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

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Opening the verse



wAking up to Love
every day with you right here
tucked into warm sheets

peeking over there
I cannot help but wonder
you gave self to me

goodness must be felt
like a tattoo of kindnesS
i can see it too

blessed is he whO fiNds
and who understands wisdom
her worth is priceless 









Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Ex Eventu Deviance




Consider this my second post in a potential series that started earlier this month. That first post is found hereIn that post, I mentioned a few personal views:

1) People either believe the so-called 'New Testament' witness is historically reliable and rhetorically coherent, or they don't. 

2) Almost all academicians unswervingly swear allegiance to the same dogmas: that the end of the ages did not come in the first century, and the parousia was delayed (and must still be delayed); therefore all "data" collected from new testament witnesses and even non-canonical literature of that general era must be jammed through a peer-reviewed process that, in the very least, attempts to cohere with those dogmas.

3) All the eschatological mumbo-jumbo of academic guilds theorizing about imaginary sources seems more convoluted than just taking the new-testament texts at face value. Either something cataclysmic occurred as promised (or prophesied) in first century Israel, and that fulfilled promise influenced the course of history, or the New Testament witness is false and unreliable.

4) I also don't think 'already-not-yet' paradigms are helpful in mediating the tension between what the texts are and what meaning those texts would have communicated if they were historically reliable and rhetorically coherent. 

Even though I have not traced out a history of that paradigm (because that would be an exhaustive study), I nevertheless imagine, based on what I have studied over fifteen years, that every traceable, popular tradition thereof was conjured up and defended because Christians throughout history have, in large part, been highly influenced by inescapable social expectations, dogmas, and politics. In social-psychological parlance, this natural movement away from some dogmas and toward others is described as the black sheep effect, where Christians have renegotiated the boundaries of permissible thought in response to perceived deviants.1

5) Last of all, if 'already-not-yet' paradigms are only partially adequate (which is to say, they are not wholly adequate), then I think one might as well seriously consider playing around in the Jumanji of source-critical dogmas. 



* * * * * * *


In this post, I just want to say a few words about point #5 above: playing around in the wild and enticing jungle of source-critical dogmas. 

Over many years I have marked up a few hundred books in my personal library that attempt to apply the 'science' of Vaticinium ex eventu to the Tanakh, the New Testament scriptures, the so-called 'intertestamental' scriptures, the so-called 'Apostolic Fathers,' and the pseudopigraphical writings surrounding them all. I am well aware of scribal traditions and the ever-shapeshifting attempts of scholars to pinpoint sources and the reasons for redaction or composition after the events. Undoubtedly, some manuscripts manifest reasons for redaction. 

I also do not (personally) deny that there exists a plethora of redacted religious documents related to the Christian Scriptures; nor do I blow off the reality of ex eventu compositions between 1,000 BC and AD 1,000. Nevertheless, I have remained intrigued and perplexed by the voluminous conjectural dogmas surrounding the list of first-century time sensitive texts that I presented in the previous post (in footnote #74). All of those, if one looks back, relate to Jesus and his claims about the so-called "end of the world" in some future. Most Christians nowadays imagine it referred to our future, and not merely the near future of that generation in which Jesus and his apostles lived (i.e. the first century). 

Scholars nowadays have combed through each and every one of those time-sensitive statements and have cataloged reasons why some statements were about our future, and others were not. Pseudo-explanations range between why those statements were made, to what culturally sensitive memories were behind or underneath the final edit. Needless to say, there once was a day when such conjecture was considered both silly and dangerous. Yet it is no longer considered deviant to honestly believe and promote the dogma that all predictive references to AD70 and the events leading up to it throughout the Scriptures were vaticinium ex eventu. Accordingly, none of them must be or can be definitively asserted to be part of Jesus' genuine gospel, and therefore it is probable that they were not.2 Such prophesies, instead, were "likely" Christian reflections of a later era, imposed upon much clearer, more reliable apocalyptic messages about the end of the physical cosmos.

So then, what I want to do next is play with that idea. Let's take one example and toy with it accordingly. 

Let's take for granted that the Gospel of Matthew is a Jewish-Christian scribal amalgamation, and the final redacted form (or composition) was truly after the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple. We then select Jesus' Olivet Discourse as a specimen. We look at the texts of Mark chapter 13 and compare them with Matthew 24. After examining them carefully, we conclude, along with F.F. Bruce and countless others over the last hundred years of western civilization, that the Markan form of Jesus' Olivet Discourse is earlier than AD 70, as indicated by those modifications of it in the Gospel of Matthew, which reflect the situation after AD 70.3 We also conclude, based on our lack of absolute certainty, that "Mark" was likely not even alive prior to AD 70, nor did he know Jesus' apostles (as older, sacred tradition asserts). 

Indeed, we conclude that based on the raw data left to us now, almost two thousand years ex eventu, that it is highly improbable that the Markan form of the Gospel was composed prior to AD70. In the very best and most idealized circumstances, it is merely the Olivet Discourse contained in the Markan form which could possibly be authentically reported from sources prior to AD70. As F. F. Bruce dogmatically asserted, such deductions seem to be self-evident. Regarding the ex eventu composition of Matthew 24 in relation to Mark 13, he mentions that:
In the Markan form of the question they apparently belong to the same temporal complex as the destruction of the Temple. But in Matthew the question is re-worded so that the destruction of the Temple is separated from the events of the end-time: 'Tell us, when will this be [the destruction of the Temple], and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?' (Matt 24:3). For, when Matthew's Gospel was written, the destruction of the Temple had taken place, but the parousia and the 'close of the age' were still future. A distinction which was patent after A.D. 70 was not so obvious at an earlier stage, and it is such an earlier stage that is implied in Mark's wording.4

Below are some questions in my mind, to serve as a little push-back to these popular ex eventu assertions. 

1) Because the entirety of the New Testament texts indicate a seamless historical context anticipating imminent events to take place within the first century (see the previous post), why not assume that the authors or redactor after AD70 edited the texts to make future readers think Jesus did actually refer to AD70 and the events leading up to it? 

2) Why do we, in the 21st century, imagine some dude (tradition calls him "Matthew") changed or inserted “prophecies” about the so-called “end of the world” into discourses about AD70 and the events leading up to it? 

3) Given the consistent first century, soon-coming emphasis of the entire New Testament corpus (as I illustrated plainly in the previous post), why not imagine Matthew (and all the NT authors) edited just those statements that appear to pertain to the “end of the world”, and not those pertaining to AD70? 

4) Given the nature of contemporary source-critical ventures and the liberty available within such enterprises, why not imagine that the Matthean "form" of the Olivet Discourse was composed to communicate the truly reliable and fulfilled (past) events of AD70 alongside an imaginary and contrived (yet psychologically hopeful) view about Jesus teaching a “literal” end of the world as his Parousia and as the 'close of the age'? 

5) Why not instead imagine that the original intent behind the composition or redaction of Matthew 24 was entirely about AD70 and the events leading up to it, and that whatever modifications were ever made to it based on earlier sources, those are evidently indicated by later imaginary scribal conventions and folklore about the literal end of the world



* * * * * * *


Here is my point behind all of these questions:

Given one's commitment to the slipperiness of redaction criticism, "Matthew" very likely left us with chapter 24 in order to highlight the truth that Jesus really did prophesy, preach, teach, and emphasize the upcoming turmoils, persecutions, and trials leading up to and culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70. Even if the destruction of the Temple had taken place in the past by the time Matthew's gospel was written, that does not mean he wrote about the Parousia or the 'close of the age' as something in our future (or his future, after AD70). Even if Matthew was not a contemporary of Jesus or his apostles at all, the final form as we have it today (and we have no other Matthean form of the Olivet Discourse, by the way) would likely have been designed to portray Jesus and his message as it was truly believed, as it was understood to be. That's the whole point of Matthew's Gospel: to present a believable message, one that is both historically reliable and rhetorically coherent. And that message, regardless of whether it was composed before or after AD70, need not be that Jesus taught about AD 70 and then, afterward, about the literal end of the “world” a few millennia beyond AD70, all within the same discourse. 

As I have pointed out in detail elsewhere, there is no noticeable form of the Olivet Discourse among the Synoptics that makes a sharp or clear distinction between the destruction of the Temple and events after AD70 (i.e. events which could potentially be in our future, thousands of years after the discourse).

So then, here I am, being all deviant. Please don't waste your time trying to crucify me on social media (or privately) for thinking out loud on my own blog. Although it certainly is in vogue nowadays, it's certainly not godly to crucify Christians for simply pointing out what Jesus taught. I'm aware that this paradigm of first century fulfillment is perceived nowadays to be heterodox. It actually is not, either hermeneutically or factually because I don't think philosophical commitments to Christian dogmas about the "end of the world" absolutely must be proof-texted from the "Bible." There are lots of Christian dogmas that are derived philosophically from sources outside the "Bible" to justify what they believe is also taught within the Bible, yet their case from inside isn't as tightly sealed as they imagine. 

I happen to believe such is the case surrounding preterist convictions, too. Two significant reasons why I think Christians nowadays imagine first century fulfillment to be heterodox (or they overreact in rage against imagined trajectories toward other heterodoxies) is because catalogs of sacred traditions and confessional standards have so much dogma surrounding these texts that serious, detailed attention to first century fulfillment of the entire Olivet Discourse has continued, in large measure, to be completely overlooked, ignored, or deflected over the last 500 years; adding to that gaping chasm of presumption, other paradigms have been inserted to fill in and reorient public perspectives about that gap (like "already-not-yet" templates), as an attempt to synthesize sacred traditions of Reformational and Counter-Reformational dogmas with the crystal clear first century time-sensitive statements. But i'll save a detailed discussion about all of that for the future. 













1. See Outi Lehtipuu, Debates Over The Resurrection Of The Dead: Constructing Early Christian Identity [Oxford Early Christian Studies] (2015). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, pp. 67-108
2. For a specimen of such views, carelessly asserting autobiographical remarks about the certainty of vaticinium ex eventu scribal redaction throughout the New Testament, see G.H.W. Lampe, "A.D. 70 in Christian Reflection" in Jesus And The Politics Of His Day [Edited by Ernst Bammel & C.F.D. Moule] (1992 Reprint). New York, NY: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, pp. 153-71 
3. F.F. Bruce, "The date and character of Mark" in Jesus And The Politics Of His Day [Edited by Ernst Bammel & C.F.D. Moule] (1992 Reprint). New York, NY: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, p. 81
4. Ibid. 














Sunday, December 8, 2019

Fools of Corinth




One fool loves to sing
Inspired by lofty dreams
Of encouraging others
In hymns of praise and adoration
Communicating the richness of praxis
Serving others on the way
To where the good shepherd leads
Where they can taste and see
And touch and smell
And hear that the Lord is good
Another fool marks his territory
And declares war
Silently
Communicating audibly only with daggers
Blasting through his nostrils
Lifting one leg
That stumpy stand
Is now soaked

Cold and damp blankets would feel better
Than offering the sound of a bleating lamb
As we light our lamps
Complacency in gestures
Of banality and mediocrity
Provokes
Frustrates
Disheartens
Passive aggressive positioning
Encourages hatred
Peers then point out the obvious
Hate is a very strong word
Indeed
And complacency is another unjust accusation
Hell no
That's a soft description of reality
What are we to do with all these
Clouds and wind without rain

In a fool's ears
Do not speak
For he will despise the insight of your words
All these gods around the house of the Lord
And yet no word from Him
No divine counsel
At best childish tropes and platitudes
At worst tone deaf service
And puritanical opinion pieces
If this is what heaven is like
I'll take hell
As smelter for silver
And kiln for gold
So is a man according to his praise
Surely you do not know the look of your flock
And so you don't put your mind on the herds
Better is open reproof than hidden love
You sure seem to like dishing it out

Can you receive it
I have seen good people
Intrigued
Searching
Desiring
Entering the doors
Lighting their candles
Leaving before the sheep are slaughtered
I don't blame them for disliking torturous tones
The clanging of brass
The tinkling cymbal
The confusion of tongues
Lifeless instruments
Offering indistinct notes
What we need are two or three witnesses
To interpret
To facilitate prayer not only with their spirit
But with their minds also

To sing praise not only with their spirit
But with their minds also
Otherwise, when thankfulness is truly offered
How might an outsider say Amen
Thankfulness may be given well enough
But the one entering the doors
Is not being edified
It's better that literally everyone just shuts up
It's better to dwell in the corner of a roof
Than with a quarrelsome wife in a spacious house
Like one binding a stone in a sling
So is one who gives a fool honor
Before destruction a man's heart is haughty
But humility comes before honor
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord
Is riches and honor and life
Better is a poor and wise youth
Than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice

















Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Capital of Futurism


G.K. Chesterton once said that too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists. That, of course, was a witty way of pointing out the real problem of economics and free markets in practice: Capitalism is easily tempted to conspire with civil governments to foster monopolies over an entire industry with only a few capitalists largely in control, under the auspices of an oligarchy, instead of allowing the market to actually be more free through organic entrepreneurial enterprise. I want to take this idea and spin it a little bit, and replace free market capitalism with eschatological futurism. 

With regard to the well-known problems of eschatology in practice and the liberty to look at historical texts to interpret them honestly without being demonized, I wish the same could be said for futurism, but unfortunately there are not too few futurists; there are far too many--far too many who believe in whatever they're told about it, and far too few who are willing to research and think for themselves. I consider it to be a truism that over the last one hundred years of academia there has been a monopoly over the market of eschatological dogmas. In the Church, I have found there to be a surprising amount of liberty with regard to the promoting the reliability of the New Testament historical witness; but in the academies around the world, the environment is very different. It doesn't matter which "New Testament" author is researched, used, or cited. Among the many doctrines propounded, almost all academicians unswervingly swear allegiance to the same dogmas: that the end of the ages did not come in the first century, and the parousia was delayed (and must still be delayed); therefore all "data" collected from new testament witnesses and even non-canonical literature of that general era must be jammed through a peer-reviewed process that, in the very least, attempts to cohere with those dogmas. 

However, just a cursory glance through the new testament literature should provide a sense of eschatological coherence. I personally think that the same can be said with some popular non-canonical literature surrounding the Bible (like the Didache, Epistle of Barnabas, 1 Clement, etc.) but if we don't see it clearly in the New Testament we won't be able to apply it to our critical thinking outside the Bible either. We will just allow our minds to be programmed by the guild and the sources they insist we must believe in order to be saved by their dogmas.

All of this made me realize that I have something to share with the public that I have not yet shared. 

Below is a screenshot of one page from an academic paper I wrote earlier this year in response to a major publication by Cambridge University Press. Currently my paper is under review, so I'm not going to say anything more about that. Nevertheless, today I had a strong urge to share footnote #74 of that document, because, if read carefully, and taken seriously as reliable history, one can only presume that these authors were describing the same first century events, and those events actually occurred, or they were all delayed into the distant future, even beyond the current century in which we live. In other words, there is a timeline of events in which something cataclysmic was believed to occur soon, and there isn't room for parts of it to get pushed off thousands of years into the distant future. 

Below is that footnote. All I ask is that you think about this seriously. I have studied thousands of pages of academese and I am personally convinced that all the eschatological mumbo-jumbo of academic guilds theorizing about imaginary sources is vastly more far-fetched than just taking the new-testament texts (along with all of their variants) at face value. Either something cataclysmic occurred in first century Israel, and that influenced the course of history, or the New Testament witness is false and unreliable:











































Last of all, for those who have been trained to play safely in the eschatological Ouija of "already-not-yet" paradigms, I just want to point out that I understand why and how those paradigms typically work. I also was reared in already-not-yet hermeneutical presumptions. Yet I don't think any attempts at justifying those paradigms, offered by fundamentalists or critical scholars, are credible. I have spent fifteen years looking for one credible justification, and have not found one to be convincing by comparison with their fulfillment in well-documented first century events. The "data" doesn't actually add up to "already fulfilled-but-not-yet-fulfilled", or consummated, or whatever. One either believes the New Testament witness is historically reliable and rhetorically coherent, or not. It cannot be both under any already-not-yet paradigms. And if not both, then I think one might as well seriously consider playing around in the Jumanji of source-critical dogmas. 

I contend that all of what is contained in footnote #74 doesn't add up to proof or persuasiveness of the New Testament witnesses historical reliability and rhetorical coherence unless these time sensitive texts were seriously and truly referring to first century events that did take place. And I'll bite the bullet and say one more thing: they were seriously and truly referring to first century events that did take place in their future. Elsewhere on this blog I have written extensively about the many Church Fathers who interpreted many of these texts (cited above) as being fulfilled in first century events. Check that out too, when you get a chance. 







Friday, November 29, 2019

Vanishing point


Just call her
like you're on the phone
See if she picks up
She's alive
and ascended
The only reason not to reach for the phone 
and talk to her is
you can go directly to Joshua instead
Fine
Call up Josh then
Ask him
Talk to him 
Get his take on it
What's the worst that can happen
He'll hang up on you
He won't pick up
He will pickup
but remain silent
Maybe he will hang up
That's up to him
I don't know why he would
You would know better than I would 
about why He would
That's between you and him
And if he does
then you know how he feels about you
But at least he's going to pick up
and listen
to what you have to say
when you call
He calls each of us all the time
and we're the ones who don't make the time for him
We see him calling
Or we don't recognize the number
and send him to voicemail
He can leave a message if he really wants
Hopefully your inbox isn't full
But if you pick up the phone 
if you initiate and reach out
he's not like us
He will pick up
and listen
And that's what you need
We all need someone to just hear us out
He needs to hear how you feel
So tell him how you feel
Ask him whatever you want
Be real with him
He cares about you
She cares about you, too
She told her sister that she didn't want to be buried with their mother in Ohio
She wanted to be buried with her four children in Wisconsin
What we have been trained
and traumatized
to believe
to think
to fear
is the real myth
The horizon always ascends to eye level
no matter how high you ascend
Always








Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Look Down










Baffle and manipulate to defeat their brilliance and slay
Them in battle with trending tweets of disembodied knowledge,
With armies of wikipinions and FDA approved standards.
Bullshit guides of the blind they are, as Jesus would say.
If only you would go back to the beginning and look down, not up.
You know the type of which I speak.
Can't you just go back and peruse vertically to see what I mean?
Dazzle the blind guides forming and filling
Them with toxic treats and cancers,
With misinformation, disinformation, and blocked formations.
Brilliance cannot be defeated if it cannot be baffled.









Thursday, October 31, 2019

DBH That All Shall Be Saved: Another Heretical Review





A few days ago I had a crazy idea. I wanted to spend roughly two minutes thumbing in a review of David Bentley Hart's latest (theological) book, That All Shall Be Saved. (I say this because he released a delightful children's book shortly after its release.) My review is nothing special. Although, admittedly, I'm the only person I know of in the cosmos whose basic disagreements with DBH, where found (which are not many), are slightly endorsed, albeit in a cheeky way, by himself in the book, and yet simultaneously and bombastically denounced within the same pages.

Perhaps, when all of the ridiculous invectives against Hart and the unapologetically childish cries  about the "heresy" of Apokatastasis across social media become a faded memory over the next year, I will muster enough energy to write a detailed, chapter by chapter response, showing that my own heretical critique is actually as reasonable, if not more so, than Hart's. 

But for now, this brief review will have to do. 








Sunday, October 20, 2019

Recipe for Pastor Theologians





It’s not magic
It’s gospel
It’s the true presence of Christ in us
Walk with congregations
Illuminate the implications
Tend his sheep
With one eye on their heart
One eye on their digital parousia
We must lead 
Educate
Instruct
Train
To profane the techno drug
To cherish our tribe instead
Don’t just wish to form them
Deliver our good news to form them
Get lost in the like 
It was meant to save us 
Not to fame us
And share buttons
About our faith
We worship one Deity 
Equal in glory
Coeternal in majesty
Trinity of Unity
The what of Father is 
The what of Son is 
The what of Holy Spirit is
Spiraling out
Keep going 
Absolution lays in accurately reciting these verses 
Simsalabim Bamba Saladu Saladim
Don’t block the means to the end
No tablet or smartphone can compare 
To the refulfillment
We take and eat
In the Supper
Remembering the history 
Remembering the tendency
Moving and making 
Liturgy into magic 
Rainbows and warbows
Its modality calls us
Paying attention to the how
Of the gathered church
Of the assembly 
Of those coming together 
In creed
In crown
In covenant
The antidote of our distraction 
Let us read deeply
Between the lines
Between the leis
Between the lies
Misunderstanding us
Choking us
Decaying this embodiment of the us
When we gather
Like eagles
Christ is truly present in it
We too should be truly present in this gospel
With our people in its magic