May 2008


Apparently I’m stuck in key texts in Genesis. This is partly because Genesis is good narrative material and partly because I still have John Wevers’ Notes on the Greek Text of Genesis checked out from the library. This text jumped out at me because I’m reading Waltke’s Old Testament Theology. I had not heard the interpretation he takes on the Tower of Babel before, and it stood out to me. When I was reading the greek text of that story it dawned on me that Waltke’s interpretation is not possible there as it is in the MT (see comment below). Anyway, happy Septuagint Saturdays.

 

The Building of the Tower

Text:

Gen. 11:1 καὶ ἦν πᾶσα ἡ γῆ χεῖλος ἕν καὶ φωνὴ μία πᾶσιν 

Gen. 11:2 καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ κινῆσαι αὐτοὺς ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν εὗρον πεδίον ἐν γῇ Σεννααρ καὶ κατῴκησαν ἐκεῖ 

Gen. 11:3 καὶ εἶπεν ἄνθρωπος τῷ πλησίον δεῦτε πλινθεύσωμεν πλίνθους καὶ ὀπτήσωμεν αὐτὰς πυρί καὶ ἐγένετο αὐτοῖς ἡ πλίνθος εἰς λίθον καὶ ἄσφαλτος ἦν αὐτοῖς ὁ πηλός 

Gen. 11:4 καὶ εἶπαν δεῦτε οἰκοδομήσωμεν ἑαυτοῖς πόλιν καὶ πύργον οὗ ἡ κεφαλὴ ἔσται ἕως τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ποιήσωμεν ἑαυτοῖς ὄνομα πρὸ τοῦ διασπαρῆναι ἐπὶ προσώπου πάσης τῆς γῆς 

 

Translation:

1) And all the earth was one tongue and one speech [was] for all.

2) And it happened as they moved from the east, they found a plain in the land of Sennaar and they settled there.

3) And a man said the neighbor, “Come, let us make bricks and roast them in fire and the brick became unto stone and bitumen became for them clay.

4) And they said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city and a tower, the head of which will be unto the heaven and let us make for ourselves a name before [we] are scattered upon the face of the earth. (more…)

Advertisements

The One Who Is to ComeJoseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., The One Who Is to Come (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2007), xvi + 183 pp. + Indices.

 For Christians, the subject of Messiah and Messianic prophecies is a very important one. Too often, however, in our ‘christocentric’ hermeneutic we read the Old Testament and see Christ everywhere. In this new book, Fitzmyer tries to stay that tendency by studying the messianic concept as a developing concept throughout Israel’s history.

Fitzmyer defines the technical use of Messiah as “an eschatological figure, an anointedhuman agent of God, who was to be sent by Him as a deliverer and was awaited in the endtime” (1). With this technical concept of Messiah in mind Fitzmyer begins a study of the messianic concept in two parts. First, he examines the messianic concept in the Old Testament (chs. 2-5), then examines it in (roughly chronological order) in other sources: the Septuagint (ch. 6), 2nd Temple Jewish Literature (ch.7), the NT (ch. 8 ) and Mishnah, Targums and other Rabbinic writings (ch.9).

 Because of Fitzmyer’s ‘narrow’ understanding of the technical use of Messiah (Heb.: msh) he can survey its uses and claim that (more…)

This verse has been brought to my attention recently and made me realize that there was a significant difference between the MT and LXX that I missed. So I decided that for today’s Septuagint Saturdays it would be worthwhile to revisit this text. 

Previously, I noted, based on the difference between τηρήσει and שׁוף, that “it seems, to this translator at least, that the LXX has taken a little thunder out of the protoeuangelion.” While that remains true of that translational observation another, significant translational observation points in the other direction. Thus the new section of this post, below, under αὐτός vs. ‏הוא. I have also added a short ‘concluding thoughts’ section and a bibliography.

The Curse of the Snake and the Woman
Gen. 3:15 καὶ ἔχθραν θήσω ἀνὰ μέσον σου
καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον τῆς γυναικὸς
καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ σπέρματός σου
καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ σπέρματος αὐτῆς
αὐτός σου τηρήσει κεφαλήν
καὶ σὺ τηρήσεις αὐτοῦ πτέρναν

Gen. 3:16 καὶ τῇ γυναικὶ εἶπεν
πληθύνων πληθυνῶ τὰς λύπας σου
καὶ τὸν στεναγμόν σου
ἐν λύπαις τέξῃ τέκνα
καὶ πρὸς τὸν ἄνδρα σου ἡ ἀποστροφή σου
καὶ αὐτός σου κυριεύσει

Translation
15 And enmity I will place between you
and between the woman
and between your seed
and between her seed
he will lie in wait for your head
and you will lie in wait for his heel.

16 And to the woman he said,
I will greatly increase your pain
and your groaning;
in pain you will bear children.
And to your husband will be your returning
and he will dominate you.

Translation Notes
τηρεω
How this verb translates the MT equivalent will be discussed below, but my translation of this verb as ‘lie in wait for’ needs some explaining. The standard translation for this word is (more…)

Peter Enns, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 173pp. + glossary and index.

 We will now finish our review of Enns’ book by looking at the third major section (ch. 4): The Old Testament and its Interpretation in the New Testament. In this section Enns addresses the difficult question of how the NT authors handle the OT. He begins this chapter with the observation that the NT authors’ “notions of what constitutes a proper handling of the Old Testament do not always square with our own instincts” (114).

Enns states his beliefs upfront. He believes:

  1. The New Testament authors were not engaging the Old Testament in an effort to remain consistent with the original context and intention of the Old Testament author.
  2. They were indeed commenting on what the text meant.
  3. The hermeneutical attitude they embodied should be embraced and followed by the church today. (115-16)

Many will disagree with some, if not all, of Enns conclusions. In my opinion, this is the most controversial section of Enns book.

Enns begins by trying to put the NT authors in context by examining the hermeneutical principles of the world they lived in. He begins by looking at places where the OT interprets other passages of the OT. Most notably (more…)

In light of recent tragedies in Myanmar and China, it is hard to put tragedies in context. However, this news item was brought to my attention, and it hit home. Stephen Curtis Chapman’s youngest daughter, Maria Sue, died Wednesday from being hit by an SUV driven by one of her brothers. The Christianity Today article is here and the CNN article is here. There is also a special blog set up in memory of Maria Sue here (the announcement already has over 14,000 comments). This tragedy is small only in the size of its victim.

I had the opportunity to get to know Stephen on a hunting trip in South Dakota. He has a great heart, loves the Lord, and has a passionate love for his children. I know from the way he speaks about his kids how hard this event is hitting this family. As an older brother I can scarcely imagine what Stephen’s son is feeling now. My prayers are centered on the Chapman family today.

This article was brought to my attention today. It is about Sen. John McCain’s rejection of Rev. John Hagee, who had previously endorsed him as Presidential Candidate. The reason for the title of this post is that now both of the presumptive nominees have had to distance themselves from controversial religious figures. 

I was fairly upset, as a white evangelical Christian, that there was not as big a scandal when McCain won Hagee’s endorsement as there was over Obama’s ties to Jeremiah Wright. I am certain that I am as embaressed or more to share the same label (evangelical in this case) as John Hagee as many black theologians are to share the label with Jeremiah Wright. Let me be clear, I am not in a position to criticize Jeremiah Wright, from what I’ve heard him say, he’s said things I never would but our contexts are vastly different.

On the other hand, I do have a similar tradition to John Hagee. The comments that specifically caused McCain to reject Hagee’s endorsement were his remarks regarding the fact that Hitler’s actions were helping fulfill God’s will to return his people to their land. For me, Hagee’s recent book, In Defense of Israel, which claims that Jesus did not claim to be the Jewish Messiah, is even more problematic. This argument, in my opinion, shatters Christianity as I see it.

Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but I feel like our politicians will accept any influential support until it comes back to bite them where the sun don’t shine. 

This last weekend our church had its All Church Retreat. It was a great time. Games, fellowship, worship and fun. What I want to mention is the opportunity we had to have Dr. Carole Spencer come and speak to our congregation. We had two sessions with her, one on our ‘Spiritual Types’ and one on ‘Ancient Prayer Practices.’ 

The second session was the most beneficial for me because it reintroduced me to these different prayer practices. Too often in academia I find my spiritual life struggling as I read texts about Scripture, hermeneutical method, historical background, etc. Sometimes I forget to engage with God in the midst of it. So, it is good to be reminded that there is more to a deep spiritual faith than understanding what ancient Near Eastern parallels there are to the creation account in Genesis 1-2. 

The first Ancient Prayer Practice she talked about is Lectio Divina (‘holy reading’). Lectio consists of 4 moments. They are (from wikipedia’s article):

Lectio

This first moment consists in reading the scriptural passage slowly, attentively for several times.

Meditatio

The Christian, gravitating around the passage or one of its words, takes it and ruminates on it, thinking in God’s presence about the text. He or she benefits from the Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination, i.e. the work of the Spirit that imparts spiritual understanding of the sacred text. It is not a special revelation from God, but the inward working of the Holy Spirit, which enables the Christian to grasp the revelation contained in the Scripture.

Oratio

This is a response to the passage by opening the heart to God. It is not an intellectual exercise, but an intuitive conversation or dialogue with God.

Contemplatio

This moment is characterized by a simple, loving focus on God. In other words, it is a beautiful, wordless contemplation of God, a joyful rest in his presence.

This method is difficult for me. Perhaps it is because I am trained to look at other things when I read Scripture (perhaps to my own detriment) but I have a hard time with this seemingly subjective practice of reading Scripture. It is not that I am opposed to it. I have heard Tony Campolo remark on numerous occasions that this practice is so beneficial and meaningful for him. But it is a practice that I have a hard time with. 

The second Ancient Prayer Practice that Dr. Spencer spoke to us about was ‘Contemplative Prayer.’ My introduction to this kind of prayer came in college when, at the behest of a friend, I read a great little book called The Way of the Pilgrim. This book is a novel/travel diary of a monk who tries to take 1 Thess. 5:17 literally: ‘pray without ceasing’ (ἀδιαλείπτως προσεύχεσθε). 

The monk, or pilgrim, records his journey of praying the ‘Jesus Prayer’ on every breath. The Jesus Prayer is as follows:

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

There was a time in college when I tried to live by this Prayer of Jesus. When I drove, I prayed the prayer on every breath. When I walked to class, I prayed the Prayer on every breath. Ultimately, I am not a monk, and I was unable to continue this for any stretch of time. However, after hearing a lecture from Tony Campolo, where he spoke of beginning his day with a similar prayer, I have, at times, tried to make this my morning prayer.

The idea behind this and other forms of contemplative prayer is that you clear your mind of all other things except the line you are praying. In this way, you make yourself more receptive of God’s message for you. It is receptive prayer, rather than request-based prayer. As someone who’s day consists of studying Scripture academically, this contemplative prayer is a great way to ‘center’ myself with the right perspective first thing in the morning. I hope that I am always open to other kinds of spiritual practices. These were not new to me, but I thank Dr. Spencer for reintroducing me and re-inspiring me to make these ‘receptive’ type prayer practices more part of my daily spiritual life. They are a great balance to the headiness of biblical academia.

Next Page »