Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Response to Paul Hoffer

Paul Hoffer, who submits to the dictates pope Benedict XVI, has a misleading article entitled, "A Protestant Proving the Superiority of Scriptural Revelation by Quoting from the Deuterocanonical Book of Wisdom of Solomon." (link to Mr. Hoffer's article)

Let's handle the headline first.

1) The "Protestant" who cited Scripture is me, but the "Protestant" who was proving the Superiority of Scriptural Revelation was Carl F. H. Henry.

2) I quoted Scripture, not the the apocryphal book entitled the "Wisdom of Solomon." In fact I quoted from the inspired books of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and Paul's Epistle to the Romans.

3) I did not quote those passages, in this case, to prove the Superiority of Scriptural Revelation, but simply to distinguish Special Revelation (Scripture and other Prophecy) from General Revelation (aka the light of Nature).

Now, let's turn to the body of Mr. Hoffer's post. After essentially reproducing my post in its entirety, Mr. Hoffer remarks:
Does anyone else find it ironic that the proof texts for the notion that Scriptural Revelation has priority over general revelation that Turretinfan, a Protestant who follows the dictates of John Calvin, offers the reader are two passages where St. Paul is quoting from the Deuterocanonical book of Wisdom of Solomon (Rom. 1:18-23=Wisdom 13:1-9; Hebrews 1:1-4=Wisdom 7:26)?

I answer:
A) Again, note that these are not presented as "proof texts" (though they may well prove the matter, that was not the point) for Carl F.H. Henry's statement, but simply to educate the reader as to the difference between general and special revelation.
B) Although Mr. Hoffer may follow the dictates of Benedict XVI, Pastor Calvin is simply a persuasive authority on Scripture. He was a wise man, but only Scripture has the ability to bind my conscience, not even the words of such a great Christian man as John Calvin.
C) The Apostle Paul was the author of Romans, but the tradition that Paul was the author of Hebrews is questionable at best. There is, in fact, a good Scriptural argument against Pauline authorship of Hebrews, but I do not wish to sidetrack this post with that argument.
D) Paul and the Author of Hebrews do not quote from the Book of Wisdom in the passages of Scripture I quoted.
i) Romans 1:18-23 does not quote Wisdom 13:1-9

Romans 1:18-23
18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

Wisdom 13:1-9
1Surely vain are all men by nature, who are ignorant of God, and could not out of the good things that are seen know him that is: neither by considering the works did they acknowledge the workmaster; 2But deemed either fire, or wind, or the swift air, or the circle of the stars, or the violent water, or the lights of heaven, to be the gods which govern the world. 3With whose beauty if they being delighted took them to be gods; let them know how much better the Lord of them is: for the first author of beauty hath created them. 4But if they were astonished at their power and virtue, let them understand by them, how much mightier he is that made them. 5For by the greatness and beauty of the creatures proportionably the maker of them is seen. 6But yet for this they are the less to be blamed: for they peradventure err, seeking God, and desirous to find him. 7For being conversant in his works they search him diligently, and believe their sight: because the things are beautiful that are seen. 8Howbeit neither are they to be pardoned. 9For if they were able to know so much, that they could aim at the world; how did they not sooner find out the Lord thereof?

Undoubtedly, there is a similarity of theme between the two, but the relation is not Paul quoting the Wisdom of Solomon. In case you think the issue is the translation (both are taken from the King James Version above), I have provided the Greek original and Latin Vulgate translations below.

ii) Likewise Hebrews 1:1-4 is not quoting from Wisdom 7:26.

Hebrews 1:1-4
1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; 4Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

Wisdom 7:26 For she is the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of his goodness.

Again, there is some similarity between the description of "Wisdom" in the book of Wisdom and the description of Jesus in the book of Hebrews, but the author of the latter is not quoting from the former. Again, in case you think the issue is the translation (both are taken from the King James Version above), I have provided the Greek original and Latin Vulgate translations below in the respective Greek and Latin appendices.
E) Even if Paul and the author of Hebrews had quoted from the uninspired book popularly called the "Wisdom of Solomon," that would not be particularly significant. After all, Paul wrote to Titus:

Titus 1:12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.

Yet no one believes that the pre-Christian Cretan poet Epimenides authored Holy Scriptures. If Paul drew on uninspired pagan poets, it would be no surprise that Paul might draw on uninspired Hellenstic Jewish writers as well. Thus, even if Paul were quoting or even merely plagiarizing Wisdom, it would really have no particular bearing on the canon issue, as Mr. Hoffer seems inclined to suggest.

In short, with all due respect to Mr. Hoffer, I don't find any real merit in his post.

-TurretinFan

Latin Appendix

Romans 1:18-23
18revelatur enim ira Dei de caelo super omnem impietatem et iniustitiam hominum eorum qui veritatem in iniustitiam detinent 19quia quod notum est Dei manifestum est in illis Deus enim illis manifestavit 20invisibilia enim ipsius a creatura mundi per ea quae facta sunt intellecta conspiciuntur sempiterna quoque eius virtus et divinitas ut sint inexcusabiles 21quia cum cognovissent Deum non sicut Deum glorificaverunt aut gratias egerunt sed evanuerunt in cogitationibus suis et obscuratum est insipiens cor eorum 22dicentes enim se esse sapientes stulti facti sunt 23et mutaverunt gloriam incorruptibilis Dei in similitudinem imaginis corruptibilis hominis et volucrum et quadrupedum et serpentium

Wisdom 13:1-9
1vani sunt autem omnes homines quibus non subest scientia Dei et de his quae videntur bona non potuerunt intellegere eum qui est neque operibus adtendentes agnoverunt quis esset artifex 2sed aut ignem aut spiritum aut citatum aerem aut gyrum stellarum aut nimiam aquam aut solem et lunam rectores orbis terrarum deos putaverunt 3quorum si specie delectati deos putaverunt sciant quanto dominator eorum speciosior est speciei enim generator haec omnia constituit 4aut si virtutem et opera eorum mirati sunt intellegant ab ipsis quoniam qui haec constituit fortior est illis 5a magnitudine enim speciei et creaturae cognoscibiliter poterit horum creator videri 6sed tamen adhuc in his minor est querella et hii enim fortassis errant Deum quaerentes et volentes invenire 7etenim cum in operibus illius conversentur inquirunt et persuasum habent quoniam bona sunt quae videntur 8iterum autem nec his debet ignosci 9si enim tantum potuerunt scire ut possent aestimare saeculum quomodo huius Dominum non facilius invenerunt

Hebrews 1:1-4
1multifariam et multis modis olim Deus loquens patribus in prophetis 2novissime diebus istis locutus est nobis in Filio quem constituit heredem universorum per quem fecit et saecula 3qui cum sit splendor gloriae et figura substantiae eius portansque omnia verbo virtutis suae purgationem peccatorum faciens sedit ad dexteram Maiestatis in excelsis 4tanto melior angelis effectus quanto differentius prae illis nomen hereditavit

Wisdom 7:26 candor est enim lucis aeternae et speculum sine macula Dei maiestatis et imago bonitatis illius

Greek Appendix

Romans 1:18-23
18 αποκαλυπτεται γαρ οργη θεου απ ουρανου επι πασαν ασεβειαν και αδικιαν ανθρωπων των την αληθειαν εν αδικια κατεχοντων 19διοτι το γνωστον του θεου φανερον εστιν εν αυτοις ο γαρ θεος αυτοις εφανερωσεν 20τα γαρ αορατα αυτου απο κτισεως κοσμου τοις ποιημασιν νοουμενα καθοραται η τε αιδιος αυτου δυναμις και θειοτης εις το ειναι αυτους αναπολογητους 21διοτι γνοντες τον θεον ουχ ως θεον εδοξασαν η ευχαριστησαν αλλ εματαιωθησαν εν τοις διαλογισμοις αυτων και εσκοτισθη η ασυνετος αυτων καρδια 22φασκοντες ειναι σοφοι εμωρανθησαν 23και ηλλαξαν την δοξαν του αφθαρτου θεου εν ομοιωματι εικονος φθαρτου ανθρωπου και πετεινων και τετραποδων και ερπετων

Wisdom 13:1-9
1Μάταιοι μὲν γὰρ πάντες ἄνθρωποι φύσει, οἷς παρῆν θεοῦ ἀγνωσία καὶ ἐκ τῶν ὁρωμένων ἀγαθῶν οὐκ ἴσχυσαν εἰδέναι τὸν ὄντα οὔτε τοῖς ἔργοις προσέχοντες ἐπέγνωσαν τὸν τεχνίτην, 2ἀλλ᾿ ἢ πῦρ ἢ πνεῦμα ἢ ταχινὸν ἀέρα ἢ κύκλον ἄστρων ἢ βίαιον ὕδωρ ἢ φωστῆρας οὐρανοῦ πρυτάνεις κόσμου θεοὺς ἐνόμισαν. 3ὧν εἰ μὲν τῇ καλλονῇ τερπόμενοι ταῦτα θεοὺς ὑπελάμβανον, γνώτωσαν πόσῳ τούτων ὁ δεσπότης ἐστὶ βελτίων, ὁ γὰρ τοῦ κάλλους γενεσιάρχης ἔκτισεν αὐτά· 4εἰ δὲ δύναμιν καὶ ἐνέργειαν ἐκπλαγέντες, νοησάτωσαν ἀπ᾿ αὐτῶν πόσῳ ὁ κατασκευάσας αὐτὰ δυνα τώτερός ἐστιν· 5ἐκ γὰρ μεγέθους καὶ καλλονῆς κτισμάτων ἀναλόγως ὁ γενεσιουργὸς αὐτῶν θεωρεῖται. 6ἀλλ᾿ ὅμως ἐπὶ τούτοις μέμψις ἐστὶν ὀλίγη, καὶ γὰρ αὐτοὶ τάχα πλανῶνται θεὸν ζητοῦντες καὶ θέλοντες εὑρεῖν· 7ἐν γὰρ τοῖς ἔργοις αὐτοῦ ἀναστρεφόμενοι διερευνῶσιν καὶ πείθονται τῇ ὄψει, ὅτι καλὰ τὰ βλεπόμενα. 8πάλιν δ᾿ οὐδ᾿ αὐτοὶ συγγνωστοί· 9εἰ γὰρ τοσοῦτον ἴσχυσαν εἰδέναι ἵνα δύνωνται στοχάσασθαι τὸν αἰῶνα, τὸν τούτων δεσπότην πῶς τάχιον οὐχ εὗρον;

Hebrews 1:1-4
1πολυμερως και πολυτροπως παλαι ο θεος λαλησας τοις πατρασιν εν τοις προφηταις επ εσχατων των ημερων τουτων ελαλησεν ημιν εν υιω 2ον εθηκεν κληρονομον παντων δι ου και τους αιωνας εποιησεν 3ος ων απαυγασμα της δοξης και χαρακτηρ της υποστασεως αυτου φερων τε τα παντα τω ρηματι της δυναμεως αυτου δι εαυτου καθαρισμον ποιησαμενος των αμαρτιων ημων εκαθισεν εν δεξια της μεγαλωσυνης εν υψηλοις 4τοσουτω κρειττων γενομενος των αγγελων οσω διαφορωτερον παρ αυτους κεκληρονομηκεν ονομα

Wisdom 7:26 ἀπαύγασμα γάρ ἐστιν φωτὸς ἀιδίου καὶ ἔσοπτρον ἀκηλίδωτον τῆς τοῦ θεοῦ ἐνεργείας καὶ εἰκὼν τῆς ἀγαθότητος αὐτοῦ.

9 comments:

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi TF, I agree with you that my choice of the word "quote" was quite poor on my part. I will endeavor to be more precise on my part in the future. I also appreciate the fact that you recognize that there are similarities between the texts paticularly between Romans 1:18-23 and Wisdom 13:1-9.

You said, "Yet no one believes that the pre-Christian Cretan poet Epimenides authored Holy Scriptures." I agree with you there, however, that is a different story with the Deuterocanonical books which many people do contend are part of the Holy Scriptures and which to my knowledge, (limited though it may be)almost every ECF including Athanasius and Jerome cited to as Scripture. Thus, there is a big difference between Paul citing to uninspired pagan poets versus the "Hellenistic Jewish" writers of the Deuterocanonical works which the Church does recognize as Scripture. Thus, it does have a bearing here if Paul is "quoting or even merely plagiarizing Wisdom" as I am inclined to suggest.

Thank you for commenting on my article! As I noted in my nota bene, I acknowledged that I would make mistakes and the use of the word "quote" this instance certainly qualifies in my book.

God bless!

GeneMBridges said...

You and your readers may find this of note:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/02/wisdom-of-solomon.html

I wonder, does Mr. Hoffer's theory of inspiration apply to pious frauds?


Steve has already dealt with these objections:

On Romans,Paul is not quoting Wisdom. He's quoting
Ps 106:20-21; Jer 2:11 & 10:14.
Job 12:7-9; Ps 19:1-4, & Isa 40:26.
Gen 1:20,24,26-27; Deut 4:15-19, & Ps 106:20
Try Deut 23:17-18; 1 Kgs 14:24, & 15:12.

And if Paul is quoting Wisdom, I would add it does so because Wisdom is using the OT.

Turretinfan said...

Thanks for the retraction.

With respect to the issue of acceptance of the so-called Deuterocanonicals, it is simply not the case that Jerome (one of the very few ECFs that knew Hebrew) accepted them as the canonical Scriptures.

What is more significant, of course, is that the Jews rejected them as canonical Scripture, and Christ endorsed the Jewish canon, as I recently noted in my debate with Mr. Bellisario.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Michael,

I appreciate your comment, and have taken it to heart.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Dear Gene,

Thanks for that additional information.

I have noticed that Wisdom frequently makes use of the Old Testament, sometimes even quoting directly from it.

Since I believe the book of Wisdom to be a reflection of the views of ancient believers, it does not surprise me to see them drawing from the same well as Paul drew, albeit without the inspiration Paul had.

-TurretinFan

Paul Hoffer said...

Hello Mr. Bridges, Of course, that is your non-authoritative opinion that St. Paul is referencing those sources and not Wisdom.

It is my understanding that the Book of Wisdom was something that was prominently taught in the Pharisaic schools. Given that Paul, a Pharisee and the son of Pharisees, was taught at the knees of Gamaliel, a Pharisaic Rabban, who remained a Pharisee even after his conversion, I believe it is a fair assumption that the reference in Romans is to Wisdom.

Thank you for the links and the courtesy you have shown me. I will try to read what is written there sometime.

Turretinfan said...

PH wrote: "Of course, that is your non-authoritative opinion that St. Paul is referencing those sources and not Wisdom."

Unless you are saying that your opinion is authoritative, I hardly see the value in qualifying Mr. Bridge's comments that way. I am sure you don't mean that. If Mr. Bridge's comments are reasonable, just judge them that way.

PH wrote: "It is my understanding that the Book of Wisdom was something that was prominently taught in the Pharisaic schools."

I am not certain this wrong, but I have not seen it demonstrated. It's certainly not something found in Scripture.

"Given that Paul, a Pharisee and the son of Pharisees, was taught at the knees of Gamaliel, a Pharisaic Rabban, who remained a Pharisee even after his conversion, I believe it is a fair assumption that the reference in Romans is to Wisdom."

It's certain that Paul was familiar with the Old Testament. It is less certain that Paul was familiar with the book of Wisdom. Furthermore, since the book of Wisdom is (in a number of places) itself derived from Scripture, it does not seem likely that Paul would have relied solely on a secondary source, but that Paul would have returned to the font of knowledge - to the Scriptures that are able to make one wise unto salvation.

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

Paul,

you wrote this in response to a commentor: [[I believe it is a fair assumption that the reference in Romans is to Wisdom.]]

I was reading Scripture this morning and came across this idea from the Book of Acts that sheds some more light on this resistant position some are taking against you:

Act 7:22 And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.


I wanted to observe that just as we "know" from the Scriptures, as our primary source, that Moses too was fully aware of the "wisdom" of Egypt and as you noted about the Apostle, he too was certainly aware of the "wisdom" of his day, Paul, being an educated man and from a family of means, all these men seem in their later writings came to the same sense about Wisdom as one Agur, whose words are now apart of the Book of the Proverbs of Solomon, the wisest man to ever live the Scriptures teach us:

Pro 30:1 The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle. The man declares, I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out.
Pro 30:2 Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man.
Pro 30:3 I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.


Could it be that as one "learns" the various kinds of worldly and Godly "wisdom" out there to be learned we learn "Wisdom" is not all it is made out to be?

Maybe God's "Wisdom" has a "voice" that, as in these several men's cases noted above by me, has led them away from such worldly teachings and writings such as the book of Wisdom to which you seem to be narrowly focused in defense of your Roman Catholicism?

Just an observation and a question for you to consider. What do you think?

My guess is that unless and until the Spirit of Grace and Wisdom fills your heart and mind and you begin to put into practice according to this admonition from Paul, you will find a fair measure of resistance to your beliefs by those of us who have indeed been filled with the Spirit of Grace and Wisdom:

Rom 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Rom 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Rom 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

GeneMBridges said...

Hello Mr. Bridges, Of course, that is your non-authoritative opinion that St. Paul is referencing those sources and not Wisdom.

Actually, I'm quite capable of arguing my points and not merely asserting them.

Rome has never defined these quotes, so we're left with your nonauthoritative opinion on what Paul was using as his reference material. Why should I believe you?

And, like I said, if Paul was alluding to Wisdom, then it is because Wisdom is using the OT.

So, your reply doesn't get you where you want to go.

In addition, to anticipate another possible response, just because a NT writer alludes to a text, it does not thereby infer anything about the relative authority with which he viewed that text.

Given that Paul, a Pharisee and the son of Pharisees, was taught at the knees of Gamaliel, a Pharisaic Rabban, who remained a Pharisee even after his conversion, I believe it is a fair assumption that the reference in Romans is to Wisdom

"A fair assumption" does not an argument make.

Who should I believe, you or the standard commentary on Wisdom which says:

“Thus the author of Wisd is quite capable of constructing sentences in true period style (12:27; 13:11-15), and his fondness for compound words is almost Aeschylean. His manner at times has the light tough of Greek lyric poetry (17:17-19; 2:6-9; 5:9-13), and occasionally his words fall into an iambic or hexameter rhythm. He employs…Greek philosophical terminology,” D. Winston, the Wisdom of Solomon: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Doubleday 1979), 15-16.

“These characteristics, in addition to the author’s many favorite ‘theme words and expressions which recur throughout the work, argue for unity of authorship, and make the hypothesis that Wisd is a translation of a Hebrew original virtually untenable,” ibid. 16-17."

Question: Does your theory of inspiration apply to pious frauds?

It is my understanding that the Book of Wisdom was something that was prominently taught in the Pharisaic schools. Given that Paul, a Pharisee and the son of Pharisees, was taught at the knees of Gamaliel, a Pharisaic Rabban, who remained a Pharisee even after his conversion, I believe it is a fair assumption that the reference in Romans is to Wisdom.

Hmmm, that would depend on your dating of the book. Quoting again:

“No consensus has thus far emerged regarding the date of Wisd, and various scholars have place it anywhere between 220 BCE and 50 CE,” ibid 20.

“There are further considerations, however, which point to the reign of Gaius ‘Caligula’ (37:41 CE) as the likeliest setting for Wisd,” ibid. 23.

Now, Paul would have been born ca. 5. Caligula was murdered around 40. So, if Wisdom was in use by the Pharisees, it was very late. The Pharisees were Palestinian Jews, why would they be using a book that is full of neo-Platonic/Greek ideas, when they were the very sorts of Jews who openly tried to separate themselves from such influences?

If Paul did use Wisdom, it would be because he wanted to accommodate himself to his audience, not because of (a) any authority he believed the text to have, (b) anything he had likely been taught by the Pharisees. But why use that text, for which there is no record of its canonicity among the Jews, and not the OT itself? And remember, the Talmud is generally believed to enshrine Pharisaic Judaism. So you'd have to argue that they accepted it and then rejected it for some reason. In addition, the general argument for his use of Wisdom here is that he is using it as a debate partner. What is the textual reason for this? How is that derived from the text itself?

In other words: Where are your supporting arguments?