Archive for ‘Biblical Studies’

April 4, 2012

So, You Need an Education to Understand the Bible? How Dare You Say Such a Thing

by Max Andrews

I recently shared a previous post of mine in which I discuss my response to the atheist objection that God is a moral monster on Facebook.  Referring to my comment that understanding the Levitical law requires an advanced knowledge of hermeneutics an agnostic/atheist responded:

Are you saying that a person can’t judge morality without some fancy education?

No, this is not what I’m saying at all.  My point is that you don’t learn the hermeneutical approach to understanding the laws and commands in the Old Testament in a first year hermeneutics class.  However, if one wants to have a deep knowledge of the material one does need an education on it.  This doesn’t mean you have to get a degree in it but you do need to be well read on hermeneutics.  Somehow Christians and non-Christians have a stigma suggesting that it’s offensive if a certain degree of knowledge is required to understand something.  How is this offensive? Surely, the Bible can be understood without a degree in theology or biblical studies but to understand it with depth you will have to read and learn.  We do we demand such simplicity?  If a cosmologist says that I need an advanced knowledge of relativity theory and quantum theory to understand the early models of our universe should I be offended? No. There are certain antecedent conditions that must be met in order to really understand something with meaningful depth.  It’s the process of learning and getting an education.

Advertisements
April 3, 2012

VT Debate–Response to the Atheist Objection that God is a Moral Monster

by Max Andrews

There were two main objections, which my atheist opponents defended during the VT debate on the existence of God.  One of the objections was from the problem of gratuitous evil, particularly natural evil, which I have already responded to here. The other objection raised during the debate was presented first after my opening statements. The argument was that because me and my debate partner were Christian theists the Christian God cannot exist because of the supposed atrocities in the Bible and other doctrines such as hell.

The argument began with the problem of predisposition. In other words, why you must approach your faith of choice with objectivity and skepticism and not confirmation bias.  However, in response, in order to identify and affirm the discovery of a truth one must not exhaust all possibilities.  Additionally, it works both ways.  If the criterion is applied fairly how can one deny the proposition, in this case, God exists, without examining all possibilities?  This criterion is untenable.  Also, to suggest that one is a Christian because of environment or spatiotemporal location is to commit the genetic fallacy.

read more »

March 4, 2012

The Husband of One Wife and Elder Qualifications Regarding Marriage

by Max Andrews

The Greek translation of a “husband of one wife” (1 Tim. 3.2) has often been misunderstood to meaning “not remarried,” which is unlikely.[1]  Remarriage for divorced women and widows were mandatory under Roman law and the Pastorals specifically allow it (1 Tim. 5.14; cf. 1 Cor. 7.27, 39).  The phrase is much more likely to mean that the leaders of the church were expected to have high moral standards.[2]  This early church, as it is today, is highly influenced by the culture in which the church resides.  The church leaders are expected to have high moral standards with this respect.  Those who attended church ought to have been known to be sexually moral.  For the leaders of the church, it was not enough to be technically faithful because the Greco-Roman culture would allow a man to have a mistress without being guilty of adultery.[3]  In light of this historical background, the grammatico-historical interpretation should be preferred to mean that the leaders of the church should only have sexual relations and marital fidelity with his [one] wife.

read more »

March 3, 2012

Jesus and Divorce

by Max Andrews

It seems that the only provision Jesus allows for divorce, or at least was recorded, was for sexual immorality. Due to the exception clause found in 19.9 the issue of concern is what Jesus means by his use of πορνείᾳ (porneia).  The Matthew passage (except for indecency, μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ, [epiporneia]) raises many questions, mainly what does Jesus specifically mean by πορνείᾳ, as it carries a broad range of terms.  The LXX (Septuagint) uses πορνείᾳ to translate the Hebrew זנות, zenut, which is used for immorality and also specifically for incestuous marriages and other illegitimate forms of marriage.[1]  However, many scholars concede that וחנז does not always mean an illegitimate marriage but a full range of sexual immorality.[2]  Deuteronomy 14.1 [Jesus’ reference to Moses in 19.8] contains the words ךבד צרות, “indecent matter.” צרות literally means “nakedness” and the sexual immorality involved in Jesus’ use of πορνείᾳ is physical adultery.

read more »

March 2, 2012

What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos, Beards, and Blood?

by Max Andrews

Tattoos, beards, and consuming blood is mentioned in the Bible in Leviticus 19.26-28.  These verses prohibit tattoos, trimming the edges of one’s beard, and consuming blood.  Christians often find themselves puzzled as to what we should do with these types of verses.  Are we allowed to have tattoos today?  Well, that’s important for me since I’m covered in tattoos.  Are we allowed to trim the edges of our beards?  Should we let them grow out?  Have you ever had a medium-rare steak with just a little bit of blood in it?  I’ve provided an exegesis of this passage of Scripture in hopes to help others understand how we should understand this passage and provide insight as to how the Old Testament Law applies to us today.

__________

Leviticus is the sequel to Exodus.  At the heart of Exodus is the Sinai Covenant, though it is rarely mentioned in Leviticus.[1]  Leviticus explains how covenant worship should be conducted (chs. 1-17), how the covenant people should behave (18-25), and then closes with a section of blessings and curses, entirely appropriate to a covenant document (26).[2]  The book enshrines the laws by which the religious and civil organization of the primitive theocracy in Canaan was to be regulated.  [3]  Leviticus is given in a treaty format consisting of naming the suzerain, giving a historical prologue explaining the background of the treaty, stipulations, a document clause (covenant context), blessings and curses, and the divine witness[es].[4]

read more »

February 29, 2012

An Outline of the Book of Genesis

by Max Andrews

The following is very brief outline of the book of Genesis.

Genesis:  The beginnings (This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord made the heavens and the earth.  Gen. 2:4 NASB)

Theme Verse(s)In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:1, 10b (NASB)

Author:  Moses (Pentateuch Authorship:  Ex. 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Num. 33:1-2; Deut. 31:9)

Date, Place, and Type of Writing:  1450-1410 BC, General Middle East, Historical

Outline:

*A.  Theological Significances  B.  Practical Applications C.  Major Events  —Multiple or None Major

1.  The Creation—1-2

A.  The Creator creates everything (anything not created is God—cosmological argument—c.f. John 1:3).

  • There are supposed contradictory Creation accounts between chapters 1 & 2.  Chapter 2 is another account in supplementation to the first account by adding details (i.e. we are told that God created man (a generic term here) male and female (v 27), but this does not mean that the first creature was a male-female combination.  The details of that creation of the male Adam and the female Eve are given in 2:18-23.  Likewise, verse 5 adds details about the creation of vegetation on the third day.
  •  Creation was good, untainted by sin (1:10b).
    read more »

February 29, 2012

Word of the Week Wednesday: Logos, Λογος

by Max Andrews

The Word of the Week is: Logos, λογος

Definition: The Logos is the second person in the godhead of the Trinity–Jesus.  The Logos is the preexistent person of Jesus.

More about the term:   Logos is the reason or mind of God (not to be confused with unitarianism).  It is the creative force behind the creation of the world, which in turn, gives the world its rational structure.  The reason why the world is a logical place open to rational investigation is because it bears the imprint of the Logos (the reason or rationality of the God who created it).

God the Father existed without the universe but having within Him His Word or reason.  This proceeded forth from Him (Just as the Holy Spirit proceeds from the mind of God).  The pre-incarnate Christ (John 3:13, 31), Son of God, exists as the mind and reason of the Father (eternally rational). 

read more »

February 13, 2012

The Unbelief of Impatience–Isaiah 30.1-5

by Max Andrews

The following is an outline from a lesson I delivered in a Bible study group.

Question:  Have you ever doubted God?  When God says He will do something, have you ever denied that He would do it?

Impatience is unbelief

  • It rises in your heart when you begin to doubt God’s timing
  • When you doubt the wisdom of His guidance
  • It springs up when the road to success gets muddy or a tree falls across and blocks it from where you thought you would be and when you thought you would be there

 There’s a difference between impatience and desire

  • God doesn’t want us to be impatient
  • God wants us to desire Him
    • Not to be apathetic
    • It’s OK to desire something, be patient

read more »

February 12, 2012

The Book of Jonah: God’s Compassion and Our Lack of Compassion

by Max Andrews

The following is an outline of the book of Jonah I used for a Bible study group.

Question:  When I say, “Jonah,” what do you think of?

Historical Background:  Eighth century B.C.—Jonah was a prophet from Israel (Northern Kingdom) called to preach repentance to Nineveh (Assyrian).  Instead, he attempted to flee to Tarshish (Spain?).  Jonah had many reasons not to like Nineveh.

  • During Assyrian captivity they would torture.  Their methods would be cutting the skin on the side of the body and peeling it off a live person.
  • They would place bodies on spears for display.

Outline:

1.1-6:  The pagans aboard the ship were better pagans than Jonah was a Jew

  • The pagans called on their gods
  • They sought help from their gods before help from man
    • Jonah could care less about anyone perishing

1.8-17: Jonah is tossed overboard and is swallowed by a big fish

  • How could Jonah live?
  • Natural: It has been well established that the phrase “three days and three nights” in ancient Hebrew usage was an idiomatic expression meaning simply “three days,” and was applicable even if the beginning and ending days of the period were only partial days. Thus it could refer to a period as short as about 38 hours. There is always some air in the whale’s stomach, and, as long as the animal it has swallowed is still alive, digestive activity will not begin. Thus, Jonah’s experience could possibly have happened entirely with the framework of natural law.
  • Miracle:  Jesus uses a simile to compare His miraculous resurrection like that of Jonah in the belly of the fish.  Its literary comparison likens the Jonah situation to be miraculous, c.f. Mt 12.40.
    read more »

February 4, 2012

Paul’s Use of The Old Testament in The Book of Romans

by Max Andrews

Paul’s use of the Old Testament is very evident in the book of Romans. There are 50 references to Old Testament Scriptures from thirteen different books. Paul does not seem to quote Scripture verbatim every time he refers to it. Paul paraphrases and contextualizes the Scriptures. One example of this is in 2:24:

For, “THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,” just as it is written. (NASB)

The Old Testament reference is Isaiah 53:5 which states:

Now therefore, what do I have here,” declares the LORD, “seeing that My people have been taken away without cause?” Again the LORD declares, “Those who rule over them bowl, and My name is continually blasphemed all day long. (NASB)

There are other times where he does give verbatim when he refers to the Ten Commandments and Exodus and Deuteronomy when to not covet, etc. (i.e. Rom 7:7). Paul will refer to certain personalities and books depending on what he is addressing, when he addresses Israel in chapter 9, it is mainly the prophetic books. When dealing with the word of faith and salvation in chapter 10, Paul usually sticks to the historical books. If Paul referred to any one personality the most, it would be Abraham when he is justified in his faith and to the prophet Isaiah as he refers to him thirteen times (tied with the most references with The Psalms).

read more »