Hat Steal

This is not just a hat tip; it’s a hat steal.

I had to get this absolutely brilliant content (written by a fellow graduate of my alma mater!) to both of my readers. Moisés Silva is an exegetically and linguistically careful scholar, and this is brilliant, just… brilliant!

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It is approximately the year 2790. The most powerful nation on earth occupies a large territory in Central Africa, and its citizens speak Swahili. The United States and other English-speaking countries have long ceased to exist, and much of the literature prior to 2012 (the year of the Great Conflagration) is not extant. Some archaeologists digging in the western regions of North America discover a short but well-preserved text that can confidently be dated to the last quarter of the twentieth century. It reads thus:

Marilyn, tired of her glamorous image, embarked on a new project. She would now cultivate her mind, sharpen her verbal skills, pay attention to standards of etiquette. Most important of all, she would devote herself to charitable causes. Accordingly, she offered her services at the local hospital, which needed volunteers to cheer up terminal patients, many of whom had been in considerable pain for a long time. The weeks flew by. One day she was sitting at the cafeteria when her supervisor approached her and said, “I didn’t see you yesterday. What were you doing?” “I painted my apartment; it was my day off,” she responded.

The archaeologists know just enough English to realise that this fragment is a major literary find that deserves closer inspection, so they rush the piece to one of the finest philologists in their home country. This scholar dedicates his next sabbatical to a thorough study of the text and decides to publish an exegetical commentary on it, as follows:

We are unable to determine whether this text is an excerpt from a novel or from a historical biography. Almost surely, however, it was produced in a religious context, as is evident from the use of such words as devoted, offered, charitable. In any case, this passage illustrates the literary power of twentieth-century English, a language full of metaphors. The verb embarked calls to mind an ocean liner leaving for an adventuresome cruise, while cultivate possibly alerts the reader to Marilyn’s botanical interests. In those days North Americans compared time to a bird—probably the eagle—that flies.

The author of this piece, moreover, makes clever use of word associations. For example, the term glamorous is etymologically related to grammar, a concept no doubt reflected in the comment about Marilyn’s “verbal skills.” Consider also the subtleties implied by the statement that “her supervisor approached her.” The verb approach has a rich usage. It may indicate similar appearance or condition (this painting approaches the quality of a Picasso); it may have a sexual innuendo (the rapist approached his victim); it may reflect subservience (he approached his boss for a raise). The cognate noun can be used in contexts of engineering (e.g. access to a bridge), sports (of a golf stroke following the drive from the tee), and even war (a trench that protects troops besieging a fortress).

Society in the twentieth century is greatly illuminated by this text. The word patient (from patience, meaning “endurance”) indicates that sick people then underwent a great deal of suffering: they endured not only the affliction of their physical illness, but also the mediocre skills of their medical doctors, and even (to judge from other contemporary documents) the burden of increasing financial costs.

A few syntactical notes may be of interest to language students. The preposition of had different uses: causal (tired of), superlative (most important of all), and partitive (many of whom). The simple past tense had several aoristic functions: embarked clearly implies determination, while offered suggests Marilyn’s once-for-all, definitive intention. Quite noticeable is the tense variation at the end of the text. The supervisor in his question uses the imperfect tense, “were doing,” perhaps suggesting monotony, slowness, or even laziness. Offended, Marilyn retorts with a punctiliar and emphatic aorist, “I painted.”

Gaffin Quoting Ridderbos on the History of Pauline Theology

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A clever comment by Herman Ridderbos, quoted in Richard Gaffin’s By Faith, Not By Sight, a book I bought in Libronix, transferred easily to my Kindle, and am reading currently:

Herman Ridderbos has observed, taking in the history of interpretation of Paul in its entirety, that Paul’s own account of the course of his ministry in 2 Corinthians 11:23–26 provides an apt description of that history, “beaten times without number, often in danger of death … shipwrecked three times … in danger from my nation, in danger from the Gentiles … in danger among false brothers!” (p.10)

Love and Hate; ἀγαπάω and μισέω

If hate is the opposite of love, as many passages indicate, then why don’t we have a book called The Four Hates? Why don’t preachers fulminate against the scary hate of a mother for her crying infant (ἀστοργέω [a + storge]), the emotional hate of one’s ex-best-friend (ἀφιλέω [a + filos]), the even more passionate hate of one’s ex-lover (ὠράω [a+ eros]), while defending the disinterested hate (ἐγαπάω [a + agaph]) of the enemies of one’s country? Love is love. Hate is hate. They come in degrees; they are elicited for different reasons. But in my study—of the NT, LXX, and Josephus so far—the essential character of each one is manifest in every instance.

May God help me to love what He loves and therefore hate what He hates.

Enduring Counsel from B.B. Warfield

I regularly return to this enduring counsel from B. B. Warfield—required reading for all BJU seminarians who take Systematic Theology:

A minister must be learned, on pain of being utterly incompetent for his work. But before and above being learned, a minister must be godly.

Nothing could be more fatal, however, than to set these two things over against one another. Recruiting officers do not dispute whether it is better for soldiers to have a right leg or a left leg: soldiers should have both legs. Sometimes we hear it said that ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer, deeper, more operative knowledge of God than ten hours over your books. “What!” is the appropriate response, “than ten hours over your books, on your knees?” Why should you turn from God when you turn to your books, or feel that you must turn from your books in order to turn to God? If learning and devotion are as antagonistic as that, then the intellectual life is in itself accursed, and there can be no question of a religious life for a student, even of theology. The mere fact that he is a student inhibits religion for him. That I am asked to speak to you on the religious life of the student of theology proceeds on the recognition of the absurdity of such antitheses. You are students of theology; and, just because you are students of theology, it is understood that you are religious men—especially religious men, to whom the cultivation of your religious life is a matter of the profoundest concern—of such concern that you will wish above all things to be warned of the dangers that may assail your religious life, and be pointed to the means by which you may strengthen and enlarge it. In your case there can be no “either—or” here—either a student or a man of God. You must be both.

I love those words, and I’ve thought of them many times over my eight years (!) of graduate school. I pray that I might not be deficient in either head or heart. I’m supposed to love God with all of both.