Of course you probably already read this blog. I've been reading it for a little while now and I really dig it. James Pate is a Ph.D student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio (right down the road from me). As you know, I bow down to people who choose the OT as their main focus of study (because I just can't see how they do it!). I can tell you that James is wicked smart, unless he's just good with academic smoke and mirrors...and we take that around here, too. So, either way, go read his blog!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Rebuttal to Matthew Rondeau

Generally I try to keep things around here on the neutral side of things, not discussing my own faith beliefs and such. However, over on the blog "Splanknois tou Christou", Matthew Rondeau is having a go at the Catholic Church in a series titled "Why I am not a Catholic". We're up to part 2. He posts :

I am hearing of more and more protestants who are joining the Roman
Catholic Church. As I think about this trend, I am intrigued as to what the impetus might be behind such a move.

Later, he writes about the long list of reasons why one might become Catholic, none of which I'd endorse. For instance:

Is it the magical fixation with the belief that “corpus meum est” actually refers to a piece of bread?

For one, I don't know how magical one's fixation can be. Secondly, it does, in fact, not refer to a piece of bread. That's the point.


Is it the megalomanaical [sic] lust for a single leader that the Israelites had before they were given what they asked for in King Saul?

Leaders are not, in and of themselves, bad. What the Israelites did wrong is desiring their own leadership over God's. They were subverting the authority that God had established because it did not fancy them (perhaps something to think about).

Then, in "Why I am not a Catholic (part 1)" he begins his argument against the Catholic Church. I will here give a rebuttal as one of those formerly of the Protestant persuasion who has found a home with Rome (no, my rebuttal will not rhyme....or will it?).

He states:

For instance, my presupposition, first principle, axiom, whatever you want to call it, is that the 66 books contained in the old and new testaments - commonly called the Bible - are the inerrant word of God...I am not a Catholic because I place no faith in the tradition of the Church.

I have to ask: Why? For one, where is the idea of sola scriptura in the Bible? And where exactly does he get this canon of 66 books? Can he show me where in the Bible the list is? If the Church hadn't the authority to convene a council and decide which books are Scripture, then Matthew is with a "fallible collection of infallible books", as R.C. Sproul puts it. If he has put no faith in the tradition of the Church, I would hope he would stop using their NT canon.

Also, the idea of sola scriptura is anachronistic. This idea isn't even possible until the 4th century. Why was Peter able to write an infallible book, but not able to say things that were infallible that were carried on by his disciples? Is infallibility somehow particular to writing? Can it not pertain to speech?

As I've stated in previous comments/posts, that tradition was alive and well during the Apostolic age is a Biblical idea. For instance, 2 Thess 2:15 has Paul encouraging the people to believe everything that was passed down to them, both in writing and orally. Or perhaps 2 Tim 2:2 where Paul encourages Timothy to remember "that which you have heard from me..." so that he could "entrust these (the teachings) to faithful men who will be able to teach also." Sounds a bit like carrying on traditions.

On John 3 and Baptism he writes:

Relying solely on the Bible, and reading John 3, I conclude that baptism is not even in view here, but that being born of “water” refers to the first and natural way we are born from the wombs of our mothers, and the birth of the “spirit” is what takes place the moment we have faith.

The key here is context (as always). For one, Jesus' ministry begins after St John the Baptist's, who came baptizing with water. John states in Matt 3:11 that he came "baptizing with water", but that someone was coming after him who would baptize with the "holy spirit." Who makes a reference to "water and spirit"? Also, I'm unaware of the phrase "born of water" being used idiomatically for natural birth. And it would've been a tautology for Jesus to say, "Unless you exist, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven." Jesus was cryptic, but not ridiculous. So, I'm skeptical that being born of water means natural birth. I think the plain reading of the text, through Christian lenses, is that Jesus is speaking of something that happens with "water and spirit", that is, Baptism. Secondly, I think 3:22-23 has some gold for us. After discussing these things with Nicodemus, what does Jesus go and do?

"After this Jesus and his disciples went into the land of Judea; there he remained with them and baptized. John also was baptizing..."

We seem to have a real emphasis here on Baptism. This isn't without reason. John places these baptisms immediately after Nicodemus for a reason. Also, I'll refer to my friends, the Fathers, who viewed this passage as a reference to Baptism: Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Cyprian of Carthage, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, Basil the Great, Ambrose of Milan, Gregory of Nyssa, etc.

We'll pick up Part 2 later.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Biblical Studies Carnival XXI

Over at the blog Abnormal Interests, Duane Smith has posted the most recent Biblical Studies Carnival. He did a great job, so definitely go check it out.

The Zebach Toda in Hebrews 13

In discussing Hebrews 13 the other day in class, Fr. Swetnam discussed reading the chapter in light of the Mass, and more specifically the zebach toda (Sacrifice of Praise). I won't go into the full lecture, but rather something I found really interesting. I'm dealing specifically with Heb. 13:15. Here is the Greek:

δι αυτου αναφερωμεν θυσιαν αινεσεως δια παντος τω θεω τουτ εστιν καρπον χειλεων ομολογουντων τω ονοματι αυτου

While translating the Hebrew texts for the Septuagint, the translators had to dabble in a little neologism for the word αινεσεως because an appropriate word did not yet exist for the Hebrew idea of a sacrifice of praise.

Now, one of my arguments for Luke being Paul's amanuensis for the letter to the Hebrews is the use of the Septuagint. Paul generally prefers to quote from the Hebrew, while the Gospel writers prefer the Septuagint. The letter to the Hebrews only contains one Hebrew OT reference (10:30), and every other OT reference is from the Septuagint. Perhaps the use of the Septuagint was to point the readers in the direction of the zebach toda in the OT as a precursor to the Eucharist. This strange phrase (θυσιαν αινεσεως) would've clicked with Hebrew readers who were familiar with the Septuagint and familiar with the way the LXX translators translated zebach toda.