Present tense and textual chronology / Ενεστώτας χρόνος και χρονολόγηση κειμένων

Usually, when dating texts, particularly the New Testament texts, which interests us directly, the use of present tense in relation to Judaic elements of worship is a very strong point in favor of dating the specific text before the destruction of the Jewish system in 70 CE. However, M. Gkoutzioudis in his book The biblical text in the passage of the time. The case of the Epistle to the Hebrews, (pp. 37, 38), provides us with an important clue in relation to the use of the present tense and textual chronology. He writes:

“On the other hand, there is  a strong preference for the period 63-69 A.D., but nothing can be said with certainty. Neither does the fact that the references to the sacrificial system are in the present tense demonstrate that sacrifices continued in the Temple at the time of the writing of Hebrews. Josephus, for example, in his Jewish Antiquities, writing twenty years after the destruction of the Temple, also uses the present tense. The same happens in the First Epistle of Clement and in the Epistle to Diognetus”.

Συνήθως, κατά την χρονολόγηση κειμένων, ιδιαίτερα της Καινής Διαθήκης, η οποία μας ενδιαφέρει άμεσα, η χρήση ενεστώτα χρόνου σε σχέση με ιουδαικά στοιχεία λατρείας αποτελεί ένα πολύ ισχυρό στοιχείο υπέρ της χρονολόγησης του συγκεκριμένου κειμένου πρό της καταστροφής του ιουδαϊκού συστήματος το 70 Κ.Χ. Ωστόσο, ο Μ. Γκουτζιούδης στο βιβλίο του Το βιβλικό κείμενο στο πέρασμα του χρόνου. Η περίπτωση της προς Εβραίους επιστολής (σελ. 37, 38), μας παρέχει ένα σημαντικό στοιχείο σε σχέση με τη χρήση ενεστώτα και τη χρονολόγηση των κειμένων. Γράφει:

 «Από την άλλη, ισχυρή προτίμηση εκδηλώνεται για το χρονικό διάστημα 63-69 μ.Χ., αλλά τίποτα δεν μπορεί να λεχθεί με βεβαιότητα. Ούτε το γεγονός ότι οι αναφορές στο θυσιαστικό σύστημα γίνονται σε ενεστώτα χρόνο αποδεικνύει ότι οι θυσίες συνεχίζονταν στο Ναό κατά την εποχή της συγγραφής της προς Εβραίους. Ο Ιώσηπος για παράδειγμα, στην Ιουδαϊκή Αρχαιολογία, γράφοντας είκοσι χρόνια μετά την καταστροφή του Ναού, χρησιμοποιεί επίσης ενεστωτικό χρόνο. Το ίδιο συμβαίνει και στην Α΄ Κλήμεντος και στην επιστολή προς Διόγνητον».

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“Misquoting Jesus”. Really? A refutation to Bart Erhman. / “Διαστρεβλώνοντας τα λόγια του Ιησού”. Πράγματι; Μια απάντηση στον Bart Erhman.

Bart Ehrman is a renown New Testament scholar. Many people quote his books in order to back their statements up, that the Gospel narratives, and the New Testament in general, is nothing more than human stories full of mistakes, contradictions and inconsistencies. Some of my blog readers too, have “informed” me that he is a scholar that doubts the reliability of the gospels (see e.g. the comments under my post entitled “How much force does the statement of the atheist that “there is no God” have?”).

So, the time has come for a critical evaluation of Bart Erhman’s scholarship. How valid are his arguments?

The following excerpt is from the new book entitled The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible: Discoveries That Confirm the Reliability of Scripture, by Joseph M. Holden and Norman Geisler to whom I am indebted.

A second critical post about Bart Erhman will soon follow. That too, will be based upon this great book.

Ο Bart Ehrman είναι ένας φημισμένος λόγιος της Καινής Διαθήκη. Πολλοί άνθρωποι αναφέρουν τα βιβλία του, με σκοπό  να υποστηρίξουν τις δηλώσεις τους, ότι οι Ευαγγελικές αφηγήσεις, και η Καινή Διαθήκη γενικότερα, δεν είναι τίποτα περισσότερο από ανθρώπινες ιστορίες γεμάτες αντιφάσεις, λάθη και αντιφάσεις. Μερικοί από τους αναγνώστες του blog μου επίσης, με έχουν «ενημερώσει» ότι αυτός είναι ένας λόγιος που αμφισβητεί την αξιοπιστία των Ευαγγελίων (βλέπε για παράδειγμα τα σχόλια κάτω από την ανάρτησή μου με τίτλο “Πόση ισχύ έχει η δήλωση ενός άθεου «δεν υπάρχει Θεός»;“).

Έτσι, έχει έρθει η ώρα για μια κριτική αξιολόγηση της λογιότητας του Bart Erhman. Πόσο έγκυρα είναι τα επιχειρήματά του;

Το παρακάτω απόσπασμα είναι από το νέο βιβλίο με τίτλο The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible: Discoveries That Confirm the Reliability of Scripture, από τον Joseph M. Holden και τον Norman Geisler στους οποίους είμαι υπόχρεος.

Θα ακολουθήσει σύντομα μια δεύτερη ανάρτηση για τον Bart Erhman. Και αυτή θα βασίζεται σε αυτό το εξαιρετικό βιβλίο.

The most current attacks on the reliability of the New Testament have come almost entirely from one person, renowned New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman. Ehrman has argued against the reliability of the New Testament from just about every angle in a series of recent books. The next two chapters will be devoted to engaging his most significant claims.

Contradictions in the Gospels?

Numerous liberal scholars throughout the history of biblical interpretation have sought to identify contradictions within the Bible. Many of these attempts can be regarded as popular-level propaganda pumped out by atheist and skeptic organizations, and most of them do not deserve serious consideration.

Recently, however, Bart Ehrman has been responsible for several New York Times bestsellers and so is worthy of a lengthy response here. Unlike many critics who find conspiracies involving the Bible and who do not warrant much attention due to their lack of credentials and poor research (such as Dan Brown), Bart Ehrman is a fine historian who is widely respected within his field of biblical scholarship. While other interpret-m may propose similar kinds of things, Ehrman has been the most influential, consistent, and thorough in these allegations so we will engage the form of the arguments found in his works.

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About the date of composition and the background of the Second Epistle of Peter / Περί του χρόνου συγγραφής και του υποβάθρου της Δεύτερης Επιστολής του Πέτρου

As a result of the Qumran discoveries it is now no longer necessary to assign the Second Epistle of Peter to a date in the middle of the second century A.D., as has long been maintained by critical scholars.* The closeness of its phraseology and thought to that of the Essenes and similar sects which flourished at the beginning of the Christian era indicates quite clearly that the Epistle proceeded strictly from a Palestinian Jewish milieu. Indeed, the emphasis upon the true way, light in the midst of darkness, brotherly love, true and false teachers, and the destruction of the world by fire, is distinctly reminiscent of the Qumran writings, and shows little if any contact with Hellenistic thought.

* E.g., A. S. Peake, A Critical Introduction to the New Testament (1910), p. 99.; F. B. Clogg, An Introduction to the New Testament (1937), p. 172.; R. Heard, An Introduction to the New Testament (1950), p. 219.; A. H. McNeile, An Introduction to the Study of the New Testament (1955 ed.), pp. 247 ff.

R. K. Harrison, Archaeology of the New Testament, σελ. 81.

What is the meaning of Romans 8:28 (τοῖς ἀγαπῶσι τὸν θεὸν πάντα συνεργεῖ εἰς ἀγαθόν)? / Ποια είναι η σημασία του Ρωμαίους 8:28 (τοῖς ἀγαπῶσι τὸν θεὸν πάντα συνεργεῖ εἰς ἀγαθόν);

The clause reading τοῖς ἀγαπῶσι τὸν θεὸν πάντα συνεργεῖ εἰς ἀγαθόν can be translated in two major ways (see the “Notes on the Text and Translation” concerning the presence or absence of ό θεός), depending on how one construes the syntax and makes a choice concerning the subject. Grammatically it is possible that the subject is πάντα, taking it to be the neuter nominative plural of πάν. That is possible, because a neuter nominative plural noun takes a third person singular verb (which συνεργεί [“works together”] is). On the other hand, it is possible that πάντα is a neuter accusative plural. In that case, it could be an accusative of respect, and the subject of the clause would then be “he” (meaning “God”). Modern translations go in both directions. Those in the former group include:
KJV: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.”
ASV: “And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good.”
NAB: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God.”
NRSV: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God.”
NET: “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God.”
ESV: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.”
Those in the latter group (some of which insert “God” for clarification) include:
RSV: “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.”
NEB: “And in everything, as we know, he cooperates for good with those who love God.”
NIV: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”
NASV: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.”
The latter course is to be preferred. The primary reason for that is that “he” (= “God”) is the subject of verses both prior to and after this one (8:27; 8:29-30). One can expect that “he” would be the subject of this clause as well. Those ancient scribes who added ό θεός as the subject must have sought to clarify the sentence, which the translators of the RSV and NIV did as well, making similar judgments. And even though it has been said that the difference in meaning is not great, since either reading expresses confidence in the sovereignty of God, there is actually a profound difference. In the first instance, Paul is saying that everything works out well for those who love God. This has the ring of the optimism of modern times, although it need not, for it could mean that all that one endures (even suffering) works together for a good outcome, which could include final salvation. Still, in the final analysis, the “all” then appears to transpire for good with or without God’s involvement. In the second instance, however, Paul is saying that God works for the good of all who love him in every conceivable situation. Whatever one faces (including suffering), God is present and active to work for a good outcome, which may well be realized only eschatologically in final salvation, but ultimately the promise is sure. That perspective coheres theologically with the rest of this section (8:18-30), which sees suffering — both on the part of humans and of the rest of creation — in light of eschatological hope.

Arland J. Hultgren, Paul’s Letter to the Romans, A Commentary.

What is the meaning of Jesus’ phrases “that they may be one” and “that they may become perfectly one”? / Ποια είναι η σημασία των φράσεων του Ιησού «ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν καθὼς ἡμεῖς» και «ἵνα ὦσιν τετελειωμένοι εἰς ἕν»;

The phrases “that they may be one”, “that they may become perfectly one” (John 17:11, 21, 23) are Semitic forms whose structure is matched closely by the diction of Qumran, which elsewhere stressed the unity of the sect (emphasis added).

R. K. Harrison, Archaeology of the New Testament, σελ. 75.

The following are my comments:

It is obvious that these phrases of Jesus by no means meant an ontological identification of the disciples with him and his Father. As R. K. Harrison states, these same statements have been discovered among the manuscripts of the Qumran (for John 17:23 see 1QS, V:2; for John 11:52 see 1QS, V:7), and the meaning they convey is the meaning of unity (in purpose, thinking, etc).

A question that rises in my mind is: What are we to gather when we apply this on these same statements concerning the Son and the Father? What is the “catalyst” that changes their meaning from that of unity to that of ontological identification (or substance identification, according to the various interpretations) as the Trinity dogma demands?

I just can’t find one, at least not one that is quite satisfying. Please, feel free to comment.

Τα παρακάτω είναι δικά μου σχόλια:

Είναι προφανές ότι αυτές οι φράσεις του Ιησού σε καμία περίπτωση δεν σήμαιναν οντολογική ταύτιση των μαθητών Του με Αυτόν και τον Πατέρα Του. Όπως δηλώνει ο R. K. Harrison, οι ίδιες δηλώσεις έχουν ανακαλυφθεί στα χειρόγραφα του Κουμράν (για Ιωάννη 17:23 δες 1QS, V: 2· για Ιωάννη 11:52 δες 1QS, V:7), και το νόημα που εκφράζουν είναι η έννοια της ενότητας (στο σκοπό, τη σκέψη, κλπ).

Ένα ερώτημα που γεννάται στο μυαλό μου είναι το εξής: Τι πρέπει να συμπεράνουμε όταν εφαρμόζουμε αυτό το γεγονός σε αυτές τις δηλώσεις σχετικά με τον Υιό και τον Πατέρα; Ποιος είναι ο «καταλύτης» που αλλάζει το νόημά τους από εκείνο της ενότητας με εκείνο της οντολογικής ταύτισης (ή της ταύτισης της ουσίας, σύμφωνα με τις διάφορες ερμηνείες), όπως απαιτεί το δόγμα της Τριάδας;

Αδυνατώ να βρω έναν τέτοιο «καταλύτη», τουλάχιστον κάποιον που είναι αρκετά ικανοποιητικός. Παρακαλώ, μη διστάσετε να σχολιάσετε.

The historicity of Acts 17:16, 23 / Η ιστορικότητα του Πράξεις 17:16, 23

The city was so filed with idols that Pausanias tells us it was easier to meet a god or a goddess on the main street of Athens, than to meet a man. / Η πόλη ήταν τόσο γεμάτη από είδωλα, ώστε  ο Παυσανίας μας λέει ότι ήταν πιο εύκολο να συναντήσεις μια θεότητα στον κεντρικό δρόμο των Αθηνών απ’ ότι έναν άνθρωπο.

Wilbur M. Smith, Therefore Stand, σελ. 249.

The reference in the Areopagus address to an altar bearing the inscription “to an unknown God” is in complete accord with the observations of Paul concerning the superstitious religiosity of the Athenians. While no inscriptions containing the precise wording mentioned by the Apostle have yet been found at Athens, such inscribed altars were by no means unknown in various parts of Greece at that period, as indicated by contemporary writers. An altar recovered from the temple of Demeter at Pergamum in 1909 bore a legend somewhat as follows:
“To unknown gods.
Capito,
Torch-bearer”.

R. K. Harrison, Archaeology of the New Testament, σελ. 41.

(Updated) What can a long oral tradition produce (in connection with the Gospels)? / Τι μπορεί να παράξει μια μακρά προφορική μετάδοση (σε σχέση με τα Ευαγγέλια);

Bultmann’s school presupposes what it ought to be obliged to prove, namely, that the four Gospels are late documents based upon a long tradition of oral preaching. It was in the course of the development of these long oral traditions that the episodes narrated in the Gospels were supposedly invented, and the parables of our Lord composed.

Quite apart from the fact that nobody has ever witnessed whole communities producing what the early Christian communities are supposed to have produced, it seems clear that different “traditions” existing in different places would never have resulted in anything but wide diversity and incoherence. A homogeneous result would have been impossible in the case of materials developed in this fashion. Different communities operating under different influences would undoubtedly have produced four gospels as different from each other as are the various gnostic pseudogospels in which all kinds of materials have been indiscriminately thrown together.

Claude Tresmontant, The Hebrew Christ, σελ. 199.

We can always take the easy road of accepting the reigning fashionable opinion. But on the hypothesis of a plurality of independently evolving gospel traditions which resulted in our existing four Gospels, we would never have arrived at usages so precise and consistent. If this hypothesis of plurality of gospel traditions were true, the result would rather have been four gospels that were incoherent and divergent and impossible to reconcile with one another, gospels that were filled with mutual inconsistencies.

If four different traditions had really issued in four different written gospels, they would have been the sort of writings that would have been produced by four different sects, if not by four different religions.

What has to be explained by any viable working hypothesis is the unity of thought among the four Gospels. With the New Testament documents that we in fact have—the four Gospels, the Letters of Paul, the Acts of the Apostles, the Book of Revelation—it is possible to derive a consistent doctrine about God, about Christ, and about the relationship between God and Christ. Why is this possible? It is possible only because all of the different elements of information provided in the various  New Testament sources belong to a coherent and homogeneous logical whole. However, if a number of different Christian communities had each produced its own individual gospel, we would have seen a different Christology issued from each of these divergent sources. But a careful examination of these documents—an examination such as the one we have conducted up to now—resulted in no such thing. The various elements provided in the different documents that make up the small library that has been named, because of a faulty translation, the New Testament, instead give a highly coherent and consistent account of their common subject matter. It is hardly the Christology of a Noetus, or a Praxeas, or a Sabellius that leaps to the eye from the pages of the New Testament; nor is it that of Theodore of Byzantium called “the Currier”. Toward A.D. 180, Noetus of Smyrna taught that Jesus Christ was quite simply God; his was a Christology in which “man” was not involved. When Christ suffered, God suffered; the incarnation was an adventure of God, which did not include any role for man. So much for Noetus.

Theodore the Currier, excommunicated by Pope Victor around A.D. 190, taught the converse. He taught that Christ was merely a man, psilon anthropon. These are the kinds of results obtained by leaving “traditions” to themselves. The various elements which make up the books of the New Testament do not in fact go off on their own. The Christology formulated by Peter in the Acts of the Apostles is wholly consistent with the total message of the New Testament; it is the same Christology the successors of Peter, the popes of Rome, would profess; it is the Christology of such popes as Damasus and Leo.

Claude Tresmontant, The Hebrew Christ, σελ. 200, 201.

What are the sources of the Gospels, and when can they be dated? / Ποιες είναι οι πηγές των Ευαγγελίων, και πότε μπορούν να χρονολογηθούν;

We know that crowds of people, common people, flocked to see our Lord and to hear him speak; many of these people no doubt knew neither how to read nor how to write. Nevertheless we also know that some of the disciples of Jesus were learned men, students of the Book. The author of the fourth Gospel depicts some of these educated disciples. It is a priori impossible that those disciples who did know how to read and write, and who spent their lives in the study of the sacred Hebrew Scriptures, would never have taken notes on what Jesus said, or written down what he did. The sayings of the ancient Hebrew prophets had, after all, been set down in writing. And the disciples of Jesus considered him to be much, much greater than any of the earlier prophets. Thus they would surely have written down his words, his teachings and his actions almost as soon as they had issued from him.

It is the opposite hypothesis that is unthinkable and absurd, namely, that nothing was ever written down about Jesus by his contemporaries, especially when we take into account the milieu in which our Lord lived and worked. He did not appear among some primitive Amazon tribe; the Jewish people probably boasted the highest literacy rate of antiquity when we consider the seriousness with which the Jews studied the Hebrew sacred Scriptures.

Claude Tresmontant, The Hebrew Christ, σελ. 192, 193.

In asserting that documents written in Hebrew lie behind the present Greek text of our four Gospels, we are, of course, proceeding by way of a hypothesis. Here, however, we are dealing with a hypothesis that has to be true-indeed, has to be considered certain-because it is the only hypothesis capable of explaining all the features that we find in the Greek text of the Gospels. The contrary hypothesis is that a long tradition of oral preaching and transmission preceded the setting down in writing at a comparatively late date of the Greek text of the four Gospels as we presently possess it. This contrary hypothesis is the one preferred by a majority of biblical scholars today, as has been the case for more than a century. But this hypothesis appears absurd on its face, especially when we consider the total milieu within which our Lord lived and taught. Why would the scribes and rabbis and people educated in the Hebrew Scriptures included among those who heard and followed Jesus have abstained or somehow forbidden themselves from ever noting down in writing anything about the remarkable personage with whom they were dealing? Why would they have waited so long-many say until the end of the first century-before setting down in writing their “traditions”? And how could those oral “traditions”, which by definition constituted separate strands of the original proclamation of the Good News preserved in different local churches, ever have resulted in the kind of textual results in the Gospels that we have been examining here with some care? Our analysis points rather to under1ying Hebrew texts that were themselves closely related.

Claude Tresmontant, The Hebrew Christ, σελ. 197.

Does the expression «εὐθέως δὲ μετὰ» (“immediately after” [ESV]) of Matthew 24:29 necessarily involve chronological order? / Περιλαμβάνει οπωσδήποτε χρονολογική σειρά η έκφραση «εὐθέως δὲ μετὰ» του Ματθαίου 24:29;

Moving on to other examples, we may note how observers have been aware for a very long time that the Gospel according to Mark makes very frequent use of the Greek adverb ευθύς. In classical Greek, this word signified “immediately,” “at once,” or “forthwith.” Our modern translators have therefore often translated it that way; however, they have surely erred in doing so as far as the New Testament is concerned. Where Matthew tended to employ the adverb ευθέως which also means “immediately,” Mark consistently preferred the adverb ευθύς.

Now the Greek adverb ευθύς is a common translation, one of the accurate possible translations of the Hebrew word hinneh, a word used hundreds if not thousands of times in the Hebrew Old Testament to introduce a fact or an account of something. An example of its common use can be seen in Genesis 24:45: “Before I had done speaking in my heart, behold [hinneh, in Greek ευθύς], Rebekah came out with her water jug on her shoulder.” Another example is found in Genesis 38:29: “But as he drew back his hand, behold [we-hinneh, in Greek ευθύς], his brother came out.”

If, as is the case, the Gospel according to Mark that we possess in finished form in Greek used this adverb ευθύς so frequently, this is because the Hebrew documents from which our present Mark was translated frequently employed the word hinneh in the typical manner of Hebrew narrators.

This usage points to the fact that Mark’s Gospel is indeed a translation. It is a translation made from written Hebrew documents. This particular usage is only one small sign and proof of this, of course. We will be pointing to a number of others.

Claude Tresmontant, The Hebrew Christ, σελ. 85.

When were the Gospels written? / Πότε γράφτηκαν τα Ευαγγέλια;

The following post is quite extensive. Whoever reads it though, will benefit greatly with new insight on this very serious topic of the date of the composition of the Gospels. Η ακόλουθη ανάρτηση είναι εξαιρετικά εκτενής. Όποιος όμως τη διαβάσει θα αποκομίσει νέα δεδομένα σε σχέση με αυτό το πολύ σοβαρό θέμα του χρόνου συγγραφής των Ευαγγελίων.

There are three massive, enormous historical facts in relation to which it is both possible and necessary to situate the four Gospels. And not only the four Gospels: all the writings of the New Testament. These absolutely crucial historical facts, and the dates they occurred, are as follows:

1)  A.D. 70. The assault on Jerusalem that began on August 29; the burning and destruction of the Temple; the burning of the holy city; and, finally, its capture. The city and its ramparts were razed to the ground, except for the towers of the king’s palace.

2) A.D. 64 or 65 (there exist learned discussions as to the actual year). The massacre of the Christians initiated by the Roman emperor Nero.

3) Around A.D. 36. The commencement of the preaching of the word of God, the good news of salvation announced by the Galilean rabbi Jesus to the uncircumcised pagans. This began after the first Christian martyr, Stephen, had been stoned to death.

In his book Redating the New Testament, the illustrious English biblical scholar, Bishop John A. T. Robinson, has thoroughly discussed the implications for the New Testament writings of the first of these three massive, enormous historical facts, namely, the capture, burning, and destruction of Jerusa­lem and the Temple by the Roman armies of Titus in August and September of the year A.D. 70. The fact on which Robinson has based his work had been previously noticed, but the credit for fleshing out this fact with a sustained and comprehensive argument rightly belongs to Robinson. The fact in question is that not a single one of the New Testament writings, in the Greek versions in which we possess them, seems to evidence any awareness whatsoever of the simply immense fact of the capture, destruction, and burning of Jerusalem and the Temple. There is no trace of this calamity in any of the New Testament writings. Apparently, nobody had ever heard of these events at the time the New Testament writings were set down in written form.

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About the discrepancies of the Gospels / Περί των διαφορών των Ευαγγελίων

Everyone is familiar with what happens when several different people take notes on the same university course; or when several witnesses report something that is said or done in a public street; or when more than one person attempts to report what somebody has said in a public speech, out in the street, or, indeed, even in a private conversation. Several different persons witness the same event; they hear the same identical words. Each person, however, notes what seems most important to him; or what seems most interesting; or what seems most characteristic of the speaker.

A priori, we would expect the same sort of thing in the case of the notes or collections of notes taken down by the disciples of Jesus. What was noted down by one would not be exactly the same as what was noted down by another. There was, indeed, a common body of materia1. This is easily explained by the fact that the origin or source of all the information was the same, namely, the Galilean rabbi; he was the sole source of everything that was reported. There were, however, differences or divergences in what was reported. This was the case for the simple reason that one reporter does not record exactly the same things recorded by other reporters. We need only examine the notebooks of a number of students taking the same course in order to verify what happens in cases of this kind. These student notebooks will exhibit both quantitative and qualitative variations that can be explained by the intelligence, the capacity, the background, the preparation, and the attention of each student. The information they take in will be more or less accurately heard, more or less correctly understood, more or less faithfully taken down, and more or less convincingly summed up, depending on each student.

If we consider all this from the point of view of the totality of what the Galilean rabbi actually said and did, as our unique source of all the various information, then it is clear that a fair amount was lost in transmission, depending upon whether the hearers who were taking down what he said were more or less educated, or whether they took notes more or less accurately of what he in fact said. The information received was not in all respects exactly the same as the information that was transmitted. The total information emanating from the source—Christ the Lord—has not been handed down or passed on in its totality. It has certainly not been understood in its totality. It was received in diverse ways, according to the individual capacities of those who received it. It is only to be expected, again a priori, that the existing notes or collections of notes would similarly be characterized by differences of both quantity and quality.

Claude Tresmontant, The Hebrew Christ, σελ. 6.

Είναι ο Θεός της Παλιάς Διαθήκης διαφορετικός από τον Θεό της Καινής Διαθήκης; / Is the God of the Old Testament different from the God of the New Testament?

Does not the Old Testament present a different God (cruel and revengeful) from the New Testament (God full of love)?

God full of love in the
Old Testament

Deuteronomy 7:8

Psalms 103:13, 17

Psalms 136

Jeremiah 31:3

Micah 7:18

Joel 2:13

God full of love in the
New Testament

John 3:16

Romans 8:31-38

1 John 4:8

The Old Testament teaches to love your “neighbor”

Exodus 23:4f

Proverbs 25:21

1 Samuel 24:6, 7

2 Kings 6:22

Revengeful God in the New Testament

John 3:36

Romans 1:18

Romans 2:5, 6

2 Thessalonians 1:6-9

Revelation 6:15-17

Revelation 14:9-11

The personality of God is the same from the begging of the Old Testament to the end of the New Testament.

 

Δεν παρουσιάζει η Παλαιά Διαθήκη ένα διαφορετικό Θεό (σκληρός και εκδικητικός) από την Καινή Διαθήκη (Θεός αγάπης);

Θεός αγάπης στην Παλαιά Διαθήκη

Δευτερονόμιο 7:8

Ψαλμός 103:13, 17

Ψαλμός 136

Ιερεμίας 31:3

Μιχαίας 7:18

Ιωήλ 2:13

Θεός αγάπης στην Καινή Διαθήκη

Ιωάννης 3:16

Ρωμαίους 8:31-38

1 Ιωάννη 4:8

Η Π.Δ. διδάσκει την αγάπη προς τον πλησίον

Έξοδος 23:4f

Παροιμίες 25:21

1 Σαμ. 24:6, 7

2 Βασ. 6:22

Θεός τιμωρός στην Καινή Διαθήκη

Ιωάννης 3:36

Ρωμαίους 1:18

Ρωμαίους 2:5, 6

2 Θεσσαλονικείς 1:6-9

Αποκάλυψη 6:15-17

Αποκάλυψη 14:9-11

Η προσωπικότητα του Θεού είναι συνεπής από την αρχή της Παλαιάς Διαθήκης έως το τέλος της Καινής Διαθήκης.

Περί του χρόνου συγγραφής των Ευαγγελίων / About when the Gospels were written

Why could not the majority of the passages in the Gospels, or at least bits and pieces of them, have been written down shortly after, or even during, the earthly life of Jesus?

The apostles began preaching the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ from the time the Holy Spirit descended upon them on the day of Pentecost. What would have prevented them from also having set down in written form from the very beginning the essentials of their preaching? Or within the next few decades at least? What would have prevented some of their hearers from taking notes on their preaching, the preaching of the apostles? Why, finally, decades later would the evangelical literary activity suddenly be begun along very similar lines, but in widely separated places?

Why could there not have been an oral transmission, especially an oral preaching, accompanied by a simultaneous setting down in writing of at least some of the key stories, words, and larger narratives such as the accounts of the passion of Christ? All of these events took place within a Jewish milieu which had been characterized for centuries by the existence of the sacred books of the Old Covenant; they took place in a milieu in which Aramaic and Hebrew were the favored means of communication.

Why cannot the background of persecutions of the Christians that can already be read between the lines of the Gospels refer to the persecutions of the years A.D. 35 to 65? Why could not these persecutions have been those that arose out of the con­flicts between “the religion of Moses”, maintained in the synagogues, and the “new Way”? This hypothesis fits the texts better than the hypothesis that the Roman persecutions beginning under Nero from A.D. 64 on are the ones referred to. The New Testament writings almost never warn against the Romans; they almost always warn against the votaries of the religion of Moses.

Or, let us consider the usual interpretation of “the sign of Jonah”, as mentioned in the New Testament. Could the references to this really be to the beginnings of preaching the good news to non-Jews? The latter effort began with Paul around the years A.D. 45-50. This preaching was enthusiastically received by the non-Jewish pagans, just as, according to the Old Testament, the preaching of Jonah was received by the inhabitants of Nineveh.

Then there is the eloquent silence of the written Gospels on the subject of the destruction of the Jewish Temple. The destruction of the Temple had profound consequences for the entire Jewish world. What can we make of the typically prophetic biblical style that announces future events, if the Gospels were truly written after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD. 70?

This list of examples could be extended.

Claude Tresmontant, The Hebrew Christ, σελ. x, xi.

All this appears clearly when we study the Gospel according to Matthew. This Gospel is a translation into Greek of documents that were first written in Hebrew. This translation is a very ancient one. It does not date only from the end of the first century A.D., as the majority of exegetes still hold today. All the indications, signs, and characteristics in the book we call the Gospel according to Matthew point to a very ancient period, a period only shortly after the momentous events of A.D. 30—certainly before the first joyous proclamation of the good news of Christ to the pagans and the uncircumcised which occurred around A.D. 36-40. There is absolutely nothing in this Gospel that would lead us to suppose that it was composed later; there is no text, nor any fragment of a text; there is not so much as a mark; there is nothing. The claim that the Gospel according to Matthew was only composed toward the end of the first century is a totally arbitrary claim. The only thing this claim has going for it is the fact that the majority opinion among exegetes today supports it. That is simply to say that the opinion rests upon nothing but itself. This view is the plainest kind of begging of the question: the majority of exegetes today hold to this view; therefore, this is the view that must be held to. There is no more logic to the position than that.

The history of sciences amply demonstrates that this sort of attitude and behavior, that is, following the prevailing opinion among those in a given field, whether cosmology, physics, biology, medicine, or what have you, has for many centuries been a major cause of the persistence of gross errors in all these disciplines. That a majority holds a given view is not an argument in science; every scholar or researcher is obliged in conscience to examine his own discipline and to ask himself what the assumptions and presuppositions in his discipline that are taken for granted really consist of and what kind of basis they rest on. The history of science also demonstrates that, when a scholar or researcher does undertake to look honestly at the presuppositions and a prioris in his field, the results are often surprising and sometimes even revolutionary.

Claude Tresmontant, The Hebrew Christ, σελ. 9, 10.

Το παράδοξο της χαράς του Χριστού /The paradox of the joy of Christ

When we come to the public ministry of the last days of our Lord we are face to face with a most astonishing fact, namely that it was in the last twenty-four hours of Jesus’ life on earth, that He spoke more frequently both of peace and joy than He did in all the rest of His three years of preaching and teaching combined, as far as the records inform us. It was on this last night that Jesus Himself was betrayed by Judas, He was denied by Peter, He was hated by the world, He was rejected by His own brethren, He was mistreated by the soldiers, He was about to suffer every indignity physical and mental. He knew within twenty-four hours He would be nailed to a cross, He was Him­self in such agony that He shed as it were drops of blood and cried out that His own soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death. And yet it was in this very twenty-four hour period, which in many ways may be called the darkest night in human history, that Jesus spoke exclusively of His own joy. I do not find Him speaking of His own joy in any other passage in the New Testament. Let us recall his words: “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” “And ye therefore now have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no one taketh away from you . . . Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be made full.” “But now I come to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy made full in themselves.”[1] At the same time our Lord continually referred to His own peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fear­ful.” “These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”[2] After He was raised from the dead it was this peace that He so desired His disciples to possess. “When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had said this, he showed unto them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord. Jesus therefore said to them again, Peace be unto you: as the Father hath sent me, even so send I you . . . And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.”[3] What gave our Lord this peace and joy? I think the same thing that gives us peace and joy. Paul says we have these two precious things in believ­ing. Christ as a Man had them likewise in believing, in the things He knew, in the things He was sure of, in His knowledge of His father, of Himself, His work and of the future.


[1] Ιωά. 15:11· 16:22-24· 17:13.

[2] Ιωά. 14:27· 16:33

[3] Ιωά. 20:19-21, 26.

Wilbur Smith, Therefore Stand, σελ. 470, 471.

Το στοιχείο που συνηγορεί υπέρ της πραγματικότητας της εμφάνισης του Κυρίου Ιησού Χριστού στο Σαύλο / About the actuality of Christ’s appearance to Saul

The late Professor Doremus A. Hayes, in a volume which is exceptionally helpful, The Resurrection Fact, well reminds us of a number of important details concerning the actuality of this appearance: “It was a veritable appearance of the Resurrected One, but it was different in one respect at least from all which had preceded it. Those appearances had been to believers, disciples, and friends only. This appearance was to the most active enemy the Christian church had. Stephen saw the Risen One when he was filled with the Spirit. Saul had been filled with nothing but hate for this impostor and His cause. He was in no psychological condition for apocalyptical revelation. He was at the farthest remove from the possibility of an ecstatic vision. Nothing but a sudden, unexpected, objective, irresistible revelation of the Resurrected One Himself in the majesty of His divine power could convince and convert a man like Saul. It was such an appearance which was given him.

Wilbur Smith, Therefore Stand, σελ.413.

Μεθοδολογία στη μελέτη των μυστηριακών θρησκειών και της πρώιμης χριστιανοσύνης / Methodology in the study of the mystery religions and early Christianity

Methodology in the study of the
mystery religions and early Christianity

(Historical and literary studies,
pagan, Jewish and Christian, 1968)

By Bruce M. Metzger

From the days of the Renaissance and Reformation to the present, the Mystery Religions of antiquity have engaged the attention of classical scholars and theologians alike.[1] During what may be called the precritical stage of the study of this subject, it was commonly believed that by the Mysteries a constant succession of priests or hierophants transmitted from age to age an esoteric doctrine, better and nobler than that of the popular religion.[2] Whether this recondite (δυσνόητος, μυστηριώδης) science had been derived originally from the hidden wisdom of India or Egypt, or from the Old Testament, or even from a primitive revelation to all mankind, was debated with characteristic disregard for historical methodology.   

The first scholar who made an exhaustive and critical examination of the statements of ancient authors regarding the Mysteries was Christian August Lobeck.[3] Although Lobeck confined his attention to the Eleusinian, the Orphic, and the Samothracian Mysteries, his monograph, published in 1829, was of the greatest importance in the inauguration of a new era in the scientific study of the subject in general. A great deal of rubbish and pseudo-learning was swept aside, and it became possible to discuss intelligently the rites and teachings of the Mysteries.[4]

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Τι σχέση έχει ο ιωάννειος «Λόγος» με το «Λόγο» της ελληνικής φιλοσοφίας; / Johannine Logos compared with Greek philosophy Logos

The ‘Logos’ occurs in the earliest period of Greek philosophy in Heraclitus, and then especially in Stoicism. Here it is the cosmic law which rules the universe and at the same time is present in the human intellect. It is thus an abstraction, not a hypostasis. Therefore, although the Stoics too, spoke of the Logos, and although they too could say that the Logos was ‘in the beginning’, nevertheless, with their impersonal, pantheistic World Soul they meant something quite different from the Johannine Logos. Platonism also uses the concept. Its view of the ‘real’ being (in the Platonic, idealistic sense, of course) may come nearer the Johannine view, but it still has nothing to do with a hypostasis, and the idea of the Logos’ ‘becoming flesh’ is quite unthinkable for the Platonist. We must guard against being led by the terminological analogy to read into Greek philosophy the late Jewish or Johannine understanding of the Logos. Even Augustine knew that the complete entrance of the Logos into history and humanity is utterly foreign to Platonism, although formal similarities did lead him to remark that with somewhat different expressions the Platonic books say the same thing about the original Logos that John teaches in his Gospel (Confessions, 7.9). Actually, of course, the similarity between the two is more one of terminology than of content itself.

Οscar Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, σελ. 251, 252.

Συνεπαγόταν ο χριστολογικός τίτλος «Κύριος» οντολογική ταύτιση με τον Θεό για τους πρώτους χριστιανούς; / Did the Christological title “Lord” mean an ontological identification with God for early Christianity?

We have already seen that on the basis of the Kyrios title, the first Christians could apply all statements about God also to Jesus. We would oversimplify the problem, however, and fall into a heresy condemned by the ancient Church if we were to attribute to the New Testament a complete identification between God the Father and Jesus the Kyrios, and maintain that the faith of early Christianity made no distinction at all between the two. The ancient two-part confession in I Cor. 8.6, to which we have already referred in another context, indicates that the early Church by no means forgot the distinction—not even when Christ was recognized as the mediator of creation: ‘. . . for us there is one God, the Father, from (εξ) whom are all things and for (εις) whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through (διά) whom are all things and through whom we exist.’ The use of prepositions makes clear the distinction: εξ and εις with reference to God; διά with reference to Christ. We shall seek in vain for a more precise definition of the original relationship between God the Father and Christ the Kyrios.

Even with the titles ‘Logos’ and ‘Son of God’ we approach a closer definition of this relationship only in so far as they refer directly to the pre-existence of Jesus, his being ‘in the beginning’. But we shall see that these names too do not indicate unity in essence or nature between God and Christ, but rather a unity in the work of revelation, in the function of the pre-existent one. As we have seen, this is also the meaning of the transfer of the divine Kyrios name to Jesus. God and the exalted Jesus are one with regard to world dominion, which is one aspect of God’s self-revelation. It is true that Kyrios has to do primarily with the divine rule of Jesus in the present phase of Heilsgeschichte. But I Cor. 8.6 and Heb. 1.10 ff., for instance, extend the scope of this tide to include also Jesus’ original function as mediator of creation.

We do hear concerning the Logos that ‘In the beginning was the Word . . . the Word was with God, was God.’ But, almost as if the writer of the prologue of John feared further ontological speculation, he moves immediately from being to the act of revelation: ‘All things were made through him… and the Word became flesh.’ The situation is similar with the Son of God concept. Looking at the end rather than at the beginning of time, Paul leads us in I Cor. 15.28 to the very threshold of a complete eschatological absorption of the Son in the Father: ‘When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be all in all.’

It is possible to speak of the Son only in connection with the revelation of God, but in principle at least one can speak of God also apart from revelation. But the New Testament is interested only in revelation. This is the source of the New Testament paradox that the Father and Son are at once one and yet distinct—a paradox which the later Christian theologians could not explain because they attempted to do so by speculative philosophical means.

Οscar Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, σελ. 247, 248.