Monday, 17 February 2020

Monday quote

Still less am I asking why petitions, and even the fervent petitions of holy men, are sometimes not granted. That has never seemed to me to be, in principle, a difficulty at all.  That wisdom must sometimes refuse what ignorance may quite innocently ask seems to be self-evident.

C.S. Lewis, "Petitionary Prayer: A Problem without an Answer", Christian Reflections.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

What does saved through childbearing mean?

In his letter to Timothy Paul writes,
For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. (1Ti 2:13-14)
The context of this passage is praying in church with decorum. The outline of chapter 2 is,
  1. Pray for all people including secular leaders;
  2. in order that Christians may lead a quiet life;
  3. God desires everyone to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth;
  4. men are to pray without quarreling;
  5. women are to dress and behave modestly;
  6. women should learn quietly and not exercise authority over a man.
Paul then writes the above statement and then discusses qualifications for elders and ministers.

It is not clear what Paul means. There have been several interpretations of what this passage means. Neither is it certain who the pronouns refer to. "She" is implicit in the verb "to save" and "they" is implicit in the verb "to continue." "She" may refer to a generic woman, such as those in the Corinthian church, or to Eve. "They" could refer generically to women, or to Adam and Eve, or to a husband and wife.

The NET Bible states,
“But she will be delivered through childbearing,” or “But she will be preserved through childbearing,” or “But she will be saved in spite of childbearing.” This verse is notoriously difficult to interpret, though there is general agreement about one point: Verse 15 is intended to lessen the impact of vv. 13-14. There are several interpretive possibilities here, though the first three can be readily dismissed (cf. D. Moo, “1 Timothy 2:11-15: Meaning and Significance,” TJ 1 [1980]: 70-73).
  1. Christian women will be saved, but only if they bear children. This view is entirely unlikely for it lays a condition on Christian women that goes beyond grace, is unsupported elsewhere in scripture, and is explicitly against Paul’s and Jesus’ teaching on both marriage and salvation (cf. Matt 19:12; 1 Cor 7:8-9, 26-27, 34-35; 1 Tim 5:3-10).
  2. Despite the curse, Christian women will be kept safe when bearing children. This view also is unlikely, both because it has little to do with the context and because it is not true to life (especially life in the ancient world with its high maternal mortality rate while giving birth).
  3. Despite the sin of Eve and the results to her progeny, she would be saved through the childbirth—that is, through the birth of the Messiah, as promised in the protevangelium (Gen 3:15). This view sees the singular “she” as referring first to Eve and then to all women (note the change from singular to plural in this verse). Further, it works well in the context. However, there are several problems with it:

    1. The future tense (σωθήσηται, sōthēsētai) is unnatural if referring to the protevangelium or even to the historical fact of the Messiah’s birth;
    2. that only women are singled out as recipients of salvation seems odd since the birth of the Messiah was necessary for the salvation of both women and men;
    3. as ingenious as this view is, its very ingenuity is its downfall, for it is overly subtle; and
    4. the term τεκνογονία (teknogonia) refers to the process of childbirth rather than the product. And since it is the person of the Messiah (the product of the birth) that saves us, the term is unlikely to be used in the sense given it by those who hold this view.

    There are three other views that have greater plausibility:
  4. This may be a somewhat veiled reference to the curse of Gen 3:16 in order to clarify that though the woman led the man into transgression (v. 14b), she will be saved spiritually despite this physical reminder of her sin. The phrase is literally “through childbearing,” but this does not necessarily denote means or instrument here. Instead it may show attendant circumstance (probably with a concessive force): “with, though accompanied by” (cf. BDAG 224 s.v. δία A.3.c; Rom 2:27; 2 Cor 2:4; 1 Tim 4:14).
  5. “It is not through active teaching and ruling activities that Christian women will be saved, but through faithfulness to their proper role, exemplified in motherhood” (Moo, 71). In this view τεκνογονία is seen as a synecdoche in which child-rearing and other activities of motherhood are involved. Thus, one evidence (though clearly not an essential evidence) of a woman’s salvation may be seen in her decision to function in this role.
  6. The verse may point to some sort of proverbial expression now lost, in which “saved” means “delivered” and in which this deliverance was from some of the devastating effects of the role reversal that took place in Eden. The idea of childbearing, then, is a metonymy of part for the whole that encompasses the woman’s submission again to the leadership of the man, though it has no specific soteriological import (but it certainly would have to do with the outworking of redemption).
The Lexham Study Bible states,
saved through the bearing of children The exact meaning of this statement is uncertain. Paul may mean that women will be saved because Jesus, the savior of the world, was born of a woman (see Gal 4:4). Alternatively, he may be arguing that women will be saved because a woman helped bring about the defeat of the devil (see Gen 3:15). Or, he may be saying that women will be saved from doing evil things by bearing children. Some of the Ephesian women may have been behaving in a manner that led them to neglect what was commonly viewed at the time as their household responsibilities. These women may have been influenced by new cultural trends about women and the false teachers’ negative views on marriage (1 Tim 4:3; compare 5:14; note on vv. 8–15; note on vv. 11–15). If these factors are in view, Paul’s reference to childbirth may represent a woman’s acceptance of what was considered her proper role within the household unit.
The ESV Study Bible states,
This is a notoriously difficult-to-understand verse. Paul clearly does not believe people can be saved in the sense of earning justification through childbearing or any other means (e.g., Eph. 2:8–9). But the NT can also use the term “saved” (Gk. sōzō) in the sense of progressively coming to experience all the aspects of salvation. In that sense, “salvation” is ongoing (see note on Phil. 2:12–13). A similar view is that “saved” can be understood as referring especially to the endurance and perseverance in faith that is necessary for eternal salvation (cf. Matt. 10:22; 24:13; etc.). People are saved as they persevere (continue) in the faith to carry out the Lord’s calling in their life, one example being the unique role of women in childbearing. (The change from singular she to plural they is a literal rendering of the Gk. text.)
Childbearing is likely a synecdoche, if refers to all the roles of motherhood. I think it possible that Paul is reassuring women here. He is not so much stating that childbearing is a means to salvation, rather that a mother may think that raising children is not overtly spiritual and thus question whether she is doing the activities appropriate for one who is saved. A mother may be taking care of what appears to be the mundane, bearing and raising children, not something that seems more spiritual like ministering or teaching within the church. Paul is reassuring such a woman that even if she is only involved in raising her children she still will be saved. Though he reminds women that within this role they must remain faithful to God: they must continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Monday quote

The philosophy that you should come to the evidence without a philosophy is itself a philosophy.

Jason Lisle

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

English translation of Genesis 1 and 2

Below is my translation of Genesis 1 and 2. It is quite a literal translation with an attempt to use the same word when the construct is the same, or within a sentence of phrase where the word repetition is obvious in the Hebrew.

It is based on the LEB and ESV, with aspects of NASB, NIV, and occasionally the Greek Old Testament (LES). It follows the Hebrew text rather than the Greek text. I do not speak Hebrew or Greek so have attempted to ensure that my translation is in line with the above translations.

Word order follows English usage; Hebrew may place the verb before the subject, or the adjective after the noun. Although I have tried to match longer phrases to the Hebrew word order. I have not attempted to include the definite article every time, though I have tended to use "the" rather than "a" if an article is needed and the definite article is present in the Hebrew. I have tried to maintain consistent singulars and plurals in the nouns as much is possible given the constraints of English phraseology. "You" is second person singular and "you*" is second person plural.

I have used the word "flyer" as the Hebrew encompasses winged creatures, not just birds.

Paragraphing is based on previous posts identifying the parallels between Genesis 1 and 2.
I think structure is of use; during this process I noticed a parallelism on the seventh day which I have not seen mentioned previously (though it may be noted in commentaries). This is formatted as poetry.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Monday quote

Universally condemned, envy is nonetheless widely practiced.

Lawrence W. Reed

Saturday, 1 February 2020

What is baptism for the dead?

In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul writes
Otherwise, why do they do it, those who are being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why indeed are they being baptized on behalf of them? (1Co 15:29)
This is a much debated passage. What does Paul mean here? And is baptism for the dead a valid practice?

I am not aware of any translation issues here. It appears that Paul is referring to a practice where some people are being baptised on behalf of other people who have already died.

There are several things worth noting about this phrase.
  1. Paul uses the pronoun "they"
  2. The Greek for "baptism" means "dipped" or "immersed". Though baptism as a ceremony is probably meant, immersion could have another meaning in the passage.
  3. Paul is using this practice to illustrate his point.
On point 3, Jesus, Paul, and others may refer to a concept to illustrate a truth without approving of the concept.

Prior to these verses Paul summarises they gospel he taught them (1Co 15:1-11). Within this summary he mentions that Christ was raised on the third day then appeared to many. Following this Paul addresses the issue of resurrection, specifically that some of the Corinthians were denying the resurrection.
Now if Christ is preached as raised up from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? (1Co 15:12)
Paul then argues for the truth of the resurrection from the dead. Firstly by arguing the consequences if the resurrection is not true; then affirming the truth of the resurrection and what that means. It is following Paul's defense of the resurrection that Paul makes this statement of baptism on behalf of the dead.

It is possible that Paul here is showing up the inconsistency of being baptised on behalf of the dead yet denying the resurrection.
Now if Christ is preached as raised up from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? ...Otherwise, why do they do it, those who are being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why indeed are they being baptized on behalf of them? (1Co 15:20,29)
If this is the case, then Paul is showing the inconsistency of those denying the resurrection by illustrating that they are baptised on behalf of the dead, a practice that logically implies that the resurrection is true. If there is no resurrection from the dead then it is pointless to be baptised on behalf of an already dead person.

Further, if the people who deny the resurrection whom Paul is addressing are the same people who are practicing baptism on behalf of the dead, they are not people whom we should emulate.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Monday quote

The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the government.


Thursday, 23 January 2020

The conclusions of Genesis 1 and 2

Recent posts have discussed the structure of Genesis 1 and 2 as proposed by Doukhan. The structure of Genesis 1 is quite clear. There is an introduction, 6 days clearly delineated by God finishing his creating at the end of the day, and a conclusion which is the seventh day. The frequency of the phrase, "And spoke Elohim" using the grammar of the waw-consecutive indefinite is 1,1,2,1,1,3 over the 6 days of creation.

Questions still remain around the conclusions to both pericopes. Where does the conclusion end for each pericope And where does the Genesis 2 pericope begin?

As shown previously, the introductions to both pericopes follow very similar structures, that is the introduction of the second pericope starts with,
In the day that Yahweh God made the earth and the heaven,... (Gen 2:4b)
which is highly parallel to
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen 1:1)
Doukhan places Genesis 2:4a with the conclusion of the first pericope. He supports this with the claim that the word "create" occurs 7 times in the first pericope and the word "earth" 7 times in the second; assuming this division.

In contrast however, the toledoth structure acts as an introduction elsewhere in Genesis. Using Genesis 2:4a as a conclusion does not match toledoth use elsewhere; and further, it leaves Genesis chapters 2 to 4 without a toledoth introduction. Secondly, does Genesis 2:4a act as a conclusion to Genesis 1, or does the seventh day purpose this? Genesis 2:3 reads as an appropriate conclusion on its own. Thirdly, there is no parallel to verse 2:4a at the end of the second pericope. So if verse 2:4a is a conclusion, it is a second conclusion to the creation account in Genesis 1, and one without parallel in Genesis 2.

Currently my preference is to consider verse 2:4a as an introduction to the next major section of Genesis: verse 2:4b through to the end of chapter 4.

We will now consider the conclusion of the second pericope. Genesis 2 finishes,
And Yahweh God fashioned the rib, which he had taken from the man, into a woman and brought her to the man. And the man said,
“This one, this time;
bone from my bones
and flesh from my flesh;
she shall be called ‘Woman,’
for she was taken from man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cling to his wife, and they shall be as one flesh.

And both of them were naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed. (2:22-25)
The beginning of chapter 3 has the serpent tempting the woman.
And the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field which Yahweh God had made. (3:1)
There is a play on words between "naked" (arom) and "crafty" (arum), so the last verse of chapter 2 could be the beginning of the next pericope, or the author may just be joining the pericopes by means of this.

The man's speech concerning the woman seems to be closely bound up with the sixth section. No animal was found to correspond to the man; but the woman did—this one, this time. So contrary to Doukhan, I would not place the conclusion at the beginning of verse 23.

Verse 24 seems to be a conclusion relating to the creation of the woman, and not a conclusion to the entire pericope: the reason a man is to leave his parents, who made him, is because he gets a wife and the first wife was made from the first man. Verse 24 ends section 6.

So the conclusion to the pericope seems to be the man and his wife, together in the garden, naked, and unashamed.

In summary, the structure of Genesis 1 and 2 considering grammatical issues and parallelisms.

Creation universeCreation mankind
Genesis 2:4a
IntroductionGenesis 1:1-2Genesis 2:4b-6
Section 1Genesis 1:3-5Genesis 2:7
Section 2Genesis 1:6-8Genesis 2:8
Section 3Genesis 1:9-13Genesis 2:9-15
Section 4Genesis 1:14-19Genesis 2:16-17
Section 5Genesis 1:20-23Genesis 2:18
Section 6Genesis 1:24-31Genesis 2:19-24
ConclusionGenesis 2:1-3Genesis 2:25

There is a further question which this raises. Which of the two accounts is derivative? Not in terms of content as the content is not derivative, in terms of structure.

The content source of the second account probably relates to family records and the toledoth structure of Genesis supports this. The content source of the first account is more elusive.

Although both pericopes follow a similar outline, Genesis 1 is more highly organised. While both accounts as they are may have been written at a similar time, which one was structured based on the other? Was Genesis 2 written first and Genesis 1 written in a more highly organised form? Or does the nature of creation in Genesis 1 clearly lead to a more organised narrative and then was Genesis 2 written to emulate the structure of Genesis 1?

Lastly, I suspect that translations should format Genesis 2 so that its correspondence to Genesis 1 is more obvious. That will mainly involve paragraphing the sections appropriately.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Grouping the themes of Genesis 2

Previously I posted on the similarities that Doukhat identifies concerning Genesis 1 and 2, specifically the 9 times that the waw consecutive is used with an imperfect verb and the name of God: Elohim in Genesis 1 and Yahweh Elohim in Genesis 2. The frequency of this phrase in Genesis 1 is apparent as the days are clearly delineated. "And God said", is used over the 6 days in the frequency 1,1,2,1,1,3. Doukhat claims that this is the same frequency in the sections of Genesis 2. However the end of each section in Genesis 2 is not clearly delineated like Genesis 1. Below is the text from each pericope with discussion on the section divisions of Genesis 2 to follow.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

On the structure of Genesis 2

Jacques Doukhan is the author of The Genesis Creation Story: Its Literary Structure. I have not read the book but assume it is based on his thesis, The Literary Structure of the Genesis Creation Story. In it he claims that Genesis 2 is parallel in structure to Genesis 1. Both pericopes have a sixfold structure with an introduction and conclusion either side. Doukhan sees parallels between the introductions, the sections, and the conclusions. Though I am not convinced of the parallels between the two pericopes, the argument on structure is more convincing.

Genesis 1 to 2:3 has the introduction of the creation of heaven and earth followed by 6 days of creating, followed by the conclusion of the seventh day of rest. There is debate whether Genesis 2:4a is the end of the first pericope or the beginning of the second.
These are the generations of heaven and earth when they were created. (Gen 2:4a)
Doukhan includes this phrase with pericope starting in Genesis 1, not the second creation pericope. He calls the creation account in Genesis 1 C and the account in Genesis 2 C'. He has several arguments for including verse 2:4a with C based around the parallels he identifies between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. More convincing is that the word "create" appears 7 times in C if we include Genesis 2:4a. Further the word earth occurs 7 times in C' if we exclude Genesis 2:4a (both words "create" and "earth" are included in Genesis 2:4a). Thus dividing the pericopes after 2:4a gives 7 occurrences of each word and 7 is a common symbol in these passages.

I currently place Genesis 2:4a with what follows based on my understanding of the toledoth phrases throughout Genesis. If the other toledoth are introductory then it seems unusual that Genesis 2:4a would be a conclusion or colophon for the preceding verses.

Doukhan has the following passages parallel.

Creation CCreation C'
IntroductionGenesis 1:1-2Genesis 2:4b-6
Section 1Genesis 1:3-5Genesis 2:7
Section 2Genesis 1:6-8Genesis 2:8
Section 3Genesis 1:9-13Genesis 2:9-15
Section 4Genesis 1:14-19Genesis 2:16-17
Section 5Genesis 1:20-23Genesis 2:18
Section 6Genesis 1:24-31Genesis 2:19-22
ConclusionGenesis 2:1-3; 4aGenesis 2:23-24

He finds parallels between the first 3 sections and the second 3 sections of C' (this has been previously noted in C).

First halfSecond half

1. Light4. Luminaries

2. Firmament5. Birds

3. Plants6. Plants as food

1. Dust4. Death

2. Garden for man5. Companion for man

3. Dominion over garden6. Dominion over animals

And he contrasts the introductions

In the beginningIn the day 
GodYahweh God
Heavens and the and heavens, 
And the earth was formless and empty,and not yet any plant of the field was on the earth, 
and darkness was upon the face of the deep.and not yet any herb of the field had sprung up (because Yahweh God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not yet a man to till the ground).
And the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.And a mist would rise from the earth and water the whole face of the ground.

His comparison of the conclusions is less convincing.

Part of the reason for seeing a similarity between the two pericopes is the use of a similar phrase in both. During the 6 days of creation the term "And God said" appears 9 times. Each time the word Elohim is used for God. And the construction of the phrase is a waw (or vav) consecutive. This is the use of the letter waw (or vav) in Hebrew, which means "and", before a verb; in this case the verb "to speak".The verb is grammatically in the imperfect (which makes the action perfect with a waw-consecutive, and following the previous phrase temporally). Thus the phrase: And spoke Elohim. As mentioned, this phrase occurs 9 times in Genesis 1. Doukhan notes that in Genesis 2 a similar phrase occurs 9 times. The waw-consecutive with an imperfect verb (different verbs) and the name Yahweh God. Example: And planted Yahweh God (Gen 2:8).

This phrase in Genesis 1 only occurs during the days of creation, it does not occur in the introduction or the conclusion, though the word "God" occurs in them. Because Genesis 1 is highly structured, it is clear when the days start, and especially when they finish. The phrase, "And spoke Elohim" occurs once each on days 1 and 2 and twice on day 3; it occurs once each on days 4 and 5, and thrice on day 6; the pattern being 1,1,2,1,1,3.

Doukhan claims this same pattern occurs in Genesis 2 with the 9 occurrences of, "And verb Yahweh Elohim". Which is why he states that Genesis 2 has 6 sections like Genesis 1 does. We will review this in the next post.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Monday, 13 January 2020

Monday quote

She is always married too soon who gets a bad husband, and she is never married too late who gets a good one.

Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Monday quote

Never allow an exception to occur till the new habit is securely rooted in your life.

William James (Selected Papers on Philosophy)

Monday, 30 December 2019

Monday, 23 December 2019

Monday quote

Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything the can be counted counts.


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