The Bible and the Development of the Trinity

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”

The Problem with Application

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”

Alter on the Art of Reading Scripture

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 Value of the Greek Old Testament

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”

Cognitive Bias and Theology

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”