Monday, January 30, 2006

Institut zur Erforschung des Urchristentums

Tonight, I will be presenting a paper at the Institut zur Erforschung des Urchristentums in the Theologicum in Tübingen, and all manner of highly learned listeners will attend. Hopefully.

I am also trusting that it will lead to some interesting and useful debate, especially as I have an hour to make the presentation, and an additional hour for discussion afterwards.

Naturally, I will keep an open mind - but the bottom-line is, of course, obviously, that my argument is and will remain absolutely correct and beyond reproach …

Dunn on 1 Corinthians

James Dunn’s 1 Corinthians (London: T and T Clark Study Guide, 1995), is an absolutely wonderful little introduction to this letter, and not only to the themes therein, but also to the exegetical approaches and developments of the last century. It is well written, succinct, and demonstrates Dunn’s usual clarity of thought. Apart from the fact that I have myself learnt a good deal from it, I think this would be a good book for first or second year undergraduates who are seeking an example of a work that demonstrates the relevance and value of scholarship for biblical interpretation. As Dunn writes:

1 Corinthians has been in effect a testing ground for different hermeneutical techniques and theories. Indeed, one can almost trace the rise (and decline) of such theories by reference to 1 Corinthians and how they have fared in explaining the features of that letter’ (p. 10)

This book is a real treat, and NT lecturers could do worse than to focus on this letter for the sake of their undergrads. They will masterfully be taken through the history of interpretation, and touch upon the impact of F. C. Baur, the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule, the Gnostic and proto-gnostic approaches, various social-scientific and theological understandings, rhetorical readings, and more besides. Each chapter ends with a helpful ‘Further Reading’ list.


Here is the last paragraph of the book. Inspiring and thought provoking - worth a slow read:

It also becomes apparent in the way Paul not only used but also elaborated and qualified the authority of Scripture, of the Jesus tradition and even the gospel itself. He was neither simply a creative theologian, “making it up as he went along”; not simply an authoritarian pastor routinely following rules and rubrics. The word for him was not a crystallised deposit, but a living expression of the shared experience of Spirit and the fellowship of commitment. The tradition maintained the continuity with the past of Israel and the past of Jesus. The gospel remained focused on the cross and resurrection of Christ. But it’s expression and teaching and exhortation, rebuke and challenge, spoke to the Corinthians in the midst of the complex demands of their lives and relationships and with an astonishing relevancy and effect. In this aspect also 1 Corinthians can still be a model and resource’ (pp. 110-11)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Your Sunday Afternoon

I’ve just updated the ‘single of the week’.

I know that my music taste may not be to everyone’s liking, but if you are one of those who takes exception at my recommendations then let me counsel you to visit this webpage, and click on the ‘please help me’ tab.

This week’s offering is ‘Desire (Ambient Mix)’ by Blank & Jones, one of the smoothest chill mixes I know – I could listen to it on perpetual loop.

My proposal for your Sunday afternoon: Download this track, make yourself a decent coffee, carve a slice of Stilton on to a cheese biscuit, put your feet up, then open up a Hans Urs von Balthasar book, e.g. one of those Ben Myers recently overviewed.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Praying Theology II

“The first and basic act of theological work is prayer”

“It is imperative to recognise the essence of theology as lying in the liturgical action of adoration, thanksgiving, and petition”

-- Karl Barth

(quoted in Leanna Van Dyk (ed.), A More Profound Alleluia, [Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2005] xvi and xvii)

Don Saliers, it is noted, claims that:

‘the dependence of theology on worship runs so deep in the theology of Karl Barth that “critical theological thinking is secondary and therefore derivative of the first-order theology shown in praying to God”’

(xix-xx, citing Saliers, Worship as Theology)

What is your opinion? Do you think Barth is correct?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Küng – Der Anfang aller Dinge. Section B, pt 1.

I’m sorry, I wanted to make this review of Küng’s book far shorter, but I’m finding it too interesting to simply skim over. And writings these words down is helping my think through matters myself!

The following is part 1 of the overview of Section B.

(To orientate yourself as to which part of the book I am presently overviewing, click here for the introductory post. Previously, I examined section A in two parts: part one, and two).


Section B deals with the question: ‘God as beginning?’ – not from the perspective of cosmology, but rather based on philosophical-theological reflection.

1. The question concerning the beginning of the beginning.
First, through a brief analysis of the ‘original singularity’ (die Anfangssingularität), Küng argues for the impossibility of explaining the absolute beginning (the t = 0 moment) without some recourse to meta- or proto- physics. Second, Küng argues that science certainly cannot determine God is irrelevant to such considerations. He attempts to demonstrate this, based on Kant’s critique of ‘pure reason’: the limits of reasons must be admitted, and this is not to be taken to be the same things as limiting Reality. ‘Das heißt: Was die Vernunft nicht erkannt, kann dennoch wirklich sein! Auch Gott?’ (63 – if a translation is desired, please indicate in the comments). Turned around this means that scientific proof of God is also, according to Kant, impossible.

2. Science blocked through religious criticism?
This is all agreeable enough, but in the light of Kant, Küng turns his guns on the likes of Sagen, Dawkins and Atkins, and other such ‘prophets of science’, who come along proclaiming an atheistic critique of religion in the name of science. Their scientific work, he argues, has no real relevance for the truth or falsehood of most religious claims.

Through an overview of the contributions of famous religion critics (Feuerbach, Marx and Freud), Küng rather helpfully points out that their conclusions may well be accepted, but that hardly determines the absolute truth of Reality. For example, along with Feuerbach we may agree that ‘God’ is a human projection, but only a projection? Küng is adamant: Science must leave God out of their considerations, they simply have not the tools to deal with such questions. God is not an object of the observable universe to be placed under a microscope. And while atheism may be understandable, it is therefore most certainly not necessary.

3. Where do the nature-constants (Naturkonstanten) come from?
In all of this, Küng is, of course, setting his argument against certain apologists who want to suggest that an Absolute Beginning is positive proof for a creator. Things are not so simple. However, does this mean that we can forget about such questions as ‘what are the conditions of the Absolute Beginning’? Certainly not, he insists. It is simply that such questions cannot be answered by science as they overstep the boundaries of ‘pure reason’. Rather, and this is a point he will expand on later, it is that they need to be addressed by a decision of the entire human (eine Entscheidung des ganzen Menschen).

Once again, ‘where do the cosmic Ordnungsprinzipien come from?’ Of course, astrophysics cannot answer this. The generally accepted ‘expanding universe’ model helps to explain some things, but not the basic cosmic ordering principles. It cannot describe the conditions for the beginning of the universe. This doesn’t mean that we should import God into a scientific lack of knowledge ( a God of the gaps), but that this is rather an invitation to think over the fundamental conditions of the scientific world model, one upon which scientists themselves recourse to feeling and instinct, rather than to scientific arguments.

To be continued …

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Asleep at the desk

Well that doesn’t happen often. Even though I pounded my brain with rather loud music while working through some primary material, I managed to fall asleep at my desk last night …

Which means I didn’t get around to write any blogs. And the creative juices have most definitely not gotten out of bed with me this morning (anybody can find pictures of Jesus on the net and make smart-ass comments)

Anyway, enough nonsense about ‘faces of Jesus’ and the like, time to get to work on my thesis – and things are about to heat up in my exegetical argument now I’ve turned my attention to the Corinthian correspondence.

Faces of Jesus

'With (the eyes of) faith, all things are possible'

Below is irrefutable proof that us Christians were right all along.

Jesus showed up to be a sunset

and cast his face on a wall (His thoughts are higher ... )

If you can't see Jesus in this cloud then read 2 Cor 4:4 to find out why.

Bored of showing up in super-sized creation style, Jesus (apparently) turns his attention to various gastronomical delights. The BBC captioned this one: 'Father, son and holy toast'

... and on a Chapatti. If you were the risen and exalted Son of God, what would you spend your time doing?

Once again, tired of popping up on food, he turns his attention to cooking utensils. This is the famous 'Jesus frying pan'

However I twist this one, I just cannot see it. What is clear is that this poor lamb looks decidedly annoyed in a kind of resigned way.

All this, of course, means that the rapture is about to happen. And if you disagree with me, then I'd like to use a line of reasoning employed against me recently by a Fundie as I pointed out his argument was nonsense: If you disagree with me, then it only goes to prove that you are an unregenerate and unsaved sulphur slurping sinner (or words to that effect).

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

NT Christology

Ten essential NT Christology books (in alphabetical order)

  1. Richard Bauckham, God Crucified: Monotheism and Christology in the New Testament (Carlisle: Paternoster, 1998).

  2. W. Bousset, Kyrios Christos (New York: Abingdon, 1970).

  3. O. Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament 2nd Ed., reprint, 1957 (London: SCM, 1963).

  4. J.D.G. Dunn, Christology in the Making (London: SCM, 1980).

  5. Mehrdad Fatehi, The Spirit’s Relation to the Risen Lord in Paul: An Examination of Its Christological Implications, WUNT II (Tübingen: Mohr, 2000).*

  6. R.H. Fuller, The Foundations of New Testament Christology (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1965).

  7. F. Hahn, The Titles of Jesus in Christology: Their History in Early Christianity, reprint, 1963 (New York: World Publishing, 1969).

  8. M. Hengel, The Son of God (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976)

  9. Larry W. Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003) - and his One God, One Lord (London: SCM, 1988). OK, so I’m cheating, this is two books ...

  10. H.P. Liddon, The Divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (7th ed.). Eight lectures preached before the university of Oxford in 1866 (London: Rivingtons, 1875).
* Admittedly number 5 sticks out like a sore thumb, but the arguments developed in this superbly written book are important for all NT Christology, and, for me, take the discussions a step in the right direction.


1) Tonight’s Neues Testament Kolloquium in Tübingen’s Theologicum was easily one of the most fascinating I’ve ever attended. Thoroughly invigorating, actually.

A certain G. Holtz presented a paper on ‘Inclusivism at Qumran’ which was not only a superbly written paper, but one that has deeply challenged the way I think of the Qumran community. Apart from the fact that it was useful to have had Lichtenberger’s expertise to help on some of the finer points of Dead Sea Scroll analysis, it was simply the general thrust of the paper that was so thought provoking – turning not a few of my assumptions on their head. Some of the issues that were thrown up in the process helped to provoke me and my dear friend Volker Rabens into busy theological discussion till considerably later than planned.

2) Some of you may have noticed that I’ve added a ‘Single of the Week’ to my sidebar (any excuse to include a couple of dancing yellow muppets). To hear my weekly choice you’ll need to have iTunes installed, and if my music taste is not to your liking then I’d suggest a rigorous course of fasting and prayer for healing and deliverance.

3) Lastly, I came across this interesting article on today: Islamischer Theologe: “Wir müssen unser Gottesbild ändern” – worth a read.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Chrys Caragounis comments

Recently I wrote about the ‘Historical Greek Pronunciation’ of NT Greek, and in the post I recommended a couple of works by Prof. Chrys Caragounis. A few days after the post I received an e-mail from Chrys, and he’s given me permission to paste it here:

“... I would like to alert you to my web page ( which ought to have further materials of interest both about pronunciation and about the importance of later Greek for the exegesis of the New Testament. Besides, it is taking up new writings of mine (studies, comments, debate points, etc.) as they are written / appear.

In it you will also find my Response to a polemical ‘review’ by Moises Silva (both published in the last issue of WTJ 2005) as well as a Reply to Silva’s “Rejoinder” to my Response, the latter of which was published in the same Journal and issue. My Reply to his Rejoinder could not be published in the WTJ, so it appears on my web site.

How grossly Silva has misrepresented me you can easily see by comparing the wholly different evaluations by Prof Keith Elliott in Novum Testamentum, Leiden, last issue of 2005 and Prof Peter van der Horst (Prof at Utrecht) in Nederlands Theologische Tijdschrift first issue in 2005. See also the forthcoming review by Prof Gilbert van Belle et. al. (Leuven) in Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, first issue of 2006.

With kind regards,

Chrys C. Caragounis”
I want to thank Chrys for this helpful information, and for alerting me to his webpage which had somehow alluded my initial research. It is really worth a look and has all sorts of useful resources - all the more so as he plans to update it with further studies and comments etc.

In particular, I want to draw attention to Chrys’ response to Silva’s review of his book The Development of Greek and the New Testament. Some of you may remember, I have posted before on a matter of contention I had with Silva’s ‘Greek Fathers Principle’, one that I will perhaps develop into an article. Here is not the place to speak my full mind, nevertheless, I will at least say that I am in real sympathy with Chrys’ reaction to Silva’s review for the simple fact that Silva’s manner of criticism (a tad overly assertive) has never been to my taste.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Quest for Paul’s Gospel

I started working through Doug Campbell’s Quest for Paul’s Gospel today, and I’m getting really quite excited as he is truly speaking from my heart on how one should understand ‘faith’ in Paul. His christocentric and participatory reading of the data is in many ways where I’ve been heading entirely independently, though I’d still use different language to describe the complex of Pauline themes. Absolutely inspiring! I’m really looking forward to reading this one through.

Here is one useful review. Does anybody have any opinions of this book, or know where I can find decent reviews?

Wijk aan Zee

The famous annual Wijk aan Zee chess tournament is underway, and England’s Mickey Adams is in good form.

Here is Mig Greengard’s summary of his encounter yesterday with Ivanchuk, on
“Adams notched a nice win against Ivanchuk, who slipped into a passive position after coming out of an opening experiment in okay shape. Black played Nfd7 preemptively, inviting a white pawn storm. Adams obliged. After exchanges Adams got to work his magic with a slight space advantage and Ivanchuk cracked with 34..b4 and an unfortunate rook incursion. White infiltrated with his queen and the game ended quickly after that.”
The game, along with all the others from the A-group, can be replayed here.

Also one to watch is the youthful prodigy Magnus Carlsen who is presently, albeit with a bit of luck in hand, leading the second group. For those who are interested, the book by his old trainer, Simen Agdestein, on the amazing story of this, the world’s youngest chess Grandmaster, is worth a read (a .pdf sample of which can be viewed here). He is potential future world champion material, and has already been called the ‘the Mozart of chess’ by The Washington Post!

Today Mickey will be facing Anand who has the White pieces, so it won't be easy for the Englishman. However, at the time of writing, Mickey looks to have a lovely position, and it putting real pressure on the Indian's queenside. As a great resource for those of us who love chess: all games can be followed live here.



In der Auferstehung Jesu Christi von den Toten hat Gott den Tod zum Ort seiner Liebe zu den Menschen gemacht

– Udo Schnelle, Paulus, 482

(Translation: “In the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, God made Death the place of his love toward humanity”)

Praying theology

I love theology, I really do. But most of all, I love praying theology. One of the books I’m reading through at the moment is a collection of prayers written by the great Catholic theologian, Karl Rahner (a German Jesuit). They are written from the context of all different sorts of life phases, and are absolutely delightful. An extremely wise, universally liked and handsome young man living just outside Tübingen once said: ‘If your theology can’t be prayed and burn hot in your heart, prefer another.’

Here is the opening address of one of my favourites:

Herr Jesus Christus, Sohn des lebendigen Gottes, wahrhaft Gott, wahrhaft Mensch, einer in der Einheit der Person und in der ungeteilten und unvermischten Zweiheit der Natur, wir beten dich an, denn du bist wahrhaft hier mitten unter uns zugegen“ -- Gebete des Lebens, Karl Rahner, 76

Friday, January 20, 2006

Pistis Christou, Bartering Barth and Prison

I’m ill and I feel like crap.

And I'm confused. I still don’t know what way to go with regards the pistis Christou construction in Paul (objective or subjective genitive). After making an extensive lists of pros and cons for each position, downed a few cups of coffee, stared at the evidence again … and again, wrote another list, drunk more coffee, shifted from convinced by the subjective to objective genitive interpretation (at one point in a matter of minutes), and then back again etc. At the end of this tearing-my-hair-out experience, I was left in a sort of miserable ‘post-exegesis’ daze. And I still haven’t frigging made up my mind. To be honest, I don’t see any hope of doing so either, at least not for the next few years. Pity. I’d kind of wanted to at least make a preliminary exegetical decision about this one. I know its the old Fundie in me, but I just can’t be doing with yet another grey-area.

Nevertheless, and here things get decidedly more cheerful: one rather exciting silver-lining to the day is that I may, after all, be getting my hands on a second hand copy of Barth’s entire kirchliche Dogmatik! Oh yes oh yes!

The only obstacle is: I have to get the seller to reduce his offer a tad (surprise). The question that is keeping me awake at night is, of course, how can I get him to lower his price? Violence wouldn’t work as, well, he’d kick my arse all over Tübingen (he’s considerably bigger than me). Plus, violence and Chris Tilling are as far apart as Benny Hinn and Bultmann. Apart from that, the only martial-art manoeuvre I know is the ‘Chinese burn’ (learnt it from the wife). Hardly enough to prise the Church Dogmatics from his grubby hands.

Alternatively, late at night I could ‘ram raid’ the book shop with my car, burst a hole in the wall, stuff the Church Dogmatics in the passenger seat and flee. But I’ve been hovering around Barth’s books, asking the book-shop owner questions etc. for a while now – so if the CDs are the only missing items after the raid it would look a bit suspicious, and so I couldn’t ever return. And that would be a pity. Besides, the shop is a few doors away from the police station, which leads me to point out: if ever I did get caught and thrown into jail, the ‘great Church Dogmatics thief’ is hardly a reputation to get by when rubbing shoulders with hardened criminals. I could sell Anja to some Arabs for some extra cash – but she’d Chinese burn me if I tried. And even I have my limits.

If you’ve actually read through those paragraphs of total crap, I’m sorry you wasted your time. But if you read this bit: Please get on your knees and pray that the book-seller feels awesomely and overwhelmingly generous when I see him next, or that he is smitten with blindness so that I can scarper with the volumes under my arms while he’s fumbling for the light-switch.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Encountering Bultmann - a personal account (Pt 3/3)

Here is a passage I read this evening, and one that has caused pause for real thought:

‘Thinking of the “judgement seat of Christ” before which we must all be arraigned (II Cor. 5:10), Paul says: “knowing the fear of the Lord …” (v. 11). This sentence runs parallel [a typical exegetical manoeuvre of Bultmann’s] with “since we have such a hope” (3:12), demonstrating the unity of “hope” and “fear”’ (1.321).

I find this simply astonishing! In one breath Paul can speak of ‘fear’, and in the next ‘hope’. Actually, this dovetails somewhat with my own suspicion, that the subjects of ‘judgment according to works’, ‘reward’ and ‘hope’ are amongst the most necessary to include in future discussion on ‘justification’. But elaboration on this will have to await the third in my series on ‘Assessing Criticisms of the New Perspective’, to be posted in the not-too-distant future.

Well, that’s something of my personal encounter with Bultmann. How do you assess him?

Encountering Bultmann - a personal account (Pt 2/3)

Actually, my spiritual ‘default’ setting is still ‘Fundie’. I can’t help it. Reboot my brain and its ‘Foaming-Mouth Fundie Operating System Version 1.1’ that loads up. Thus even today, whenever I pick up Bultmann with my right hand, my left hand unconsciously twitches for Josh McDowell’s, Evidence that Demands a Verdict - and a big jug of holy water. OK, maybe that’s exaggerating. But you get the point.

I’m writing all of this, not because I now think Bultmann is only great. I surely don’t and I remain convinced that his works are riddled with a number of significant problems. But because of my religious background it never occurred to me to actually read Bultmann. For a time longer than I care to admit both volumes of his Theology of the New Testament sat on my shelf gathering dust, carefully separated from the bibles (wouldn’t want them getting infected).

But there is some really good stuff in these books! And its far more preachable than almost anything else produced in scholarship (the ‘personal address’ of the kerygma etc.). I dare you: Try reading, for example, his section on ‘faith in Paul’ (Theology of the New Testament 1.314-330) and see if you don’t feel like you’ve just been treated to real, profound and wonderful theological treasures (of considerable practical and ‘devotional’ worth, btw).

Encountering Bultmann - a personal account (Pt 1/3)

Many of you know, I was converted into a conservative evangelical / fundamentalist tradition. And I will persist in saying, it gave me much to be eternally grateful for.

However, the freedom to read books that weren’t conservative and evangelical was not something that tended to be encouraged. In fact, many a time during my formative years in the faith, I would put down a really interesting but theologically ‘questionable’ book out of a sense of guilt.

And if you were regularly caught reading and talking favourably about anything theologically ‘dodgy’, oh my! … prayer networks may be alerted if the habit persisted! How things have changed! Now I don’t feel happy unless I’m regularly seen with a copy of Why Everything You Christians Believe is Total Bollocks by Prof. Raving Infidel. Alas, the pathetic self-therapy attempts of a Recovering-Fundie …

One author in particular was deeply anathematised; an author that, it was suggested, could guarantee a veritable swarm of demons in your head if you opened his works.

Rudolf Bultmann was his name.

I remember being told a (probably apocryphal) story about one of his students that fled his evil theological mind-control, emigrated to America, and told the world the terrible truth of the man in Marburg. It all served to keep him as villainous as possible.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Biblical Studies Kicks the Bucket

Jim West’s Biblical Studies has been ‘laid to rest’, but, gladly, resurrected as First Baptist Church of Petros.

Here is how he introduces the new blog:

“I have a few minutes so I thought I would offer something of a rationale for this particular site. Readers of various weblogs will know that most recently I redacted the Biblical Theology blog. That blog, it seemed to me, had run its course and it was time for a re-evaluation of its purpose, and my own efforts in the use of this important web communication tool.

So today I laid the Biblical Theology weblog to rest. It's time had come. Though enjoyable, and I believe useful to many, I thought it important to refocus. It has been my very strong feeling since my College days that people in the pew are in need of serious, disciplined, concise, and well researched biblical and theological information. Hence, with the new year comes a new direction in my own efforts in the blogosphere. The former blog focused on Biblical Theology for the academic community- and this blog will focus on biblical and theological studies for the Church itself- the community of faith.

I hope that those who valued the previous incarnation will also enjoy visiting here. Many things will remain the same. Many things will change. Stay tuned!

And for new readers, feel free to make use of the comment feature. Let me, and others, know what you're thinking and about what you are looking for.

I am exceedingly hopeful that amidst the sea of biblical and theological mis-information presently online this page and the companion Biblical Studies Resources pages will be an island of what the author of Timothy had in mind when he described Pastor's as those who ‘rightly divide the word of truth’.”

Well Jim, I wish you all the best with the new blog and hope that it is as entertaining, informative and ‘no holes barred’ as the previous!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Batter my heart

“Batter my heart, three-person’d God; for you
As yet but knock; breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthral me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.”

- John Donne (1572-1631), Holy Sonnets, XIV.

(Thanks to our friend Susi for introducing me to this remarkably colourful and expressive passage)

Historical Greek Pronunciation

Quite a while ago, I decided to learn the ‘historical Greek’ pronunciation of New Testament Greek. At university I had learnt the usual Erasmus vocalisation, and was happy to continue doing so, whether in private devotions, or in the seminar room.

Happy, that is, until I heard this. As useful as these audio recordings may be, the American accent (sorry, no offence meant against any of my readers) on the Erasmus pronunciation made my gums recede half an inch up my teeth. And so I immediately started looking for alternatives.

Of course, Chrys Caragounis is the man to read on this, and you can pick up his book, The Development of Greek and the New Testament, from Mohr Siebeck for a mere (!) 129 euro here. Rather more accessible on the price-front is his online article on this subject, which outlines further reasons for abandoning the Erasmus pronunciation – and on more substantial grounds than merely ‘personal taste’. Nevertheless, after listening to those American Erasmus recordings, ‘personal taste’ was quite sufficient reason for me!

He also has a rather helpful CD Rom ‘An Easy and Quick Course in How to Pronounce Greek as a Greek’ available for purchase – though I believe you’ll have to contact him personally for details.

As a sample, here is a comparison for you to hear, between the American Erasmus, and ‘Historical Greek’ pronunciations of that most beautiful of texts, Ephesians 1:3-4 (Euvloghto.j o` qeo.j kai. path.r tou/ kuri,ou h`mw/n VIhsou/ Cristou/( o` euvlogh,saj h`ma/j evn pa,sh euvlogi,a pneumatikh/ evn toi/j evpourani,oij evn Cristw/ (for copyright reasons I’m ending the ‘Historical Greek’ sample here) kaqw.j evxele,xato h`ma/j evn auvtw/ pro. katabolh/j ko,smou ei=nai h`ma/j a`gi,ouj kai. avmw,mouj katenw,pion auvtou/ evn avga,ph).

Obviously, the bottom line is that however you sound when you speak NT Greek, it doesn’t matter. What counts is that you adopt a known system, and use it consistently. Just, whatever you do, please don’t sound like the woman in the audio page linked to above. That’s just wrong. Morally.

Are you saved?

I haven’t blogged for a few days simply, well, because I couldn’t be bothered.

But apparently I’m bothered again, as here I am, at it again. What is more, I have a whole load planned for the coming week!

I apologise that I’m starting off by posting on chess. I realise that most of you, my readers, are theologically inclined, and have no interest in the game (apart from TB). But this is exactly the point: You ought to be interested in chess (for those of you who want to hear my latest sermon, 8 Reasons Why You Aren’t Saved If You Don’t Love And Play Chess, should click here).

Anyway, this was the position I found myself in this morning, during a tournament game. I had managed to quickly equalise the position with the Black pieces (a good thing as White always has the first move), but allowed my position to be invaded by his Queen and Bishop. Nevertheless, I sent the Knight on a mad suicide mission – an assassination attempt on none other than the White King – to counter White’s looming threats, and wonderfully save the game. The position below is Black to play, see if you can find the move I played to secure a forced draw. Click on the board to see and play the answer:


Thursday, January 12, 2006

'Faith' in Paul

OK, sorry about this. Yet another question!

What recent books or articles would you recommend concerning the question about what ‘faith’ means in Paul? - and I particularly mean the faith of the believer in Christ, rather than the faith of Christ.

It is admittedly a digression from my doctoral focus, but nevertheless related, so any feedback will be appreciated.

Again, many thanks.

E. Wissemann question

Has anyone come across E. Wissemann’s, Das Verhältnis von Pistis und Christusfrömmigkeit bei Paulus (FRLANT 40, Göttingen, 1926)?

If so, could anyone sum up what his argument is about in a few sentences?

Einen herzlichen Thanks.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Last year on Brainpoo I brought you news of those who still believe the earth is Flat.

However, I’ve discovered another group who are quite sure the ‘Flat Earthers’ are wrong.

The world isn’t flat, silly!

It’s concave.

That’s right. The surface of the world is like the inside of a football, not the outside. And what is more, they’ve proved it - with some string and a few sticks (particularly amusing is ‘The rods don't attach firmly’ argument).

But if you thought this was just another crazed Fundie scam, you’d be wrong. These sticks don’t just belong to some fruit-loop Hillbilly snake handlers. No, not at all.

They belong to some fruit-loop Scientists.

Scientists, I might add, who can use long words like ‘rectilineator’ and ‘geometrical proposition’ - i.e. not the 1 syllable-only grunting sort.

Of course, more syllables is a step in the right direction, and such problem questions as, ‘Why are there seasons like summer and winter if the sun is in the hollow of a concave earth?’ are answered with a lot more panache than the Flat Earthers ever managed to rustle. Indeed, add a bit of irrational suspicion of the wider scientific community, mixed with a liberal spattering of technical jargon, a final spoonful of name-dropping (i.e. ‘a relative of the famous scientists Keppler, going by the name of Rolf, believes this, ergo its scientific’, type of name dropping) and you have a cocktail powerful enough to persuade some. I kid not. Apparently, if the information provided by my brother-in-law is to be trusted, someone in this my own village is a believer.

As for corroborating evidence, we are in an altogether different league to the ‘the Earth is Flat because the sun is clearly smaller than the 1,390,000 km diameter as predicted by round-Earth scientists’. Think about it. What happens if you fill a bucket with water, then swing it round fast with the open end pointed nearest the centre? The water stays in the bucket due to centripetal force, right? Gravity. With a concave earth that same mechanism explains the whole phenomenon of gravity. I’m sticking to the ground due to centripetal force. Of course, the problem then becomes, why isn’t the sun and moon flung to earth as well, but I’ll let you do the research on such important questions …

Ahh, but what of the seasons? If the sun is at the centre of a hollow earth, then how come we get winter and summer etc.? You wont be the first to be troubled by such a piercing question. Here (under the ‘seasons’ tab to the right), they tell us not to worry ourselves, it can all be explained.

And what about night and day if the sun is in the middle? Again, don’t worry, all can be explained (cf. the ‘day and night’ tab). Particularly appealing in the last apologetic is the diagram provided:

Thus, at the centre of the Universe exists a big clump of ‘starry-sky’, or, sounding a bit more credible, the ‘celestial globe’. Unfortunately, it ends up looking like a King-Kong sized dump sits at the centre of all things, but that’s beside the point.

For those of you bursting to find out more and answer all your pressing questions:

And don’t forget, as quoted by one Concave Earth webpage:

“Unless you expect the unexpected, you'll never find the truth” (i.e. disengage brain)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Küng – Der Anfang aller Dinge. Section A, pt 2.

… continuation of A. A Unified theory for Everything? (Pt. 1)

A. A Unified theory for Everything? (Pt. 2)

An important facet of Küng's argument against the sort of scientific 'over-confidence' that jumps in bed with logical-positivism and consequently marginalizes anything theological, draws on the work of Karl Popper. In particular, he addresses the claim that everything metaphysical must be delimited as 'meaningless' by justifiably asking: "Ist es legitim, bestimmte Fragen von vornherein als »sinnlos« auszuschließen, wenn man empirisch-mathematisch gar nicht definieren kann, was »Sinn« überhaupt ist?" ("Is it legitimate to bracket certain questions, right from the beginning, as 'meaningless', when it is not possible to define what 'meaning' is at all from a mathematical-empirical standpoint?") (42). Science, indeed, can never prove its statements in an absolute sense. They, according to Popper, can only be falsified! Science has its limits.

None of this is to be understood as an attack on the whole scientific approach, however. Rather, Küng's objective in this first chapter is to blunt the unrealistic self-assurance and philosophical naivety of its logical-positivist infected branches. Küng wants to emphasise that Reality cannot be defined 'von vornherein' ('from the start') by some kind of absolutised Rationalität. Reality is multifaceted and complex beast that is best approached through a variety of means employing a variety of methods, though each be very different. Not only that, but it is clear that no one operates from a detached Spock-like rationality, but has desires, feelings, intuition, fantasy, emotion and passion. Again, this is not meant as an argument against rationality, only the absolutisation of it.

Science and theology, he suggest, are both legitimate perspectives with which to analyse the complex of reality. However, just as he pressed in relation to the natural science and mathematics, theology also cannot claim to own the Truth 'von vornherein' absolutely. Theologians too must always be prepared to revise old models and think new thoughts. In particular, they shouldn't withdraw to the alleged infallibility of the Pope, Bible or any creedal-pronouncements of the Church. Rather, science and theology can work together over the question of Reality, something that the schools of Barth (and his aversion to 'natural theology' [three cheers for Brunner!]) and Bultmann (and his neglect of cosmology through his preoccupation with human Existenz) have generated a need for. And theologians must be careful to note that this working together should most certainly not flip into a defensive apologetic stance. On the other hand, instead of a pure integration of science and theology, Küng suggests a complementary relationship. Following Kant he affirms that science has its focus on space-time phenomena, but cannot overstep this world of phenomena. The world "in-itself", the questions concerning the ground and meaning of Reality as a whole, are beyond just science and mathematics.

In the next section, Küng will attempt to employ this 'complementary model' as he bores deeper into the question of the mathematical structure of the physical world.

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Theological poetry

I sure hope this link doesn't get traced, especially as they are German speaking and may – who knows – live locally, but comment I must. I just ran into this blog.

I'm sorry, but that's the ugliest dog I've ever seen - it looks like a piece of snot that just ran face-first into a wall.

Anyway, now that's out, I wanted to add my own poetry link. Ben Myers has been posting recently on essential poets for theologians.

But he left one out. A fatal and inexcusable omission.

I refer my readers, of course, to Father Jack's Poetry Corner.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

TV clergy get theological

UPDATE: Just added audio. Click on the pictures!

Theological pronouncements of the most famous fictional TV clergy:

The Baby-Easting-Bishop of Barthenwells to Blackadder after having been drugged and morally 'compromised':

"You fiend. Never have I encountered such corrupt and foul minded perversity. Have you ever considered a career in the church?"

Blackadder: Here we feast only on God's lovely turnip. Mashed.
The Puritan, Lady Whiteadder in response: Mashed?! Wicked child! Mashing is also the work of Beelzebub. For Satan saw God's blessed turnip and he envied it and mashed it to spoil its sacred shape.

Father Jack Hackett (from Father Ted) to ... err ... anything that moves, and in this scene he is particularly desperate:

Drink … Women …Arse … Drink … Feck … Arse … Drink … Feck … Arse

Küng – Der Anfang aller Dinge. Section A, pt 1.

A. A Unified theory for Everything? (Pt. 1)

The first section begins with a narrative detailing developments in science for the last few hundred years (and the largely poor reaction of the Church to these movements) – from Copernicus through to the proponents of Quantum theory and the Big-Bang ("Urknall").

This overview reaches its climax in his analysis of the optimism displayed by 20th century scientists that a World Formula ("Weltformel"), or Grand Unification Theory (GUT) could be discovered - a complete description of all Reality, with or without God. As Hawking famously suggested in the popular A Brief History of Time, such a theory would enable us to even 'know the mind of God'!

However, such confidence that a GUT or Weltformel could be discovered, has, Küng argues, turned out to be a great disappointment. In fact, he notes that none other than Hawking himself in a recent and surprising pronouncement states that he has 'given up' on the search for a GUT. But why has he given up?:

"Hawking beruft sich dabei überraschenderweise auf den ersten Unvollständigkeitssatz des österreichischen Mathematikers Kurt Gödel (1906-1978), vielleicht der bedeutendste Logiker des 20. Jh. Dieser Satz aus dem Jahr 1930 besagt, dass ein endliches System von Axiomen immer Formeln enthält, die in diesem System weder bewiesen noch widerlegt werden können. Die Sachlage ähnelt dem bekannten Beispiel aus der Antike, wo jemand die Aussage macht »Diese Aussage ist falsch«. Wenn man voraussetzt, dass alle Aussagen grundsätzlich entweder wahr oder falsch sind (dies wäre die Vollständigkeit des System), dann ist die genannte Aussage genau dann wahr, wenn sie falsch ist. Also ein Widerspruch." (33) [if anyone wants this translated, put a note in the comments]

This is a debate, of course, concerning the foundational presuppositions of mathematics. Referring to Gödel again, Küng notes that most "Axiomensysteme der Mathematik sind nicht in der Lage, ihre eigene Widerspruchsfreiheit zu beweisen", and thus "Man muß den Anspruch [of mathematics] auf einwandfreie Beweisführung aufgeben" ("The axiomatic systems of mathematics are not in the position to prove their own freedom from contradiction", and thus, "one ought to give-up the claim for faultless scientific/mathematic proof") (35-6). This is, in essence, what Küng wants to say, in one way or another, throughout the entire chapter.

He also notes that many mathematicians and physicists rarely busy themselves with admitting the reality of such debates. However, here I felt Küng was a little unfair on Hawking as his backtracking on the issue of Black-Holes and the escape of 'information' from them. The polemical nature of Küng's language is understandable in the light of what many theologians legitimately see as the pretentious and naïve confidence of mathematicians and physicists concerning the 'absolute truth' of their pronouncements. Nevertheless, such honest turnaround by Hawking is also something to be applauded - especially as the famous scientist lost a bet in the process as well!

to be continued …

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Was Josephus a legalist?

"ouv dunato.n avnqrw,poij avpodou/nai qew/ ca,rin u`pe.r w-n eu= pepo,nqasin avprosdee.j ga.r to. qei/on a`pa,ntwn kai. krei/tton toiau,thj avmoibh/j w- de. tw/n a;llwn zw,wn u`po. sou/ de,spota krei,ttonej gego,namen tou,tw th.n sh.n euvlogei/n megaleio,thta" – Josephus, Antiquities, 8.111

("It is not possible by what men can do to return sufficient thanks to God for his benefits bestowed upon them, for the Deity stands in need of nothing, and is above any such requital; but so far as we have been made superior, O Lord, to other animals by you, it becomes us to bless your Majesty")

Apparently Josephus is considered by some to have been a bit of a legalist. Why?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

An old question

ouvde. ga.r evgw. para. avnqrw,pou pare,labon auvto. ou;te evdida,cqhn avlla. diV avpokalu,yewj VIhsou/ Cristou

“… for I did not receive it [the gospel] from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ”. (Galatians 1:12)
Here are a couple of my favourite comments on this verse:

  • "the gospel is not simply 'from Christ' but is Christ" -- (Dunn, Galatians, 54)
  • "the gospel happened to Paul when God stepped on to the scene, invading his lie in Christ" -- (J Louis Martyn, Galatians, 144 – a spiritual grandchild of Barth [via Käsemann?] in many ways)

These absolutely delightful texts are causing me to wonder what the best category for characterising the gospel in Paul would be.

What do you think?

Should we speak of the gospel, in Paul, primarily as Christ himself? as God in Christ? or as Christ's advancing lordship? or as a story? or an event (of grace, proclamation)? or a strict set of propositions (perhaps related to 'justification')? Should we mix these together somehow?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Eckstein sampler

Hans-Joachim Eckstein runs the Oberseminar in Tübingen Uni that I sometimes visit - I presented my Forschungsgeshcichte at the last session.

Between 1996 and 2001 he was Professor of NT at the Theological Faculty of the University of Heidelberg. Since 2001, he has been Professor of NT and the Protestant-Theological Faculty of the University of Tübingen (Lehrstuhl für Neues Testament II).

His numerous academic publications are listed here. However, he also writes at a popular level, of which a list can be found here.

He is a very tall and typically German looking man. But we ought not hold that against him as he is also a delightful and energetic Christian with a brilliant mind!

I've just found the following on the net for download:

  • Der aus Glauben Gerechte wird leben - Eine Einführung (an introduction to his book Der aus Glauben Gerechte wird leben)
  • Gott wird Mensch (an essay)
  • Interview mit Paulus zur Auferstehung (book sample)
  • Rechtfertigungstheologie als Zentrum paulinischer Theologie (an article)
  • Wenn Gott sich zuvorkommt (book sample)
  • Das Wesen des christlichen Glaubens (book sample *a really interesting looking one!*)
  • Die Wirklichkeit der Auferstehung Jesu (book sample)

(The links don't work when I try to add them to my blog (?), so I'll simply say where they were found, namely on this website, then click on Neues Testament, then the Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Eckstein link, then finally Texte zum Downloaden)

UPDATE: I've found an easier way: simply click on this link! HAH! You weren't clever enough Mr Tübingen Uni Webmaster.

Theology is? ... bumpy prose

Although about as elegant as fingernails down a blackboard, here is John Franke's pithy and helpful definition of Christian theology in The Character of Theology (p. 44):

"Christian theology is an ongoing, second-order, contextual discipline that engages in the task of critical and constructive reflection on the beliefs and practices of the Christian church for the purpose of assisting the community of Christ's followers in their missional vocation to live as the people of God in the particular social-historical context in which they are situated."

A sentence the length of which any German would be proud of. Well perhaps not any. I seem to remember reading a bit of F.C. Baur and noting that there was only one full-stop on an entire page.

The nightmares of a sad New Testament freek

When Paul wrote "to the churches in Galatia", where did this mean? To whom was Paul's letter of Galatians addressed? Was it to the communities presumably located "in places like Pessinus, Ancyra and Tavium" (cf. Esler, Galatians, 32), i.e. following the so-called Northern or tribal or ethnic hypothesis? Or did Paul write his letter, as according to the Southern or provincial hypothesis, to the churches presented in Acts 13-14?

The arguments for and against each position are complex and well-worn, and so I'll spare the reader a summary (for that cf. particularly Longenecker's commentary on Galatians)

But given that my 'gut-feeling' default tends to be more conservative than not, I have for a long time been inclined to the Southern hypothesis as it tends to make better sense of the scheme of Acts. Nevertheless, the scholarly majority appears to favour the 'tribal' hypothesis (not that that means much. An 'academic majority' is sometimes nothing more than institutionalised snobbery, flags for scholars to group around and display their 'critical credential').

Actually, and this will show how sad I am, one night I lay awake in bed unable to get to sleep, beset by the arguments of the 'Northerners'. For a while, I flirted with jumping ship to the 'tribal' camp, but then I swung round again to the 'provincials'. When I eventually fell asleep, my Southern Galatian faith lay in shreds on the floor.

But I didn't wake up a convinced 'Northerner'. Au contraire! I woke up a critical-realist. Now, I just cannot see how the evidence can be used to provoke conviction for either Southern or Northern Galatian theories. Nanos, too, has recently written of the present 'impasse' in relation to this debate (The Galatians Debate, xiv).

Is this a metaphor for much of my theological thought-life, or what?!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Küng - Der Anfang aller Dinge. Introduction.

I am just about to start a small series on Küng's new book, Der Anfang aller Dinge. I am not yet finished, and so I will write brief summaries of each part as I complete them. I shall quote the German, and then provide a rough English translation, thereby hopefully making it a smidgen more accessible to my non-German speaking readers.

Although I'm only 100 pages or so through, I can already report that it is an exceedingly well written book, a highly engaging. And what book by any intelligent author could be anything else when it concerns such a broad and fascinating a subject as the "Ursprung und Sinn des Weltalls als Ganzes, ja, der Wirklichkeit überhaupt" ("origin and meaning of the universe as a whole, yes, reality in its entirety")!

The book does, however, focus in on and address two primary sets of questions:

  1. The key question about the "Anfang überhaupt: Warum existiert das Universum? Warum existiert nicht nichts? Die Frage also nach dem Sein des Universums schlechthin" ("the ultimate Beginning: Why does the universe exist? Why does not nothing exist? The question. then, concerning the Being of the universe, in its entirety")
  2. The framing question concerning the "Anfangsbedingungen: Warum ist das Universum so, wie es ist? Warum hat es gerade diese Eigenschaften, die für unser menschliches Leben und Überleben entscheidend sind? Die Frage also nach dem So-Sein des Universums" ("the Beginning-conditions: Why is the universe the way it is? Why does it have exactly these qualities - qualities decisive for our human life and survival? The question, then, concerning the type-of-Being of the universe") (p. 16).
The book is divided into six parts including the epilogue:

    A. Eine vereinheitlichte Theorie für alles? ("a unified Theory for everything?")
    B. Gott als Anfang? ("God as the beginning?")
    C. Weltschöpfung oder Evolution? ("World creation or evolution?")
    D. Leben im Kosmos? ("Life in the cosmos?")
    E. Der Anfang der Menschheit ("the beginning of the human race")
    Epilog: Das Ende aller Dinge ("The end of all things")

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Welcome to Chrisendom!

It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you 'Chrisendom'.

For the past 6 months (July – December 2005) my blog has been called 'Brainpoo', and while still on this same website, has a different address:

All of the Brainpoo posts will remain on my website, and links to the entire 2005 archives can be found on the sidebar to the right. This means any links to any of my older posts remain active.

I'll still be posting the same sort of things, but I hope that this wider framework is more pleasant to read, and that the altered graphics and additions in the sidebar make things more interesting.

The changes to the graphics and framework are not yet finished, and so if anyone has any further suggestions ...

Some Plans for Chrisendom (previously Brainpoo) 2006

Plans for Blog 2006

  1. It has dawned on me that I live on the doorsteps of many great theologians and bible scholars here in the Tübingen area. And so I'm planning to line up a few interviews with certain theologians – and if all goes ahead, I will give due warning and suggest that my readers propose some of the questions to ask. Obviously I cannot yet name names, but those steeped in theology and biblical studies will, I think, be interested. I expect I will provide an audio and written transcript for the blog, but the fine-print is yet to be decided on.
  2. I recently heard a rather disagreeable audio debate on the internet. Well, I say 'debate', but in truth it wasn't at all. It was James White taking clips of an interview with Bart Ehrman, and attempting (90% totally unconvincingly) to 'defend the faith'. Personally I don't like this White AGAINST Ehrman, White AGAINST Spong, White AGAINST Crossan language. An odd way of framing it if you ask me, and one that hardly encourages discussion or reasonable impartiality. I nevertheless actually listened to it, I guess simply because it was a fresh medium, something other than text. So I have some tentative plans to develop an audio related discussion output medium which may make things more interesting for some.
    (UPDATE: I've just looked through James White's archives, and it appears that his style isn't always so closed, even humble at times. To be honest I have no idea who this White is, my initial reaction was based on this one questionable audio presentation)
  3. I also want to post more on New Testament Pauline related themes, apart from the fact that things Apostle Paul shaped get me drooling, for if this blog is also going to be informative, I'd better stick to what I know something about - though I still hope to throw in a few 'shagging mantis' type things along the way.

A new name (from Brainpoo)

So the consensus is clear: a few changes need to be implemented.

I didn't only want to change the name of this blog, but also (and therefore) the web address. Being blessed with awesome foresight as I am, I managed to include 'brainpoo' not just once, but twice in the above link. Pretty silly really as changing this has been a bit of a pain.

And so a change of address has been necessary, and while I was at it I thought I'd re-work the blog framework to make it wider and more attractive.

Thus, I'm going to start a new blog page. Of course, all of the archives for Brainpoo have been included on the side-bar, just underneath the actual archives.

But what should the new name be?

Jim's Tübinger, one of the first, was immediately eye-catching. However, as Ben has pointed out, the umlaut ü may cause problems.

Mike's imagination knows no end. Of his suggestions I particularly liked Not the Spanish Inquisition and Evangelische-R-us. However, his Fundies anonymous was my favourite, but I just had the feeling, funny as it is, that a few months down-the-line I would be wanting to change it again…

Eddies Cardinal Spin I loved and it very nearly became my choice. However, I shall be introducing Cardinal Spin as a new 'team member' for my new blog. Any excuse for something silly.

Lastly are Ben's hilarious suggestions. Particularly tempting were Ex Fide in Fidem, The Blog of the World's Cleverest Person, Profound Musings of a Very Brainy Individual, and especially, I Could Have Given This a Latin Name If I Wanted. I've tried to incorporate something of one these in my new subtitle.

Then there were my ideas. Free Porn was a bit of a cheap-shot but bound to increase the number of visitors. But I couldn't help but feel that was being a tad dishonest. In a similar spirit there was Terribly interesting Talk Sometimes (TITS), but that would just be another 'Brainpoo'. Given that my doctoral studies focus on Paul's Christology, I wondered if Chrisology may work, but it just didn't feel right. As for Latin, there was Ignoramus et Ignorabimus, but I always stumble on pronouncing the last word, so I forgot that.

But it is Anja, again, who suggested the one to be finally adopted. Her suggestion has one big advantage – she promises me days of early morning Chinese-burns if I don't use it. And that's pretty persuasive really.

Apart from that, I like it too!

The new name and the new link will follow in the next, and last post on Brainpoo.

Really! All my fussing over a name!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Silva's "Greek Fathers Principle" revisited

The 'Greek fathers' (GF) Principle for modern exegesis (based on an essay in Interpreting Galatians, by M Silva, p. 29-31)

  1. The commentaries of the Greek fathers (e.g. Chrysostom) on the Greek NT can help in the task of exegesis given that they were native Greek speakers. This remains true given a number of qualifications:
    a. The potential for 'semantic shifts' in the centuries that separate them from Paul
    b. The fathers own brand of Greek through which they read the NT: "Chrysostom apparently sought to understand the NT on the assumption that it was written in 'good Greek'" – which it was not.
    c. Just being a native speaker doesn't automatically mean that they are capable of giving an accurate syntactical or semantic account. "Educated speakers in particular are notoriously unreliable guides". In what way? The GF's reading of Greek, especially when we are aware of a textual ambiguity and they simply assume "that one of the possible meanings is the right one", is at this point "strong evidence for the way a native speaker would naturally understand the language". However, when a GF like Chrysostom "self-consciously analyses the language", then things can go pear-shaped. Native speakers are best when they use their language rather than reflect on it!

  2. And so the principle can be adjusted to read: The GF commentaries are useful aids in the task of exegesis as one voice among many, especially when we are aware of a textual ambiguity, and they simply assume "that one of the possible meanings is the right one".
This obviously has some direct and important consequence. E.g., "It is interesting that most of the Church Fathers were quite clear in their belief that the phrase 'the righteousness of God' referred in the first place to an attribute of God and secondly to a derived attribute of believers … and not to something like the concept of God's covenant faithfulness" (Witherington, Paul's Letter to the Romans, p. 54 fn.15). Silva himself, in response to Hays and his subjective genitive reading of pistiς Ihsou Xristou, uses this principle as evidence for the objective genitive reading ('faith in Jesus Christ').

A critique
  1. However, is it fair to suggest that native speakers get their own language muddled when they explain syntax and vocab, or is it simply that their explanation is not good, but their usage remains normative? As an Englishman living in Germany doing all kinds of English-language proof-reading for German speakers, I will certainly know the correct way of understanding and expressing the English text, even if my ability to find the correct grammatical terms is lacking (which it sadly is a lot of the time). My German wife (an English teacher), for example, has a far better grasp of English grammar's theoretical terminology. Yet I can still better discern what the correct English is, being a native speaker, without necessarily being able to explain it as well! Nevertheless, my grammatical or semantic decision will be (mostly!) correct. I submit that Silva has mixed poor explanation of language with its nevertheless correct understanding. Bang goes one of Silva's points above?
  2. Furthermore, an exegetical decision about the meaning of 'the righteousness of God' or 'pistiς Ihsou Xristou' in the GFs will be a result not just of their grasp of Greek, but the hermeneutical and conceptual frameworks they bring to the text. When this is understood, it is no surprise that they understand these important phrases the way they (arguably anachronistically) did!