Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Results Are In...

I have finally decided to end my two unofficial polls of the blogosphere. So here are the final results:
1) Approximately 2/3 of bloggers (RIGHTLY!) believe that when interpreting the Apocalypse one should first assume a passage is meant to be interpreted "symbolically" unless the context demands a "literal" interpretation;
2) Approximately 2/3 of bloggers believe that the Apocalypse is the most difficult New Testament work to interpret (20% of bloggers chose Romans).

I hope to put together a post sometime soon on interpreting symbolism in the Apocalypse:-)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Stellar Portrait of God

Over the past couple of years I have developed a growing interest in the literature of second temple Judaism. Unfortunately, this interest has not translated into a consistent effort to read these writings. Either because of a lack of time or discipline (more likely the latter), I simply have not gone beyond reading a little bit of 1 Enoch and some of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Anyway, I have (again) picked up J. Charlesworth's "The Old Testament Pseudipigrapha: Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments" and hopefully the dust will never return to this fascinating volume.

Maybe reading passages like 1 Enoch 9-10 will provide a steady dose of intrinsic motivation for me. Here is part of E. Isaac's translation of 1 Enoch 9-10:

(9:3) "And they [the angels Michael, Surafel, and Gabriel] said to one another, "The earth, (from) her empty (foundation), has brought the cry of their voice unto the gates of heaven. And now, [O] holy ones of heaven, the souls of people are putting their case before you pleading, 'Bring our jugment before the Most High.' " And they said to the Lord of the potentates, "For he is the Lord of lords, and the God of gods, and the King of Kings, and the seat of his glory (stands) throughout all the generations of the world. Your name is holy , and blessed, and glorious throughout all the generations of the world. You have made everything and with you is the authority of everything . . . And now behold, the Holy One will cry, and those who have died will bring their suit up to the gate of heaven. Their groaning has ascended (into heaven), but they could not get out from before the face of the oppression that is being wrought on earth . . . (10:1)And then spoke the Most High, the Great and Holy One! And he sent Asuryal to the son of Lamech, (saying), "Tell him in my name, 'Hide yourself!' and reveal to him the end of what is coming; for the earth and everything will be destroyed. And the Deluge is about to come upon all the earth; and all that is in it will be destroyed. And now instruct him in order that he may flee, and his seed will be preserved for all generations. " And secondly the Lord said to Raphael, "Bind Azaz'el hand and foot (and) throw him into the darkness!"

What primarily intrigues me about this passage are its parallels with the Apocalypse. One finds numberous verbal parallels ("Lord of Lords," "Kings of Kings," "binding"). Perhaps more interesting are the conceptual parallels. Note the similarity between the plea of the "souls of the people" (1 Enoch 9:3) and the "cry of the martyrs" in Rev 6:10. If the martyrs in Rev 6:10 are given "white robes" and told to "rest" by an angel (as seems likely given the use of the verb didwmi throughout Rev), then this would also parallel the portrayal of the angels in 1 Enoch 9, who serve as something of intermediaries between the human and the divine. Note also that the angel Raphael in 1 Enoch 10 :4 acts as a messenger of judgment, which parallels the role of angels throughout the Apocalypse.

Undoubtedly, the author of this text was heavily influenced by the writings of the Old Testament. 1 Enoch 9-10 is a fascinating text and its portrait of God can ALMOST be described as edifying.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Helpful resources on Ephesians

I am hoping to complete my thesis (by God's grace) within the next three months. After that, I plan to begin research on Ephesians that will hopefully lead to a dissertation proposal. At present, I think I only have three commentaries on Ephesians: Lincoln, O'brien, and C. Hodge. I obviously will need to expand my collection of works on Ephesians.

Here is a list of works on Ephesians I plan on buying/borrowing:
1) Ephesians, E. Best
2) Essays on Ephesians, E. Best
3) Studies in Ephesians, N. Dahl
4) Ephesians, H. Hoehner
5) Ephesians, M. Barth
6) Ephesians, R. Schnackenburg
7) The Theology of the latter Pauline Epistles, Lincoln; Wedderburn; Dunn
8) Ephesians, Muddiman

Any other suggestions? Anything related to the Christology in Ephesians would be especially appreciated:-)

Monday, January 02, 2006

Future Research in Biblical Studies

Choose the option that best expresses the direction you think future research in Biblical Studies should move towards:

  1. A greater emphasis on theological studies;

  2. A greater emphasis on historical studies;

  3. In Biblical Studies, it is not necessary to create a tight disjunction between Theology and History, so this is a stupid question.

"Jesus Emotions in the Fourth Gospel: Human or Divine?"

A couple of weeks ago, I came across the following monograph in the “new books” section at the S.E.B.T.S. library – "Jesus' Emotions in the Fourth Gospel: Human or Divine?" by Stephen Voorwinde. The work is a revision of the author’s dissertation at the Australian College of Theology. Since it includes a chapter on the “temple cleansing” in the Gospel of John, I decided to pick it up and see if it has any helpful material for my thesis.

The following is a brief summary of the author’s conclusion. I have decided to “review” this work because:
  1. I have not posted in a rather long time;

  2. I firmly believe that the discipline of Systematic Theology can greatly benefit from serious work in Biblical Studies;

  3. The Christology of the New Testament, to put it mildly, is an extremely meaningful subject.

Here is my summary of Voorwinde’s conclusion:
  1. In the Gospel of John, the references to Jesus’ emotions are generally connected with his coming passion (2:17; 11:3, 5, 15, 33-38, 47-53; 15:13);

  2. The only pure human emotion Jesus displays in the Gospel of John are his tears in 11:35;

  3. Jesus’ emotions are frequently set in motion by what is best described as divine prescience (cf. 11:15, 33-38; 12:27; 13:21);

  4. The love Jesus displays in the Gospel of John is familial and covenantal. Hence, Jesus’ love is both human (familial) and divine (covenantal).

  5. The portrayal of Jesus in the Gospel of John is to be understood from a deuteronomostic perspective that allows one to understand Jesus as both “the Lord of the covenant” and “the covenant sacrifice” (267)

  6. Jesus’ displays of emotion in the Gospel of John are directly linked to soteriological concerns (cf. 20:31).

Voorwinde ends his work by stating:
[t]he complexity of his [Jesus’] emotions cannot be adequately accounted for by either a humanistic or a docetic Christology. As the covenant Lord he is portrayed neither as being withdrawn from his creation nor as being absorbed by it. Our study has shown that the Johannine Jesus became involved in this world at a deeply personal and emotional level. His love provides the motivation for the world’s salvation. This salvation is achieved – surprisingly and paradoxically – through the sacrifice of the covenant Lord” (269-70)