Humility; Miracles; New Heart; Ancient Libraries; Early Christian Sabbatarianism; Textus Receptus; Women Priests

1.  Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People, page 111:

I believe now hardly anything that I believed twenty years ago—except the multiplication table; and I begin to doubt even that when I read about Einstein.  In another twenty years, I may not believe what I have said in this book.  I am not sure now of anything as I used to be.  Socrates said repeatedly to his followers in Athens: “One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing.”  Well, I can’t hope to be any smarter than Socrates; so I have quit telling people they are wrong.  And I find that it pays.

I don’t think that we have to be extreme skeptics, but we should realize that others may have reasons for their points-of-view, and we should be willing to listen and learn.

2.  Robert Heinlein, Sixth Column, pages 72-73:

“That’s exactly why we have to have you, Colonel—to solve problems that are elementary to a man of your genius…but which are miracles for the rest of us.  That’s what a religion needs—miracles!   You’ll be called on to produce effects that will strain even your genius, things that the PanAsians cannot possibly understand, and will think supernatural.”

My understanding of the plot here is that the Sixth Column in America, which is seeking to undermine its PanAsian conquerors, will be sharing information under the guise of a religious group.  The Colonel would be performing the technological “miracles” that will help the Sixth Column and baffle the PanAsians, even as they undermine them.  The PanAsians are depicted as technologically naive.  Had Heinlein written this book in the 1980’s, when the Japanese were running circles around us, he’d probably present the Asians differently.

3.  Rolf Rendtorff, The Covenant Formula:

Rendtorff talks about passages in Deuteronomy and the prophets, which assert (in their own way) that God will give the Israelites a heart that will naturally follow his commandments.  Ever since I read the prophets ten years ago, I’ve felt that this eschatological activity that God will perform will be God’s way of uniting the conditionality and unconditionality of his covenant with Israel.  God is committed to his people, no matter what.  Yet, their enjoyment of some of his covenant promises—such as dwelling in the Promised Land and having God in their midst—is dependent on their obedience to God.  And so God promises to guarantee their obedience by giving them a heart that is inclined towards righteousness. 

Christians contend that their religion is the fulfillment of this promise.  But, if this is the case, why do Christians still sin?  I like the approach of the dispensationalist E.W. Bullinger, who said that the new nature that Paul talks about is distinct from the new heart that God discusses in the prophets.  The new nature co-exists with the old, sinful nature, resulting in the conflict that Romans 7 depicts.  For Bullinger, the new heart is something that will be for Israel specifically.  Dispensationalists tend to understand “Israel” in the Old Testament as physical Israel, not the church.

At the same time, Hebrews 8:10ff. applies Jeremiah 31:33—where God promises to write his law in the hearts of the Israelites—to the new covenant that Jesus Christ has inaugurated.  Does the author of Hebrews believe that the Jewish-Christians (or even the Gentile-Christians) have God’s law on their hearts?  If so, how would he account for their sin? 

4.  P. Pfeiffer, History of Classical Scholarship, pages 126-127:

[In the third century B.C.E.] in Alexandria a Greek library was founded on a grand scale; and this reminds us of the enormous Babylonian and Assyrian libraries of old…The lay-out of the papyrus roles in the Alexandrian library seems to have resembled that of the clay tablets in the oriental libraries in one or perhaps two significant points.  The title of a work was regularly placed at the end of the roll and of the tablet…and in ‘catalogues’ not only this title, but also the ‘incipit’ was cited.  On tablets and rolls the number of lines was occasionally counted, and these ‘stichometrical’ figures were put at the end and sometimes as running figures in the margins; they appear again in library catalogues.

I sometimes wonder what ancient libraries were like.  This passage shed light on that!

5.  R.P.C. Hanson, Allegory and Event, page 290:

Dugmore has also produced evidence to show that the normal Christian attitude to the Decalogue was to regard it as that part of the law which was still binding upon Christians, and has given an interesting account of the early Christians’ observance of the Sabbath (i.e., Saturday); it was quite a widespread observance and continued in one way or another for at least five centuries.  We have already encountered some evidence that Sabbath-observance was quite a well-known phenomenon in Origen’s day.

I couldn’t find online the book by Dugmore that Hanson cites (The Influence of the Synagogue upon the Divine Office), but here’s an article by Dugmore about the Lord’s Day.  I appreciate his point that the church fathers may have drawn ideas on (say) when to pray from Judaism.  I didn’t care as much for his argument that we have little evidence that the early Christian (starting from the late first century C.E.) day of assembly was Sunday, when there are patristic sources that say precisely that (see Sabbath or Sunday?).  Were there early Christians who observed the seventh-day Sabbath?  Yes, among both Jews and Gentiles.  Various church fathers felt a need to criticize Christians for that practice, so it was apparently going on.

6.  N.F. Marcos, The Septuagint in Context, page 367:

textus receptus: text transmitted as official by the Masoretes and printed in the Hebrew Bibles until the Leningrad manuscript B19a began to be published.

This definition somewhat took me aback, for it said nothing about the New Testament.  That’s when it hit me: most of the debates about KJV-only surrounds the New Testament, not the Old (as far as I know).  By and large, Christians today stick with the Masoretic Text for the Hebrew Bible, which is interesting, considering that Christians embraced the Septuagint early in their history, as well as produced other translations.  Nowadays, it’s the best texts for the New Testament that they debate. 

7.  At Latin mass this morning, philosopher-priest essentially said that women shouldn’t be priests, even though there are pundits who claim that the church wouldn’t have its current problem (which I will not name) if more women were at the helm.  To be honest, women in the priesthood is not a topic of interest to me, so I won’t comment.  I found it interesting to learn, however, that the position that women should be allowed into the priesthood became heretical after Pope John Paul II declared it so.  Before, the notion that women should be priests was deemed silly, not heresy.  Or so said philosopher-priest.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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