Friday, November 30, 2007

Spe Salvi - The Pope's newest encyclical

The Pope's most recent encyclical can be found in English here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Messianic Expectations

It is often repeated that the Jews during the 1st Century AD were simply looking for a political messiah. I think it's one of those phrases that is thrown around without much thought. For instance, the findings at Qumran seem to indicate otherwise.

Another text that is of particular interest is The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Although most assuredly pseudepigraphical, it was in wide circulation during the 1st Century AD. The "Testament of Simeon" has a really striking passage -

Then shall Shem be glorified, because the Lord God, the Mighty One of Israel, shall appear upon earth as man, and saved by Him Adam. Then shall all the spirits of deceit be given to be trampled under foot, and men shall rule over the wicked spirits. Then will I arise in joy, and will bless the Most High because of His marvellous works, because God hath taken a body and eaten with men and saved men.

This sounds almost too Christian - in fact, I believe the second bit may be under suspicion as being a later addition by Christians. One thing that's interesting is the fact that Shem will be glorified. Why?

Shem in Hebrew is "name". Shem, in the Old Testament, had a dynasty. In fact, the slogan (if you will) in Gen. 11:4 is "let us make a name (lit. Shem) for ourselves." Shem is the father of Eber (from which we get "Hebrew"). Shem is also the only good firstborn son in Genesis. All of that put together really seems to prefigure Jesus. Jesus inherits a name (Heb 1:4). He is the fulfillment of the Davidic Kingship. He is a spiritual Father not to a race, but to all peoples. And He is the supremely good firstborn son. Perhaps the messianic expectations in the 1st Century were more rich than we realize.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quadratus and Jesus' miracles

Quadratus was an apologist in the 2nd Century, writing to the Emperor Hadrian. He is quoted in Eusebius as claiming that some of those who were raised from the dead by Jesus were still alive in his time. Whether his time means the time of his writing or his earlier years is disputed. When I read this, I remembered Mk 5.21ff/Lk 8.41ff, the account of Jairus' daughter being raised from the dead. I think it's entirely plausible that she could have been young enough that when raised from the dead, she lived into the time of Quadratus. Any thoughts?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Give us this day our what?

If you've not read or heard anything by Brant Pitre, you should. Dr. Pitre received his Ph.D from Notre Dame in Theology with a specialization in New Testament and Judaism. He's the author of Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile. He is the co-author of the blog Singing in the Reign (along with Michael Barber, author of Coming Soon: Unlocking the Book of Revelation and Applying its Lessons to Today).

I got to hear Dr. Pitre speak a few Sundays ago here at Franciscan. He was discussing how the Exodus account is the background for Jesus' words "give us this day our daily bread." The Greek there for "daily" is actually επιουσιον or "supernatural/supersubstantial." I thought it interesting that Jesus is literally saying, "Give us this day our supernatural bread."

In discussing the OT scholarship concerning the manna, though, Dr. Pitre pointed out that some have gone so far as to say that the manna was from bugs, or perhaps plant goo. And my favorite line of the lecture comes from that : "Jesus didn't say 'Give us this day our daily plant goo'." Indeed.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

New To the Blogroll

New to the blogroll is Mike Aquilina's blog The Way of the Fathers. Mike has written and co-written several books including, "The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers", "The Mass of the Early Christians", "Living the Mysteries: A Guide for Unfinished Christians" and "The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the early Christians." Needless to say, Mike is a patristics guy, and that's why I love his work!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

This has to be a fluke...

cash advance

My blog is somehow smarter than I am. Is this possible?

Ehrman and Theodicy

Stanley Fish of the NY Times writes a book review on both Bart Ehrman and Anthony Flew's newest books. I'm more interested in Ehrman's because of the topic on which he's writing: "God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question – Why We Suffer.”

I love reading anything Bart Ehrman puts in print, so I'm sure I'll be reading this as soon as possible. Two statements Dr. Ehrman gives in the interview intrigue me:

Given [the] theology of selection – that God had chosen the people of Israel to be in a special relationship with him – what were Ancient Israelite thinkers to suppose when things did not go as planned or expected? . . . . How were they to explain the fact that the people of God suffered from famine, drought, and pestilence?”

And one more...

“If he could do miracles for his people throughout the Bible, where is he today when your son is killed in a car accident, or your husband gets multiple sclerosis? . . . I just don’t see anything redemptive when Ethiopian babies die of malnutrition.”

In the article, Ehrman also goes on to talk about how most books that deal with theodicy do so in such an abstract manner as to tone down the severity of the evil that goes on.

This is not commenting on the book, but rather on theodicy in general. I agree with Dr. Ehrman - it is a great evil that any child would die of malnutrition. It is uncomfortable to look upon death, regardless of how used to it you are. There is always this sense of "This should not be." Without God, not only does evil not make sense, but our response to evil makes absolutely no sense. If Ethiopian children dying of malnutrition is simply the way things should be in a natural world, we should have no qualms over it. It's just how things go. We should be like Camus and think that everything is just absurd, pointless. But we aren't like that. We recognize that this is not how things should be. The reality of evil, outside of syllogisms and textbooks and philosophical glitter, points me in the direction of God, not away from Him.

(HT: Mark Goodacre)

Must a Theology professor believe?

Gerd Ludemann asks the question and gives his answer in this article.

Jim West then gives his answer here.

This is an issue I've thought about quite a bit. Unfortunately, I don't have a dynamic response to the question. My answer, though, is yes. Here's the comment I left on Herr West's site:

I’m certainly in agreement. Theology cannot be done properly outside of faith (I’m going to get in trouble for that). However, the Venerable John Henry Newman makes the analogy of a blind man. “To speak to a blind man of light and colours, in terms proper to those phenomena, would be to mock him; we must use other media of information accommodated to his circumstances…” Likewise, when the mind is not submitted to the mysteries of God, the theology will be lacking. This is yet *another* dreadful consequence of the “Enlightenment” where the seminary was replaced by the university.

What say ye?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Busy Busy Busy

I apologize for the lack of posting. The wretched world of Systematic Theology has me up to my ears in stuff to do. I've finally got a paper topic for my Sacraments class, but...I can't find any sources. So, I look to you, beloved readers, to help me. I'm writing on Hugh of St. Victor's Sacramental Theology, particularly the interplay between creation and Sacraments. I need some resources!

The second thing that's taking up my time (but I'm glad for it) is...tutoring Greek. I really really enjoy it. For one, it keeps my mind fresh. It also provides an opportunity for me to teach, which allows me to see where I fail pedagogically.

So, send me your resources on Hugh of St. Victor if you have any (I know we're all Biblical studies people here, but...think back to that buddy who was a Medievalist and call him).