Thursday, March 31, 2022

Daniel 5:9-11 - Did the queen or the queen-mother speak to Belshazzar?

Q. In Daniel 5:9-12, who spoke to the king? What was her relationship to the king?

Daniel 5:9-12 Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied. Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father,[i] made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.

A. The Aramaic word מַלְכְּתָ֕א malketa/malkah means and is properly translated “queen.”[ii] A few modern Bible versions have changed here from a translation to an interpretation. It is “the queen mother” in the Good News Translation, New English Translation, New Living Translation, and The Living Bible. It is “the king’s mother” in the Easy-to-Read Version, International Children’s Bible, New Century Version.[iii] These glossators seem to think the word “queen” must be limited to a reigning king’s wife.

However, the English word “queen” has a broader semantic range than that. For example, it can mean a female monarch/sovereign (the female equivalent of a king), the wife of a king, or the widow of a king (and quite a few other things not relevant to this text in Daniel [iv]).

“Queen” is the correct translation – with the meaning in the sense of a widow of a king, derived from the context. Belshazzar’s wives and his concubines were already present at the feast (5:2-3). The person mentioned came into the banquet house (v. 10). Therefore, this queen was not already present; she was not one of the kings wives (who were already present). That she just came in and began to speak to the king (v. 11) suggests she is a person of high respect. That she knew the facts about Daniel and Belshazzar did not indicates a person of an older generation – either Nebuchadnezzar’s daughter or his widow. My opinion (and this is just an opinion) is this queen is the widow of Nebuchadnezzar.[v]  Describing this woman as the queen is correct, since “widow of a king” is within the range of meaning of the English word “queen” (and the Aramaic word means “queen”). However, based on the context of Daniel chapter 5, she was not Belshazzar’s wife.

[i] Here “thy father” is used in the sense of ancestor, or perhaps as the head of the dynasty. Compare such usage in Luke 1:32.
[ii] This word מַלְכְּתָ֕א malketa/malkah is translated βασίλισσα in the Septuagint. βασίλισσα also means queen.
[iii] That she is a “queen mother” is contextually correct, but not an exact translation. That she was the king’s mother may or may not be correct – since, for example, she might be the king’s grandmother. A suggested timeline of the succession may be this. Evil-Merodach reigned as heir of Nebuchadnezzar (cf. Jeremiah 52:31-33 and 2 Kings 25:27-29). Nabonidus assassinated Evil-Merodach and also married the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. Belshazzar was their son, a grandson of Nebuchadnezzar on his maternal side.
[iv] Such as a chess piece, playing card, a female insect, or effeminate male homosexual.
[v] Josephus calls her Belshazzar’s grandmother: “Now when the King’s grandmother saw him cast down at this accident, she began to encourage him…” Josephus, Antiquities Book X, Chapter 11, Section 2.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Why is Ιακωβος translated James rather than Jacob?

Q. Why is Ιακωβος translated “James” rather than “Jacob”? [i]

A. First, note that the inspired New Testament writers used Ιακωβ when referring to the Old Testament patriarch Jacob, but Ιακωβος when referring to Jesus’s “contemporaries” (the two apostles, Matthew 10:2-3; and his half-brother, Galatians 1;19).[ii] The Greek ιακωβ (translated Jacob) appears 27 times in 25 verses in the King James Bible and the 1894 Scrivener Greek New Testament.[iii] It always appears in that form when referring to people who are “before” Jesus, but never restricted to that form concerning his contemporaries. A name in Greek can have different endings (making it appear to be different), depending on how it is used in the sentence (i.e., the case in which it is used). In accord with that, the names of Jesus’s contemporaries appear in the Greek New Testament in the following forms: ιακωβον (accusative case) /ιακωβος (nominative case) /ιακωβου (genitive case) /ιακωβω (dative case). In contrast, Ιακωβ does not change forms according to usage. For example, whether it is used as a nominative/subject in John 4:5 (Jacob gave) or as genitive/possessive in John 4:6 (Jacob’s well), it is always Ιακωβ. Concerning this, the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (BDAG) says that Ιακωβ (יַעֲקֹב) is “the un-Grecized form of the OT, is reserved for formal writing, and esp. for the patriarch.”

The answer, then, begins in the different New Testament usage, transferred into the English language. The other half of the answer is found in the English language itself. This distinction between “Jacob” and “James” goes back in English Bibles to Wycliffe (1382). The earlier Anglo-Saxon Gospels, on the other hand, use Iacob for the patriarch, but the Iacobe /Iacobes /Iacobum /Iacobus forms for the contemporaries. Therefore, sometime between the 700s and 1380, it seems the Anglo language developed a change of name for Iacobus to James, or at least a preference for James over Iacobus. Tyndale and other English translations followed Wycliffe in this.

Oxford English Dictionary entry gives the following information:

“Old French James (Gemmes, *Jaimes) = Spanish Jaime, Provençal, Catalan Jaume, Jacme. Italian Giacomo < popular Latin * ‘Jacomus, for ‘Jacobus, altered from Latin Ia’cōbus, < Greek Ιακωβος, < Hebrew yaʿăqōb Jacob, a frequent Jewish name at all times, and thus the name of two of Christ’s disciples (St. James the Greater and St. James the Less); whence a frequent Christian name.”[iv]

The Online Etymology Dictionary has for “James”:

“masc. proper name, New Testament name of two of Christ’s disciples, late 12c. Middle English vernacular form of Late Latin Jacomus (source of Old French James, Spanish Jaime, Italian Giacomo), altered from Latin Jacobus (see Jacob).”

The progression of the name from Hebrew to English seems to be this:

  • Hebrew       Yaʿaqob
  • Greek          Ιακωβος
  • Latin           Iacobus to Jacomus
  • Old French Jammes (Gemmes)
  • English       James

As the New Testament, so the King James Bible (as well as most all English translations) maintains and presents a distinction in usage between Jewish and Christian generations of the name Jacob and Jacobus.[v]

[i] I have capitalized “Ιακωβ” and “Ιακωβος” in places in accommodation or reference to our English style. As far as I can tell, the Koine Greek does not use capitalization in the same manner we do, though some compiled Greek texts do so.
[ii] Matthew also uses “Ιακωβ” twice in his genealogy in reference to Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary (Matthew 1:15-16).
[iii] I did not check other translations or Greek texts. The English name “James” appears in 38 verses of the New Testament in the King James Bible. According to Blue Letter Bible Word Search, ιακωβ occurs 370 times in 337 verses in the Septuagint (LXX).
[iv] Interestingly, I noticed the French Louis Segond Bible has “Jacques” rather than “Gemmes,” where we have “James.”
[v] In contrast, the Tree of Life Version of the Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society uses “Jacob” in all cases, masking the distinction made by the New Testament writers.
[vi] Note: There is a floating Anti-KJV “urban legend” that King James forced the translators to change “Jacobus” to “James” so that his own name would appear in the Bible. (I say “floating” because I have not found a source for this, just “I have heard.” I did find at Church Times that they answered an anonymous question that began with this statement, “Since the King James Version of the Bible, the name Jacob in the Greek New Testament has been rendered as James, as a way of sucking up to the King.”) The mythological nature of this claim is easily seen in that the English translations of the Bible for over 200 years before the King James translation had already used the name “James.”

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The slogan “Love your neighbor and get the shot”

“Love your neighbor, get the shot!”[i] Not a few times did we hear some form of the “love your neighbor” argument in reference to getting the Covid-19 vaccine? There is a reason.

Some of us living on the fringes are not very aware of the inner workings, smoke-filled rooms, and back room deals of faith and politics. At least not until someone in the media worth his or her salt makes the effort to expose the corruption. Most of this “love your neighbor” mantra can be traced back to Dr. Francis Sellers Collins, at the same time founder and Senior Fellow of BioLogos as well as the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). (He retired from NIH at the end of 2021.)[ii] He played the “Christian card” and succeeded selling his potion to evangelical Christian leaders, who in turn sold it to pastors, who in turn sold it to churches and Christian individuals. This can be seen in perusing the Biologos website, and well as listening to Ed Stetzer’s podcast interview with Collins.[iii]

…the feds leveraged the high status the Evangelical scientist Francis Collins has with Evangelical influencers to sell the government’s Covid line to Evangelical churches. Basham begins by citing Wheaton College’s Ed Stetzer, a dean and executive director of its Billy Graham Center, giving a friendly interview to Collins early in the pandemic… (Rod Dreher)

Evangelical leaders are on Collins’ team, and “Collins’ team” rejects the Genesis account of creation, as well as intelligent design – favoring instead theistic evolution.

Ed Stetzer: “I’m on your team. But I’m having to answer these questions to people in my churches...But again, remember, I’m on Francis Collins’ team.”[iv]

Francis Collins: “Perhaps today’s conflict, which seems particularly intense, is so difficult to understand because, after all, evolution has been very much on the scene for 150 years, and the science that supports Darwin’s theory has gotten stronger and stronger over those decades. That evidence is particularly strong today given the ability to study DNA and to see the way in which it undergirds Darwin’s theory in a marvelously digital fashion...I would like to believe that in a few more decades, this battle will be seen as just as unnecessary and just as readily resolved in favor of saying that evolution is true and God is true.”[v]

Francis Collins is good at his craft and his craft favors the use of aborted fetal tissue.

Tim Keller: “As good as @NIHDirector is at his craft, he’s a better friend.”[vi]

Francis Collins: “...scientifically, highly justified. There is strong evidence that scientific benefits come from fetal tissue research, which can be done with an ethical framework.”[vii]

“In our current society, people are in a circumstance of being able to take advantage of those technologies [i.e., abortions]. And we have decided as a society that that choice needs to be defended.”[viii]

“One month earlier, Collins’s NIH had approved a research grant requested by University of Pittsburgh scientists who desired to graft the scalps of aborted fetuses onto rats and mice. Their research findings were published by Nature in September 2020 and include photos showing patches of soft, wispy baby hair growing amid coarse rodent fur. This, too, is the kind of man Francis Collins is.”[ix]

Francis Collins is a national treasure, and Collins treasures his alliance to advocate for LGBTQ issues.

David French: “Francis Collins is a national treasure.”[x]

Francis Collins: “Each June, the National Institutes of Health joins the rest of the country in celebrating Pride Month and recognizing the struggles, stories, and victories of those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and others under the sexual and gender minority (SGM) umbrella. I applaud the courage and resilience it takes for individuals to live openly and authentically, particularly considering the systemic challenges, discrimination, and even violence that those and other underrepresented groups face all too often...I am committed to listening, respecting, and supporting those individuals as an ally and advocate.”[xi]

Francis Collins is full of wisdom, expertise, and grace – and used his expertise to help cover up whether the Covid-19 virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Russell Moore: “I admire greatly the wisdom, expertise, and, most of all, the Christian humility and grace of Francis Collins.”[xii]

Francis Collins: “Wondering if there is something NIH can do to help put down this very destructive [Wuhan lab-leak] conspiracy.” (E-mail to Anthony Fauci)

[E-mails indicate that Francis Collins, Anthony Fauci, and others engaged to cover up the fact that the Covid-19 virus could have leaked from the Wuhan Lab (in which both were heavily invested).[xiii]]

Time would fail me to tell of Francis Collins and Purpose-Driven Rick Warren, Tim Dalrymple & Ted Olsen (Christianity Today), N. T. Wright (University of Oxford), and others.[xiv] I believe the record of American history – if the USA survives as a nation to tell this history – will show that Francis Collins and his team were on “the wrong side of history.” The wrong side of condemning Christians as conspiracy theorists and murderers who would not follow Jesus’s directive to “love your neighbor,” when they were not convinced about everything they were told concerning Covid-19. The wrong side of morality. The wrong side of Biblical belief and unbelief. His psychopants sycophants, being on his side, are on the wrong side as well. Unfortunately, such high-profile Christian leaders are like the proverbial Trojan Horse, or perhaps more likely, the enemy within. Is it any wonder American Christianity is in the shape it is in?

For there are certain men crept in unawares...

[i] Love Your Neighbor, Get the Shot! A Christian Statement on Science for Pandemic Times
[ii] His service spanned 12 years and three presidencies.
[iii] The Biologos statement, the signatories, and the Stetzer podcast.
[iv] Edward John Stetzer is, among other things, the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and the Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College.
[v] The ‘Evidence for Belief’: An Interview with Francis Collins.
[vi] Timothy Keller is a Christian theologian, author, and the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.
[vii] NIH chief defends use of human fetal tissue as opponents decry it before Congress.
[viii] The Tragedy of Francis Collins’s Model for Science-Faith Integration.
[ix] The Cautionary Tale of Francis Collins.
[x] David Austin French is a conservative Christian political commentator, former attorney, and senior editor of The Dispatch.
[xi] From the NIH Director: NIH 2021 Pride Month.
[xii] Russell D. Moore is a Christian theologian and preacher. He is the director of the Public Theology Project at Christianity Today, and former president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
[xiii] NIH letter appears to conflict with Fauci, Collins claims about Wuhan lab.

[xiv] Not coincidentally, the New York Times columnist David Brooks, who wrote the evangelintellgentsia promo “The Dissenters Trying To Save Evangelicalism From Itself,” is a member of Francis Collins’s book club.

Monday, March 28, 2022

When...I went into the sanctuary of God...

The house of God is, always has been, and always will be the best place to do theology.

  • Psalm 27:4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.
  • Psalm 55:14 We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.
  • Psalm 73:16-17 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.
  • Psalm 92:13 Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.
  • Psalm 122:1 I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.
  • 1 Timothy 3:15 but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
  • 1 Peter 2:5 ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

Lots of silent listening

In virtually every church there is a smaller or larger body of Christians who have been radicalized to the Left or to the Right by extremely effective and completely immersive internet and social media loops, newsfeeds, and communities. People are bombarded 12 hours a day with pieces that present a particular political point of view, and the main way it seeks to persuade is not through argument but through outrage. People are being formed by this immersive form of public discourse—far more than they are being formed by the church...the way to navigate such waters is still to follow the book of Proverbs’ prescription for your words. They must be honest, few, extremely well-crafted, usually calm, always aimed to edify (even when critical) and they must be accompanied with lots of silent listening.
Tim Keller

Sunday, March 27, 2022

The Duty of Praise

The following Psalm paraphrase exults in the duty of praising the Lord. We see his wonders, his works, and his blessings, all of which incite us to praise. The upright Lord is our Rock, and in him we can fully trust.

1. How good it is to thank the Lord,
And praise to Thee, Most High, accord,
To show Thy love with morning light,
And tell Thy faithfulness each night;
Yea, good it is Thy praise to sing,
And all our sweetest music bring.

2. O Lord, with joy my heart expands
Before the wonders of Thy hands;
Great works, Jehovah, Thou has wrought,
Exceeding deep Thy ev’ry thought;
A foolish man knows not their worth,
Nor he whose mind is of the earth.

3. When as the grass the wicked grow,
When sinners flourish here below,
Then is there endless ruin nigh,
But Thou, O Lord, are throned on high;
Thy foes shall fall before Thy might,
The wicked shall be put to flight.

4. Thou, Lord, has high exalted me
With royal strength and dignity;
With Thy anointing I am blest
Thy grace and favor on me rest;
I thus exult o’er all my foes,
O’er all that would my cause oppose. 

5. The righteous man shall flourish well,
And in the house of God shall dwell;
He shall be like a goodly tree,
And all his life shall fruitful be;
For righteous is the Lord and just,
He is my Rock, in him I trust.

The Duty of Praise” is metered in 6 lines of 8s. and based on Psalm 92. It is paired with the tune Christine by Ernest R. Kroeger as No. 250 in The Psalter: with Responsive Readings (Pittsburgh, PA: The United Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1912).

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Daylight Savings Time


Daylight Saving debate: Winners — and losers — of ending biannual time changes

“Permanent daylight saving time has been most often supported by chambers of commerce and golf lobbyists, including business groups who want to maximize the hours per day that American consumers spend buying things.”

Florida pusher Marco Rubio claims that there is “strong science behind it that is now showing and making people aware of the harm that clock switching has.” What he does not tell us is that, yes, the science shows that the clock switching is bad. However, what science further shows is that year-round standard time -- not Daylight Savings Time -- is what best aligns with human circadian biology and the natural order of the sun, as well as providing health and safety benefits.

In other words, beasties and besties

  • anecdata, noun. Information or evidence based on reports of individual cases rather than systematic research or analysis; anecdotal evidence.
  • Archimedean point, noun. (Latin: Punctum Archimedis) A hypothetical viewpoint from which certain objective truths can perfectly be perceived (also known as a God’s-eye view) or a reliable starting point from which one may reason. A point ‘outside’ from which a different, perhaps objective or ‘true’ picture of something is obtainable.
  • barley sugar, noun. An amber-colored hard sweet made of boiled sugar, often flavored with an extract of barley, and traditionally shaped into twisted sticks or oblong drops.
  • beastie, noun. A familiar or affectionate name for an animal, often a farm animal or a pet.
  • bestie, noun. (Informal) A person’s best friend.
  • chopsy, adjective. Having prominent, fleshy jowls; jowly.
  • demonym, noun. The name used for the people who live in a particular country, state, or other locality.
  • dittography, noun. A mistaken repetition of a letter, word, or phrase by a copyist; reduplication of letters or syllables in writing, printing, etc., usually through error.
  • escarpment, noun. (Geology) A long, precipitous, clifflike ridge of land, rock, or the like, commonly formed by faulting or fracturing of the earth’s crust.
  • exegesis, noun. The study of a particular text of Scripture in order to properly interpret it; the process of understanding a text and making plain its meaning.
  • existential, adjective. (Philosophy) Concerned with existence, especially human existence as viewed in the theories of existentialism. (Logic) Affirming or implying the existence of a thing.
  • garderobe, noun. A room used for storing clothing, armour, or objects of value; (occasionally) the contents of this. More generally: any private room or chamber, as a sleeping apartment, a dressing room, etc.
  • gyaff, noun. Idle chat, gossip. Also: an instance of this; a chat; a piece of gossip.
  • jump-up, noun. (Australian) An escarpment.
  • hough, verb (used with object) To hamstring; disable (a person or animal) by cutting the hamstrings.
  • nolo contendre, noun. A plea by which a defendant in a criminal prosecution accepts conviction as though a guilty plea had been entered but does not admit guilt.
  • polymath, noun. A person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning.
  • prolix, adjective. (of speech or writing) Using or containing too many words; tediously lengthy.
  • scabble, (also scapple) verb, transitive. To work or shape roughly (as stone before leaving the quarry); to dress (as stone) in any way short of fine tooling or rubbing.
  • Sola Scriptura, noun. Christian teaching that only Scripture (or “Scripture alone”) is the infallible, sufficient, and final authority for  churches and Christians.
  • sovereignty, noun. God’s complete control over all things in nature and the affairs of men, past, present, and future.
  • taphophile, noun. A person who is interested in cemeteries and gravestones.
  • trajectory, noun. The curve described by a projectile, rocket, or the like in its flight.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Thou Thee You Ye in Dialects

A few facts about the “King James English.” The language of the King James Bible is Early Modern English, the stage of the English language from roughly 1500-1800. Therefore, those who call King James English “Old English” do not know their terminology. This Bible has been and is a major influence on the English language.

The impact of the King James Bible, which was published 400 years ago, is still being felt in the way we speak and write, says Stephen Tomkins.

No other book, or indeed any piece of culture, seems to have influenced the English language as much as the King James Bible. Its turns of phrase have permeated the everyday language of English speakers, whether or not they’ve ever opened a copy.[i]

Another interesting thing about “King James English” is that statements such as “we don’t speak that way anymore” are not completely correct. There are dialects that maintain some of this structure.[ii]

There are two major Traditional Dialect areas of England which have preserved this distinction [between “thou” and “you”] – one northern area and one western area – although even here most Modern Dialects have lost or are losing it. The northern area consists of the Lower North (Cumbria, Durham, North Yorkshire and East Yorkshire) plus the Lancashire and Staffordshire areas, including the Potteries of the Central region. Parts of the South Yorkshire area have also kept the thou forms. The western area consists of the Northern Southwest, and the Western Southwest (Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire), including the city of Bristol...Traditional Dialects which preserve thou/thee normally also have distinctive verb forms of the type familiar from the King James version of the Bible... [iii]

I am not claiming these uses are exactly comparative to the KJV usage – for example, Trudgill notes that some speakers maintain the familiar/formal distinction. Often the pronunciation may not be that expected by modern readers of the KJV (for example, in spelling thy but in pronunciation tha).

I have read general statements that some English dialects in America and Australia still use thee and thou, but as yet have not found any specific people or region identified. However, I would not be surprised that it exists in certain pockets, among older people. In addition, it is said by some that ye is still used in Ireland.

“For the most part, at least in normal linguistic use, thou has been largely supplanted in modern times by you, although it does exist still in certain dialects in Northern England and Scotland, as well as in the community of the Religious Society of Friends (commonly referred to as Quakers).” (From Merriam-Webster)

Interesting also is that some (many?) regional dialects “fix” the second person pronoun problem of “Standard English” by creating/using a distinct form for second person plural, such as y’all, you guys, all y’all, you’uns, and such like.

[i] King James Bible: How it changed the way we speak.
[ii] “It seems that in virtually every instance where thee/thou is still being used – whether in dialects, liturgy, or Quakerism – it is most often used by the elders in that setting. My own hypothesis is that thee/thou will continue its progression toward obsolescence, though it will probably survive longest in liturgical environments.” – “Thou, Thee, and Archaic Grammar” and “Introducing Archaic English” by A. Davies, R. Lipton, D. Richoux, et al., p. 19.
[iii] Peter Trudgill. The Dialects of England (Second Edition), Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, Ltd. 1999, p. 92.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Why Read Books by Baptist Authors?

“One of the most surprising things about 21st century Baptists is how few books they read by authors of their own denominational background,” writes Baptist pastor Ben Stratton.

Brother Ben Stratton is pastor of the Farmington Baptist Church, in Farmington, Kentucky. He put together a brochure for the J. H. Spencer Historical Society titled “Why Read Books by Baptist Authors?” He answers the question with three reasons. 

  • 1. To Learn About Our Rich Baptist Heritage.
  • 2. To Avoid the Pitfalls of Protestant and Pedobaptist Theology.
  • 3. To Grow in Your Understanding of Sound Doctrine.
He mentions several web sites as book sources.
To Ben’s list I add the following comments. This list is (I think) primarily concerned with print works that can be ordered online. Another source for print works is Sprinkle Publications. Sprinkle’s books are not Baptist titles only – in fact, a lot of U.S. history is available from them. However, you can find there the rare gem, Concise History of the Ketocton Baptist Association & Life of James Ireland by William Fristoe, and other Baptist books. I mention this specifically because it is my understanding that since Pastor Lloyd Sprinkle died that they will be selling off their inventory.

In addition to purchasing print books, if you don’t mind reading online, you can look to places such as Google Books and for scans of old books. You will need an idea for whom you are looking, or perhaps search generically for something like “Baptist books,” or use more specific terms such as “Texas Baptist history.” Ben mentions many names in “Why Read Books by Baptist Authors.” Some are well known, and others not so much. B. H. Carroll, J. M. Pendleton, C. D. Cole, J. B. Moody, Andrew Fuller, A. H. Strong, John A. Broadus, J. R. Graves, Charles H. Spurgeon, Alexander Maclaren, T. T. Eaton, H. Boyce Taylor, George Truett, William Carey, George Liele, Isaac McCoy, Isaac Backus, John Clarke, John Leland, T. T. Martin, Shubal Stearns, R. H. Boyd, John Jasper, William J. Simmons, Andrew Bryan, Ben Bogard, William Cathcart, John Gill, John T. Christian, J. W. Porter, and Charles T. Walker. And that does not even begin to exhaust the Baptist authors or subjects available (in some cases you may only find books about some of the people, as opposed to books by them). Nash Publications has several book files online, such as Ivimey’s History of English Baptists, Purefoy’s History of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association, and Ecclesia, the Church, by B. H. Carroll. And don’t forget the voluminous Baptist History Homepage, already a wealth of material which is added to regularly.

I second Ben’s motion that Baptists ought to read Baptist books. Getting plenty of “Vitamin B” is good for Baptists. Ben is not saying you can’t read other works. He succinctly writes, “This is not to say that Baptists cannot learn from the works of Protestant and Pedobaptist authors. However, any reading of these men must be balanced with a steady diet of old Baptist authors.” Some Baptists seem to be ashamed of their Baptist forefathers. Perhaps that is why each time they look in the mirror they look more and more like Pedobaptists. As Ben also notes, you can “eat the watermelon and spit out the seeds” – or as we often say around here, “eat the meat and spit out the bones.” Good idea. Just remember, if you don’t spit out the Pedobaptist bones, you’re liable to choke on them! 😊

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The WORD, the Word, and the word

The three words - The Word, the Word, and the word (with due acknowledgement to Standard Sacred Text blog by the Peter Van Kleecks)

The archetypal Word, the revealed living Word, Jesus Christ.[i]

John 1:3, 14a - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. ... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…

1 John 1:1 - That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

Revelation 19:13 - And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

The typical Word, the revealed written word, the Scriptures.[ii]

Jeremiah 30:2 - Thus speaketh the Lord God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book

Luke 4:4 - And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 - All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

2 Peter 1:19-21 - We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

The atypical word, the preaching of the Word.[iii]

Galatians 1:8 - But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

Philippians 1:15-16 - Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely…

2 Timothy 4:2 - preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

[i] Archetypal, adjective: having the nature of an archetype, or original model; relating to or denoting an original that has been imitated. Here used in the sense of Jesus as the first or original Word.
[ii] Typical, adjective: having the characteristics or distinctive qualities of a particular type of person or thing; conforming to a particular type. Here used in the sense of the revealed written word conforming in type and character to the living Word, Jesus Christ. The written word is also living, “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
[iii] Atypical, adjective: having an uneven nature; not typical; irregular. Here used to describe the “uneven nature” of the preached word – in that it is the word only to the extent or degree that it conforms to the living Word and the written word.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

The Oath

The Oath

Some definitions.

Oath, noun. A solemn appeal to a deity, or to some revered person or thing, to witness one's determination to speak the truth, to keep a promise, etc.: Also, the form of words in which such a statement or promise is made; and, an irreverent or blasphemous use of the name of God or anything sacred, any profane expression; curse; swearword.

Swear, verb. To make a solemn declaration or affirmation by some sacred being or object, as a deity or the Bible; to bind oneself by oath. To curse, use vulgar words, or, to take God’s name in vain (Exodus 20:7).

Forswear, swear falsely, commit perjury, verb. Also can mean to renounce or deny under oath. επιορκεω / επιορκησεις (swear falsely).

The text.

Matthew 5:33–37 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: but I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Related texts.

Leviticus 19:12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord. 

Numbers 30:2  If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.

Deuteronomy 23:21 When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the Lord thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.

Matthew 23:16-22 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.

James 5:12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

Absolute prohibition of oaths or a prohibition of certain oaths?

“They [the Essenes, rlv] are eminent for fidelity, and are the ministers of peace; whatsoever they say also is firmer than an oath; but swearing is avoided by them, and they esteem it worse than perjury for they say that he who cannot be believed without [swearing by] God is already condemned.” (Josephus, The Wars Of The Jews, Book 2 ,8:6/135. Note that the second set of brackets is in the original translation).

Not a few take the words of Jesus in Matthew 5 (and James in 5:12) as a prohibition of all kinds of oaths (“at all” – of all kinds, whether true or false). Many of our Anabaptist forefathers, especially those on the European Continent, refused to take vows and swear oaths. Some of their descendants still do the same. They do not swear in court, hold positions in government, or serve in the military.  Quakers also took this position, and many still do. The majority of Baptists in America, mediated through England rather than the Continent, usually do not object to civil oaths.

Three objections sometimes made to this as an absolute prohibition look to the recorded words of God, Jesus, and Paul.

God swore oaths.

  • Genesis 22:16-18
  • Hebrews 6:13-17
  • Luke 1:73 the oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
  • Psalm 110:4 The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
  • Hebrews 7:21 (for those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

In his oaths, God guarantees his word; he shows “the immutability of his counsel” (Hebrews 6:17). God is no liar.[i]

Jesus swore an oath.

It is possible that Jesus, in a sense, answered under a legal oath. See Matthew 26:63–64 I adjure (charge or command to answer under oath) thee by the living God  εξορκιζω σε κατα του θεου του ζωντος (Cf. 2 Chronicles 18:15 And the king said to him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou say nothing but the truth to me in the name of the Lord?)

Paul swore an oath.

Paul called on God as his witness. Writing under inspiration, Paul calls on God as a “record” of the truthfulness of his word, Philippians 1:8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.


It appears that there may be times when a solemn oath may be taken. Jesus answered the high priest when possibly put under a charge to answer under oath. Paul called on God as his witness. The problem addressed shows a shift of the emphasis from the Old Testament command. Rather than focus on the truth asserted by the oath, focus is made on the formula of the oath. Emphasis is not on keeping one’s promise. Emphasis is changed to whether or not it was “to the Lord.”

Jesus’s counsel to tell the truth applies to family life, business / financial dealings, and any other agreements we make. He calls us to speak the truth. There is a single standard of truth for all times, not a double standard for different times. Conduct ourselves honestly at all times; that is the standard.

Is it possible we should apply it this way – making a difference between public and private speech? We should tell the truth. We should tell it so consistently and so completely that there is no need for oaths, no loud asseverations (emphatic or emotional declaration) of “that’s the truth”! God swore, or took vows, and if Jesus also spoke under oath, perhaps there is a place for his disciples to make public assertions (oaths) in a legal manner, and as a form of assurance to those who do not know the truth of their word.

Kinds of oaths Christians in America often take.

  • Oaths of allegiance
  • Oaths of office
  • Oaths in courts of law (witness, juror) and in other legal matters
  • Oaths of fraternal orders or secret societies (such as Masonry)
  • Military oaths
  • Profane oaths
  • Wedding vows might be considered a sort of an oath

Without doubt, we should be able to agree that profane oaths are wrong. Further, it should be clear (though it is not to all) that many fraternal oaths go beyond the pale of Jesus’s words. To swear on having your throat cut from ear to ear, your tongue torn out by its roots, or your heart plucked out and given to the beasts of the field and the birds of the air as a prey is a “bit much.” With James Hahn I agree, “It is hard to believe that grown men would involve themselves in such foolishness.”

That said then, it seems the primary disagreements among us on swearing is regarding the civil type of oath. May we swear in court, before God, to tell the truth? May we swear, before God, to do the duties of a civil office or a military service? In this country (United States of America), those who conscientiously object to swearing usually have the option to “affirm” rather than “swear”[ii]

Should we swear allegiance to civil government? Our “yes” should be, according to the Bible, to be good law-abiding citizens (1 Peter 2:12-14). We as Christians acknowledge that our ultimate allegiance is to God, not man (Acts 5:29)


An oath will not bind a liar. A truth teller does not need one. Our word should be our bond (something that binds or holds). Our reputations should be such that our word will be all that is needed, without an oath needed to strengthen it.

A yea is a yea; a nay is a nay; a promise is a promise; we should not be looking for a loophole. Yet, some oaths seem to be designed specifically for the option of not keeping the thing vowed.

The Christian’s goal is truthfulness. We who are disciples of Jesus Christ should admit and confess our failures in the arena of truth (James 3:8). We must seek and speak the word of truth, and appeal to the Word, who is the Truth.

[i] Nevertheless, it is clear that God can do things that we cannot.
[ii] For example, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support…” In my mind there is a question whether there is any actual difference in affirming or swearing in a legal or civil matter. The intent seems to be the same.