The Destruction Of Sodom And Gomorrah, a painting by John Martin (painter), died 1854, thus 100 years. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I do not like the term “universalism” for several reasons.
It smacks of (Reverse) Calvinism
It smacks of white privilege
It doesn’t do justice to the wrath of God, judgment, and sin
However, I can’t think of a better term right now. So, universalism* it is.
In reading the notes in The Jewish Study Bible, I caught several statements (drawn from Jewish Tradition) that helped to highlight the text.
In Genesis 18.24, forgiveness and preservation for the several cities lead by the Twins is not found in the act of the sinners, but in the righteousness of the innocent.
This hope from God is found in Jeremiah 5.1 as well.
We can look at 1 Corinthians 7.14 in the same manner.
So, if a small measure of righteousness can ward off the wrath of God and save a city, what then can the wholly righteous act of the death of Christ do if in the Church the Body of Christ and the Spirit remains?
A bit ago, David M. posted a question about Judges 5.2 on Facebook. As you know, I am currently researching a “unique” view of the death of Christ so when I read this, it immediately jumped out to me as something I could use. Judges 5.2 is set within a larger poem detailing the victory of Deborah when she was a judge in Israel. It is a very old portion of the Hebrew Bible, among the oldest some scholars believe.
The Hebrew (into English) reads,
‘For the leaders, the leaders in Israel, for the people who answered the call, bless the Lord. (REB)
While the the LXX(b) reads,
A revelation was uncovered in Israel when the people ignorantly sinned: praise the Lord!
The key word, ἀκουσιάζομαι, is connected to the sin in ignorance found in Numbers 15.28 as well as the Greek words ἀκουσίως and ἀκούσιος also in Numbers 15.24-28. This section enumerates the required sacrifices for those, individual and congregation, who have committed a sin that could not be helped (either through ignorance or against their will). As I read this passage, I do not see a heavy line drawn through the different words, but rather seem them as synonyms.
Let me show you why I think they are all related, if not simply complimentary:
So, here is my thinking about Judges 5.2 LXX(b). The march to war, which required soldiers to volunteer themselves (to die), was a sin (albeit one of ignorance/against the will/necessary) because it involved the sacrifice of the person to the deity. However, because it was required, it was forgiven and rather celebrated. Because of the (self-)sacrifice of the soldiers, God awarded Israel victory. In Rome, you’d call this a devotio. In LXX Israel, you call it a revelation.
I had the privilege today of interviewing Dr. Ryan Stokes of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He told me about his research on satan (both a noun and a verb in biblical Hebrew). Stokes has concluded that the Satan in the Hebrew Bible is not an accuser but actually is Yahweh’s executioner. The article on this topic is in the June 2014 issue of Journal of Biblical Literature. My interview with him is here on MAP.
In the last few decades, academia has produced few, but great intertextual scholars. I suspect that soon we will add a name such as Andrew Streett to that list. His work, The Vine and the Son of Man traces the interpretation and reinterpretation of Psalm 80 in Early Judaism, ending with the Gospel of John. But, it does more than that. Indeed, Streett offers an interdisciplinary approach — Second Temple Judaism, rhetoric, canonical theism, and intertextuality — to understanding not just how the Fourth Evangelist used Psalm 80, but so too the inherited methodology allowing him, or requiring him, to employ the strategy. This volume is a richly rewarding experience whereby the reader is able to digest the complete context of Psalm 80.
And a very detailed introduction, Streett begins the work in earnest with an examination of Psalm 80 in its historical context. He presents his speculation that it was originally a response to the end of the Northern Kingdom, offered to call to God’s remembrance the covenant. Already, we can see why this particular psalm could become important to early apologists defending the messiahship of Jesus. It includes vine imagery, the request for a strong leader, and the restoration of the nation. Thus, the original context supplied the needed theology to develop John’s Son of Man imagery.
Following this, Streett examines the psalm within it’s setting of the psalter. This first use of the psalm allowed the receptive audience (the 6th century BCE) to see it pertaining to them. Further, by placing it within Book III of the psalter, Psalm 80’s already rich royal connection is magnified, assuming an eschatological presence that produces the connection to the Temple and Jerusalem. This is interesting in of itself because it allows the reader to see how portions of Scripture are shaped by their literary placement.
I a (not-as) convincing chapter on Daniel 7, the author argues that the natural imagery of Daniel’s Son of Man vision is supplemented by Psalm 80. He bases this on the beasts, primarily. I remain unconvinced, wishing he had devoted more time to intertextual clues — or included this chapter either in, or after, the following chapter in which he examines our psalm within Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism (chapter 4). In this portion, Streett investigates such works as pseudo-Philo and the Dead Sea Scrolls to understand how Psalm 80 figured into their works. It is during this time, and with the help of the developing eschatological hope, Psalm 80 is reworked to represent better what early Christians would have recognized as the “real” meaning. Had Street placed his chapter on Daniel within this framework, it would be more convincing.
Streett’s chapters on Mark are completely convincing — not simply because he delves deep into the concept of allusion and what this means when reading texts into, or out of, of another. In chapter 5, he stands out from the crowd(s) — the crowds arguing neither for Daniel 7 or Isaiah 53 as the genesis for the suffering Messiah — holding Psalm 80 as the theological instigator for seeing Jesus’s passion as necessary and “biblical.” Chapter 6 deals well with Mark 12.1-12 and its allusive connections to Psalm 80. Streett continues to build upon the idea of intertextuality, connecting Mark to his theological heritage — Second Temple Judaism. By doing so, he gives a literary depth to Mark rarely seen by a surface reading.
In his seventh chapter, Streett tackles Psalm 80 in John 15.1–8. He does not simply offer the psalm as the only intertext, but examines it next to the passages commonly associated with pericope such as Isaiah 5.1–7 and Sirach 24.17–21. He maintains that while other passages may contribute to John’s choice of words here, it is Psalm 80 supplying the spine of the passage.
How did we read the New Testament without the aid of Psalm 80 before? Sure, we did pretty well for ourselves, having rested easily enough on Psalm 110 — but, it seems we were lacking something. And if we ever believed christology suddenly sprang forth ex nihilo, we missed something there as well. Often times, we are told scholars live to find something new. Here, Streett brings back something old and gives us more things to consider in reading the New Testament. He helps us to understand just how Jewish, and continuous, New Testament theology really is. It is a rewarding experience for those seeking to understand the zygote of the New Testament as well as how previous texts were used, reused, and transformed by later writers.
Your life ain’t worth 2 shekels (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I found this interesting. I am currently researching substitution (hint, I don’t think Jesus was classically substituted in Galatians) for my dissertation. These passages all connect for me.
The translations are from the REB.
The Lord said to Moses: When you take a census of the Israelites, each man is to give a ransom for his life to the Lord,* to avert plague among them during the registration. As each man crosses over to those already counted he must give half a shekel by the sacred standard at the rate of twenty gerahs to the shekel, as a contribution levied for the Lord. Everyone aged twenty or more who has crossed over to those already counted will give a contribution for the Lord. The rich man will give no more than the half-shekel, and the poor man no less, when you give the contribution for the Lord to make expiation for your lives. The money received from the Israelites for expiation you are to apply to the service of the Tent of Meeting. The expiation for your lives is to be a reminder of the Israelites before the Lord. – Exodus 30.11-16.
Yet if an angel, one of a thousand, stands by him,
a mediator between him and God,
to expound God’s righteousness to man
and to secure mortal man his due;*
if he speaks on behalf of him and says,
‘Reprieve* him from going down to the pit;
I have the price of his release’:
then his body will grow sturdier* than it was in his youth;
he will return to the days of his prime. – Job 33.23-25
He levied a contribution from each man, and sent to Jerusalem the total of two thousand silver drachmas to provide a sin-offering*—a fit and proper act in which he took due account of the resurrection. Had he not been expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and senseless to pray for the dead; but since he had in view the splendid reward reserved for those who die a godly death, his purpose was holy and devout. That was why he offered the atoning sacrifice, to free the dead from their sin. – 2 Macc 12.43-45.
This does not mean I believe we can buy our way into heaven; but at the very least we can two things.
a “biblical” model for pre-Reformation indulgences.
Note, this is a Book Notes (a possible new feature), not a full review which may follow later. The goal of this feature is to give you a brief summary.
There is not a more important book to understanding Paul’s theology than Deuteronomy. Likewise, we may suspect that there is no important book to the Gospels’, especially John, understanding of Jesus than the final book of Moses. Finally, there seems to be no better book in understanding, if not the entire Jewish canon, than a sizable portion along with several literary strains of Second Temple Judaism, than the capstone to the Torah. Given Daniel I. Block’s work in Deuteronomy, it is not surprising then that his “colleagues, friends, and former students” would choose to honor him via this massive volume. I note with welcome the inclusion of a variety of voices found among his friends and contributors. The book is divided into 3 sections. The first examines the message of Deuteronomy, focused solely on the book itself while the second focuses on Deuteronomy’s reception both in the Jewish canon as well as the Christian canon. Pay attention the first part to Peter T. Vogt’s essay suggesting a pre-monarchy dating to the book while in the second, look especially to Grant R. Osborn’s “Testing God’s Son: Deuteronomy and Luke 4.1–13.” The third part is more practical, with the contributors giving essays on immigration (M. Daniel Carroll R.), human trafficking (Myrto Theocharous), and even a way to preach (Daniel L. Akin) — all based on Deuteronomy. While many of the essays are notable, there are outstanding ones, such as Douglas Moo’s essay on Paul’s use of Deuteronomy and Jason Gile’s essay on the theology of exile in Deuteronomy and Ezekiel. This volume is made complete with Thomas H. McClendon Jr.’s essay on Block’s (Christian) theology of Deuteronomy. In total, this volume is much more than a contribute Block; it is a lauding of the current multi-discipline work on the book of Deuteronomy itself. To that end, the essays explore the work via critical appraisals of Deuteronomy’s importance in the ecumenical canons and how it can impact our discussions of justice and grace today.
Among the unknown Jewish writings that emerged from the caves of Qumran are five scrolls rewriting the Book of Joshua. The present volume offers a detailed analysis of these texts and explores their relationship with each other and other Second Temple Jewish writings concerned with the figure of Joshua. The first full-blown study of this group of scrolls, this book is of interest to students and scholars working in the fields of the Dead Sea scrolls and ancient Jewish biblical interpretation.
Part of my dissertation is looking at rewriting… so this will come in handy, I believe.
LITERAL (noun) “Conforming or limited to the simplest, nonfigurative, or most obvious meaning of a word or words.” I will be referring to the term literal several times and want to ensure that we are on the same page as to definition as I write and you (hopefully) read.
Leviticus is actually one of my favorite books in the bible. It has a great deal to say about holiness and what that means as it is lived out. Now, in fairness, a good many of us conservatives have given Leviticus a bad name with our ranting about the evils of tattoos, homosexuality and engaging in sexual congress with our father’s wife (all while eating bacon mind you), but all that means is in our literal interpretation of scripture (which I ascribe to) we missed the meaning. This is not to try and decipher what is sin and what is not in any singular category mentioned in Leviticus, rather to decipher what the simplest, and most obvious meaning of the words in Leviticus actually are. Don’t worry, I am not going to outline the entire book word for word.
Leviticus comes after Exodus and the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. So what you say? The lesson here is really quite simple for the followers of God then and now. First comes deliverance (Exodus) then comes sanctification (Leviticus). Notice that God did not expect that the Israelites would follow His dictates before they were delivered. As Christians we should probably follow that example and not expect that those who do not have faith in God through Christ to live like they do.
Leviticus exists to instill an awareness of sin as well as to show what constitutes holiness in one’s relationship to God. Under the covenant of law, this was demonstrated in large part by visual and concrete examples that were culturally relevant. It is done so in the covenant of grace as well with the many concrete illustrations that Christ gives, the difference being that Jesus told more stories to demonstrate rather than to simply say “don’t do this”. The examples given however are still concrete and culturally relevant. It is not interpretation to say that the overriding theme of what is written is that the people of God should be noticeably separate from those who are unfaithful. If people do not notice there is something different about us because of our faith we may be in trouble. That is quite literally what is laid out by God in Leviticus.
Leviticus foreshadows and reminds of the complete and perfect sacrifice of Christ by focusing on the perfect requirements of the sacrifice of animals. It prepared the Israelites for the coming messiah and the sacrifice necessary for redemption. No forgiveness without blood. Again, literally what the book says.
Finally, Leviticus adds to the revealed nature of God in Genesis (creator) Exodus (redeemer) by focusing on His holiness and His commands for us to be holy in response (sanctifier).
Whether liberal, progressive, conservative etc. there are a good many themes and ideas in Leviticus that we can focus on in agreement in our dealings and actions toward each other. Yes, sin is unpleasing to God and yes, we all should strive for personal holiness in an attempt to lead those around us to societal holiness, but we will not do so quibbling over the small stuff. We just might manage it when we focus on the big picture stuff. Yes, we are going to disagree over what is sin and what is not based on somethings in the book and I even think that good (Iron sharpening iron and all that good stuff), but let us be sure to do so within the over riding and literal theme of the book so that we can be identified as people of God that the world may see something in us to emulate. Isn’t that, after all, the simplest, and most obvious meaning of the words contained in Leviticus?
Image taken from page 97 of ‘The Chinese as they are: their moral, social, and literary character. A new analysis of the language; with … views of their … arts and sciences’ (Photo credit: The British Library)
I had to remove some stuff from the prospectus when I turned it into chapter 1. I am studying under Dr. Francois Tolmie, at theUniversityof the Free State, doing a literary analysis of the Fourth Gospel and its use of Deuteronomy. What I hope to do is to do a complete analysis of every way the author of the Fourth Gospel has used the Fifth Book of Moses to tell his tale. I will invest a heavy portion of the dissertation into quotations, allusions, and echoes — then, I hope, I will over something by way of the way “John” structures his book to look something like Deuteronomy.
I *think I see something I would like to explore, so we will see.
What follows is an unedited portion I removed.
3.4 Example of Quotations and Allusions
In looking for possible quotations and allusions, I will begin with Hans Hübner’s work, Evangelium Secundum Iohannem. This portion of my work will attempt to show a Johannine appreciation of Deuteronomy as well as his use of quotes and allusions to alert his readers to his grander literary design based on Deuteronomy. As Labahn has demonstrated, the use of Deuteronomy as a quotable source is limited. He points to John 8:17 as the only likely quote attributed to Deuteronomy (calling to his side two Deuteronomic witnesses, 17:6 and 19:15). We must eliminate Deuteronomy 17:15 given (with the methodology to be developed later), the passage around it does not give itself to acting as a mnemonic cue.
That leaves us with two contending passages for John’s source, either Numbers 35:30 or Deuteronomy 19:15. The passage in John presents a challenge to Jesus by the Jewish leaders who questioned his manner of truth if he could only offer testimony on his own behalf. The passage in Numbers 35:30, following the discussion on the murderer, relates the requirements to have two witnesses to put the criminal to death. Deuteronomy 19:15, on the other hand, speaks to the accusation against someone who has sinned. Deuteronomy declares the priests must judge the accusation while including a warning against the false accuser. John’s passage includes Pharisees, the Temple setting, and a passive proclamation that Jesus’s accusers are making false statements. It is much more likely John is quoting from Deuteronomy rather than Numbers.
I will now offer, based on a proposed allusion by Hübner, an example of the work I plan to accomplish. He proposes a possible connection between Deuteronomy 16:2 and John 2:15 based on πρόβατα καὶ βόας. Exodus 12:32 contains the exact word order found in John, πρόβατα καὶ τοὺς βόας, while the word order matching Deuteronomy 16:2 is found in Psalm 8:8. As to be discussed in the chapter on critical theory of allusions, for an allusion to work as an intentional ploy of the author, the allusion must serve as a cue to a larger intertextual frame. Neither Exodus 12:32 nor Psalm 8:8 give to John the needed imagery to allow us to consider this phrase an allusion. Only Deuteronomy does. Again, I must refer back to the imagery present to identify the likelihood of the allusive allowance. In John, Jesus is presenting his body as the Temple whereas in Deuteronomy, the Temple is in only view. This is not all. The Johannine passage takes place near the Passover (John 2:13) whereas Deuteronomy calls for the Passover to take place in the Temple (16:1). Both passages share the Passover and Temple imagery, as well as the ultimate Passover as an expected future event. For Deuteronomy, it is the building of the Temple whereas for John, it is with the death of Jesus.
If we can find more allusions between Deuteronomy, using them to act as signs for larger intertextual frames, we will begin to see the larger role the Fifth Book of Moses plays in the Fourth Gospel. Such allusions, I contend, are replete, adding structure to John’s writing so that John should not be interpreted apart from Deuteronomy, but nestled in an almost inter-linear fashion. The search for allusions, rather than direct quotations will give us this possibility as well as allow us to examine what, if any, these additional recognized intertextual frames contribute to understanding an overall Johannine theology and intent.
3.5 Example of Neologism Work
The word dedicated to allusions will included a specialized section focused on examining the possibility of John’s use of the neologisms created by the septuagintal translator of Deuteronomy. There are two lists of neologisms, based on two different critical texts. The first is found in Wevers’ Notes on the Greek Text of Deuteronomy. The second is in Göttingen Septuagint. The second list is found in Cécile Dogniez and Marguerite Harl’s work, based on Rahlfs’ critical edition. What I intend to do here, briefly, is to show a positive end to the search of neologisms as a possible allusion in John as well as a negative.
Towards the negative boundary of exploration is the exploitation of the neologism that evolved into the name of the fifth book of the Torah, Δευτερονόμιον (Deut. 17:18). In several instances, we find John referring to an action of Jesus with δεύτερος. While we may wish to see something in the passages relating to a second birth of sorts, nothing quite approaches an allowance to see δευτερονόμιον behind the various instances of δεύτερος in the Fourth Gospel.
We may find a positive allusion to a Greek Deuteronomic neologism in John 19:5, referring to Deuteronomy 1:31. The neologism created by the translator of Deuteronomy is τροφοφορέω, used twice in this verse. Likewise, it is used in 2 Maccabees 7:27. Both books are likely in John’s cognitive environment. Equally, both passages under review contain images likely to have influenced the author of the Fourth Gospel. However, whereas 2 Maccabees relates the natural course of the mother and the child, the passage in Deuteronomy contains the imagery of God who fights for Israel and, more importantly, εἴ τις τροφοφορήσει ἄνθρωπος τὸν υἱὸν. God is bearing Israel as a man bears his son. John uses this hapax legomenon to imagine Jesus φορῶν τὸν ἀκάνθινον στέφανον καὶ τὸ πορφυροῦν ἱμάτιον. Given the similarity in imagery, if only in theology, it is possible John uses for the only time in his Gospel a word to harken back to God bearing Israel as a man bears his son.We must admit, however, beyond the theological allusions, the use of a neologism in Deuteronomy with a similar hapax legomenon in the Fourth Gospel is not in of itself completely convincing. It may be that we are seeing a Deuteronomic theological allusion in use by John because of a hyper-focus by the examiner; to remedy that, I will not insist on these as allusions, if the evidence is this flimsy, but seek to present them as echoes indicating some contextual verbal hints in John’s vocabulary.
Admittedly, this is a rather weak connection and while I will use one or two of these weak analogies to showcase the stronger ones, it is less likely such a exposed allusion will be used to prove any substantial connections between Deuteronomy and John. Of course, I will beg the reader to allow for echoes to abound in John’s vocabulary so that while choice may imply purpose, there are those choices in the author’s mind we cannot so well gauge as to remain confident as to their purpose, as if one purpose is more explicable than one accident.
 Hans Hübner, Antje Labahn, and Michael Labahn, Evangelium Secundum Iohannem 2003.
 See Michael A. Daise, Feasts in John: Jewish Festivals and the Jesus’ “Hour” in the Fourth Gospel (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007). Daise proposed the use of feasts to denote a narrative aspect of John. If his premise is correct, then we can see more easily an allusion to Deuteronomy 16 (as opposed to Exodus 12 or Psalm 8) due to this particular pass of Deuteronomy focusing on the proper celebration of the feasts.
 John William Wevers, Notes on the Greek Text of Deuteronomy (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 1995.)
 Cécile Dogniez and Marguerite Harl, La Bible d’Alexandrie LXX, Tome 5: Le Deuteronome (Paris: Le Cerf, 1992).
 The ultimate purpose of using this neologism is to first show the work under the soon-to-developed methodology and not argue convincingly for its determined purpose.
 There are natural arguments against the allowance of this as a intertextual allusion. The first is the use of the figurative language in the LXX, something John either ignores or misses as the Evangelist strips the word (as with the removal of τροφο) of the language needed to conjure the image of a caring, or nursing, person. Jesus is not the caring individual here, but in need of care. Second, there are the other New Testament usages, such as in Matthew 11:8 and 1 Corinthians 15:49. The answer to a possible weakness in this example is to beg allowance that John may simply use the word to call attention to the larger intertextual framework he may employ here while the answer to the second opposition is to suggest we examine vocabulary in John as Johannine rather than as New Testament.
My beautiful and brilliant niece with hair the color of summer strawberries was five years old the first time I heard her recount the story of Lydia, “the lady with the purple cloths.” Blue eyes dancing, freckles sprinkled across her nose, she knew, she was aware that women were part of the story of God and she knew the story was her own. “Wise beyond her years , this one” we always said of her.
I was thinking of my niece Lylah, dreaming of home while in a summer intensive on Wisdom Literature at the University of Notre Dame; it was then and there that I first began to see her take form. I caught a glimpse of her silhouette as I read through the apocryphal books, those early writings that informed the evangelists as they wrote the gospels, undergirded Paul as he shepherded the fledgling congregations, and inspired the early church for centuries until they were removed in 1790 at the formation of the Protestant Canon. Books of poetry and prose, ancient literature, windows into the world of theocentric faith prior to the revelation of Jesus, in many instances the missing pieces of the so called “four hundred years of silence” that literally thundered with Persians and Greeks and Romans.
Wisdom protected the first-formed father of the world, when he alone had been created; she delivered him from his transgression, and gave him strength to rule all things. But when an unrighteous man departed from her in his anger, he perished because in rage he killed his brother. When the earth was flooded because of him, wisdom again saved it, steering the righteous man by a paltry piece of wood…
There it was, staring back at me, the stories of the beginning, tales of the patriarchs but this time Wisdom saved, healed, rescued. Here Wisdom personified as in Proverbs, “she.”
She gave to holy people the reward of their labors; she guided them along a marvelous way, and became a shelter to them by day, and a starry flame through the night. She brought them over the Red Sea, and led them through deep waters; but she drowned their enemies, and cast them up from the depths of the sea (Wisdom of Solomon10).
The word for wisdom in both Hebrew hokmah and Greek sophia are feminine such that the ancients then wrote of the Wisdom of God as a female. This is the Wisdom that emanates from the mouth of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel, the Wisdom that is Paul’s banner and proclamation in Corinthians, it is this Wisdom in John’s prologue that is God come to us in Jesus.
As you trace the lines, follow the grace filled pathways to discover Lady Wisdom you will find God is not always nor completely “He” rather there is a long biblical tradition that stretches from Old Testament to New, wherein the Wisdom of God is female, you will begin to see our story written right into the text.
Our little wisdom teacher turns 15 in a few days and for all the gift she has been to us, I thank God for the gift of the Wisdom Lady standing tall and serene guiding us, reminding us we are God’s own.
– See more at: http://www.kimberlymajeski.com/#sthash.IprduvTZ.dpuf