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Archive for the ‘Biblical Theology’ Category

HOT OFF THE PRESSES!

Peter J. Leithart & John Barach, eds., The Glory of Kings: A Festschrift in Honor of James B. Jordan (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2011).

Foreword — R. R. Reno

Introduction — Peter J. Leithart

PART ONE: BIBLICAL STUDIES

1. The Glory of the Son of Man: An Exposition of Psalm 8 — John Barach

2. Judah’s Life from the Dead: The Gospel of Romans 11 — Tim Gallant

3. The Knotted Thread of Time: The Missing Daughter in Leviticus 18 — Peter J. Leithart

4. Holy War Fulfilled and Transformed: A Look at Some Important New Testament Texts — Rich Lusk

5. The Royal Priesthood in Exodus 19:6 — Ralph Allan Smith

6. Father Storm: A Theology of Sons in the Book of Job — Toby J. Sumpter

PART TWO: LITURGICAL THEOLOGY

7. On Earth as It Is in Heaven: The Pastoral Typology of James B. Jordan — Bill DeJong

8. Why Don’t We Sing the Songs Jesus Sang? The Birth, Death, and Resurrection of English Psalm Singing — Duane Garner

9. Psalm 46 — William Jordan

PART 3: THEOLOGY

10. A Pedagogical Paradigm for Understanding Reformed Eschatology with Special Emphasis on Basic Characteristics of Christ’s Person — C. Kee Hwang

11. Light and Shadow: Confessing the Doctrine of Election in the Sixteenth Century — Jeffrey J. Meyers

PART FOUR: CULTURE

12. James Jordan, Rosenstock-Huessy, and Beyond — Richard Bledsoe

13. Theology of Beauty in Evdokimov — Bogumil Jarmulak

14. Empire, Sports, and War — Douglas Wilson

Afterword — John M. Frame

The Writings of James B. Jordan, 1975–2011 — John Barach

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3. Covenant Maturation

Let us now turn to the application of this One Eternal Covenant into history. We have been looking at Covenant Theology. Covenant Theology has to do with the persons of God and their relationships, with God’s relationships with humanity, and with our maturation toward being junior partners in the Divine community. Thus, the large focus in Covenant Theology is on persons, and we can link this with the Father-aspect of reality. Literary Theology studies how the Word is organized, and thus engages the Son-aspect of reality. When we move to Typology and Ritual, we are moving into the area of artistic imagery and of time sequences, the Spirit-aspect of reality.

These are the three large zones of Biblical Theology. Obviously, since God is One and “all of God does all that God does,” these three aspects of Biblical Theology cannot be separated fully from one another. What we begin to do in this essay is consider how the Spirit applies the one Covenant in history. We shall see that He does so by carrying humanity through ever-widening and ever-deepening spirals of maturation. These spirals or cycles correspond to one another, and thus are typologically related to one another. Thus, in this essay and those that follow, we are beginning to put Covenant and Typological Theology together.
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When I wrote my commentary on Ecclesiastes A Table in the Mist I took Eccl. 11:1-2 as a reference to the risk of international trade. It sure did seem to me like a reference to Solomon’s risky trade with other nations. Israel exported grain (bread) and Solomon’s ships returned to him with rich cargoes (1 Kings 5:1-12). This seems to fit with the theme of chapter 11. Solomon is issuing a call to be boldly generous and lavishly good to our neighbors.

But now I wonder if there’s another way to understand these verses.

Cast your bread into the waters,
for you will find it after many days.
Give a portion to seven, or even to eight,
for you know not what disaster may happen in the land.

Michael Homan believes that Solomon is advocating the brewing and serving of beer (“Beer Production by Throwing Bread into Water: A New Interpretation of Qoh IX.1-2,” Vestus Testamentum 52:2 [2002]: 275-278).

This looks really promising. First, there are all the references in Ecclesiastes to wine. Solomon advises godly folk to “drink wine” and enjoy life (9:7) with one’s spouse. And this exhortation to make beer and share it with others fits with the idea that the troubles of this life are best alleviated with a joyful reception of food and drink with others (2:24, 25; 3:13; 5:11, 18; 8:15; 9:7).

Secondly, beer is just liquid bread. Or perhaps we should say, as James Jordan puts it, beer is glorified liquid bread. So casting your bread (grain) in the water and waiting many days to find it is about the process of fermentation, especially the anticipation of a glorious final brew.

Third, it needs to be stressed that in the Bible beer and wine are gifts of God given to gladden the hearts of the faithful, especially in times of trouble and distress. Proverbs 31:6 says, “Give beer to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress.” This fits with the last line of 11:2, “for you know not what disaster may happen on the earth.”

Fourth, the social context of this drinking is stressed in 11:2a, “Give a serving to seven, or even to eight.” As Homan notes, “The inclusion of “seven” or “eight” people in Qoh. xi 2 fits with the context of beer drinking as a social event.11 And finally, the term plq, “serving”, is also used for distribution of food to Levites (Deut, xviii 8) and at a festival com- memorating the ark’s entry into Jerusalem, when David distributes victuals to the people (2 Sam. vi 19).”

All of this fits in quite well with Solomon’s conclusion to the book. It highlights the fact that the way to cope with the vaporous quality of human life is to enjoy food and drink, especially wine and beer with others in the Lord’s presence.

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2. What is the Covenant?

There are many and varied descriptions of what the Bible means by the word “covenant” (Hebrew: berith). We are tempted to write that there are as many definitions of “covenant” as their are covenant theologians. Because this is a short introductory book we shall not take up who said what, and argue for one view of another. Rather, we shall allow systematic and philosophical reflection on the Biblical data to help us rise to a full and broad understanding of covenant.

Clearly, a covenant is some kind of personal relationship that involves a bond and a structure. Such a bond is real — breaking it is painful, and this pain is the pain of death.1 Thus, we shall call it a bond of life or a living bond. At its most basic, then, a covenant is a personal and structural bond between two or more persons. We can see this in the marriage covenant, which involves two people, life-bonded together, in a structured relationship with the husband as head who gives himself sacrificially to the wife who subjects herself to him.

(footnote: Since God’s life is Triune, human beings made in his image experience death when they are isolated from other people and from God. See the book of Job. We too often think of “life” only as individual life, but there is no life apart from community. This means human life, for God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” even though God was with him (Genesis 2:18). Old people who live alone, widows and widowers, need cats and dogs to keep them company. Life does not exist in isolation, but only in bondedness with others. That is why those who are “alive” in hell are also “eternally dead,” for they are cut off from God and from all other persons.)
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1. What is Meant by Biblical Theology

“Theology” is language (logos) about God (theos). We can distinguish two broad kinds of theology: Biblical Theology and Ecclesiastical Theology. Biblical Theology concerns the way God presents himself and his actions in the Bible itself, while Ecclesiastical Theology concerns how the Church has applied the content of the Bible since the close of the canon of Scripture.

Let us begin with what we are calling Ecclesiastical Theology. Ecclesiastical Theology is performed when the Church studies how the content of the Bible is applied in new ways and to new matters. We can roughly distinguish four branches of Ecclesiastical Theology, in no particular order.

First there is Historical Theology. Here we are concerned with the development of doctrine through the ages of the Church. The study of creeds and confessions is a sub-set of Historical Theology, which can be called Creedal or Confessional Theology. When doing Historical Theology, it is important to pay attention to how language is used by a given writer or preacher, or a given age of writers or preachers. For instance, the Westminster Catechisms consist very largely of definitions of terms. This is a literary style, one arising from the “terminist” branch of the “nominalistic” philosophy current at that time. An earlier Reformed catechism, the Heidelberg Catechism, is written in a different style.
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      In his lectures on Comparative Religion, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy points to five fundamental gods that were over ancient man and still can dominate us today, and which must be respected. When we sin, we respect these gods more than we respect the Creator, disobeying the First Word: “You will have no other gods before Me.” Nevertheless, these gods (powers from God) are real. They are, according to Rosenstock:
      Saturn, the power of natural catastrophe
      Jupiter, the power of government
      Mars, the power of warfare
      Venus, the power of romantic infatuation
      Mercury, the power of rhythm, movement, and dance
Each of these can overwhelm a person if he is not careful, as Helen’s beauty overwhelmed Paris and caused the Trojan War.
      What follows is cool, but speculative. It is a speculation arising from Mark Horne’s brilliant insight that God had sent His lightning bolt to destroy the world at just the moment when human evil had reached its nadir, but that at just that precise moment, at around noon on a particular Friday, Jesus Christ went up on a cross between heaven and earth and took all that judgment onto His own breast, becoming the New Protective Firmament (hilasterion) over the earth.
      And yes, this is speculative. The Marching Moron Minority out in Calvinistic Blogland will say, “Oh, that’s speculative.” Well, yes, it is. We, at least, have our brains turned on. Adults investigate stuff; and even when it turns out to be a blind alley, grownups learn from it.
      Now for you grownups: It occurs to me in light of the Biblical usage of the synodical periods of the planets in Genesis 5 and in the censuses of Numbers; and in the light of progressive judgments in history, that God’s arrow of wrath can be seen as moving from heaven to earth in a kind of physical-symbolic way. That is to say: Part of the Biblical vocabulary is the system of “moving stars” (planets) that rule the sky. The ancients, including the Israelites, knew full well that space has depth and that Saturn was farthest from the earth. I suggest that the judgments and covenants of the Bible can be seen, in one aspect, as God’s judgment drawing nearer and nearer to the Earth.
      God’s first judgment was at the Flood, initiating the Noahic Covenant. This was the Saturnine judgment of total catastrophe. Never again would there be total catastrophe, though there would be plenty of local ones. In terms of the ancient understanding of the cosmos, this was the most distant from the earth.
      God’s second judgment was at Babel, initiating the Patriarchal Covenant. This was the Jovian judgment against total government. Never again would God allow a one-world government, though He would often judge smaller ones. We are moving toward the earth.
      God’s third judgment was at Egypt, initiating the Mosaic Covenant. God made war on the gods of Egypt, and the period of the Judges is a time of repeated wars against other gods and their nations. So, we have arrived at Mars.
      At this point we arrive at a quandary. The heavenly bodies progressively near to Earth are the Sun, Mercury, Venus, and the Moon. The Lampstand, with its lights lined up between the near side of the firmament and the far side, would have that configuration. Yet there is reason to consider an alternative that is of equal value. The Sun being the brightest could be the closest form of judgment, with the Moon just behind. And, to the ancients it was not clear whether Venus or Mercury was nearer to the Earth. So, let us see what we can see.
      With David it seems we come to Venus. David continually goes after women, without restraint. So does Solomon. In better days, Solomon wrote a song about love, the Song of Songs. Beyond this, David and Solomon were supposed to “love” the foreign nations and bring them to God. I suggest that Venus, and the judgment upon false love, fits the Davidic Covenant era.
      With the Prophetic era, initiated by Elijah and Elisha, I suggest we come to Mercury, the Messenger. It is Mercury whose fleet feet transport the words of the gods to men. It is just at this time that the prophets begin to send messages to the surrounding nations. God brings judgment on those false prophets who corrupt His message and tell the nations that they need not repent. The lightning bolt is getting closer to the Earth.
      The Oikumenical era after the exile is a Lunar time. The lesser light of God’s grace shines over the larger areas of the imperial powers that serve His purposes. The Jews spread out into the Oikumene carrying God’s word. Yet, when they darken His word, and make their converts into disciples of hell, judgment draws closer.
      Finally comes the Sun of Righteousness. Yet men esteemed Him not, and sought to blot out His fulsome light. Now the arrow of wrath has finally come to Earth. Yet, the Earth is not destroyed. The Righteous One takes the wrath upon Himself, and starts a New Universe.
      Now, reader, it is your turn to comment.

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      Some readers of my earlier essay, “Strange and Glorious New Rites,” have written to object that I have strained a gnat and swallowed a camel. I have strained out the gnat of a possible link to the memorial bread of the minchah (Lev. 2), while overlooking the camel that the Last Supper was a Passover meal.
      Actually, I did not deal with the Passover aspect because, to be frank, Jesus almost certainly was not eating a Passover meal at the Last Supper. More on that below.
      Let’s assume, however, that the Last Supper was indeed a Passover meal. At the Passover, lambs and kids (by Jesus’ time, only lambs) were taken to the Temple, slaughtered according to the rites of the Thanksgiving Peace offering, roasted by the priests and Levites, and distributed back to the people. (Deuteronomy 16:1-8; 2 Chronicles 30 and 35.) The Passover had to be eaten in one day, and this is the same as the rule of the Thanksgiving (Lev. 7:11-14). We notice here also that various items of bread were offered as part of the Thanksgiving.
      Beyond this, Numbers 15:1-15 specifies the precise Minchah that was to be offered with offerings at “appointed times” (v. 2). The revised Minchah consists of wine as well as semolina.
      Also, the passages in 2 Chronicles affirm that Ascensions consisting of bulls were brought near at the same time as the Thanksgiving Passover lambs and kids. The Ascensions also required the Minchah.
      So, if indeed the Last Supper took place as a Passover meal, and Jesus was crucified the following day, then there is plenty of foundation for the disciples to have regarded His actions with the bread and wine as a new form of the Minchah. They were quite well aware that at Passover bread was given to God and then eaten by the priests, while wine was poured out. They understood fully that for Jesus to break off the first piece of bread for Himself and then say, “Do this as a memorial TO ME,” Jesus was putting himself in the place of God. It was enough to send Judas over the edge, and he left almost immediately.

      All the same, this Last Supper was not a Passover meal. Paul wrote, “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7), indicating that Jesus died at the time the Passover lambs were being killed.
      In Luke 22:15-16 we read “And he said to them: ‘I have longingly desired to eat this Passover with you before my suffering; however, I tell you that I shall not eat of it, until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.'” This indicates that Jesus wanted to rejoice in the feast with them, but that He would not be able to until the Kingdom had fully come. (Moreover, if this were a Passover meal, where were the wives and children?)
      John’s gospel stresses that the Last Supper was eaten before the Feast of Passover. See 13:1, 21; 18:18; 19:14, 31, 42. John refers to this as the Preparation Day of the Passover. What does this mean? It means the 14th of Nisan, starting in the evening and continuing until around 3:00 pm the following afternoon, when the Passover lambs began to be slaughtered. The following day was a special sabbath (Ex. 12:16; Lev. 23:6-7). So, let us consider: If Jesus had eaten a Passover meal, the next day would have been a High Sabbath. The Jews could not have brought Him before Pilate on that day. And in fact, the gospels stress that it was the day after the crucifixion, beginning around 6:00 pm Friday evening, that was the High Sabbath (John 19:31).
      Now let us consider the chronology:
      Thursday afternoon: Around sunset right at the beginning of Nisan 14, Jesus allows some disciples to find a room to prepare for the Passover (Mt. 26:17-21; Mk. 14:12-18; Lk. 22:7-16). Preparing for the Passover means getting rid of the leaven (Ex. 12:15). According to the gospels, this was the Preparation Day, and the first day of Unleavened Bread.
      Note: Let us be clear: The Day of Preparation is the same Day as Passover, but Passover happens at the end of this day, in the afternoon, while the day begins the previous evening.
      Thursday evening: Having prepared the room, the disciples have the Last Supper with Jesus. After a long conversation (John 13ff.), they walk out into the full-moonlit night to the garden of Gethsemane. Three hours later Jesus is arrested. (I calculate this as around midnight, so that Jesus’ arrest corresponds to God’s killing the sons of Egypt in the days of Moses.) Throughout the rest of the night and into the morning, Jesus is conveyed from one trial to another, all on Nisan 14.
      Friday afternoon: By noon, Jesus is being crucified. He suffers for our sins for three hours, and then dies around 3:00 pm, which is exactly when the Passover lambs begin to be slaughtered.
      Friday night: Starting at 6:00 pm or so is the High Sabbath, Nisan 15, and by this time people have their Passover lambs roasted by the priests and a feast can begin. But the disciples don’t enjoy any Passover feast. They weep and mourn apart.

      So, what shall we say? Is the tradition that the Last Supper is some kind of Passover meal totally wrong? I do not think so. Remember that the Passover kid/lamb was to be set apart on the 10th of the month for observation. This begins a larger “Passover time.” The Last Supper was a meal at Passover Time. And indeed it happened on the same day as Passover, only at the beginning of that day rather than at the end when the lambs were sacrificed.
      There was no Temple-roasted Passover lamb at the Last Supper. Jesus was the Lamb at that Supper, and the food He gave was his own flesh, in bread, and blood, in drink.

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Rite Reasons: Studies in Worship
No. 90 Copyright (c) 2005 Biblical Horizons July, 2004 

At the last supper, Jesus took bread and, having given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples while saying, “Take, eat, this is My body given for you. Do this for My memorial.”

 What Jesus did was recognized by the disciples, because it took place every morning and evening. It was the rite of the Tribute, which is described in Leviticus 2. English Bibles generally mistranslate this as “grain offering,” or “meal offering” or “cereal offering,” or simply and very unhelpfully “offering.” But while this rite consists of grain or bread, the name for it is minchah, which means “gift” or “tribute.”

The daily Tribute is set forth in Numbers 28:3-8, and consisted of raw wheat flour mixed with oil. The other varieties of Tribute, however, were baked in various ways, and some were broken up. All were divided, with the priest receiving a portion after the Lord had been given His. The part given to the Lord was called a “memorial” (Lev. 2:2, 9, 16).

A memorial is an action done before God, or an object placed before God, that reminds Him of what He has done in the past, reminds Him of the covenant, and calls upon Him to come and pass judgment and renew that covenant. In a broad sense, all the rites done before God at the Tabernacle were memorials, but only bread rites are ever actually called memorials (Lev. 5:12; 24:7; Num. 5:15).
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                Brian: This is, I guess, the ultimate news flash. Maybe the last one. Just a couple of minutes ago a lot of people ascended up into the air and met the returning Jesus Christ. At least that seems to be what happened. As you can see, our cameras are on scene and there seem to be about a quadrillion people gathered in one place around a shining throne.  We go to Brit, on the scene.

                Brit: There’s a good deal of consternation here right now, Brian. A lot of milling around, though perhaps expectedly, people seem to be moving to the right and to the left side of the shining throne. It looks like the Man on the throne is about to speak. No, but wait. There’s a tall figure dressed in black walking up toward the throne. Are you getting this?

                Brian: Yes, Brit. Look, is he about to speak?

                Brit: It looks like it. Yes, he is.

                Dark Figure: Hah, hah, hah! So, you just could not do it, could you? Let’s see.” ALLLLLLL power and ALLLLLLL authority has been given unto me, in HEAVEN and on EARTH.” Yeah, right. And, uh, there was this choice bit: “You will receive the Spirit of God and I will be with you always.” Right. Hah! “Go and disciple all nations!” But you just could not pull it off, could you? Pathetic!!

                Brit: Whoa!

                Brian: Amen to that! But we have just set up our panel, and we welcome contributors: Gabriel, Ariel, and Uriel. So, Gabriel, what’s you’re assessment of what we’re seeing?

                Gabriel: Well, Brian, to be honest I’m confused. I was told to blow my trumpet, and I did, but I have to say that I did not think it would happen so soon. After all, we heard him say that all nations were to be discipled!

                Brian: Any comment, Ariel?

                Ariel: Frankly, I’m equally befuddled. As Gabriel said, he was clear that all nations of humanity were to be theocratized under him. That certainly has not happened. In fact, he has ended history at a time when vast numbers of people have never really heard the gospel he proclaimed and brought. What was the meaning of all the martyrs and all those who sacrificed for him and his kingdom, if he never intended to spread his grace from pole to pole? I’m beginning to wonder if truth really lies with him.

                Uriel (interrupting): Yes. This is like some vast joke. And I don’t like it. Weren’t the humans supposed to take dominion over all creation? To be sure, some ignorant humans have always said “He’s coming soon” or “We should expect him at any moment,” but that was obviously idiotic in view of what he clearly said. Now he ends history without doing anything like what he said he would do. I’m beginning to think that the Dark Lord was right all along.

                Brian: I’m beginning to become very much afraid.

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One of the mysteries in Esther is why Mordecai refused to acknowledge Haman. We are never explicitly told, and such guesses as that he was continuing Yahweh’s war against Amalek do not carry weight. If such was Mordecai’s purpose he was in sin, because it was Yahweh’s war, not his. Saul did not move against Amalek until Yahweh ordered him to.

The notion that Mordecai was obeying the Second Word is also nonsense, because bowing to images of God is entirely appropriate. Abraham bowed to the Hittites, for example.

The clue lies in the question asked by the other members of the Persian Supreme Court (King’s Gate): “Why are you transgressing the king’s command?” Note that they did not ask why Mordecai refused to bow to Haman. The question was why he was disobeying the king. The only answer Mordecai gave was that he was a Jew, which of course identified Jews as rebels against the king and caused all the problems that ensued.
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