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Archive for the ‘John Barach’ 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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Fuzziness

The Bible is a complex book.  Consisting of sixty-six books written over several millennia, it describes a bewildering array of characters and events.  The Bible seems especially complex and difficult to modern Christians, because, however hard we try to think biblically, we have been subtly but deeply influenced by modern philosophy and science.  Often, even when we have rejected the explicit conclusions of science, we unconsciously adopt a scientistic mind-set.  One example of this is our tendency to operate on the modern assumption that all ideas can be defined with infinite, scientific precision, and that concepts can and should be distinguished very sharply.

The more you study the Bible, the more you will find that it cannot be forced into this mold.  Ideas and symbols in the Bible meld together, overlap, and stretch out in a thousand different directions.  This is not to say that the Bible is irrational or unscientific, or that we cannot make any meaningful distinctions.  But a modern reader cannot escape the sense that the Bible speaks a very different language than he learned in “Chem. Lab” or Philosophy 101.  As theologian Vern S. Poythress has noted, the biblical world view acknowledges the reality of “fuzzy boundaries.”

Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck drew a distinction between pagan and biblical thought that may help to clarify this idea.  Bavinck said that modern (and ancient Greek) thinkers attempted to find the “essence” of a thing, that which makes a thing uniquely what it is, by subtraction.  To discover the “essence” of a pencil, we subtract its color, its size, its shape — all of which may vary without changing the nature of the thing and all of which may describe something other than a pencil.  (There might be a red apple as well as a red pencil, a six-inch slug as well as a six-inch pencil, etc.)  When we have subtracted all the variables, what we have left is the “essence” of the pencil, what might be called “pure pencilness.”  (Of course, what we really have left is nothing at all.)

Scripture, by contrast, describes the essence of a thing by addition.  Only when we know the fullness of a thing, all of its attributes, do we really know its uniqueness and “essence.”  God’s “essence” is not some “bare minimum” of deity, or some “basic attribute” from which all the other attributes can be derived.  Instead, the “essence” of God is the fullness of all his attributes — Peter Leithart, The Kingdom and the Power, pp. 93-94.

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Arising Early (Mark 1:35-39)

Mark likes to play with the words for resurrection. Again and again in his Gospel, Mark tells us how Jesus raised up the people He healed or how they arose. He does not need to mention their posture, but he chooses to do so, emphasizing their rising. And the terms he uses are the terms associated in this Gospel with Jesus’ own resurrection.

On a first reading, these words may not jump out at us. But by the time we come to the raising of Jairus’s daughter and certainly by the time Jesus rises at the end of the Gospel, we should be able to see what Mark has been doing all along.

His Gospel is like a mystery novel. When you come to the end and you see what all the clues were leading up to, you can go back and read the book again and recognize the clues for what they are. And so, after finishing Mark’s Gospel, we can go back and read it again with the final scene in mind and see all the ways in which Jesus’ healings and the ways in which people rise or are raised foreshadow what will happen to Jesus and what will happen to those who belong to Him.

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In my blog entry yesterday, I raised a couple questions for Calvin about his theology of the sacraments.  It seemed to me, at least from Sinclair Ferguson’s summary, that Calvin talks as if we shouldn’t need sacraments.  The Word ought to be sufficient for us; the sacraments were added because of our weakness.  I wanted to follow up on that today.

Ferguson’s summary of Calvin’s view appears to me to be accurate.  Calvin approves of Augustine’s description of the sacraments as visible words: “Augustine calls a sacrament ‘a visible word’ for the reason that it represents God’s promises as painted in a picture and sets them before our sight, portrayed graphically and in the manner of images” (Institutes 4.14.6).

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In a book entitled Serving the Word of God, Sinclair Ferguson has an essay entitled “Calvin on the Lord’s Supper and Communion with Christ.”  The essay’s okay, though I don’t know if it breaks any new ground.  But it raises two questions I wish I could pose to Calvin:

1.  Ferguson points out that Calvin, together with the Augustinian tradition (so the question may really be for Augustine!), views the sacraments as “visible words” (pp. 204-205).  He says, summarizing Calvin’s view,

The signs display or exhibit Christ to the eyes and to the sense of vision, just as the word displays Christ to the ears and to the sense of hearing as the Spirit takes what belongs to Christ and shows or exhibits it to us (p. 208, emphasis mine)

and later he refers to the function of pictures.

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Ten Words & Ten Toledoth

In Trees and Thorns, James Jordan suggests that Genesis has an introduction (Genesis 1:1-2:3), which presents the seven days of creation, followed by seven sections which parallel those seven days.  For the most part, I find that to be a helpful way of looking at the book of Genesis and I commend what he says to you for your meditation.

As I worked on Genesis 1 and as I thought about the things Jordan said about these seven sections, however, I began to wonder if there might not be another set of parallels going on here, not in conflict with but perhaps in addition to the seven-day structure Jordan suggests.  Ten times in Genesis 1 we are told that God spoke (“And God said…”) and ten times in the rest of the book a section begins with some variation on this line: “These are the begettings of….” 

Is there some connection?  In what follows, I’m drawing heavily on what Jordan has already said in Trees and Thorns, though I’ll be diverging a bit as we go.

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Ten Words

In Genesis 1, God speaks ten times (“And God said”: Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 28, 29).  In The Gospel in Genesis, Warren Gage links these ten speeches with the Ten Words, which is the Bible’s name for what we usually call “the Ten Commandments.”  Gage writes: “As God created the cosmic order with ten words, so he creates social order with ten commandments.”

Gage doesn’t elaborate, but what he says here is thought-provoking.  James Jordan and others have shown that the building of the tabernacle in Exodus involves seven speeches, the last of which is about Sabbath, and therefore the construction of the tabernacle is the construction of a new world.  The fact that God gives Israel ten words, as he spoke ten words in the beginning, may likewise suggest that God is building a new world at Mount Sinai.

I wonder, though, if there are closer correspondences between the ten words in Genesis 1 and the Ten Words in Exodus 20:

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