Saturday, February 28, 2009

Authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews: a Pauline/Lukan Perspective

I just submitted the following paper proposal titled "Authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews: a Pauline/Lukan Perspective" to the Evangelical Theological Society. I will keep our readers posted if I will be able to present this paper at this years annual ETS meeting in New Orleans, LA. Let me know what you think about my thesis. I would greatly appreciate any comments/criticisms to help make the paper as good as possible.

In this paper I will argue that the Epistle to the Hebrews was originally a sermon (or sermons) that was preached by the Apostle Paul and that Luke subsequently transcribed or collated. Since, as Acts informs us, Paul traveled with Luke for many years, there was ample time and opportunity for Luke to hear and transcribe or collate Paul’s preaching. This hypothesis would best explain such early manuscript evidence as P46, which includes Hebrews within the Pauline corpus and such early church fathers as Clement, who holds to Pauline authorship of Hebrews. In addition, this hypothesis would explain the Epistle’s difference in style and vocabulary from the rest of the Pauline corpus. Since Luke’s Greek style is sophisticated, he is a prime candidate for the person who penned Hebrews, whose Greek style is also sophisticated. Further, the fact that Hebrews was originally a sermon would explain the notable absence of any salutation, which is customary for Paul’s other letters. The method for proving this position will be to examine the sermonic material recorded by Luke in Acts and comparing it to Hebrews. Further, the unique Greek style and vocabulary that is found in Hebrews will be compared with Luke’s other material, Luke/Acts.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

RSS Readers and You

A very helpful blog has been posted on the Desiring God site. This post, by Abraham Piper, explains, in a very easy to understand way, what an "RSS" reader is and why you should use it. Go read the post and then add us to your list of blogs. No really, go now, get started!

Once you are ready you can use the address below to add us or click the icon in the address bar:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Mac Plunge

As some of you will know (from my facebook page) I bought a new MacBook this past week. Yes, I did it...I took the Mac plunge. So far I love it. I have not figure out all the ins-and-outs of the Mac operating system yet. But what I have figured out, I like a lot. For the uber-geeks out there who want to know exactly what I bought here you go:

-2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor
-2GB of memery
-250GB Serial ATA; 5400rpm Hard Drive
-backlight keyboard
-and a whole lot more. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Brick Testament

A Lego Moses? Who would have guessed? The folks from the Brick Testament guessed. The Brick Testament is the whole Bible depicted scene by scene in Legos. A few warnings are in order before you check out the site. First, it does depict scenes of a sexual nature in Legos, so be warned. Also, it does depict Jesus in Lego form (sorry RP guys). I am not sure what to make of the site, but I was pretty sure that our readers would find it interesting.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision

I received in the mail today from the U.K. a copy of N.T. Wright's new book Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision. This new book by Wright is mainly a response to John Piper's book The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright. As of yet I have not read the book, but there are two thing that struck me from the start. First, the name on the book is not N.T. Wright but Tom Wright. I have no idea why this is, but it seemed strange to me that it was not published under the name N.T. The second thing that struck me was a "blurb" on the back by Scot McKight which reads:
Tom Wright has out-Reformed America's newest religious zealots--the neo-Reformed--by taking them back to Scripture and to its meaning in its historical context. Wright reveals that the neo-Reformed are more committed to tradition than to the sacred text. This irony is palpable on every page of this judicious, hard-hitting, respectful study.

This is ironic to me. Apparently, McKight has not read any of Wright's critics. For example, Dr. Guy Waters' book is full of exegesis. Piper's book, which Wright is responding to, is mostly explanations of the biblical text. McKight has either not read these works or he is deliberately misrepresenting them because these books clearly do not show that they are "more committed to tradition than to the sacred text." Anyway, I look forward to read what Wright has to say on this important doctrine of justification. 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

World Traveler and Textual Critic

I have been back from the Alpha and Omega Cruise for about a month now. Boy was it a great time. This cruise was a late honeymoon for my wife and I, since we could not afford one when we got married. We saw and did some great things. The highlight of the trip, as far as traveling goes, were the underwater scooters (see picture). I would say everyone needs to do this at least once in their life. We met a lot of great new people and made some new friends.
It was a lot of fun to be on a cruise with other like minded Christians. It made for some great conversations and interaction. There were two highlights of the trip, as far as the theology aspect goes. The first was smoking a Cuban cigar and talking theology with Gary Demar on the deck of the ship. He gave me some great advice as I move forward with my life and get closer to finishing seminary.

The second theological highlight was the debate between Dr. Bart Ehrman and Dr. James White on the topic of "Does the Bible Misquote Jesus." This is the second debate I have seen live with James White and there is something unique about actually being at the debate live. With this particular debate, it was interesting to watch Ehrman's reactions to White's presentations. There was one point in the debate, during Whites first rebuttal, that I was sure Ehrman was going to stand up and interrupt Dr. White. Ehrman was getting so animated.

I have since then listened to the debate a few times on my iPod. I think Dr. White did a great job of showing that an evangelical Christian can be scholarly and stand toe-to-toe with modern biblical scholarship. As someone who is an aspiring New Testament scholar, this was very encouraging. Thanks Dr. White.

Since the debate there has been a few developments in regard to New Testament Textual Criticism (NTTC) and Dr. White. The first was an interaction with fellow believer Joel McDurmon, who was at the debate. You can find some of Dr. White's comments about this on his blog. The second development was with a NT textual critic who blogs on Evangelical Textual Criticism, Dr. Tommy Wasserman. This discussion was started on a disagreement about the state of modern NTTC and devolved into a "he-said-she-said" conversation when Dr. Wasserman misunderstood Dr. White's article.

All and all, the trip was great. I learned a lot. Had a great time with my wife traveling around the world and meeting some new friends. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Atheism and Gregory House

On the latest episode of House, Dr. House (an avowed atheist) takes on a patient who is a priest who has forsaken his faith and yet still goes through the motions of being a priest. The priest has abandoned his faith after being falsely (though the staff doubts that the accusations were false and thus think him to be a pedophile) accused by a young boy of molesting him. The priest has been transferred many times between parishes and ultimately finds himself working at a homeless shelter where he becomes very sick. I find the following conversation to be more than a little interesting for network television...

PATIENT: Everything I've told you is true.

HOUSE: You lost your faith because a teenager got 'confused'.

PATIENT: ...and my church abandoned me, and my God forsook me, and I couldn't come up with a reason why God would do that.

KUTNER: He gave the church and the kid free will. Their exercise of that free will hurt you, it means you're just a victim of God's gift to mankind.

PATIENT: Oh yeah. God wants life to have meaning, life's meaningless without free will, with free will there's always suffering, so God wants suffering; I got tired of that argument before I even finished saying it. And even if I bought that, what the hell is God doing? Just the big stuff? The acts of God, the hurricanes, the earthquakes, the random killings of millions of innocent people? We'd better damn pray.

HOUSE: ... ... God I wish you weren't a pedophile!

Throughout the episode, House is (or seems to be) glad to see that the priest is an atheist, but something changes. By the end of the episode, the boy who (we discover "falsely") accused the priest of molesting him as a young boy returns while he is in the hospital to seek forgiveness and say he is sorry for what he did to the priest's life by lying about him. In addition to this, he receives healing after House figures out what is causing his sickness. However, in order to discover the priest's ailment he has to eliminate the priest's vision of Jesus as a hallucination. The end result is that the sickness only makes sense if the vision of Jesus that priest saw was not a hallucination at all. This, along with the forgiveness the priest receives shakes him in his atheism. The following conversation ensues...

PATIENT: What about my hallucination?

HOUSE: Scotch explains that.

PATIENT: That was just a coincidence...

HOUSE: Coincidences do happen.

PATIENT: That coincidence is what brought me to you in the first place.

HOUSE: You promised you wouldn't go there.

PATIENT: Einstein said 'coincidences are God's way of remaining anonymous.'

HOUSE: A woman in Florida said, 'Look, Jesus is on my cheese sandwich.'

PATIENT: You didn't even want to take my case; you didn't even think I was sick.

HOUSE: The fact that I was wrong is no proof of God.

PATIENT: I'm just trying to understand how my life could completely turn around in a single day.

HOUSE: Don't worry; your life will go back to sucking soon enough. ... Everything that happened to you can be rationally explained.

PATIENT: I know. It's just... Man, that's a lot of coincidences.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Covenant Theology Part 1

Of Covenants in General listen here

Major Theme of Scripture: The Kingdom of God offered to man by way of covenant.

Covenant is from the Hebrew [ber-eeth] meaning to cut, and by extension means a promise or pledge to do something. "It is an agreement upon the promises concerning the relationship between two or more parties. In Biblical terms the covenant is the prime agency of God's self-revelation in history. God reveals Himself to be the covenant God. The essence of the covenant between God and man is "I will be your God, and you will be My people."

Covenant makeup:
Historical prologue
New order

Treaty Between Equals - PARITY COVENANT (bi-lateral)

A. Partners in the covenant are called brothers.
B. Stipulations:
1. Acknowledgment of mutual boundaries.
2. Return of each others run away slaves.
C. Biblical Examples:
1. Midianite Treaty - Exodus 18
2. Between King David and King Hiram - 1 Kings 5:1ff
3. Genesis 21:27; 26:31; 31: 44-54; 1 Kings 15:19; 20:32-34.

Treaty Between a Great King and a Minor King - SUZERAIN or VASSAL COVENANT

1. Preamble - This included the titles and attributes of the Great King and serves to introduce the document.
2. Historical Prologue - Summary of the relationship between the two kings and their ancestors. Actual historical events are cited, especially those that were benevolent on the part of the Great King.
3. Stipulations:

A. Exclusive relationship between the two kings
B. Hostility prohibited against other vassals of the Great King
C. Help in time of war - both ways
D. Slander against the Great King reported
E. Return runaway slaves
F. Vassal to appear yearly to renew the covenant and pay his taxes
G. The covenant is to be written down and placed in the temple of the vassal
H. Covenant to be read periodically

4. Blessings and Curses

A. List of gods called to witness the document
B. Sometimes natural phenomena are also called as witnesses to the document
C. Curses go into effect if the covenant is broken and the Blessings if it is kept
D. One of the blessings was usually a guarantee of the perpetual reign of the descendants of the vassal king
B. Biblical Examples:

1. Gibeonite Treaty - Joshua 9-10
2. Covenant at Mt. Sinai - Exodus 20, Deuteronomy
3. Davidic Covenant - 2 Samuel 7
4. Genesis 17:1ff; Ezekiel 17:13-18; Hosea 12:1.
2 Kings 24:1, 1 Kings 17:3

Treaty Between a King and a loyal servant - ROYAL GRANT COVENANT

A. Royal Land Grants were given to a servant or subordinate for faithful or exceptional service to the king
1. This type of covenant was usually perpetual with no specific conditions. It was, however, understood that the behavior of the heirs would continue to follow the original recipient's loyal example.
2. Most covenants of this type contained the same kind of blessings and curses found in the Vassal Covenant with gods being called on as witnesses.
B. Biblical Examples:
1. Noahic Covenant - Genesis 9:8-17
2. Abrahamic Covenant - Genesis 15: 9-12
3. New Covenant - Jeremiah 31:31-44
4. Numbers 25:10-31; 1 Samuel 8:14; 22:7; 27:6; 2 Samuel 7:5-16; Esther 8:1.

Of the Covenant of Works (fodeus operum) listen here

Of the Contracting Parties in the Covenant of Works:
God as the Suzerain King makes covenant with Adam the vassals servant. This covenant not only is non-negotiable on the part of Man (as represented by Adam) but it is essential to being the Image bearer of God. God enthroned Himself over creation and entered into His eternal Sabbath. The image bearer is to designed to obtain the same blessedness by the same means, that is work. Gen 1-2

Of the Law or Condition of the Covenant of Works:
The covenant was conditional Hos 6:7 The conditioned contained Adam keeping the law of the conscience Rom 2:15, not eating of the tree of Knowledge and taken dominion Gen 1:26-28

Of the Promises of the Covenant of Works:
The promise of eternal life was offered Man if he was to fulfill all the terms of the covenant. Eternal life is glorification. Glorification is abiding where God is enthroned over creation. This was represented by the tree life which served as a pledge of that future inheritance.

Of the Penal Sanction:
God threatens Adam with the curse of being under the wrath of God if he does not keep the terms of the Covenant Gen 2:15-17. This is represent with the tree of Knowledge.

Of the Sacraments of the Covenant of Works:
The Tree of Life is sacramental of eternal life. Access to this tree would have be granted to Adam upon confirmation of justification Rev 22:2,19. The Tree of Knowledge is sacramental of eternal damnation. Adam ate of this tree as and violates the Covenant of works.

Of the First Sabbath:
The first Sabbath is sacramental of the eternal Sabbath rest that man could one day enjoy if he had kept the Covenant of Works. It served as a reminder of that future inheritance.

Of the Violation of the Covenant of Works on the part of Man:
Adam by partaking of the Tree of Knowledge violated the Covenant Works; consequently placing himself and his posterity under the curse of God, resulting in amenity between man and God.

Of the Abrogation of the Covenant of Works on the part of God:
Although man, because of the transgression Adam, is now incapable of keeping the demands of the Covenant man is still obligated to keep the Covenant. The Covenant is a reflection of God’s immutable character therefore it is irrevocable.