Saturday, May 31, 2008

Guest Post by Jonathan: A Response on Bauckham and Dunn

Hi Ken,

Interesting stuff. I've a great interest in these questions and would appreciate your thoughts. As I've studied the various interpretations of the development of NT Christology one thing that should be obvious, but is sometimes obscured by the nitty-gritty arguments, is that our conception of what constitutes monotheism in the NT period will essentially determine what we do with the christological texts.

E.g., as we move from the OT to the NT to the post-NT period, we can historically trace the conceptual development within Judaism from henotheism to monotheism to monism. This monism is a later rabbinic development - in reaction to the post-70 experience, during which boundaries were drawn tighter and earlier diversity anathematized - certain streams of apocalyptic thought were perceived to threaten God's unity (e.g., such as what became known as the two-power heresy). My concern with the Dunn-type line of understanding is that it retrojects back this later form of monism as normative for the NT period (most often as presuppositions, e.g., see the import of Partings 2nd ed., xxvi-xxvii). Thus, Paul can't really be seen to be saying that Christ is somehow intrinsic to God's own identity (as Bauckham puts it). That would constitute ditheism, so it cannot, by Dunn's definition of monotheism, be correct.

The logic of this, within monism, is that incorporating Christ within the Shema does not make sense unless you are collapsing their identities into one another, for how can two be one monad? Thus, as Dunn says, the one Lord must be being distinguished from the one God. It’s not that this isn’t true (they’re not being collapsed into one another) but that it’s not the whole picture. I think Dunn’s position on monotheism/monism in the NT period leads him to misunderstand what Paul was doing here. Monotheism was a doctrine which distinguished the “one” (God of Israel) over against the “many” (pagan gods and lords); monotheism was not about analysing the inner-being of the one God as a monad. All the "God is one" texts even show this (e.g., Rom 3:20 - the “one” God of all people groups, it’s just not about God's internal being). The question of God’s inner-being just doesn’t seem to have been an issue until the Christian understanding of Christ and other apocalypticists started sayings things which brought the question into play.

When this is historically taken on board, then I think that what Bauckham is trying to say can be more readily understood. As Second Temple Jews were more concerned with who God is, with his identity - not about conferring ontic estimations such as that he was a monad - then it was possible for the early Christians to now say that their God should be identified with reference to Jesus (leaving the Spirit out of the discussion for now). Before Christ, it was as the God of Israel, the eternal Creator and Ruler of all; after Christ, it was as the Father who raised the Son from the dead. The identification of who their God is, has changed in the light of the Christ-event.

Thus, with respect to 1 Cor. 8, it is precisely by saying that Jesus is intrinsic (not an addition) to God’s identity that allows monotheism (not monism) to be retained. Hence the Shema can be glossed with both Father and Son. This is further reinforced by the addition of the prepositions, “from”, “for”, and “through” (Rom 11:36). Splitting them among Father and Son ensures that God’s oneness (there is only one God, not two) is preserved. This is especially evident from the use of dia, which asserts the creative action of the Son. So the Son is intrinsic to who God is, and always was. It is the historical revelation of the Son which casts new light on who their God always was. Thus, Father and Son are not collapsed into one another, but are distinguished, but within the mystery of the one God’s being, not as the one God having one Lord added. This is ditheism, as Bauckham rightly objects. Hence Paul’s usual use of theos for the Father and kurios for the Son thus allows him to distinguish between them without collapsing them into one another, yet also then allows him to avoid ditheism – as in the Christianized Shema, in which they are both held together. I’ll come to the other YHWH texts which reinforce this below.

Historically, what Bauckham argues is that Christ was raised from the dead and exalted to God’s right hand over all things. This is the historical experience. This role/status that Christ received was not something that any ordinary man or messiah figure could have. As such, the logic goes that if he is now participating in these exclusively divine prerogatives/status then he must always have done so, for the adoption/apotheosis option must be rejected within a Jewish monotheistic matrix. It is their understanding of who Christ is now by what he does that led to an epistemological shift in their perception of who he must always have been. I wonder if part of your problem with Bauckham is that he’s not always entirely clear about the difference in his thesis between the historical unfolding of events for the early Christians (temporal sequence) and their perception of what it means (logical sequence)? I.e., it looks like Jesus is being “added” historically (temporal sequence), but it is actually a recognition of who he is always was (i.e., logical sequence --> the incarnate one – the person that they knew, Jesus messiah, was actually eternally Son).

However, Bauckham’s entire line of interpretation seems patently false if we start from monism rather than from monotheism. Monism precludes this: thus, 1 Cor 8 either seems like an addition of one Lord (ditheism), or must entail a denial of Christ’s divinity to ensure God’s oneness (just a man with a derivative role in exercising God’s sovereignty). Bauckham’s argument is rather that the texts suggests a greater perception and further identification of who God is in the light of Christ. We know and identify God by his character and his acts in history, in the Christ-event he has identified himself fully. He is not a new or two Gods (by adding a second figure), but it is a new perception on our part of who he is (the God known and revealed in the face of Jesus and by his Spirit).

The fact that Paul uses YHWH texts and applies them to Jesus should reinforce all of this or else Paul’s attribution of them to Christ seems frankly blasphemous. The weakness of Dunn’s analysis of these texts is very apparent as it’s difficult to avoid their import; it doesn’t just ascribe a derivative lordship, but connotes that the one historically known and experienced as Jesus, the incarnate Son, is the one known in times past as YHWH of the OT. Bauckham’s thesis assumes the progressive revelation of who God is through time, which is partly why I pointed you to this monotheism essay. God in himself might not change, but our understanding/perception and knowledge of him do. So, especially with the Christ-event, as our beloved Hebrews says (1:1-4).

YHWH texts and messianic ‘lord’: I can’t help feeling that this is a bit of a non-issue, for the different uses of ‘Lord’ are held together in the one person of the incarnate Son as the helpful and convenient linguistic nexus of two different conceptual ideas. While connoting divinity, YHWH texts are very important, but Jesus is still also the messianic lord with a role in salvation-history to perform (e.g., 1 Cor. 15:23-28).

I can't help wondering if a Dunnian influence makes it more difficult to get to grips with Bauckham’s thesis. I’ll really look forward to hearing your thoughts on all this ;-) Sorry it’s so long!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Review: Bauckham's "Biblical Theology and ... Monotheism

Thanks to Jonathan for putting me onto Richard Bauckham's chapter, "Biblical Theology and the Problem of Monotheism" in the collection, Out of Egypt: Biblical Theology and Biblical Interpretation.

The first part of the chapter deals with monotheism and the OT and interacts significantly with the work of Bauckham's colleague at St. Andrews, Nathan MacDonald. Bauckham is largely supportive of MacDonald's claims that the word monotheism is problematic in relation to Deuteronomy given the heavy Enlightenment baggage it brings with it. Similarly, the OT does not deny the existence of other gods.

However, Bauckham spends some time arguing in contrast to MacDonald that YHWH was put in a superior category to all other gods, not simply superior for Israel. YHWH is the only god who might appropriately be called the God. Assuming that Bauckham has read MacDonald correctly, I agree substantially with his critique here.

In the next section, Bauckham branches out to the rest of the OT (MacDonald's work is primarily with Deuteronomy) and addresses questions like when in its development Israel reached this point. I hope to go back and finish this section, but I feel like it is somewhat tangential to my purposes, which is to get to Bauckham's thought on the NT on this subject.

And here let me vent one of my pet peeves with a host of scholars "evangelical' and "liberal" alike. I'm not venting so much toward Bauckham here--he's writing a piece on biblical theology so it is perfectly acceptable for him to explore the OT in the way he does. But I want to vent on a fallacy I was also prone to when I entered seminary, one I see pop up from time to time among scholars who should know better.

Here it is: the original meaning of the Old Testament is almost completely irrelevant to the original meaning of the New Testament. Hebrew, for example, is almost completely irrelevant when interpreting the book of Hebrews because its author apparently knew almost no Hebrew. This is a kind of reverse anachronistic fallacy, to bring the original, contextual meaning of an OT passage into discussion of how a NT author understood that passage.

What is important for understanding Paul or some other NT author's use of the OT is how they are likely to have understood various OT passages in their day. The Hebrew original or the Ancient Near Eastern context is, for the most part, completely irrelevant in NT interpretation. There, I said it.

The critique is potentially extended beyond historical anachronism to a kind of literary contextual "anachronism" as well. Although I largely support Hays' "echo" movement, it seems often to border on this fallacy because it assumes that NT authors paid more attention to OT contexts than, I think, they actually did for the most part. It is not safe to assume that a NT author was mindful of an OT literary context any more than is required to make sense of the train of thought of a NT passage.

This is the rule: Infer no more OT context into your reading of a NT passage than is necessary for it to make sense.

So let's look at my real interest, Bauckham's thoughts on the NT and monotheism.

First, let me agree with this comment by Bauckham: "there is no good evidence for the idea that non-monotheistic forms of Israelite religion survived through the Second Temple period to be available to the early Christians" (218).

Romans 3:28-40
"Or is God the God of the Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes... since God is one."

Bauckham concludes that for Paul, Israel's election is paradigmatic for the whole world rather than exclusive (220). This seems to be the case. God's oneness implies that God is God of the whole world and not just of the Jews.

1 Corinthians 8:1-6
"For us there is one God, the Father ... and one Lord, Jesus Christ..."

This is an important verse for Bauckham, and it shows up in several of his works on this topic. His thesis is that Paul has taken the Shema and shuffled its words around to present a Christian version of the Shema. In it the identity of the one God comes to include Jesus within it.

Take the Shema in the LXX: "The Lord our God, the Lord, is one."

Here's Paul's shuffle: one God our, one Lord (YHWH)

I must confess that I don't find Bauckham's argument very convincing. If anything, the plain sense of "There is one God for us, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus" seems to distinguish Jesus from the one God. I am reminded of Ephesians 4:5: "one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God..." Does this mean to include one faith and one baptism within the identity of the one God?

By faith I believe Jesus was God, but these aren't the verses I would normally use to argue for it! They seem straightforwardly to distinguish Jesus as Lord from the one God.

Bauckham seems to me (and N. T. Wright) to be classic examples of scholars who are ingeniously able to make sophisticated arguments for claims that a simpleton like me looks at and says, "But he says one Lord as something different from one God." If Paul was really making such an intricate claim... then why didn't he make that claim explicitly. Does a person really have to be that smart to figure out what Paul is saying?

When I first started reading Climax of the Covenant almost 15 years ago, my first thought was, Wow, Wright knows so much and sees so many connections between things. I now think many of those connections are the product of an ingenious mind set to work on polyvalent texts in ways Paul himself would find fascinating... and completely news to him!

Bauckham's problem with the most straightforward reading of 1 Cor. 8:6 is this: "If Paul were understood as adding the one Lord to the one God of whom the Shema speaks, then, from the perspective of Jewish monotheism, he would certainly be producing, not christological monotheism, but outright ditheism" (224).

My response: apparently not. Apparently not because Paul clearly maintains monotheism in this chapter and considers Jesus to be Lord as something different.

Bauckham claims, "the term 'Lord', applied here to Jesus as the 'one Lord', is taken from the Shema itself." Now this is an interesting claim and one that is worth thinking about. It seems beyond question that Paul would know that the Greek kyrios was a translation of YHWH, the name of God. Surely Paul knows that at times he uses OT kyrios passages in relation to Jesus that translate YHWH. This is a helpful contribution Bauckham often makes.

However, I wonder if Bauckham is failing to make some important distinctions in Paul's use of the word Lord. Psalm 110:1, once again, makes a clear distinction between God the Father as Lord (the translation of YHWH) and the Messiah as Lord: "The LORD said to my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand.'" In my opinion, Paul's use of the word kyrios does not consistently use OT YHWH quotes either of God the Father or Jesus. It seems inescapable to me that Paul often paid little attention to the underlying Hebrew in his use of the word.

I have similar questions about Bauckham's claim that to use protological language unavoidably places Jesus within God's "identity." Bauckham: "it was unthinkable that any being other than God could even assist God" (224). "No more unequivocal way of including Jesus in the unique divine identity is conceivable, within the framework of Second Temple Jewish monotheism."

But how does this work? Does Paul think that, because Jesus is now in the identity of God, he must have always been, including in the process of creation? If so, then Jesus does not become included in the divine identity. He must have always been.

By contrast, if Jesus becomes included within the divine identity at the point of his exaltation, then he cannot suddenly become the past agent of creation. Either he had already been there or not.

These are questions of ontology, questions that Bauckham claims his "inclusion in the divine identity" approach works around. Perhaps a sophisticated modern theologian can come up with some way for this to work. But I suspect Paul the ancient would have picked either option a or b. And if so, then Bauckham's new option fades away as we return to the two options we had before.

Either Paul and other New Testament authors began with a sense of Jesus as having pre-existed before he came to earth or language of this sort was metaphorical at first and only came to be understood literally later.

Metaphors We Live By 4

Chapter 4 was an 8 page burden :-)

Lakoff and Johnson tell us that thus far in the book we have been talking about structural metaphors. Chapter 4 presents now orientational metaphors.

The first part of the chapter runs through a host of conceptual metaphors having to do with up and down, ahead and behind. Here are some examples:

Conscious is up; unconscious is down.
"Get up," "Wake up," "He fell asleep." The physical basis for this metaphor is that humans and most mammals sleep lying down and stand up when they awake.

Having control or force is up; subject to control or force is down.
"I have control over him," "I am on top of things." "He is under my control." Physical size usually correlates with physical strength, and the winner of a fight is typically on top of the loser.

Foreseeable future events are up and ahead.
Our eyes look forward as we approach things. As we approach them, the ground stays level but the height of what we are approaching increases.

Conclusions:
The concluding part of the chapter pushes toward the idea that most of our fundamental concepts are organized around spatialization metaphors. We fit these together with each other without thinking about it. These metaphors are grounded in our physical experience of the world. Things we think of as purely intellectual concepts are often, perhaps always based on metaphors with a physical or cultural basis (e.g., high energy particles).

L and J suspect that "no metaphor can ever be comprehended or even adequately represented independently of its experiential basis" (19). [Very empiricist]

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Informal Fallacies of Logic

I'm trying to finish up a chapter on logic in the philosophy textbook today and thought I would write some about informal logical fallacies here.

Appeal to Force (argumentum ad baculum)
It should be obvious that forcing someone to hold a certain position does not make that position true. The law usually will reject a confession from a suspect that has been coerced out of them. Force is the stuff of power and politics, but it is not the stuff of logic. You cannot change what is logically true by torture or pressure.

Appeal to Emotion (argumentum ad populum)
Debbie Boone famously sang a song called, "You Light Up My Life." One of the lines says, "It can't be wrong, 'cause it feels so right." Whatever merit this thought might have in other contexts, it has no merit at all in logic. Whether or not something is true or not logically has nothing to do with feelings or emotions.

Closely related to this is the fallacy of subjectivism.<2--in> Something is not true or false logically because of what I want to be true or false. For example, the question, "Does God exist objectively, apart from human thinking?" has nothing to do with whether I like the idea of God or whether it works for me. It is not a matter of my motivation to believe or disbelieve.

The question of whether God exists objectively depends on, well, whether or not God exists objectively. To be sure, you can find conceptions of God out there that do both believe God exists and that this belief is a matter of human subjectivity. But this is not the kind of existence we were asking about--whether a Being exists apart from human thinking and the actions to which that thinking leads. If this sort of God exists, then God exists regardless of my feelings or desires.

Appeal to the Majority
If the fallacy of subjectivism is the idea that something is not logically true or false because of your individual desires, then it is similarly true that something is not logically true or false simply because a majority of individuals want it to be true or false. In general, truth or falsity in logic is not a matter of vote. Whether or not an idea is true or false is a matter of, well, whether it is true or false.<3>

Is it raining right now outside in the normal sense of what it means to rain? The answer to this question is not a matter of a vote. Either it is literally raining or it is not.<4>

Appeal to Improper Authority
In this and the next fallacy, we shift to slightly different logical ground, namely, when bringing other people into arguments makes sense and when it does not. In some circumstances, it might make sense to put weight on a person's claims because of who they are. Take a victim of a crime who is mentally stable, knew his or her attacker, has no apparent ulterior motives, and observed that person attacking him or her. This person certainly seems a credible authority on who made the attack. This credibility does not prove guilt absolutely, but it may prove beyond reasonable doubt.

In many cases, however, it is clear that we rely on the opinion's of many individuals who are not really an appropriate authority on an issue, not least ourselves. "Everyone's entitled to their opinion." But that does not mean that everyone's opinion is equally valuable or likely to be true.<5> Informed opinion is, at least logically, more valuable than an individual's whims and fancies.

This fallacy becomes a real issue in matters of religion and politics. For example, is a person who can quote Bible verses an authority on what God thinks on a particular issue? Frankly, is knowing a Bible verse even the same as being an authority on what that verse meant when it was written down--as well as what God wants us to think of it today? Does being able to quote Bible verses make one an authority on world events and matters of contemporary science? It seems doubtful.

Argument against the Person (ad hominem)
An often effective technique in debate is to attack the person you are debating rather than the actual issue at hand. Politics is rife with this sort of slight of hand. So and so is in a picture with this other so and so. So and so cusses a lot or had an affair with so and so. So and so is a liberal or a conservative or a communist or a Fascist or unpatriotic.

But logically, you cannot dismiss the truth of an idea by attacking the person who holds the idea. Whether or not an idea is true or false depends on, well, whether or not the idea is true or false. It does not depend on the person who has the idea. In the Bible, Satan knows that Jesus is the Son of God (e.g., Matt. 4:6), and demons themselves believe in the one God (James 2:19).

Two related falacies are the genetic fallacy and the circumstantial fallacy. The genetic fallacy is to say that something must be false because of the reasons they came to the idea. Freud famously suggested that people believe in God because they want a Father figure to take care of them. Marx famously called religion the "opiate of the masses." But even if these things proved to be true in many cases--that people believe in God because they want divine help or to make life bearable--that would not logically disprove the existence of God. Whether or not God exists depends on, well, whether or not God exists.

The circumstantial fallacy argues against a person's position by pointing out the circumstances in which the person is making the claim. "Isn't it true that the District Attorney has cut you a deal if you will testify?" It may be true, but that does not logically necessitate that the witness is lying.

For this reason, circumstantial evidence is of varying value in a trial. From a practical standpoint, it can actually be very compelling. Let's say I find my son with cookie crumbs and chocolate smears around his mouth, a trail of crumbs leading back to a cookie drawer that is opened, with a box of cookies opened and standing upright in the drawer. I did not actually see my son take or eat the cookie. I am not an eyewitness to the "crime." Nevertheless, it is reasonable to infer that he in fact has just eaten a cookie from the drawer.

At the same time, this circumstantial evidence does not logically prove that he did. He could have been framed by one of his clever sisters, without him even realizing it. For that matter, space aliens or a mischievious angel might have set the whole thing up. This scenario gives us a good illustration of the difference between what is logically necessary and what is possible or even probable.

Appeal to Ignorance
Sometimes someone will argue that because you have not or cannot prove one thing to be true, that the opposite must be true. "Prove it. You can't prove I did it." Of course the fact that I cannot prove that you did something has nothing to do with whether you did it or not. Either you did it or you did not, and my ability to tell does not affect anything. Christians of course believe that God knows.

Perhaps one of the instances of this fallacy of greatest interest to Christians is when it is applied to God. You cannot prove that God exists and, therefore, God must not exist. This argument hardly makes any logical sense at all. It is true that an individual may believe they have no reason to believe in God. But this fact does not in any way serve as a proof that God does not exist.

Hasty Generalization
Next to fallacies involving subjectivism, perhaps the most frequently committed logical fallacy is that of "hasty generalization." You draw an inference when you simply do not have enough information to do so. In fact, this fallacy often accompanies the committing of other fallacies, such as the fallacies of composition and division that follows.<6>

Fallacies of Composition and Division
The fallacy of composition is when you assume that something is true of a whole group of things simply because it is true of some of things within it. We see this fallacy at work in what sociologists call in group/out group dynamics. People tend to pick positive individuals or traits from the groups to which they belong and then ascribe these particular characteristics to the whole group. Similarly, we tend to pick negative traits or examples from other groups we do not like and paint the whole group with the same brush.

By contrast, the fallacy of division is when you take something that is true of the whole and then apply it to all of its parts. The fact that a team loses a ball game does not mean that every individual on the team played poorly or worse than those on the other team. The fact that an administration as a whole makes bad decisions does not mean that everyone in that administration agreed with those decisions or thought them the best course of action.

After This, Because of This (post hoc propter hoc)
Another frequent expression of hasty generalization is the assumption that because something happened after something else, the first thing must have caused the second thing. For example, let's say I touch your ear lobe and then you immediately fall over dead. It might be tempting to think that the touch had something to do with you dying, but it is not at all a logical certainty.

We especially have to be careful about this fallacy when we are looking at historical events and trying to ascribe praise or blame for things. A related fallacy is confuse something that correlates with a trend for the cause of that trend (non causa pro causa). Let's say that a large plant closes in a small town and in the next year, both the crime rate rises and a large number of people move out of town. It is of course possible that the rise in crime is causing people to leave town. But it is perhaps even more likely that the rise in crime more correlates with the people leaving town, both primarily because of the factory closing.

Fallacy of Diversion
The fallacy of diversion involves a changing of the real subject at hand. Some of the fallacies we have already mentioned can serve such a diversion, such as attacking the person instead of his or her position. One common form of diversion confuses the consequences of something with the value of that thing. For example, it may very well be that prohibiting certain drugs will result in a sub-culture of illegal drug making and trafficking. This fact does not necessarily mean, however, that we should not prohibit those drugs. The abuse of something does not clearly invalidate that thing.

Another form of diversion is a straw man argument. In this fallacy, you create a portrait of your opponent's position that looks a little like it but is actually not quite the same position. Most of us would have a hard time beating up your average weight lifter or wrestler. But we could probably vanquish quite easily a version of them stuffed with straw. In the same way, it is easy to dismiss someone else's argument when he or she is not in the room... and you are misrepresenting their position.

Fallacy of Equivocation
The fallacy of diversion involves a change of subject. The fallacy of equivocation changes the sense of the words you are using in mid-argument. Take the famous quip, "Can God make a rock so big that He cannot lift it?" The person who poses this question usually wishes to argue that it does not make sense to say that God is all powerful.

But this person has mixed up two distinct concepts associated with the word can. One has to do with power or ability and the other has to do with possibility. Christians do not normally suggest that it is possible for God to do everything, for everything includes things that contradict themselves. Christians believe rather than God has all power.

The answer to the question, "Can God make a rock so big that He cannot lift it?" is thus "no" precisely because God is all powerful. God can (has the power to) lift any rock. He can (it is possible for Him to) lift any rock. He cannot not be able to life any rock. The question is worded in a way that plays into the hands of the fallacy of equivocation.

False Alternative
Another fallacy is to present an either/or option, when in fact other alternatives exist. Either you love me or you hate me. Either you favor the war or you do not. Life is seldom this simple. If you do not believe every word of the Bible is true then you do not believe any of the Bible is true. If you believe in evolution then you do not believe God created the world. We can believe that every word of the Bible is true and not believe in evolution and yet recognize that the last two sentences are examples of the fallacy of false alternative.

For example, there are Christians who believe that God created the world through evolution. They may be wrong, but they represent another possibility for which the either/or sentence above did not allow. And if for some strange reason someone believed that Lot's wife actually turned into mustard rather than salt (Genesis 19:26), that would not imply that they did not believe in the resurrection or that we should love our neighbor.

One notable example of the fallacy of false alternative is a slippery slope argument. A "slippery slope" is the idea that if you start down a certain path, you will not be able to stop. If you let kids go out on dates unsupervised, they will all end up having sex. Now in real life, slippery slopes can actually have some substance to them. Most parents who do not want their teenage children having sex do not leave them alone in their bedrooms with a girlfriend or boyfriend and then leave for the night. But logically, it is not an absolute certainty that one thing will lead to another. Other alternatives exist.

Begging the Question (Circular Reasoning)
A final fallacy we might mention is begging the question, which is when you assume your conclusion in your argument. We can believe the Bible is inspired and recognize that we cannot 2 Timothy 3:16 to prove it: "all Scripture is God-breathed. You are assuming the Bible is inspired in your attempt to prove that the Bible is inspired. This would be like saying "Ken never lies because he told me he never lies." What if I turn out to be a flagrant liar?

A related fallacy is the complex question, such as in some cases when a lawyer leads a witness. "When did your anger issues stop?" You are assuming that the person had anger issues. The question thus asks a follow up question when you haven't yet established the answer to the first one, namely, "Did you have an anger problem?"

Metaphors We Live By 3

Probably two or three posts today... so many goals, so little time.

Today's chapter is a delicious 4 pages and deals with the fact that metaphorical conceptual systems highlight certain things and at the same time hide others. [This is a great Foucaultian recognition].

The example of this chapter is the metaphorical system of how we talk about language, namely, that language is a container, that ideas are objects, and that communication is sending an object through this container to someone else. Michael Reddy calls this the "conduit metaphor" of language. [and it is intrinsic to structuralism]

Examples: "I gave you that idea," "His words carry little meaning," "It's hard to get that idea across."

But this is a metaphor and following it through too closely leads to conclusions that do not hold true. For example, words and sentences do not have meanings in themselves independent of a context or speaker. [as Wittgenstein so aptly has shown. What is the meaning of the word "fire" independent of any context--getting fired, shooting someone, a command to run out of a building for your life, telling a child the name of the orangish-red thing in front of them?]

L and J use the celebrated example, "Please sit in the apple-juice seat." What does this mean by itself?

Another situation is where the same words might mean different things to different people: "We need to explore alternative sources of energy." Is it the President of Mobile Oil talking or the president of Friends of Earth?

The conduit metaphor does not work very well in instances such as these.

Metaphorical structuring is thus partial, not total. [This is the fatal flaw in Aristotle's simplistic definition of a metaphor] At least part of a metaphorical concept will not fit with the other. Accordingly, those parts that fit can be extended even further in a figurative direction, while other parts can't. [Derrida of course spent all his time focusing on the parts that couldn't]

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Metaphors We Live By 2

Today's "philosophical devotional" was a delectable 3 pages long. This chapter suggests that metaphorical concepts often have a "systematicity" to them.

The metaphorical concept of this chapter was "Time is money." Some examples include "You're wasting my time," "How do you spend your days?," "You need to budget your time," and "He's living on borrowed time," among others.

Lakoff and Johnson argue that these linguistic metaphors are not only conceptual but that there is a system to them, namely, that time is money in our culture because for us time is not only a commodity, it is a valuable one. This is a cultural matter, for time is not conceptualized in this way in other cultures.

This network of concepts thus has a certain "systematicity" to it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Metaphors We Live By 1

Torrey Seland's book referenced another book I've had on my shelf for a while: Metaphors We Live By, by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. Another close friend of mine had recommended it long ago--Bill Patrick who teaches at the Asbury Florida campus. If I ever get filthy rich I hope to set up Bill on a stipend to write whatever he wants... as long as he actually writes something :-) He's brilliant... and wasted teaching Greek :-).

I finally opened it and discovered that it is my kind of book! There are 29 chapters, but they're like three pages each! It's like a philosophy devotional :-)

So the basic point of the first chapter is that most of the way we conceive of the world is metaphorical--not just in our language, but in our concepts themselves. Meanwhile, "the essence of a metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another" (5).

The example they give is argument. Our conception of argument, they argue, is patterned after the metaphor of war. We defend our claims, some of which are indefensible. We win or lose arguments. Criticisms can be right on target and we attack others' positions, etc.

This, they argue, is the normal way of conceptualizing arguments and, thus, arguments are fundamentally metaphorical on a conceptual and not "merely" linguistic level.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Final Seland Review #5

And now, the final installment of my review of Torrey Seland's book, Strangers in the Light.


Chapter 4: The Moderate Life of the Christian Paroikoi: A Philonic Reading of 1 Pet. 2:11
Torrey delivered a version of this chapter first as a paper at a "The New Testament and Philo" conference in Eisenach in 2003. In this chapter Seland's ideal Philonic reader returns, this time to focus on the verse in 1 Peter of greatest interest to Torrey, namely, 1 Peter 2:11. How would a Philonic reader understand this verse?

Part 1
Seland thus embarks in the first part of the chapter on a journey to hone in on Philo's use of terms like παροικος and παρεπιδημος, as well as Philo's understanding of the soul. Eduard Schweizer referred to 1 Peter 2:11 as "the most strongly Hellenised ψυχη passage in the NT" (117). The reason is that the soul is here put into direct opposition to "fleshly desires" in a way characteristic of Platonic rather than OT thought.

Unsurprisingly, Philo's main sense of sojourning, of being a παροικος, has to do with the wise person being a sojourner in a physical body (e.g., Her. 267-68). Similarly, the person on a path to wisdom sojourns in the "basic studies" of a Greek education before moving on to the Law of Moses (e.g., Cong. 22).

Seland summarizes Philo's sense of the wise man as a resident alien with three basic connotations: 1) with respect to God, for the world is his, 2) with respect to the elementary studies in contrast to the Law of Moses, and 3) life of the soul in a body.

With regard to the soul, ψυχη, Seland presents a quick overview of Philo's understanding. The human soul has both a rational and irrational part. The soul's soul is the spirit (e.g. Her. 55) or the mind (Leg. 1.39). Philo can also look at the soul from a different perspective in which it consists of the mind, the spirited part, and the passions, each assigned a part of the anatomy (head, chest, abdomen).

Seland concludes by pointing out the well known difference between the anthropology of the Hebrew Bible and that of the Greek/Hellenistic philosophers. "In the Hebrew Bible, a human being does not have a soul; s/he is a soul" (127). Most NT texts maintain this sense of "soul" in the Jewish Scriptures as a reference to an entire living being.

Part 2
Torrey now runs through various words and phrases in 1 Peter 2:11 asking how a Philonic reader would likely understand them.

"aliens and exiles"
A Philonic reader would likely understand sojourning here in the third Philonic sense we mentioned above. We are strangers in this world in contrast to our true home in the heavenly world.

"to abstain from fleshly desires that war against the soul"
Eduard Schweizer has pointed out that this verse is the only place in the NT where the soul stands in antithesis to "flesh" (137). Seland briefly summarizes Philo's sense of embodiment (138-139). First, Philo sees both body and soul as created by God (I think Seland may slightly overvaluates the body in Philo here a little). Second, the body is at best a necessary evil (e.g., Leg. 3.72-73; more accurate). Third, Philo has a mostly negative view of flesh in his writings.

"desires"
Here Seland turns to Philo's explanations of the tenth commandment, where he finds desire to be the most troublesome of all the passions, which belong to the irrational part of the soul. On the one hand, Philo recognizes the inevitability of the passions. He is thus more akin to Aristotle than to the Stoics on this score. The passions must be controlled by reason (141).

Seland concludes that a Philonic reader would have no problem seeing similar issues being addressed in 1 Peter 2:11. Seland hints that he does not see this verse as a reference to our brief sojourn in the body before our souls return to heaven (145). But a Philonic reader likely would read it in this way.

Here endeth the reading. Thanks to Torrey Seland for a stimulating book. I have gained much from reading it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Seland Review, #4

Fourth installment.

Chapter 2: παροικος και παρεπιδημος: Proselyte Characterizations in 1 Peter?

This chapter appeared in 2001 in the Bulletin for Biblical Research. Seland gives the basic thesis of the chapter as follows: "In some Diaspora Jewish works, the terms παροικος and παρεπιδημος belong to the semantic field 'proselyte/proselytism'" (40). He does not hereby mean that the audience had literally been proselytes to Judaism prior to becoming Christians (van Unnik's position). Rather, drawing on Lakoff and Johnson, the social world of proselytes provides the "source domain" of the terms, which are then applied in the "target domain" of Petrine Christians. I believe Seland considers this line of thought to be the signature contribution to scholarship of the book as a whole.

Part 1
In good fashion, the first part of the chapter runs through the primary suggestions in play about the social location of the audience. van Unnik believed the audience had literally been proselytes to Judaism before becoming Christians (42-44). Klaus Berger does not believe they were literally proselytes, but sees their situation as similar to that of Jewish proselytes (44).

Of course the best known social theory in relation to 1 Peter is that of John Elliott, who has argued that the audience had literally been resident aliens in the regions of the letter before they had become Christians (44-46). Frankly, this thesis and its impact boggle my mind. Are we really to suppose that there was such a well defined group of Christian visitors or literal exiles in this entire region for an author to single out the group in a letter of this proportion?

Seland points to several features that militate against Elliott's hypothesis (62). For example, 1:17 suggests that their time of exile coincides with their time of waiting for salvation. 4:3 similarly hints that they were not in the same situation prior to becoming Christians. Finally, the use of ως in 2:11 points to a more metaphorical sense to the terms "aliens" and "exiles."

Seland clearly favors a more metaphorical understanding, although not the traditional metaphor of Christians as pilgrims on earth awaiting a home in heaven. Others who have taken a more nuanced metaphorical understanding include Troy Martin, who sees the Diaspora as the controlling metaphor, and Reinhard Feldmeier, who sees the people of Israel as the dominant one.

To move forward, Seland then takes a moment to present Lakoff and Johnson's basic categorization of metaphors (50-51), concluding that language of the audience as "aliens" and "strangers" constitute a "structural metaphor." The social situation of the audience is metaphorically "structured" like the social situation of proselytes to Judaism.

Part 2
In the second part of the essay, Torrey explores background literature in the Hebrew Bible, LXX, and Philo. In the Hebrew Bible, he is interested in the expression גר ותושב, of which παροικος is the usual translation (52-56). Indeed, on 10 occasions the Hebrew phrase is translated as παροικος και παρεπιδημος. Citing a number of places where these terms seem interchangeable with the term προσηλυτος, his basic conclusion is that "παροικος and παρεπιδημος are proselyte-related terms" (56).

In Philo, Seland finds a "conceptual closeness of strangers and proselytes" (59). The Hebrew Bible describes Abraham as a גר ותושב, which the LXX renders παροικος και παρεπιδημος, as in 1 Peter 2:11. Yet Philo considers Abraham the model of a proselyte to the true God, who departs from the idols of Chaldea for the one God (e.g., Virt. 219).

I will confess already that I do not find this evidence compelling toward the interpretation of 1 Peter at this point. Seland has only demonstrated that there is a conceptual overlap between the three terms παροικος, παρεπιδημος, and προσηλυτος. The Hebrew is irrelevant to the interpretation of 1 Peter except insofar as it might illuminate the way the author of 1 Peter is likely to have understood these terms.

But all this shows is that these terms could be used in relation to proselytes. Seland has not even claimed that such was the primary connotation of the terms. Even in Philo, we must distinguish between Abraham as a type of the proselyte and Abraham as a stranger in the land. These are two distinct conceptualizations of Abraham, even if they are analogous.

Part 3
In the final part of the chapter, Seland suggests that several passages in 1 Peter "should be read against the background of Diaspora-Jewish descriptions of proselytes" (61). In itself, this thesis is fair enough. For example, the audience has been "called out of darkness into astonishing light" (2:9). Certainly this is proselyte language. Indeed, it seems likely enough that the audience should be seen as "converts" as "proselytes" to Christian Judaism (e.g., 4:3).

However, Seland is never able to connect the dots between this general truth and the author's use of the terms παροικος and παρεπιδημος in 2:11. The remainder of the chapter plausibly confirms that the audience have converted, that they are ostracized from their former kinsmen in the way proselytes are (71). Their new identity involves a new, fictive kinship with an emphasis on brotherly love (74-77).

But he never closes the deal on the connection between this broader sense of the audience as converts to Christian Judaism and the specific meaning of 2:11. The most likely background of the expression παροικος και παρεπιδημος is Psalm 39:12 (LXX 38:12). The Septuagintal context gives us no reason to connect this comment to proselytism, and even Seland's Philonic reader would likely have allegorized the verse in relation to our soul's sojourn in the body.

One more entry...

Seland Review #3

Third installment.

Chapter 5: "Conduct Yourselves Honorably Among the Gentiles" (1 Peter 2:12), Acculturation and Assimilation in 1 Peter
Seland read this paper in Edinburgh in 1998, and so it is the second essay of the book taken in chronological order. I personally found this chapter the most interesting and helpful of all.

In this chapter, Torrey addresses the question of the degree to which the author of 1 Peter intends for the audience to be assimilated to its non-Christian environment. His thesis is three fold (148). First, he does not believe the terms acculturation and assimilation have been used thus far to great advantage in analyzing the social strategies of 1 Peter. Secondly, those studies that have used these terms in relation to 1 Peter have not tapped into the extensive use of them in the social sciences.

Finally, he argues that they apply to the Christians of 1 Peter as "first generation Christians ... still in a process of being socialized into the Christian world view." Torrey suggests they are in somewhat of a "liminal" situation as newly converted Christians. As such, he sets out to review key literature on 1 Peter in relation to its social situation, to dip into relevant social scientific research on acculturation and assimilation, and then apply these findings to 1 Peter.

Part 1
Seland's review of relevant New Testament research leads him to three key players, namely, David Balch, John Elliott, and John Barclay. Balch's work focused primarily on the household codes of 1 Peter, and his basic thesis is that "such codes were used in a apologetic and legitimating way in Graeco-Roman sources" (150). Balch--at least in his earlier work--characterizes such a purpose as assimilation. The audience of 1 Peter is being told to integrate themselves into society.

Elliott disagrees. The fact that the letter calls for Christians to separate from the world, as well as its missionary emphases, indicate for him that the Petrine house codes are discouraging assimilation for the purpose of avoiding suffering. Seland's critique of both is that neither use the terms assimilation and accommodation with the precision of the social sciences.

Barclay, on the other hand, is more precise in his terms, although his well known work, Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora does not address 1 Peter. Barclay distinguishes three terms. First, Barclay uses the word assimilation in reference to the category of social interaction and the adoption of social practices from one's environment. Acculturation then is used in relation to broader cultural features like the use of the same language. Finally, accommodation has to do with the degree to which acculturation takes place, the level of separateness that either is or is not maintained.

In the end, Seland does not find this typology very helpful. He does not find Barclay's distinction between assimilation and acculturation very clear. Further, Barclay's nomenclature does not mesh well with the social scientific use of these terms.

Part 2
And so Seland embarks next on an exploration of recent research in the social sciences on acculturation and assimilation (156-66). His first stop is B. S. Heisler, whose work analyzes the history of research on this topic in three stages. She dubs research up until the late 60's the "classical period." In this period, the process of assimilation was viewed as a one way process ending in complete assimilation.

Heisler dubs the second period the "modern" period, beginning in the seventies. In this period research focused more on conflict, particularly long term conflict, and less on equilibrium. The third period is the "post-modern period," of recent origin (which given the date of this article would be the 1990's). Here we find the expectation of multicultural societies and ethnic pluralisms (158).

Seland mentions several other sources from which one might construct a model of acculturation/assimilation appropriate for 1 Peter. These include the fields of social psychology and communication research. Finally, he draws definitions of acculturation and assimilation from the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (160).

acculturation: "those changes set in motion by the coming together of societies with different cultural traditions."

Seland finds this statement in the article even more helpful: "Acculturation comprehends those phenomena which results [sic] when groups of individuals having different cultures come into continuous first-hand contact, with subsequent changes in the original cultural patterns of either or both groups."

assimilation: "a process in which persons of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds come to interact, free of these constraints, in the life of the larger society."

After all this background, Seland ultimately turns to Milton Gordon's 1964 model (from the so called classical period of such research) with a few caveats. The main caveat is a warning that Gordon was wrongly "deterministic" in his sense of inevitability to the process of assimilation. Adjustment of two groups to each other is not the only option.

Gordon's model breaks down several different categories of assimilation:

1. cultural or behavioral assimilation (=acculturation)--fitting in with the host culture in a most basic way (presumably things like learning the language, getting the appropriate documents, etc...)

2. structural assimilation--participating in the clubs, institutions, etc. in large numbers. Gordon believed that once structural assimilation had taken place, all the forms of assimilation below would inevitably follow.

3. marital assimilation (intermarriage)
4. identificational assimilation (identity by way of host society)
5. attitude receptional assimilation (no prejudice toward immigrants)
6. behavior receptional assimilation (no discrimination toward immigrants)
7. civic assimilation (absence of power conflict)

John Berry, in 1980, built on Gordon's categories by posing two questions: 1) does the immigrant group wish to maintain its distinct cultural identity and 2) does the immigrant group wish good relationships with the host culture (163-164)? The result are four basic relationships to the broader culture:

1. If the immigrant group does not want to maintain a distinct identity and does want good relationships with the host culture, the result is assimilation.

2. If the immigrant group does want to maintain a distinct identity yet also wants good relationships with the host culture, the result is integration.

3. If the immigrant group does want to maintain a distinct identity yet does not want good relationships with the host culture, the result is separation.

4. Finally, if the immigrant group does not want to maintain a distinct identity and at the same time does not care about good relationships with the host culture, the result is marginalization.

Part 3
The final part of the chapter then takes all of the preceding processing of social scientific theory and attempts to use it in relation to 1 Peter. Here we arrive at one of Seland's contributions to the Balch/Elliott debate. The question is not really one of assimilation to Greco-Roman culture, as this is the cultural background of the likely Gentile audience (169-170). The question is that of the assimilation of the audience "to the (still developing) Christian system of cult, beliefs, ethos and symbols" (168). So in relation to the host culture, the question is best put as, "How much did he, by his letter, intend his readers to retain of that culture?" (173).

First, Seland argues that they are first generation Christians, "still in need of further acculturation/assimilation into the Christian system" (169). He is surely more correct than not in the light of statements such as we find in 1 Peter 1:14 and 4:3. However, we remember how large an area 1 Peter addresses and are careful not to presume an audience of any monolithic kind. They are primarily Gentile, and it is early enough in the Christian movement for the author to presume that the majority converted from paganism.

They are in a precarious social location. Here Torrey mentions briefly what he discusses more thoroughly in chapter 2. John Elliott is once again his requisite dialog partner. On the one hand, he agrees with Elliott that the phrase "aliens and exiles" in 1 Peter 2:11 does not refer to exile from heaven, as if the audience is on a heavenly pilgrimage (171).

Yet he also finds unconvincing Elliott's sense that they were strangers to these regions even before they converted. We will discuss this thesis in the next post as we review chapter 2. I am also unconvinced of Elliott's thesis and remain puzzled that commentators like Paul Achtemeier and Scot McKnight have followed Elliott on this issue.

At the same time, I'm still struggling with Seland's signature idea that this language in 1 Peter evokes connotations of proselyte language (more when we come to chapter 2). Seland is spot on when it comes to the audience being "proselytes" to Christian Judaism. But I'm having trouble seeing that the specific terms "aliens and exiles" carried those overtones. Indeed, I don't think it is safe at all to assume that the audience, especially in such a vast area, are relatively new converts. ***coming articles

The rest of the section then explores where 1 Peter might fit in relation to John Berry's four categories. Seland immediately dismisses out of hand the options of marginalization and separation. The author wishes the audience to maintain good relationships with the host society.

To address the question of integration versus assimilation, he switches back to Gordon's more detailed delineation of the process of assimilation (173-87). The first stage is acculturation or cultural assimilation in matters such as language. They are to live honorably among the Gentiles (2:12) while following a "new code of honor and shame" (176). Seland thus considers their level of acculturation to be high with some significant modifications.

He does not, however, consider their assimilation to be high in any of Gordon's other categories. The strong sense of harassment and conflict evoked in 1 Peter 2-3 do not reflect that of high assimilation between Christians and their environment structurally, and certainly not in terms of attitude or behavioral reception, let alone civic assimilation. It is assumed that some women will be married to non-believers, but it is unlikely the author would encourage such if it were possible to avoid. And while the audience is not encouraged to withdraw from its societal relations, it is clear that its self-indentification departs quite dramatically from its host environment.

The conclusion, which ironically Seland himself never mentions explicitly, is that the audience would best be typified by "integration" in Berry's typology.

more to come...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Seland Review, Part 2

And now part 2 of my review of Torrey Seland's book Strangers in the Light: Philonic Perspectives on Christian Identity in 1 Peter. I want to go through the first chapter Seland wrote of the material in the book, from 1995, even though it is chapter 3 in the book itself.

Chapter 3: The 'Common Priesthood' of Philo and 1 Peter: A Philonic Reading of 1 Peter 2:5 & 9
This chapter originally appeared in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament in 1995. In this and chapter 4, Torrey experimented with a reader-response approach to 1 Peter, namely, how would an ideal "Philonic reader" understand and react to 1 Peter (79). This is an interesting question and a valid one.

However, Seland's work here raises certain questions. Since he is primarily a scholar of a historical-critical bent, why does he explore this Philonic reader? Does he have some underlying suspicion or inference he wants us to draw from this exercise? This question is particularly poignant when these two chapters are placed in juxtaposition with the other chapters in the book, especially those that attempt to shed light on 1 Peter by way of Philo's writings.

Seland's Philonic reader is "a Jewish reader who is well versed in Philo's works" who "would know the symbolic universe laid out in Philo's works just as well as Philo, if not better" (79). He notes that it has long been suggested that Philo's works may be of relevance for understanding 1 Peter, particularly when it comes to 1 Peter 2:5 (81). He spends the first half of the chapter summarizing Philo's views on the priesthoods of Israel, his views on the temple, the high priest, and the priesthood of Israel.

Throughout Seland's discussions of Philo here and elsewhere in the book, he is keen to deny that Philo "spiritualizes" the biblical text: Philo is "no blunt allegorizer" (82). Seland's concern seems to be to emphasize that Philo did not simply dismiss the literal practices of the biblical text in deference to purely "spiritual" reinterpretations. Thus Philo values the material sacrifices of the Jerusalem Temple (Mig. 92) and indeed the literal temple itself (Spec. 1.67). Seland prefers Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza's term "Kultisierung" or David Hay's "psychologizing" to describe Philo's propensity to move beyond the literal to more symbolic understandings of literal entities and practices (83).

Seland is correct to see a "both-and" approach in Philo to literal and allegorical interpretation. However, we wonder if the biases of a modernist age against allegorical interpretation are not at play here as well. While Philo valued the literal practices of the literal Jerusalem temple, it seems difficult not to conclude that he preferred the deeper meanings of Scripture and its cultic system to the literal ones (cf. Conf. 190; Mos. 2.108). Although it is difficult to say the least to locate Philo's writings in relation to contemporary events, we should not be surprised if Philo at some points took more interest in the literal temple in some of his writings as much because of his political environment as for his more rarified ideology (cf. Spec. 3.1).

Of most relevance for 1 Peter are Philo's characterization of Israel as being "to the whole inhabited world what the priest is to the State" (Spec. 2.162). Seland notes three ways in which Israel as a whole shares a common priesthood (88-91). First, they all keep the Law like priests, whose "chief and most essential quality" is piety (e.g., Mos. 1.66).

Secondly, they worship God as the true, one and only God in a way that the rest of the world does not. They thus provide appropriate worship to God, in a sense, for the rest of the world. The high priest also makes prayers and gives thanks not only for Israel to God, indeed, "not only on the behalf of the whole human race but also for the parts of nature, earth, water, air, fire" (Spec. 1.97; Seland 85-88).

Thirdly, in the rituals of the Passover especially, everyone in Israel acts as priest because the families kill their Passover lambs themselves without the mediation of a Levitical priest. In several respects, therefore, all Israel shares a priesthood beyond the specialized priests of the Levitical system.

The potential relevance of these latter aspects of Philo for 1 Peter 2:5 is obvious: "And you yourselves are built into a spiritual house as stones to be a holy priesthood to offer pleasing spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ" (my translation).

Also of concern in the rest of the chapter is 1 Peter 2:9: "But you are an elect race, a royal house, a priesthood, a holy nation, a people to possess, so that you might proclaim the virtues of the One who called you out of darkness into his astonishing light" (my translation).

Throughout the rest of the chapter (94-113), Torrey addresses the key exegetical issues of these two verses. His discussions are potentially frustrating, for they have an atmosphere of interest in what 1 Peter meant. Yet because the professed goal is to determine how a Philonic reader would read 1 Peter, conclusions are not clearly drawn about the meaning of 1 Peter. In other words, Seland's plane starts off down a historical critical runway with discussions of the original meaning of 1 Peter and literature to that end. But then the movie cuts to a quite different Philonic plane taking off. We are thus left somewhat uncertain about what happened to the other plane.

Is οικοδομεισθε in 1 Peter 2:5 indicative or imperative, or perhaps deliberately ambiguous? A Philonic reader would opt for indicative (94-95). Seland takes no position on what the meaning of 1 Peter is.

Is the οικος a house, a building, or a temple? Seland seems to disagree with John Elliott's arguments that it refers to a "household" rather than to a sanctuary (95-98). Elliott's agenda is to remove the His reasoning comes with his next question: Are the two words βασιλειον ιερατευμα to be taken as "royal priesthood" or as two separate nouns, "King's House, priesthood." With regard to 1 Peter, Seland is officially non-committal, although he rehearses the literature and notes that most take it as "royal priesthood" (98-101).

He does, however, draw a conclusion with regard to a Philonic reader. Philo explicitly interprets Exodus 19:6, which 1 Peter 2:5 echoes, twice: Abr. 56 and Sobr. 66. In these places, Philo takes the two words as two separate nouns, which agrees to that point with Elliott's interpretation of 1 Peter (101).

However, Seland differs strongly with Elliott's attempt to see the "King's House" in Abr. 56 as a reference to a royal palace. Since the king in question is God, Seland argues, the King's House is likely the temple, with the result that Israel is seen as the temple of God (103). Although he makes us to do some work to integrate his comments, Seland's conclusion is clearly that a Philonic reader would see the terms βασιλειον ιερατευμα as a reference to the audience of 1 Peter being a temple and priesthood, with the phrase "spiritual house" refering to them as a temple as well. *** Elliott's concern about anti-Jewish polemic (97)

Another interpretive issue Seland discusses is whether the term "priesthood" refers to Israel collectively or as individuals. Further, does 1 Peter have in mind Israel functioning as priests or is the reference more to a matter of their corporate identity? Seland notes the impact that an individual interpreter's theological tradition has seemed to play in one's conclusions (104).

With regard to a Philonic reader, Seland concludes that Philo would likely take the reference in a corporate sense, with the Jewish nation as a whole serving as priest (105-106; cf. Mos. 2.224). At the same time, all the individuals within Israel act as well, so while the corporate is primary, it entails individual action in the Passover. Seland is once again inexplicit about his conclusion on the question of function, but from his entire discussion it is clear that function is entailed in the common priesthood of Israel for Philo.

The final issue Seland discusses is whether the verb εξαγγειλητε in 1 Peter 2:9 has to do with missionary proclamation or declaration of praise to God (107-113). In his treatment of scholarship on 1 Peter, Seland refers sympathetic to the work of David Balch and J. Coppens that see this as a declaration of praise to God (112). But as his final concern is with a Philonic reader, Seland does not reach a firm conclusion on 1 Peter itself, concluding rather than a Philonic reader would likely side with Balch.

I found this chapter interesting and helpful. However, my main critique stands. I come away from it feeling as if Torrey is tricking me. He hooks me with a historical critical discussion of 1 Peter and discusses many aspects of Philo that would be relevant to drawing a conclusion in relation to the original meaning of 1 Peter. He gives me all the tools at hand to finish the historical-critical discussion.

But then at the last minute, rather than draw such a conclusion, he brings in his Philo ex machina and draws what at that point seems a tangential conclusion to what has been under discussion up to that point.

Reviewing Seland's Studies on 1 Peter, Part 1


I have been reading Torrey Seland's Strangers in the Light: Philonic Perspectives on Christian Identity in 1 Peter. I am writing a book review on it. Blogging (and emailing, much to the frustration of my colleagues at IWU) helps me get brainstorms out of my head and into a form that I can play with (some people do this by talking--at least you have a choice whether to read me or not :-). In any case, I will get some of my thoughts out on Seland's book here now, to polish (and condense) subsequently.

I should perhaps mention that Torrey is from Norway and is known for his work on Philo as well as his interest in Diaspora Judaism, particularly the social world of Diaspora Judaism (5). He has a massive resource page that I have as a regular link below. It is not considered impressive in biblical studies to be able to read another language. Indeed, it is expected that a New Testament scholar be able to read at least Greek, Hebrew, German, and French (OT scholars usually know Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, German, and French, as well as perhaps Ugaritic, Akkadian, and Phoenician).

But it is another thing to be able to speak or write in these languages. I've been to conferences where there are world class English, German, and French scholars at the main table. Typically, the Germans and French can speak English... but the English speak English (to our shame)

All of that is to soften one criticism of Seland's book, namely, that it is filled with minor English infelicities. He would have done well to have a native English speaker proofread the manuscript. After saying that, I will confess to being a hypocrite. I gave a lecture in German once--and laughter was a regular feature of the hour.

This book is primarily a collection of articles and papers Torrey has published and delivered in separate contexts. The result is that these 5 chapters both duplicate material and at the same time are quite disperate in other respects.

Perhaps the signature thesis of the book is that "the author of 1 Peter considers his readers, the Christians in the Diaspora of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1:1), as living a life influenced by social circumstances very much comparable to those experienced in the Diaspora by proselytes to Judaism" (2). This is the focus of chapter 2.

However, this thesis does not really provide the focal organizing principle behind this particular selection of writings. Beside the fact that these are all essays on 1 Peter by Torrey Seland, the more common feature of these chapters is the placement of 1 Peter against the backdrop of that Diaspora Judaism typified by Philo. Seland himself gives three common features of the chapters: 1) the application of insights from social studies of the Graeco-Roman world to 1 Peter, 2) a focus on insights drawn from scholarship on the Jewish Diaspora, and 3) the special reference to Philo in several of the chapters (8).

For the purposes of blogging, I want to run through his chapters primarily in the order they were written rather than the order in which the book presents them. This will help me get a sense of any development or expansion of Seland's thinking. However, I will start with chapter 1, which was written specifically for this collection.

Chapter 1: The Making of 1 Peter in Light of Ancient Graeco-Roman Letterwriting and Distribution
In good historical-critical fashion, Seland seemed compelled to write a chapter for the collection that somewhat sets a context for his probes in the other essays. In keeping with his concrete interests, he approaches this context not from the usual "author, audience, date..." approach. Indeed, he pays very little attention to the question of authorship and audience in the book. Rather, he focuses on the mechanics of how ancient letters were generally produced and distributed.

Before he begins this exploration, he gives his basic thesis: "both the description of Silvanus in 5:12, and the vast areas of destination of the letter (1:1) should be read as indicating that Silvanus was the writer/secretary, but not the courier of the letter" (10). I agree, despite some vocal objections to the contrary.

In keeping with his interest in social scientific matters, Seland explores the typical setting in which literature was produced in the Greco-Roman world. Works were often underwritten by patrons, who would invite them to present portions of the work in process to guests (14). Early readings also took place among close friends. This process certainly involved correction, abbreviation, and expansion, which probably has contributed to some of the variation in the manuscripts of ancient works.

Seland does not find very convincing the suggestion that commercial bookstores of some sort existed before the end of the first century CE. Nor does he think it likely that private individuals had access to the cursus publicus, the official Roman mail system. Individuals would have to be found to write down and deliver an encyclical letter such as 1 Peter.

"[A] letter having only the address of 1 Peter 1:1 would hardly be deliverable" (19). Either the carrier would have to know the precise location of the intended audience or specific locations would need to be given on a separate sheet of papyrus or on the verso of the letter. Once the letter arrived, copies would likely be made at the destination location as well.

Seland then applies this general framework to 1 Peter. He suggests that individuals like Silvanus and Mark, mentioned in the letter's closing, might have been involved in the production of the letter, not least as individuals to whom the author had read and tested the letter before sending (20-22).

The expression, "I have written you through Silvanus" in 5:12 is of particular interest to Seland (and to me). He is aware of some strong sentiment, based on Ignatius' use of this phrase, that it points to Silvanus as the carrier of the letter rather than the amanuensis (22-23). However, I agree with Seland that the evidence in these three instances is far from definitive (25-26): Ignatius to Romans 10:1; Smyrna 12:1; Philadelphia 11:2. See also Polycarp's letter to the Philippians 15, which the book mislabels as Ignatius' letter to Polycarp (25).

It is true that Romans refers to Ephesians, plural, as the ones through whom Ignatius has written. Thus Norbert Brox argues they must be the carriers rather than the writers (26). In Acts 15:23 as well, Judas and Silas are apparently those who deliver the Jerusalem letter to Antioch (27).

However, these two references do not provide a sufficient basis by which to conclude that the expression "write through" only referred to letter carriers. Indeed, even these instances where it seems clear that the individuals involved did carry the letters we cannot rule out the possibility that one of them also served as amanuensis. In the case of Ignatius to the Romans, it is quite possible that one of these Ephesians was the scribe.

Similarly, we have no basis to exclude Judas or Silas as letter writer in Acts 15:23. And the contexts of Ign. Smyrn. 12:1; Phld. 11:2; and Pol. Phil. 15 give no certain indication of exactly what role Bourros and Crescens might have played. Finally, Seland has produced a reference in Eusebius to Clement as writer rather than carrier (Hist. eccl. 4.23.11).

We are thus forced to look at the context of 1 Peter 5:12 for evidence of Silas' role. Here Seland sides with interpreters like Goppelt and Radermacher that the qualifer "I have written briefly," points toward writing as that with which Silvanus helped (28), especially since the letter proceeds to describe the content of what has been written. While I agree with Seland here, his argument is not as strong as his conclusion. This is one of my critques of his book. He has very interesting and plausible ideas, I think, but he often does not argue for them or development nearly as much as they warrant (I'm being a hypocrite here, for this is often said of my first drafts of things too).

The final part of chapter 1 deals with the question of how the letter might have come to its destinations. In particular, he discusses the suggestion that the order of the provinces in 1:1 indicates the path that Silas took when delivering the letter. In the end he concludes that the order of 1 Peter does not likely represent the traveling route of the letter. For one thing, a single letter carrier would have to pass back through Galatia to get to Asia from Cappadocia.

But more importantly, he suggests that the areas covered in the prescript are so wide that a single letter carrier could hardly cover all of them. We suspect that when we arrive at this conclusion, we see one of the main (and somewhat hidden) reasons Seland does not think of Silas as the letter carrier: "as 1 Peter is a circular letter intended for a vast territory, such a mention would make little sense as it is very unlikely that Silvanus could be considered the carrier of the letter to all these regions" (36-37).

One critique I have of this book (I'm a hypocritic again to point out) is that Seland spends a lot of time on some things, but his richest thoughts often appear almost out of nowhere without clear warning or appropriate development. So it is at the end of chapter 1. One of the richest suggestions in this chapter barely shows up in the final paragraph of the chapter body and in the last paragraph of the conclusion:

"I would suggest that a more probable scenario should include several carriers; if a carrier brought the letter from Rome by sea to one of the harbors in Asia Minor, possibly in Pontus, the letter would most probably have been copied there, and then sent further on to other Christian communities in the same areas and then further on" (36).

More to come...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Post #2: Garlington's Review of Piper

I'm sorry, but you're likely to get three posts today (in other words, I'm going Jim West on you today :-).

... but I wanted to point out Don Garlington's review of John Piper's The Future of Justification that came out today in the Review of Biblical Literature. Some of you will know that I extensively reviewed this book in the Fall as well. The entire review is now archived at my kenschenck.com site.

Don (a fellow Dunnite) agrees with Piper on a few things, disagrees with him on others. To me his most memorable critiques have to do with Piper's fearmongering over how dangerous Wright's thinking is and his rejection of trying to read Paul's writings in context in deference to reading Paul the way Augustine and Calvin do. In a memorable line, Don writes, "Once a Copernican revolution has occurred, it will not do to retreat into a pre-Copernican universe."

A Little Night Music... with Chopin

By chance I heard Chopin's Prelude in C Minor last night on the radio on my way back from a class I'm teaching in Indy. I'd suggest they play this piece at my funeral, except that my death would hardly warrant it.

I found it on the web this morning and have enjoyed listening to it in a fairly dim lit office to the gentle patter of rain outside. I could be in Durham again :-)

I feel like the business of knowledge sometimes is so much game playing. Last night I thought of Goethe's Faust and the Romantics, who after exhausting traditional study looked to feeling and the arts for something that transcended their all too human thoughts. Every once and a while in an all too mundane and mediocre life, I'm thankful for those God has graciously gifted with a genius that, for a brief moment, I can lose myself in, become swallowed up by greatness despite my nothingness.

Thanks Chopin for this last night.

Chopin's Prelude in C Minor

P.S. The piano player is Ivan Ilic, who has more downloads here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Surprised by Coptic

Sarah Smith, a very bright IWU undergrad, is learning Coptic this summer using Bentley Layton's Coptic in 20 Lessons: Introduction to Sahidic Coptic with Exercises & Vocabularies. Watch out April DeConick, here she comes. :-)

Of course these sorts of independent studies have to be registered with a professor, which means that I am trying to learn Coptic on the side too. Thankfully, I know enough languages that it's not too bad. But oh for the brain I had when I was a 20 year old!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Issues of my New Testament Survey Class

I just finished teaching New Testament Survey for May term. Keith Drury has eternally served as a goad to make it relevant to students required to take it who at most will teach a Sunday School class. What does a nursing student need to take away from this class?

One thought we have had is to teach the course around issues. I have always thought that students enjoy my course more once we get to Acts and start to dig into issues. But as I went through the class this time, I kept the question in the back of my mind--how could I pair up the whole New Testament to all kinds of Christian issues both practical and theological.

If you took my NT course, boiled the non-issue material I cover of, what would it look like? I think it could look something like this (following my May term syllabus):
  • Why are there so many different interpretations of the Bible?
  • How would a non-Christian Jew read the OT differently than a Christian?
  • Why are there so many different translations of the Bible?
  • What do the things Jesus did say about him?
  • What kinds of people do we see in the Parable of the Soils?
  • What does the Parable of the Good Samaritan say about Jesus' teaching?
  • How does the Parable of the Prodigal Son capture the response to Jesus?
  • How did we get the New Testament?
  • Why does Jesus hide his identity in Mark?
  • Why aren't the Apocrypha in most Protestant Bibles?
  • Why did Jesus die on the cross?
  • Do Christian Jews have to keep all the OT laws?
  • Can a Christian do anything contrary to love of others?
  • What should a Christian's attitude be toward money and the poor?
  • Why are Matthew, Mark, and Luke so similar and John so different?
  • Do the gospels give precise or artistic presentations of Jesus' ministry?
  • What are the unique contributions of each gospel?
  • What was the essence of Jesus message and mission before he went to Jerusalem?
  • What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Acts?
  • How important is water baptism? When should it be done and how?
  • Was becoming a Christian a change of religion for a first century Jew?
  • Was Paul tortured by a guilty conscience before he came to Christ?
  • Did the early Christians believe more in resurrection or the immortality of the soul?
  • How should a Christian view pre-marital sex, adultery, homosexuality, divorce, and remarriage?
  • Should a Christian sue another Christian?
  • What are the basic principles to follow when Christians disagree over issues?
  • What is the Lord's Supper all about?
  • What are tongues and how should they be practiced if at all?
  • What arguments does the NT provide for Christ's resurrection?
  • Should sin be a normal part of a Christian's life?
  • Can a believer "lose" their salvation?
  • What does the NT mean when it speaks of predestination?
  • How cultural or universal are the household codes of the NT?
  • Is it appropriate for women to be in ministry and leadership?
  • Are there pseudonymous writings in the NT?
  • How frequently is Jesus flat out called God and flat out worshipped in the NT?
  • What is the role of works in a Christian's life?
  • How do you fit together biblical teaching that seems to conflict with itself?
  • How will it all end?

Most of them are surfing the web during class... but those who are both mentally and physically present discuss almost all of these in the course of a semester in my class.

Explanatory Notes on Hebrews 9:15-28

Sorry I'm running behind on these. They may slow down to one a week... they are distracting me from other obligations...
___________
9:15 And for this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, because his death has come as a redemption for the transgressions in the first covenant, those who have been called might receive the promise of an eternal inheritance.
Hebrews fascinatingly has little to say about redemption of new covenant transgression. First those who were living around the time of the turning of the ages were enlightened and became a part of the new covenant. At that time they were redeemed from their past sins, which are thus dubbed "transgressions in the first covenant."

We are reminded of what Paul says in Galatians about the Law being a guardian until the heir comes of age. This imagery for Paul is not exactly the story of "everyman." It is rather the story of what happened in his day with the coming of Christ. The heir has been of age now for 2000 years.

With the language of calling, early Christian language of election peeks out. Such language functioned ex post facto for the early Christians, "derived from after the fact," despite the fact that the language makes predestinarian claims. The language works differently than what it seems to say. You know who is elected by God because they are among the elect.

9:16-17 For where there is a will, it is necessary to bring the death of the one who made the will, for a will becomes valid among the dead, since it does not take effect when the one who made the will is still living.
Hebrews now makes a play on the Greek word for covenant, διαθηκη. The Greek word can also mean a "will" or a "testament." The author thus shifts subtly from one meaning of the word, "covenant," to its meaning as a person's will. In general, a person's will comes into play after that person has died.

9:18 Therefore, the first [covenant] has not been inaugurated without blood,
Although some have tried to find a more subtle connection, the author's point basically amounts to a play on words. Just as a διαθηκη "will" usually goes into effect when the will maker dies, so the new διαθηκη "covenant" was inaugurated with the death of Christ.

9:19 ... for as every commandment of the Law was spoken by Moses to all the people as he took the blood of bulls [and goats] with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, he sprinkled both himself, the book, and all the people,
The author's portrayal of the inauguration of the old covenant goes well beyond the biblical account. It shows his allegorizing tendencies. In keeping with the shadowy nature of the Levitical system, the author amalgamates together disparate Levitical rites to pit against the one real atonement provided by Christ. For example, the scarlet wool and hyssop harken from skin cleansing rituals.

None of these is an exact shadow of Christ. Rather, all together they collectively point by example to the reality of Christ's atonement.

9:20-21 ... saying, This is “the blood of the covenant that God commanded you,” and he similarly sprinkled with blood both the tent and all the vessels of service.
It is not unreasonable to think that the author was acquainted with Paul's version of Jesus' words at the Last Supper, found in 1 Corinthians 11:25. There Paul mentions Jesus saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood." It is thus possible that he alludes to that meal here.

9:22-23 And almost all things are cleansed with blood according to the Law, and without shedding blood forgiveness does not happen. Therefore, [it was] necessary for the illustrations to be cleansed with these [sacrifices],
The author here speaks of the necessity of blood under the old covenant, the Law. Under the old covenant, forgiveness required a blood sacrifice. But this comment that forgiveness requires blood shedding is often taken out of context. The big picture of the author's argument is away from the offering of blood.

Unlike what is often made of this comment, the author is not revealing some rigid theology about the necessity of blood. He makes this comment while arguing that the blood of bulls and goats cannot in fact take away sins. He uses the given of the old covenant--its requirement of blood--in order to eliminate blood from the atonement equation. The author's dualistic framework, and the rhetorical dimension of these comments, argues against any real investment in blood per se.

The word "illustrations" here is the same word we earlier translated "examples." It refers to all the various elements of the Levitical sacrificial system. The cleansing to which the author refers is the inaugural cleansing of these things as part of the first covenant.

… but the heavenly [Holies] themselves with better sacrifices than these.
The idea that the heavenly sanctuary might need cleansed is somewhat odd. The suggestion that this is an inauguration rather than a more typical sin cleansing does not eliminate the issue, for the inaugural cleansing still relates to uncleanness.

The best solution is to remember that this entire discussion is somewhat metaphorical. There is no actual structure in heaven that needs cleansed, nor does heaven need cleansed. What needs cleansed are the consciences of human beings. We cannot take the inaugural cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary too literally.

9:24 For Christ did not enter into hand-made Holies, antitypes of the true [Holies], but into heaven itself, not to appear before the face of God for us…
It is certainly possible that heaven itself means more precisely a sanctuary in heaven. But it is more likely that heaven itself is the sanctuary he has in mind, the universe as the true temple of God. This is the tent that the Lord pitched (8:2).

The mention of Christ's appearance before the face of God reminds the audience again of Christ's intercession. We have already suggested that the focus of such intercession has to do with atonement. We find this idea in association with Psalm 110:1 already in Romans 8:34: “It is Christ, the one who died, even more was raised, who is also at the right hand of God, who intercedes for us.

9:25-26 … not so that he might offer himself often, as the high priest enters into the Holies yearly with the blood of another, since it would then have been necessary for him to suffer often since the foundation of the world. But now he has appeared once at the consummation of the ages to nullify sin through his sacrifice.
The author's dualism peeks out here as the author seems to associate the need for atonement with the very existence of the created realm. Such a statement is perhaps somewhat hyperbolic, but probably does reflect the fact that the author thinks of the created realm as intrinsically defective.

As in chapter 7, the author reiterates that Christ's offering is a one time offering, unlike Levitical sacrifices. The timeless scope of Christ's sacrifice comes out here more than it has anywhere else. The fact that the author sees himself and his audience living at the "consummation of the ages" reflects that he expects the return of Christ to take place soon. It is thus not surprising that he does not have much to say about the atonement Christ might supply in the future. His sense of atonement is primarily aimed at past sins.

9:27 And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, an after this is judgment,
Hebrews is sketchy in its view of resurrection. It clearly mentions resurrection as an elementary principle of faith (6:2), and 13:20 speaks of God "bringing up" or "bringing again" Jesus from the dead. However, it is unclear exactly what such resurrection looks like for Hebrews, especially in the light of its pervasive dualism.

Another issue here is the timing of resurrection. Some see Hebrews to say that we experience judgment immediately upon death. One's judgment here might very well relate to your sense of whether Paul develops in this direction in 2 Corinthians 5 as well.

9:28 So also the Christ, who was offered once to bear away the sins of many, will be seen a second time without sin by those who await him for salvation.

The parallelism here might push us toward equating the judgment in 9:27 with the second coming. As mortals die once and then face judgment, so the sacrificial death of Christ is followed by a favorable verdict both for the sinless Christ and for those who trust in him. This salvation comes most literally when these individuals are saved from the coming judgment.

The parallelism of the two verses also seems to equate the offering of Christ with his death. This fact might seem to contradict the offering of Christ's sacrifice in the heavenly sanctuary. But we remember that the entire argument is metaphorical--for the author the literal truth is the passage of Christ's eternal spirit into heaven itself. In these two verses the author uses the earlier Christian equation of Christ's death on the cross as the sacrifice.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Faith after High School: Planning for Future Re-entry

American churches are bleeding Chrsitians, it seems. A student in IWU's grad ministry program is doing his final project on the many former teens from his youth group who have lost faith or completely stopped going to church since they graduated from high school. He has several surveys going on surveymonkey.com.

Of course there are some books out there that are in the neighborhood. McLaren has his Everything Must Change, as does Bishop Spong from a different angle.

The student will have some solid research behind his conclusions, but I have some thoughts that I'll throw out here for discussion (the rest of Hebrews nine is underway, but this seemed more immediately interesting).

1. Christian faith seems irrelevant to our kids. I was having a somewhat frustrated conversation with a friend the other day over what Wesleyans should do for a sort of "confirmation" with kids who were baptized as infants. A nearby teen reaction to the conversation was something like what sort of freaks argue over baptism.

Of course my hunch is that just about everything truly meaningful in life is irrelevant to our upper middle class "Christian" teens, many (perhaps most) of whom are doing drugs, having sex, and drinking just like all the other upper middle class kids in their high school. It is not at all just the "lower" end doing these things. The wealthiest high school in a nearby town, full of rich brats, is permeated with drugs and alchohol. It seems like a drunk student from there kills him or herself by running into a tree or something at least once a year.

This bored, pleasure level subsistence is an American problem, not particularly a Christian one. We're a fat nation ripe for being conquered or undergoing crisis because we lack for nothing pleasurable and have no interest in anything lasting. When I lived in England, I was shocked by how stupid Europeans think we are. When I landed back at the Detroit airport and listened to the conversations on a bus leaving the plane, I saw their point. Then after Iraq, we became the scariest nation in the world to them because "stupid" was shooting missiles at everyone.

2. We are a hyper-individualistic culture. Say whatever you think about cults, polygamist Mormons, old fashioned holiness types. But they have a group dynamic that keeps people in the group. The ethos of the current generation of middle class Christian students graduating from college is to blend in with the secular world. And they are blending right into non-existence as Christians. Non-denominational meets non-identity.

3. No "youth lesson" can compete with human sexuality. Our youth pastors can go "blah, blah, blah" about saving sex till marriage or about homosexuality. But it seems that most of this generation are going to have sex anyway. You can't watch them 24/7 and indeed to do so might create a solution more damaging than the problem.

I'm not affirming it. I'm saying I have never been more discouraged about Christians being "holy" than I have become this past year. Maybe I've been blind all these years to what people in the church are really like. My verse of the year is from Joshua 24--"You cannot serve the LORD your God. It will be too hard for you."

I have no great wisdom here (and thankfully no problems with my own family). But I do think that we need to start planning for re-entry into the Christian community once prodigal teens begin to think about marriage and children. I'm not condoning the "testing" years. What I'm advocating is an ethos that somehow projects a bright Christian future when our teens eventually have families.

If we could put a picture in our teens' minds of a day when they raise a Christian family, then they may begin to remember the homeland from some far away country they eventually find themselves in. I have no great wisdom for those for whom homosexuality is the issue, except that the church without question should welcome those who choose to remain celibate. The church will have to wrestle with how to be Christ to those who do not.

But a day will come for most when the competition between sexual drive and church ends. How are we planning today, when they are teens, when they are children, for future re-entry, for those who leave us in the meantime? If we do no planning, we are planning for them to fade away rather than to return. But an ever increasing number, I fear, will leave as soon as they are free.

Values usually are not rational. They are stored deep in a child's subconscious before they can reason. They are triggered powerfully by rituals. Say what you want. "Teaching" is powerless next to this deep magic.

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