Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gen.1 by Rikki Watts

Gen.1-3 is foundational for a biblical worldview. This paper about Gen.1 in light of the Ancient Near East context by Rikki Watts, professor at Regent College looks at this foundational and fascinating chapters in the context of the ancient world it was written in.

Much modern discussion of Gen.1-3 is weighed down or distracted by talk of science/evolution and modern controversies relative to readers of the 21st century. While these things are important, and I don't want to disregard them at all, it must be said that we often forget to ask the question: What did Gen.1 mean for the ancient Israelites wandering around in the wilderness? What would this text have sounded like or meant for them as they were recently released from slavery and awaiting a promise land? The below paper by Rikki Watts is an in-depth quality look at Genesis in light of it's ancient near eastern context. Watt's explenation of Ancient Eastern creation myths and how they compare/contrast to Ezekiel opens up for me the fascinating and foundational nature of the opening chapters of the Bible!

Jurgen Moltmann and Miroslav Volf (Theology of Joy)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Poem about the teachings of Jesus

Last year I was blessed to teach the gospel of Matthew. I concentrated on teaching about the "teachings of Jesus" an incredibly humbling and amazing thing to "teach about". At the end of my time studying Jesus' teachings I wrote this poem without much thought after...it was what came in a spur of a moment as a total reaction... almost a year later I stumbled on them again and agreed even more with my spontaneous reaction, figured I would post it here...

Glorious tensions arise
pouring out from the skies
sun rays rain down
and all this in the vehicle of words
how could vibrations uttered thousands of years ago 
still shake the day
how could questions asked then 
still be unanswered
how could all of man’s progressively triumphant wisdom
be silent in the face of his words
how can I hear such greatness
and defy them knowingly

Repent for the kingdom is at hand

Excerpt from Expositers commentary on MT. 27:9-10 by D.A. Carson

We have been going through the prophets lately, and that means we are looking at all the NT quotes in prophetic literature. In doing so, we find some interesting and puzzling quotations. Verses that dont seem predictive become "fulfilled" verses attributed to Jeremiah seem irrelevant to the NT context and not in context with the OT book?! This is definately not the norm or absolute of NT references, but it happens enough. One of the more tricky ones is Matthew' quoting of the blended citation of Jeremiah and Zechariah. Here is what D.A. Carson has to say about in his commentary:

D.A. Carson’s Commentary on Matthew 27:9-10

Three aspects of this complex quotation need discussion.

  1. The ascription to Jeremiah.
On the face of it, the quotation is a rough rendering of Zec 11:12-13. The only obvious allusions to Jeremiah are 18:2-6; 32:6-15—Jeremiah did visit a potter and buy a field. It is difficult to imagine why Matthew mentioned Jeremiah instead of Zechariah, even though Jeremiah is important in this gospel (cf. 2:17; 16:14).

We should first note that no extant version of Zec 11 refers to a field; thus Matthew’s attributing the quotation to Jeremiah suggests we ought to look to that book. Jeremiah 19:1-13 is the obvious candidate, where Jeremiah is told to purchase a potter’s jar and take some elders and priests to the Valley of Ben Hinnom. There he is to warn of the destruction of Jerusalem for her sin, illustrated by smashing the jar. A further linguistic link is “innocent blood” (Jer 19:4); and thematic links include renaming a locality associated with potters (19:1) with a name (“Valley of Slaughter”) denoting violence (19:6). The place will henceforth be used as a burial ground (19:11), as a token of God’s judgment. In other words, the quotation appears to refer to Jer 19:1-13, along with phraseology drawn mostly from Zec 11:12-13. Such fusing of sources under one “quotation” is not unknown elsewhere in Scripture (e.g., Mk 1:2-3). Jeremiah alone is mentioned, perhaps because he is the more important of the two prophets, and perhaps also because Jer 19 is more important as to prophecy and fulfillment.

  1. Meaning 
How did Matthew understand the OT texts he was quoting? The question is not easy, because the two OT passages themselves can be variously explained. It appears that in Zec 11 the “buyers” (v. 5) and the three shepherds (vv. 5, 8, 17) apparently represent Israel’s leaders, who are slaughtering the sheep. God commands Zechariah to shepherd the “flock marked for slaughter” (v. 7), and he tries to clean up the leadership by sacking the false shepherds. But he discovers that not only is the leadership corrupt, but the flock detests him (v. 8). Thus Zechariah comes to understand the Lord’s decision to have no more pity on the people of the land (v. 6).

Zechariah decides to resign (11:9-10), exposing the flock to ravages. Because he has broken the contract, he cannot claim his pay (presumably from the “buyers”); but they pay him off with thirty pieces of silver (v. 12). But now the Lord tells Zechariah to throw this “handsome price at which they priced me” (probably ironical) to the potter in the “house of the LORD.”

The parallel between Zec 11 and Mt 26-27 is not exact. In Zechariah the money is paid to the good shepherd; in Matthew it is paid to Judas and returned to the Jewish leaders. In Zechariah the money goes directly to the “potter” in the temple; in Matthew, after being thrown into the temple, it purchases “the potter’s field.” Nevertheless the central parallel is stunning: in both instances the Lord’s shepherd is rejected by the people of Israel and valued at the price of a slave. And in both instances the money is flung into the temple and ends up purchasing something that pollutes and points to the destruction of the nation (see comments on 15:7-9; 21:42).


In the light of these relationships between the events surrounding Jesus’ death and the two key OT passages that make up Matthew’s quotation, what does the evangelist mean by saying that the prophecy “was fulfilled”? As in 2:17, the form of this introductory formula shrinks from making Judas’s horrible crime the immediate result of the Lord’s word, while nevertheless insisting that all has taken place in fulfillment of Scripture (cf. 1:22 with 2:17). What we find in Matthew, including vv. 9-10, is not identification of the text with an event but fulfillment of the text in an event, based on a broad typology governing how both Jesus and Matthew read the OT (see comments on 2:15; 8:17; 13:35; 26:28, 54). Because of this typological model, Matthew can introduce the commonly noticed changes: e.g., the one on whom a price is set is no longer the prophet (“me,” Zec 11:13), but Jesus.