Monday, August 02, 2021

166 Years

The East Texas Sacred Harp Convention, 166th Anniversary Session, will be held, Lord willing, this coming weekend – Saturday August 7, 9:30 am—3:00 pm, and Sunday, August 8, 9:00 am—2:30 pm. We sing from The Sacred Harp, 2012 Cooper Edition. Loaner books will be available to borrow. The singing location is the Henderson Civic Center, 1500 Lake Forest Parkway, Henderson, Texas. This is at the corner of State Highway 64 and Lake Forest Parkway.

Officer David Rousseau leading Wondrous Love​.

Tentative Agenda, Saturday
  • Arrive early, have coffee and snacks.
  • 9:30 am – Opening by President, Then, Sing, Sing, Sing!
  • 10:30 am – Break
  • 10:45 – Welcome by Henderson Mayor J. W. Fullen
  • 12 noon—1 pm – Dinner on the Ground
  • 1 pm—3 pm – Sing, Sing, Sing.
Tentative Agenda, Sunday
  • Arrive early, have coffee and snacks.
  • 9:30 am – Opening by President, Then, Sing, Sing, Sing!
  • 10:30 am—10:40 am – Break
  • 11:30 am – Memorial Lesson
  • 12 noon—1 pm – Dinner on the Ground
  • 1 pm—3 pm – Sing, Sing, Sing.
Come back next year.

The Neverending Textual Story

The Neverending Story. I have neither read the book nor seen the film –  do not even know what it is about – but the title (apparently an attention-getter) is stuck in the recesses of my mind. When we look at the sad state of modern textual criticism, we find it too is a never-ending story. They can never have a Bible that is settled. It is ever-changing.
“The text is changing. Every time that I make an edition of the Greek New Testament, or anybody does, we change the wording. We are maybe trying to get back to the oldest possible form but, paradoxically, we are creating a new one. Every translation is different, every reading is different, and although there’s been a tradition in parts of Protestant Christianity to say there is a definitive single form of the text, the fact is you can never find it. There is never ever a final form of the text.”
David C. Parker in “Textual Criticism and Theology,” The Expository Times, Vol. 118, No. 12, September, 2007, pp. 583-589.

Sunday, August 01, 2021

Thou Man of griefs

Charles Wesley wrote the hymn transcribed below. It appeared in 1762 in Short Hymns on Select Passages of the Holy Scriptures (Bristol: E. Farley, 1762, p. 352).[i] It is hymn 686, based on Hebrews 5:7-8. The meter is LMD (Long Meter Doubled). This text is popular in The Sacred Harp with the tune Kedron (Thou Man of Grief), by Amos Pilsbury.
686. Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience, by the things which he suffered.—v. 7, 8.
1. Thou Man of griefs, remember me,
Who never canst thyself forget,
Thy last mysterious agony,
Thy fainting pangs, and bloody sweat,
When wrestling in the strength of prayer
Thy spirit sunk beneath its load,
Thy feeble flesh abhorred to bear
The wrath of an Almighty God.
2. A taste of thy tormenting fears
If now thou dost to me impart,
Give the full virtue of thy tears,
The cries which pierced thy Father’s heart;
Unite my sorrows to thine own,
And let me to my God complain,
Who melted by thy Spirit’s groan,
Can save me from that endless pain.
3. Father, if I may call thee so,
Regard my fearful heart’s desire,
Remove this load of guilty woe,
Nor let me in my sins expire:
I tremble, lest the wrath divine
Which bruises now my wretched soul,
Should bruise this wretched soul of mine,
Long as eternal ages roll.
4. To thee my last distress I bring:
The heightened fear of death I find;
The tyrant brandishing his sting
Appears, and hell is close behind!
I deprecate that death alone,
That endless banishment from thee:
O save, and give me to thy Son,
Who trembled, wept, and bled for me.
5. In Jesu’s name and Spirit I
As dying call, My God, my God,
Attend our strong united cry,
And see me roll’d in Jesu’s blood!
I arm me with his mortal pain,
Behind his wounds my soul I hide;
If thou canst slay thy Son again,
Transfix me now—through Jesu’s side!
“Thou Man of griefs” is one of several hymn texts that mentions “bloody sweat” (cf. Luke 22:43-44) in a manner that appears to take the expression literally. The words are found in the third stanza of Isaac Watts’s hymn beginning “According to thy gracious word.”
Gethsemane can I forget?
Or there thy conflict see,
Thine agony and bloody sweat,
And not remember thee?
Notably, Charles Wesley’s wife Sarah (Gwynne) Wesley used the expression in her hymn “A Hymn, for a Woman drawing near the Time of her Travail” (Hymns for the Use of Families, Bristol: William Pine, 1767).
By thy Fainting in the Garden,
By thy Bloody Sweat I pray,
Write upon my Heart the Pardon,
Take my Sins and Fears away.
Luke 22:44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Other hymns:
Trembling beneath our curse and woe,
With groans in most excessive pain,
Thy bloody sweat, like rivers flow,
Collected from descending rain.
James Relly (1722-1778)
My Jesus, I would ne’er forget,
That hour I spent with Thee;
When there I saw Thy bloody sweat
In dark Gethsemane.
Edward Payson Hammond (1831-1910)
When I by faith the bloody sweat
Of my dear Saviour see;
And can behold the suffering state
Of him, who died for me.
“Christ’s Sufferings,” in Hymns, Selected and Original; for the Use of the Citizens of Zion, Thomas Reed, editor, 1848
Dear Shepherd! see Thy flock here met,
Before Thy sacred feet to bow;
To hymn thy wounds, and bloody sweat,
Thro’ which eternal love did flow.
“Meeting in Jesus’ Name,” in Hymns, Selected and Original; for the Use of the Citizens of Zion, Thomas Reed, editor, 1848
His body bore anguish and pain,
His spirit most sunk with the load,
A short time before He was slain,
His sweat was as great drops of blood.
The Lovely Story, The Sacred Harp, 1844
Considering these are poetic works, some might question whether these expressions are intended to be taken literally (i.e., the sweat being literal blood).

[i] It is likely that folks in 1762 had a bit different view than we moderns of what constituted a “short hymn.”

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Bloody sweat

Luke 22:44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

This intriguing passage is often debated whether the sweat of Jesus contained actual blood or had the appearance of blood. Here are some comments of others, three excerpts from Bible Hub.

Johann Albrecht Bengel:
The force of the particle ὡσεὶ falls on θρόμβοι, not on αἵματος, as is evident from the fact of it (not αἵματος) having the epithet, and in the Plural, καταβαίνοντες. The blood streaming from the pores in smaller drops became clotted together by reason of its copiousness. If the sweat had not been a bloody one, the mention of blood might have been altogether omitted, for the word θρόμβοι even by itself was sufficient to express thick sweat.—ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν, upon the earth) by reason of its copiousness. Thereby the earth received its blessing.
Charles John Ellicott:
The form of the expression, “as it were, great drops (better, clots) of blood,” leaves us uncertain, as the same Greek word does in “descending like a dove,” in Matthew 3:16, whether it applies to manner or to visible appearance. On the latter, and generally received view, the phenomenon is not unparalleled, both in ancient and modern times.
John Gill:
...but the case rather seems to be this, that the pores of Christ’s body were so opened, that along with sweat came out blood, which flowed from him very largely; and as it fell on the ground, he being fallen on his face to the earth, it was so congealed by the cold in the night season, that it became really, as the word signifies, clots of blood upon the earth.
Perhaps see also, Hebrews 5:7; Luke 22:43.

Friday, July 30, 2021

3,462 Nigerian Christians hacked to death, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

The greatest pulpits, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources. (I try to confirm the sources that I give, but may miss on occasion; please verify if possible.)

“The greatest pulpits are not in churches; they are on beds of pain.” -- J. Vernon McGee

“The preachers in America have not given the ‘gos-pill.’ Therefore, Americans are on every pill you can think of, and none of them are working.” -- Lester Roloff

“The openly profane have never, from the days of Cain unto the present, been so great a scourge to the saints of God, as those who have stood the highest in religious profession.”  -- Gilbert Beebe

“The Old Testament opens like an old weather-beaten chart. People who foreshadow Christ walk across its pages.” -- W. Kenneth Connolly

“Behind every sin is a lie believed.” -- Elaine Kennelly

“I don ’t have a problem. I am the problem.” -- Heard

“Do not do weird stuff. Just do what’s in the Bible.” -- Sam Emadi

“The Spirit has already revealed everything we need for gathering and growing churches.” -- Jonathan Leeman

“The politicization of evil is worse than privately held stupid ideas like racism or economic collectivism.” -- Elyssa Lloyd

“Acts 1:8 (go into all the world) didn’t happen until Acts 8:1 happened.” -- Steve Brown

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Report on the 1611 Translation to the Synod of Dort

The Synod of Dort, held at a city in the Netherlands known as Dordrecht, was a called meeting for the Reformed churches best remembered for its debate regarding differences in the teachings of John Calvin and Jacobus Arminius. It convened over a two-year period – November 1618 to May 1619. It was, however, not just a Dutch meeting, but had representatives from Reformed churches across Europe, including England. Often we do not recognize or remember that the first agenda of the Synod was to commission a new Bible in the Dutch language. Accordingly, the Statenvertaling or Statenbijbel was published in 1637.[i]
At the seventh session on November 20, 1618 (on Tuesday before noon) a report on the new Bible of 1611 (now commonly known as the Authorised or King James Version) was given to the Synod about that translation. The report in Latin, with an English translation, is included in a facsimile reprint of the Authorized Version published in the year 1611, edited and introduced by Alfred William Pollard.
Samuel Ward, a King James translator in the Second Cambridge Company, was one of the delegates from England to the Synod of Dort.[ii] The information about the translation may be his alone. The information below is (hopefully) an accurate transcription of the report, first in the Latin, with the English translation following.
(If you do not read Latin, just skip down to the English. If you read Latin and find transcription errors, please let me know.)
Sessione Septima.
xx Novembris, Die Martis ante meridiem.
Theologi Magnae Britanniae scripto explicarunt, quo consilio, quaque ratione negotium accuratissimę versionis Anglicanę à Serenissimo Rege Iacobo institutum fuerit, quę ratio in distribuendo opere fuerit observata: turn que leges interpretibus fuerint prescripte; ut inde ea, que nobis usui fore judicarentur, desumi possent. Exemplum ejus scripti hie subjicitur:
Modus quem Theologi Angli in versione Bibliorum sunt secuti.
            Theologi Magnae Britanniae, quibus non est visum tantae quaestioni subitam et inopinatam responsionem adhibere, officii sui esse judicarunt, praematura deliberatione habita, quando quidem facta esset honorifica accuratissimae translationis Anglicanae mentio, à Serenissimo Rege Iacobo, magna cum cura, magnisque sumptibus nuper editae, notum facere huic celeberrimae Synodo, quo consilio, quaque ratione sacrum hoc negotium a Serenissima ejus Majestate praestitum fuerit.
            Primo, in opere distribuendo hanc rationem observari voluit: totum corpus Bibliorum in sex partes fuit distributum: cuilibet parti transferendae destinati sunt septem vel octo viri primarij, Linguarum peritissimi.
            Duae partes assignatae fuerunt Theologis quibusdam Londinensibus: quatuor vero partes reliquae divisae fuerunt aequaliter inter utriusque Academiae Theologos.
            Post peractum à singulis pensum, ex hisce omnibus duodecim selecti viri in unum locum convocati, integrum opus recognoverunt, ac recensuerunt.
            Postremo, Reverendissimus Episcopus Wintoniensis. Bilsonus, una cum Doctore Smitho, nunc Episcopo Glocestriensi, viro eximio, et ab initio in toto hoc opere versatissimo, omnibus mature pensitatis & examinatis extremam manum huic versioni imposuerunt.
            Leges Interpretibus praescriptae fuerunt hujusmodi:
Primo, cautum est, ut simpliciter nova versio non adornaretur, sed vetus, et ab Ecclesia diu recepta ab omnibus naevis et vitiis purgaretur; idque hunc in finem, ne recederetur ab antiqua translatione, nisi originalis textus Veritas, vel emphasis postularet.
            Secundo, ut nullae annotationes margini apponerentur: sed, tantum loca parallela notarentur.
Tertio, ut ubi vox Hebraea vel Graeca geminum idoneum sensum admittit : alter in ipso contextu, alter in margine exprimeretur. Quod itidem factum, ubi varia lectio in exemplaribus probatis reperta est.
            Quarto, Hebraismi et Graecismi difficiliores in margine repositi sint.
            Ouinto, in translatione Tobit et Iudithae, quando quidem magna discrepantia inter Graecum contextum et veterem vulgatam Latinam editionem reperiatur, Graecum potius contextum secuti sunt.
            Sexto, ut quae ad sensum supplemendum ubivis necessario fuerunt contextui interserenda, alio, scilicet minusculo, charactere, distinguerentur.
            Septimo, ut nova argumenta singulis libris, & novae periochae singulis capitibus praefigerentur.
            Denique, absolutissima Geneologia et descriptio Terrae sanctae, huic opere conjungerentur.
The theologians of Great Britain offered a written explanation of the design and plan in accordance with which the business of the very accurate English version was instituted by the most Serene King James, of what plan was observed in distributing the work, and what rules were laid down for the translators; with the intent that any points which might be judged useful to us might be taken from it.
A copy of this document is subjoined.
            Method which the English Theologians followed in the version of the Bible. The theologians of Great Britain, unwilling to give a sudden and unconsidered answer to so important a question, considered it their duty to hold an early consultation, and since honourable mention has been made of the very accurate English translation lately set forth, with great care and at great expense, by the most Serene King James, to notify to this numerously attended Synod the design and plan with which this sacred business was furnished by his most Serene Majesty.
Firstly, in the distribution of the work he willed this plan to be observed: the whole text of the Bible was distributed into six sections, and to the translation of each section there were nominated seven or eight men of distinction, skilled in languages.
            Two sections were assigned to certain London theologians; the four remaining sections were equally divided among the theologians of the two Universities.
            After each section had finished its task twelve delegates, chosen from them all, met together and reviewed and revised the whole work.
            Lastly, the very Reverend the Bishop of Winchester, Bilson, together with Dr. Smith, now Bishop of Gloucester, a distinguished man, who had been deeply occupied in the whole work from the beginning, after all things had been maturely weighed and examined, put the finishing touch to this version.
            The rules laid down for the translators were of this kind:
            In the first place caution was given that an entirely new version was not to be furnished, but an old version, long received by the Church, to be purged from all blemishes and faults; to this end there was to be no departure from the ancient translation, unless the truth of the original text or emphasis demanded.
            Secondly, no notes were to be placed in the margin, but only parallel passages to be noted.
            Thirdly, where a Hebrew or Greek word admits two meanings of a suitable kind, the one was to be expressed in the text, the other in the margin. The same to be done where a different reading was found in good copies.
            Fourthly, the more difficult Hebraisms and Graecisms were consigned to the margin.
            Fifthly, in the translation of Tobit and Judith, when any great discrepancy is found between the Greek text and the old vulgate Latin they followed the Greek text by preference.
            Sixthly, that words which it was anywhere necessary to insert into the text to complete the meaning were to be distinguished by another type, small roman.
            Seventhly, that new arguments should be prefixed to every book, and new headings to every chapter.
            Lastly, that a very perfect Genealogy and map of the Holy Land should be joined to the work.
The Holy Bible: a Facsimile in a reduced size of the Authorized Version published in the year 1611, Alfred William Pollard (1859-1944), Editor. Oxford: Printed at the University Press, 1911, pages 141-142.

[i] The Statenvertaling was the first translation of the Bible into Dutch from the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages.
[ii] The delegates from England were Walter Balcanqual, George Carleton, John Davenant, Thomas Goad, and Samuel Ward. Goad attended the Synod in place of Joseph Hall, who had to return to England. See “The English Delegation to The Synod of Dordt” by Mark Shand. Some sources also name Lancelot Andrewes and William Ames.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Indestructible Book

The Indestructible Book

“I would to God that the ploughman would sing a text of Scripture at his plough and the weaver would hum them to the tune of his shuttle,” wrote Desiderius Erasmus in the preface of his New Testament.
Erasmus with his Greek New Testament helped break up the fallow ground. It was William Tyndale “who provided the Bible in the labourer’s language” in England. (Connolly, p. 140) Tyndale told one clergyman, “If God spare my life, ere many years pass, I will cause a boy that driveth the plough shall know more of the Scripture than thou dost.” Tyndale was condemned as a heretic. His enemies condemned him to strangulation and burning at the stake, which occurred in Flanders in 1536, ten years after his English New Testament was available to the ploughboy in England. His last words were a prayer, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.” (Connolly, p. 146) Within a few years the King of England (Henry VIII) was authorising an English Bible!
In 1535 a Bible translation made by Miles Coverdale appeared. Debating those who wished to use the Latin rather than English, Miles Coverdale said, “No, the Holy Ghost is as much the author of it in Hebrew, Greek, French, Dutch, and English, as in Latin.” (Connolly, p. 148) Coverdale petitioned for recognition of his translation as a recognized English Bible. However, “in 1542 Coverdale’s Bible was placed on a list of banned books.” (Connolly, p. 148)
Thomas Cromwell petitioned Coverdale to edit the Matthew Bible, which was authorised by King Henry VIII.
The Indestructible Book, William Kenneth Connolly, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1996

Monday, July 26, 2021

As you are tempted, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources. (I try to confirm the sources that I give, but may miss on occasion; please verify if possible.)

“As you are tempted without ceasing, pray without ceasing.” -- Charles H. Spurgeon

“Jesus Christ is the center of the human race. With Him there are no favored races.” -- A. W. Tozer

“For the canon to be the canon, it must be self-authenticating.” -- Michael J. Kruger

“The ability to do good in any case imposes an obligation to do it.” -- Cotton Mather

“Textual criticism is not a science. It is a philosophy.” -- Chris Thomas

“The ancient text of God’s inspired Word both now and in the future will remain an object of God’s special care.” -- Jakob van Bruggen

“Liberalism in kernel seldom resembles liberalism in the full ear.” -- Randall Cofield

“We can want what we will, but we cannot will what we want.” -- Heard
“Most men dislike the trouble of thinking for themselves. They like following a leader. They are like sheep, when one goes over the hill all the rest follow.” -- J. C. Ryle

“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” -- George Washington

“Go to now, most dear reader, and sit thee down at the Lord’s feet and read his words.” -- Miles Coverdale

“A simple layman armed with Scripture is greater than the mightiest pope without it.” -- Martin Luther

Preservation supports Inspiration

“Let me hear some of those Reasons which prove that God is the Author of the Holy Scriptures...Fifteenthly. The marvellous preservation of the Scriptures. Though none in time be so ancient, nor none so much oppugned; yet God hath still by his Providence preserved them, and every part of them.”
A Body of Divinity: Or, The Sum and Substance of Christian Religion, James Us(s)her (1581–1656), 1677, London: Printed by J. D., pp. 5, 8
“We may know the Scripture to be the Word of God by its miraculous preservation in all ages. The holy Scriptures are the richest jewel that Christ has left us; and the church of God has so kept these public records of heaven, that they have not been lost. The Word of God has never wanted enemies to oppose, and, if possible, to extirpate it. They have given out a law concerning Scripture, as Pharaoh did the midwives, concerning the Hebrew women’s children, to strangle it in the birth; but God has preserved this blessed Book inviolable to this day. The devil and his agents have been blowing at Scripture light, but could never blow it out; a clear sign that it was lighted from heaven. Nor has the church of God, in all revolutions and changes, kept the Scripture that it should not be lost only, but that it should not be depraved. The letter of Scripture has been preserved, without any corruption, in the original tongue. The Scriptures were not corrupted before Christ’s time, for then Christ would not have sent the Jews to them. He said, ‘Search the Scriptures.’ He knew these sacred springs were not muddied with human fancies.”
A Body of Divinity, Thomas Watson (ca. 1620–1686), p. 27 in online transcription