Category Archives: Theology
In my last post I pointed out the close match between the description in Genesis chapter 10 of the migration of Semitic peoples to lower Mesopotamia, and the story of the Akkadian Empire of Sargon the great, and also the general correspondence between the table of nations and the western (but not eastern) Neolithic radiation. I suggested how this was an indicator that the writer of Genesis must have been fully aware that non-descendants of Adam existed at this time, and quite plausibly in the time of Adam himself, given his habit of ignoring outsiders.
Genesis chapters 1-11 continue to intrigue because, for all their “under-determination” of meaning for us moderns, and their mythic style, they keep resonating with details of the most ancient human history. And so, quite apart from any theological reasons, I can’t go along with those who regard them as ahistorical, nor have much sympathy with the idea that they are purely late, exilic, additions – they wear their great antiquity prominently.
Following on from my recent post, N T Wright provoked another thought, through an offhand reply in a video of his. He described Genesis 1-11 as “The Old Testament of the Old Testament”. And that of course is true, both in its time frame – the world before the call of Abraham into covenantal (= testamental) relationship – and its provenance, in a classical Mosaic torah framework at least, as the ancient traditions that Israel already possessed at the time of the Exodus.
I’m looking for a succinct summary of the Bible for a Bible Overview course. That’s only worthwhile, of course, if one regards the Scriptures as telling (in the popular phrase) “His Story”, rather than their being a disparate collection of pious thoughts from Jewish religionists, cobbled together over their history from even more disparate and contradictory sources. Yet even that might add up to single story if one believes that God is in charge of history, and has a plan for it.
There’s an interesting, and rather long, podcast here in which philosopher Lydia McGrew calls out New Testament scholars, as an entire guild, on what she perceives as systemic errors in their basic methodology, and particularly in the field of what is called “redaction criticism”. I have to say I agree with most of what she says, but there has also been a backlash from evangelical NT scholars contradicting her, partly on the basis of credentialism, ie that since she herself is not a trained New Testament scholar, she has no warrant to criticize those who are.
I thought I’d tidy up a few loose ends left by the last two posts. One thing that has never seemed quite credible to me, in the Patristic expressions of the Ransom theory, is simply the suggestion that Satan was outwitted and blindsided by the death of Christ. Origen, Gregory of Nyssa and Augustine all spoke of God deceiving Satan (justly, as the arch-deceiver), the latter even using the analogy of Jesus as bait in an animal trap (an image to which Gregory the Theologian objected). But Satan was a bright guy: did he really have no inkling, up to the Passion, of what was going on? After all, the … Continue reading
I ended my last post with the conclusion of the writer to the Hebrews’ exposition of Psalm 8, which introduces Satan into the picture of man’s temporary subordination to the angels, and his glorification by the work of Christ. The mention suggests that Satan has particular relevance to the relationship between mankind, angels and divine glory: Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
This piece arises from the line of thought I laid out here, which in turn lies within the view I’ve been developing of the significance of Eden in the meta-narrative of the Pentateuch and the whole Bible. See here, here, here, here and here.
Whilst natural theology is a hot topic at The Hump, Eddie Robinson’s recent pieces here and here regarding the BioLogos thread mentioning natural theology, in connection with Lutheranism, prompted me to do a rapid, and of course, incomplete survey of the Church Fathers on this subject.
Over on BioLogos, George Murphy has responded to my previous post here on the Hump. As I have no posting privileges at BioLogos, I will have to engage Dr. Murphy from my position here. This is an awkward arrangement, but it will serve for the moment. I add, however, that Dr. Murphy is free to sign up here on the Hump as a commenter and respond directly, free of charge, to this post or to any others in the future; I’m sure that his interests sufficiently overlap with the Hump’s that he would be a valuable addition to not just this but other conversations here.