Canon within a Canon (Meme, anyone?)

Last week, John Anderson wrote about his canon within a canon. He writes,

Brevard Childs has argued that the process of canonization allowed for a certain ‘leveling,’ a general equality as it concerns the various books of the Bible.  Obadiah is just as authoritative as the gospel of Matthew, and Genesis just as seminal as Philemon.  While I do think there is great merit in such a view–quite a Jewish view, no less, as the Jewish Midrashim affirm just such an equality, using one text to interpret another–none of us is an entirely disinterested interpreter.  We all have our own experiences, ideologies, and idiosyncracies that inform our reading of texts.  And because of this, the canonical ‘leveling’ is in a way distorted.

Continue reading “Canon within a Canon (Meme, anyone?)”

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Commentary on Wisdom, 1:12-16

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Wisdom 1:12-16

(12)  Do not seek death by the sin in your life, nor drag along destruction behind you by the works of your hands;

The word ‘seek’ here is used of attempting admission into one of the religious sects of the author’s day, therefore it brings to mind the picture of a sinner who instead of seeking the way of the Living God, instead seeks to enter into a cult of death by his sin. In doing this, destruction follows him and will plague him, but it is by his own hands that he does this.

But what kind of death? It is the death of Adam – spiritual and physical – separation from the living God. The immortality of the soul is not in question here, only the removal from God.

(13)  God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living.

See Deut. 30.19. Except in certain narratives that involved historical accounts, (16.13, 16.16, 20), the author usually defines death in the spiritual sense, often ignoring physical death and having no moral significance. Physical death is barely a reality for the righteous who ‘appears to die’ (3.2) but lives forever (5.15). The immortality that is expressed in the passage, and indeed this book, is concerning the spiritual nature, of which the righteous will partake fully when they once again walk with the Lord, and in some small measure enjoy here through the Church when they are resurrected after Baptism.

(14)  For he created all things that they might continue to exist, as the genesis of this world is preserved, and there is no self-destructive poison in them; for the dominion of the Grave is not on earth.

Here, ‘genesis’ carries with it several possible meanings,

  • Here the word means either races of creatures or generative powers
  • The Rabbi’s saw it as creative forces that became harmful only after Adam lost his immortality due to the Fall

It is the combination of these two ideas in which we find the meaning of the entire phrase. It emphasizes to the Jews and the Greeks God’s concerns to keep His creation going, not to seek and to destroy it, but to redeem it. God did not make Death, but Death was made by the works of the hands of man – sin. Church needs remember that the Grave – Hell, Death – does not reign on earth. It is interesting to note here the similarity of thought between this verse and the verse in Matthew 16.18, which reads,

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of the grave shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18 NKJV

The Church is the living and immortal body of Christ, and we are enlivened by the Spirit of our God, and because of this, we will not longer face death and destruction, but eternal life. No more does the grave prevail and build palaces on earth. Because God’s righteousness is immortal (v15), and because He did not create death, this author points us to a future Redeemer, which becomes apparent in the following few chapters.

(15)  For God’s righteousness is immortal.
(16)  But ungodly men by their words and deeds summoned death; considering him a friend, they pined away, and they made a covenant with him, because they are fit to belong to his party.

See Isa 28.15. This verse rightly belongs to the second chapter.

Here the ungodly are pictured as ‘pining away’, or wasting away as in the Greek. They have fallen in love Sin and thus they yearn for the fulfillment of their covenant which is the Grave.

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Commentary on Wisdom, 1.7-11

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Wisdom 1:7-11

(7)  For the Spirit of the Lord that has filled the world holds all things together and knows what is said;

This thought of Wisdom’s author is expressed throughout the book, that God holds the world together through His spirit,

But thou sparest all: for they are thine, O Lord, thou lover of souls. For thine incorruptible Spirit is in all things. (11.26-12.1)

As well as being found in the New Testament,

And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (Colossians 1.17)

Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Hebrews 1:3 NKJV)

Clearly this has lead to the Orthodox view of panentheism, or God-in-all. (This is opposite of the pagan belief that all material things are god). In panentheism, God is viewed as creator and/or animating force behind the universe, and the sole source, or perhaps first principle, of universal truth. This concept of God can be closely associated with the Logos of Heraclitus  and Justin Martyr, in which the Logos pervades the cosmos and whereby all thoughts and things originate.  An opposing thought may be that God, as any Creator, as imparted some of Himself into His creation. We note that in both Creation accounts (Genesis 2.7 and John 20.22) the Creator is seen as imparting His breath into the new Creature (Man in Genesis and the Church in John). The thought, which may interpreted differently, seems not so much as permeate this work, nor the epistles or theology of Paul, but serves as a backdrop as to why, especially in the New Testament, God would care so much for His Creation.

Is this the Spirit of God, or the spirit that is Wisdom? Does God have two Spirits, or are they one with different attributes. On the Old Testament, the Spirit of God is God’s activity in the World. The Logos has been described as God active, of God in motion. One way of interpretation that is often overlooked is to interpret the pneuma in this verse as breath. Then we can connect this verse to the two creation accounts.

The author continues to emphasize the fact that God’s spirit which holds all things together is made manifest to the world of men as power, wisdom, and spirit, which becomes important as we deal with the next few chapters, and especially in the latter half of the book when Wisdom plays an intricate part in the Exodus story.

The author, still in the mind set of the Old Testament writers, uses the fluidity of manifestations as extensions of the God Absolute.

(8)  Because of this no one who speaks unrighteous things will escape notice, and justice, when it punishes, will not pass him by.

(9)  For inquiry will be made into the counsels of an ungodly man, and a report of his words will come to the Lord, to convict him of his lawless deeds;

Who will make these examinations? The Greek is passive and leaves the interpretation open. We can take the last attribute mentioned, Justice, or we may take the Spirit of the Lord who we are told knows all things that are said. Justice is a personification of God that the author uses later in 11.20. We have to turn to the Jewish belief that along with the book of life there is a book of remembrance written to record the deeds of man.

Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. (Malachi 3:16 KJV)

We see here that this Spirit of the Lord will search the counsels of the unrighteous and a conviction will be made. The thought is echoed in Jude who quotes from the Book of Enoch,

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convict all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (Jude 1:14-15 KJV)

In Jude, just as in these verses, we have the Lord who will convict the ungodly of their ungodly deeds as well as the ungodly words spoke against Him.

(10)  because a jealous ear hears all things, and no whispered syllable escapes the vigilant ear.

(11)  So, then, beware of useless murmuring, and keep your tongue from slander; because no secret word is goes unpunished, and a lying mouth destroys the soul.

See Numbers 21.5, Psalms 78.19 (77.19 LXX). These ‘hard speechs’ of Jude, or defiant words, against God, whether whispered or shouted, will be remembered when Justice passes by.

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Commentary on Wisdom, 1.1-6

Protestants have created this myth that the books commonly called the Apocrypha or Deuterocanon was suddenly accepted by Rome at the Council of Trent. This is far from the truth. In reality, the canon list was solidified due to Luther and others insistence that the disputed books be discarded. Many of these books have been used since before the time of the Apostles and even by the Apostles themselves. Whispers of Wisdom (of Solomon) can be heard from Luke’s Gospel and Paul’s pen. I hope to eventually get to those at a later date, but for now, I will occasionally blog about the book of Wisdom in hopes that we can attract some attention due to this ancient work.

The Wisdom of Solomon (although many simply call it Wisdom now) was written anywhere from 300b.c. to 50 years before Christ. (Author David Winston puts the date after Christ). From the evidence that I have seen, I would put the date between 175-50b.c. The Logos doctrine is not Philo’s, and somewhat undeveloped. It is a simply statement on Logos, much like I believe John’s to be. It is also not so Jewish as Sirach, and yet joined at the hip with the Maccabean revolt.

To be frank, I consider this book to be as inspired as John and Romans, so I cannot place this book anytime near or after Christ. I will explain that when we get to later chapters. At times, I have found great solace in these pages. When I could not read the words, for various reasons, I often times have my dear wife read them. Just as in Isaiah, the words in these pages belong more with the New than with the Old. They are wholly Christian and yet still Jewish. We find in them not just an expectation of Christ, but thoughts that helped to shape the Christological controversies, and I believe would have done more to limit those controversies had this book not been quickly tossed aside. We also find a structure that helps to see Luke-Acts and the deep things in that series in a different light.)

I will try to do my best to go through the entire book, passage by passage, but there may be times when I have to revisit a verse or two. I will be using the KJV as my primary translation. (Maybe just to show the KJVO crowd that ole King James thought it was a good idea to have the Apocrypha included)

In the following passage (Wisdom 1:1-15) seeks to develop the ideas of Proverbs 1:7, something that we see this author doing several times. The first idea  offers immortality to them man who pursues righteousness, or justice.

Love righteousness, ye that be judges of the earth: think of the Lord with a good (heart,) and in simplicity of heart seek him. For he will be found of them that tempt him not; and sheweth himself unto such as do not distrust him. For froward thoughts separate from God: and his power, when it is tried, reproveth the unwise.
(Wis 1:1-3 KJVA)

It is clear from the pointed expressions and exegetical relations that the judges (or rulers, in some) are apostate Jews. This should apply to the Jew (or in today’s case, the Christian) whether Egyptian or Palestinian, which is perhaps why this book traveled so far, so fast and was held in high esteem in antiquity. In 1Maccabbees 1:11-15 we read of such Jews (in Palestine, no less) that given the license to perform as the heathen did. Philo, writing some time after Wisdom, tells of the Jewish apostates that lived in Egypt that constantly ridiculed the holy scriptures.

The basic premise given in this single line is one that is maintained throughout the rest of the book and indeed gives credence to the unity of the work. The rulers, which is every child of God, are to love the Lord and in His ways seek Him. In the first half of the book, we are told of the Righteous Man and given the model of our life with Christ while in the latter half, we are reminded that through it all, God has always been there.

The phrase Diligiti iustitiam qui iudicatis terram (1:1a), appears around the blond head of Justice in Lorenzetti’s Fresco at the Palazzo Pubblico at Siena, Italy and seems to the central part of the painting. (See Chiara Frugoni Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Vol. 43. (1980), pp. 239-241.)

‘Judges of the Earth’ originates with Psalms 2:10 and not does simply mean kings or rulers, but should be pointed to the everyman. It is a rhetorical device used but later seemingly dropped in favor or urging the every man to strive to kingly lives.

Righteousness/Justice in Hebrew is used both of God and man and means what is right, just, and normal (as opposed to sin, which is abnormal or missing the mark). It can be said that Righteousness/Justice is God (see verse 3) which is a thought later developed by Rabbis, but in light of the rest of the book, the word means acting in harmony with God, which is the opposite of wickedness.

In Verse 2 more light is shed upon what is meant by the sincerity of heart: We must approach God with a heart and truly wants to know God and know of His Wisdom, not one that is tempting God. In Luke 4:12 we find that Christ is reminding the adversary of what has been written: that we are not to tempt the Lord. There is a world of difference in the way that we approach God. Do we approach Him as a scientist? Trying to fit God into a pre-determined existence or do we approach Him asking Him to reveal Himself to us? The writer here says that we must approach the Lord with sincerity of heart, and that is where we will find God (because He will not reveal manifest Himself to those that do not believe in Him.)

In Verse 3 we here the echo of Isaiah 59:2. In the New Jerusalem Bible, the last phrase reads: confounds the stupid. Confound is not the proper sense of the word, but rebuke/reprove is. It is God’s power that will rebuke the unwise. This thought is connected to verse 4 in describing what the Power of God is. When a foolish and perverse ruler tries to test God, the power quickly puts him to shame. The Alexandrian Jewish leaders were being reprimanded for their departure into heathen ways and by doing this, their testing of God.

For into a malicious soul wisdom shall not enter; nor dwell in the body that is subject unto sin. For the holy spirit of discipline will flee deceit, and remove from thoughts that are without understanding, and will not abide when unrighteousness cometh in. For wisdom is a loving spirit; and will not acquit a blasphemer of his words: for God is witness of his reins, and a true beholder of his heart, and a hearer of his tongue.
(Wis 1:4-6 KJVA)

Verse 4 continues verse 3 in telling us plainly that Wisdom is the power of God. Romans 1:16 we read that the gospel concerning Christ is the power of God; in 1st Corinthians 1:18, the power is the preaching of the cross and just a few verses later in 1st Corinthians 1:24, we see that Christ is not only the power of God but also the wisdom of God.

If we are able to read that the Power of God of verse 3 is the Wisdom of verse 4 (and the Holy Spirit of Discipline in Verse 5), and then we read in Paul that Christ is both the power and wisdom of God, we start to receive a revelation about the oneness of the Godhead. ‘Wisdom, ‘spirit’, and ‘holy’ all seem to be synonyms but that idea that God manifests Himself as Wisdom persists throughout the rest of the book.

The word ‘malicious’ is rarely found in the Bible and means ‘to act fraudulently’

We find the thought expressed here fully developed by Christ in John 8:34 and with Paul in Romans 7:14-25. We will show several times that Paul echoed Wisdom, and here is our first time. Further, in Rom_8:9 and 2nd Corinthians 6:16 we see that Paul is saying the same thing in that the Spirit of God, or Wisdom, will not enter and dwell in an unclean temple (body), i.e., one that is enslaved to sin.

Verse 5 is the continuation of the thought in verse 4. In Wisdom 7:25-26 we found out why this Spirit cannot stay near deceit or unrighteousness, because she is the effluence from God. This Spirit is pure and required purity.

Verse 6 we find confirmed in Mark 3:28-29 by the word of the Lord. We find that John in 1st John 3:20 also holds that God knows the heart and it is from within our heart that we can have condemnation. And one does not have to read far into James to know the rules of the tongue.

Witness is ἐπίσκοπος and elsewhere in the LXX it means taskmaster or captain. In the NT it is used as overseer (Bishop) and applied to God in 1Peter 2:25. What we might draw from this is another echo of Wisdom in the Gospels.

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What is the Church – Sermon notes

Church: Derived probably from the Greek kuriakon (i.e., “the Lord’s house”), which was used by ancient authors for the place of worship. -Easton’s

Psa 48:1-14
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. (2) Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. (3) God is known in her palaces for a refuge. (4) For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together. (5) They saw it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away. (6) Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail. (7) Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind. (8) As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. Selah. (9) We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple. (10) According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness. (11) Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments. (12) Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. (13) Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following. (14) For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.

Isa 2:2
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

Isa 26:1-2
In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. (2) Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in

Isa 33:20
Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. (Remove not the ancient landmark!)

Isa 54:1
Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD. (2) Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; (3) For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

(Amos 7:7-8 contrast the two plumblines) (Eph 2:11-22) (The name is not Christian, that was a name applied by the heathen)

Other thoughts:
Psalms 87, Rev. 22:14-15

Genesis – She is the Garden of Eden, where God walked with Adam in the cool of the evening.
Exodus – She is the Promised Land
Leviticus – the heavenly example of the earthly tabernacle
Numbers – Israel in the wilderness always attacked
Deuteronomy – she is the Lord’s portion and the lot of his inheritance
Joshua/Judges – she is worth fighting for, and the choice for a family
Ruth – a gentile who forsook all to follow God
The Kingdoms and the Chronicles – she is the mighty kingdom, the temple and the hope.
Ezra – she is worth coming home to
In Nehemiah – she is the great walled city, rebuilt by the King’s decree
In Esther she is the loyal wife raised up at the moment to save God’s people.
In the Job, David and Solomon, she is Zion, wisdom, our mother, our strong tower, and the assembly of his saints
In Solomon’s Song she is the bride of God.
In Isaiah she is the obedient and faithful wife, a branch of God’s planting, she is sought out and a city not forsaken
In Jeremiah she is the new covenant.
In Lamentations she is repentant and the perfection of the whole world

In Ezekiel she is a city with a watchman, listening for the trumpet.
In Daniel she is the kingdom that breaks all others, the stone cut without by hands.
In Hosea she is saved and loved by her husband.
In Joel, she is God’s mighty army and his heritage
In Amos she is the rising tabernacle of David and the plumb line
In Obadiah is the ambassador among the heathen
In Jonah she is God’s unquestionable reason.
In Micah she is God’s justice.
In Nahum she is God’s remembrance.
In Habakkuk she is the work among the gentiles.
In Zephaniah she is the restoration.
In Haggai she is the glory of the latter.
In Zechariah she is the holy mountain
In Malachi she awaits her Messiah.

In Matthew she is a city set on a hill
In Mark she is the kingdom of God
In Luke she is the people of God

In John she is the vine and the flock of the shepherd
In Acts she is in the upper room.
In Paul she is established, strengthened, set aright – she is protected, overseen and guided.
In Hebrews she is past, present and future
• the tabernacle, the temple and heaven
• she is the city of the living God
• she is can be approached, touched, and lived
In James she has a holy name.
In Peter she is the ark, the priesthood, and a people purchased for redemption, she is Joy unspeakable and full of Glory.
In John she is the elect lady.
In Jude she is that common salvation once fore all delivered to the saints

In Revelation –
She is the bride
The one going up
The one coming down
She is tried, true and perfect.
She is triumphant
She is home.

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