Thoughts on Proof-texting for Hate

Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deuteronomy ...
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An anonymous commentator posted this verse in response to today’s post on a deceased blogger,

The whole city celebrates when the godly succeed; they shout for joy when the wicked die.

Like most proof-texting, a single, solitary verse will do for their argument.

The aim of this short post is not to show him how wrong he is according to the entire witness of Scripture, including the Gospel, but to call attention to the fact that the use of this verse in context is wrong.

Simply, I note the next verse,

Upright citizens are good for a city and make it prosper, but the talk of the wicked tears it apart.

Taken together, the passage is dealing with the city, a city, during a time, perhaps, of war or oppression. So, if this is the case, why wouldn’t the Righteous want to see oppression cease? Further, K&D state,

The בּ of בּטוּב denotes the ground but not the object, as elsewhere, but the cause of the rejoicing, like the ב 10b, and in the similar proverb, Pro 29:2, cf. Pro 28:12. If it goes well with the righteous, the city has cause for joy, because it is for the advantage of the community; and if the wicked (godless) come to an end, then there is jubilation (substantival clause for תּרן), for although they are honoured in their lifetime, yet men breathe freer when the city is delivered from the tyranny and oppression which they exercised, and from the evil example which they gave. Such proverbs, in which the city (civitas) represents the state, the πόλις the πολιτεία, may, as Ewald thinks, be of earlier date than the days of an Asa or Jehoshaphat; for “from the days of Moses and Joshua to the days of David and Solomon, Israel was a great nation, divided indeed into many branches and sections, but bound together by covenant, whose life did not at all revolve around one great city alone.” We value such critical judgments according to great historical points of view, but confess not to understand why קריה must just be the chief city and may not be any city, and how on the whole a language which had not as yet framed the conception of the state (post-bibl. מדינה), when it would described the community individually and as a whole, could speak otherwise than of city and people.

This might match with the first chapter or two of the Wisdom of Solomon, but nevertheless, the context is still king.

So, unless Ken Pulliam was oppressing people and his death brought freedom to the city, then the context states that the anonymous commentator was proof-texting.

What is really interesting, however, above the discussion of context is the verse after this passage:

It is foolish to belittle one’s neighbor; a sensible person keeps quiet. (Pro 11:10-12 NLT)

Amazing… if only they had read but that statement… then maybe instead of belittling the departed, they would have simply kept quite, refusing to gloat when their enemy fell.

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Post By Joel Watts (10,045 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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43 thoughts on Thoughts on Proof-texting for Hate

  1. joel the fact that the guy 1) doesnt identify himself, and 2) is utterly ignorant (for instance, his sad misreading of the story of the cleansing of the temple- no where does the text say jesus beat people. if the kid knew greek he’d know jesus overturned the tables of the money changers and drove THE ANIMALS out with the whip- it’s clear as glass in greek) should really lead you not to play his silly games. such people are beyond correction and just not worth the effort. they just dont want to learn. they dont.

  2. You know, I was taught that Jesus drove the moneychangers out with a whip. Thanks for challenging me again.

    • “You know, I was taught that Jesus drove the moneychangers out with a whip.”

      Maybe they were like overcharing people with extra moneychanger fees. Seems unlikely they were just expressing their opinions, stupid.

  3. Here’s a text that requires no context, and that proves perhaps that its an unfortunate loss for Protestants to have so roundly rejected the OT Apochrypha.

    “Rejoice not over thy greatest enemy being dead, but remember that we die all.” (Sirach 8:7)

  4. With all due respect, the text does say that Jesus drove out, with the whip, both the animals and the merchants. The Greek does not suggest only the animals, nor does the context of John’s gospel, and the larger context of the synoptic’s testimony. Read all the context gentlemen, and throw off your liberal blinders that keep you from seeing the truth.

      • No Joel, misunderstanding because your blinders refuse to allow you to see something in the text because to do so would shatter some preconceived notion is

        • Jeff, I hate to tell you this, but you are reading only the text, not the Scripture. Scripture points to animals, not people.

          • Joel, the scripture is the text and the text the scripture, so I don’t know what it is your reading. The text and its context makes clear that Jesus was chasing out, not simply animals, but those selling and buying. The “all” in the Greek, by its gender and context, expresses that it was to both men and animals that the whip was applied.
            The scripture throughout teaches us that God and his son, Jesus, use a rod of discipline as well as love. And that discipline can often times be quite harsh.

          • Scripture = original language.

            No doubt that when God uses it, it can be harsh or other, but neither you nor Rho are God. And, you are still getting the Greek wrong.

          • Exactly how am I getting the Greek wrong Joel. You are quick to make such accusations, but I never seem to see any evidence that you have actually studied the text.

          • Joel, I don’t believe you have studied the text. You haven’t made one argument from the text of John or the synoptics. Show me where I and these other commentators have erred in their study of the Greek text.
            “Put up or shut up”

          • The verb for drive out is associated with the animals, not the men.

            From the NIV Commentary,

            Verse 15 seems to say that he drove out the animals (not the men), but both men and animals may have been expelled. The tractate in the Babylonian Talmud called Berakoth (1:5) forbade one’s carrying a staff in the temple, and for that reason Jesus may have made a whip of cords or ropes; however, this prohibition may not have applied to those who herded animals. At any rate, Jesus was forceful but not cruel.

            From Alford,

            The σχοινία were probably the rushes which were littered down for the cattle to lie on. That our Lord used the scourge on the beasts only, not on the sellers of them, is almost necessarily contained in the form of the sentence here: the τά τε πρόβατα κ. τ. βόας being as it stands with τε and καί, merely epexegetical of πάντας, not conveying new particulars. So that it should be rendered as in A.V.R., “He drove all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen.” (ἐξέχεεν is the aor., not the resolved form of the imperfect: cf. Aristoph. Nub. 75, and see Lobeck’s note on Phryn. p. 222.) It has been imagined, that He dealt more mildly with those who sold the doves, which were for the offerings of the poor. But this was not so: He dealt alike with all. No other way was open with regard to them, than to order them to take their birds away.

            Henry Alford, Alford’s Greek Testament: An Exegetical and Critical Commentary, Jn 2:15 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2010).

            Easy enough. See what happens when you stick to the Scriptural text.

          • Good job Joel.
            However, let me respond. The verb is associated with “all” (pantas). The word “animal” never appears in the text, but the addition of “both sheep and cattle” indicates that Jesus drove out these two groups of animals along with those selling and buying. Why do we believe the people were driven out by Jesus? Because the additional accounts of this event in the synoptics make this clear. Also, after doing my study, I examined the conclusions of various scholars, far more intelligent than I, and found agreement, concluding that I’m not way out in right or left field.
            This is how we can have a discussion/debate over the interpretation of the biblical text. We don’t have to simply redicule another’s opinion without offering scholarly evidence for why we hold our opinions. I can respect your opinion, though disagree with it, because I see that you have examined various evidence and come to a studied opinion.
            Those of us who disagree with you aren’t ignorant idiots.
            And I like Fox News!

          • So are yours, Joel. So are yours.
            However, I’ve never claimed otherwise.The problem in Christianity is there are too many who believe their opinions have somehow come down from heaven above. Then, they demonize through ridicule, castigation, and name-calling anyone submitting a view different than their own.

          • Well, I don’t know what that has to do with John 2 and the cleansing of the temple, but, if you can love and respect the Moslems, and the Buddhists, and the atheists, and the heretic “christianity basher” Ken Pulliam, then you can do the same for the deniers of substitutionary atonement and those who have studied the scriptures and hold to a doctrinal system at odds with yours.

          • I have no issue with those who are wrong in their doctrinal systems, or theologies, as heaven knows that I’ve been error at times as well, but in denying someone the dignity of death’s cold grip is beyond the pale.

  5. Kudos for attempting to deal with the text. This is a refreshing change of pace for a liberal.

    unless Ken Pulliam was oppressing people

    He most certainly was, though. That’s the thing. Obviously not in the same, very explicit and external, way that the author of Proverbs would be expressing with respect to violent warfare. Nothing like that. However, Proverbs also speaks to foolish speech, rebellion against God, lack of wisdom, and people leading others astray. In those things, Dr Pulliam excelled, unfortunately.
    Are you unfamiliar with the Lord Jesus’ statement?
    Luke 17: 1He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! 2“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3“Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4“And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

    If Dr Pulliam had repented, God (and I) would have been more than happy to forgive him. I only wish he had. Instead, woe to him who caused others to stumble.

    Peace,
    Rhology

    • Love the slander attempts, Rho. I consider myself a theological conservative, but then again, anyone to the left of theological fascists are liberals, I guess.

      So, Pulliam wasn’t oppressing people in the way that the author of Proverbs intended, so you went and added your own interpretation to it, twisting the meaning, and then adding the text to your argument. Okay, work with me here. You do understand what proof-texting is, right? Because, you have it down-pat.

      I love the fact that you put yourself up there with God as if he needed to seek your forgiveness too. Double wow.

      I guess I didn’t realize that God had two sons.

      • Hello Joel,

        If you’re a conservative, where is the recognition of the theological poison that Dr Pulliam spent years expressing? Where is your recognition of how destructive his teaching was?

        And gosh, you know, Proverbs is a book of…wait for it…proverbs. They are sayings that are meant to be applicable in principle, extensible to other related scenarios, and yet not infallible. You have given no substantive rebuttal. Your answer amounts to “nuh uh”. So I can answer you in the same childish way as you, lowering myself to your level – “yeah huh!”

        you put yourself up there with God as if he needed to seek your forgiveness too. Double wow.

        I guess I didn’t realize that God had two sons.

        As for this, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I guess you’re implying I put myself up as some sort of paragon of virtue. That’s just ignorant, biased slander. You have no knowledge of me or my beliefs, but apparently that doesn’t stop you from ripping me with very offensive language.
        The funny thing is – I’ve just now identified specifically what is offensive about what you said about me. Why can’t y’all do the same with respect to what I’ve said about Dr Pulliam?

        Peace,
        Rhology

  6. F.F. Bruce wrote in a commentary on John, that Jesus drove out the animals with whips, not the people. It was not a riot, which would have provoked the Roman garrison next door to intervene.

  7. dignity of death

    When’s the last time you read the passages referring to false teachers and apostates in 2 Peter and Jude?

      • Suuuurrreee.

        Jude: 4For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

        5Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. 6And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, 7just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

        8Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. 9But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. 11Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.

        14It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” 16These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.

        • And? See, I could copy and paste as well, but what’s the point? Obviously, you missed the point about Moses’ body. Michael rebuked Satan in the name of God and went on about his business. You? You like to dance on graves. See the difference?

          Further, the passage in question is not speaking about the dead, but about the living.

      • Michael rebuked Satan in the name of God and went on about his business. You? You like to dance on graves.

        That’s not even relevant.
        Thanks, though.
        Oh, Sodom and Gomorrah are alive?

        • Love your discourse skills, Rho. Until you can start to answer without simply saying ‘I know you are, but what am I’, you are moderated so that no one else has to get your replies in their inbox.

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