# Saturday, October 30, 2004

For better or worse, I have a strange affection for the Pastoral Epistles. Friends and regular readers already know this.

I've been working through the Pastorals in a slow and somewhat methodical manner for the past year or so, as the scattered work on the afore-referenced web site displays. In the past two months, I've actually started writing, trying to tie this stuff together.

With the insightful review and help of a few friends (thanks, guys!) I've got what I think is a fairly decent rough draft of First Timothy chapter 1 together. I've got a lot to do (even with the first chapter!) but if for some reason you'd like to review what I've written, drop me an email (address on right side of page). I'll send the PDF (which is approx .5 megs) your way. I'd love to know what others think about it.

I'm still working on a basic introduction/preface to explain how the thing is set up; I may pop up a link explaining that later this weekend. It is a little different than other “commentaries” in that, at this point, I'm focused on establishing the meanings of words and phrases using both canonical and secondary literature. As a matter of fact, I'd tend to call this “exegetical notes” or something like that instead of a traditional commentary that focuses on either application or exposition.

Post Author: Rico
Saturday, October 30, 2004 8:27:03 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, October 28, 2004

The word is in quotes because I'm referring to the Greek word βαπτίζω, not the English word “baptize”.

I just noticed that in Josephus, Vita §15, the word βαπτίζω is used. Here's the Whiston translation:

for, as our ship was drowned in the Adriatic Sea, we that were in it, being about six hundred in number, swam for our lives all the night; when, upon the first appearance of the day, and upon our sight of a ship of Cyrene, I and some others, eighty in all, by God’s providence, prevented the rest, and were taken up into the other ship:

The italic is the instance of βαπτισθέντος, an aorist passive participle. Intrigued, I thought I'd search the NT for use of the same exact inflected form. I found one hit, in Lu 9.21:

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened,

Now, please don't read too much into this. The contexts are completely different; you can't read this as “whoa, Jesus was dunked, not sprinkled! Just like the boat in Josephus!” Why? Well, the ship was destroyed as a result of its “baptizing”. You wouldn't want to apply that little bit of inferred meaning to Jesus, would you? (If you would, we need to talk. Seriously.)

Still, it is always of interest (at least to me) to see how the same word is used in secular context vs. religious context.

Ok, back to work, people.

Post Author: Rico
Thursday, October 28, 2004 2:49:11 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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I'd seen the Digital South Asia Library perhaps a year ago (?) but it looks to have been updated since then. It is hosted by the University of Chicago.

I know very little about the languages represented by this page, but such things are always helpful to know about. They've got some dictionaries on the Digital Dictionaries of South Asia page, but an unfortunate design decision means that one needs to actually search a dictionary for something before one can simply browse pages. Unicode fonts are used, though they don't remember your preference and you have to continually state it when doing searches. My guess is that the primary user is the guy who coded the thing and perhaps one or two others involved in its production.

There's also a Books & Journals page that has some grammars and readers. Ever wanted to learn Bengali? Take an introductory look at Urdu? Then you've found your spot. Most of the stuff with complex scripts in this section are simple page scans, but at least they're legible and you don't have to worry about fonts. The navigation is page based from a TOC.

Enjoy!

Post Author: Rico
Thursday, October 28, 2004 8:15:57 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, October 27, 2004

I haven't listened to much Charlie Peacock (well ... releases past 1994, anyway). I happened to look him up on Rhapsody to listen to whatever they had available, just to see what the guy was up to.

They've got this retrospective thingie, where Charlie has re-recorded a number of songs with folks he knows. It's called “Full Circle: A Celebration of Friends”. One song I've never heard of is “Monkeys at the Zoo” (link requires RealRhapsody to work; try Amazon for a sample). The lyrics thoughtful and challenging, and I recognized Mike Roe's voice singing on the tune, which was a bonus.

This one song has been on heavy rotation on my playlist. You've gotta like songs that have lyrics like “and I have been a-whorin' after things”. The whole song is just good and thought provoking. Probably doesn't mean much if you don't have the music, but I wanted to post the lyrics anyway.

BTW, these are Copyright 2004, 1995 Andi Beat Goes On Music, Inc. (ASCAP)

[Verse 1]
Will it be different now?
Or just the same?
Will I have learned anything?

Was it just a way
To spend a day or two?
Set aside for thinkin'
Thoughts about you

If that's all it was I had a good time,
But that won't be enough for me
Not this year, not anytime soon

[Bridge 1]
I have got to clean house
Gotta make my bed
Gotta clear my head
It's gettin' kinda stuffy in here
Smells sorta funky too
Like monkeys at the zoo;
and I have been a-whorin' after things
'Cause I wanna feel safe inside
That's a big fat lie
No amount of green, gold or silver
Will ever take the place of the peace of God

[Chorus (2x)]
Spirit
come flush the lies out
Spirit
come on, come on, flush the lies out

[Verse 2]
will I be different now?
Or the same?
Have I changed at all?

And if you were to dive deep inside my soul
Would you find Jesus there?
Or a gaping hole?
Should I be content with my beautiful life?

But that won't be enough for me, no,
Not this year, not any time soon

[Bridge 2]
I have got to clean house
gotta make my bed
gotta clear my head
It's gettin' kinda stuffy in here
smells sorta funky too
like monkeys at the zoo;
and I have been a-whorin' after things
cause I wanna get everything right
that's a big fat lie
no amount of green, gold or silver
the perfect body
another hot toddy
work for the Lord
fame and power
power and sex
a seat at the table at the Belle Meade country club
Here's the rub
Nothin' will ever take the place of the peace of God

[Chorus 2x]
Spirit
come flush the lies out
Spirit
come on, come on, flush the lies out

Will I be different now or the same?
Will I have learned anything?

So ... there you go.

Post Author: Rico
Wednesday, October 27, 2004 5:16:44 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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With all the election hullaballo, I'd completely forgotten about the fact that it is Oktoberfest time.

Today's National Review Online (yes, this link is informative and not political!) has a review of the preferred brew of many of its contributors.

Insightful. Many of them simply say “Bud”. There are, of course, some Guinness fans. And Guinness is a good thing. I'm surprised, however, that nobody mentioned Widmer Hefeweizen, which (if I had to pick) is what I'd pick — though several of the brews at Boundary Bay (ahem: Scotch!) would rank up there as well.

Update: I forgot to mention my favorite answers from the NROniks.

Best Answer: The award goes to ... Ramesh Ponnuru, with his response of “You mean you have to choose?

Most Disappointing Answer: The award goes to ... Rick Brookhiser, unfortunately. I was looking for insight and range of experience, but he prefers “Bud.” That boy needs to get out more (as do all of those who profess bud as their fave).

Ok, I'm done with the randomnity. Back to other things ...

Post Author: Rico
Wednesday, October 27, 2004 3:05:01 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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A friend of mine just emailed me this link to Christianity Today's weblog. The article is about the Episcopal Church USA, you know, the one that ordained a “practicing homosexual” as a bishop awhile back.

This article on CT's weblog is not about that controversy, and that's why I think that the Episcopal Church USA has “jumped the shark”. I use a humorous metaphor, but the problem is actually quite serious. I can't see how the leadership of the EC-USA can contend that they are a Christian fellowship based on the issue with the bishop and this new issue. Here's the full title and subtitle of the article I'm referring to:

Weblog: Episcopal Church Officially Promotes Idol Worship.
“Women's Eucharist” calls for worship of pagan deities specifically condemned in Scripture.

The article is not a hit & run job. It is from a highly reputable source (CT). It is clearly written, with ample reference to both Scripture and the EC-USA church documents in question (and links to the ESV and the online versions of the document(s) in question). Consider the third paragraph of the article:

“This is not a joke nor an overstatement. In all truth and seriousness, leaders of the Episcopal Church USA are promoting pagan rites to pagan deities. And not just any new pagan deities: The Episcopal Church USA, though its Office of Women's Ministries, is actually promoting the worship of idols specifically condemned in Scripture.”

Friends, this saddens me. I'm not a part of the Episcopal Church USA and I know very little about their liturgy and historical worship. But if this is the sort of stuff that their leadership is both doing and recommending, it's a sad day.

Update (2004-11-06): Here is the response to the CT article from the Episcopal Church USA's Office of Women's Ministries.

My thoughts: while the liturgy under question may not have been “official” in the sense of having received the imprimatur of the church's governing body, I still think it is a sad indictment on the state of things within the church in general (and specifically the Episcopal Church USA). Consider this paragraph from the response:

These liturgies are intended to spark dialogue, study, conversation and ponderings around women and our liturgical tradition. There is quite a difference in presenting resources for people’s interest and enlightenment and promoting resources as official claims of the Episcopal Church.

Well, it certainly sparked dialogue, I'll give them that. But I question the sort of “enlightenment” a partaker in such a liturgy is to receive. I also question the setting in which a church — a church that is supposed to represent the gospel of Jesus Christ — can justify the presentation of such material, even if it is for “people's interest and enlightenment”. This “liturgy” is unquestionably heresy and should be condemned, and the church should distance itself as far from it as possible. Go ahead, read the CT article and try to come to a different conclusion.

 

Post Author: Rico
Wednesday, October 27, 2004 10:05:45 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, October 26, 2004

A few weeks back, I wrote some quick thoughts on EpDiog 1. Now it's time to do the same thing for EpDiog 2.

EpDiog 1 started out with listing some distinctives of Christianity. EpDiog 2 changes course and differentiates paganism from Christianity. The author's primary argument against paganism involves the physical nature of the things pagans worship as gods. Here's EpDiog 2.3:

Are not all of these formed of destructible matter? Ar they not forged with iron and fire? Were they each not made by the sculptor, coppersmith, silversmith, and potter? Before they were shaped by these crafts into the form that each of them now has, could they not have been made into other forms — indeed, could they not be remade even now? And the utensils that we have now, which come from the same material: could they not be made like them, if they came into the hands of the same artisans?

The author inveighs against the physical properties of the things pagans worship as gods. These things are no different than any other thing made of the same material, he argues. You could melt them down or burn them, and they would either be consumed or reforged into something else. And this is the primary argument: In paganism, the gods are made by men. In Christianity, the men are made by God.

In paganism, whole trades have developed around the production of such gods for household use. They're listed above — sculptor, coppersmith, silversmith, potter. These people made their living, most likely, with a decent amount of their time and craft devoted to production of pagan or cultic items. Don't think so? Check out Acts 19.24-29, and note particularly the motiviation of the silversmiths in rallying against Christianity. Then, if you're so inclined, take a peek at 2Ti 4.14 and start to think about potential reasons that Alexander the coppersmith might've had for his strong (and harmful) opposition of Paul.

But in Christianity, God created and has control over men. Ro 9.19-24 reminds us of this.

The author next shows that the pagans respect of their own idols is dependent not on the so-called god, but rather on the stuff the idol is made of; and that this betrays the true feelings towards these so-called gods. Here's EpDiog 2.7:

But do you yourselves not show disdain for these gods, even while supposing and imagining that you praise them? Do you not much more ridicule and abuse them — worshiping the ones made of stone and clay without keeping close watch on them, but locking up those made of silver and gold, putting guards over them night and day to keep them from being stolen?

The author keeps up this line of argument until EpDiog 2.10 where he wraps things up with an argumentation style I'm not too fond of:

I could say many other things about why Christians do not serve such gods, but if someone supposes that these comments are not enough, I imagine saying anything more would be superfluous.

I don't like this sort of argument. It always strikes me as a bluff. If there are more things to say to convince Diognetus, why not say them? Or is this just a bluster of a conclusion? If you debate/argue with folks that use this line, you should call them on it and ask them to please bore you with their further so-called superfluous examples. I'd say that chances are, they don't have any, they're just trying to close their argument in a strong way.

 

Post Author: Rico
Tuesday, October 26, 2004 8:53:24 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, October 21, 2004

In my study on the Pastoral Epistles, we recently went over 1Ti 2.1-3. We talked a bit about βασιλεύς and how it represents the highest ruler of a realm, what we would call an “emperor” or a “king”. Then we speculated on reason why the sub-group of “emperors and others in high positions” was included after the general mention of “all people” (after mostly determining that it was a sub-group and not a clarification or refinement of “all people”, and that “all people” really means all people, not some subgroup amongst the Ephesians).

Why were “kings” and “others in high positions” included? Who knows. We had some ideas, one of which was that the earthly rulers weren't being properly respected because, after all, God is King, why bother with those earthly rulers? This helps (me, at least) make sense of the end of 1Ti 2.2, that earthly subjection to and prayer for these rulers helps believers continue to live a peaceful and quiet life.

This morning I was going over 1Ti 1.12-17 in the NA27 (I'm currently doing massive edits on this section of my notes) and 1Ti 1.17 jumped out at me:

To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

So, just a few sentences earlier, Paul had this benediction praising God as King. Then he reminds folks that they need to pray for those ruling over them on this earth. I'm wondering if there is any relationship between these two mentions of βασιλεύς in these verses. Looking at both instances, perhaps Paul really was, in the 1Ti 2.2 instance, reminding the folks of their current situation and how they needed to pray for those in positions of authority (kings and others) even though they were ultimately subject to God, the immortal, invisible and eternal King; and how following the will of the eternal King in praying for the temporal king/emperor would have benefits to the community.

And, of course, it makes me think of the Martyrdom of Polycarp:

The proconsul said; “Prevail upon the people.” But Polycarp said; “As for thyself, I should have held thee worthy of discourse; for we have been taught to render, as is meet, to princes and authorities appointed by God such honor as does us no harm; but as for these, I do not hold them worthy, that I should defend myself before them.” (MPoly 10.2)

 

Post Author: Rico
Thursday, October 21, 2004 9:22:29 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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