Archive for the ‘bible interpretation’ Category

Cole Thomas Expulsion from Garden of Eden

Two weeks ago I responded to a troll in a post titled “Troll on Veritas Domain: Jesus didn’t have any requirements about belief in Himself?”  Here in this post I want to tackle another point with the troll’s comment here.  I’ve already responded to the first half of his comment over there but I thought I take on the second half as a blog post in hopes that the following response would illustrate the importance of contextually driven interpretation in refuting an erroneous interpretation.

The troll have an interesting take on the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3.  In his own words:

in fact, in the garden, why was god pissed? what was he angry with? what was his first comment?

he was angry at adam and eve believing (because now they judged) they were not worthy to be in god’s presence! his only following comment was deducing why they now thought their metaphoric nakedness (ie insufficiency) … “ah! you ate from the tree, eh?”

Nothing speaks more of the height of folly of the ungodly gospel of self-esteem than to see this troll reinterpret the reason why God was upset in Genesis 3.  He thinks God was upset with Adam and Eve for thinking they were not worthy of being before His presence!   Our troll rejects the traditional interpretation that the reason why God was upset with Adam and Eve is due to their disobedience in eating the prohibited fruit.

But is our troll’s interpretation defensible from the text of Genesis 3 itself?  Let’s take a closer look.


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A Brief History of Old Testament Criticism From Benedict Spinoza to Brevard Childs

Mark S. Gignilliat. A Brief History of Old Testament Criticism: From Benedict Spinoza to Brevard Childs.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, June 10th, 2012. 186 pp.

The author made it clear in the beginning that the intended audience of the book was for “anyone who is in interested in the Bible, its history of interpretation, and the particular problems and approaches to Old Testament studies in the modern period.”  Thus book wasn’t just written for scholars and seminarians in mind but for the larger Christian lay readers although the author admits that as he writing this his inclination was to make the work more technical.  As a result the author himself explicitly explain that he needs to write this book with more of a biographical sketch of important figures of Old Testament scholars in light of the general public’s interests for human stories.  Thus the book is divided into seven chapters with each focusing on one particular modern Old Testament scholar.  I think the book might be more appropriately titled “A Brief Survey of Old Testament Scholars” instead, lest people think it is a survey of the history of Old Testament Criticism so no one is fooled by the title since some chapters focused on more biographical contents than descriptive details of the scholar’s academic contribution.  I suppose one shouldn’t really blame the author for doing so if he can successfully get the readers to know more about these scholars rather than have the readers be bored in seeing these men as another group of dead unknown Germans scholars.

Readers of the book will notice right away how early in the history of modern Old Testament criticism that it is driven by presuppositions and philosophies that is foreign to Scripture.  The clearest and worst example of this given in the book was Spinoza (although I don’t think the author intended to do that).  I was surprised to read about how bright Spinoza was but sadden to see how far he veered away from biblical orthodoxy even among his fellow Jews.  The book noted how Spinoza’s motivation in his approach towards the Old Testament was one that began with human autonomy and the assumption that reason is in conflict and above faith, etc.  While the other scholars the book survey is less overt than Spinoza in undermining the Bible nevertheless I would say one see in varying degrees the compromises and the import of bad philosophical starting points among various scholars’ approach to the Old Testament.

The author however makes it clear that he wants Evangelicals to have a greater appreciation for these scholars and their contribution even if one disagrees with them.  In that vein I appreciated the chapter on Julius Wellhausen and the author explaining Wellhausen’s documentary hypothesis clearly and simply for the lay reader.  I learned that Wellhausen’s formulation of his documentary hypothesis was in the context of his attempt to reconstruct the original historical setting of Israel in light of naturalistic presuppositions and not just merely to break up the Scripture into parts per se.  Although I have misgivings with the documentary hypothesis I think a strength of the book is the presentation clearly and accurately of what these scholars believed.

The chapters that really stood out to me were the ones on Gerhard VonRad, William Albright and Brevard Childs.  While I have been cautious and continue to be discerning when I read anything from VonRad (or anything that others attribute to VonRad), nevertheless I have a deeper sense of respect for VonRad the man and the scholar.  I never knew until this book of the courageous stance he took against the Nazis when he was a German Old Testament scholar at the universities.  His courage is inspiring when one consider the anti-Jewish climate in Hitler’s Germany.

It was also neat to learn of biblical scholars that was shaped by the polymath William Albright whose impact on Old Testament studies is his use of archaeological findings.  By far my favorite chapter was on Brevards Childs whose canonical approach has more use for Evangelical students of the Old Testament than some of the other approaches mentioned in the book.

I must say that Christians must read this book with discernment.  I think at times the author could have been explained more of the problems with some of the scholars surveyed.  Nevertheless I felt that all these scholars has things we can learn from; the biggest encouragement from these men lives was that I want to continue to be diligent in my study of God’s Word with all my mind, strength and soul.

I recommend the book, and rate it 4 out of 5.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Zondervan Academic and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

Purchase: Amazon

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LGBT Movement: Part 1

There is a plethora of objections that I can share from the LGBT movement, but for time’s sake, I will try to provide you their main arguments:

LGBT Objection: The biblical prohibition against homosexuality is ancient and not to be followed anymore.

Response: Then why not apply the same logic to other sexual perversions too?  Should the prohibition extend beyond the scope of homosexuality to other sins too (i.e. adultery, etc.) if one operates off of a presupposition of the ancient? Just because something is ancient does not mean it no longer has relevant and direct applications for us.  For example, the murder is an ancient and wicked sin that can traced back to Genesis.  Should we stop prohibiting the act of murder because it is ancient? Can you imagine the repercussions if this logic was followed. The implications brings about other forms of sexual immoralities such as bestiality, pedophilia, bestiality, necrophilia, etc.  This can of worms opens up because ones thinking is not submitted to the Lordship of Christ in the realm of knowledge.  Greg Bahnsen stated this concerning the Lordship of Christ in the realm of knowledge,

Paul infallibly declares in Colossians 2:3-8 that ‘All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in Christ.’  Not he says all wisdom knowledge is deposited in the person of Christ–whether it be about the War of 1812, water’s chemical composition, the literature of Shakespeare, or the laws of logic!  Every academic pursuit and every thought must be related to Jesus Christ, for Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life” (Bahnsen, Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith4-5).

To disconnect oneself from Christ is problematic because it leads to deception and moral suicide.

LGBT Objection: The biblical prohibition against homosexuality is addressed only to Jews.  Non-Jews are only affected by this prohibition if they reside in the Jewish land.

Response: Rabbi Jacob Milgrom is one person who espouses this belief.  He quotes form Leviticus 18:24-30, but he forgot about verses 25-27 (defilement and acts of abominations attributed to non-Jews too).  The passage states:

‘Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled.  ‎25 ‘For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants.  ‎26 ‘But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments and shall not do any of these abominations, neither the native, nor the alien who sojourns among you  ‎27 (for the men of the land who have been before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become defiled);  ‎28 so that the land will not spew you out, should you defile it, as it has spewed out the nation which has been before you.  ‎29 ‘For whoever does any of these abominations, those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people.  ‎30 ‘Thus you are to keep My charge, that you do not practice any of the abominable customs which have been practiced before you, so as not to defile yourselves with them; I am the LORD your God.’ ”

  • Clearly verses 25-27 refer to the other nations committing acts that is considered wicked and abominable before the Lord that the Jewish people were prohibited from following.  If God is using the other nations as examples, then clearly the Gentiles are people too that can commit abominable acts.  The criteria of abominable deeds is not determined by where you live or what race you belong to.  The prohibition against abominable acts can take place anywhere and by anyone.  Both Jews and Gentiles are culpable.  He does not have laws of morality only for one group of people or only for a specific region.

Objection stated: What is “natural” in Romans 1 is not in reference to natural homosexuals but to heterosexuals who go beyond their natural bounds and engage in homosexuality.

Response: These proponents have a complete misreading of Romans 1. It turns the argument of Paul on its head.  The sin of homosexuality just like any other sin is never natural.

  • Romans 1:26-27, For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
  • Romans 1:26-27 is in reference to all formerly heterosexuals who exchanged their natural function for the unnatural function.  Why? because there is no such thing as natural homosexuals.  Espousing that belief is tantamount to saying that Bruce Jenner was naturally a woman.  Anything sinful is unnatural.  You are what God intended you to be.  What is natural is to operate as beings that reflect the created order. If homosexuality is a natural state, then it will be illogical and contradictory for God to prescribe prohibitions.  Nice try LGBT movement, but this just shows your desperation in order to propagate your false teaching so you could justify your sin.

LGBT Objection: Paul is only speaking of pederastic homosexual behavior here, not adult homosexual relationships.

Response: Paul speaks of “men committing shameless acts with men….”  This statement when studied in the Greek text is prohibiting all sorts of homosexual behaviors.  The argument concerning whether it is in reference to pederastic behavior or not has to do with the word meaning of arsenokoitai and its cognates in extant usage.  Here is where I think Dr. Robert Gagnon’s (since I have not done complete research, I can’t fully vouch for all of Dr. Gagnon’s theology such as soteriology, bibliology, etcc.; so please use discernment to see if it aligns with Scripture)  commentary from his Facebook post concerning arsenokoitai  is helpful.  I am also thankful that Cripplegate was able to compile it and archive it for us.

The term arsenokoitēs and cognates after Paul (the term appears first in Paul) are applied solely to male-male intercourse but, consistent with the meaning of the partner term malakoi, not limited to pederasts or clients of cult prostitutes.

For example, the 4th century church historian Eusebius quoted from a 2nd–3rd century Christian, Bardesanes (“From the Euphrates River [eastward] . . . a man who . . . is derided as an arsenokoitēs . . .  will defend himself to the point of murder”), and then added that “among the Greeks, wise men who have male lovers are not condemned” (Preparation for the Gospel, 6.10.25). Elsewhere Eusebius alluded to the prohibition of man-male intercourse in Leviticus as a prohibition not to arsenokoitein (lie with a male) and characterized it as a “pleasure contrary to nature,” “males mad for males,” and intercourse “of men with men” (Demonstration of the Gospel, 1.6.33, 67; 4.10.6). Translations of arsenokoitai in 1 Cor 6:9and 1 Tim 1:10in Latin, Syriac, and Coptic also define the term generally as “men lying with males.”

  • Dr. Gagnon is correct concerning his above commentary.  Furthermore, according to Dr. Gagnon, if Paul wanted to refer only to prohibition of pederastic behavior he would of used a different term.

The terms paiderastai (“lover of boys”), paidomanai (“men mad for boys”), or paidophthoroi (“corrupters of boys”) could have been chosen.

  • Here is more commentary from Dr. Gagnon concerning the implications of arsenokoitai in Romans 1:24-27:

It is bad exegesis to interpret the meaning of arsenokoitaiin 1 Cor 6:9 without consideration of the broad indictment of male-male intercourse expounded in Rom 1:27 (“males with males”). The wording of Rom 1:27(“males, leaving behind the natural use of the female, were inflamed in their yearning for one another”) points to an inclusive rejection of all male-male relations. Paul here does not distinguish between good non-exploitative forms of male homosexual practice and bad exploitative forms but rather contrasts all male homosexual relations with natural intercourse between a man and a woman. He also emphasizes reciprocity (“yearning for one another”), a fact that rules out an indictment only of a coercive one-sided homosexual desire.

Other factors confirm the inclusive rejection of all male homosexual practice in Rom 1:27: Paul’s intertextual echo in Rom 1:23–27 to Gen 1:26–27 (which contrasts male homosexual practice with God’s intentional design in creation, “male and female [God] created them” and the consequent marital bond), his use of a nature argument (which transcends distinctions based on coercion or promiscuity), and the parallel indictment of lesbianism inRom 1:26 (a phenomenon in the ancient world not normally manifested with slaves, call girls, or adolescents).

The fact that semi-official same-sex marriages existed in the Greco-Roman world and were condemned by Greco-Roman moralists, rabbis, and Church Fathers as unnatural, despite the mutual commitment of the participants in such marriages, is another nail in the coffin for the contention that the term arsenokoitai had only exploitative or promiscuous male homosexual relations in view.

  • What I also found astonishing while studying this word arsenokoitēs, I came across this in the book called The Same Sex Controversy: Defending and Clarifying the Bible’s Message About Homosexuality by Dr. James White and Jeff Neill, I came upon this discovery that somewhat startled me.  I found out some disturbing news concerning the influence of the LGBT pressures upon Christian scholarship in some lexical works concerning the changes from BGAD (2nd edition) to BDAG (3rd edition).  You can see the subtle compromises.  Limiting the meaning of the word arsenokoites should not even be a option.  Here is the excerpt below from the book:

“Some scholarly sources limit the meaning in just this way. The impact of political pressures appears even in the realm of Christian scholarship and publishing. For example, the second edition of A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature by Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker (University of Chicago , 1979) defines arsenokoites as ‘a male who practices homosexuality, pederast, sodomite’ (109). The listed sources were fairly small at this point but included Bailey’s work. With the advent of the third edition (now known as BDAG) in 2000, the entry more than tripled in size, with the main definition dropping the term ‘homosexual.’ The definition given is, ‘a male who engages in sexual activity w . a pers. of his own sex, pederast.’ The first part of the definition, however, defines a homosexual, not a pederast. The largest portion of added ‘sources’ are revisionist in nature and have already been addressed . However, BDAG does note the formation of the word based upon the LXX usage at Leviticus 20: 13, even though this very fact militates strongly against the dropping of the term ‘homosexual’ from the definition (while retaining the description of homosexuality!)” (159-160).

Objection stated (Rom. 1): Paul is speaking solely of Jewish purity laws, and hence this is irrelevant in a modern, enlightened society.

Response: This reveals their desperate revisionism of the text. We know that Paul is prohibiting all homosexual acts whether it be done religiously or not.  There is no indication anywhere whereby the sin is limited only to a religious homosexual act.  If that is their logic, can we say that murder, adultery, other sexual deviant acts that are not done religiously be accepted?  Paul is condemning the total homosexual orientation because it is not natural.  They love to blame totalitarian regimes such as Nazis or communists being revisionists, but they are doing the very same act of error.

Objection stated (Rom. 1): Paul is not giving a binding, universal or timeless prohibition here, but is speaking only about what was then “natural” in a conventional or social sense.

Response: Paul is not intending this to be limited to a cultural climate. This is timeless and universal.  In every generation, this sin is condemned.  Why is it only wrong in terms of under the guidance of social norms?  No where in Scripture is God’s moral law to be governed by society?  Do you see that in Leviticus 18 and 20?  If it is subjected to social norms, that means prohibitions from God are not immutable and therefore are tossed to and fro by the gross immorality of arbitrariness.  Who knows then what the next new norm would be in the coming future.  Should the Gospel change too then?   Of course not.  If so, the message we preach has no transforming power and no binding authority upon all people in all ages.  God is not mocked.  He will not be limited by social norms or time.  He is the Ageless and the Eternal one.  May this stir up our hearts to preach the eternity of God and the immutability of God.

Stay tuned for part 3.

Helpful resources consulted:

Bahnsen, Greg L., and Robert R. Booth. Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith. Atlanta, GA: Tenth Printing, 2009.

White, James; Niell, Jeff (2002-04-01). The Same Sex Controversy: Defending and Clarifying the Bible’s Message About Homosexuality (p. 135). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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Vern PoythressThere is a free PDF of a work by New Testament Scholar Vern Poythress titled “Issues in Hermeneutical Foundations: Selected articles on hermeneutics and biblical interpretation.”  It is a collection of various articles by Poythress that appeared various theological publications.

The PDF is hosted on Westminster Bookstore and available by clicking here.


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 For Exposition of Jonah Part 5 click HERE

Jonah whale

Jonah 2

The good thing about studying further a series after you preach on something is that you are able to go back for deeper study.  Sometimes that means you come to a better conclusion that you had originally.  Case in point?  The last few weeks going through Jonah chapter two I was struggling with whether or not Jonah repented in the belly of the Big Fish.  The following is my conclusion, my reasons and what I see is the implication for our lives.

Further Consideration: Did Jonah Repented?

(A) Jonah saying “While [i]I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord,” (v.7a)

(1) Inversion of Noahic flood where Genesis 8:1 where “God remembered Noah,” since it’s God’s initiative that saves Jonah rather than the other way around (Youngblood, Location 2172).

(2) The faithful in the Bible typically confess that it’s Yahweh remembering them rather than they taking the initiative to remember God such as in Judges 16:28, 1 Samuel 1:11, 19; 2 Kings 20:3, Psalms 25:7, 106:4, Jeremiah 15:15, etc (Youngblood, Location 2175).

(B) Jonah’s prayer makes no reference to wrong doing and lacks confession or sorrow over his own sin (Youngblood, Location 2183).

(C) Jonah’s prayer has tension that indicate he might not understand the difference between penance and repentance

(1) Jonah 2:8 talks about other sinners who were idolators but there is not acknowledgement of his immediate sin and situation at hand.

(2) In contrast to the Idolators he compares himself as one who gives sacrifice to the Lord in the next verse in Jonah 2:9.  He is comparing himself to others rather than comparing his sins to God’s standards.

(3) In Jonah 2:9 Jonah said “which I have vowed I will pay.”  He might be having a works righteousness mentality going on here.

(D) Jonah’s attitude later on when Nineveh repented reveals that Jonah might not have had any heart change despite his initial behavior.

We can legitimately go to the conclusion to help illuminate what came before since the book of Jonah likes to use the literary device of intentionally leave out details in the beginning only to reveal it in a later scene what Jonah’s mind was thinking:

(1) The secret of Jonah’s reason for not going to Nineveh

(2) The secret of Jonah’s God with the mariner

What can we learn from Jonah not repenting?

(A) Action is not enough!  Jonah did outwardly carry out God’s plan but it’s important to confess our sins especially in light of 1 John 1:9 that He is faithful to cleanse us when we do!

(B) Make sure you do repent!

 NEXT: Exposition of Jonah Part 7

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Having just finished our Saturday Weekly Series on Hermeutics and the Covenants, I thought it was good to put all in one location the outlines of all three hermeneutics courses we have on our blog.  Lord willing, sometime in the future I want to make a fourth level hermeneutics course on Logic for Biblical Hermeneutics.

I think it’s important for Christians in terms of spiritual life, practical theology, systematic theology and apologetics to be conscious of our hermeneutics.  To that end, I hope this would be helpful.


Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session One: Introduction

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Two: How Should We Study Theology? Issues of Sources and Authority

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Three: Doctrine of Special Revelation

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Four: The Doctrine of the Self-Attesting Word of God

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Five: Doctrine of Inerrancy and Ramifications for Hermeneutics

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Six: Doctrine of Biblical Clarity

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Seven: The importance of Words and Grammars

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Eight: Context Part I: The Immediate Context

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Nine: Context Part II: The Chapter and Book Context

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Ten: Context Part III: The Entirety of Scripture

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Eleven: The Aid of Natural Revelation in Hermeneutics

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Twelve: Hermeneutics and Apologetics





















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Joel and Obadiah by Busenitz

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

I wish more commentaries of the Bible were like this one: plenty of exegetical insights into the Hebrew texts with vast lexical notes and some grammatical and syntactical observations. I appreciated how the author’s insightful is useful for those studying the Hebrew text for expository preaching while at the same time it’s not so technical that it cease being beneficial for a knowledgeable lay reader. The bulk of the commentary is on the book of Joel rather than Obadiah. I appreciated the introductory materials on Joel here, especially since there’s so much scholarly debate about the book and how Joel has so little internal evidence in regards to authorship, dates, etc. Dr. Busenitz does a good job in the commentary of surveying different positions concerning introductory and background matter, and offer reasons for the conclusions he lands on (rare in commentaries these days). There’s been many occasion as I read the text from Joel I was wondering what was going on, and Busenitz’s commentary has been helpful. I definitely recommend this whether you need a commentary to read along with your devotional or if you need a commentary that touches on the Hebrew text for your exposition.

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