Showing posts with label Epexegesis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Epexegesis. Show all posts

Monday, May 20, 2019

Priests of LMGTFY Culture




Who can get whom to do what with their bodies?
Take
Eat
From all the trees
But not this one
Remember lest ye forget
Indeterminate future manifestations abound

The goal is to discover
We call it mathematics for a reason
Hempel's ravens provide for us a clue
Knowing is a process, not an event
Their eyes were opened and they knew
They were advanced, but not scientific

We think we write our script
They actually do

It's now Us versus Them
Moderns or Primitives
Those of the Present or Past
Science or Tradition
Reason or Revelation
Jet sons or Flint stones

In their dispensation of the printing press
God became a book
In our dispensation of "Secret" in Swahili
Blogs become gods
Non-penetrative
Cyborgic extensions
Habituating their bodies to not know anything without the gods







Saturday, April 20, 2019

Even to those long dead






That the Laws of Loving-kindness called Him even to them that had been long dead.
Now the laws of love summoned Him even as far as Death and the dead themselves, so that He might summon the souls of those who were long time dead. And so because He cared for the salvation of all for ages past, and that “He might bring to naught him that hath the power of death,”* as Scripture teaches, here again he underwent the dispensation in His mingled Natures: as Man, he left His Body to the usual burial, while as God He departed from it. For He cried with a loud cry, and said to the Father: “I commend my spirit,”* and departed from the body free, in no wise waiting for death, who was lagging as it were in fear to come to Him; nay, rather, He pursued him from behind and drove him on, trodden under His feet and fleeing, and He burst the eternal gates of his dark realms, and made a road of return back again to life for the dead there bound with the bonds of death. Thus, too, His own body was raised up, and many bodies of the sleeping saints arose, and came together with Him into the holy and real City of Heaven, as rightly is said by the holy words: “Death has prevailed and swallowed men up”; and again: “The Lord God has taken away every tear from every face.”*
And the Saviour of the Universe, our Lord, the Christ of God, called Victor, is represented in the prophetic predictions as reviling death, and releasing the souls that are bound there, by whom He raises the hymn of victory, and He says these words:
“From the hand of Hades I will save them, and from death I will ransom their souls.1* O Death, where is thy victory?2 O Death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.”3
Such was the dispensation that brought Him even unto death, of which one that wishes to seek for the cause, can find not one reason but many. For firstly, the Word teaches by His death that He is Lord both of dead and living; and secondly, that He will wash away our sins, being slain, and becoming a curse for us; thirdly, that a victim of God and a great sacrifice for the whole world might be offered to Almighty God; fourthly, that thus He might work out the destruction of the deceitful powers of the dæmons by unspeakable words; and fifthly also, that shewing the hope of life with God after death to His friends and disciples not by words only by deeds as well, and affording ocular proof of His message, He might make them of good courage and more eager to preach both to Greeks and Barbarians the holy polity which He had established. And so at once He filled with His own divine power those very friends and followers, whom He had selected for Himself on account of their surpassing all, and had chosen as His apostles and disciples,4 that they might teach all races of men His message of the knowledge of God, and lay down one way of religion for all the Greeks and Barbarians; a way which announced the defeat and rout of the dæmons, and the check of polytheistic error, and the true knowledge of the one Almighty God, and which promised forgiveness of sins before committed, if men no longer continued therein, and one hope of salvation to all by the all-wise and all-good polity that He had instituted.5







* Heb. 2:14.
* Luke 23:46.
* Isa. 25:8.
1 LXX: αὐτούς..
* Hos. 13:14; 1 Cor 15:55.
2 ἡ δίκη σου.
3 “Eusebius prophetam in parte, et in parte aposlolum sequitur.”—Gaisford.
4 θιασώτας: so for “disciple” in Lucian: Fugit. 4; Themist. 33 c.
5 Everything posted above is taken from: Eusebius of Cæsarea. (1920). The Proof of the Gospel: Being the Demonstratio  Evangelica of Eusebius of Caesarea. (W. J. Sparrow-Simpson & W. K. L. Clarke, Eds., W. J. Ferrar, Trans.) (Vol. 1, Bk. IV, Ch. 12, pp. 186–187). London; New York: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; The Macmillan Company.












Monday, March 25, 2019

Anger Without Cause: A Prophetic Motif of Destroying the Law











For those interested, I recently completed a paper on the subject of anger and murder in Matthew 5:21-22, and its relationship with the Decalogue (among other things). The title of that paper is, Anger Without Cause: A Prophetic Motif of Destroying the Law

That paper can be viewed in the link on the side bar called "Theological Essays." The direct link to the paper can be found here.












Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Pathways to Immaturity






One man writes a story
The surrounding tribe rises to the occasion
To drill into
To warn others about
They must save the world
As guardians of the galaxy
Prophets commissioned to bear the good news
That their story is the only true story
And they aren’t alone
They have a whole tradition that reaches way, way back
A whole five hundred years
Or slightly more
Even more important 
Is their book
God is there
God is everywhere
But especially there
As guardians of the good news
They protect God from all opposition
Tearing down every stronghold
And every philosophy
And empty deceit
As guardians of God
One word says one thing
But they know their great scary book has more words than one
To pick out and shove into the conversation
Or better yet
To shove in front of the conversation
So as to protect all the innocents
From all unapproved conversation
Misleading them into darkness
Sliding them down the backward path of human tradition
They know the one in whom the fulness of deity dwells bodily
They know the circumcision of Christ
As guardians of the head of all rule and authority
They must bind their nobles with fetters of iron
To freely instruct the blind
To graciously feed the hungry
The whole clan must not become divided 
Or else one mans story will prevail






Thursday, January 31, 2019

Psalmos 10•3





How dare you
Perpetuate ignorance 
Denying Science 
Elevating your ego 
Above the heavens 

Religion is a poison 
In a hundred years 
Its death is inevitable 
Progress is the real antidote
For our ancestral disease 

Can’t you see the problem? 
If you teach contrary to Science
Entire generations will devolve
Civilization as we know it will regress
Must we return to the middle-ages?

Your beliefs are the real threat
If the foundations of facts are destroyed
What can the righteous do? 
You can’t possibly remain so illogical
In light of all the progress we’ve made

How dare you
Above the heavens
Elevating your ego
Denying Science 
Perpetuate ignorance 





Friday, January 25, 2019

Origen on 'the patience of God'


Continuing, as my busy life permits, in a research project that I started many years ago, I stumbled across some fascinating comments by Origen of Alexandria about the so-called 'Olivet Discourse'. Commenting on Matthew chapter twenty-three, he offers a number of striking comments with regard to Jesus' prophecies about the future. Most noteworthy, however, is that many of his comments are not about our future (that is, not prophecies to be fulfilled in our future), but rather about the first century Judaean context and its fulfillment in that generation, which he calls the "literal" sense. This comports well with much of my other research on this topic. And so, without further ado, here is what Origen wanted to tell the Christian world of his day about Matthew chapter twenty-three:
'Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you build the sepulchers of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous and you say that if we had lived in the days of our fathers we would not be there allies in the blood of the prophets. Therefore, you bear witness against yourselves that you are the sons of those who killed the prophets. Fill up then the measure of your fathers. You serpents, generation of vipers, how will you escape from the judgment of Gehenna? Behold, therefore, I am sending you prophets, wise men, and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and will persecute from city to city, that all the righteous blood might come upon you that has been shed on the earth from the blood of the righteous Abel to the blood of Zachariah the son of Barachiah whom you killed between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you that all these things will come upon this generation.'
...The blood of Christ did not satisfy them, but they further killed and crucified those 'prophets' or 'scribes' who had been sent by Christ, and scourged them in their 'synagogues', and persecuted them 'from city to city'. It was just that for all the murderous things they committed they suffer the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of the people, since the patience of God no longer tolerates the magnitude and multitude of their crimes.1
 ***
It must be said further on this text that the 'generation' of sinners was not punished as soon as the sin had been committed, but when a subsequent 'generation' needing to atone for the sin of its fathers against itself added, in addition, worse sins to the sins of their fathers; and so, if many generations should sin against some nation or city, the nation is punished or the city is destroyed. So then, the Jewish nation, although inflicting many evils on the prophets, was not to be punished immediately when the homicide against the prophets began but later, in the patience of God, when they added the blood of Christ over and above that of the prophets, and filled up the 'measure' of their 'fathers', then they were punished more deservingly. It was not, therefore, the sin that Cain committed when he killed his brother, or the sin of those who killed 'the prophets' which 'this generation' of Jews who lived in the time of Christ took up. It was necessary, rather, that the patience of God which was with the nation of the Jews be completed to its capacities, so that after many outpourings of the blood of the prophets and just men, Jerusalem and Judaea not having been abandoned previously, suffered this later with the blood of Christ, since God was acting magnanimously so that the 'scribes and Pharisees', with the people in agreement, might take upon themselves the blood of the prophets of Christ and, according to the Gospel, that of his wise men and scribes, whom they killed and crucified and scourged 'in their synagogues' and persecuted 'from city to city'. Consequently, when all had been cast out of Judaea, the place was desolate, emptied of all the saints, and it suffered whatever they suffered from Vespasian and Titus.2





Commenting on Jesus' questions in the beginning of Matthew chapter twenty-four (which, as I also pointed out in my series about the Olivet discourse, many Church Fathers interpreted with first century fulfillment), Origen continues:

'And Jesus went out of the temple and departed; and his disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple. But Jesus answered and said to them:  Do you see all these things? Truly I say to you, a stone will not be left here on a stone which is not destroyed.' 
After Christ had predicted everything that was to come on Jerusalem...
...Since Christ prophesied above of its future destruction and thus threatened its desertion in the words, 'Behold now your house is left to you deserted,' when the disciples hear this they are amazed that such a great 'building of the temple' should be reduced to nothing. ...They want, of course, to persuade him to show mercy on that place, and not do what he had threatened to do.3

***
But now let us explain the text of the Gospel. We said that the 'abomination of desolation' standing 'in the holy place' is the prince who surrounded Jerusalem with an army. And so, because such terrible things happened to those who were in Judea at that time, therefore the Lord, prophesying these future events, says to the people, 'Let those who are in Judea at that time flee to the mountains.' And the things that happened at that time were so bad that we say that the person who was 'on the roof of the house' would not have had time to descend and 'take anything from his house', and the one 'who was in the field' would not have been able to return to the city and 'take his garment.' And there was no time then for mercy, not even for the pregnant, nursing mothers, or their infants. Therefore, he says (I mean so far as the literal sense goes): 'Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing in those days'. And as if speaking to Jews who thought it not lawful on the Sabbath to be active or walk more than a Sabbath day's journey, he says: 'And pray that your flight not occur in winter or on the Sabbath,' for it was extremely difficult to seek safety by flight not only on 'the Sabbath,' but also in 'winter'. 
And it is related by those who have written a Jewish history about the things that happened at that time, that the people suffered a 'great tribulation such as had never occurred from the beginning of the world up to the time of Christ. But it was not possible that such terrible things as happened to them occur later, because they had dared to lay hands on the true Christ of God whose mystery and name David venerated and said of Saul when he was persecuting and wanting to kill him, 'I will not lift my hands against the Christ of the Lord.' But we understand the future cutting off of those days to be the shortening of those days 'because of the elect' of God who believe in Christ. And at that time when the people were experiencing great calamities and the elect in Judaea were suffering dangers, many deceivers were saying: 'Behold, here is the Christ; behold there.' Jesus, teaching his disciples to watch out for such people, said, 'If at that time someone shall say to you, behold here is the Christ; behold there, do not believe them; for false Christs and false prophets will arise and perform great sigs and portents.' And someone can mention Simon Magus who used to claim to be the great power of God, or anyone like him, who wanted 'to deceive, if possible, the elect.' 
We have spoken of these matters in anticipation, not adding in this place any exposition beyond that which is according to the letter for the sake of those who are pleased with the simple narrative in order to speak of those things that seem to be useful for them, because the Lord set forth these future events prophesying as a diviner of the truth.4














1.  Origen of Alexandria, The Commentary of Origen on the Gospel of St Matthew, Volume II; Trans. by Ronald E. Heine; [Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2018], pp. 574-575
2.  Ibid. pp. 576-577
3.  Ibid. p. 586
4.  Ibid. p. 606





Monday, December 24, 2018

Cliffnotes




I read it all
Every jot and tittle
It's all or nothing
So I'm told
In the beginning
Adam took notes
Named every creature
Even his wife
Begat in perfect tens
Two sevenths from him were also special
One proclaims the need for justice
The other walks with gods
Who play an important role
Three days of forming
Three days of filling
It was evening
It was morning
Then seventh day had no end
The story prefigures a promised rest
Adam falls like Israel
Failing to enter that rest
Exiled east of the temple
But his children were still welcome to draw near 
Jachin and Boaz with two flaming swords
The younger son draws near according to the Law
The firstborn destroys his brother
Is exiled east of Eden
He receives a city of refuge as his mark 
The deluge parallels the fire of Sodom
And the brimstone of Gomorrah
Offspring of gods are produced
Babelic empires are dispersed
A temple on water is built for rest
War-bows are made to be seen by the Most High
Patriarchs are viewed as princes by all
Giving away their sisters
Not once, but twice
The Canaanite friendly wife takes a look back
As a perpetual witness to a covenant of salt
The seed of Adam remains special and protected
A covenant remains secured
Even the king of peace receives tithes
Eve's daughter grows old and bears a son
The slavegirl and her son are cast out though
Only the freeborn son remains
Only the freeborn is sacrificed on a mountain
Where the temple would be built
To be raised from death
Or receive a lamb to pioneer for him
I read all of this
Every jot and tittle
Must be true
So I'm told
But what if every jot was beside the point
What if each tittle need not be precisely true
But merely to be faithful
To a promise
To a tradition
To a word of God
To a word from God
Who spoke through the prophets
Who prescribed and proscribed how to draw near
And how to be raised from the dead ones
And when that tradition became an empire
Of tribal allegiance with heavy burdens and no rest
Exiled east of the Garden
East of the temple
East of the promised rest
Scribes scrambled to collate and redact
To prescribe and proscribe their tribalism
Yet according to promise
Through a living tradition
When god became vellum
The word became flesh
And tabernacled among them
To rival their gods
And to raise their dead ones
Because the word of God is inspired
The word of God is infallible
The word of God is inerrant
The word of God read it all, too
And his apostles took notes











Friday, November 23, 2018

Myopia





Words clothe God's silence with meaning
Describe a sunrise to the blind
Democracies of ideas aren't enough to comprehend it
Shibboleths of collective identity politics forbid it
Life wastes away because of suffering
A spirit captivates us
Drunk on democracy we cave in
A spirit of consumption
A spirit of cancer
A spirit of addiction
Fear repels us away 
Instead of drawing us closer
Fear is the real suffering
Fear is where the real pain is felt
Fear is also the antidote
Life wastes away because of suffering
You watch me suffer and tell me I don't need to
Being human is not qualification enough for you
Don't allow suffering and pain to go to waste
A word has already clothed God's silence with meaning





Friday, November 16, 2018

Penitent & Priest, Confession & Absolution





As I recently reviewed some of the poetry I had written within the past year, I reflected upon the state of Christianity I observe all around me today and the way in which I expressed aspects of it poetically. After stumbling upon a poem about Christian contrition and confession, it dawned on me that confession is an important—indeed essential—sacrament needing reconsideration and retrieval. 

Growing up as a Protestant I was only familiar with the pop-culture view of Catholicism and confession within that Church (you know, the kind that is either still at war with “unbiblical” medieval views, or the kind that treats everything outside their own non-catholic tribe as “superstitious”, "fictitious",  "magical", or "blasphemous"). Today I recalled some conversations I have had with both kinds of protestant diatribalists, about the so-called “unbiblical sacraments”, and none strikes me as being more misunderstood than the sacrament of Confession. 

There are numerous obstacles in the way of maintaining an edifying conversation about that. I would like to cut through the messiness of how such conversations typically begin. Deflecting attention away from the first obstacle, which is even considering Confession as a sacrament, I think that the most important way of helping Protestants recognize the legitimacy and helpfulness of private confession and absolution to a priest or pastor is to see what Catholic confession can and does actually look like today. I mention this because the most common criticism I have come across has to do with the Roman rite of confession. (You know, the kind that sort of, in a crass way, is portrayed as quick and painless: “Bless me Father for I have sinned…yada, yada, yada. Okay, now go out and say five hail Mary’s and two Our Father’s, and you’re good to go.”)

That might be the way Roman (Western) rite confession is practiced. I seriously doubt that it represents the majority. I have not personally been to confession in a Roman Catholic parish, but I have asked a lot of Roman Catholic friends what they’re experiences were like, and have received a lot of positive, detailed feedback that the kind of priests and parishes which tolerate such pathetic, and somewhat comical confessional practices are not popular, and are not common in the northern midwest regions of America (around where we live). But even if the majority of Catholic parishes practiced confession in such a fashion today (and again, admittedly, I don't actually know how the majority of Roman priests practice it), that is not how Catholic confession operates in Eastern rite parishes. And this, I do have experience in practicing. As a Byzantine Greek Catholic who has celebrated with a handful of parishes across the USA, I can actually dispel some of the “superstitious magic” which Protestants imagine the sacrament of Confession to be instilling.

How might I attempt to dispel such prevailing protestant myths of our era?  

The answer: By illustrating the actual rite of confession within Eastern Orthodox and Catholic parishes. 

My hope, again, is to dispel some of the worrisome and comical “fictions” which Protestants imagine are occurring at every confession within the Catholic Church, and to show plainly through the rite itself how “Biblical” it actually is (and should be considered to remain). That should help provide a framework for Protestants to consider, if not rethink altogether, the possibility of private confession to an ordained minister of Jesus Christ as a healthy practice to retrieve (as even the mighty Protestant icon, John Calvin, begrudgingly implied as a theoretical possibility, long ago1). 

Assuming that a man was to receive the sacrament of Confession, here is how it might look in an Eastern parish: 

First, the penitent Christian approaches the iconostasis located in the front of the Church, beyond all the pews, and stands before an icon of Jesus Christ. The priest draws near and says: 
My brother, inasmuch as you have come to God, and to me, do not be ashamed; for you do not speak to me, but to God, before Whom you stand. If you are able, please kneel before Christ our God 

Facing Jesus and looking attentively to Him, the penitent Christian might then begin with a formal and general declaration, such as: “I have sinned, O Lord, forgive me. O God, be merciful to me a sinner”, followed by more specific details.  

*** 

Or the penitent might just speak to Christ, confess sins generally, followed by the priest questioning him to draw out more specific details about specific sins. (It is especially helpful that priests of the Eastern Catholic rite carry on a conversation in a very practical manner, questioning, encouraging, seeking understanding, and challenging the penitent toward serious consideration of the graveness involved, consequently or actually, by the sins committed and confessed.) 

***

When the confession to Jesus is complete, the priest places his stole over the head of the penitent and speaks to the penitent: 

My spiritual child, who have confessed before your humble servant, I, an unworthy sinner, do not have the power on earth to forgive sins. God alone has that power; yet through that divinely spoken word which came to the apostles after the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, saying: “If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained,” we too are given boldness to say: Whatever you have said to me, and whatever you have not succeeded in saying, either through ignorance or through forgetfulness, whatever it may be, God alone forgives you in this present world and in that which is to come.  

Or the priest says instead:

O God our Savior, who by Your prophet Nathan granted the repentant David pardon of his transgressions, and accepted Manasseh’s prayers of repentance: In Your customary love toward mankind, accept also this Your servant, who is here before You to repent of the sins which he has committed. Overlook all that he has done, pardon his offenses, and pass by his iniquities. For You have said, O Lord: “I do not desire the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness and live,” and that “sins should be forgiven seventy times seven.” For Your majesty is beyond compare, and Your mercy is without measure, and if You should mark iniquity, who could stand?  For You are the God of the penitent, and unto You we ascribe glory, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.  

Then the priest makes the sign of the Cross over the penitent, touching his head, saying: 

May God, Who pardoned David through Nathan the prophet when he confessed his sins, and Peter weeping bitterly for his denial, and the sinful woman weeping at His feet, and the publican and the prodigal son, may that same God forgive you all things, through me a sinner, both in this world and in the world to come, and set you uncondemned before His terrible judgment seat. 

And now, having no further anxiety for the sins which you have confessed, go in peace. 

*** 

Also, if time and circumstances allow, it is proper for the penitent to learn the customary prayers of the Church, formulated by the Scriptures, and to respond, facing Jesus, with such prayers as: 

O almighty and merciful God, I truly thank You for the forgiveness of my sins; bless me, O Lord, and help me always, that I may ever do that which is pleasing to You, and sin no more. Amen.  

Or this might be prayed instead: 

O Lord God of my salvation, the Savior and Benefactor of my soul, I am truly sorry for my every transgression, and I firmly resolve never again to offend You by such sins, and sincerely promise to amend my way of life. Implant in me the fear of Your blessed commandments, that I may trample down all carnal appetites and may lead a godly life, both thinking and doing always such things as are pleasing to You. Grant me the strength of Your Holy Spirit, that I may avoid all evil deeds, works, words, and thoughts, and may avoid all snares of the evil one. Shine in my heart with the true Sun of Your righteousness; enlighten my mind and guard all my senses, that walking uprightly in the way of Your statutes, I may attain life eternal. Amen.  

Or the penitent might pray instead: 

O sovereign Master, Who love mankind, lead me in Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. Make glad my heart, that I may fear Your holy name. O Lord, mighty in mercy, gracious in strength, aid and comfort and save me, as I put my trust in Your holy name. Do not rebuke me, O Lord, in Your displeasure, nor punish me in Your wrath, but show me Your great mercy and compassion, O Physician and Healer of my soul. O merciful Savior, blot out all my transgressions, for I am truly sorry for having offended You. Grant me Your grace that I may avoid my previous evil ways. Strengthen me, O mighty One, to withstand those temptations before which I am weak, that I may avoid all future sin. Keep me under Your protection and in the shadow of Your wings, that I may serve You, praise You, and glorify You all the days of my life. Amen. 








1. In his Institutes of the Christian Religion (Book IV, chapters 14 through 17), Calvin presents a scandalous case against the Roman (Western) practice of Confession in his own day, which transitioned from public confessions and absolutions to private ones. In doing so, Calvin was, of course, attempting to distinguish the domineering Roman expression of faith from Christianity altogether. In those three brief chapters (14-17) Calvin attempts to dissuade his audience from believing the long standing doctrine about Confession as a Sacrament (which he, of course, considered to be Divine requirements, and not merely things indifferent). In chapter 14 Calvin admits that he wholeheartedly approves of the ancient practice that required public confession and absolution, but his rationale against the sacrament of private confession to a priest or Bishop is very brief and seems almost entirely anecdotal, overlooking many pertinent counter-rationales from Scripture and history, and all pertaining merely to the Roman rite illustrated within his own era. In other words, even if Calvin was accurate in his reasoning against private confession as a sacrament of Christ's Church, he strangely leaves plenty of room for disagreement, introducing it and dismissing it rather quickly.