Monday, 3 January 2022

Monday quote

God does not reckon failures and victories the same way we do. Men often lose their souls while gaining the world, and they often gain their souls while apparently losing everything.

Douglas Wilson

Monday, 6 December 2021

Monday quote

If I die without food or without eternal salvation, I want to die without food.

David Green

Monday, 29 November 2021

Monday quote

To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.


Monday, 22 November 2021

Monday quote

We scoff at honour, and wonder why there are thieves among us.

CS Lewis. The Abolition of Man.

Monday, 15 November 2021

Monday quote

Inflation: cutting money in half without damaging the paper.

Monday, 8 November 2021

Monday quote

What is intolerable to the (assisted suicide advocate) is not suffering or dying, but not having control over life and death.

Eric Chevlen

Monday, 1 November 2021

Monday quote

The true way to shorten a sermon, is to make it more interesting.

H.W. Beecher.

Monday, 25 October 2021

Monday quote

The wise king is not the universal expert. Rather, he is to be someone with mastery of the task of judgment. And he exercises such judgment well through his gifts in the discerning, taking, and weighing of expert counsel. Ruling with expert counsellors is a rather different thing from rule by experts.

Alastair Roberts.

Monday, 18 October 2021

Monday quote

All the inhabitants of the world should know that the power of kings is vain and trivial, and that none is worthy of the name of king but he whose command the heaven, earth and sea obey by eternal laws.

King Canute (c.990–1035), king of England (1016–), Denmark (1018–) and Norway (1028–1035).

Monday, 11 October 2021

Monday quote

Information is always "metachemical" with reference to the information carrier just as "software" is always "metaphysical" with reference to the "hardware". Information cannot be measured by physics and chemistry nor be described and certainly not be explained....

Reinhard Eichelbeck. The Darwin Conspiracy. Rise and fall of a pseudo-scientific worldview. (Das Darwin-Komplott. Aufstieg und Fall eines pseudowissenschaftlichen Weltbildes.)

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Marital rape

There are arguments for and against the proposition that a husband can rape his wife. The disagreements are, in part, over what the phrase actually means. When one asks if a husband can rape his wife there are several different questions one could be asking.

  1. Is a man able to force his wife to have sex against her will?
  2. Does sex with one’s wife against her will constitute rape?
  3. Does marriage give a man permanent consent to sex with his wife?
  4. Is a wife permitted to refuse to have sex with her husband?
  5. May a husband override his wife’s refusal of sex?
  6. Should the state legislate marital rape laws?

All these are related but distinct questions. They are questions that might be assumed but not articulated when discussing the issue of marital rape. Throughout I am discussing the situation of a husband physically forcing his wife to have sex while she is trying to prevent him. Similar responses would relevant for a wife physically forcing sex with her husband against his will, although that would seem to be an uncommon situation.

Question 1 may be what some people mean by the question: Can a husband rape his wife? Many men are physically capable of forcing sex on a woman when she is unwilling, and that remains the case in marriage. If a wife absolutely refuses sex with her husband, it is the case that many husbands would be physically capable of forcing coitus. Question 1 is obviously true. It is in the other questions where the debate really lies.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul argues that in matters of sex, the husband and wife no longer retain dominion of their own bodies. Husbands are not to refuse wives and wives are not to refuse husbands.

The husband must fulfill his obligation to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but her husband does. And likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but his wife does. Do not defraud one another, except perhaps by agreement, for a time, in order that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and then you should be together again, lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self control. (1Co 7:3-5 LEB)

That Paul is commanding this to the husbands and wives means that there is a possibility that a spouse may refuse sex. Paul states that refusal is forbidden, moreover that the refusal of sex is fraudulent behaviour towards one’s spouse. But note who the command is given to: the command is given to the husband to fulfill his obligation and the wife to fulfill hers. There is no command that states that if a husband or wife refuses then the other is entitled to force the non-compliant spouse. The question of forcing sex is not being addressed by Paul here, rather the question of refusing sex. A wife could wrongly refuse sex and a husband could, in response to being wronged, wrongly force it. And it would seem from elsewhere in the Bible that obtaining what one is otherwise entitled to by force can be wrong. The principles of laying down one’s life for another, of loving to our own detriment, of fighting battles for others and asking God to fight our battles, of turning the other cheek; these biblical principles are all consistent with not forcing sex when a spouse wrongly refuses it.

So why does Paul give these commands to the Corinthians? Because they were needed. Men and women in Corinth may have been refusing sex to their spouses—though possibly out of a pious motive of a perceived heightened spirituality. Of course this is not true piety, it is not more spiritual to break one’s marriage vows however pious one claims to be otherwise. The Pharisees excused a son’s obligations to his parents if he offered service to God instead. Jesus rebuked false piety and noted that it is in fact rejecting God’s commandment (Mark 7:9-11). Marriage is a commitment between one man and one woman for life with sexual fidelity. As such, marriage vows are an agreement to be both only and always sexually faithful to one’s wife. In modern parlance, marriage vows are a permanent consent to sex with one’s spouse.

This is why the terminology of “rape” is so difficult to apply. How do you apply an idea about consent, or lack thereof, in a situation where permanent consent has been vowed? The idea that a spouse can consent, or not, to sex on a daily or hourly basis in antithetical to marriage vows. The question of marital rape is asked in a language (or culture) of consent whereas the Bible has a language of sexual fidelity. Sex outside of marriage is wrong regardless of the amount of consent given by both parties. And sex inside of marriage is what has been vowed. The whole question of marital rape would seem absurd to many women in ancient times. “What do you mean you refuse to have sex with your husband because you don’t want to?”

Monday, 4 October 2021

Monday quote

Perfection is not when you have nothing to add. It's when you have nothing to take away.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Friday, 1 October 2021

The world into which some scholars stray

Adrian H N Green-Armytage writes in John Who Saw.
There is a world—I do not say a world in which all scholars live but one at any rate into which all of them sometimes stray, and which some of them seem permanently to inhabit—which is not the world in which I live.

In my world, if The Times and The Telegraph both tell one story in somewhat different terms, nobody concludes that one of them must have copied the other, nor that the variations in the story have some esoteric significance. But in that world of which I am speaking this would be taken for granted. There, no story is ever derived from the facts but always from somebody else's version of the same story.

Writers of books need earlier books as sources when they write ‘em.
Those earlier books, yet earlier books, and so ad infinitum.

In my world, almost every book, except some of those produced by Government departments, is written by one author. In that world almost every book is produced by a committee, and some of them by a whole series of committees.

In my world, if I read that Mr. Churchill, in 1935, said that Europe was heading for a disastrous war, I applaud his foresight. In that world no prophecy, however vaguely worded, is ever made except after the fact.

In my world we say, "The first world-war took place in 1914–1918." In that world they say, "The world-war narrative took shape in the third decade of the twentieth century."

In my world men and women live for a considerable time—seventy, eighty, even a hundred years—and they are equipped with a thing called memory. In that world (it would appear) they come into being, write a book, and forthwith perish, all in a flash, and it is noted of them with astonishment that they "preserve traces of primitive tradition" about things which happened well within their own adult lifetime.

Turning to more detailed matters, in my world, if a fisherman makes an unusually good catch, he counts and weighs and measures each fish and can accurately (even maddeningly) recall these statistics to memory until the end of his life. In that world a ‘draught of 153 great fishes’ is necessarily fictitious and the number must be symbolical. In my world, if a party of uneducated and probably superstitious men is sent out by moonlight to arrest a man who is said to be in league with the devil and to be able to work miracles, they go in some trepidation; and when the wizard suddenly appears out of the darkness and challenges them, using those words so awe-inspiring to Jewish ears, ‘I AM’, they are apt to be considerably taken aback. But in that other world it is ‘ludicrously unhistorical’ to suppose that the high priest’s servants ‘went back and fell to the ground’ in precisely these circumstances. In my world a man of even the humblest origin can become, by the end of his life, a very learned man. In that world a Galilean fisherman can never, as long as he lives, become acquainted with the writings of Philo or the terminology of contemporary religious and philosophical thought.

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Book groupings in the Old Testament

Modern Jews divide the Old Testament into 3 groupings. They are

  1. Torah (Law)
  2. Nevi’im (Prophets)
  3. Ketuvim (Writings) 

From which they derive the term TaNaKh from the initial letters. Within the Tanakh they divide the Prophets into Former Prophets and Latter Prophets. The Writings are divided into Poetry, 5 scrolls, and other. Within these groupings the books are also ordered.

  • Scripture
  • Law
    • Genesis
    • Exodus
    • Leviticus
    • Numbers
    • Deuteronomy
  • Prophets
  • Former prophets
    • Joshua
    • Judges
    • Samuel
    • Kings
  • Latter prophets
    • Isaiah
    • Jeremiah
    • Ezekiel
    • The Twelve (minor prophets)
  • Writings
  • Poems
    • Psalms
    • Proverbs
    • Job
  • Scrolls
    • Song of Songs
    • Ruth
    • Lamentations
    • Ecclesiastes
    • Esther
  • Other
    • Daniel
    • Ezra & Nehemiah
    • Chronicles

Some argue for a fixed canon of the OT around 100 BC, others to after 100 AD. The early manuscripts were on scrolls and thus not bound. Some books were grouped on scrolls such as the 12 minor prophets. Thus the groupings of the books and the order of the books need not date to the time of any agreement of the canon. Specifically, I am unaware of any documented grouping or order of the Tanakh prior to c. 400 AD. Further, there is evidence of a different grouping prior to and at the time of Jesus.

The term the "Law of Moses" or "Book of the Law" or similar was used by the authors of other Old Testament books: Joshua 1:7, Joshua 8:31, Joshua 8:32, Joshua 22:5, Joshua 23:6, 1 Kings 2:3, 2 Kings 14:6, 2 Kings 21:8, 2 Kings 23:25, 2 Chronicles 23:18, 2 Chronicles 25:4, 2 Chronicles 30:16, 2 Chronicles 33:8, 2 Chronicles 34:14, Ezra 3:2, Ezra 7:6, Nehemiah 8:1, Nehemiah 8:14, Nehemiah 9:14, Nehemiah 10:29, Daniel 9:11, Daniel 9:13, Malachi 4:4. This often refers to a specific book, usually Deuteronomy.

The phrase the Law and the Prophets is attested by the time of the New Testament. Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) was written c. 200 BC. In the prologue written c. 150 BC we read,

Many great teachings have been given to us through the Law and the Prophets and the other books that followed them, and for these we should praise Israel for instruction and wisdom. Now, those who read the scriptures must not only themselves understand them, but must also as lovers of learning be able through the spoken and written word to help the outsiders. So my grandfather Joshua, who had devoted himself especially to the reading of the Law and the Prophets and the other books of our ancestors, and had acquired considerable proficiency in them, was himself also led to write something pertaining to instruction and wisdom, so that by becoming familiar also with his book those who love learning might make even greater progress in living according to the law.

You are invited therefore to read it with goodwill and attention, and to be indulgent in cases where, despite our diligent labour in translating, we may seem to have rendered some phrases imperfectly. For what was originally expressed in Hebrew does not have exactly the same sense when translated into another language. Not only this book, but even the Law itself, the Prophecies, and the rest of the books differ not a little when read in the original.

We also find the term "Law and the Prophets" in the book of 2 Maccabees which was written c. 150 BC.
But Maccabeus had ever sure confidence that the Lord would help him: Wherefore he exhorted his people not to fear the coming of the heathen against them, but to remember the help which in former times they had received from heaven, and now to expect the victory and aid, which should come unto them from the Almighty. And so comforting them out of the law and the prophets, and withal putting them in mind of the battles that they won afore, he made them more cheerful. (2 Maccabees 15:7–9)
The term the Law and the Prophets is also found several times in the New Testament. Mat 5:15; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40; Luk 16:16; Joh 1:45; Act 13:15; 24:14; 28:23; Rom 3:21. Jesus specifically uses this term to sum up the Old Testament: Mat 5:15; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40; Luk 16:16.

4 Maccabees was written c. 100 AD and also uses the phrase.
In the time of my maturity I remained with my husband, and when these sons had grown up their father died. A happy man was he, who lived out his life with good children, and did not have the grief of bereavement. While he was still with you, he taught you the law and the prophets. Maccabees 18:9–10
There is also a variation on the phrase: The Law and the Prophets and the Psalms. Jesus uses it in Luke talking to his disciples after his resurrection.
Then [Jesus] said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
Note that the fuller phrase also expands "Law" to "Law of Moses".

In his book Against Apion, Josephus enumerates the holy Scriptures of the Jewish people.
For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from, and contradicting one another, as the Greeks have, but only twenty two books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine. And of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws, and the traditions of the origin of mankind, till his death. This interval of time was little short of three thousand years. But as to the time from the death of Moses, till the reign of Artaxerxes, King of Persia, who reigned after Xerxes, the Prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times, in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God; and precepts for the conduct of human life

It is true, our history has been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but has not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there has not been an exact succession of prophets since that time; and how firmly we have given credit to these books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add any thing to them, to take any thing from them, or to make any change in them; but it is become natural to all Jews immediately, and from their very birth, to esteem these books to contain Divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be willingly to die for them. For it is no new thing for our captives, many of them in number, and frequently in time, to be seen to endure racks and deaths of all kinds upon the theatres, that they may not be obliged to say one word against our laws and the records that contain them; whereas there are none at all among the Greeks who would undergo the least harm on that account, no, nor in case all the writings that are among them were to be destroyed; for they take them to be such discourses as are framed agreeably to the inclinations of those that write them; and they have justly the same opinion of the ancient writers, since they see some of the present generation bold enough to write about such affairs, wherein they were not present, nor had concern enough to inform themselves about them from those that knew them; examples of which may be had in this late war of ours, where some persons have written histories, and published them, without having been in the places concerned, or having been near them when the actions were done; but these men put a few things together by hearsay, and insolently abuse the world, and call these writings by the name of Histories.
Thus we have the scriptures of the Jews referred to as the Law and the Prophets from at least 150 BC to about 100 AD in various writings. There is a variation of the term: the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms. Josephus specifies the number of book that this includes which is 5 for the Law of Moses, 13 for the Prophets, and 4 for the Psalms (and related books).

The best way to read this is that the term "the Law and the Prophets" referred to the canon of scripture at the time; all of what is now termed the Old Testament. At times "Psalms" was added to the term, and "Psalms" included the book of Psalms and 3 other books. These 4 books were a subset of the "Prophets".

Jesus and the apostles used the term "the Law and the Prophets" to encompass Scripture. It is probable that "Prophets" in this term refers to all the books excluding the 5 books of the Law of Moses. The more expanded term including "Psalms" recognises that hymns were part of the collection, and Josephus' writings make it likely that Psalms includes 3 other books.

This is not unlike the phrase "the heavens and the earth" which includes everything in heaven and earth. This phrase, or variant of it, is used multiple times in the Bible. Variations include the addition of "sea" or "under the earth" but these additions do not mean that the lack of extra terms limit the scope of "heaven and earth."

The grouping of the books of the Bible fit the early term "the Law and the Prophets" or "the Law and Prophets and Psalms". The modern Judaic grouping of "the Law and the Prophets and the Writings" does not appear to go back to the time of the first century, and the grouping of the "Writings" does not correspond to the term "Psalms".

Monday, 12 April 2021

Monday quote

When Jesus and Paul address the issue of greed as a factor that can exclude self-professed believers from the kingdom of God, they are not talking about problems with greedy impulses that all humans struggle with on a daily basis but those who extort and defraud and steal from those living on the economic margins of life and who amass great wealth in the process.

Robert A. J. Gagnon.


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