Monday, November 16, 2009

The Curé of Ars (St. John Vianney) On The Priesthood

Catechism on the Priesthood
by St. John Vianney (A.D. 1786-1859)

My children, we have come to the Sacrament of Orders. It is a Sacrament which seems to relate to no one among you, and which yet relates to everyone. This Sacrament raises man up to God. What is a priest! A man who holds the place of God -- a man who is invested with all the powers of God. "Go," said Our Lord to the priest; "as My Father sent Me, I send you. All power has been given Me in Heaven and on earth. Go then, teach all nations.... He who listens to you, listens to Me; he who despises you despises Me." When the priest remits sins, he does not say, "God pardons you"; he says, "I absolve you." At the Consecration, he does not say, "This is the Body of Our Lord;" he says, "This is My Body."

Saint Bernard tells us that everything has come to us through Mary; and we may also say that everything has come to us through the priest; yes, all happiness, all graces, all heavenly gifts. If we had not the Sacrament of Orders, we should not have Our Lord. Who placed Him there, in that tabernacle? It was the priest. Who was it that received your soul, on its entrance into life? The priest. Who nourishes it, to give it strength to make its pilgrimage? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, by washing that soul, for the last time, in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest -- always the priest. And if that soul comes to the point of death, who will raise it up, who will restore it to calmness and peace? Again the priest. You cannot recall one single blessing from God without finding, side by side with this recollection, the image of the priest.

Go to confession to the Blessed Virgin, or to an angel; will they absolve you? No. Will they give you the Body and Blood of Our Lord? No. The Holy Virgin cannot make her Divine Son descend into the Host. You might have two hundred angels there, but they could not absolve you. A priest, however simple he may be, can do it; he can say to you, "Go in peace; I pardon you." Oh, how great is a priest! The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he is in Heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love. The other benefits of God would be of no avail to us without the priest. What would be the use of a house full of gold, if you had nobody to open you the door! The priest has the key of the heavenly treasures; it is he who opens the door; he is the steward of the good God, the distributor of His wealth. Without the priest, the Death and Passion of Our Lord would be of no avail. Look at the heathens: what has it availed them that Our Lord has died? Alas! they can have no share in the blessings of Redemption, while they have no priests to apply His Blood to their souls!

The priest is not a priest for himself; he does not give himself absolution; he does not administer the Sacraments to himself. He is not for himself, he is for you. After God, the priest is everything. Leave a parish twenty years without priests; they will worship beasts. If the missionary Father and I were to go away, you would say, "What can we do in this church? there is no Mass; Our Lord is no longer there: we may as well pray at home." When people wish to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest, because where there is no longer any priest there is no sacrifice, and where there is no longer any sacrifice there is no religion.

When the bell calls you to church, if you were asked, "Where are you going?" you might answer, "I am going to feed my soul." If someone were to ask you, pointing to the tabernacle, "What is that golden door?" "That is our storehouse, where the true Food of our souls is kept." "Who has the key? Who lays in the provisions? Who makes ready the feast, and who serves the table?" "The priest." "And what is the Food?" "The precious Body and Blood of Our Lord." O God! O God! how Thou hast loved us! See the power of the priest; out of a piece of bread the word of a priest makes a God. It is more than creating the world.... Someone said, "Does St. Philomena, then, obey the Curé of Ars?" Indeed, she may well obey him, since God obeys him.

If I were to meet a priest and an angel, I should salute the priest before I saluted the angel. The latter is the friend of God; but the priest holds His place. St. Teresa kissed the ground where a priest had passed. When you see a priest, you should say, "There is he who made me a child of God, and opened Heaven to me by holy Baptism; he who purified me after I had sinned; who gives nourishment to my soul." At the sight of a church tower, you may say, "What is there in that place?" "The Body of Our Lord." "Why is He there?" "Because a priest has been there, and has said holy Mass."

What joy did the Apostles feel after the Resurrection of Our Lord, at seeing the Master whom they had loved so much! The priest must feel the same joy, at seeing Our Lord whom he holds in his hands. Great value is attached to objects which have been laid in the drinking cup of the Blessed Virgin and of the Child Jesus, at Loretto. But the fingers of the priest, that have touched the adorable Flesh of Jesus Christ, that have been plunged into the chalice which contained His Blood, into the pyx where His Body has lain, are they not still more precious? The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus. When you see the priest, think of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

You can also read the above here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why Arguments Against Women In Ministry Aren't Biblical

Biblical scholar and author Ben Witheringon III has written a column on his Beliefnet blog entitled: Why Arguments against Women in Ministry Aren't Biblical (Sunday October 25, 2009). As he explains:
[I]n this post I am going to deal with the usual objections to women in ministry, one by one. Some of these objections come out of a high church tradition, some tend to come from low church traditions, some are Catholic/Orthodox some are Protestant, but we will take on a sampling of them all without trying to be exhaustive or exhausting.
Agree or disagree with Dr. Witherington, you should read his post and the comments.

FWIW, I contributed the comment "EricW October 28, 2009 10:53 AM," which I have revised and expanded for this posting in order to ask the following question:

What is the status or relationship of man vis-a-vis woman in Christ? I.e., to what state has Christ restored the sexes?

I see at least four main possible understandings or viewpoints (with some subpoints) of this:

I. Christ has restored man and woman to where they were just after the Fall - i.e., with the woman desiring her husband and him ruling over her, and the woman being in (having fallen into) transgression (1 Timothy 2:14).
A. This may also include seeing the woman as still having a greater propensity to being deceived. See comments below at II.B.1. re: 1 Timothy 2:13-14.
II. Christ has restored man and woman to where they were in Genesis 2 before the Fall in one of the following two ways:
A. Man and woman are essentially equals in all respects (other than physical/sexual), with no hierarchy of superordination/subordination between them.
Note: There is no essential difference between this and viewpoint III. II.A. relates the status of the man and the woman to the Genesis 2 creation account, whereas III. relates it to the Genesis 1 creation account.
B. The woman is subordinate to the man because the man was created first and the woman was created from him as a helper corresponding to him and for his sake.
1. Viewpoint B. may also include seeing the woman as still having a greater weakness or propensity when it comes to sin or deception (or enticement), per 1 Timothy 2:13-14:
13 Aδαμ γαρ πρωτος επλασθη, ειτα Eυα: 14 και Aδαμ ουκ ηπατηθη, η δε γυνη εξαπατηθεισα εν παραβασει γεγονεν.
For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived*, but the woman, having been deceived*, has fallen (lit. "has become") into transgression.
* or "enticed"
III. Christ has restored man and woman to where they were in Genesis 1 - i.e., both created equally and equal in the image and likeness of God (or perhaps "male and female" together being the image and likeness of God), with no sense of one being subordinate to the other.

IV. Christ has done away with the Genesis 1 "male and female" as Paul may be saying in Galatians 3:28 where he changes the conjunction joining his pairs from ουδε ("nor"; lit. "and not") to και ("and") when he says that there is not "male and female" (i.e., the LXX phrasing of Genesis 1:27) - unless it's normal Greek practice to make the last in a string of ουδε's a και instead). I.e., in Christ there is not simply a restoration of the original creation, but a New Creation, One New Man, whose Head is Christ and whose Body is the church in which there is no "male and female," but all the members, male and female, are also the Bride of Christ.

When it comes to the topic of women in ministry, I think questions that need to be asked and answered include:
  • What did Christ accomplish and inaugurate?
  • What did He restore and/or establish?
  • What of His work is to be evident and put in place now, and what must await the eschaton and/or the restoration of all things?
I think how one answers these questions and the one question that these derive from - i.e., "What is Man and Woman in Christ?" - both affects and effects one's beliefs and assumptions about women in the church and in ministry.
What do you think of my list and questions? Which viewpoint I. - IV. (or another one you might propose) reflects how you see Christ's work and women's consequent position in the church, and why? Please indicate if you are a man or a woman, and your approximate age or stage in life.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thoughts On 1 Corinthians 11:17-34: The Lord's Supper

The following notes about the Lord's Supper are from my sermon/teaching on 1 Corinthians 8-14 and the Church: Unity, Edification and Love I gave October 11 & 18 at the Sunday morning fellowship meeting at The Hydrant Cafe in Denton. A future teaching or post on my understanding of the meaning and practice of the Lord's Supper will examinine all the relevant texts, not just 1 Corinthians 11.



To recap from October 11, read Ephesians 4 and also Romans 14:1-15:13.

The principles:
  • Christ is the fullness. The church is to mature and grow up into Him in all aspects.
  • The body is one, but it has many members.
  • Christ has measured out gifts to each and all.
  • Each member contributes to the body's growing up and building (up) of itself in love.
  • Christ as the Head supplies what the body needs for its growth Christ-ward as each member, according to the proper operation and working of each member by the grace which Christ has given it, works together with all the other members (with whom it is joined) to build up the body in love.
  • One's liberty is to be balanced by one's obligation to the welfare and well-being of the other.
With respect to the specific example of eating meat sacrificed to idols, Paul warns the church members not to let their freedom and behavior be or become a stumbling block or cause of offense to others, nor should they rest assured that they themselves are immune to stumbling – in fact, one's own stumbling can be a result of a misguided sense of spiritual superiority and independence and freedom that causes one to treat others in the body wrongly. Paul explains that even though ALL the Israelites ate THE SAME spiritual food and ALL the Israelites drank THE SAME spiritual drink, not ALL of them were protected or prevented from falling. Paul might even be saying that the spiritual food and drink the Israelites partook of was THE SAME thing that Christians partake of at the Lord's Table, for he says that the Israelites were drinking from Christ, and that they tested/tempted the Christ in the wilderness. So, how does the Lord's Supper fit into this? Here is a possible translation of 1 Corinthians 11:17-34:
  • Note the repetition in this passage of "coming together [in/as a church]." Paul uses similar wording in 1 Corinthians 14:23,26, which suggests a close relationship between assembling for the Lord's Supper and assembling for worship in terms of when these occasions occur and the proper behavior of the members toward each other during such gatherings.
  • Also note the interplay of -κρίνω (to judge)/κρίμα (judgment) words in 11:29-34.
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17 Τοῦτο δὲ παραγγέλλων οὐκ ἐπαινῶ ὅτι οὐκ εἰς τὸ κρεῖσσον ἀλλὰ εἰς τὸ ἧσσον συνέρχεσθε. 17 Now in commanding this, I don't praise you, because your coming together isn't for the better, but for the worse.
18 πρῶτον μὲν γὰρ συνερχομένων ὑμῶν ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ ἀκούω σχίσματα ἐν ὑμῖν ὑπάρχειν καὶ μέρος τι πιστεύω. 18 For I hear that when you come together in church, there are divisions among you, and I partly believe it.
19 δεῖ γὰρ καὶ αἱρέσεις ἐν ὑμῖν εἶναι, ἵνα [καὶ] οἱ δόκιμοι φανεροὶ γένωνται ἐν ὑμῖν. 19 For there must be factions among you, so that those who are proven (or tested) may be seen among you.
20 Συνερχομένων οὖν ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ οὐκ ἔστιν κυριακὸν δεῖπνον φαγεῖν· 20 So when you come together [in one place], it's not to eat a "Lord's" supper;
21 ἕκαστος γὰρ τὸ ἴδιον δεῖπνον προλαμβάνει ἐν τῷ φαγεῖν, καὶ ὃς μὲν πεινᾷ ὃς δὲ μεθύει. 21 For each person grabs and eats his own supper first, and some end up hungry and others get drunk.
22 μὴ γὰρ οἰκίας οὐκ ἔχετε εἰς τὸ ἐσθίειν καὶ πίνειν; ἢ τῆς ἐκκλησίας τοῦ θεοῦ καταφρονεῖτε, καὶ καταισχύνετε τοὺς μὴ ἔχοντας; τί εἴπω ὑμῖν; ἐπαινέσω ὑμᾶς; ἐν τούτῳ οὐκ ἐπαινῶ. 22 It's not like you don't have your own houses to eat and drink in! Or do you look down on the assembly of God's people, and shame those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I praise you? I will not praise you in this.
23 Ἐγὼ γὰρ παρέλαβον ἀπὸ τοῦ κυρίου, ὃ καὶ παρέδωκα ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ κύριος Ἰησοῦς ἐν τῇ νυκτὶ ᾗ παρεδίδετο ἔλαβεν ἄρτον 23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed over to you, that: the Lord Jesus, in the night in which He was being handed over, took the loaf of bread
24 καὶ εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ εἶπεν· τοῦτό μού ἐστιν τὸ σῶμα τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν· τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν. 24 and, giving thanks to God, He broke it and said, "This is My body, which is for you. Do this for My remembrance."
25 ὡσαύτως καὶ τὸ ποτήριον μετὰ τὸ δειπνῆσαι λέγων· τοῦτο τὸ ποτήριον ἡ καινὴ διαθήκη ἐστὶν ἐν τῷ ἐμῷ αἵματι· τοῦτο ποιεῖτε, ὁσάκις ἐὰν πίνητε, εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν. 25 And He likewise also took the cup after the supper, saying, "This cup is the New Agreement made and sealed by My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, for My remembrance."
26 ὁσάκις γὰρ ἐὰν ἐσθίητε τὸν ἄρτον τοῦτον καὶ τὸ ποτήριον πίνητε, τὸν θάνατον τοῦ κυρίου καταγγέλλετε ἄχρι οὗ ἔλθῃ. 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes.
27 Ὥστε ὃς ἂν ἐσθίῃ τὸν ἄρτον ἢ πίνῃ τὸ ποτήριον τοῦ κυρίου ἀναξίως, ἔνοχος ἔσται τοῦ σώματος καὶ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ κυρίου. 27 Thus, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way will be liable for (ἔνοχος)* the body and the blood of the Lord (i.e., as if responsible for the death of the Lord, or the penalty thereof?).
28 δοκιμαζέτω δὲ ἄνθρωπος ἑαυτὸν καὶ οὕτως ἐκ τοῦ ἄρτου ἐσθιέτω καὶ ἐκ τοῦ ποτηρίου πινέτω· 28 So a person should prove (test, examine) (δοκιμάζω)** himself, and after that eat from the bread and drink from the cup.
29 ὁ γὰρ ἐσθίων καὶ πίνων κρίμα ἑαυτῷ ἐσθίει καὶ πίνει μὴ διακρίνων τὸ σῶμα. 29 For he who eats and drinks without discerning (διακρίνω)*** the body eats and drinks judgment (κρίμα) to himself.
30 διὰ τοῦτο ἐν ὑμῖν πολλοὶ ἀσθενεῖς καὶ ἄρρωστοι καὶ κοιμῶνται ἱκανοί. 30 For this reason there are among you many who are weak and sick, and some have fallen asleep (i.e., died).
31 εἰ δὲ ἑαυτοὺς διεκρίνομεν, οὐκ ἂν κρινόμεθα· 31 But if we were discerning (διακρίνω) ourselves, we would not be being judged (κρίνω).
32 κρινόμενοι δὲ ὑπὸ [τοῦ] κυρίου παιδευόμεθα, ἵνα μὴ σὺν τῷ κόσμῳ κατακριθῶμεν. 32 But when we are judged (κρίνω) by the Lord, we are being disciplined (or: educated, corrected, given guidance) so that we will not be condemned (κατακρίνω) with the world.
33 Ὥστε, ἀδελφοί μου, συνερχόμενοι εἰς τὸ φαγεῖν ἀλλήλους ἐκδέχεσθε. 33 Thus, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for each other before you begin.
34 εἴ τις πεινᾷ, ἐν οἴκῳ ἐσθιέτω, ἵνα μὴ εἰς κρίμα συνέρχησθε. τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ ὡς ἂν ἔλθω διατάξομαι. 34 If someone is hungry, he should eat in his own house, so that your coming together doesn't result in judgment (κρίμα). And I will arrange the remaining things when I come.
* See the list of ἔνοχος in the Bible and the list of its translations in Josephus, Philo and The Apostolic Fathers (below).

** See the list of translations of δοκιμάζω in Josephus, Philo and The Apostolic Fathers (below).

*** See the list of translations of διακρίνω in Josephus, Philo and The Apostolic Fathers (below).



* ἔνοχος in the Bible

ἔνοχος, ον literally held fast in, caught in; (1) of spiritual bondage subject to, held in, under the control of (HE 2.15); (2) as a legal technical term, with the genitive denoting the guilt or punishment guilty of (MK 3.29); liable to, answerable to (MT 5.22a, b); deserving of (MT 5.22c; 26.66); (3) with the genitive denoting what one has transgressed against guilty of doing wrong against (1C 11.27); of law guilty of violating or disobeying (JA 2.10) Friberg, T., Friberg, B., & Miller, N. F. (2000). Vol. 4: Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker's Greek New Testament library (152). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.

New Testament
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Matthew 5:21 Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις• οὐ φονεύσεις• ὃς δʼ ἂν φονεύσῃ, ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει. 21 "You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, 'You shall not murder'; and 'whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.'
Matthew 5:22 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ὀργιζόμενος τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει• ὃς δʼ ἂν εἴπῃ τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ• ῥακά, ἔνοχος ἔσται τῷ συνεδρίῳ• ὃς δʼ ἂν εἴπῃ• μωρέ, ἔνοχος ἔσται εἰς τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός. 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, 'You fool,' you will be liable to the hell of fire.
Matthew 26:66 τί ὑμῖν δοκεῖ; οἱ δὲ ἀποκριθέντες εἶπαν• ἔνοχος θανάτου ἐστίν. 66 What is your verdict?" They answered, "He deserves death."
Mark 3:29 ὃς δʼ ἂν βλασφημήσῃ εἰς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον, οὐκ ἔχει ἄφεσιν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, ἀλλὰ ἔνοχός ἐστιν αἰωνίου ἁμαρτήματος. 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"—
Mark 14:64 ἠκούσατε τῆς βλασφημίας• τί ὑμῖν φαίνεται; οἱ δὲ πάντες κατέκριναν αὐτὸν ἔνοχον εἶναι θανάτου. 64 You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?" All of them condemned him as deserving death.
1 Corinthians 11:27 Ὥστε ὃς ἂν ἐσθίῃ τὸν ἄρτον ἢ πίνῃ τὸ ποτήριον τοῦ κυρίου ἀναξίως, ἔνοχος ἔσται τοῦ σώματος καὶ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ κυρίου. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord.
James 2:10 ὅστις γὰρ ὅλον τὸν νόμον τηρήσῃ πταίσῃ δὲ ἐν ἑνί, γέγονεν πάντων ἔνοχος. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.
Hebrews 2:15 καὶ ἀπαλλάξῃ τούτους, ὅσοι φόβῳ θανάτου διὰ παντὸς τοῦ ζῆν ἔνοχοι ἦσαν δουλείας. 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death.

Septuagint (LXX) – OT & Apocrypha. Lancelot Brenton's translation of the LXX is used except where I reference the New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS).
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Genesis 26:11 συνέταξεν δὲ Αβιμελεχ παντὶ τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ λέγων Πᾶς ὁ ἁπτόμενος τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τούτου ἢ τῆς γυναικὸς αὐτοῦ θανάτου ἔνοχος ἔσται. 11 And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, Every man that touches this man and his wife shall be liable to death.
Exodus 22:3 ἐὰν δὲ ἀνατείλῃ ὁ ἥλιος ἐπʼ αὐτῷ, ἔνοχός ἐστιν, ἀνταποθανεῖται. ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ὑπάρχῃ αὐτῷ, πραθήτω ἀντὶ τοῦ κλέμματος. 3 But if the sun be risen upon him, he is guilty, he shall die instead; and if a thief have nothing, let him be sold in compensation for what he has stolen.
Exodus 34:7 καὶ δικαιοσύνην διατηρῶν καὶ ποιῶν ἔλεος εἰς χιλιάδας, ἀφαιρῶν ἀνομίας καὶ ἀδικίας καὶ ἁμαρτίας, καὶ οὐ καθαριεῖ τὸν ἔνοχον ἐπάγων ἀνομίας πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα καὶ ἐπὶ τέκνα τέκνων ἐπὶ τρίτην καὶ τετάρτην γενεάν. 7 and keeping justice and mercy for thousands, taking away iniquity, and unrighteousness, and sins; and he will not clear the guilty; bringing the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and to the children's children, to the third and fourth generation.
Leviticus 20:9 ἄνθρωπος ἄνθρωπος, ὃς ἂν κακῶς εἴπῃ τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ ἢ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ, θανάτῳ θανατούσθω, πατέρα αὐτοῦ ἢ μητέρα αὐτοῦ κακῶς εἶπεν, ἔνοχος ἔσται. 9 Every man who shall speak evil of his father or of his mother, let him die the death; has he spoken evil of his father or his mother? he shall be guilty.
Leviticus 20:11 ἐάν τις κοιμηθῇ μετὰ γυναικὸς τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ, ἀσχημοσύνην τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ ἀπεκάλυψεν, θανάτῳ θανατούσθωσαν ἀμφότεροι, ἔνοχοί εἰσιν. 11 And if any one should lie with his father's wife, he has uncovered his father's nakedness: let them both die the death, they are guilty.
Leviticus 20:12 καὶ ἐάν τις κοιμηθῇ μετὰ νύμφης αὐτοῦ, θανάτῳ θανατούσθωσαν ἀμφότεροι, ἠσεβήκασιν γάρ, ἔνοχοί εἰσιν. 12 And if any one should lie with his daughter-in-law, let them both be put to death; for they have wrought impiety, they are guilty.
Leviticus 20:13 καὶ ὃς ἂν κοιμηθῇ μετὰ ἄρσενος κοίτην γυναικός, βδέλυγμα ἐποίησαν ἀμφότεροι, θανατούσθωσαν, ἔνοχοί εἰσιν. 13 And whoever shall lie with a male as with a woman, they have both wrought abomination; let them die the death, they are guilty.
Leviticus 20:16 καὶ γυνή, ἥτις προσελεύσεται πρὸς πᾶν κτῆνος βιβασθῆναι αὐτὴν ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ, ἀποκτενεῖτε τὴν γυναῖκα καὶ τὸ κτῆνος, θανάτῳ θανατούσθωσαν, ἔνοχοί εἰσιν. 16 And whatever woman shall approach any beast, so as to have connexion with it, ye shall kill the woman and the beast: let them die the death, they are guilty.
Leviticus 20:27 Καὶ ἀνὴρ ἢ γυνή, ὃς ἂν γένηται αὐτῶν ἐγγαστρίμυθος ἢ ἐπαοιδός, θανάτῳ θανατούσθωσαν ἀμφότεροι, λίθοις λιθοβολήσατε αὐτούς, ἔνοχοί εἰσιν. 27 And as for a man or woman whosoever of them shall have in them a divining spirit, or be an enchanter, let them both die the death: ye shall stone them with stones, they are guilty.
Numbers 14:18 Κύριος μακρόθυμος καὶ πολυέλεος καὶ ἀληθινός, ἀφαιρῶν ἀνομίας καὶ ἀδικίας καὶ ἁμαρτίας, καὶ καθαρισμῷ οὐ καθαριεῖ τὸν ἔνοχον ἀποδιδοὺς ἁμαρτίας πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα ἕως τρίτης καὶ τετάρτης. 18 The Lord is long-suffering and merciful, and true, removing transgressions and iniquities and sins, and he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation.
Numbers 35:27 καὶ εὕρῃ αὐτὸν ὁ ἀγχιστεύων τὸ αἷμα ἔξω τῶν ὁρίων τῆς πόλεως καταφυγῆς αὐτοῦ καὶ φονεύσῃ ὁ ἀγχιστεύων τὸ αἷμα τὸν φονεύσαντα, οὐκ ἔνοχός ἐστιν, 27 and the avenger of blood should find him without the bounds of the city of his refuge, and the avenger of blood should kill the slayer, he is not guilty.
Numbers 35:31 καὶ οὐ λήμψεσθε λύτρα περὶ ψυχῆς παρὰ τοῦ φονεύσαντος τοῦ ἐνόχου ὄντος ἀναιρεθῆναι, θανάτῳ γὰρ θανατωθήσεται. 31 And ye shall not accept ransoms for life from a murderer who is worthy of death, for he shall be surely put to death.
Deuteronomy 19:10 καὶ οὐκ ἐκχυθήσεται αἷμα ἀναίτιον ἐν τῇ γῇ σου, ἧ κύριος ὁ θεός σου δίδωσίν σοι ἐν κλήρῳ, καὶ οὐκ ἔσται ἐν σοὶ αἵματι ἔνοχος. 10 So innocent blood shall not be spilt in the land, which the Lord thy God gives thee to inherit, and there shall not be in thee one guilty of blood.
Joshua 2:19 καὶ ἔσται πᾶς, ὃς ἂν ἐξέλθῃ τὴν θύραν τῆς οἰκίας σου ἔξω, ἔνοχος ἑαυτῷ ἔσται, ἡμεῖς δὲ ἀθῷοι τῷ ὅρκῳ σου τούτῳ, καὶ ὅσοι ἐὰν γένωνται μετὰ σοῦ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ σου, ἡμεῖς ἔνοχοι ἐσόμεθα. 19 And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall go outside the door of thy house, his guilt shall be upon him, and we shall be quit of this thine oath; and we will be responsible for all that shall be found with thee in thy house.
1 Maccabees 14:45 ὃς δ̓ ἂν παρὰ ταῦτα ποιήσῃ ἢ ἀθετήσῃ τι τούτων, ἔνοχος ἔσται. 45 And whosoever should do otherwise, or break any of these things, he should be punished.
2 Maccabees 13:6 ἐνταῦθα τὸν ἱεροσυλίας ἔνοχον ἢ καί τινων ἄλλων κακῶν ὑπεροχὴν πεποιημένον ἅπαντες προσωθοῦσιν εἰς ὄλεθρον. 6 And whosoever was condemned of sacrilege, or had committed any other grievous crime, there did all men thrust him unto death.
Job 15:5 ἔνοχος εἶ ῥήμασιν στόματός σου οὐδὲ διέκρινας ῥήματα δυναστῶν, 5 Thou art guilty by the words of thy mouth, neither hast thou discerned the words of the mighty.
Sirach Prologue: 13 ὅπως οἱ φιλομαθεῖς καὶ τούτων ἔνοχοι γενόμενοι 14 πολλῷ μᾶλλον ἐπιπροσθῶσιν διὰ τῆς ἐννόμου βιώσεως. 13 to the intent that those which are desirous to learn, and are addicted to these things, 14 might profit much more in living according to the law.
Psalms of Solomon 4:3 καὶ ἡ χεὶρ αὐτοῦ ἐν πρώτοις ἐπʼ αὐτὸν ὡς ἐν ζήλει, καὶ αὐτὸς ἔνοχος ἐν ποικιλίᾳ ἁμαρτιῶν καὶ ἐν ἀκρασίαις. 3 (NETS) And his hand is first upon him as if in zeal, and he himself is guilty of various sins and self-indulgence.
Isaiah 54:17 πᾶν σκεῦος φθαρτόν. ἐπὶ σὲ οὐκ εὐοδώσω, καὶ πᾶσα φωνὴ ἀναστήσεται ἐπὶ σὲ εἰς κρίσιν, πάντας αὐτοὺς ἡττήσεις, οἱ δὲ ἔνοχοί σου ἔσονται ἐν αὐτῇ. ἔστιν κληρονομία τοῖς θεραπεύουσιν κύριον, καὶ ὑμεῖς ἔσεσθέ μοι δίκαιοι, λέγει κύριος. 17 I will not suffer any weapon formed against thee to prosper; (NETS: every perishable vessel. I will not make it prosper against you) – and every voice that shall rise up against thee for judgment, thou shalt vanquish them all; and thine adversaries shall be condemned thereby (NETS: and those who are held by you shall be in sorrow [lit. "it"]). There is an inheritance to them that serve the Lord, and ye shall be righteous before me, saith the Lord.
Susanna 1:53 (OLD GREEK) πιστευθεὶς ἀκούειν καὶ κρίνειν κρίσεις θάνατον ἐπιφερούσας καὶ τὸν μὲν ἀθῷον κατέκρινας, τοὺς δὲ ἐνόχους ἠφίεις, τοῦ κυρίου λέγοντος Ἀθῷον καὶ δίκαιον οὐκ ἀποκτενεῖς, 53 (NETS) when you were entrusted to hear and to judge cases carrying a death sentence and you condemned the innocent while you were acquitting the guilty, though the Lord says, "You shall not kill an innocent and righteous person."



* ἔνοχος, ** δοκιμάζω, and *** διακρίνω as translated in:

Josephus
  • ἔνοχος guilty
  • δοκιμάζω approve, esteem, judge, like best, recommend, suppose, think best/fit/proper, test/try
  • διακρίνω determine, discern, dispute, distinguish, select, separate, solve
Philo
  • ἔνοχος blamable, bound by, condemned, guilty, liable, worthy of death (lit. "worthy")
  • δοκιμάζω account, approve, come to a proper understanding, comprehend, consider, determine ("arrive at a knowledge of its true nature"), estimate, examine, judge, look upon, pronounce (declare), prove, rightly account, see/show, select, test, test and approve, think fit
  • διακρίνω decide, differ, discriminate, disjoin, distinguish, divide, interpret, judge, part, select, separate, well-judge
The Apostolic Fathers
  • ἔνοχος (none)
  • δοκιμάζω approve (Hermas, Didache, Ignatius, 1 Clement), challenge (Papias), determine (Hermas), examine (Didache), judge (Hermas), prove (Hermas, 1 Clement), test/try (Hermas, Didache, 1 Clement, Papias)
  • διακρίνω arrange (Diognetus), compare (Hermas), consider (Hermas), discern (Didache), discuss (Hermas), distinguish (Diognetus, Hermas), doubt (Hermas), evaluate (Didache), examine (Didache), separate (Ignatius), worry about (Hermas)

Friday, October 09, 2009

More Manga

Following Manga Messiah and Manga Metamorphosis, we now have Manga Mutiny, covering Genesis - Exodus 15. Get a copy!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

What Does Paul Teach About Head Coverings? Thoughts On 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.



Someone has suggested in his Google docs-posted notes and comments on Biblical Headship that what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11 about headwear for men and women when they are praying or prophesying relates to the kind of glory their head displays.

Here is how I might translate 1 Cor 11:2-16 per his comments about κεφαλη (kephalê - "head") and δοξα (doxa - "glory") and head coverings:

2 επαινω δε υμας οτι παντα μου μεμνησθε και καθως παρεδωκα υμιν τας παραδοσεις κατεχετε

Now, I praise you because you remember all the things I told you and, just as I passed the traditions on to you, you are keeping them.

3 θελω δε υμας ειδεναι οτι παντος ανδρος η κεφαλη ο χριστος εστιν κεφαλη δε γυναικος ο ανηρ κεφαλη δε του χριστου ο θεος

So I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of a woman is her man, and the head of Christ is God.

4 πας ανηρ προσευχομενος η προφητευων κατα κεφαλης εχων καταισχυνει την κεφαλην αυτου

Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered shames his head, [God].

5 πασα δε γυνη προσευχομενη η προφητευουσα ακατακαλυπτω τη κεφαλη καταισχυνει την κεφαλην αυτης

And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered shames her head, [her man].

εν γαρ εστιν και το αυτο τη εξυρημενη

For she is one and the same as a woman who's head is shaved.

6 ει γαρ ου κατακαλυπτεται γυνη και κειρασθω

So if a woman does not cover her head, then let her hair be shorn.

ει δε αισχρον γυναικι το κειρασθαι η ξυρασθαι κατακαλυπτεσθω

But if it's shameful for a woman to have her hair shorn or to have her head shaved, then let her cover her head.

7 ανηρ μεν γαρ ουκ οφειλει κατακαλυπτεσθαι την κεφαλην εικων και δοξα θεου υπαρχων

A man should not cover his head since he is the image and glory of God [, who is his head].

η γυνη δε δοξα ανδρος εστιν

But a woman is the glory of [her] man.

8 ου γαρ εστιν ανηρ εκ γυναικος αλλα γυνη εξ ανδρος

For man did not come from woman, but woman came from man.

9 και γαρ ουκ εκτισθη ανηρ δια την γυναικα αλλα γυνη δια τον ανδρα

Indeed, man was not created for the woman, but woman was created for the man.

10 δια τουτο οφειλει η γυνη εξουσιαν εχειν επι της κεφαλης δια τους αγγελους

For this reason the woman should have [a sign of]* authority on her head, because of the angels.
* While many (including myself at one time) argue that because "a sign (or symbol) of" isn't present in the Greek text it is therefore an incorrect interpolation for a translation to add it here (as many do), BDAG (Bauer, Danker, Arndt, Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed.) on εξουσια says:
7...It is abstract for concrete, as βασιλεια [1] [i.e., kingship, royal power] in Diod[orus] S[iculus] [1st Century BC] 1., 47, 5: a stone figure εχουσα τρεις βασιλειας επι της κεφαλης = that wears three symbols of royal power [diadems] on its head.
So just as the diadems on the statue are referred to by the abstract term "royal power," and they are said to be on the statue's head, I think the argument can indeed be made that the veil or covering the woman in 1 Corinthians 11 is to wear "on her head" is very possibly being referred to in 11:10 as "a sign or symbol of" authority that she is to wear. Thus, the phrase εξουσιαν...επι της κεφαλης does not necessarily mean that the woman has "authority...over her [own] head." Rather, επι της κεφαλης can (per this statue description) simply mean the place she is to display such a sign or symbol of authority (i.e., "on her head"), and not that over which she has authority.

Knowing nothing more about the statue than what BDAG quotes about it (e.g., I don't know who or what the statue represents), the statue figure might be wearing a sign of its own royal power on its head. Thus, while a woman might be being told here in 1 Corinthians to wear "a sign of" authority on her head, it could be a sign or symbol of HER OWN authority that she possesses for and over herself.
11 πλην ουτε γυνη χωρις ανδρος ουτε ανηρ χωρις γυναικος εν κυριω

However, woman is not apart from man, nor is man apart from woman in the Lord.

12 ωσπερ γαρ η γυνη εκ του ανδρος ουτως και ο ανηρ δια της γυναικος

For just as the woman came from the man, so also man comes from woman.

τα δε παντα εκ του θεου

And all things come from God.

13 εν υμιν αυτοις κρινατε πρεπον εστιν γυναικα ακατακαλυπτον τω θεω προσευχεσθαι

You judge for yourselves: Is it fitting for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?

14 ουδε η φυσις αυτη διδασκει υμας οτι ανηρ μεν εαν κομα ατιμια αυτω εστιν

Doesn't the nature of things itself show you that if a man has long hair, it is dishonorable to him?

15 γυνη δε εαν κομα δοξα αυτη εστιν οτι η κομη αντι περιβολαιου δεδοται αυτη

But if a woman has long hair, it is related to her glory – because she has been given long hair as a covering for her head?

16 ει δε τις δοκει φιλονεικος ειναι ημεις τοιαυτην συνηθειαν ουκ εχομεν ουδε αι εκκλησιαι του θεου

Now, if someone wants to be contentious about this, I want them to know that we do not have a custom like this, nor do the churches of God.



Some Final Comments

As I stated, one reason I interpreted and translated εξουσιαν εχειν επι της κεφαλης in 1 Corinthians 11:10 the way I did – i.e., "should have [a sign of] authority on her head" – was because my translation of the passage was based on how I would do it in light of the statements made in the writer's notes and comments about κεφαλη and δοξα and head coverings. Per the example in BDAG, I concluded that this translation of εξουσιαν εχειν επι της κεφαλης, in line with the writer's thoughts on this matter, can probably be supported. What I cannot determine, though, is whether such a sign of authority represents someone else's authority over the woman or the woman's own authority over her own head. Furthermore, if εξουσιαν εχειν επι της κεφαλης simply means to have one's own authority over one's own head or self, then the translation of this phrase as "[a sign of] authority" is incorrect.

As a side note, some argue that κατα κεφαλης εχων (lit. "downward-from head having") in 11:4 is referring to (long) hair, and not to an additional head covering, and that the adjective in 11:5,13 from ακατακαλυπτος (its component parts can literally mean "not-downward-covered/hidden") is referring to the absence of long hair. The verbs in 11:6-7 from κατακαλυπτω have the literal component parts meaning "to downward-from cover/hide," and also don't specifically refer to a covering other than one's own hair. Such an interpretation perhaps explains the comments about κομαω ("to wear-long-hair/let-hair-grow") in 11:14-15. If this understanding is correct (though it is not without its problems, and no version I know of translates the passage this way), then the debate on whether or not women should cover their heads in church is based on a misunderstanding and mistranslation of this passage.

Conclusions (?)
  1. I can't clearly tell which parts of what Paul wrote here are from himself, or are his quoting of what someone else said or wrote to him, or are his response(s) to what someone else said or asked.
  2. When Paul says in 11:16 that neither his group nor the churches of God have such a custom as this, I can't tell if he's referring to the custom of women not being covered when praying or prophesying, or the custom of women being covered when praying or prophesying.
  3. If, as Paul writes in 11:15, nature has given woman long hair in place of a "covering," and if a woman is to cover her head when she is in God’s presence, wouldn't that support a long-haired woman NOT having to cover her head when praying or prophesying? I'm not sure that one can assume or conclude that γυνη δε εαν κομα δοξα αυτη εστιν in 11:15 means that a woman's long hair "displays" her glory and hence argue that her uncovered head competes with God's glory, for Paul seems to be saying that the long hair acts as a covering for the woman - and hence "covers" her glory. The meaning of this verse is unclear.
  4. As explained above, I can find support for translating 1 Corinthians 11:10 as "[a sign of] authority on her head." But it could be a sign of her own authority over her own head, and not a sign of someone else's authority over her.
  5. I still am unable to determine what Paul is finally concluding or affirming or rejecting here, or what he is telling them to do or not do.
  6. I think #5 would also be the case for just about everyone else who wrestles with this passage.
  7. The confusing nature of the passage and the different cultural assumptions and practices (along with a nearly two-millennia time gap) that separate us from the writer and his audience make it nearly impossible for me to conclude, as some do, that this passage teaches that men today are to pray or prophesy with their heads uncovered and women today are to pray or prophesy with their heads covered, or that a woman is to have a man (father, husband, pastor) as her spiritual "covering."
  8. And as I note in my Final Comments, this passage may not even be about head coverings, but about long hair.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Seeing The Spirit


Sunday Morning, September 13, 2009, church meeting upstairs at The Hydrant Cafe off the square in Denton:

Reed Parsons, who was giving the sermon, was talking about receiving the Holy Spirit, and the necessity and consequences of that for our Christian life. I was reading along with him when he came to this from John's Gospel:
16 "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you."

16 κἀγὼ ἐρωτήσω τὸν πατέρα καὶ ἄλλον παράκλητον δώσει ὑμῖν ἵνα μεθ' ὑμῶν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ᾖ, 17 τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας, ὃ ὁ κόσμος οὐ δύναται λαβεῖν, ὅτι οὐ θεωρεῖ αὐτὸ οὐδὲ γινώσκει: ὑμεῖς γινώσκετε αὐτό, ὅτι παρ' ὑμῖν μένει καὶ ἐν ὑμῖν ἔσται. (John 14:16-17)
Reed continued talking about receiving the Holy Spirit, but I stayed stuck there on the phrase "because it does not see Him." I.e., Jesus seemed to be saying that the Spirit was apparently something or Someone that one could see.

So I wondered if this meant things like at Jesus' baptism when John saw the Spirit coming down like a dove upon Jesus, and how God told John that:
"He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit."

Ἐφ' ὃν ἂν ἴδῃς τὸ πνεῦμα καταβαῖνον καὶ μένον ἐπ' αὐτόν, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ βαπτίζων ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ. (John 1:33b)
Then John goes on to say:
34 "I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God."

34 κἀγὼ ἑώρακα, καὶ μεμαρτύρηκα ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ.
(I wouldn't make a big deal about Jesus using one Greek word when talking about seeing the Spirit in John 14, and John the Baptist using a different Greek word about seeing the Spirit at Jesus' baptism. John's style in his Gospel seems to include interchanging synonymous or semantically-overlapping, and he uses the gamut of words meaning "to see." In fact, it makes an interesting study to "see" how often John uses the words for "to see" in his Gospel. Another interesting study is to see how often δύναμαι (dunamai - "be able" "be capable of" "can" "have power to") is used in the Gospel of John – you'll need to use a Greek concordance to find all of them, because the word isn't consistently translated in English - but that's another subject.)

The appearance of tongues of fire on the heads of those who were filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost might also be another instance of the Holy Spirit being "seen."

In John 5:37b Jesus says to His opponents that they have neither heard the voice of Jesus' Father nor seen His form (eidos):
37...οὔτε φωνὴν αὐτοῦ πώποτε ἀκηκόατε οὔτε εἶδος αὐτοῦ ἑωράκατε
This is the same word used in Luke 3:22 where the Spirit was said to have come down in bodily form as a dove. Does that describe the manner in which the Spirit came down (i.e., fluttering like a bird), or His appearance (i.e., in the form of a dove), or both? Either way, John (and possibly the other people there) saw the Spirit coming down as or in some form, not simply in some fashion or manner.

Though I have only seen physical manifestations of people reacting to the Holy Spirit, and not the Holy Spirit Himself (whether in the form of a dove or as some light or radiant or supernatural being), some have said that they can see whether the Spirit is upon a person. Usually, though, they, too, are also just describing physical things – e.g., the person beginning to shake, their skin shining or starting to perspire, their lips moving as if speaking in tongues, etc. They'll say "The Spirit is all over that person!" but they still are not saying that they are seeing the Spirit Himself, only His effects or manifestations.

Jesus describes to Nicodemus the movements or actions of the Spirit as being like those of the wind (the same word – πνεῦμα (pneuma) – is used for both, as well as for breath, in Greek; the same is true in Hebrew, too, for ruach), which again would refer to physical effects without actually seeing the Spirit Himself.

But I wonder if there is a seeing of the Spirit Himself (either as He is, or in some form in which He chooses to manifest Himself) that is to be expected or at least to be open to?

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Expanded Bible

I received a free promotional copy of The Expanded Bible New Testament the other day (hardback, too, and not paperback as the offer stated - Thanks, Thomas Nelson!) for posting my "review" here and getting it publicized on another blog. The print edition looks identical to the online PDF document.

I find that reading it in book form is not as cumbersome as I thought it might be. One can easily learn to read just the bold-faced type (i.e., the modified New Century Version (NCV) text) while ignoring the inserted bracketed [ ] comments, only stopping to read them when one wants to.

If the NCV translation as supplemented by the L (Literal) comments and alternate (or) translations is a faithful rendering of the Greek (and I like what I've read so far), this will be a helpful study Bible for those who do not know NT Greek, and I'll likely be recommending it as such to people. (Note: The comments don't just expand on the Greek and provide translation options; they also give other useful study and background information.)

Wayne Hastings of Thomas Nelson confirmed for me that the Old Testament should be out in about two years. That, to me, is a massive undertaking, but it will be a welcome and useful one, judging by this New Testament effort.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

E-X-P-A-N-D Your Bible Study

From http://waynehastings.blogs.com/offtheshelf/2009/04/new-expanded-bible-coming-soon.html:
On August 11, 2009, Thomas Nelson will release a new product especially designed for our customer. Developed by a trusted team of Bible scholars The Expanded Bible New Testament, like the three titles I mentioned above, gives the reader help to reach their goal of hearing God’s message to them directly from the Scriptures.

Why is it different?
  • It meets the needs of the contemporary student of the Bible by combining devotional reading and in-depth study in a completely new way. Users can now study the Bible while they read with study aids and resources placed in-line with the text of the Bible.
  • It joins Bible text with traditional wordings, explanatory comments, additional wordings, literal meanings and expanded word definitions, all integrated within the text of the Scripture.
  • It offers readers a unique Bible study experience by making them a part of the process and decisions made by scholars while developing a translation
The end result is a Bible that is highly readable for devotions or study purposes that includes a richer in-text explanation of the Scripture. The experience will help customers grasp all that God is saying and give them a complete meaning of words and their alternative wordings. It’s like having a robust Bible reference library at your fingertips without having to flip a page or grab another book.

You can try this exceptional new product now. Simply go to this site and download a free PDF file and enjoy the experience first-hand.


Here's what it looks like (from the above link to the PDF file copy). The base text (in bold) is a modified version of the New Century Version. See the Introduction of The Expanded Bible for an explanation of the symbols and formatting (·, L, T, C, brackets, etc.):
John

1·In the beginning [Gen. 1:1] ·there was the Word [the Word already existed; Cthe Word refers to Christ, God’s revelation of himself]. The Word was ·with [in the presence of; in intimate relationship with] God [Cthe Father], and the Word was [fully] God. 2He was ·with [in the presence of; in intimate relationship with] God in the beginning. 3All things ·were made [were created; came to be] ·by [through] him, and nothing ·was made [came to be] without him [Prov. 8:22–31]. 4·In him there was life [or What was made through him was life], and that life was the light of all people. 5The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not ·overpowered [defeated; or understood; comprehended] it.

6There was a man named John
[Cthe Baptist; Matt. 3; Luke 3] who was sent by God. 7He came to ·tell people the truth [testify; bear witness] about the Light so that ·through him all people could hear about the Light and believe [Leveryone might believe through him]. 8John was not the Light, but he came to ·tell people the truth [testify; bear witness] about the Light. 9The true Light that ·gives light to [shines on; illuminates; enlightens] all [people] was coming into the world! [or 9The true Light gives light to all who have come into the world.]

10·The Word [LHe] was in the world, and the world ·was made [was created; came into being] ·by [through] him, but the world did not ·know [recognize] him. 11He came to ·the world that was his own [or his own country; Lthat which was his own], but his own people did not ·accept [receive] him. 12But to all who did ·accept [receive] him and believe ·in him [Lin his name; Cthe name indicating the character of the person] he gave the ·right [power; authority] to become children of God. 13They did not become his children ·in any human way [by natural descent; by physical birth; Lby blood]—by ·any human parents [human passion/decision; Ldesire/will of the flesh] or ·human desire [a husband’s decision; Ldesire/will of a man/husband]. They were born of God.
My thoughts from a quick look at it:
  • You'll have to decide if having all the translation notes and comments in the text is better than having them in footnotes or sidenotes, and if this in-the-text format hinders or helps one's ability to read and study the text.
  • If you are at least somewhat proficient in Koinê Greek, you'll be able to judge if the expansions and alternate translations or clarifications are beneficial to the non-Greek reader, or can be confusing or a matter of TMI ("Too Much Information").
  • An interesting experiment for those who can read the original Greek is see how The Expanded Bible translates and expands Ephesians 1:3-14 (which is a single sentence in the Greek, though Nestle-Aland 27 punctuates it so each Εν ω starts a new sentence - i.e., 1:7, 1:11, and 1:13):
    3·Praise be to [or Blessed is] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly ·world [realms; places]. 4·That is [or Just as; or For; Because], in Christ, he chose us before the ·world was made [Lfoundation of the world] so that we would be his holy people—people ·without blame [or unblemished; Cas are sacrificial animals] before him. 5Because of his love [Cthis phrase may go with the previous sentence], God ·had already decided to make us his own children [Lpredestined us for adoption] through Jesus Christ. That was what he wanted and what pleased him, 6and it brings praise to God because of his ·wonderful [glorious] grace. God gave that grace to us freely, in ·Christ, the One he loves [Lthe Beloved]. 7In ·Christ [Lhim] we ·are set free [have been redeemed/purchased] by ·the blood of his death [Lhis blood; Cblood signifies his sacrificial death], and so we have forgiveness of sins. ·How rich is [or This redemption reveals the wealth of; L...according to the riches of] God’s grace, 8which he has ·given to us so fully and freely [lavished on us]. With ·full [all] wisdom and understanding [Cthis phrase may go with the previous sentence], 9God let us know ·his secret purpose [or the mystery of his will; Ca “mystery” in Scripture is something God had not previously disclosed]. This was what ·God wanted [pleased him], and he ·planned to do it [or set it forth;publicly revealed it] through Christ. 10His goal was to carry out his plan, ·when the right time came [or at the time of fulfillment; Lin the fullness of the times], that all things in heaven and on earth would be ·joined together [unified; or summed up; or renewed] in Christ as the head.

    11In Christ we ·were chosen to be God’s people
    [have received/were given our part of an inheritance], ·because from the very beginning God had decided this [Lhaving been predestined] in keeping with his plan. And he is the One who ·makes everything agree [or accomplishes everything in accord] with what he decides and wants. 12We are the first people who hoped in ·Christ [the Messiah], and we were chosen so that we would bring praise to God’s glory. 13So it is with you. When you heard the ·true teaching [message/word of truth]—the ·Good News about [Gospel of] your salvation—you believed in Christ. ·And in Christ, God put his special mark of ownership on you by giving you [L...having been sealed with] the Holy Spirit that he had promised. 14That Holy Spirit is the ·guarantee [down payment; deposit] ·that we will receive what God promised for his people [Lof our inheritance] until ·God gives full freedom to those who are his [or we acquire possession of it; Lthe redemption of the possession; v. 7]—to bring praise to God’s glory.
    Doing this might help you evaluate if The Expanded Bible is a translation you would use or recommend to non-Greek readers as an aid to better understanding the original text.


I made the following comment to the publisher via the blogsite:
Just a quick comment, as I just found out about this forthcoming translation today.

I looked at a passage I was reading, Luke 1:34, and The Expanded Translation reads:
34 Mary said to the angel, “How •will [can] this happen since I •am a virgin [L have known (sexually) no man]?”
The Introduction says about [L]:
L LITERAL: A more literal rendering of the original language, allowing the reader to see why translations make varying choices. These are signaled by a superscript L within a bracket: [L ].
The Expanded Translation says the "more literal rendering" is:
[L have known (sexually) no man].
However, the "literal" Greek is "a-man not I-know" ανδρα ου γινωσκω (andra ou ginôskô).

Why does The Expanded Translation suggest that the "literal" Greek has a perfect tense verb ("have known"), rather than a present tense verb?

Also, why does the "literal" rendering suggest that ου (ou) modifies "man" as an adjective (i.e., "no man"), rather than that it modifies "know" as an adverb (i.e., "I do not know")?

IIRC, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (I. Howard Marshall) notes this use of the present tense when discussing the possible meanings of the verse (a verse often used to support the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox belief in Mary's perpetual virginity).
I received the following informative response:
We appreciate your comment on Wayne Hastings’ blog, which has been referred to me for response.

First, you will be seeing many “literal” renderings in The Expanded Bible that are not as literal as they can possibly be, but are relatively literal while still being worded in natural English so as to be understandable. This is one of those.

With regard to the tense, this is a present tense verb being used to communicate the perfective sense of the action. (In fact, Daniel B. Wallace uses this very passage as an example in Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 533, under “special uses of the present tense, perfective present.”)

The negation bears the same sense either way it is applied.

We appreciate your interest in The Expanded Bible. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Scripture taken from The Expanded Bible. Copyright © 2009 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

IHOPUrself

Training, Preparing, and Equipping God's End-Time Forerunners and Worship Leaders for the Imminent Return of the Lord:



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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Helvidian, Epiphanian, Hieronymian - Who Were Jesus' Brothers?

A discussion on Ben Witherington's Beliefnet blog (The Bible and Culture) about the James Ossuary generated some good comments and responses re: Mary's perpetual virginity, a belief held by Catholic and Orthodox Christians (and also believed by Luther and Calvin). Here is an interesting and informative part of the exchange:

Douglas Bilodeau
July 12, 2009 6:32 PM

I'm curious that no one has brought up the possibility that James could have been an older brother of Jesus by another mother who died before Joseph and Mary were betrothed. This must have been considered before. It might even (for all I know) be compatible with Catholic and/or Orthodox belief. I haven't heard of a doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Joseph, but perhaps it exists, or is simply taken for granted if the possibility of a previous wife is disallowed.



E
July 12, 2009 7:07 PM

Douglas Bilodeau:

There is an ancient tradition/option/explanation that Jesus' brothers were Joseph's children from a prior marriage. Read, e.g., The Brother of Jesus: James the Just and His Mission, by Bruce Chilton and Jacob Neusner. It's called the Epiphanian position, and advocacy of this view can be found in the Gospel of Peter. (Chilton, Neusner pp. 12ff.)



Kevin P. Edgecomb
July 13, 2009 2:40 PM
http://www.bombaxo.com/blog/

Douglas Bilodeau and E are quite right. In fact, the Epiphanian understanding is the canonical position of the Orthodox Church, that James, Joses, Simon, and three or more sisters were the naturally born children of Joseph and a wife prior to Mary. One will find exactly the same position in the Protevangelium Jacobi, which predates any other stated opinion on the matter, and is explicit on the subject concerning numerous beliefs of the earliest Christians in this regard. It supports precisely that position of St Epiphanios and the Orthodox Church.

The Roman Catholic position is that of seeing the brothers and sisters as cousins; this is the Hieronymian position, championed by St Jerome. Whether this can be stated to be an "official" position or not is beyond my competence.

It is the heretic Helvidius who posited that the brothers and sisters are the children of Joseph and Mary, born after Jesus. It is this Helvidian position which is common amongst Protestants and others. That doesn't make its origins any less heretical.



Phil W
July 14, 2009 12:57 PM

Kevin,

There is, of course, a different perspective on the origins of the various theories. The "Helvidian" position has roots in the New Testament itself.

The "Epiphanian" position is based on the apocryphal and heretical (Docetic) work, the Protevangelium of James.

The "Hieronymian" position is based on Jerome's imagination. He could find no precedent for his theory in the writings of the earlier Church fathers.

The "Helvidian" position appears to be the position of the writers of the New Testament (Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke, John). Roman Catholic authors, such as Raymond E. Brown and Mary Ann Getty-Sullivan, agree. Getty-Sullivan writes:
"If we only had the New Testament, one could assume that these are children born to Mary and Joseph after Jesus. This was the opinion of Tertullian and most Protestants today. Yet already in the second century these 'brothers and sisters' were identified as children of Joseph from a former marriage (see the Protoevangelium of James 9:2)." [Mary Ann Getty-Sullivan, Women in the New Testament (Liturgical Press, 2001), 173-174. A very similar statement was made by Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament (Anchor Bible Reference Library; Doubleday, 1997), 725-726.]
It seems that those who hold to the "Epiphanian" position believe that a late second-century Docetic writing trumps the New Testament. Even Jerome said that those who considered the Lord's brothers to be the sons of Joseph by a former wife were "following the ravings of the apocryphal writings." [Jerome, Commentary on St Matthew 12.49.]

The "Epiphanian" position was supported by Origen. Commenting on Matthew 13:55-56, he wrote: "They thought, then, that He was the son of Joseph and Mary. But some say, basing it on a tradition in the Gospel according to Peter, as it is entitled, or 'The Book of James,' that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary." [Origen, Commentary on Matthew 10.17.] Note that, according to Origen, only "some" believed in the "Epiphanian" theory; it was not a universal belief of the Church. Note also that Origen did not know of it as an Apostolic tradition; rather, he only knew it to be based on apocryphal gospels.

J. N. D. Kelly writes: "not only the Antidicomarianites attacked by Epiphanius and the Arian Eunomius openly taught that the 'brethren of the Lord' were Mary's sons by Joseph, but Basil of Caesarea, when criticizing the latter, implied that such a view was widely held and, though not accepted by himself, was not incompatible with orthodoxy." [J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (5th ed.; HarperCollins, 1978), 494-495. Citing Basil, Hom. in sanctam Christi gen. (PG 31, 1468 f.).] So, even in the fourth century it was possible for an orthodox person to hold the "Helvidian" view.

Regarding the "Hieronymian" theory, named for Jerome its inventor, scholars are virtually unanimous that it is incorrect.

Joseph A. Fitzmyer writes: "Jerome thought that adelphos could mean 'cousin,' but this is almost certainly to be ruled out as the NT meaning, since there was a good word for 'cousin,' anepsios, found in Col 4:10." [Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Luke (Anchor Bible; Doubleday, 1981), 1:724.]

Similarly, Patrick J. Hartin notes: "One thing, however, is sure, and that is that this term [adelphos] does not designate a cousin, as Jerome understood this term. Greek has a specific word for cousin (anepsios). If a cousin were intended, the New Testament writers would surely have used the Greek word anepsios. See, for example, Col 4:10 …" [Patrick J. Hartin, James of Jerusalem (Liturgical Press, 2004), 32.]

Again, an ecumenical task force reached the same conclusion: "Today most who deny the blood-brother relationship make no attempt to specify the relationship and suspect that all that was remembered in antiquity was that they were relatives or kin. If a specific relationship were remembered, e.g., cousin, some Greek speaker should have begun to use the available specific Greek term, e.g., anepsios, which appears in the NT at Col 4:10." [Raymond E. Brown, Karl P. Donfried, Joseph A. Fitzmyer & John Reumann (eds.), Mary in the New Testament (Fortress Press, 1978), 67.]

Here is a summary of the evidence:
  • The authors of the New Testament, including Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John, each tell us that Jesus had brothers. None of these five authors hints that what they mean by adelphoi is anything other than the most natural meaning, i.e., that the brothers are the children of Mary and Joseph, and are therefore biologically the half-brothers of Jesus but legally his full brothers.
  • Writing independently of the New Testament, Josephus also calls James "the brother of Jesus," without qualification.
  • Hegesippus also refers to "the Lord's brother according to the flesh," which indicates in the strongest terms that Jesus and his brothers were related by blood. Also, he distinguishes between brothers and cousins. Tertullian certainly taught that the brothers were the children of Mary and Joseph.
  • Getting their cues from the Docetic Protevangelium of James, Clement of Alexandria and Origen believed that the brothers were the stepbrothers of Jesus, the children of Joseph by a previous marriage.

That is all of the evidence that we possess on this topic from before the fourth century. The view that the brothers were the children of Mary and Joseph survived well into the fourth century. When one actually considers the evidence, the "Helvidian" theory appears to not have heretical origins.
Matthew Schultz July 19, 2009 11:26 PM
Ben Witherington July 8, 2009 8:40 PM Hi Esteban: I understand your point but of course the problem is the perpetual virginity of Mary is not attested in Scripture, indeed the opposite is attested as Matthew's Gospel says--- "Joseph was not knowing her until" means clearly enough in Greek that after the specified period of time he was knowing her....
Fr. Terry Donahue, CC July 9, 2009 8:58 PM You [Ben Witherington] wrote: "...as Matthew's Gospel says--- 'Joseph was not knowing her until' means clearly enough in Greek that after the specified period of time he was knowing her." It doesn’t seem completely clear to me that "until" (Gk. "heos") implies that the opposite occurs after the specified time period....
Fr. Terry Donahue, Dr. Svendsen has conducted a survey of "heos hou" [εως ου - E] (which is what needs to be looked at, not just "heos" by itself) throughout the New Testament and contemporary ANE literature: "This construction [heos hou] is used in Matt. 1:25 and so is of special interest here. It occurs only seventeen times in the NT, and all are temporal. Two of these have the meaning 'while' (Matt. 14:22; 26:36), whereas the other fifteen occurrences are instances in which the action of the main clause is limited by the action of the subordinate clause and require the meaning 'until a specified time (but not after)'" (Who Is My Mother? [Calvary Press, 2001] p. 52). His survey is extensive, covering many pages, and lists examples such as Matthew 17:9, Luke 22:18, Acts 21:26 and 2 Peter 1:19. The evidence strongly suggests that Matthew did not view Mary as a perpetual virgin.
Fr. Terry Donahue, CC July 27, 2009 9:04 PM I'm familiar with Dr. Svensen's survey and his claim "that heõs hou in all the literature of the two centuries surrounding the birth of Christ, when it means 'until,' always terminates the action of the main clause. That is an irrefutable fact". This claim is demonstrably false. I'd suggest the following rebuttals by John Pacheco and David Palm Heõs Hou and the Protestant Polemic http://www.catholic-legate.com/articles/heoshou.html The Non-Rule of Mr. Svendsen http://www.catholic-legate.com/articles/heoserrors11.html
Your Name July 28, 2009 10:07 AM Fr. Terry Donahue, CC: Thanks for the links. While the articles you linked to seem to demonstrate that some of what Dr. Svensen claims about the meaning of heôs hou may be incorrect (since I have not read his paper(s), I don't know exactly what he says or claims other than the short quotes the articles excerpted), I don't think they prove that the meaning of Matthew 1:25 is that Joseph kept Mary a virgin after Jesus' birth.

Note that I'm not saying that's what the critics of Dr. Svensen were attempting to do. Rather, it seems to me that debunking Dr. Svensen's claim leaves us with Matthew 1:25 not clearly saying anything one way or the other re: Mary's postpartum virginity. (And I think that's what the authors of the linked articles say, too.)

I think, though, that if Matthew had wanted to make the point that Mary remained a virgin after Jesus' birth, he would have written something other than (or more than) what he did.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

"Just As It Is Written"?



Just as it is written,
"Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,
And he who believes in him will not be disappointed.
"

- Romans 9:33 (New American Standard Bible/NASB)
But that's not "just as it is written."

In Romans 9:33, the Apostle Paul combines two Scripture verses, Isaiah 28:16 and Isaiah 8:14, to come up with his quote. Here is how those verses read:
Isaiah 28:16:
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD,
"Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone,
A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.
He who believes in it will not be disturbed." (Hebrew: NASB)

therefore thus says the Lord,
See, I will lay for the foundations of Sion
a precious, choice stone,
a highly valued cornerstone for its foundations,
and the one who believes in him will not be put to shame. (Greek: New English Translation of the Septuagint/NETS)
Isaiah 8:14:
"Then He shall become a sanctuary;
But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over,
And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem." (Hebrew: NASB)

If you trust in him, he will become your holy precinct, and you will not encounter him as a stumbling caused by a stone nor as a fall caused by a rock, but the house of Iakob is in a trap, and those who sit in Ierousalem are in a pit. (Greek: NETS)
While one can see from the English translations that Paul did not seem to exclusively follow either the Hebrew text or the Greek (Septuagint) version, the following shows the relationship between the Septuagint translation of these verses and Romans 9:33: blue from Isaiah 28:16, red from Isaiah 8:14, and green the part of one word that may have come from either verse:
Isaiah 28:16: δια τουτο ουτως λεγει Κυριος Ιδου εγω εμβαλω εις τα θεμελια Σιων λιθον πολυτελη εκλεκτον ακρογωνιαιον εντιμον εις τα θεμελια αυτης και ο πιστευων επ' αυτω ου μη καταισχυνθη

Isaiah 8:14: και εαν επ' αυτω πεποιθως ης εσται σοι εις αγιασμα και ουχ ως λιθου προσκομματι συναντησεσθε αυτω ουδε ως πετρας πτωματι ο δε οικος Ιακωβ εν παγιδι και εν κοιλασματι εγκαθημενοι εν Ιερουσαλημ

Romans 9:33: καθως γεγραπται, Ιδου τιθημι εν Σιων λιθον προσκομματος και πετραν σκανδαλου, και ο πιστευων επ' αυτω ου καταισχυνθησεται.

Here are the verses in table form for comparison:


Isaiah 28:16 Isaiah 8:14 Romans 9:33
δια τουτο ουτως λεγει Κυριος και εαν επ' αυτω πεποιθως ης καθως γεγραπται,
Ιδου εγω εμβαλω εις τα θεμελια Σιων Ιδου τιθημι εν Σιων
εσται σοι εις αγιασμα και ουχ ως
λιθον λιθου προσκομματι συναντησεσθε αυτω ουδε ως πετρας πτωματι λιθον προσκομματος και πετραν σκανδαλου,
πολυτελη εκλεκτον ακρογωνιαιον εντιμον εις τα θεμελια αυτης ο δε οικος Ιακωβ εν παγιδι και εν κοιλασματι εγκαθημενοι εν Ιερουσαλημ
και ο πιστευων επ' αυτω ου μη καταισχυνθη και ο πιστευων επ' αυτω ου καταισχυνθησεται.
As you can see, Paul sandwiches part of the middle of Isaiah 8:14 between some of the beginning and most of the end of Isaiah 28:16.

Thus, as opposed to quoting Isaiah "just as it is written," what Paul wrote does not seem to fully agree with either the Greek text or the Hebrew text of these verses, and his wording also has some morphological differences with what was "written."

Friday, June 19, 2009

How Many Adams?


The creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2 are usually said to complement each other, with Genesis 2 being considered a "more detailed" or "close-up" recounting of what is stated more generally about the creation of plants, animals and men in Genesis 1.

But is the Genesis 2 account of the creation of the male adam/ish and the forming of the female ishshah indeed a retelling of the Genesis 1 creation of the male and female adam?

When reading Genesis 1, one sees that singular nouns are used to refer to plurals - e.g., "tree," "bird," "beast," "cattle," refer to the creation of "trees," "birds," "beasts," "cattle," etc. A natural reading of Genesis 1:26-30 (apart from Genesis 2 and 3) would be that God here created the human kind just like he had created the kinds of water creatures and flying creatures and land creatures – i.e., several or many male and female humans. The subsequent blessing and command to the adams to take over and fill the earth and rule all its creatures makes more sense if given to a large group of people. Note that just before this, God had given a similar blessing and command to all the water creatures and flying creatures, not just to a single pair.

(The verbs re: the blessing and command are plurals, as is the expression of what God intended for the adam before he made them. While the plurals could refer to or be directed to a single male and female pair, in the context it makes more sense to see them as referring to or being directed to many humans.)

Also, a Genesis 1 creation of many adams helps solve the problem of where Cain got his wife, if she was not a sibling, and possibly renders moot the need to suggest (as some do in an effort to reconcile the two accounts of man's creation) that the single Genesis 1 adam might have been a hermaphrodite, being both male and female, before YHWH God took the female out of the male's side as described in Genesis 2.

Genesis 5:1-3 seems to conflate the two creation accounts into the creation of a single adam, and as our text of Genesis now stands, I suspect it's impossible to cleanly separate what might have been two separate accounts (though scholars have tried to do this - see, e.g., The Bible with Sources Revealed by Richard Elliott Friedman). But does the fact that they are read and taught as being a unified whole mean that they actually do complement each other or were originally meant to, or that they can be perfectly harmonized?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Holy Roller


Holy Roller: Finding Redemption and the Holy Ghost in a Forgotten Texas Church by Julie Lyons (Buy from Amazon.com)

My Review ***** (out of 5)

Put this book on your must-read list, especially if you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. I've now read it twice, and am giving copies to several people. It's G-O-O-D!

(Mrs. Lyons was the Editor-in-Chief for the Dallas Observer before she left her job in order to write this book. The writing and storytelling style of Holy Roller remind me of some of the cover stories I've read over the years in the Observer, but that could be coincidental.)

Excerpt:
I was driving on the wild frontier of gangsta-land, a place I'd learn to navigate by the sites where people got murdered. South Dallas always stayed crazy, and I was just getting used to the experience--the occasional kak-kak-kak of semiautomatic-weapon fire, the graffiti tags of the Trey-Five-Seven (.357) Crips, the distinctive choreography of drug dealing, with crack rocks passing invisibly from hand to hand in furtive motions that I came to recognize from afar.

I was twenty-seven years old, white, and quite conspicuous in black South Dallas the evening in late April 1990 when I set out to find a different kind of story for the Dallas Times Herald. Since starting a job two months earlier as a crime reporter, I'd been getting to know the roughest parts of the city, places like this. It was nothing like the small Wisconsin town where I grew up.

I'd tell myself I wasn't scared, but I think I was driving too fast to know for sure. This time I wasn't chasing flashing lights toward Bexar Street, hoping to get there before the witnesses and walking wounded had melted away in the dark. Instead, I was looking for the scene of a miracle.

There would be no crime-scene tape marking the spot. It was just me in my little car, prowling the streets and looking for a spiritual outpost. I had no idea what it would look like; all I knew was there had to be a church in this part of the inner city where people came searching for a supernatural breakthrough. I had decided it would be impossible to live in this crumbling, seemingly godforsaken territory without clinging to some shred of hope that things could get better. I was determined to find the place people go when despair drives them to seek a miracle.

I turned a corner and entered a neighborhood with all the familiar signs: slender boys with darting eyes, standing like pickets on the corner, beckoning to people in cars that were slowly passing through. I steered around potholes and broken glass in the street and looked past the drug sentries for evidence of light and life in the neighborhood's churches. You'd find Baptists on one corner and Holy Sanctifieds on the other, with a House of Prayer for All People wedged in between. They stood as silent witnesses while hell swarmed all around them. The truth is, I really didn't know what I was looking for. I just knew I couldn't leave South Dallas until I found it.

All this began with a lie, a made-up story idea that I pitched to my editors at the newspaper. See, there are these preachers in the ghetto who pray for crack-cocaine addicts, and people are supposedly getting miraculously "healed." And oh, I know a bunch of these preachers. The best you could say in my defense is that I thought about the story so much that it became real to me. Before moving to Dallas, I had lived in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the Troubles erupted regularly into fire bombings, shootings, and retaliatory acts between working-class Catholics and Protestants. I had gone to the province of Ulster to write the story of a terrorist who found God and was now trying to lead his former enemies to reconciliation. I learned while living in Belfast that among certain types of Christians, unexplainable things were almost commonplace. You just had to know where to look.

My previous work as a crime reporter at the Seattle Times had led me to believe that miracle-working preachers could be found in any major city. In Dallas in 1990, the crack epidemic was leaving a trail of wreckage--of neighborhoods gone to hell in a swath of murder and ruin. Thanks to my experiences in Belfast and Seattle, I had come up with a simple theorem: where desperation multiplied, there you would find God.

At the Dallas Times Herald we were always looking for new angles to pursue in reporting the crack-cocaine story. I needed something bigger than yet another shooting, drug raid, or body found in the street. Why not make my mark at the paper by uncovering the miraculous? Here, then, was the problem: I didn't know any preachers who fit this description. There is a game that newspaper reporters play: you invest as little work as possible before pitching a story to your editor. That way, if your editor rejects the idea, you haven't wasted too much effort. I mentioned my story idea of supernatural healing, and to my surprise and secret horror, the editors seized on it immediately. They scheduled the story for Sunday A-1. I had just a few days to find my mythical ministers and write a lengthy feature story about themin time for the early edition, the "bulldog."

That's why I was cruising aimlessly through South Dallas. As evening moved quickly toward night, I was way more scared of my editors than I was of the ghetto. I passed dozens of churches without stopping. If the lights weren't on, I kept rolling. I eventually turned onto a one-block street, Brigham Lane, and saw two churches, one on each corner.The first seemed inconsequential, with a sagging roof and handmade sign. But at the other end of the block stood a tidy, brick-walled structure. I noted the affiliation: Church of God in Christ. Black Pentecostals. Holy rollers. I aimed for the far corner.

I had my music cranked, a soca artist from Tobago named Shadow, who had an insidiously hummable tune, "Tabanka." It has something to do with the sickness you feel when you're hopelessly attracted to someone. I craved the melody and syncopation of my beloved Caribbean music. All the plastic parts of my little Honda were rattling with the heavy bass line, and the noise helped to bury my nervousness.

I was driving past the scruffy-looking church when something intensely spiritual happened. I don't know how else to say this: God was in the car with me. I could feel his presence, a palpable thing that made my senses light up, even amid the dissonance of blaring soca. I might have been a tough-minded crime reporter, but I had recently reconnected with the faith of my childhood, and I was engaged to be married to a man who was a devout Christian. I was far from figuring things out but eager to investigate anything that might shed more light on questions about God's work on earth.

Is that really you, God? I thought. What else could I think? I turned the music down and pulled my car to the curb.

You want me to stop here, don't you? I said to myself and, I suppose, to God as well. Just then a girl popped out the front door of the dilapidated church. As the girl skipped down the sidewalk, I got out of my car, reporter's notebook in hand, and stopped her just short of the house that stood next-door.

"Do you believe in healing prayer?" I asked without introduction.

"Yes!" she said enthusiastically. She was brown-skinned, with pigtails, or so I recall. I don't remember very clearly anymore. I guessed she was about ten, but back then I wasn't good at estimating children's ages.

"Does your minister pray for drug addicts?" I asked.

"Yes!" she answered again.

"Are any getting healed?"

"Yes!"

I asked her to point out her pastor to me. At that moment a black man wearing a suit jacket and tie stepped outside the church's front door. Several church members were visible in the dim yellow light of the tiny foyer behind him. A thought flashed in my brain: Oh God, don't let him be one of those overbearing egotistical preachers. I'm not even sure where that objection came from--probably from a bad experience I'd had in my years as a reporter.

I walked over and introduced myself as a journalist. The pastor was Fredrick L. Eddington Sr. He was tall and I am not, and I remember he bent down slightly as he listened to me.

"Do you pray for crack addicts?" I asked. Might as well get right to the point.

"Yes," the pastor said.

"Are they getting healed?"

The pastor paused for a moment. "Some of them are," he said. We chatted some more, and I got the impression he was choosing his words carefully. Still, our conversation was casual. To listen to Pastor Eddington, you'd have thought we were discussing the weather or the Dallas Cowboys. But we were talking about miracles. This wasn't at all what I'd expected. The pastor came across as humble, gentle, plainspoken. And he didn't seem the least bit surprised that a young white woman--a stranger who clearly didn't belong in this neighborhood--had suddenly materialized out of the darkness.

I was looking for a feature story to run in the Sunday paper. What I was about to discover was a passionate, self-taught man who would introduce me to a world of spirits, healing, prophecy, and warfare waged to the death between invisible forces of good and evil. To Pastor Eddington these things were not superstition, legend, or overwrought emotion. This was reality, and over the next few months I would see it for myself.

Months later, talking with Diane Eddington, the pastor's wife, I inquired about the little girl who had come skipping down the walk in front of the church, telling me that healings took place there. I asked the First Lady to point out the little girl so I could thank her, and Diane told me there was no such girl. I thought back to the night I had found this church. The sun had just set, it was a neighborhood where the crackle of gunfire was often heard, and a young girl was the only person on the sidewalk. I realized that no parent would dream of allowing her child to be out alone at night. Not only that, but no one who attended the service that evening had seen a girl matching the description I gave.

So who was the girl I talked to? Diane had an answer.

"Oh," she said, "you was just seeing an angel."
- - -

Here's an interview with Julie Lyons about the book from KERA Public Radio. The interviewer chose to spend more than 25% of the show (i.e., 11+ minutes at 15:16-26:43 of the less-than-48-minute interview, plus some of the callers' questions) on Julie's biblical views of (and personal struggles with) same-sex attraction and homosexuality, but there is so much more to the book than that, and so much more Julie could have discussed.

Which is all the more reason for you to GET THE BOOK AND READ IT ALL. :^D


** You can email Julie Lyons at: therealbiblegirl@gmail.com **

From Amazon.com:

Product Description
Julie Lyons was working as a crime reporter when she followed a hunch into the South Dallas ghetto. She wasn’t hunting drug dealers, but drug addicts who had been supernaturally healed of their addictions. Was there a church in the most violent part of the city that prayed for addicts and got results?

At
The Body of Christ Assembly, a rundown church on an out-of-the-way street, Lyons found the story she was looking for. The minister welcomed criminals, prostitutes, and street people–anyone who needed God. He prayed for the sick, the addicted, and the demon-possessed, and people were supernaturally healed.


The Body of Christ Assembly (new building) - I visited the church 8/2/09, from whence came these photos


Lyons’s story landed on the front page of the Dallas Times Herald. But she got much more than just a great story, she found an unlikely spiritual home. Though the parishioners at The Body of Christ Assembly are black and Pentecostal, and Lyons is white and from a traditional church background, she embraced their spirituality–that of “the Holy Ghost and fire.”

It’s all here in Holy Roller–the stories of people desperate for God’s help. And the actions of a God who doesn’t forget the people who need His power.

About the Author
Julie Lyons is an award-winning writer, editor, and investigative reporter who for more than eleven years was editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer, an alternative weekly newspaper owned by Village Voice Media. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a B.A. in English from Seattle Pacific University. She and her husband, Larry Lyons Jr., live in Dallas with their son.