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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Wandering Prophets in the Time of Mark

Examining the Scriptures, we may notice a passage in Mark 6, with parallels in Mt 10:1-15 and Lk 9:1-6, 10:1-12, in which Jesus charges his disciples to go out and evangelize. Here I reproduce the ostensibly original Markan passage (ESV):

7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff---no bread, no bag, no money in their belts---9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, "Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them." 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Slavery in Antiquity

In my experience, skeptics of Christianity often have problems with the Bible's comments on slavery. The Old and New Testaments alike provide instructions on how God's people are to treat their slaves, not always palatable to their readers. Unbelievers have attempted to cast doubt on the divine origin of Scripture by pointing to the passages discussing slavery, and observing that they do not reflect our modern moral compass.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Colorful Re-interpretation of Paul and Polycarp

In my recent exploration of the Apostolic Fathers, one passage from Polycarp caught my attention. He writes, in his epistle to the Philippians,[1]

7:1 "For whosoever does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is antichrist;" and whosoever does not confess the testimony of the cross, is of the devil; and whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts, and says that there is neither a resurrection nor a judgment, he is the first-born of Satan.

Paul records a similar phrase in 1 Corinthians 1 (ESV):

17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

With Paul, he speaks of "the word of the cross" ("ο λογος γαρ ο του σταυρου"), whereas Polycarp urges us to "confess the testimony of the cross" ("ομολογη το μαρτυριον του σταυρου"). I find it quite natural to interpret both expressions as referencing the Gospel message, with a particular emphasis on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. In the case of Polycarp this is especially likely, considering that he seems intent on answering the Docetic heresy.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Paul and Clement: Egalitarian Champions?

Codex Boernerianus, also known as G, relocates 1Co 14:34-35, and in their place has a single word, διδασκω, a verb meaning "teach."