Thursday, August 31, 2006

Wumpscut's "Golgotha"

Although a blatantly antichristian artist, this song captures lyrically an exceptionally vivid and powerful description of the crucifixion that stirs my soul.
Oh Christ, oh Christ, you were condemned
To die on Roman's cross at end

Pilatus he had not the will
To send the right man to the hill

So he was nailed like ugly scum
To trunks of shame the Carpenter's done

And he screamed out, "I had the will,
But father left me on the hill"

Oh Christ, you are a lunatic
Oh Christ, you're just a lunatic

Go on, scream out, you had the will
To die for us upon the hill

Christ had died
at last he gave the most
Christ had died
at last the holy ghost
Christ had died
at last he had the will
Christ had died
at last he saw the hill


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Season of Silence

Due to a vacation on the Oregon coast, I will not be blogging or responding to comments for two periods of seven days. In the meantime, check out my links, forage through my archives, leave some venomous messages, or learn something from other biblioblogs on the right.

There is a season for everything under the sun. This is my season of silence.

Before Abraham Was, Who Is?

In my discussions with Trinitarians, I often hear verses in the NT used as a kind of proof-text for Yeshua's ontologically deity. This is one of them:
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the solemn truth, before Abraham came into existence, I am!”
--John 8:58
This, for some, is insurmountable proof that Yeshua claimed himself to be Yahweh. Some point to the use of the divine name "I Am" as the vital evidence, some to the mention of pre-existence, others to the reactions of those challenging him.

But I have to wonder why this should be understood that way at all. Anyone familiar with the Prophets or Psalms knows that at times the speaker will change "person". A prophet will be speaking as though he himself were speaking, and then in the middle of the prophecy or communication, suddenly speak as if it were not him, but Yahweh himself--or vice versa. Prophetic communication can change from third person to first person and even to second person at the drop of a hat. But I've never heard anyone claim that when any other prophet does so, they are claiming to be God himself.
"they will sanctify my name, they will honor the Holy One of Jacob"
--Isaiah 29:23b
Did Isaiah just claim ontological deity? Will they sanctify Isaiah's name? I've never heard anyone make such a ridiculous claim. Isaiah went from first person speaking as Yahweh (my name) to third person speaking about Yahweh (the Holy One of Jacob).

Why must Yeshua be claiming ontological divinity when he, a prophet, says "before Abraham was, I am", yet when a different prophet makes a first person, personal claim, it is not them speaking, but Yahweh? There is a drastic interpretative inconsistency which cannot be removed by appealing to the words themselves or the reactions of the hearers.

Why is Yeshua not speaking for Yahweh when this is axiomatic of a prophet, when he is a prophet, and when he specifically says moments before in John 8 that everything he has heard from the Father, he speaks, and that, therefore, those things are not his words, but the Father's?

Does it not make even more sense that if Yahweh's word is being spoken through Yeshua, that just as Yahweh many times refers to his own name in a prophet's words to clue them into this, that the use of the divine name in Yeshua's speech would serve the same purpose?

If anyone would argue that Yeshua was trying to tell people about his own ontological state of divinity instead of speaking as Yahweh like a prophet of Yahweh, they must first show why all these other things make less sense and then how and why the other makes more.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Vaticinia ex eventu

A phrase that refers to something as a 'prophecy' after the event—that after something occurred, it was written or recorded as if being prophesied prior to the event.

Vaticinia ex eventu is sometimes heralded by Modernistic prejudice instead of historic and scientific evidence. An example of this is the dating of the book of Daniel from the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is widely dated shortly after the time of the Maccabees not because the evidence suggests this date, but because Daniel's prophecy describes specific events up to the time of the Maccabees. Therefore it must have been written after that time since there is no such thing as prophecy (or because someone does not believe Daniel could have foretold certain things).

But there are times when vaticinia ex eventu is called for because this is either an adaquate or neccessary conclusion of the evidence. An example of that is the Book of Mormon describing Yeshua, the gospel, and the New Testament period as if such things were written in the book of Mormon prior to the events.

Christians, however, should not fall into the error of those with a Modernistic prejudice by going to the opposite extreme and simply believing every prophecy handed down to them. In that case they have simply exchanged one prejudice for another and are really no different than those who reject their faith. Instead of taking the road of a thorough-going skepticism, they have taken the road of a thorough-going naive impressionism, both of which can be equally fatal to truth.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Donnie Darko Deconstructed

So I finally saw the film. Seems to make everyone's top ten, twenty, pick your number, greatest films of all time. Also seems everyone who's seen it recommends it highly, while everyone who hasn't seen it has no clue it even exists. I was formerly one of the ignorants, but cumulative praise via word of mouth finally sent me on a mission to Blockbuster.

As anyone who takes a gander at my favorite film list will immediately see, I've got a special place in my heart for Post-Modern films...not to mention music, art, and almost everything else in that stream... So this film did not fail to delight and excite--even if I happen to disagree with it fundamentally.

Donnie Darko is, basically, mysticism or romanticism for the Existentialist. I guess this was too much for the U.S. audience, so they had to market it as a horror teen flick. But in a way, horror and teen are also what it's all about. The protagonist is a young man suffering from what one philosopher called "angst" but which is better termed existential despair--something Post-Modern youth (like myself many moons ago) really, really get--not just in terms of understanding, but in terms of individual existence. While the film is very good, what makes it top the charts or hit home is this ability to communicate at a fundamental level what defines so many in this era of the Western world. But that is also precisely a fundamental reason why this film is self-contradictory.

Donnie is the Post-Modern superhero. Unlike Superman, who stands for truth and justice and fights against those who twist things to error so that a happy ending is not perverted, Donnie stands for finding meaning in the chaos, for creating his own truth in a world without it, for being able to face the unhappy ending with a smile because of the journey to that end. The road of Existentialism--either in the philosophy books or in this film--is a non-rational personal experience that gives hope and meaning to face a reality that is too much to bear and that would ultimately be better off destroyed (either in reality or outside it).

Like Sam Lowry in the Gilliam edit of Brazil, Donnie destroys the world by going insane--at least, that is how to describe it from outside the Post-Modern world-view. In the world-view of this film and many living in the world today, Donnie has not lost hold of reality, he has conquered it in the only way available to him until the end. He has saved himself and become the Existential savior. That is what makes him a comedic character instead of a tragic one. And it is also something that can inspire and give non-rational hope and meaning to other Existentialists who, living a self-contradictory existence anyway, will not mind defining themselves by the same token--in fact will glory in it.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Fav NT Passage

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to ungrateful and evil people. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
--Luke 6:35-36, NET
I don't think I've ever read a more powerful passage in all scripture. This, right here, sums up the entire mission of Yeshua, what it means to be and to proclaim the kingdom of Israel's god. It unveils the character and nature of Israel's god, and yet simultaneously reveals in comparison our own nature and what is lacking. It calls us to take on this way, Yeshua's way, as the way of Israel's god, instead the way which isn't, our own.

When Yeshua is seen as enacting his own words in the telling of the message, of bringing in this kingdom through his own work of speaking it, we see in his flesh the mercy of Israel's god calling to her for her soul--of again chosing those as beloved whom turned against him to be his enemy, even Israel. Who is this man who calls by the authority of his own word saying do thus and be reconcilled? Who is this man by whom restoration is proclaimed, who reverses the curse by turning it to blessing? How great must he be to conquer that which is natural to mankind's being! To walk in such a way makes a resurrection from death almost irrelevant, for death--the death of man's way--has already been destroyed in him whom is living.

It makes us wonder, what is going to be lent by him? What good will he do, knowing what he gives cannot be given back nor would be? There is an expectation that if this man speaks true, if what he shows is the way of the living god, if he is enacting this way in the sight of those who hear and chose to follow, that they will be sons of the living god because of him.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Two Thrones

“While I was watching, thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took his seat.”
--Daniel 7:9a
Thrones? Why more than one?
“And with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man was approaching. He went up to the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him. To him was given ruling authority, honor, and sovereignty. All peoples, nations, and language groups were serving him. His authority is eternal and will not pass away. His kingdom will not be destroyed.”
--Daniel 7:13b-14
Because the Son of Man will sit on the other! Two thrones: one for the Ancient of Days and one for the Son of Man.

Of course, we know that Yeshua considered himself to be Daniel's reigning Son of Man:
“Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
--Matthew 28:18
Without a doubt, Second Temple Judaism generally read Daniel's Son of Man passage as referring to the collective body of Israel, not as a single individual and certainly not as some type of heavenly figure. But this doesn't mean it could not be ascribed to the eschatological messiah, as both Yeshua (of himself) and Akiba (of Bar Kosiba) claimed.
“Now, that is satisfactory for all [the other verses], but how explain Till thrones were placed? — One [throne] was for Himself and one for David. Even as it has been taught: One was for Himself and one for David: this is R. Akiba's view.”
--Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 38b

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

OT Hebrew Problems

The Hebrew in the OT is not precise. Unlike Greek words, which mean something very specific, Hebrew words are based on concrete imagery that has specific meaning according to context. Sometimes, the context itself is not very specific either. Add to this the fact that the Hebrew OT was originally written without vowels, that different vowels can completely change the meaning of words, and that the texts have undergone revisions, rewritings, harmonization, etc, and suddenly you’ve got yourself quite a mess. A scholar can spend his entire professional career just trying to work out what the Hebrew most likely actually says (for example, see Understanding the Old Testament by Winton Thomas)

Here is one place where problems with the Hebrew have created what is, literally, a contradiction in the Bible. The contradiction is not, most likely, natural to the intended meaning, but does, nevertheless, exist in the words themselves. Thus, for instance, when we ask who killed Goliath, we are given two different answers:
David prevailed over the Philistine [Goliath] with just the sling and the stone. He struck down the Philistine [Goliath] and killed him.
--1 Samuel 17:50

Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite.
--2 Samuel 21:19
Seeing that 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel are only divisions of the same book, it makes no sense for the text to disagree with itself. This discrepancy clues us in to the fact that more is going on.

Many translations, however, do not actually translate what the biblical text says in 2 Samuel 21:19. They usually harmonize and fix it to say something it doesn’t say. The verse used to change 2 Samuel is the following:
Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath.
--2 Chronicles 20:5
It is well known that Chronicles is something called “rewritten history”—like Jubilees. The Chronicler took from many earlier sources—much of which is actually Kings and Samuel—to write his own version of Israelite history, which is one reason for the many similarities (or differences) between Kings/Samuel and Chronicles.

When the Chronicler came to this contradiction in Samuel, re-wrote it in his own work just as modern-day translators re-write the text to smooth out the contradiction, so that instead of Elhanan killing Goliath, he kills Goliath’s brother. But as the NET Bible’s notes indicate, even the Chronicler’s revision is errant. The NET Bible gives a possible answer to the contradictory and problematic Hebrew in Samuel and Chronicles:

“…in all likelihood the problem is the result of difficulties in the textual transmission of the Samuel passage; in fact, from a text-critical point of view the books of Samuel are the most poorly preserved of all the books of the Hebrew Bible…Both versions are textually corrupt. The Chronicles text has misread “Bethlehemite” (בֵּית הַלַּחְמִי, bet hallakhmi) as the accusative sign followed by a proper name אֶת לַחְמִי (’et lakhmi)…The Samuel text misread the word for “brother” (אַח, ’akh) as the accusative sign (אֵת, ’et), thereby giving the impression that Elhanan, not David, killed Goliath. Thus in all probability the original text read, “Elhanan son of Jair the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath.”

In all probability, the original version of Samuel was coherent. Unfortunately, I have not examined other texts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls or LXX, which may shed more light on the issue. But it appears at this time that a scribe misread the text and corrupted it. That corruption was passed on and appears in our bibles. This does not, however, explain the Chronicler's error. In this case, the autograph of Chronicles would itself be corrupt in that the author clearly mistranslated Samuel or purposely changed Samuel to fit his own ends. I am not familiar with the particulars behind the inerrancy dogma. But if innerancy does not allow the author of scripture to make an error in the text of his autograph or change what was written at another time in other scripture to say something different, and the evidence supports this conclusion about Chronicles and Samuel, then I would have to deny inerrancy.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Just Finished Reading...

German Word For the Day


I stumbled across this word today. I'm not entirely certain what it means. In context, its definition appears to be akin to "Old Testament scholar" or "researcher in OT traditions history".

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Book Meme

I'm going to change it a wee...hee hee...

One book that changed your life:
He Is There And He Is Not Silent by Francis Schaeffer

One book that you think everyone must read:
Jesus and the Victory of God by Tom Wright

One book that you’ve read more than once:
The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

One book that you wish had been written:
History of the Antedilluvian Peoples by Sumerian Joe

One book that you wish had never been written:
The Qur'an by Muhammad

One book you’re currently reading:
Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple by Hershel Shanks

One book you’ve been meaning to read:
The Ressurection of the Son of God by Tom Wright

One book you are currently writing:
Carriers of the Banner, Book I: Daiodel by slaveofone