In the discussion of the Bible and its relation to the Trinity there is a particular term Trinitarians use which I think is misleading and that is “development.” The word and other related terms and ideas refer to the course of the historical development of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity from the 1st to the 4th centuries, the New Testament to the Nicene Creed.
As a point of historical fact, it is perfectly acceptable to say it developed because the doctrine did not appear out of thin air but there were a series of events that led to it. It is also correct to say that the path to the Trinity began with the New Testament (NT). The problem with the term development is how it is often used to suggest that given what the New Testament says, the formulation of Trinitarian doctrine was inevitable. Continue reading “The Bible and the Development of the Trinity”
One of the terms I really dislike in Bible studies is “application.” There are “Application Study Bibles” which goes to show this view of Scripture is certainly mainstream. I understand and admire the motivation behind the idea: believers simply want to live by God’s word. In fact it is perfectly biblical not to be a forgetful hearer but a doer of the word. So there is nothing wrong with such desire in itself. My problem with the idea of finding an “application” is the view and approach to scripture that it entails. Continue reading “The Problem with Application”
Noted literary critic and Bible scholar Robert Alter, as part of the conclusion to his seminal book The Art of Reading Biblical Narrative, offers below some very important remarks on what it takes to read the Bible: Continue reading “Alter on the Art of Reading Scripture”
The Septuagint was the first translation made of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek. It was begun over two hundred years before the birth of Jesus. It was translated from a Hebrew Old Testament text-type that is older than the Masoretic text, from which most Old Testaments are translated today. This is sad, for the apostles had access to both the Septuagint and to the proto-Masoretic text that was in existence in their time. And they chose to quote from the Septuagint—not the proto-Masoretic text.
You have probably noticed that many of the Old Testament passages that are quoted in the New Testament don’t read the same in the New as they do in the Old. However, if you were using the Septuagint Old Testament, they would read the same.
Continue reading “The Value of the Greek Old Testament”
We are more accustomed to thinking of syncretism as an errant imposition on the biblical text from culture. The point often overlooked is that even church and denominational subcultures are shaped by various dynamics in their surrounding culture(s). Who possibly knows the all the ways Christian organizations reflect the values and priorities of the numerous cultures in which we belong?
Furthermore, the inertia of tradition moves us along. We filter out certain texts and theological conclusions; or perhaps, we will overemphasize ideas beyond what is found in Scripture. In effect, our traditions and “Christian” subcultures create biases and impose significance or meaning into a passage.
Continue reading “Cognitive Bias and Theology”
One of the things only true Bible nerds care about is composition history. Composition history, as the name suggests, is the study of how the biblical texts came to be written. For the average Christian it seems quite simple but it is actually a complicated issue and a lot of scholarly ink has been spilt over it. As with many academic matters the ordinary Christian is not concerned about them. Even though debates about composition can get incredibly technical and sometimes steeped in a lot of conjecture and educated guess work, I still think it matters for how the ordinary believer reads the Bible, even if they are unaware of all the details.
Continue reading “Why composition history matters”