November 6, 2003

Intellectualism and voluntarism both arise from the same theological error: from the assumption that there is some realm that is independent and autonomous. This is most obvious with intellectualism: For intellectualists, things have indepdendent value that God recognizes and evaluates. Voluntarists are, however, making the same error. They assume that X has the value it does only because God has imputed value to it (king and the lead coin is the classic illustration). But this still assumes that X (the… Read more

November 5, 2003

Steve Studebaker writers in the Scottish Journal of Theology (56:3) about Edwards’s trinitarian theology, and includes an extended critique of Amy Plantinga Pauw’s treatment of Edwards’s incipient “social trinitarianism.” According to Studebaker, Pauw’s analysis only works if one assumes that the history of Trinitarian theology can be sketched out as a series of pendulum swings between a “oneness” paradigm and a “threeness” paradigm (which has a contemporary variation in the opposition of “social” and “psychological” models). Studebaker wisely rejects this… Read more

November 5, 2003

In the same issue of JSNT, Philip Esler examines ancient oleiculture to illumine Paul’s use of the olive tree image in Romans 11. When he describes branches being grafted into an olive tree, Paul refers to a common practice. But the normal practice is to graft cultivated olive branches onto a wild tree. Paul inverts that, to underline the rhetorical point that he is making throughout Romans 9-11, namely, that the Jews should be provoked to jealousy: “By using the… Read more

November 5, 2003

Jerome Neyrey has an interesting article on Acts 20:20 in the current issue of JSNT. He examines the cultural background to Paul’s use of the phrase “in public and from house to house” by examining various expressions in Greek and Latin writers that correspond to modern “public” and “private.” These, in turn, are gendered spaces; women are covered and inside (and their sexual organs are “private) while men engage in activities in the agora, the fields, and in public (and… Read more

November 5, 2003

To what extent is modernity merely a recovery of the tragic? Tragedy, to my knowledge, simply didn’t exist in the medieval world. Drama revived late in the medieval period, but tragedy was reintroduced by the Renaissance. In Shakespeare, the tragic is set in a larger Christian comic setting, with profoundly Christian results. But later modern literature and philosophy seems to be a revival of ancient tragic metaphysics and literature. Read more

November 5, 2003

And in case there is any doubt that Bloom’s aesthetics is tragic: He claims that a poet is always one who is “rebelling more strongly against the consciousness of death’s necessity than all other men and women do.” (Call this the “heroic poet,” operating by the code of heroic honor and glory.) Each poet quests for an “impossible object,” as did his predecessors. And then this: “That this quest encompasses necessarily the diminishment of poetry seems to me an inevitable… Read more

November 5, 2003

And in case there is any doubt that Bloom’s aesthetics is tragic: He claims that a poet is always one who is “rebelling more strongly against the consciousness of death’s necessity than all other men and women do.” (Call this the “heroic poet,” operating by the code of heroic honor and glory.) Each poet quests for an “impossible object,” as did his predecessors. And then this: “That this quest encompasses necessarily the diminishment of poetry seems to me an inevitable… Read more

November 5, 2003

In the introduction to Anxiety of Influence , Harold Bloom quotes Geoffrey Hartman to the effect that art seeks “to overcome priority,” specifically the priority of nature: “art fights nature on nature’s own ground, and is bound to lose.” Bloom, of course, links this up with his own project of theorizing influence: “The argument of this book is that strong poets are condemned to just this unwisdom.” But this is only to say that culture/art is itself locked in Hesiodian… Read more

November 4, 2003

Sermon outline for November 9: Where Your Treasure Is, Luke 12:1-53 INTRODUCTION Luke 11 ended with Jesus’ most clear and pointed condemnation of “this generation,” which would be charged with all the blood of prophets from Abel to Zechariah (11:51-52). Throughout the following two chapters, this threat is in the background. Jesus’ instructions about persecution, possessions, readiness, and family relations are all given against the backdrop of looming catastrophe for Israel. Fundamentally, Israel is threatened because she, and particularly her… Read more

November 4, 2003

For Thomas, the “final cause” is the first cause. That is, the purpose for which a thing is done is what initiates doing the thing. I plan to retire to Tahiti; that is my final purpose. And that is the cause that initiates the various schemes of earning and saving that I embark on. The final end is the initiating cause. This sounds odd to modern ears. Causes are supposed to precede effects and not to follow them. So we… Read more

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