Saturday, October 04, 2008

Jeeves' Job

Steve Hays at Triablogue has a provocative post that lures in his readers (while ruffling their feathers) with this opening line: "Watching Catholic laymen defend Catholicism is like watching a dutiful butler put his drunken master to bed." (link) Since some of my most thoughtful readers (whose comments I much appreciate, even when I do not immediately post them) would probably fit into the general category Steve is trying to address, I figured they would like to know what is being said about them.


Proverbs 1:8-9

Proverbs 1:8-9
8My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: 9For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.

The first commandment of the second table of the law is "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." (Exodus 20:12) (Deuteronomy 5:16 Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.)

To God, this is of enormous importance. Recall Jesus' own summary of the law in this regard: "For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death." (Matthew 15:4) Failure to honor father OR mother was a capital crime under the Old Testament civil law, and that was just because it is dishonoring to God when we dishonor our parents.

But notice the more specific instruction in this parable. The commands/instructions of one's parents are compared to ornaments on the head and chains around the neck. The picture is essentially one of the commands and instructions being jewelry. Something of incredible intrinsic value as well as beauty.

The word "grace" here is also significant. These are not just gaudy baubles or priceless treasures, they are good for you. The commandments of one's parents are for one's good. By following the instructions, one benefits. This is not only clear from the proverb, but also from the commandment itself, "that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee ...." Of course, this should be understood as a general rule, not an absolute promise, and certainly not as an algorithm for longevity.

This couplet provides a few additional interesting points from a grammatical view. Notice that "hear" and "do not forsake" are paralleled, just as "instruction" and "law" are paralleled, and just as "ornament ... unto thy head" and "chains about thy neck" are paralleled. These parallel constructions help us understand what is meant.

On the one hand, if it simply said, "chains about thy neck," we might be unsure whether that was referring to golden chains (like a necklace) or to iron chains (like a slave collar). The use of two similar statements together can help to make the intended concept clearer.

It should be noted that not only the father, but the mother is mentioned. Partly this is for the sake of make an elegant parallel, but at the same time it indicates that a young man needs to honor not only the law of his father, but also the subordinate law of his mother. Husband and wife are not equals within the family, but both are over the children, and both must be obeyed (Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Colosians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.).

Furthermore, such a parallel structure can give us insight into the meaning of the words involved. "Instruction" (מוּסר - musar) and "law" (תּרה - torah) have a similar sense to one another. In some cases, finding parallel structures like this can help to illustrate the overlapping semantic ranges of the words used.

The same principle applies to "hear" (שׁמע - shama) and "forsake not" (ואל־תטשׁ - al natash). The point is not just not to fall asleep when you parents are talking but to obey. Do what is commanded of you by your parents.

Ultimately, this proverb is not only generally commending the instructions of all parents to their children, but is commending the Word of God in Scripture to the child of God.

Recall the parallel that Jesus made:

Matthew 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

So then how much better is it for us to follow the law of our Heavenly Father than to follow the law of our earthly fathers. They may mean us well, but they are fallible humans. Sometimes they make mistakes, and they may not always know what is best for us (even though they desire to give us the best).

Our Father in heaven, however, is able to give good commands and laws to us. Let us then seize for ourselves these divine ornaments of grace by hearing not forsaking the instructions and laws of God - for the communication of the law of God to us is favor, and it is to our benefit to obey.

Original (Hebrew)
Proverbs 1:8-9
8שׁמע בני מוסר אביך ואל־תטשׁ תורת אמך׃
9כי לוית חן הם לראשׁך וענקים לגרגרתיך׃

LXX (Greek)
Proverbs 1:8-9
8ἄκουε, υἱέ, παιδείαν πατρός σου καὶ μὴ ἀπώσῃ θεσμοὺς μητρός σου· 9στέφανον γὰρ χαρίτων δέξῃ σῇ κορυφῇ καὶ κλοιὸν χρύσεον περὶ σῷ τραχήλῳ.

Vulgate (Latin)
Proverbs 1:8-9
8audi fili mi disciplinam patris tui et ne dimittas legem matris tuae 9ut addatur gratia capiti tuo et torques collo tuo


Newman Not Incorrupt (apparently)!

In what is undoubtedly a set-back of some sort for the movement to make former Cardinal Newman a saint, it is being reported that no significant physical remains of Newman were found in his coffin (link).

That will not, of course, stop the movement. I doubt they are looking for suggestions about how to justify classifying him as a "saint." If so, however, you could rely on the obviously supernatural oxidization pattern on the brass plate of his tomb.



Although perhaps the hand in the second image should be point a bit more downward.

Democrats, however, will be glad to see that the upper left corner of the plate has taken on the silhouette of a donkey's head, thereby symbolizing Cardinal Newman's approval of Senator Biden's bizarre rationalization of his own status as anti-life Romanist.

But seriously, folks - Cardinal Newman (one of the most celebrated "converts" from the Church of England) is not deserving of special attention. Even assuming, for the sake of the argument, that he was a believer, he was a sinner in need of a savior, just like every other person. There is no need, no use, and no value in trying to seek his intercession through prayer. Religious veneration of his remains or of images of him are idolatry - failure to give all religious veneration only to God.


Friday, October 03, 2008

How Times Change!

A Bible reading marathon was "too Catholic" according to a rabbi quoted in this article (link), although several Muslims were taking part in the marathon that will be kicked off by the current pope, Benedict XVI.

Nehemiah 9:3 And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.


Catholicism vs. The Bible

J&J Bible Ministries has a new post on the blog, Truth Matters, with the same title as this post (link). In the post, quotations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church are provided, followed by quotations from the Bible. The only commentary provided is via selection (of course) and through the use of emphasis in the quotations from the CCC.

Without endorsing all the comparisons made, I think the post highlights some areas that Romanists should be prepared to answer, specifically the issues of forgiveness of sins, justification by faith alone, and Mary's role (or absence thereof) in salvation.


Active Obedience Required

I recently came across the following proverb. The proverb is superficially witty:

"Drink wine, and you will sleep well. Sleep, and you will not sin. Avoid sin, and you will be saved. Ergo, drink wine and be saved."

This proverb is partly correct. While one is sleeping, for example, one is generally not out stealing, murdering, fornicating, and telling lies. Sins, however, are not limited to positive acts (sins of commission), but also to the absence of positive acts.

The greatest commandment is

Deuteronmy 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

This commandment is a positive one. It is not simply prohibitory, it requires one to act positively toward God, not just refrain from certain sinful acts. Through sleep one can avoid becoming a murderer, but one is also failing to engage in the positive acts commanded in Scripture.

Furthermore, it is the positive acts that are commanded by God that prevent us from ever being able to merit from God. The sixth commandment ("Thou shalt not kill") not only forbids murder, but also implicitly commands us to take actions to preserve life. Thus, when we rally against laws permitting infanticide, we are not performing a meritorious act, we are simply obeying God's commandment.

For recall what Scripture commands:

Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

The proverbial "Good Samaritan" may feel warm and fuzzy after helping out his neighbour, but even the Good Samaritan is simply doing that which God commands. Thus, even the best mere man who most perfectly loves God and his neighbor can only hope to have a very small number of sins on his account: he can never hope to have anything more than debt to God.

Because of this principle, there is only one source of merit. To use a timely analogy, there is only one $700 Billion bailout plan. That one source of merit is Jesus Christ, the righteous. Jesus perfectly obeyed the law of God, thereby earning (under the covenant of works) life. Nevertheless, Jesus sacrificed that life to suffer punishment in place of sinners: punishment he did not personally deserve.

This bailout plan is not a redistribution of wealth from workers to bankers, but is instead redemption for slaves. Even the best mere man is a sinner in God's sight, deserving wrath and hell forever. Christ, by dying redeemed for himself a people out of all parts of the world.

If you are trusting in anything except that one acceptable sacrifice, you will appear before the judge of all the earth in debt, and will be justly sentenced to hell. So now, while there is time, turn from your sins, and embrace the Lamb of God, by whose blood you may be cleansed from your guilt.

You cannot measure up to the law of God on your own. You cannot do so through drinking, through sleeping, or through any amount of effort on your own part. You cannot do so through the assistance of other mere men, for they all (like yourself) are debtors to the law (as it is written "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"). There is only one hope of salvation:

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Jeremiah 23:6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

1 Corinthians 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

Trying to live a good life by avoiding sin is not enough. The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe the gospel.


Proverbs 1:7

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

This proverb provides a central theme for the book of Proverbs. In order to have true wisdom, one must first submit to the Word of God. Fearing God involves hearing him - it involves listening attentively to what he says and obeying that word. For us, the primary way in which God's word comes is Scripture, including these proverbs.

Wisdom is defined through the great commandment:

Deuteronomy 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

This may seem unexpected to the natural mind. We routinely see atheists mocking our quotation of Scripture. They tell us they need "scientific proof" and refuse to hear the Word of God. This is simply the way of the natural mind. It despises the Wisdom of God ... it does not recognize it for what it is.

There are few fools that knowingly reject wisdom, though they recognize it as such. More often fools despise wisdom because they do not recognize it for what it is. That is truly a pitiful sight. Let us take it to heart, fear the Lord, and increase our wisdom.

Notice also, though that fools despise instruction. There is nothing more provoking to human pride than correction. Thus, rather than being fools, we ought to be open to instruction. Throughout Proverbs this is key: do what the wise man does, and do not imitate the fool.

Original (Hebrew)
Proverbs 1:7
יראת יהוה ראשׁית דעת חכמה ומוסר אוילים בזו׃

LXX (Greek)
Proverbs 1:7
Ἀρχὴ σοφίας φόβος θεοῦ, σύνεσις δὲ ἀγαθὴ πᾶσι τοῖς ποιοῦσιν αὐτήν· εὐσέβεια δὲ εἰς θεὸν ἀρχὴ αἰσθήσεως, σοφίαν δὲ καὶ παιδείαν ἀσεβεῖς ἐξουθενήσουσιν.

Vulgate (Latin)
Proverbs 1:7
timor Domini principium scientiae sapientiam atque doctrinam stulti despiciunt

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Curse of the Billy Goat vs. Holy Water

In the "Holy Water Debate" (link to debate), I had made a comparison between the superstitions in baseball and the medieval superstitions surrounding "Holy Water." Unexpectedly, the two have merged for TBS has broadcast some footage of a papist priest sprinkling the Cubs' dugout with "Holy Water," evidently in an effort to reverse the "Curse of the Billy Goat" - the supposed explanation for the failure of the Cubs to win a World Series in a very long time.

Nota Bene: Sprinkling Holy Water to win baseball games is not something that has ever, to my knowledge, been infallibly taught by the Vatican magisterium. In fact, the CCC warns against superstition. That doesn't seem to stop it from happening in Catholicism.

If anyone can tell me the name of the priest (Matthew in the combox has noted that this is "Father" James Greaneus who, according to the article provided, is from the Midwest), his bishop, and whether his activity was sanctioned, I would be appreciative.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Textual Variant in 1611 KJV

The KJV, 1611 edition, was printed on more than one printing press. While the text printed was generally the same, there was at least one variant. At Ruth 3:15 the text correctly reads (in the current 2/3 majority of extant copies) "she went into the city" instead of "he went into the city", but the remaining about 1/3 have the variant with the misspelling.

Standard version of the KJV:

Ruth 3:15 Also he said, Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city.

The KJV-1611 in the form provided with e-Sword reflects the variant:

Ruth 3:15 Also he said, Bring the vaile that thou hast vpon thee, and holde it. And when she helde it, he measured sixe measures of barley, and laide it on her: and he went into the citie.

The Schoenberg Center for Electronic Texts also has a copy of the KJV1611 with the "he" variant (link).

Copies of both variants can be purchased (though the price is quite steep: for an example, click to this site that I cannot vouch for).

For those people who believe that the KJV1611 was itself the subject of verbal plenary inspiration, I suppose the solution to the problem of this variant is to assert that one of the two variants (hopefully the "he" variant) was a later corruption. The problem, of course, is that there is no historical basis for this assertion, as it would appear that the two printings were performed at roughly the same time on at least two printing presses.

I should note that I still think that the KJV is the best English translation that is widely available, and it continues to be my preferred translation for study of the Scripture, for that reason.


Proverbs 1:1

Proverbs 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;

This verse provides both the title of the book and the author of the first and main section of the book. The author is King Solomon, himself the son of David. Both were the king of Israel. It may be grammatically an open issue of whether "king of Israel" is meant to refer to Solomon or David. I believe that the latter sense is the probable, but the ambiguity is of no consequence.

Some people have attempted to deny that Solomon was the author of the book. Their rationale is that Solomon turned from God. For it is written,

1 Kings 11:6-10
6And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. 7Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 8And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. 9And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, 10And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.

The reasoning continues that if Solomon turned away from God, then he was not saved, and that an unsaved person could not be an author of the Holy Scripture. This reasoning is weak in two regards:

1) Scripture indicates the punishment laid upon Solomon for his disobedience. That punishment was (a) taking the ten tribes away from Solomon's son's rule and (b) stirring up adversaries against Solomon.

2) Scripture concludes the account of Solomon in the book of Kings by stating:

1 Kings 11:41-42
41And the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon? 42And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years.

And Scripture concludes the account of Solomon in the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel by stating:

2 Chronicals 9:29-31
29Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer against Jeroboam the son of Nebat? 30And Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years. 31And Solomon slept with his fathers, and he was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.

Neither of these accounts suggest that Solomon died in ignominy, though of course that is not conclusive.

3) We are not told whether Solomon repented of his sin or not. The book of Proverbs itself speaks of repentance (see verse 23 of the first chapter, for example). This supports the idea that Solomon himself repented, though it is not conclusive.

4) There is no rule that Scripture must be written by saved men. The word of God has come by the mouth of a donkey and by mouth of King Saul, the suicide. Since we believe in verbal, plenary inspiration, it is irrelevant whether the prophet is himself a righteous or wicked man.

Original (Hebrew)
Proverbs 1:1
משׁלי שׁלמה בן־דוד מלך ישׂראל׃

LXX (Greek)
Proverbs 1:1
Παροιμίαι Σαλωμῶντος υἱοῦ Δαυιδ, ὃς ἐβασίλευσεν ἐν Ισραηλ,

Vulgate (Latin)
Proverbs 1:1
parabolae Salomonis filii David regis Israhel

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Glossa Ordinaria Electronica

The Glossa Ordinaria is attributed to a 9th century German man named Strabo, who compiled commentary on the Bible, including quotations either from or attributed various church fathers. This gloss never seems to have been officially sanctioned by the pope, but was referenced as being of high authority by Thomas Aquinas. It was popular in the medieval period, and consequently is a valuable aid both for polemicists/apologists and historical theology buffs, as it has an influence to one degree or another on medieval theology.

Now, the scans of a 1603 printing of the Vulgate together with the Glossa Ordinaria have become available, thanks to Sorry, it is still only in Latin.

The following are the pages for each of the six volumes as well as a link to the Black and White pdf available for that volume (other formats of the scan are also available).

Volume 1 (b/w pdf) (about 134 MB)
Volume 2 (b/w pdf) (about 116 MB)
Volume 3 (b/w pdf) (about 162 MB)
Volume 4 (b/w pdf) (about 180 MB)
Volume 5 (b/w pdf) (about 139 MB)
Volume 6 (b/w pdf) (about 128 MB)



H.T. to Historical TheoBlogy (link) for bringing this to my attention.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Response to Victor Reppert on 1 Samuel 15

Victor Reppert wrote (not to me ... but it is also relevant to me):
How can you be so strongly pro-life on abortion and also defend killing "babes in arms" as enjoined by I Samuel 15?
I answer:
a) Killing is ordinarily a lawful and just part of warfare; and
b) More particularly, Israel's genocide of the Canaanites was specifically authorized by God as a punishment on the idolatry, necromancy, etc. of the nations of Canaan; but
c) Killing is not ordinarily a lawful and just part of life; and
d) More particularly, killing of unborn infants (at any stage of development) is not ordinarily authorized by God.


Cory Tucholski on Mary contra Bellisario

Cory Tucholski has provided a new post (link) on the subject of Mary's alleged Immaculate Conception, against a previous post by Mr. Bellisario. Cory sets out to demonstrate that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is an unnecessary tradition that actually denigrates the orthodox doctrine of the Incarnation.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Child Inside You

Those women who are pregnant, have been pregnant, or think they may one day be pregnant, would do well to check out one of the most advanced set of images I've seen to date showing what is inside the woman from the 6th week onward. (link) It's not just a lump of tissue - its a tiny person developing and growing in ways that are normally impossible to observe.

And though we know a lot more about when it happens than did our ancestors, even now the growth of children in the womb is quite a marvel to observe.

Ecclesiastes 11:5 As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.


H.T. Melinda at Stand to Reason for bringing this to my attention (link).

Proverbs 1:5-6

Proverbs 1:5-6
5A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: 6To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.

The Scriptures, and especially the proverbs, are not only for the foolish man to become wise, but also for the wise man to become wiser. In this regard, we may compare the Scriptures to the widow's cruse (I Kings 17) that was replenished daily, so that it never was depleted. So to, repairing frequently to the Holy Scriptures will not cause us to deplete the resources of wisdom, but instead will give us greater wisdom.

Notice that by hearing the wise man becomes wise, increasing his learning. Furthermore, notice that the understanding of the proverb is encompassed within this attainable knowledge together with the interpretation - the words of the wise and those things that harder to understand, the "dark sayings."

Original (Hebrew)
Proverbs 1:5-6
5ישׁמע חכם ויוסף לקח ונבון תחבלות יקנה׃ 6להבין משׁל ומליצה דברי חכמים וחידתם׃

LXX (Greek)
Proverbs 1:5-6
5τῶνδε γὰρ ἀκούσας σοφὸς σοφώτερος ἔσται, ὁ δὲ νοήμων κυβέρνησιν κτήσεται 6νοήσει τε παραβολὴν καὶ σκοτεινὸν λόγον ῥήσεις τε σοφῶν καὶ αἰνίγματα.

Vulgate (Latin)
Proverbs 1:5-6
5audiens sapiens sapientior erit et intellegens gubernacula possidebit 6animadvertet parabolam et interpretationem verba sapientium et enigmata eorum