November 21, 2018

The eighth word prohibits stealing, but in Scripture the word “steal” (Heb. ganaph) and the concept of “theft” covers more territory than we might assume. 1) There is a cluster of uses of ganaph in Genesis 31 (8x). Laban accuses Jacob of “stealing” away (vv. 20, 26-27), perhaps a reference to his furtive departure, like a thief in the night. Rachel steals her father’s teraphim (vv. 19, 30). In his defense, Jacob reminds Laban that he bore the cost of animals... Read more

November 20, 2018

Samson Raphael Hirsch’s Horeb is worth reading on any topic – stimulating, eccentric, illuminating, infuriating. His treatment of the eighth commandment brings out several key themes. First, he defines property as “an artificial extension of the body” (227), and since the body is a “tool” for the spirit, so property is a further embodiment of the human spirit. Crimes against property aren’t, therefore, simply crimes against property but sins “against the invisible human spirit” and “against God, Who demands of... Read more

November 19, 2018

John Gray (Seven Types of Atheism) says that “Contemporary atheism is a flight from a godless world. Life without any power that can secure order or some kind of ultimate justice is a frightening and for many an intolerable prospect. In the absence of such a power, human events could be finally chaotic, and no story could be told that satisfied the need for meaning. Struggling to escape this vision, atheists have looked for surrogates of the God they have cast... Read more

November 15, 2018

Bryan Dyer deploys some sophisticated critical tools to establish the “context of situation” for the book of Hebrews in his Suffering in the Face of Death. He uses the “semantic domain theory” reflected in the Louw-Nida Lexicon to identify the variety of language the writer uses to describe suffering and death and to identify key passages where clusters of these terms appear. This is backed up by the work of M.A.K. Halliday, whose “systemic functional linguistics” starts from the assumption... Read more

November 14, 2018

In her book on Benjamin Constant, Liberal Values, Helena Rosenblatt examines the intertwining of religious and political concerns in the work of Constant and his lover/collaborator, Madame de Stael. Through his early study of liberal Protestant theologians in Germany, Constant “hit upon what would be a central principle of his mature liberal philosophy – that there should be complete freedom of opinion and belief, and that such freedom was conducive to both intellectual and moral progress.” Freedom of religion was... Read more

November 13, 2018

  Gillian Rose (Hegel Contra Sociology, 21-24) examines how sociology attempts to overcome Kantian problematics, but remains within them all the same. Neo-Kantianism, she argues, “founded two kinds of ‘sociology,’ two logics of the social: a logic of constitutive principles for the sociology based on the priority of validity, and a logic of regulative postulates for the sociology based on the priority of values. The former identifies social reality by a critique of consciousness; the latter locates social reality within... Read more

November 12, 2018

Barth is no feminist. In his discussion of man and woman (CD 3.4), he insists on the created differences between male and female. Men and women must resist the temptation “to exchange their special vocations, what is required of the one or the other as such” (154). Instead, “each man and woman owes it not only to himself but also to the other always to be faithful to his own sexual characteristics” (154). He launches an attack on the explicit... Read more

November 8, 2018

Genesis describes sex with a variety of terminology: 1) The command to “be fruitful” (Genesis 1:28) implies sex. 2) Adam “knew” (yada’) Eve and she conceived (4:1, 25). The same term is used for Cain (4:17), for the Sodomites who attack the angels (19:5). “Not known a man” is a description of virginity (19:8; 38:16). Judah no longer “knew” Tamar after she became mother of his son/grandson (38:16). 3) Men “take a wife,” a phrase that implies sexual activity but doesn’t... Read more

November 7, 2018

Where does my speech come from? Klaus Hemmerle (Thesen zu einer trinitarischen Ontologie) argues that the answer is more complex that we might think. On the one hand, the word originates from the speaker: “I speak the word, it’s up to me.” There’s no gap between me as speaker and the words i speak. I design the speech and direct it to the addressee. In short, “the whole of speech is rooted . . . in me.” Yet even though... Read more

November 6, 2018

This is a selection from the forthcoming second volume of my commentary on Matthew. Matthew 28 is a richly typological passage. Jesus’ appearance to the eleven culminates not only the story of Matthew’s gospel, but also shows Jesus as the fulfillment of a host of Old Testament hopes. The Magi were the first to worship the king of the Jews (2:2, 11). Now that Jesus has been raised, the eleven remaining disciples join in (28:16). This is no ordinary bow;... Read more

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