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Ask a Theologian III

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Plotinus, Nov 7, 2009.

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  1. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

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    Well, I as going to let matters rest, but it seems not to be...

    Equally? Critical text analysis requires at least a critical look at the text in question, there's nothing 'foolish' about that. But let's just have a look at the texts in question. In Galateans 2 Paul refers to the so-called apostolic council, mentioning he went to Jerusalem "based on a revelation"; he then goes on in some detail about the matter of circumcision, concluding with the statement that "we should go to the heathens, they to the circumcised". That seems clear enough - although he refers in passing to his opponents as "false brothers" and never mentions any form of payment. In 2 Corinthians 9,5 he does refer to the payment in question as "the previously agreed kind gift", stressing it being intended "as a kind gift and not a demanded gift." (You'll note I'm not using a Lutheran bible.) But what is he doing here? Why does he stress that he wants it to be taken "as a kind gift and not a demanded gift"? It couldn't really have been a question of Paul being hard pressed for cash. Could it be that it actually was a demanded gift that he'd agreed to, but - feeling slighted - felt the need to express he gave it voluntarily, ot of the goodness of his heart, so to speak. That is somewhat of a speculation, but not an unreasonable one. Be that as it may - unlike you're assuming I'm not really interested in guessing Paul's motives -, such a denial clearly indicates that at Jerusalem the gift was agreed upon at his opponents' demand.

    Well, see above. (And what I said was: Whether Paul actually believed what he wrote was the truth or if [t]hat was what he wants his readers to believe isn't really answered by simply accepting Paul's word for it. There's no suggestion here that Pal was 'not merely wrong but that he was deliberately deceitful'.)

    I cannot refer to someone writing 500 years ago, but it's OK for you to refer to the church fathers?* (And may I remind you that I merely mentioned Luther's translation as an illustration? Chapters and verses are above, but you'll have to find a Lutheran bible for yourself, I'm afraid, because I don't have one.)

    You remember contesting Paul's payment to the Jerusalem based Christian Jews? I distinctly remember you referring to it as a "gift for the poor" (another quote of Paul's). And what is wrong with theologians "in a foreign language"? The church fathers wrote in a foreign language - but I guess you wouldn't consider them as being biased in any way? You can be certain that anyone writing a text is biased in some way. When reading source texts one should always bear this in mind: What is the author writing? Who is it intended for? and What is the author's motive?

    I'll leave your last assertion, for which I cannot fathom a motive, be - it's clearly biased. QED

    * For a more modern view on the bible I might recommend Bart D. Ehrman; he did some fine textcritical work on the NT and is quite readable. (Writes in English too, he does.)
     
  2. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Right. But just assuming without evidence that it's wrong is no better than assuming without evidence that it's right, isn't it?

    No argument there, although he does in fact mention the collection in 2:10.

    I'm really not convinced by that. If we take the passage at face value, Paul is concerned that the Corinthians should have the collection ready for when people arrive to collect it, because he wants it to be clear that they are giving it of their own free will. He doesn't want the people who collect it to have to wait and perhaps tell the Corinthians to hurry up, because then it would seem like they are giving it unwillingly. So Paul's concern is with how the Corinthians appear to other Christians - whether they seem willing to donate or unwilling. This doesn't seem to me to tell us anything about whether the collection itself was an obligatory "fee" that had been imposed upon Paul's churches to pay for his right to preach to gentiles, which is what you suggested. You didn't merely claim that the collection was obligatory - you said that it was something Paul paid for this right. Now as far as I can tell, this passage doesn't tell us anything about whether the collection was obligatory or not (only about Paul's concern that it not appear obligatory). It certainly doesn't tell us that paying it was a prerequisite for Paul's right to preach to gentiles.

    So I would say that while this passage is at least consistent with your interpretation, it does not in the least constitute evidence for it.

    No, I don't see any evidence that the collection was demanded by Paul's opponents or indeed had anything to do with Paul's opponents. If you read Galatians 2 again you'll see that Paul says that he agreed about the collection with the leaders of the Jerusalem church (i.e. Peter and James), not with his opponents there.

    But if there is a distinction between what Paul believed was the truth, and what he wanted his readers to believe, then of course he was deceitful. If he didn't believe that what he was writing was the truth, then he was seeking to mislead his readers. So you surely are suggesting that he was deliberately deceitful.

    It's not a matter of whether one can refer to these people, but of whether they constitute reliable authorities in matters of biblical translation. I may refer to the church fathers to illustrate what Christians in antiquity believed. And one may refer to Luther to illustrate what Christians in the sixteenth century believed. However, I don't think it's legitimate to refer to either to illustrate how one should translate ancient texts into English, since (a) neither the church fathers nor Luther spoke English, and (b) more crucially, they all lived before the emergence of modern scholarship, which has helped us to understand the meaning of the texts more reliably. Luther, like the church fathers, interpreted the Bible principally in a theological way rather than a scholarly one.

    I contested whether it was a "fee". Of course I don't contest the claim that the collection was made and paid.

    I didn't express myself well there. I didn't mean that authors who write in foreign languages are more biased. I meant that they are not, as a rule, good sources for how to translate biblical terms into English. In this case we were arguing about whether the collection for the poor was a "fee". You said that Luther translated it as "fee" (although I still don't know which word, in which verse, he is supposed to have translated in this way). The point I was clumsily trying to make was that Luther didn't translate anything as "fee", since he wrote in German. Arguing in this way just adds an extra level of translation, and therefore possible misinterpretation, to everything - since perhaps the word that Luther used doesn't translate exactly to the English "fee". So your argument is that an unspecified Greek word was translated into an unspecified German word, which you claim means "fee". That is not a very enlightening claim. Clearly if we're going to argue about how a Greek word should be translated into English it would be better to remove that layer of interpretation in German and consider how it would be directly translated, rather than worrying about a translation of a translation. This is, of course, quite apart from the issue of Luther's writing in a pre-critical age, being notoriously unreliable in Pauline interpretation, and all the other things peculiar to him.

    FYI, "QED" means "which is what was to be demonstrated", and if you're going to use it, you use it when you have demonstrated something that you said you were going to set out to demonstrate. Typically, at the end of a mathematical proof. Since what you just said wasn't a demonstration at all, let alone one of something that you said you were setting out to demonstrate, it's really out of place.
     
  3. Ziggy Stardust

    Ziggy Stardust New Englander

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    Why did you change your awesome avatar in favour of a character in the worst ST series? :(
     
  4. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Heh, because sometimes a change is needed. Just a temporary one though.
     
  5. Ziggy Stardust

    Ziggy Stardust New Englander

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    Oh good :)

    I think a Christmas hat would look good on Wacko Chako.
     
  6. Slim_Shady

    Slim_Shady Quebec Extremist

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    Just finished watching the Omen. Do Christians truly believe an "antichrist" is coming?
     
  7. flyingchicken

    flyingchicken 99 117 110 116 115

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    As a Christian who doesn't, I say that stating a general position for modern Christians in general would be wonky at best. Sure we could poll them or something, but they all probably have different reasons to or not to, and those who do believe would probably disagree with a lot of others in the specifics.
     
  8. Erik Mesoy

    Erik Mesoy Core Tester / Intern

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    I think you'll have to define what sort of "antichrist" you mean for those of us who haven't watched Omen. Most Christians probably believe that (more) antichrist(s) like the ones in the Letters of John are coming:
     
  9. Slim_Shady

    Slim_Shady Quebec Extremist

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    Antichrist as in the son of the devil. The movie referred to some bible verse, I believe in Revelations where they predict the coming of the devil's son by another Star of Bethlehem something about a comet and the rise of Rome (they considered this the treaty of Rome in the movie.) So i'm wondering is this what Hollywood made up or do Christians truly believe the Son of the Devil is coming?
     
  10. Erik Mesoy

    Erik Mesoy Core Tester / Intern

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    Comet? This?
    I didn't find "comet" or "Rome" mentioned by name searching in Revelation.

    EDIT: Are you talking about this which I found on Google?
    That's pure Hollywood. It's not in the Bible at all.
     
  11. MagisterCultuum

    MagisterCultuum Great Sage

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    Based on a quick check of Wikipedia about The Omen, I can tell you it bears no real resemblance to the Christian idea of the Beast/Antichrist/Man of Apostasy. The idea of him being the "Son of the Devil" in anything but a metaphorical sense (in which the term could apply to all non-Christians) seems odd. There is nothing in the bible about The Beast's childhood, and no reason to think that
     
  12. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    This all sounds made up by Hollywood to me.

    The name "antichrist" doesn't even come in Revelation. There are two Beasts that appear in chapter 13, one from the sea (i.e. a foreign power, namely the Roman empire) and one from the land (i.e. a domestic power, possibly the Roman authorities in Asia minor or the pagan priesthood there). Later tradition has interpreted the first Beast as a reference to an individual person, and also given him the name "antichrist", which is taken from the Johannine literature that Erik Mesoy quoted - where it is not the name of an individual, but refers only to an attitude (in particular docetism, the denial of Jesus' true humanity). Christians have at various points in history tried to identify various contemporary figures with the Beast or the antichrist, but I don't think there has ever been a tradition that he's literally the son of the devil, and I don't know any of this stuff about the rise of Rome or a comet.
     
  13. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    In Hollywood, the antiChrist is a person born who will unite the world, be very popular, and lead the world away from God. Sometimes he's the son of the Devil, sometimes not. It's often an individual.

    And to answer, yes, some Christians believe in it. The movie "Left Behind" is somewhat based on it
     
  14. Bill3000

    Bill3000 OOOH NOOOOOOO! Supporter

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    Why did Protestantism go against monasticism?
     
  15. Miles Teg

    Miles Teg Nuclear Powered Mentat

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    Plotinus, since it's come up in another thread: How reputable is the common idea that the date of Christmas was established as a sort of "alternative' to Christmas? If it's not reputable, what's the most likely logic behind the date?

    Heck, I'll ask about Easter while I'm at it, just to get it into the almighty index, hopefully before this spring. Who knows, it might not even be because of the Passover.
     
  16. Cheetah

    Cheetah Chieftain

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    I think the Christian Easter comes from the Jewish Easter/Passover. Though I'm not sure what the Jews originally based it on.

    And about Christmas:
    In Northern Europe we still say 'Yule' which is the original Germanic name for the holiday. It's basically celebrating the winter solicit, though it's celebration lasted for more than one day.

    It would seem only common sense to ascribe Christmas to the winter solicit festival of the Germans, or to Saturnalia, the Roman winter solicit festival (which the Germans might have copied) or perhaps the Roman Sol Invictus festival.

    The current Pope holds that December 25th is simply nine months after Jesus conception, or March 25th. Which again puts Jesus conception on the vernal equinox and coincides with Pagan fertility festivals...
    Which is one of the dates generally preferred by Jewish rabbinic traditions for the births and deaths of Old Testament patriarchs...

    I'm still holding on the Winter solicit festival as the reason for placing Christmas around these dates.
     
  17. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    I am pretty sure that historically it is the other way around . . .
     
  18. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    Jesus was crucified and resurrected during the passover celebrations and Easter is the celebration of those events.

    Date of Easter

     
  19. PeteAtoms

    PeteAtoms FormulaRandom

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    Passover is when death killed every first born in Egypt, but passed over the Jewish homes because they had marked their doors with blood.
     
  20. Cheetah

    Cheetah Chieftain

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    Well, yes, that is the myth.

    But I wonder about the actual reason why they have a celebration on those dates. I can only guess that it originally was also some kind of fertility celebration, like most other cultures have around the spring equinox.
     
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