Monday, June 24, 2019

Craig Keener's Galatians Introduction

I don't usually read commentaries from beginning to end, but it could happen with Craig Keener's new Galatians commentary. Here are thoughts on the introduction.

I really liked his introduction and found myself in agreement with almost everything. Here are some notes:
  • "Ancient authors did not always follow hierarchical outlines" (xlvii). I actually think Galatians has a pretty clear outline, but I take his point.
  • Some argue that Galatians was more about "staying in" than "getting in." Not sure I agree with that.
  • "Paul envisions gentile believers as spiritual proselytes." but not physical ones. Yes
  • "Most scholars in Luther's day thought that Galatians abridged Paul's earlier argument in Romans, whereas most scholars today deem Romans the later, more mature work." (4) Interesting. I did not know this and the contrary seems so obvious today.
  • Themes in Galatians: gospel, law, promise, Spirit. (6)
  • A common median for the dating of Galatians is 51. (7) So Keener also dates it to about 50-52 (13, perhaps from Corinth then?). 
  • He dates it to after the Jerusalem Council because he thinks the similarities between Galatians 2 and Acts 15 are too many for them to be different events. I agree in general. (e.g., 11)
  • However, he fairly treats the theory that Galatians 2 relates to the famine trip of Acts 11. I agree with him and others like Lightfoot that the timing would be too scrunched for that.
  • I personally prefer a date while Paul was at Ephesus, around the time of 1 Corinthians, ca. 54ish.
  • Paul's audience is Gentile. His opponents probably Jewish. Keener favors a group of people connected with Jerusalem. (e.g., 25-26)
  • He favors south Galatia. I came to agree between the first and second editions of my New Testament Survey book. Older commentators thought it was north Galatia because they only knew the classical references and early Christian commentators weren't aware of the Roman boundaries of a previous day. A large majority agree today. What clinched it for me was the common sense that Acts talks a lot about south Galatia.
  • Interesting that Galatians would have filled up about half a standard papyrus roll. Two copies would have cost about 6.56 denarii or today $722.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Canon of Western Philosophy: Ancient and Medieval

I have a fair sense of the key works in Western philosophy. If a person wanted to read these key works, what would they be? This and two more posts are my attempt. What am I missing?

Ancient Greco-Roman Philosophy
The Pre-Socratic Philosophers (fragments, here is a possible source)

One can of course read all of Plato's surviving dialogs. However, here is a selection I might suggest:
  • Start with the trio: Apology, Crito, Phaedo (the first is the account of Socrates' trial, the second about justice as he is in jail, the third speaks of the immortality of the soul as Socrates dies)
  • Euthyphro
    (just prior to the Apology, Socrates addresses whether good is good because the gods say so or whether the gods say things are good because they are good independent of them)
  • The Republic
    (perhaps his most important work, giving the myths of the cave and Gyges' ring)
  • The Symposium
    (Plato's dialog on eros, love, giving insights into Greek banquets and sexuality)
  • The Timaeus
    (Plato's best known dialog on cosmology)
  • Meno
    (Plato's theory of knowledge as remembrance)
  • Phaedrus
    (gives Plato's opinions of writing)
Here is the standard two volume collection of Aristotle's surviving writings: volume 1 and volume 2.
  • I suppose for me the Nicomachean Ethics is the most important work, especially book X.
  • A second work of interest are his Metaphysics, so named because they came after the Physics. It begins with Aristotle's sense of the pre-socratics.
  • His Politics are of interest for me especially as background to the household codes of the New Testament. "Man is a political animal."
  • His Rhetoric is important background for understanding ancient rhetoric. His Poetics is perhaps the oldest surviving work of literary criticism.
  • Another work of interest to me are the Categories, in which he sets up a system for categorizing everything. His Prior Analytics presents the syllogism.
  • De Anima gives Aristotle's view of the soul.
The Stoics and Middle Platonists
I suggest two secondary works to get a sense of these thinkers:
Other Stoics
  • Cicero (Roman, mid-first century BC): On Friendship, On Old Age, On DutiesOn the Nature of the Gods 
  • Epictetus (Greek, late first, early second AD): Enchiridion 
  • Marcus Aurelius (Roman, late 100s AD): Meditations
Lucretius (Roman Epicurean, first century BC) - On the Nature of Things
Plotinus (Neo-Platonist, 200s AD) - Enneads

Medieval Philosophy
Augustine (late 300s, early 400s)
  • The Confessions (story of his conversion)
  • On Christian Doctrine (gives his hermeneutic)
  • City of God (his philosophy of history, political philosophy)
Boethius (late 400s, early 500s) - Consolation of Philosophy
Thomas Aquinas (1200s) - Summa Theologica
Duns Scotus (late 1200s) - Ordinatio
     (his commentary on Peter Lombard's Sentences, the standard theological work for four centuries)
William of Ockham (early 1300s, nominalism) - Summa Logicae

Through the Bible: Gospel of Mark

These are posts of my work on the Gospel of Mark as part of my project, "Through the Bible in Ten Years." Each Sunday I hope to put out a podcast and a video for a chapter.

I'm trying to keep up with explanatory notes, which I post for my patrons on Patreon as they ask for them. Then I'll likely self-publish these as they are ready.

Here are the podcasts and videos for Mark:

1.1 Introduction to Mark
1.2 Mark 1
1.3 Mark 2
1.4 Mark 3
1.5 Mark 4
1.6 Mark 5
1.7 Mark 6
1.8. Mark 7
1.9 Mark 8
1.10 Mark 9
1.11 Mark 10
1.12 Mark 11
1.13 Mark 12
1.14 Mark 13
1.15 Mark 14:1-31
1.16 Mark 14:32-72
1.17 Mark 15
1.18 Mark 16:1-8
1.19 Mark 16:9-20

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sermon Starters: Fill Her Up

Title: Fill Her Up
Location: Lakeview Wesleyan Church
Date: Father's Day, 2019 (June 16)
Text: Acts 4:23-31

  • Happy Father's Day
  • Scripture/Prayer
  • My father would never have run out of gas... [insert story on running out of gas or fuel of some kind]
  • Keep your spiritual tank full!
I. We need spiritual gas.
  • Ephesians 5:18 (present tense - ongoing command)
  • Growing up - thought of the Holy Spirit mainly in terms of entire sanctification, of a check off moment in your spiritual life.
  • Like turbo boosters in some movie - Batman, Fast and Furious...
  • The Holy Spirit is part of the entire life of a believer... He's the Spirit that gives us spiritual life.
  • Romans 7 was not about Christian life. It was about a person without the Spirit (a not-yet Christian).
  • Sin is not like a mass removed by divine surgery. It's not something to be removed. It's a power shortage fixed by plugging in.
  • Holy Spirit is what makes us a Christian - 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14. An "earnest" (downpayment and guarantee), a seal (of God's ownership).
  • When? How do we know? Usually there's a moment when you invite God in. In Acts often associated with baptism. Prayer is key. Usually there is a peace, although sometimes we have to speak peace to someone (especially melancholics like me).
II. Don't run out.
  • Insert story about running out of steam. Mine was a marathon story. 
  • Sometimes you don't know you're on empty--why it's important to go to church, to be part of Christian fellowship, to be "under the spout where the glory comes out." Means of grace.
  • The trials come unexpectedly, and there isn't always a gas station around. If you're on empty, it might tank you.
  • Parable of the Soils in Mark 4 - the weeds choke out the good news.
  • Parable of the Bridesmaids in Matthew 25 - they didn't have oil ready
III. Sometimes you need a boost.
  • The story in Acts 4.
  • Turbo-boost
  • What are you facing? God is up to the challenge!
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13.
IV. Conclusion with prayer

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Sea Fever by John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.